Participatory budgeting takes off in LIC & Astoria

Participatory budgeting, where council district constituents get to vote on how to spend a million bucks, starts today in districts 26 (Long Island City, Sunnyside and Woodside) and 22 (Astoria, East Elmhurst, Jackson Heights and Woodside too).

In Astoria, items up for a vote include a hydroponic science lab at LIC High School, lighting upgrades at Astoria Houses Community Center, a tool shed at Two Coves Community Garden and road surfacing.

In LIC, items include bus countdown clocks, trees, a gym at Queensbridge Park, a soil science lab at Ravenswood Houses, tech upgrades at P.S. 112 in Dutch Kills and other schools and playground renovations at P.S. 111 in Ravenswood.

A few notes:

  • That Ravenswood survey reported about here in Corner, will be online from April 4 through 30, Times Ledger reports.
  • State Senator Aravella Simotas’ legislation on preserving rape kits made it into the 2019 state budget.
  • Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who is running against Rep. Joe Crowley in the Midterm primary, wants to end ICE.
  • Nas’ chicken and waffles joint will open in Hunters Point Monday with a private back room for parties.
  • A $33.3 million deal was made to put up a seven story, 200-unit, mixed-use building in Dutch Kills at 37-11 30th Street, Real Estate Weekly reports.

    “Dutch Kills, which sits just south of Astoria, has not seen the same level of investments as other sections of Long Island City, such as Hunters Point, Court Square and the area around Queensborough Plaza. Before Avenue and Slate bought the 37-11 30th Street, the only high-end housing project in the area was the Lightstone Group’s ARC complex, which is located two blocks to the south.”

  • Rep. Carolyn Maloney spoke about the U.S. Census citizenship question, militarizing the border and gun legislation on Thirteen. Maloney_Thirteen_screengrab
  • Queensbridge is getting new roofs.
  • LIC Reading Series will host its 3rd year anniversary event on April 10.
  • Thrillist lists Petey’s Burger in the top 31 burger joints in America.
  • A bunch of storefronts up by the Ditmars Boulevard station will be demolished to make way for a Target, Astoria Post reports.

Simotas: No to Census citizenship question

Sometimes I wonder if Astoria (not Jackson Heights) is actually the most diverse neighborhood in the United States. In any case, it’s diverse for sure and has a lot of immigrants. And maybe that makes State Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas suited for fighting the U.S. Commerce Department’s decision to include a citizenship question on the 2020 Census

In a letter to Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, Simotas writes:

“As a representative of a diverse community in New York that is home to a large population of immigrants, I am deeply concerned that a citizenship question would deter many of my constituents from participating in the census and prevent them from receiving critically needed resources over the next decade.”

I’m not sure where other Queens lawmakers are on this. Mayor Bill Bill de Blasio and Attorney General Eric Schneiderman protested the concept in February. Googling the World’s Borough on the issue, I found a quote from Queens College professor Andrew Beveridge, who told the Washington Post the citizenship question would shift representation to Republican districts. “All of the districts with non-citizens in them and all of the districts with kids in them would have less representation.” 

Simotas argues in her letter that most people in her district live in “hard-to-count” neighborhoods and only 68.4% of households returned their questionnaires for the 2010 census.

Secretary Ross has argues it will be worthwhile. “The citizenship data provided to DOJ will be more accurate with the question than without it, which is of greater importance than any adverse effect that may result from people violating their legal duty to respond,” Ross said, The Hill reported. 

Simotas argues that her district, with it’s history of already low questionnaire turnout, will be worse off. “With heightened fears of immigration enforcement and anxieties over the confidentiality of census data, it will be even more challenging to collect and complete, accurate information.” 

You can read Simotas’ full letter here (warning PDF).