Ron Kim

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Ron Kim

Caban supporters and endorsers

The La Boom Nightclub in Woodside, Queens, was packed wall to wall with hundreds of supporters. People were chanting “Sí se Puede” and “Black and brown lives matter.” That was the scene at approximately 11:15 pm June 25 2019 when Tiffany Caban declared herself the winner in the Democratic primary for district attorney.

Tiffany Caban was a virtually unknown public defender until February 2019. Cabán built a grassroots campaign that brought in community organizations, such as Make The Road, and political groups, including the Working Families Party, Citizen Action, and the Democratic Socialists of America.

Cabán was endorsed by Larry Krasner, the District Attorney from Philadelphia who led the way in the movement for transformative justice. Her national endorsers included Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez as well as Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.

Local endorsers included: NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer; NYS Senators Jessica Ramos, James Sanders, Julia Salazar, and Michael Gianaris; NYS Assemblymember Ron Kim; and NYC council members Jimmy Van Bramer and Antonio Reynoso.

Actress Susan Sarandon tweeted this morning; “@CabánForQueens victory over the ‘machine’ in Queens makes me proud to be from Jackson Heights and shows once again that a people’s movement can bring real change, real justice.”[1]

Lunar New Year, school holiday

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Grace Meng has worked many years, with Asian Americans for Equality affiliates, to promote legislation making Chinese Lunar New Year, a school holiday in New York.

On January 31, 2013, a press conference was held outside P.S. 20 in Flushing. State Senators Daniel Squadron (D-Chinatown) and Toby Ann Stavisky (D-Flushing), Assemblymember Ron Kim (D-Flushing), and Congresswoman Grace Meng (D-Queens) urged the City to make the Asian Lunar New Year a school holiday so that New York City's growing number of Asian American students can celebrate with their families without missing class.

Legislation (S160/A276) sponsored by Senator Squadron and Assemblyman Kim, and co-sponsored by Senator Stavisky, would establish the day of the Asian Lunar New Year as a school holiday in municipalities with significant Asian American populations of at least 7.5 percent.

For years, now-Congresswoman Meng carried the legislation in the Assembly, along with Squadron in the Senate.

“When I served in the state legislature, I led the effort to make the Lunar New Year a public school holiday, and worked with Speaker Sheldon Silver to pass the bill in the Assembly,” said Grace Meng. “I am glad that my successor Ron Kim will now be taking up the cause. Making the Lunar New Year a school holiday would recognize the important customs and culture of Asian Americans, and it would highlight the vital role that the Asian American community plays in our city. I am happy to continue my support for this important measure."[2]

Asian American Federation

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As part of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, the Asian American Federation hosted a citywide Asian Pacific American policy roundtable at the Queens Public Library in Flushing on May 30 2014. The discussion highlighted ways Asian-Pacific Americans could leverage their purchasing power to educate and influence corporations and discussed programs that work with entrepreneurs to launch new businesses, the challenges of owning a small business and what elected leaders can do to help small businesses overcome economic downturns in order to flourish and thrive.

The panel began with a welcome by Jo-Ann Yoo, the federation's interim executive director, and keynote remarks by Chinese-American US Congresswoman Grace Meng. New York State Assemblyman Ron Kim and Chinese-American New York City council member Peter Koo also addressed the audience.

The Panelists were Betty Lo, vice-president of community alliances and consumer engagement at Nielson; John Choe, One Flushing director and founder; Agha Muhammad Saleh,founder of the Asian American Merchants and Neighborhood Alliance; and moderator Howard Shih of the Asian American Federation.

"Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders continue to enrich our nation and make tremendous contributions to virtually every facet of our society. But as we celebrate the accomplishments, we must also address the ongoing needs and concerns of the AAPI community," Meng said.

By improving education, immigration reform, assisting small businesses, providing opportunities for economic success and tackling quality of life matters and other important issues, the Asian American and Pacific Islander community can be further strengthened, Meng said.

Council member Koo echoed similar ideas. "We need to put our buying power to use to ensure that those who wish to succeed commercially in our community do so by being respectful to our culture and our linguistic diversity," he said.

Koo described his personal experiences coming to America. "Forty years ago I came to the US to study pharmacy," said Koo. "I went to the pharmacy and said 'Where are our people?' "

Koo also expressed the need for Asian Americans to have equal entitlement in education, work, and business. One-sixth of Asian Americans live below the poverty line, he said. "Just because we are doctors, lawyers, engineers they think we are model citizens and don't need the help of the government, but we share the same burden of disease and poverty," he said.

Choe said up to 30 percent of Asian Americans who live in Queens are poor and suffer from lack of housing and food. "Stereotypes and perceptions portrayed on TV of Asians are not accurate," he said. "We have to get new information out." Ten percent of Asian Americans are jobless and Flushing has one of the greatest concentrations of Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese businessmen, according to Choe . "We need to provide services to help them become even more confident business owners and be able to express themselves linguistically," said Choe, stressing that One Flushing was ready to help develop better narratives for Asian Americans to the American public.

Choe also talked about how Queens is currently celebrating the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the World's Fair in Queens, but in the commemoration there was no mention of Asian Americans. "We need to better brand and package our community," said Choe.

