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photo of Grace Meng2008 Questionnaire response from:
Grace Meng, candidate for State Assembly (22nd Assembly District, Queens)


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Candidate Name: Grace Meng

Candidate for Assembly District: 22

 

Campaign Name: Grace Meng for State Assembly

Campaign Address: 136-18 39th Avenue, Flushing, N.Y. 11354

Do you have a campaign office? Yes.

If so, is it wheelchair accessible? Yes. 2 elevators and no steps.

Campaign Manager: Michael Olmeda

Phone: 917 - 975 - 4222

Email: michael.olmeda @ gmail.com, gracemeng @ gmail.com

Website: GraceMeng.com

 

Key endorsements to date: Democratic Club of Flushing

Community organizations:

  • Queens Chinese Women's Association
  • Flushing Forum for Political Development, an umbrella group of 28 Chinese organizations
  • Southeast Asians for Grace Meng
  • Ling Sing Association
  • Love Unites Us Senior Center

Political leaders:

  • Former Councilwoman Julia Harrison
  • Former Assemblyman Jimmy Meng
  • Hon. Fernando Ferrer

Local community leaders: Susan Wu Rathbone

 

 

 

  1. ACTION SHOWS COMMITMENT!

     

    1. While in public office/prior to this campaign, what have you accomplished in regard to advancing disability rights? This can include work towards accessible housing, transportation, employment, health care, education, and including people with disabilities in the political process?

      As counsel to a previous Assemblyman from Flushing and as now as a community activist and public interest lawyer, I worked to get our local train station to be handicapped-accessible and advocated for desperately needed increase in funding for disabled CUNY students. My focus on subway and railroad station accessibility also continues to include connections from bus to train. Another focus is the difficulties faced by those using the Flushing LIRR. In addition, the connection from the subway to LIRR at Woodside and at Willets Point is in desperate need of attention, specifically for those with disabilities. I have also worked with and received an award from Queens College's Committee for Disabled Students. Some of my neighbors have to travel eastbound to another LIRR station via bus in order to even be able to get on the LIRR train to go to work in Manhattan.

       

    2. Will you commit to only attend and/or sponsor events that are accessible to people with disabilities including providing written materials in alternate formats, providing assistive listening systems, and sign language interpreters as well as ensuring that locations are physically accessible?

      Much as is practically possible, yes. Equal access to all facilities is the law and a matter of basic fairness. However, I would point out that it is my obligation and responsibility to, for example, attend community meetings or union organizing rallies on the third floor of a loft warehouse though not accessible. When attending such events I would highlight that we were speaking or organizing in a non-ADA compliant facility.

       

  2. GENERAL QUESTIONS:

     

    1. What personal and professional experience have you had with people with disabilities in your personal life and in the workplace? See my answer to Question #1a.

    2. Are you willing to hire and to provide reasonable accommodation (e.g. flex or part time) for staff members with disabilities?

      Yes, I am willing and interested in hiring staff members with disabilities and would gladly provide all reasonable accommodations for such staff. My community center has already helped people apply for DRIE and also various other applications for benefits. I already have someone who is disabled in a wheelchair working for me.

       

    3. How will you work closely with the disability community to assure passage of vitally needed legislation through the State Legislature? What will be your strategy?

      I will meet regularly with representatives and leaders with the disability community to assure that their voices are heard in Albany. They will be part of the advisory board I intend to create for my office. In fact, I look forward to bringing advocates up to Albany to better communicate our shared priorities with my colleagues and other members of government, including the judiciary.

       

  3. CIVIL RIGHTS

     

    1. What will you do at the State level to reverse the negative impact of recent decisions in Federal Courts which are undercutting the powers of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 to protect the civil rights of people with disabilities in New York State?

      I will raise awareness in our dynamic Asian language media of how Bush Administration judicial appointments have kept the courts from hearing cases that have an adverse impact on people with disabilities. I would organize meetings with our US Senators around this issue and press for their increased attention to these matters during judiciary confirmation hearings. Similar to how gun-control and reproductive rights advocates, on both sides of those issues, organize and pressure, we should do the same on ADA concerns.

       

    2. How would you change the laws of New York State to protect the rights of its citizens with disabilities?

      I would push for legislation that improves state and city services for people with disabilities and advocate for legislation that will stop systemic biases against people with disabilities.

       

  4. MEDICAID

     

    While the State is focused on reducing the costs of Medicaid and other programs, persons with disabilities need to continue to have access to the services and supports they need and choose.

    1. Would you oppose proposals which would negatively affect eligibility, benefits, coverage, and/or access to services for Medicaid beneficiaries and eliminate the systemic bias that leads to unwanted placement in nursing homes and other institutions?

      Yes, I would oppose proposals that negatively affect eligibility, benefits, coverage and/or access to services for Medicaid beneficiaries and I will also work to eliminate systemic bias that leads to unwanted placement in nursing homes and other institutions.

