Meng wants city to have its own liquor authority

Grace Meng chats with the Queensboro Hill Civic Association as members nosh at Flushing's Palace Diner. Photo by Rich Bockmann
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State Assemblywoman Grace Meng (D-Flushing) paid a visit to the Palace Diner on Main Street last week — not to chow down on burgers and fries, but to dish with members of the Queensboro Hill Civic Association about 2012 legislative initiatives such as the creation of a city liquor authority and an English-language signage bill.

Back in her district before returning to the capital in January, Meng spoke about the difficulties of relating city issues to Albany, 150 miles away, and vice versa Oct. 26.

One example she pointed to was the state Liquor Authority, which she criticized for its ineffectiveness in properly regulating establishments that sell alcohol.

“When places apply for a liquor license, the state doesn’t know what’s going on in the community,” she said. “A city liquor authority would be more responsive.”

Meng said she would also like to see businesses such as delis and gas stations to be required to seek community board recommendations for selling alcoholic beverages.

“In many ways, they’re more dangerous. Minors purchase alcohol from them and the community board has no say,” she said.

The assemblywoman also said she would work on legislation at the request of Queens District Attorney Richard Brown that would give his office the power to intervene in Housing Court proceedings. She said her office constantly receives complaints about fliers, some for illegal massage parlors, posted around the neighborhood.

“We are in America, and we can’t tell them not to distribute flyers,” she said, admitting her own propensity for distributing fliers during campaign season.

She said landlords who wish to evict unsavory tenants often face a lengthy and sometimes prohibitively expensive process in the city’s Housing Court and that she was looking into more innovative ways to find a solution, such as allowing the DA to intervene.

Meng also said she was in the process of putting the final touches on an English-language sign bill, which would replace the one currently sitting on the books, unenforced. It calls for imprisonment for violators.

She said the legislation would work hand-in-hand with a city bill being drafted by City Councilmen Peter Koo (R-Flushing) and Dan Halloran (R-Whitestone) that would have the city Department of Consumer Affairs enforce a 60 percent English-language requirement.

“This is not just a Flushing business problem. With every new wave of immigrants there is this concern,” she said. “The problem has existed for decades, and we’re not going to change the law overnight.”

Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4574.

Posted 12:00 am, November 3, 2011
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