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‘HELP FOSTER KIDS W/DEVELOPMENTAL DISABILITIES’: With the New York State legislature having finished its 2023 session, legislators Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi and Senator John Mannion are renewing calls for Governor Hochul to sign A.2798/S.3119 into law. If enacted, the bill would require New York State to identify the total number of children who are in foster care and have I/DD, with the ultimate goal of referring children to available supports and services.

Prior to passing the Senate and Assembly in this session, the bill passed the legislature in 2022, with Governor Hochul vetoing the measure in December.

Hevesi and Mannion – representing their committees on Children & Families, and Disabilities, respectively – immediately took to working with partners at the start of 2023 to put the legislation back on the Governor’s desk. The legislators succeeded in doing so, with unanimous support in both houses of the legislature.

“If we don’t know the extent of this problem, we can’t solve the problem. Thousands of kids with I/DD could become homeless after leaving foster care, solely because our state doesn’t have a mechanism to identify and help them,” said Assemblyman Hevesi, Chair of the Committee on Children & Families. “Our partners at OCFS are fantastic in implementing supports, but they need the go ahead from Governor Hochul in order to do this. Anything short of a full commitment here from the Executive will leave us unable to address many preventable and likely life-long problems for foster youth.”

Senator John W. Mannion, Chairman of the Disabilities Committee said, “I sponsored this legislation to help ensure that children with I/DD in foster care receive the support and services they need. The data collection requirements in this bill will give us a better understanding of this population, and the evaluation and analysis provisions will help us improve the way we serve them. I thank Assemblyman Hevesi for his continued partnership and the many advocacy groups who have worked diligently alongside us to get this legislation passed by both houses.”

The legislators are joined by advocates from across New York, including the IDD/CW Collaborative (Collaborative) – a coalition representing nine of the most influential child welfare agencies in the state – which recently reached out to Governor Hochul directly to implore the Executive to sign the legislation into law.

“We enthusiastically support the pending legislation requiring OCFS to collect data on children with I/DD who are in foster care in New York State,” the Collaborative stated in a June 20 letter to the Governor, “We have been advocating for such information so that we can better support these children and can plan next steps for youth as they age out of foster care.”

In their letter, the Collaborative cited estimates from the National Foster Youth Institute that 25% of foster youth become homeless within four years of exiting foster care, a number the Collaborative believes increases significantly for children with I/DD who may not be receiving necessary support.

“All of us at The I/DD-Child Welfare Collaborative applaud Assemblyman Hevesi and Senator Mannion for standing up for children with intellectual disabilities (I/DD) who are in foster care in New York State,” said Alan Mucatel, the Collaborative’s President. “This law will allow the Office of Children and Family Services to collect important data to help identify children with I/DD, evaluate the level of support they receive, and plan accordingly for them when they age-out of foster care. It is critical that the legislation passed is signed into law to ensure that the children this bill supports can live their best lives, as all individuals have a right to enjoy.”

“Children and youth with I/DD often end up in a child welfare setting as a last resort due to the lack of access to appropriate supports and services. This system was never set up to support the complex needs of these vulnerable children and youth,” said Deborah Napolitano, a behavioral science professor at Daemen University, and the lead advocate in drafting the legislation. “This bill will help us understand the scope of the problem in order to provide these individuals with the resources they need to meet their goals and achieve their hopes and dreams, which is exactly what we want for all of our children.”

SUPREME COURT STRIKES DOWN AFFIRMATIVE ACTION: The following officials and organizations responded to the Supreme Court Decision in Students for Fair Admissions v. President; and Fellows of Harvard College and Students for Fair Admissions v. University of North Carolina.

Congressman Gregory W. Meeks: “Today, the U.S. Supreme Court decided to dismantle years of progress toward a level playing field in higher education. The court willfully ignored the fact that the remnants of racial discrimination and inequality in this country persist.

“‘The problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the color line,’ wrote acclaimed intellectual W.E.B. Du Bois in 1903. With today’s ruling to end consideration of race in college admissions, the Supreme Court appears intent on perpetuating the color line straight through the 21st century.

“For decades, the consideration of racial diversity at educational institutions has played a role in breaking down systemic barriers for underrepresented students and advancing our nation’s fundamental ideals of inclusivity and opportunity. Every student deserves a fair chance at success no matter their racial, ethnic, or socioeconomic background. I will continue to voice my opposition toward right-wing extremism manifesting through decisions from our highest court.”

U.S. Rep. Grace Meng: “Today’s Supreme Court decision will have devastating impacts on the diversity of our institutions of higher education and learning in general. This decision does nothing but preserve and increase the likelihood of admissions for wealthy and well-connected students. In order to factually achieve a more transparent and fair admissions process, we must look at the admission process holistically, which cannot happen without addressing the practice of legacy, athletic scholarships, and faculty and donor connections in the admissions process.

“We must maintain a transparent and equitable admissions process that ensures that the identities, strengths, achievements, and experiences of all applicants are valued and considered. I am angry that Asian Americans are being used as pawns in this lawsuit and as a wedge between communities of color and will be treated as scapegoats under the false assumption we will benefit (from this decision). Asians Americans are being used by the same people who purport to care about them getting into universities, but are passing alien land laws preventing them from buying homes. The number of Asian American students admitted is unlikely to increase. The quality of our education will decrease and benefit the wealthy and well-connected.

“I remain committed to promoting diversity and equal opportunity for all in higher education.”

Joint Statement from Asian Wave Alliance (AWA), Chinese American Citizens Alliance of Greater New York (CACAGNY), New York City Residents Alliance (NYCRA), and Parent Leaders for Accelerated Curriculum and Education (PLACE NYC): “Asian Wave Alliance (AWA), Chinese American Citizens Alliance of Greater New York (CACAGNY), New York City Residents Alliance (NYCRA), and Parent Leaders for Accelerated Curriculum and Education (PLACE NYC), all community advocates for education and all opposed to discrimination against any race, join in celebrating the Supreme Court decisions on the cases of Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA) v Harvard University and v University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill (UNC). CACAGNY, a long-standing supporter of SFFA, is particularly proud to have supported SFFA from District Court to Supreme Court with four amicus briefs. We all join in thanking SFFA and its president Edward Blum for their years of tremendous work on these landmark cases. We are thankful that the Supreme Court has finally ruled against decades of pernicious discrimination against Asian American students. Colleges have abused Affirmative Action for too long. Their collective reward and punishment by race deprived the rights of hundreds of thousands of individual applicants. Discrimination by group identity is unconstitutional, un-American, and immoral. We call upon universities to comply with the law and stop in good faith to discriminate by race.”

