Brooklyn lawmakers push to criminalize ‘rent sabotage’

By Ryan Hutchins

Capital New York

A bill in the state legislature would criminalize the act of “rent sabotage,” making it a felony for landlords to destroy their own buildings in the hopes of forcing out tenants living in rent-controlled units.

The measure was introduced this month following continued reports of hostilities between renters and property owners in increasingly gentrified Brooklyn neighborhoods. Tenants who've spent many years in the same apartments without problems have accused landlords of sending in men with sledgehammers and power saws to make the properties unliveable.

Read more...

Peralta discusses bills to fight sex trafficking

As reported by The Times Ledger:  

Few politicians aspire to bring the ambiance of Times Square to their districts, but state Sen. Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst) said a stretch of Roosevelt Avenue that has grown saturated with prostitution could use some of the sterilization that transformed Times Square in the 1980s.

While speaking at Queensborough Community College April 3, Peralta described various legislative endeavors to crack down on sex traffickers and prostitution businesses and fund organizations that provide pathways out of the industry for victims.

The senator said afterward he believed recruiting Disney to open a store in Times Square anchored commercial development and ushered in an era of strict policing.

“We don’t need to bring in the big, big box store on Roosevelt Avenue — a mid-size box store,” Peralta said, noting he wanted to “keep the flavor of the mom-and-pop shops” nearby.

But the senator emphasized that wooing Disney took assistance from federal, state and local officials, and he is hoping Mayor Bill de Blasio would join him and U.S. Rep. Joe Crowley (D-Jackson Heights) in scouting for a Roosevelt Avenue anchor.

As Times Square spurned prostitution, the industry migrated along the No. 7 train line, and Peralta said businesses began offering free car service to patrons from midtown to Corona and Jackson Heights.

For full article, click here 

Read more...

Senator Farley Announces April 13th – 19th Is Library Week

State Senator Hugh T. Farley (R,C - Schenectady), Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Libraries, noted this week is National Library Week.

"Libraries are a place of lifelong learning," Senator Farley added. "Librarians are truly amazing people. They inspire our youth and invite them into a library where there is an adventure on every shelf."

Read more...

Senator Dilan Introduces Measure to Make Sabotage of Regulated Rentals a Criminal Act

In response to the recent spate of rent regulated building owners  intentionally destroying units in attempts to drive tenants out,   Senator Martin Malavé Dilan (D-Bushwick) and Assemblyman Joseph R. Lentol (D-North Brooklyn) have introduced new legislation making the practice a criminal act.

S. 6941 would expand tenant protections by establishing the crime of Sabotage of Rent Regulated Accommodations, a class D felony. Existing tenant protections  prohibit the harassment of rent regulated tenants in an attempt to drive them out. However, the recent rise in intentional destruction of regulated units, and the severity of the damage, are well beyond the scope of current law.

Read more...

AVELLA TO INTRODUCE BILL REFORMING THE QUEENS PUBLIC LIBRARY

The bill will aim to strengthen oversight and promote transparency

Read more...

Peralta decries human trafficking

As reported by The Queens Chronicle:  

State Sen. Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst) addressed an audience of over 200 students and faculty at Queensborough Community College in Bayside last Thursday on “Human Trafficking in Our Own Backyard,” drawing a near-capacity crowd.

The talk was the culminating event of a three-week-long ongoing series of related activities, all part of the college’s Common Read Initiative, inspired this year by the featured text, “The Road to Lost Innocence,” the true story of a Cambodian woman who overcame great obstacles and used her experiences to help others stand up for human rights.

The book, written by Somaly Mam based on her own life of abuse in Cambodian brothels, had become a shared reading experience by some 1,300 students and over 35 faculty members from across academic disciplines.

The senator focused on problems relating to human trafficking which, he indicated, runs rampant along Roosevelt Avenue, particularly between 69th and 112th streets.

So-called chica cards, featuring what Peralta described as “degrading pictures of women,” are commonly distributed in the area, so commonplace that “children trade them like baseball cards.”

Peralta indicated that “many women from around the world are brought to Queens and enslaved. The victims are very afraid,” and sometimes seen by the law as criminals. He pointed out that some members of the taxi industry are known to have been “involved in moving these women along. There are those bad apples that perpetuate this crime.”

He said that often these women who come to this country to live the American dream instead “live that American nightmare.” There is a need, he said, to “toughen laws.”

For full article, click here

Read more...

Schools must expand for charters and pre-K

As reported by The Queens Chronicle:

By State Senator Jose Peralta 

There has been a great deal of heated debate recently about the place of charter schools in the public education system and how to best pay for making full-day prekindergarten available to every eligible child.

Often lost in the rhetorical bomb throwing and lawsuit filing is this: Adding charter schools and finally making prekindergarten truly universal calls for more school buildings. Lots of them.

If all children, no matter where they live or how much money their parents have, are to get a genuine chance to succeed in school, we need to provide them with real classrooms in which to learn.

For decades — not years, but decades — the children of hardworking immigrant families in the Corona and Elmhurst neighborhoods I represent have had to try to learn in deplorable facilities no one would expect to find in the wealthiest city in the richest country on the planet.

Forget state-of-the-art technology, the dilapidated “temporary” classroom units many of our kids are stuck in do not even have bathrooms. Stories of elementary schoolchildren straining to “hold it in” for hours — not always successfully — are not unusual.

How can a poor kid feeling as if his bladder is about to burst possibly pay attention to anything a teacher says? That kind of situation is as unacceptable as it is disgraceful for a great city like ours.

As a state legislator, charter school parent and graduate of the city’s public school system, I have an enormous stake in the ongoing debate on prekindergarten and charter schools.

For full article, Click here

Read more...

Despite lower penalties, fines are set to rise

As reported by Crain's New York Business: 

Mayor Bill de Blasio campaigned on a promise to lower fines against small businesses, criticizing what he deemed the punitive, "revenue-focused" enforcement of city laws.

But his preliminary budget indicates that his administration plans to collect even more in levies than city agencies did under Michael Bloomberg last year.

Revenue from fines soared 72% during the Bloomberg administration, to $799 million in 2013 from $467 million in 2002. The initial de Blasio budget unveiled last month indicates that fine revenue will grow to $807.5 million this year. That's just $5 million less than the Bloomberg administration had projected for 2014.

"There was a sigh of relief among small business owners when this mayor was elected," said Queens state Sen. Jose Peralta. "There hasn't been much to show so far, though, and a lot of business owners are getting nervous. You have to give the mayor time to breathe and soak it all in, but it's now time to tackle this in a positive way."

A day after Mr. de Blasio signed the legislation, the City Council issued rules putting into effect a law signed by Mr. Bloomberg to reduce fines against restaurants. Those changes are part of a wider overhaul of the city's letter-grading system for eateries and the suspected quota system that has led to an outcry from inspectors and restaurateurs. 

In the meantime, