FOR BREAKING NEWS VISIT WWW.QNS.COM FEBRUARY 25, 2021 • THE QUEENS COURIER 25
FOR BREAKING NEWS VISIT WWW.QNS.COM FEBRUARY 25, 2021 • THE QUEENS COURIER 25
Ranked-choice voting education takes on new importance during Black History Month
CUOMO IS BOTCHING
I’m sure that Governor Andrew
Cuomo will not hold a press conference
to announce that as part of his proposed
state budget, he will be reallocating
$160 million dedicated for our public
mass transit agencies into the state’s general
This includes the Metropolitan
Transportation Authority receiving $145
million less than anticipated from Albany
as part of the next April 1, 2021, through
March 30, 2022, state budget. (Source:
“Cuomo pushes $145M raid on funds dedicated
to cash-strapped MTA” NY Daily
News by Clayton Guse - Feb. 12).
At the same time, MTA Chairman Pat
Foye, Senator Charles Schumer, Mayor
Bill de Blasio and other elected offi cials are
lobbying Washington for a third COVID-
19 bailout of $8 billion or more. Th e
Federal Transit Administration already
provided the MTA with a total of $8 billion
under two previous COVID-19 bailouts.
Th is is all on top of $1.4 in 2020 and
$1.5 billion in other formula and discretionary
funding provided by the Federal
Transit Administration to the MTA.
Th e receipt of federal funding was never
meant to be used by Governor Cuomo
to back out previously committed state
funding to the MTA as a means to balance
his own budget.
Will Senator Schumer hold Cuomo
accountable? I doubt it, as he is likely too
busy with plans to run for another term
Foye has no problems blaming
Washington for his multibillion-dollar
shortfalls. He will never publicly disagree
with his benefactor Cuomo, who appointed
him to his position.
Reduction in previously promised
fi nancial support from Albany by Cuomo
is the same thing as giving a box of
partially eaten Valentine’s Day candy to
Larry Penner, Great Neck
Assemblyman Harvey Epstein of
Manhattan and state Senator Pete Harckham
of Westchester County have proposed a bill
in the state Legislature that would legalize
accessory dwelling units (ADUs) throughout
the state including in the fi ve boroughs
of New York City.
ADUs are smaller homes on the same lot
as a primary residence.
Th is bill would legalize garage conversions,
basement apartments and other structures
on lots already containing an occupied
We already have a huge problem with illegal
conversions in our communities. Our
schools are overcrowded, our infrastructure
is strained and street parking is increasingly
diffi cult in many areas. Th e current problems
with illegal conversions could be exacerbated
with an infl ux of even more people
occupying legal ADUs.
How many people would be allowed in an
ADU per property? How many ADUs per
property? Would an onsite parking space
be required on the property for an additional
ADU renter? Th ere could also be a safety
issue with additional people living on a
property in an ADU as well as in an illegal
conversion. Th ere are so many potential
issues and problems if this proposal
Th e purpose of this bill is to ostensibly
create additional units of aff ordable housing.
But who is going to regulate what rents
would be charged for these units? Th e property
owner could charge ADU occupants
whatever the going rate would be.
How fair would this be for other property
owners who invested their money in a home
where they believed they would be living in
a community with some open space and not
having to live in a crowded area?
Th ere are arguments being made that this
legislation is needed to thwart exclusionary
zoning in our communities. Th e contextual
rezonings that were done a few years
back were based on the housing stock present
in each neighborhood. Everyone in our
communities had an opportunity to comment
on the zoning designations being put
forth by the Department of City Planning.
No zoning designation was assigned to
exclude anyone from any community, in my
Few people would object if a homeowner
chooses to expand their home legally following
all building and zoning regulations
to provide living space for a growing family
or for elderly relatives. But legalizing all
ADUs could potentially have an adverse
eff ect on most communities.
Henry Euler, Bayside
letters & comments
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BY KENNY COHEN
Since its founding in
1909 in New York City,
the NAACP has played a
central role in both voter
education and voter
equality in the history
of this country. From its central role in
the enactment of the Voting Rights Act
of 1965, to helping Black voters get registered
in the Jim Crow South, the NAACP
has always been dedicated to our mission
of empowering voters.
It’s an important story to remember and
celebrate this Black History Month, on
the heels of a national election where we
fought voter suppression and allegations
of election fraud targeted specifi cally at
Th is year, we have a new way of voting
in New York City known as rankedchoice
voting (RCV). And as always,
when a change to our democratic process
comes around, the NAACP is at the
forefront of making sure our community
is educated and that everyone has a
fair chance to get out and exercise their
civic duty, especially historically disenfranchised
Voters in Queens Council District 31
used RCV to cast their ballots in the Feb.
23 special election and voters citywide
will do so in June. RCV eliminates the
“spoiler eff ect,” meaning that more Black
and brown candidates can run without
worrying about canceling each other out.
It’s also been proven to elect more women
and fi rst-time candidates. And it means
that candidates from outside our communities
have to actually campaign for
our votes, instead of just relying on their
base. Most importantly, the eventual winner
always succeeds with a majority of the
vote, so no more of these fractured primaries
where someone squeaks by with
less than 50 percent.
So what is RCV?
It’s simple. RCV allows voters to rank
fi ve candidates in order of preference, or
vote for just one as they always have. If
no one wins with a majority (more than
50 percent), the candidate that came in
last is eliminated and your second-choice
votes get counted and so on until there’s
a majority winner. RCV will apply to primaries
and special elections for all local
offi ces including City Council, borough
president, comptroller, public advocate
RCV has the potential to usher in
a new era in New York City politics:
In California, RCV has increased representation
across the board, including
the election of the fi rst Black woman to
mayor of San Francisco. Candidates of
color in the Bay Area now win 62 percent
of elections, compared to 38 percent prior
to RCV. Many community-based organizations
like ours have been doing the
work to make sure voters know what to
expect when they head to the polls.
In partnership with Rank the Vote
NYC, we helped hand out 3,000 pieces
of literature to voters during early voting
weekend for the special election in CD24,
and we’ll continue to sponsor and participate
in forums with various partners to
spread the word on RCV.
Th e history of election reform in this
country is the story of Black and brown
people fi ghting for our right to cast a ballot
despite vicious voter suppression laws,
and that fi ght is nowhere near over, as
Stacey Abrams proved in Georgia this
fall. We are confi dent that Black voters
will be able to rank their preferences in
an RCV election, just like everyone else,
but there’s a responsibility to community
groups, candidates and the city to make
sure voters feel empowered as they head
to the ballot box.
Th e NAACP is on the job, just as we
have been for over 100 years.
Kenny Cohen is president of the northeast
Queens branch of the NAACP.