Yiatin Chu, NYC public school parent and President and Cofounder of AWA, stated, “As an immigrant and Asian American parent, I feel a great sense of hope and vindication in the fight for equal rights. The Supreme Court’s ruling to end affirmative action should be celebrated by everyone. The United States is a country of limitless opportunities and equal protection, and treating students equally regardless of race is a fundamental right that the court has now returned to us. Students should be evaluated on their talents, accomplishments and potential, not penalized for a checkbox on race in their college applications.”

Phil Wong, President of CACAGNY, stated, “Ever since the 1978 Supreme Court Bakke Affirmative Action ruling, college admission offices have been counting their incoming students by race. This violates the principle of a colorblind Constitution. It’s contrary to the 14th Amendment and to the Civil Rights Act. It’s immoral. It often hurts the very people it is trying to help. I am glad SCOTUS Justices fixed the mistakes from the previous decisions, so that the Court’s integrity and legitimacy will be affirmed for decades to come.”

Donghui Zang, President of NYCRA, stated, “New York City Residents Alliance is thrilled to witness the historic end to decades-long discriminative policies in college admission, which has suppressed hundreds of thousands of Asian youths’ pursuit of the American dream. We thank Mr. Edward Blum for his leadership and devotion to equal rights. We also understand that many years of discrimination would not go away overnight. We are, however, determined to fight to the day when all American children are judged on their diligence, intelligence, and capabilities rather than their skin color, for the benefit of America’s younger generations.”

Chien Kwok, Co-President of PLACE NYC, stated “PLACE NYC advocates for merit-based rigorous education. Excellence in learning outcomes is achieved with focus on the earliest years of childhood, not with racially discriminatory guises that New York City and Harvard use, such as lotteries or ‘holistic’ criteria, to deny high-achieving students’ entry into rigorous academic programs or schools. This is especially reprehensible when used by institutions because there are ‘too many’ Asians. Violations of such rights is exactly what the Civil Rights Act protects against. It is long past due to end discrimination in education.”

NURSING HOME SUED FOR NEGLECTING ELDERLY, FRAUD: New York Attorney General Letitia James filed a lawsuit on June 28 against the owners, operators, and landlords of four nursing homes for years of repeated and persistent fraud and illegally misusing more than $83 million in taxpayer money that resulted in severe injury and death from neglect. The nursing homes, owned and operated by Centers for Care LLC, doing business as Centers Health Care, include Holliswood Center for Rehabilitation and Healthcare (Holliswood Center) a 314-bed facility in Queens County, Beth Abraham Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing (Beth Abraham Center) in Bronx County, Buffalo Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing (Buffalo Center) in Erie County, and Martine Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing (Martine Center) in Westchester County. Residents at these facilities were forced to sit for hours in their own urine and feces, suffered from severe dehydration, malnutrition, and increased risk of death, developed infections and sepsis from untreated bed sores and inconsistent wound care, sustained life-changing injuries from falls, and died.

Following an investigation by the Office of the Attorney General’s (OAG) Medicaid Fraud Control Unit (MFCU), the lawsuit alleges that the nursing homes’ owners and operators converted more than $83 million in Medicaid and Medicare funds to enrich themselves, their families, and business associates through an elaborate network of related companies and collusive, fraudulent transactions, rather than use the funds for their intended purposes of providing sufficient staffing and required resident care. To stop further harm and suffering, Attorney General James is seeking to prohibit the nursing homes from admitting new residents until staffing meets appropriate standards, to implement a financial monitor and a healthcare monitor, and to disgorge any and all wrongfully received government funds.

The nursing homes are allegedly all controlled and managed by Centers for Care LLC doing business as Centers Health Care (Centers Health Care), a multistate network of nursing, rehabilitation, and senior care services and facilities. Centers Health Care is co-owned by Kenneth Rozenberg and Daryl Hagler.

Also named in the lawsuit are: Light Operational Holdings Associates LLC (Light Operational), an entity that owns 98 percent of Beth Abraham Center and 65 percent of Martine Center; CFSC Downstate LLC (CFSC); BIS Funding Capital LLC (BIS Funding); and Skilled Staffing LLC (Skilled Staffing) — all companies owned by Rozenberg, Hagler, their family members, and business associates that received payments from the nursing homes for purportedly providing services.

Rozenberg and Hagler are named in their individual capacities, as are several of their family members and business partners.

The lawsuit alleges a pattern of residents not receiving adequate care and suffering neglect, mistreatment, and humiliation as a result of the owners, operators, and landlords depriving the nursing homes of over $83 million intended for resident care. Due to insufficient staffing, staff members were often unable to assist residents with basic activities of daily living, such as help using the bathroom, getting in and out of bed, eating, and maintaining personal hygiene. Call bells were routinely ignored or unanswered, residents were forced to sit in their own urine and feces for hours, meals were not provided in a timely manner, and personal belongings were lost or stolen, including hearing aids, dentures, clothing, and even an electronic piano. Residents, family members, and staff reported unsanitary conditions, including neglected food trays, vermin, flies, and persistent smells of human waste.

The horrors endured by the nursing homes’ residents began well before the COVID-19 pandemic and resulted from Rozenberg and Hagler repeatedly operating the facilities with insufficient staffing in order to increase their own profits. Allegations of mistreatment, neglect, and humiliation at the nursing homes detailed in the lawsuit include (content warning: the following graphic descriptions may upset some readers):

o   A resident at Beth Abraham Center experienced multiple falls while trying to take herself to the bathroom when her call bell went unanswered. Following a fall in October 2020, the facility’s staff informed the woman’s daughter that she had not been injured. Three days later, the resident complained of pain and was sent to the hospital, where the emergency room doctor discovered she had a dislocated hip that required emergency hip replacement surgery. Doctors at the hospital also found that the resident was suffering from a severe diaper rash covering the majority of her lower torso, indicating a lack of proper care. The resident has since left Beth Abraham.

