In Public Service – October 28, 2019

Adams wants Diwali declared city holiday

Borough President Eric Adams is calling for New York City to declare Diwali, a South Asian holiday known as the Festival of Lights, as a legal holiday in the city.

“The diversity of our city must be reflected in the diversity of our officially recognized holidays. In the last few years, our communities have come together to garner school holidays that recognize the Muslim observances of Eid al-Adha and Eid al-Fitr as well as the Lunar New Year that is celebrated in many of our East and Southeast Asian cultures. As progressive as we believe we have been, our progress has left out New Yorkers across the five boroughs who take part in Diwali,” Adams said in a statement.

Adams noted that the Festival of Lights is a significant holiday to more than 200,000 South Asian-Americans in New York City. “I believe it’s time we embrace the rich cultural traditions of our South Asian neighbors and make it a city-recognized holiday. If I had the power to do so, I‘d do it right away,” he said.

Colton welcomes trick-or-treaters

Assemblymember Bill Colton will be welcoming trick-or-treating at his district office this year for Halloween.

Colton will have his office open from 2:45 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. and will be distributing candy. The office is located at 155 Kings Highway.

Colton, a Democrat representing Gravesend and parts of Bensonhurst and Dyker Heights, is also advising parents to be attentive to their kids’ surroundings as the youngsters go trick-or-treating on Halloween.

Brooklyn senators attend education hearing

Brooklyn state senators attended a hearing of the Senate Standing Committee on Higher Education at Brooklyn College on Oct. 24, where the high cost of higher education was the main topic of discussion.

“We say that education is a path to liberation, yet it is a path blocked to many low-income communities of color,” State Sen. Zellnor Myrie said. “These hearings will shed light on why higher education, which should be accessible to all, is only accessible to some, and identify how the legislature can help change that.” 

State Sen. Andrew Gounardes, who said “college should be free for every New Yorker,” has introduced a constitutional amendment to guarantee New Yorkers free public education from pre-kindergarten through college.

“The underfunding of our public higher education has led to a system that does not serve the needs of working New Yorkers,” State Sen. Julia Salazar said.

“We need to develop more partnerships between high schools and higher education institutions and expand programs like early college high schools to prevent students from having to take on the burden of these high costs in the first place,” State Sen. Velmanette Montgomery said.

State Sen. Kevin Parker said the state “must discuss solutions around affordability.”

Walker, Ampry-Samuel announce job winners

Assemblymember Latrice Walker and Councilmember Alicka Ampry-Samuel joined the organization Building Skills New York to announce four workers who gained full-time jobs in the construction industry following a recruitment session the lawmakers recently held at Walker’s district office.

“This recruitment session was a means to get my constituents employed and on the developments happening in their backyard,” said Walker, a Democrat representing Brownsville.

Ampry-Samuel, a Democrat whose district includes Bedford-Stuyvesant and Ocean Hill-Brownsville, said she was, “Working with my colleague and friend Assemblymember Latrice Walker on providing our constituents with the services and opportunities to receive the necessary skill certifications that ensure they may find jobs that advance their careers and opens up new opportunities in life.”.

Felder bill seeks to increase EMS tax credit

State Sen. Simcha Felder has introduced a bill that would increase the Volunteer Firefighter and EMS State Income Tax Credit for the first time in 12 years. Under his bill, the tax credit would increase to $500 for individuals and $1,000 for married joint filers.

“Volunteer firefighters and first responders including Hatzalah members are on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It is time to recognize their invaluable contribution by updating and increasing this tax credit,” said Felder, a Democrat representing Borough Park and parts of Midwood and Flatbush.

The number of volunteer firefighters in New York State has dropped to fewer than 100,000, according to Felder, who said increasing the tax credit can strengthen recruitment efforts.

“While our volunteers are unconditionally committed, it is certainly encouraging to be appreciated in this way,” said Isaac Stern, CEO of Hatzalah, a volunteer ambulance organization.

Assemblymember Aileen Gunther, a Democrat representing Sullivan County, is the Assembly sponsor of the bill.

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