Frank's positions on the issues ...
Public Safety and Police Reform
The NYPD must ensure public safety, but at the same time it must also ensure that police officers understand, respect, and work well with the community. Frank Spangenberg's strong understanding of what needs to be done to reach both of these goals draws from two sources. First, Frank has the experience gained from 34 years of police service to the City of New York. Beyond that, Frank is also knowledgeable about the work of scholars and researchers in the field of criminal justice. Frank is among those scholars and researchers: he has a Master's degree in Public Administration from Harvard, and a Ph.D. in Criminal Justice from the City University of New York, and he is familiar with the latest studies regarding effective policing, and improving the relations between police and the communities they serve.
Frank believes that public policies regarding the police should be based on research, study, statistics, and real-world experience. He also believes that many proposals currently being put forward by some public officials are in fact based on misinformation and misunderstanding, and if adopted will have a bad effect. Frank believes that thoughtless demands to "defund the police", or to remove police involvement in certain kinds of emergency response, without simultaneously providing for a fully-trained and fully-funded alternative, will decrease the safety of New Yorkers. Instead, Frank believes that no functions currently performed by police should be reassigned arbitrarily to other branches of government unless it can be shown that the services can be performed better and more efficiently by another agency.
Frank believes that additional funding should be allocated to provide frequent in-service training specifically designed to improve the understanding that police and communities have for each other. Frank also believes strongly that training of this kind should not take the form of watching videos or listening to classroom lectures. Instead, the most effective police training in community relations calls for the involvement of community members, with police and neighborhood residents listening to each other, and meeting each other face to face.
Frank strongly rejects the proposal (which is favored by District 19 candidate Richard Lee) to have the NYPD stop performing traffic enforcement. Motorists who run red lights, or who speed, or who drive while intoxicated, present a clear danger to the community, and the enforcement of the laws against such acts is a proper concern of law enforcement agencies.
Frank also rejects the call made by District 19 candidate Austin Shafran to abolish the NYPD unit that investigates human trafficking, and attempts to lure children through the use of the internet.
The New York City Department for the Aging gives funding to 80 different services, programs or senior centers in the Borough of Queens. Yet out of those 80 programs and centers for seniors paid for by the city, not even one is located in City Council District 19!
Frank believes that this is completely unacceptable. The seniors in our district have contributed a lifetime of hard work to building up our communities, and it is only right that the services they need and deserve should be provided close to where they live. Frank will therefore do everything he can to get a more equal distribution of support from the city, and to obtain funding for programs and senior centers here in our own neighborhoods.
A New Jail in Queens vs. Rikers Island
District 19 candidate Austin Shafran has endorsed the idea of closing Rikers Island, and building new replacement jails, including one in Queens. One possible site that has been considered for this proposal is in College Point.
Frank Spangenberg opposes the proposal to close Rikers Island as ill-considered, pointless, and wasteful. Any new facility that would replace Rikers Island would be a jail like Rikers. It would be managed and staffed by exactly the same members of the NYC Department of Correction who now run Rikers Island. It is also highly unlikely that a new jail facility will result in better or more well-behaved inmates -- instead, it is most likely that the same general sorts of prisoners will be found there, including some who are violent towards both the staff and each other. The only substantial difference would be that the prisoners would be housed in a new structure built at great expense .
If the fault of Rikers Island is in the nature of the buildings, then the buildings on Rikers can be renovated at less expense than it would require to build four new jails. If the fault lies either in the policies of the Department of Corrections, or the actions of the staff, or the behavior of the prisoners, then moving to a new facility will solve none of those problems. Frank therefore believes that any problems with the current jail should be solved at the current location, rather than expecting that all problems can be solved by simply moving into multiple expensive new facilities constructed in neighborhoods that do not want them there.
As the only candidate in District 19 who has ever stood in front of a classroom as a teacher, Frank Spangenberg knows from experience the challenges our schools face, and the kinds of resources and support that are needed by students, parents, and teachers so that our schools can provide the best possible education. Even before COVID, the schools in our district were operating well over capacity. The problems created by the COVID pandemic, including the need for social distancing, have now created even more serious new challenges that require immediate attention. Building new schools -- which some other candidates propose as a solution -- is a long and complex process, but our schools need to address the overcrowding now, and not several years down the road. A variety of possibilities other than new construction exist, such as those proposed by the Citizens Budget Commission in its report "Cut Costs, Not Ribbons: Alternatives That Reduce School Crowding." Frank will work with the Department of Education and all other concerned agencies and public officials so that the needs of our students can be solved today.
Preserving the Quality of Life in Northeastern Queens
As a lifelong resident of District 19, Frank appreciates all of the special qualities of our unique corner of New York City. However, some of those same qualities make it necessary to look very carefully at all proposals for new development. Much of Northeastern Queens has narrow local streets and limited public transportation. While School Districts 25 and 26 are among the best in the city, they are also two of the most badly overcrowded, with facilities that are well over capacity. Frank opposes all proposals that would result in intolerable overdevelopment in our neighborhoods. He will fight against any attempt to eliminate all one-family and two-family zoning in the city, and will work to get our neighborhoods their fair share of city services, including sanitation and much-needed street repaving.
Homeless Shelters in the District
Homelessness is a problem for the whole city, and the whole city has a role to play in creating a proper solution. However, the need for the whole city to contribute to solving the problem does not mean that every location is just as good as any other location when establishing a homeless shelter. Because of the particular needs of the homeless, shelters should be located where residents have ready access to public health care facilities, and above all to facilities that provide mental health and addiction services. If both public medical and mental health facilities are not nearby, at very least a shelter should be convenient to a subway station, to allow the homeless access to a citywide network of support.
Frank believes that placing a shelter near a mental health facility makes sense, and the presence of such a facility is necessary for a shelter to succeed. For this reason, he believes the recent decision to close the Pride of Judea mental health center in Douglaston and then replace it with a homeless shelter is a singularly inept piece of planning. Because this location lacks any of the the medical, mental health, or transportation facilities necessary for the shelter to succeed, Frank believes that this placement will not serve either the homeless or the community. He therefore opposes placing the shelter in the former Pride of Judea facility, and strongly favors moving this facility to a better site.
Northeastern Queens is sometimes referred to as a "desert" for public transportation. While that is an exaggeration, it is true that our part of the city has no subways, and does not have the same large network of frequent buses found in some other parts of the city. As our country slowly recovers from the COVID crisis, Frank believes that it is important that public transportation in our community be restored to a level that is at least equal to what existed before the epidemic began. New York City Transit has proposed a realignment of all bus routes in Queens, but Frank believes that there should be more public discussion before the new routes are put in place so that residents of those neighborhoods that are most strongly affected (such as Bay Terrace) can have their say first.
Frank also believes that not only should service on the Port Washington Line of the LIRR be brought back to its pre-COVID levels, but that the practice of skipping Auburndale and Broadway stations during midday service should be eliminated, and that all midday trains should stop at both stations, providing reliable half-hourly service to Manhattan for those neighborhoods.
Finally, because the #7 line of the subway, which so many residents of our district rely on, is already so very overcrowded, Frank opposes any proposed shuttle train to LaGuardia airport that would overwhelm the #7 line with even more passengers through a connection at the Mets - Willets Point stop unless there is a corresponding increase in service.
Our District has many beautiful parks and green spaces, but many of them lack appropriate design features, and almost no park in our District is maintained as it should be. Frank Spangenberg will work to ensure that the parks of our district receive funding in a share that is proportionate to their need. Frank will also work to have our parks made more user-friendly, and more accessible for all members of our community.