o   A man was a new resident in the dementia unit at Buffalo Center. When the resident’s son was on his way to visit his father, he passed someone who “looked like a zombie or a ghost,” wandering down the street. When the son arrived at Buffalo Center, he was asked to wait to see his father. When staff finally brought his father out, the son realized the person he had seen wandering the streets earlier was his father, and that he had managed to leave the facility without staff noticing. His father was sent to the hospital that same day, where he was diagnosed with severe dehydration. Upon his release from the hospital, his son moved him to a different nursing home. He was a resident at Buffalo Center for just three weeks.

o   A woman fell from her bed at Holliswood Center and was returned to bed without a medical examination or treatment. No notice was sent to her family. When her daughter was unable to get in touch with her, she visited Holliswood Center but was turned away by staff and told she could not visit her mother. Her daughter called the police, and then watched as her unconscious mother was wheeled out by paramedics. Staff at the nursing home would not provide an explanation for her mother’s condition, and a CT scan at the hospital showed her mother suffered a brain bleed caused by traumatic impact requiring emergency surgery. The woman no longer resides at Holliswood but continues to suffer from speech defects and emotional extremes as a result of the injury.

o   A woman at Martine Center appeared to be in pain while she was visited by her daughter. When the daughter pulled her mother’s hand out from under her blanket, it was covered in feces. The daughter found that her mother, who used a colostomy bag, was wrapped in a towel filled with feces and without a colostomy bag. When she unwrapped the towel, she saw her mother’s exposed intestines and the surrounding area covered in feces. While staff attempted to clean her mother, she complained that the area burned, and when they were done, there was still visible feces smeared around the wound.

o   A resident at Martine Center did not receive adequate care for his bed sores. When his wife visited in October 2021, she was shocked to find that his wounds had progressed to Stage III and Stage IV ulcers, one of which was eating away most of his buttocks. His wife began the process of having her husband removed from Martine Center to be cared for at home. Before she got the chance to bring him home, he developed sepsis, was hospitalized, and died.

Financial Fraud

The owners of Centers Health Care engaged in multiple fraudulent schemes to divert more than $83 million in government funds from the nursing homes, including collusive real estate arrangements, unnecessary and exorbitant loans with inflated interest rates, phony fees paid to companies they and their family members own, and paying themselves inflated salaries for work that was not performed.

Rozenberg and Hagler controlled the nursing homes using a partnership model that turned nursing homes into money-making machines. Hagler, as landlord, charged the nursing homes, which were owned by Rozenberg, inflated rents that well exceeded necessary mortgage expenses. They concealed this scheme by submitting much lower proposed rents to the New York State Department of Health (DOH) when applying to become the nursing homes’ licensed operators. After becoming licensed operators, the Rozenberg-owned and controlled operating companies imposed much higher rent payments on the nursing homes so Rozenberg and Hagler could take the excess funds for themselves. For example, in September 2015, Buffalo Center reported to DOH that the facility would have an annual rent of $600,000. A few months later, when Buffalo Center closed on its purchase of the facility, Rozenberg, as Buffalo Center’s owner, and Hagler, as Buffalo Center’s landlord, signed a new lease obligating the facility to pay an annual rent of $2 million — 233 percent greater than the rent reported to DOH.

Rozenberg and Hagler also caused the nursing homes to transfer money through loans to other facilities affiliated with or controlled by Centers Health Care, at no benefit to the nursing homes, staff, or residents. These loans, contrary to the mortgage and property loans, were often made without interest and were seldom repaid. In 2018 and 2019, the owners transferred nearly $5 million from Buffalo Center — money intended for New York Medicaid beneficiaries — to Centers Health Care facilities in other states. The loan was offered without interest, and $3.6 million of that debt remains outstanding, to the detriment of Buffalo Center.

The nursing homes regularly paid invoices from companies that were also controlled by Rozenberg, Hagler, and their families for services that either were not necessary or were not provided at all. BIS Funding, which is owned by Hagler and his son, received approximately $17.2 million from Centers Health Care-affiliated facilities from 2019 through 2021, including more than $3.3 million from these four nursing homes. There are no contracts detailing the scope of services provided to the facilities in exchange for the funds, and the services BIS Funding purportedly provided appear to overlap with work performed for the nursing homes by Centers Health Care’s other contractors, and thus, were duplicative and unnecessary, and also included baseless management fees.

Similarly, Skilled Staffing, which is owned by Rozenberg’s daughter, earned approximately $38.5 million from 2017 to 2021, 90 percent of which came from Centers Health Care-affiliated nursing homes. No contracts exist for the work, and the extent of services provided is not clear. Holliswood Center never hired any staff from Skilled Staffing, but nonetheless paid the company more than $170,000 over a period of one and half years. Skilled Staffing also paid $5 million to Rozenberg’s wife between 2019 and 2021 and transferred another $3 million to various Centers Health Care executives.

COVID-19 Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic exposed and exacerbated the deficient resident care and poor working conditions that resulted from Rozenberg and Hagler’s decisions. Under the added stress of the pandemic, the nursing homes’ already-tenuous management model snapped, leading to devastating consequences.

In addition to operating with insufficient staffing, the nursing homes failed to ensure proper infection control, such as quarantining sick residents, providing adequate and reliable health screenings, and equipping staff with personal protective equipment. Residents’ family members reported seeing staff without medical gowns, gloves, or face masks while on video calls with their loved ones.

As COVID-19 spread throughout the nursing homes, insufficient staffing was further reduced to skeleton crews, and the facilities were unable to adequately care for residents. Just two months into the pandemic, 70 residents — nearly a quarter of Holliswood Center’s population — had died from COVID-19. More than 400 residents died across all four nursing homes in 2020.

At Martine Center, the Assistant Director of Nursing (ADON) continued to report to work after exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 in early April 2020, telling her colleagues that she did not want to abandon them while they were so understaffed. On April 17, 2020, she punched out of work at Martine Center for the last time. By April 21, 2020, she was hospitalized and tested positive for COVID-19. She died in the hospital a few weeks later.

Throughout the pandemic, while both residents and staff died, suffered, and were otherwise neglected, Rozenberg and Hagler denied the nursing homes’ administrators’ requests for more staffing, fewer resident admissions, and salary increases for overburdened staff.

In the lawsuit Attorney General James seeks a preliminary injunction requiring the nursing homes to obtain and pay for a financial monitor and a healthcare monitor to oversee the facilities’ operations, and a permanent order from the court that would, among other measures:

o   Prohibit the nursing homes from admitting any new residents unless and until staffing meets appropriate standards for sufficient care;

o   Require the nursing homes to engage and pay for a financial monitor to oversee the nursing homes’ financial operations;

o   Require the nursing homes to engage and pay for a healthcare monitor to oversee the nursing homes’ healthcare operations and ensure residents’ outcomes improve;

o   Direct all respondents to fully disgorge the more than $83 million wrongfully received as part of the scheme and return the money to Medicaid; and

o   Direct all respondents, corporate, and individual, with the exception of the nursing homes, to pay statutory costs and reimburse the state for the cost of the investigation.

Investigations into other nursing homes and facilities throughout New York state are ongoing.

CHARGED WITH APPROACHING KIDS FOR EXPLICIT PHOTOS, SEX ACTS: Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz announced that James Villarruel was arraigned on a charge of promoting an obscene sexual performance by a child and other crimes after allegedly paying a 14-year-old girl to perform a sex act and take lewd photos and videos of him, and trying to pay a 12-year-old girl to take photos of him. Villarruel is accused of approaching the girls on a recent afternoon in Flushing as they walked home from school.

District Attorney Katz said: “The actions alleged here are any parent’s worst nightmare. Fortunately, the children bravely told family members what happened, enabling us to hold the defendant accountable for the disturbing charges against him.”

Villarruel, 32, of 270th Street in New Hyde Park, was arraigned last night on an 11-count complaint charging him with promoting an obscene sexual performance by a child, promoting a sexual performance by a child, felony luring a child, patronizing a person for prostitution in the second degree, forcible touching, public lewdness in the first degree, two counts of endangering the welfare of a child, stalking in the fourth degree, sexual abuse in the third degree and harassment in the second degree.

Queens Criminal Court Judge Maria Gonzalez ordered the defendant to return to court June 30. If convicted, Villarruel faces up to 8 years in prison.

According to the charges:

– On June 15, at approximately 2:30 p.m., Villarruel followed a 12-year-old girl walking home from her middle school on Colden Street in Flushing, approached her and asked, “What are you going to get your dad for Father’s Day” and, “Do you have any money.” He gave the child approximately $90 and told her she was pretty and that he wanted to do a photo shoot with her in nearby Kissena Park.

– As they walked toward the park, Villarruel placed his thumb on the girl’s face. The victim secretively took a photo of Villarruel with her phone and told him she needed to call her mother. The girl held her phone near her chest and Villarruel slapped it out of her hand and told her to swipe through her apps so he could see the phone’s contents. The frightened girl gave the money back to Villarruel, who again told her she was pretty and said, “I’ll see you next time.”

– About 20 minutes later, at 2:50 p.m., Villarruel approached another girl in the same area. He told the 14-year-old his name was John and asked her to take photos of him with his cell phone in exchange for $40.

– Villarruel said he wanted to take more photos in a nature setting and walked with her to Kissena Park, where they went to an isolated grassy area. Villarruel exposed and touched himself and asked the girl to take a photo. He also asked her to lay on top of him with her head facing down on his chest while he took a selfie. He then forced physical contact with the girl.

– Villarruel gave her $60 for taking the photos in the park.

– Video surveillance from the area showed Villarruel walking with both victims, who reported the incidents to family members.

THE WAR ON RATS, CONT’D: As part of the Adams administration’s ongoing commitment to “Get Stuff Clean” and continue the city’s war on rats, New York City Mayor Eric Adams and New York City Department of Sanitation (DSNY) Commissioner Jessica Tisch announced the launch of the next two phases in getting bags of trash off of city sidewalks. First, the Adams administration is publishing a final rule mandating that all food-related businesses put their trash in secure containers. Second, the administration is starting the rulemaking process on a new proposal to expand the containerization requirements to all chain businesses with five or more locations in New York City. When both rules are implemented, they will cover 25 percent of businesses across the five boroughs and require approximately 4 million pounds of waste produced each day to be placed in secure containers — making New York City’s streets cleaner and more welcoming to all.

“New York City used to be known for our mean streets, but, going forward, we’re going to be known for our clean streets,” said Mayor Adams. “Today, we take giant steps towards that goal by announcing new rules to containerize trash in our city that, once finalized, will cover 25 percent of businesses and result in 4 million pounds of trash getting disposed of in secure bins each day. These two simple proposals will have a transformative effect on our city and will eliminate the mountains of food waste piled up on bags on our sidewalks — making our streets cleaner for New Yorkers and less appetizing for the rats.”

“New York is the home of the best restaurants in the world. I know it, you know it — and the rats know it, too,” said DSNY Commissioner Tisch. “When you leave food behind, they’re ready for a gourmet meal, with the black bags outside food-related businesses basically serving as a to-go box for the rats. That ends now.”

This spring, DSNY published an approximately 100-page report, “The Future of Trash,” providing the first-ever detailed, block-by-block analysis of what it would take to get the black bags of trash — the all-you-can-eat buffet for rats — off the sidewalks. once and for all. While the bulk of the report focused on the 24 million pounds of residential waste that DSNY collects each day, it also explored solutions for dealing with commercial waste, which can be up to eight times the volume of residential waste in certain business districts.

In May, DSNY proposed a rule requiring all food-related businesses — including restaurants, caterers, grocery stores, delis, and bodegas, among others — to put trash and compostable material into secure containers rather than directly on the street. There are approximately 40,000 food-related businesses in the five boroughs — 20 percent of all businesses in the city — and these business types were selected first because they produce an outsized amount of waste, especially waste that attracts rats. Later this week, that rule will be published in the City Record, and it will go into effect on July 30, 2023.

The Adams administration is also building on its commitment to an aggressive, phased approach towards containerization by announcing a plan to expand the container requirement to all chain stores with five or more locations.

Under these two rules, businesses will have substantial flexibility on the type and location of containers, provided they have a lid and secure sides that keep the rats out. Containers may be stored either inside or within three feet of the property line.

“Getting trash off our sidewalks will help keep our streets squeaky clean and rat out some of the city’s most persistent pests,” said U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. “I applaud Mayor Adams for taking this rat-ical action to send New York’s whiskered menaces scurrying away for good, and I look forward to continuing to work together to bring about the tail end of New York’s plague of rodents.”

