On the heels of a scathing audit report released today, State Senator Jose Peralta joined City Comptroller John Liu in calling on the Bloomberg Administration to renegotiate the city’s lease with the Marriott Marquis Hotel.
Located on a prime tract of Manhattan real estate—Broadway between 45th and 46th Streets—the hotel was built on city-owned land in 1982. Comptroller Liu’s audit found that new terms the city agreed to in 1998, including a drastic cut in rent, will end up costing taxpayers at least $344.9 million by the time the lease expires in 2017.
“You have questions being asked about affordable housing and when it will be built as part of the Willets Points development. Instead of an ironclad guarantee that would put those concerns to rest, we hear of a plan for a large, Las Vegas-style casino.
“If the goal is to further mire the Willets Point plan in controversy, confusion and uncertainty, floating the casino idea will certainly do the job.”
“Borough President Helen Marshall’s tenure has been bookended by tragedy, beginning in the wake of September 11th and coming into a final year where the devastation wrought by Superstorm Sandy looms large.
“Her message that 2013 will be the Year of Hope will serve as inspiration to all Queens residents as we face the enormous challenges of the coming year.
Below is a statement from State Senator Jose Peralta, five of whose gun bills are part of the gun legislation passed tonight.
"As the sponsor of 14 gun bills, I couldn’t be happier to see long overdue action finally taken on common-sense measures to protect New Yorkers from gun violence. A good deal of the legislation I have sponsored and fought for is in this package.
"I applaud the governor for his perseverance and commitment. Tonight's enormous victory is a result of his leadership.
"Making it harder for criminals to get guns, and keeping firearms out of the hands of the mentally ill, are essential steps in the fight against gun violence.
“I can’t help but feel proud to be a Democrat after listening to Governor Cuomo. I stand ready to join him in fighting the good fights for sensible gun regulation, an increased minimum wage, job creation, good schools, affordable housing, rebuilding after Sandy and the rest of his progressive agenda.
“After what we saw happen in Newtown, Ct., and in Rochester, strengthening New York’s assault weapons ban became an urgent and pressing priority. But with handguns used in 58 percent of all homicides in New York last year, the focus has to be on more than just assault weapons.
“The Senate Republican plan is entirely inadequate and falls far short of what New Yorkers expect their elected officials to do about the gun violence and bloodshed that has become frighteningly common.
“Republicans talk about ‘illegal guns’ and increasing jail sentences after criminals have been caught. The fact is, guns are not illegal until they end up in the hands of criminals. Our focus needs to be on keeping guns out of the hands of criminals and the violently mentally ill in the first place, and on using available technology to catch criminals after using a firearm. Only after gun criminals are caught will sentencing be relevant.
State Senator Peralta Distributes Turkeys To Churches, Seniors and Nonprofits
State Senator Jose Peralta is providing free turkeys to local churches, senior centers and nonprofit agencies, including First Baptist Church, Make the Road New York, Woodside on the Move and the Corona Senior Center.
By Thanksgiving, Senator Peralta will have distributed 478 turkeys, including 24 that will go to the Rockaways in coordination with the office of State Senator Malcolm Smith.
"Thankfully, the worst has passed," said State Senator Jose Peralta, who throughout the day Monday sent e-mails conveying information from the city Office of Emergency Management to his constituents in Jackson Heights, Corona, Elmhurst and East Elmhurst. "Many homes in my district lost power because of fallen trees taking down power lines and utility poles toppling. There was property damage, also because of fallen trees. Thank God, though, that the storm did not cause any fatalities or serious injuries in this area.
"I extend my condolences to the family of the man killed in Flushing and the loved ones of the others who lost their lives to this storm."
State Senator Peralta Renews Call for Bipartisan Action to End Gun Violence
State Senator Jose Peralta today renewed his call for bipartisan action to combat gun violence, proposing as a first step three "commonsense" measures that he believes Republicans and Democrats in the state legislature should be able to agree on.
"Now is the time and gun violence is the issue for Republicans and Democrats to do everything possible to find common ground," Senator Peralta said. The three bills that he has introduced and is recommending be considered immediately are:
"Con Edison needlessly took an exceptionally hard-line approach with a loyal, skilled and dedicated workforce. The lockout threatens the safety of the city, especially the well being of our most vulnerable. Con Edison needs to end the lockout and settle this contract now."