       

    2. Would you seek to promote comprehensive long term care reform that will not reduce coverage or access to services?

      Yes.

       

    3. Would you increase rental/housing subsidies to participants in the new Nursing Facility Transition and Diversion Medicaid waiver program?

      Yes.

       

  5. HEALTH INSURANCE

     

    1. Timothy's Law was designed to end health insurance discrimination by enacting parity in coverage for people with biologically-based psychiatric disabilities. However, returning veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) are not covered. Do you favor amending Timothy's Law to provide coverage for PTSD?

      Yes, I do support increasing coverage for PTSD and working with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to make sure that wounded soldiers return to this country and receive every benefit possible that helps them reintegrate into civilian life because of the great sacrifices they have made for this country. Again, representing a diverse and dynamic immigrant community, becoming more and more politically active, would allow me to pressure our federal elected officials on these issues.

       

    2. Under Kendra's Law, a state-funded Medicaid grants program was established to provide medications for eligible individuals with psychiatric disabilities upon release or discharge from institutions to eliminate some of the problems associated with the Medicaid coverage gap. Do you support Medicaid Presumptive Eligibility legislation which would eliminate the standard 45 days coverage gap that blocks access to treatment?

      Yes, Medicaid Presumptive Eligibility should be extended to close the coverage gap.

       

    3. Would you expand Elderly Pharmaceutical Insurance Coverage program (EPIC) to provide the same level of eligibility and coverage to persons with disabilities under age 65?

      Yes, people with disabilities should be eligible for EPIC.

       

  6. HOUSING

     

    1. We are in the midst of a housing crisis. Accessible, affordable housing is in short supply. People with disabilities are being priced out of the market. Do you support the creation of a housing trust fund for persons with disabilities?

      Yes, affordable housing should be available to people with disabilities and a trust fund is an appropriate vehicle for promoting this plan. I look forward to working with the Chair of the Housing Committee in the State Assembly on this. Flushing's - and all of New York City's real estate boom leaves out too many. New apartment buildings springing up offer little for long-time residents and even less attention paid to community input. I will work to must ensure a Flushing that moves forward for all segments of the community and address the needs of special needs populations and accessibility.

       

    2. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 requires housing developers to set aside a certain percentage of accessible units for persons with disabilities when federal funds are used for construction. Do you favor incorporating these provisions into State law so that the Dept. of Housing and Community Renewal can be empowered to enforce these provisions?

      Yes.

       

    3. Visitability sets guidelines to ensure newly constructed multi-family dwellings have basic accessible/adaptable features to permit people with disabilities can visit, and for residents to "age in place," without having to move out when age and/or disability set in. Do you support incorporating the concept of "visitability" in the New York State Building Code?

      Yes.

       

    4. What is your position on expanding DRIE (Disabled Rent Increase Exemption) to have the same income eligibility limits as SCRIE (Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption)? Currently SCRIE's income cap is $27,000, while DRIE's is $18,600.

      It's only fair that it's the same.

       

  7. VOTING ACCESS & HAVA

    With the recent decision to acquire voting machines that attempt to meet the accessibility standards of the Help America Vote Act (HAVA), many poling places in New York State remain inaccessible to persons with disabilities. Do you favor the elimination of provisions in Section 4-104 (1-a) of the NYS Election Law allowing waiver of polling place accessibility standards?

    I favor any act of legislation that will improve voter accessibility, opening up the polls to more people. Not allowing access is tantamount to disenfranchisement and I feel very passionately about engaging as many people in our political process as possible.

     

  8. EDUCATION

     

    1. Despite Section 504 and the Americans with Disabilities Act, students with disabilities face problems when pursuing higher education. These statutes do not specify how students should request accommodations or assistance in asserting their rights under the law. Will you support a fully funded office of disability services on each SUNY and CUNY campus to assist students with disabilities in securing accommodations?

      Yes.

       

    2. How do you propose dealing with a school district that deny civil rights to disabled students even after the State Division of Civil Rights affirms the student's rights such as to use an assist animal?

      I would work with all parties - parents and school officials - to craft a remedy to each case and to implement more comprehensive guidelines for the same.

       

  9. TRANSPORTATION

     

    1. Do you favor an expansion of accessible transportation options for people with disabilities in NYS?

      Absolutely, accessible and affordable transportation options are an important issue to me.

       

    2. Will you support Assembly Member Kellner's proposed bill requiring NYC to transition to a 100% accessible taxi fleet?

      I think a 100% accessible taxi fleet should be a goal of NYC.

       

    3. Do you support legislation requiring car services, and all shuttle services to purchase wheelchair accessible vehicles or otherwise ensure that they have the capacity to serve persons with disabilities?

      I think that every neighborhood should have affordable, timely, and accessible private transportation options. The health of our neighbors depend on it.

       

Date: August 4, 2008

 

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For other candidates running for State Senator and State Assembly positions, go to the Questionnaires section

 

 

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