MINDFUL BREATHING PRACTICES COMING TO PUBLIC SCHOOLS: New York City Mayor Eric Adams, New York City Department of Education (DOE) Chancellor David C. Banks, and New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) Commissioner Dr. Ashwin Vasan announced that all New York City public schools — from pre-kindergarten through grade 12 — will soon be required to facilitate two-to-five minutes of mindful breathing practices in schools every day. The announcement aims to increase physical and mental health, enhance social-emotional learning, and improve New York City public schools’ culture. As part of this initiative, the city has already begun a rollout of a citywide professional development program for educators in mindful breathing practices.

Yoga and mindfulness integration into school communities addresses and supports significant social and emotional needs of the youngest New Yorkers. Studies show that mindful breathing practices support students’ ability to feel secure and receptive while learning — leaving positive impacts from the integration of these practices into the school experience.

“We live in a time of toxic social media communities, constant news flashes, and unfiltered alerts, all leaving a toll on the mental health of our students. But, today, it is time for our students to calm their nervous systems down,” said Mayor Adams. “Mindful breathing can be done by anyone, anywhere, and anytime. We are proud to announce another promise delivered on from our State of the City speech earlier this year that will soon engage all students in mindful breathing practices. Mindful breathing is another way we are teaching our young people healthy habits that will last a lifetime.”

The announcement follows through on another commitment Mayor Adams made in his State of the City address earlier this year, in an effort to ensure that young people have access to the tools they need to develop habits for good mental health and overall wellness throughout their lives.

The DOE’s Yoga & Mindfulness Teacher Preparation Program is the first Yoga Alliance-approved yoga and mindfulness program in a public school system nationwide. Yoga Alliance is the nation’s largest nonprofit association representing the yoga community. The Yoga & Mindfulness Teacher Preparation Program is building the capacity of school staff to integrate yoga and mindfulness into DOE public schools to engage students, teachers, and staff.

In March 2023, in partnership with the Yoga & Mindfulness Teacher Preparation Program, DOE began to roll out a professional development program to train educators and other school staff in the implementation of mindfulness breathing practices and tools that can be used in the classroom to support the social and emotional needs of students and the wellness of their entire school community. The professional development sessions are virtual and available to all staff.  Educators also have access to online resources to aid in facilitating these practices. In order to ensure schools are free to implement this work in the ways that best suit their school community, school leaders will be empowered to implement this initiative in individualized ways, but all New York City public schools will soon be required to offer all students mindful breathing practices in school every day.

In December 2019, then Brooklyn Borough President Adams’ Office funded the first cohort of 30 DOE employees to graduate and become certified as yoga and mindfulness instructors as part of the Yoga & Mindfulness Teacher Preparation Program.

“Mayor Adams, Chancellor Banks, and Commissioner Vasan understand that education requires a whole child approach: students’ mental wellbeing is as important to the learning process as the lesson plan or textbook,” said New York State Assemblymember Jenifer Rajkumar. “Mindful breathing practices can reduce depression, stress, and physical pain, while improving the immune system and cognitive ability. Teaching these practices to our children will lay the foundation for them to excel in school and in life. The DOE’s Yoga & Mindfulness Teacher Preparation Program is a powerful tool in Mayor Adams’ arsenal to fulfill his plan for our students to experience better health, emotional maturity, and supportive school cultures.”

DIWALI DESIGNATED PUBLIC SCHOOL HOLIDAY: Queens Borough President Donovan Richards Jr. stated the following in response to the long-awaited designation of Diwali as a holiday in New York City public schools, beginning in the 2023-24 academic year.

“Just as the Diwali holiday symbolizes, light has prevailed once again for thousands of Sikh, Hindu, Jain and Buddhist residents across Queens. Forcing families to choose between the education of their children and the practice of their faith as a unit is far from just, but I couldn’t be happier for all our Diwali-celebrating neighbors who will never again have to make that choice,” said Borough President Richards. “This push to establish Diwali as a public school holiday has been a long and arduous one, but Assemblymember Jenifer Rajkumar, Mayor Adams and all our faith leaders deserve tremendous credit for their persistence in making this day a reality. Congratulations to all our families who celebrate the Festival of Lights – may this fall’s Diwali be the most joyous yet.”

FASTEST DNA TESTING: New York City Mayor Eric Adams and New York City Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Jason Graham announced that, less than one year after the formation of the nation’s first-ever DNA Gun Crimes Unit at a public DNA laboratory, the New York City Office of Chief Medical Examiner (OCME) has achieved a 30-day or less turnaround time for testing and analysis of evidence from gun crimes. This unprecedented achievement not only delivers on a promise by Mayor Adams and Dr. Graham, but also secures New York City’s position as home to the fastest big city lab for the testing and analysis of evidence in gun crimes in the nation — strengthening public safety and the city’s criminal justice system.

“Public safety is the prerequisite to prosperity, and reducing gun violence is central to that mission. Last year, when we announced the DNA Gun Crimes Unit’s creation, we promised that this would be the fastest lab to analyze and test evidence from gun crimes. Today, we are proud to announce that the testing lab has achieved a 30-day or less turnaround time for testing and analysis of evidence from gun crimes,” said Mayor Adams. “New York City is now home to the fastest big city lab for testing and analyzing evidence. This means those involved in gun crime cases are being brought to justice faster, and we are getting more guns off the street. This is the real CSI: New York, where we are helping the criminal justice system to convict the guilty, exonerate the innocent, and keep our communities safe. And to those who commit crimes with a gun: The evidence doesn’t lie. Science is coming for you fast.”

Funded by an investment of $2.5 million, OCME has hired and trained 24 new forensic scientists to ensure a fully staffed DNA Gun Crimes Unit dedicated solely to the testing and analysis of evidence from gun crimes throughout the five boroughs. Funding also supported upgrades in laboratory management software, the purchase of new equipment, and supplies that helped achieve these historic results.

During the month of May 2023, OCME achieved a 28-day turnaround time for the DNA testing of gun crime evidence, surpassing the initial 30-day goal for the first time. The 30-day turnaround time is measured from when testing is requested by a district attorney to the distribution of the case report to the district attorney and the NYPD.

Faster processing of DNA gun crime evidence helps move cases through the criminal justice system to keep communities safer. Recent cases handled by the OCME laboratory included the shooting of a New York City police officer in Jamaica, Queens, in April 2023, as well as the fatal shooting of a deli worker on the Upper East Side of Manhattan in March 2023, where swift analysis of DNA evidence contributed to prompt indictments of suspects in both cases.