"For many undocumented immigrants, America is the only country they know. In their hearts and minds they are American. Sadly, Republicans either can't, or choose not to understand this. By blocking the Dream Act, they denied millions of undocumented Americans the opportunity to achieve the American Dream.
"The president's executive order will at least afford undocumented Americans the chance to come out from the shadows and enter the economic mainstream.
State Senator Jose Peralta’s bill to crack down on mills churning out fake IDs and other forged official documents was passed Thursday by the State Senate.
The bill creates the crime of sale of a forged instrument and upgrades the manufacture of official government documents, such as passports and driver’s licenses, from a Class D to a Class C felony, roughly doubling jail sentences. It would also make forging a government document a more serious offense than other forgeries—say of a metro card, for example.
“A terrorist plot to do us harm might be hatched in another country thousands of miles from here, but some of the tools to make it happen are being produced right in our own backyard,” said Senator Peralta, whose district includes the stretch of Roosevelt Avenue that investigators have called the East Coast “epicenter” of fake ID production and sale. Forged documents available on Roosevelt Avenue include passports, driver’s licenses and social security cards
“The quality of the forged documents and the fact that they’re so easy to obtain undermines the hard work of homeland security and law enforcement to keep us safe,” added Senator Peralta. “With this ready availability of high-quality forged official documents, it should come as no surprise that we’re seeing fake identifications at the heart of a number of criminal enterprises, scandals and tragedies, from identity theft, to college entrance exam cheating, to deaths on our roadways.”
With third-party debt buyers taking advantage of the courts and consumers to extract hundreds of millions of dollars a year from the lowest income New Yorkers, State Senator Jose Peralta introduced legislation to prevent debt buyers from exploiting gaps in state laws.
Consumer debt buyers have filed hundreds of thousands of debt collection lawsuits over the past few years in New York State. They buy consumer debts for pennies on the dollar and aggressively pursue payment through the courts—often suing the wrong people or consumers who paid back their debt years before. Even in cases where a consumer may owe money, debt buyers often sue for grossly inflated amounts, padding the debts with unauthorized fees and interest.
“We’ve all heard the horror story about someone hounded relentlessly for years by debt collectors for bills that were paid off long ago, or for payments that were never owed, or for wildly high fees that would make a loan shark proud,” said Senator Peralta. “The thuggish tactics described are so abusive, it’s hard to imagine that sort of harassment is allowed to happen in the United States.
“For the first time in almost 50 years, the Mets in 2013 will be hosting the Major League Baseball All-Star Game. This is great news for local baseball fans and even better news for Queens. The All-Star game at Citi Field will provide a welcome economic boost and underscore the area's growing viability as a New York City destination for residents and visitors alike."
“The sex trafficking and prostitution operation dismantled by the Manhattan District Attorney’s office, NYPD and federal authorities is yet another example of the barbaric treatment trafficked women are subjected to for the profit of ruthless pimps.
“It also underscores the need to reclassify sex trafficking as a violent felony. in recognition of the brutality of the crime and the punishment it warrants. I recently introduced a bill in the New York State Senate that would make sex trafficking a violent felony and increase the minimum jail sentence to five years. The minimum sentence currently is one to three years.
Citing the alarmingly large number of families across the state facing foreclosure, State Senators Jose Peralta and Malcolm Smith are urging Governor Andrew Cuomo to fund a program that provides homeowners with counseling, legal assistance and help negotiating with banks. Launched in 2008, funding for the $25 million Foreclosure Prevention Services Program expires next month.
If they have at least minimal respect for voters, Republicans will spare New Yorkers further hypocrisy and keep to themselves ridiculous claims that their bold-faced power grab was done in the name of minority enfranchisement.
Our community has lost a great friend, champion and leader. Richard Italiano, former chair and district manager of Queens Community Board 4, has passed away. A tireless servant of our community, Richard was open and accessible. His spirit, leadership and friendship will be sorely missed. I extend my heartfelt condolences to his loved ones and the many people whose lives he touched.