Assemblyman Ed Bronstein also talked about passing the dream act as a way to help Asian Americans.[3]

“A New Beginning”

According to CEO John Choe — Community leaders announced that, “A New Beginning,” the first anniversary celebration of the Greater Flushing Chamber of Commerce will take place Thursday, October 29 2015, 6–9pm, at historic Flushing Town Hall, located at 137-35 Northern Blvd, Flushing NY 11354.

The Chamber’s anniversary celebration is led by an honorary host committee of community leaders, including Borough President Melinda Katz, Congresswoman Grace Meng, Senator Toby Ann Stavisky, Assemblyman Ron Kim, Assemblywoman Nily Rozic, Councilman Peter Koo, the Reverend Richard McEachern, Simon Gerson, Christopher Kui, Don Capalbi, Mike Cheng, Taehoon Kim, Ellen Kodadek, Michael Lam, Alfred Rankins, Maureen Regan, Leo Zhang, Al Harris, Perka Chan, Carmen M. Colon, Alice Lee, Edna Rutledge, Haide Chen, Alfonso Quiroz, Regina Im, Lloyd Cambridge, and John Choe.

The Flushing Chamber is a multicultural membership association of entrepreneurs, business owners, and civic leaders representing the most diverse community in New York.

"We've had an amazing year of community service and invite you to come celebrate our achievements as well as honor those who have provided leadership in bringing us together," stated Simon Gerson, President of the Greater Flushing Chamber of Commerce. "A united community is the only way we can fulfill our potential as the center of small business growth in New York. With thousands of entrepreneurs from around the world, we are the new face of America."

The Flushing Chamber represents the fastest growing and most dynamic business community in the United States. Attracting firms from around the world – two dozen languages are spoken here – we are already an international trade hub and the fourth largest commercial district in New York. As the center of small business activity in the metropolitan region – 90% of our 6,000 firms have less than 10 workers – we are also the new face of American entrepreneurship.

The Chamber will be honoring: Dr. Felix V. Matos Rodriguez of Queens College, Phil Andrews of the African American Chamber, James Chen of FlushingFood.com, and Dr. Uma Mysorekar of the Hindu Temple Society of North America. The keynote speaker will be Comptroller Scott Stringer, New York City’s Chief Financial Officer.[4]

Greater Flushing Chamber of Commerce

In 2014 John Choe was named executive director of the newly formed Greater Flushing Chamber of Commerce. Two years in the making, "the chamber will serve as a resource for economic guidance and technical assistance for small businesses in Flushing".

The chamber was formally announced at a launch event on Dec. 11 at Flushing Town Hall. Area politicians and community leaders attended and recruited small business owners in the area.

Choe's One Flushing was expected to continue to work with the new chamber.

The previous chamber of commerce closed in 2012. Choe and his associates have spent the past two years organizing, admittedly longer than he expected. But he’s optimistic and excited about the new chamber.

Choe said that most chambers merely serve as networking tools for businesses, but the new Flushing one will offer tech support and other services.

Choe named Peter Tu from the Flushing Chinese Business Association, Ikhwam Rim from the Union Street Small Business Association, Executive Director of Asian Americans for Equality Christopher Kui, and Managing Principal at Gerson Properties LLC Simon Gerson as other major players.

According to Choe, several officials including Rep. Grace Meng (D-Flushing), state Sen. Toby Ann Stavisky (D-Flushing), Assemblymembers Ron Kim (D-Flushing) and Nily Rozic (D-Fresh Meadows) and Councilman Peter Koo (D-Flushing) are backing the chamber of commerce. [5]

Rally for DACA

New York City: October 5, 2017, the Asian American Federation held a rally at Trump Tower with our member agencies and leading immigrant advocacy groups to speak out in support of Asian American Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients, who are being impacted by the dissolution of the DACA program under the Trump administration. Twenty-three organizations and nearly 200 New Yorkers, including Congresswoman Jo-Ann Yoo, executive director of the Asian American Federation, Grace Meng, Council Member Margaret Chin, Assemblymember Yuh-line Niou, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, and Comptroller Scott Stringer, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Rep. Nydia Velazquez, Mayor Bill de Blasio Assemblymember Deborah Glick, Assemblyman Ron Kim, Assemblywoman Nily Rozic, Public Advocate Letitia James, Council Member Daniel Dromm, Council Member Rory Lancman, Steven Choi, executive director of the New York Immigration Coalition, Margaret Fung, executive director of the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, Christopher Kui, executive director of Asian Americans for Equality, Annetta Seecharran, executive director of Chhaya Community Development Corporation, Mae Lee, executive director of the Chinese Progressive Association (New York), Wayne Ho, executive director of the Chinese-American Planning Council, Kavita Mehra, executive director of Sakhi for South Asian Women, Robina Niaz, executive director of Turning Point for Women and Families, joined hands with the Federation to defend the future of our DREAMers.

Rally Co-Sponsors: Adhikaar, Alliance of South Asian American Labor, Arab American Association of New York, Asian American Arts Alliance, Asian American Bar Association of New York, Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, Asian Americans for Equality, Chhaya Community Development Corporation, Chinese-American Planning Council, Chinese Progressive Association (New York), Council of People’s Organization, Desis Rising Up and Moving, Japanese American Association of New York, Japanese American Social Services, Inc., Korean American Family Service Center, Korean Community Services of Metropolitan New York, MinKwon Center for Community Action, National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance, New York Immigration Coalition, OCA-NY, Sakhi for South Asian Women, Turning Point for Women and Families, University Settlement.[6]

References