While the 28-day turnaround time for testing gun crime evidence is unprecedented, the OCME DNA laboratory continues to perform at high levels across the board. The turnaround time for all violent crimes, including homicides, sexual assaults, robberies, and assaults, stood at 33 days for the month ending May 2023 — a benchmark achieved by no other big city forensic laboratory.

OCME operates the largest public DNA crime laboratory in North America, responsible for testing physical evidence from criminal cases within New York City. The lab tests approximately 50,000 items of evidence each year across all categories of crime.

Managed and staffed by scientists in OCME’s Department of Forensic Biology, the city’s DNA laboratory serves the criminal justice system as an independent resource, with testing results used to convict the guilty and exonerate the innocent. The lab is accredited by the American National Standards Institute National Accreditation Board and the New York State Forensic Laboratory Accreditation program.

HONORING AFRICAN AMERICAN MUSICAL HERITAGE: U.S. Representative Gregory Meeks (NY-05) and Representative Sydney Kamlager-Dove (CA-37), joined by Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ), introduced a bicameral Resolution recognizing the contributions of African American music to America’s musical heritage, addressing the need for greater access to music education for African American students, and supporting the designation of June 2023 as African American Music Appreciation Month.

The bill acknowledges the legacy of African American music and honors the legendary Black musicians and artists who have greatly contributed to music history. Genres such as spirituals, jazz, ragtime, blues, forms of classical composition emerged from the revolutionary talents of African Americans and the hard work of these trailblazing artists.

“To African American communities, music is more than just entertainment, it has the power to heal, to empower, and to inspire change,” said Rep. Meeks. “I am honored to serve a district that was home to iconic musicians such as Count Basie, Ella Fitzgerald, and James Brown, and continues to be filled with creativity and artistic passion. Throughout history, African Americans have used music to connect to a rich African heritage and as a vehicle for expression in the face of subjugation and oppression. The spirit and influence of African American music continues to be deeply entrenched in the soul of our communities, our nation, and our world.”

“I am glad to join Congressman Meeks and Senator Booker in introducing this resolution recognizing African American Music Appreciation Month,” said Rep. Kamlager-Dove. “Our music has been a source of strength during the darkest chapters of American history. It has been the way our ancestors celebrated and mourned for centuries, and it is how we continue to express ourselves and exert our resilience. We must continue to uplift the work of Black artists and shine a light on their importance and integral influence on the music industry and American culture.”

“From jazz and blues to R&B and hip-hop, African American music continues to shape the fabric of our nation’s culture and society,” said Senator Booker. “Despite the outsized influence it has in the United States, African American music education is largely absent in our school curriculums. This resolution will not only recognize the immense contributions Black musicians have made to our nation, but will also expand access to music education so our children can appreciate and build upon our nation’s rich history of music.”

This Resolution reaffirms the effort to educate students about the heritage of Black culture in music and the need for African American students to have access to music education.

CITY’S FIRST JEWISH ADVISORY COUNCIL: New York City Mayor Eric Adams just announced the formation of the city’s first-ever Jewish Advisory Council. Members of the newly-formed council will focus on all issues affecting Jewish New Yorkers, including public safety, quality of life, and education, and will ensure Jewish communities across New York City are connected with all of the city’s resources and services available. Chaired by Joel Eisdorfer, senior advisor to Mayor Adams, the council will be comprised of 37 members and will convene regularly to discuss issues affecting the city’s Jewish community.

“Our Jewish community — the largest in the world outside of Israel — is a critical part of New York City,” said Mayor Adams. “From the top of the Bronx to the bottom of Staten Island, the work and contributions of our Jewish brothers and sisters are felt across all five boroughs. With antisemitic crimes up across the nation, our newly-formed Jewish Advisory Council will ensure that Jewish New Yorkers in every community have a seat at the table and have access to the support and resources the city offers.”

“The establishment of the Jewish Advisory Council demonstrates the Adams administration’s commitment to fostering strong relationships with the Jewish community in New York City,” said New York City Community Affairs Unit Commissioner Fred Kreizman. “The Jewish community is valued and vital to the vibrancy of New York City’s culture. I look forward to working together with Jewish community leaders from all five boroughs to address issues and ensure access to city resources.”

“The Jewish community is extremely fortunate to have a mayor who has a deep understanding of the challenges facing the Jewish community,” said Senior Advisor to the Mayor Joel Eisdorfer. “While antisemitic hate crimes are rising around the world, Mayor Eric Adams proudly, vocally, and physically stands with the Jewish community at every opportunity. With the creation of this unprecedented council, the mayor is clearly showing that actions speak louder than words and that he leads from the front.”

“I’ve seen firsthand Mayor Adams’ commitment to the Jewish community,” said Deputy Chief of Staff Menashe Shapiro. “Regardless of your denomination, affiliation, or sect, New York’s Jewish community has a mayor who understands the unique cultural and ethnic sensibilities of the Jewish community and who is dedicated to ensuring their needs are met and everyone is safe and secure.”

The council includes Jewish leaders from all five boroughs and across sectors, including not-for-profit organizations, community-based organizations, and religious leaders. “Today’s creation of the Jewish Advisory Council by Mayor Eric Adams is historic in several respects,” said David G. Greenfield, CEO, Met Council. “First, it brings together Jewish leaders of different backgrounds and denominations from across New York to work together. Second, it provides a regular forum for consultation with City Hall on issues that are critical to the broader Jewish community. Finally, it comes at a time that antisemitism is at a record high and proves the commitment that Mayor Adams has made to fight hatred and antisemitism. Mayor Eric Adams made history when he appointed the first Chasidic Jew, Joel Eisdorfer, to the role of senior advisor. Today’s announcement is equally important. We’re grateful for Mayor Adams’ leadership and look forward to working with Chair Joel Eisdorfer on this critical initiative.”

FEDERAL BROADBAND EQUITY FUNDING: Governor Kathy Hochul, Senator Schumer, Senator Gillibrand and the New York Congressional Delegation announced New York State’s ConnectALL Office has been allocated more than $664 million in funding from the federal Broadband Equity Access and Deployment Program, part of the 2021 Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. The BEAD allocation is the largest single investment in the ConnectALL program and will be used primarily for providing fiber optic infrastructure to locations in New York that currently have no broadband service.

“This transformative investment in New York’s ConnectALL program will be a gamechanger in advancing our statewide strategy to make affordable, high-speed internet available to all,” Governor Hochul said. “In today’s economy, reliable broadband access is an absolute necessity, and I thank the Biden administration, Majority Leader Schumer, Senator Gillibrand, and New York’s congressional delegation for continuing to prioritize critical infrastructure needs and for supporting our mission to expand broadband to every corner of our state.”

