By Evan Rosen
Queens Council Members Hail Uber Cap
On Wednesday, the City Council hit ride-hailing apps like Uber and Lyft with a one-year licensing freeze. Critics of the bill argue that the new law will discourage drives from traveling outside Manhattan and result in longer wait times for users. But council members said the regulation was necessary. They blame the apps for the plummeting prices of taxi medallions and increased congestion in the city. “A cap is NOT eliminating any app based services,” Council Member Barry Grodenchik wrote on Twitter. “It is a common sense approach that will provide a good level of service while eliminating some of the congestion many areas are now experiencing. It will also level a currently badly unlevel playing field for all FHV drivers.” Council Member Robert Holden agreed. “I voted yes on today’s For-Hire vehicle package of bills in the [Council] because the e-hail market has remained unchecked for far too long,” Holden said. “We have too many vehicles contributing to congestion and pollution, and it is time the City leads the nation in alleviating these issues.”
Man Who Tortured Girlfriend’s Puppy Convicted for Animal Cruelty
This guy needs anger management. Dwayne Ellis, 24, was convicted of torturing his girlfriend’s four-month-old pet pit-bull inside the apartment they share. Ellis took his anger out on his girlfriend’s pitbill puppy by pressing it against a hot pipe in their Jamaica apartment bathroom last winter. The pipe scalded the dog’s neck and torso. Ellis, who will be sentenced at a later date, pleaded guilty Tuesday and could face eight months in prison. Some good news in this case —the pup has made a full recovery.
Ozone Park Community Leader Launches Hunger Strike to Protest Homeless Shelter
Sam Esposito, a former Community Board 9 member, heard about the city’s plans to construct a homeless shelter for 113 mentally ill adult men in his neighborhood and decided to stop eating. Since Monday morning, Esposito has set up camp in front of the potential site and has vowed to “not eat until the mayor speaks with him,” reports the Queens Chronicle. Esposito also announced that he is filing a lawsuit against the city to block the shelter, and has set up an online fundraising page that has raised more than $18,000 already. In July, Esposito, who now leads the Ozone Park Residents Block Association President Esposito, helped organize a town hall meeting to protest the shelter, which the Queens Daily Eagle covered. “We did not go to the politicians,” Esposito said. “We didn’t go to the city. This is our community. We just want what is best.”
DOE School Will Incorporate Sikhism Into Curriculum
The DOE announced last month that, for the first time ever, Sikhism will become part of the curriculum for fifth and sixth graders. Sikh leaders and local lawmakers gathered for the announcement at a public school in Jamaica. “Sikh children are bullied in schools at twice the national rate in our country, [and] Sikhs are 100 times more likely to be assaulted than the average American.” said Pritpal Singh, senior policy advisor for United Sikhs, in a policy report. Singh told the Queens Chronicle he was bullied for his religion and blamed the hate and discrimination on the lack of education about the religion among U.S. schoolchildren. In April, the National Sikh Campaign launched a million-dollar awareness campaign to inform Americans about the religion amid a surge in hate crimes against the community.
Astoria Council Member to Call for Water Transparency
Council Member Costa Constantinides will join with local community leaders this Friday to call for more transparent regulations of New York City drinking water tanks follow several incidents of Legionnaires Disease and reports of filthy water inside rooftop containers. On Wednesday, Council Members Constantinides, Mark Levine, and Ritchie Torres introduced a bill in partnership with Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. that would require the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to conduct surprise inspections of tanks atop private and public buildings.
Lightning Strikes Thrice in Queens
It was a big night for lightning last night, after three individuals were struck during a pair of incidents in the Flushing and Jamaica neighborhoods. Police claim one strike occurred in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, where two men who were playing soccer were then rushed to Elmhurst General Hospital – one in “critical condition,” the other in “serious but stable condition,” ABC News reported. Another strike, about four miles away at the corner of Baisley Boulevard and 155th Street in Jamaica resulted in a victim sustaining non-life threatening injuries but still being escorted to nearby Jamaica Hospital.
New Law Increases Senior Center Reporting
On Monday, Mayor de Blasio signed a bill introduced Council Member Vallone into law that will require the Department for the Aging (DFTA) to report data about the participants, programming services and costs for their 246 contracted senior centers. In recent years, many issues have arisen related to disparity among the funding allocated to senior centers, Vallone said. DFTA received $10 million in additional funding in FY18 to redesign their senior center contracts. Since DFTA’s funding allocations are based on utilization of services, requiring them to report data on senior centers will provide greater transparency and allow the City to make better, more informed decisions on the services provided to our seniors. “The fact that the core of Department for the Aging’s service portfolio is the agency’s citywide network of 246 contracted senior centers frequently providing educational programs, congregate and home delivered meals, recreational programming, along with a variety of essential services, truly speaks to the importance of these centers and the population they serve,” said Council Member Paul Vallone, Chair of the Committee on Economic Development.