The $1+ billion ConnectALL initiative, announced by Governor Hochul in her January 2022 State of the State Address, is New York State’s largest-ever public investment in broadband, aimed at transforming the state’s digital infrastructure to connect all New Yorkers to the internet. In addition to funding to reach unserved and underserved locations, ConnectALL includes grant programs to invest in public broadband infrastructure, to upgrade service to affordable and public housing, and to support digital inclusion and education on using the internet.

New York will submit an initial grant distribution proposal to President Biden’s National Telecommunication and Information Administration (NTIA). Following approval of the initial proposal, the ConnectALL Office will solicit applications from internet service providers to build new broadband infrastructure in unserved and underserved areas of the state. That package of applications will be included in New York’s final proposal to NTIA, after which the state will receive its full BEAD allocation to issue grant awards.

The BEAD allocation follows a $100 million award from the Treasury Department’s Coronavirus Capital Projects Fund announced by the Governor in May and two planning grants totaling over $7 million announced in December.

The BEAD allocation is based largely on New York’s portion of the nation’s unserved locations, as reported by the Federal Communications Commission. The FCC’s map originally showed New York had 106,290 unserved locations. In October 2022, Governor Hochul issued a challenge to the FCC’s broadband data maps, which revealed more than 31,000 underserved and unserved locations missing from the FCC’s data, following a statewide mobilization of regional, county, and local officials and New York’s own, first-of-its-kind interactive broadband map. In May, the FCC released updated data including over 140,000 unserved locations in New York and nearly 38,000 locations that have access to the minimal level of internet speeds to qualify as underserved.

Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries said, “In New York and throughout America, there are far too many under-resourced communities without the ability to connect online and engage with family, work, school and telemedicine. Working with President Biden, House Democrats passed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act to ensure that every single community throughout our nation has access to high-speed internet. We invested $65 billion to expand broadband in every single zip code. I thank President Biden and Governor Hochul for their leadership in shepherding $665 million in crucial investments across New York.”

Representative Grace Meng said, “In Congress, I’m proud to have helped create the $7.1 billion Emergency Connectivity Fund, which helped schools and libraries in Queens and across New York purchase Wi-Fi hotspots, modems, routers, internet service and internet-enabled devices so that we could increase access to the internet in our communities. I thrilled to hail this BEAD allocation as well, and glad to see that the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law that I helped pass continues to deliver for our state. I will continue championing the crucial issue of improving internet and broadband access, and I thank Governor Hochul for announcing these funds.”

FUNDING FOR COLDEN AUDITORIUM: Assemblywoman Nily Rozic (D,WF-Fresh Meadows) is announcing an allocation of $250,000 to Queens College’s Colden Auditorium at the Kupferberg Center for Arts. The new investment will upgrade the auditorium’s advanced systems, installing new theatrical industry standard equipment with updated lighting, theatrical rigging, video projections, and orchestral as well as choral systems. These much needed changes will ensure technical and safety demands are being met, serving a more diverse group of performers and audiences. It will also offer artists the opportunity to perform in an improved professional and top-quality venue.

“In supporting our community whenever possible, shaping great minds academically both inside and outside of the classroom, Queens College never wavers in its dedication as a strong community partner,” said Assemblywoman Rozic. “That’s why I am thrilled to provide sustaining sponsorship of the cultural staple that is the Kupferberg Center for the Arts. With this new funding, the Colden Auditorium will continue to serve thousands of people each year, whether fans of an international performer or proud families attending a graduation.”

“We are deeply grateful to Assemblywoman Nily Rozic for the $250,000 she allocated to help renovate Colden Auditorium at Queens College. Many hundreds of thousands of Queens residents and beyond have utilized Colden, the largest such indoor venue in the county. We host concerts, commencements, speakers, theatrical productions, and civic programs, reflecting the rich diversity of the world’s borough. The generous support of Assemblymember Rozic will greatly assist in modernizing and maintaining this invaluable community asset.” said Queens College President Frank Wu.

“Colden Auditorium has been an important place for public gatherings since it first opened in the 1960’s. And, today, it is still a place where Queens comes together. Assemblywoman Rozic’s funding will support critical renovations and upgrades to the auditorium’s technical and production capabilities. This will position Colden for ongoing success and relevance for years to come.” said Kupferberg Center for the Arts Director Jon Yanofsky. The Colden Auditorium is located on the Queens College campus in Flushing and seats 2,100 people. Last year, Rozic attended a ribbon cutting ceremony for Queens College’s new and improved athletic track and field, for which she allocated a $500,000 grant for its renovation.

METS, NY BLOOD CENTER TEAM UP: New York Blood Center (NYBC) will be partnering with the New York Mets to encourage New Yorkers to give blood by offering presenting donors a NY Mets t-shirt from Sunday, June 25 – Sunday, July 9. Additionally, all platelet and double red cell donors during this timeframe will receive a voucher redeemable for two tickets to a select 2023 NY Mets home game. These promotions will be available at any of NYBC’s 19 donor centers.

The NY Mets have been a long-time partner of NYBC, hosting blood drives multiple times a year and encouraging blood donation during some of the most critical times for the blood supply. The NY Mets recently hosted their summer blood drive at the Piazza Club at Citi Field, where they collected 713 blood donations, bringing the organization’s total blood donations to over 15,000.

The summer months are always difficult for the blood supply, especially around the 4th of July holiday weekend, when school breaks and summer travel plans make blood donation less of a priority. In addition, the unprecedented COVID-19 health crisis has caused a loss of blood donations, including 20,000 fewer donations from high school and youth donors each year. Hospitals and patients rely upon a steady flow of volunteer donors to receive life-saving blood products, but blood donations still have not returned to pre-pandemic levels.

“We are so grateful to the New York Mets for always stepping up to the plate to host blood drives and encourage blood donations, especially during the summer months, which are a critical time for the blood supply,” said Andrea Cefarelli, Senior Vice President at New York Blood Center. “We’re calling on all eligible New Yorkers, especially our youth donors, to come out and support the home team by donating blood and giving the gift of life this week.”

Blood donors can give every 56 days, and platelet donors can give twice per month. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently lifted eligibility restrictions for individuals who lived in Europe during certain periods of time. To view current eligibility guidelines, visit or call 800.688.0900.

To make an appointment at a donor center near you, donors can call 800-933-2566 or visit this link. Can’t donate blood? You can still support NYBC’s mission by texting ‘NYBC’ to ‘20222’ to give $25.

104TH PCT ANNOUNCED NAT’L NIGHT OUT: The 104th Precinct announced its upcoming National Night Out Against Crime will be held on Tuesday, August 1, from 5:30 pm – 8:30 pm in Juniper Valley Park in Middle Village. There will be Public Safety Info, a Free Concert by the Shadetree Mechanics (sponsored by Juniper Park Civic Association & Queensboro UNICO), Fun for the Kids, Dance Performances, Free Food, Community Vendors, and a live DJ. “Join the NYPD and the 104th Precinct Community Council to celebrate National Night Out Against Crime.”

104th Precinct Community Council President Jon Kablack explained, “National Night Out, ‘America’s Night Out Against Crime’ began as an effort to promote involvement in crime prevention activities, police-community partnerships, neighborhood camaraderie, along with sending a message to criminals letting them know that neighborhoods are organized and fighting back. On Tuesday, August 1st, the 104th Precinct Community Council is hosting its annual National Night Out event and is asking local neighbors and businesses to contribute either financially, or in the form of in-kind donations and/or services. This is such an important event in our community and your donation will have a significant impact on the ability of our Council to sponsor this free community event. We hope that you would consider supporting us and joining us on this important day. With your support we know we will meet our goal! Thank you for partnering with our Community Council. If you have any questions, please contact the 104th Precinct Community Affairs Office at (718) 386-2431. Thank you for your time, consideration, and for your interest in our communities.”


NYC Councilmember Lynn Schulman issued the following statement following her victory yesterday in District 29’s Democratic primary:

“Now that the results are in, I am heartened by my decisive victory in this primary. This is a result of showing up for our communities, speaking to neighbors, and producing results since I took office. We have fought to make our district healthier and safer, invest in our schools, and support our seniors — and we have succeeded. Government can be an incredible tool for our communities if we elect the right people, and as our country veers to the right, we are reminded how vital it is to have progressive women at all levels of government, including the City Council.

“We won our primary by building bridges — the same way we are delivering results in the City Council. With the help of a broad coalition of diverse community leaders, colleagues in government, and organized labor, I spread across our Queens communities my vision for the change we need. Similarly, over the last year and a half, I have helped unite New Yorkers of every background who share our hopes and dreams.

“Lastly, I am humbled by the opportunity to continue to represent the community I grew up in, alongside the new constituents I have gained. I am beyond excited to be on my way to a second term in the City Council advocating for a Queens of the future that we can all be proud of.”

Councilmember Linda Lee has declared victory in the Democratic Primary Election for New York City Council District 23. She issued the following statement:

“I’ve dedicated my life to serving our most vulnerable populations – our older adults and our children. As your Councilmember for the past year and half, I have worked tirelessly to secure historic funding for our schools, to support law enforcement and make our neighborhoods safer, and to deliver a better quality of life for our seniors and families.

“I am honored and humbled that Eastern Queens voters saw through the misinformation, divisive rhetoric, baseless attacks, and negative campaigning of my opponents, and voted to allow me to continue to serve our community.

“I want to thank my family, friends, campaign team, colleagues, the unions and issue advocacy organizations, and local supporters who helped get me here tonight because I couldn’t have done this alone. Tonight, I will celebrate, but tomorrow I’ll be right back at work building on our accomplishments and fighting for Eastern Queens residents.”

Councilmember Julie Won released the following statement on her Primary election victory: “I am incredibly humbled by my neighbors’ overwhelming support for my re-election to the City Council! From the beginning, my campaign has always centered the needs of the working class, immigrants, and families across the district. From approving a record amount of permanent affordable housing, and protecting our education budget, to delivering our district’s fair share of city funding and free WiFI for all our neighbors in NYCHA – I am proud of the work I’ve done in my first term as Council Member.

“Our landslide victory demonstrated that a campaign rooted in positivity, real accomplishments, and genuine grassroots support will always triumph over one built on lies, personal attacks, and dirty tactics. I will always be grateful for each member of my amazing team, all of the progressive activists, labor unions, and hundreds of volunteers who stood with me to turn out every last vote. It has been the honor of my life to serve the people and places I love. Now, it’s time to get back to work!

NYC Councilmember Shekar Krishnan released the following statement: “We Won! Yesterday was a victory for the taxi workers and deliveristas, the working parents and teachers, the artists, and activists. For all who believe our great city can provide housing, education, health care, and green space to all of us. For all who know that our city’s future is not bleak but bright. I am so grateful to fight for our future alongside allies like you.”

LIU SECURES $73K TECH FUNDING: State Senator John Liu announced $73,500 in technology funding for PS 376Q following the successful advocacy of one the school’s young students.

Four years ago, while attending a community event in Bayside, Senator Liu met 6-year-old Maxwell Rosenfeld who struck up a conversation about his school, PS 376Q in Bayside. The conversation deviated from most typical conversations with 6-year-olds, for when Senator Liu asked him how he likes his school, the young Baysider asked his State Senator for technology funding.

Maxwell followed up on his request with an official letter (and a picture he drew memorializing their meeting) to Senator Liu. Max continued to lobby Senator Liu over the years for this funding, which finally proved fruitful this month when Senator Liu announced his efforts were successful in securing $73,500 in technology funding from the State budget. Now a graduating 5th grader, Senator Liu met with Maxwell to thank him for his outstanding service to his school community.

State Senator John Liu, who chairs the Senate Committee on NYC Education, stated, “Elected officials often get requests for funding, but this request was unique because of Max’s young age, his knowledge about how the system works, and especially his dogged persistence! He lobbied and wrote letters to get what he knew his school needed. Unfortunately, the pandemic slowed his request down, but today we’re happy to announce that his efforts were successful in securing technology funding that will benefit his school community for years to come. If there’s a greater lesson for Max and his fellow students here, it’s that no obstacle is too great to overcome, and don’t ever let the adults say you’re too young to make a difference! Congratulations to Max and to all of PS 376Q!”

Maxwell Rosenfeld stated, “Technology helps us learn better and will prepare us for the future. I’m proud I was able to force Senator Liu to do the right thing.”

—With contributions by Annette Hanze Alberts

This column was originated by John A. Toscano

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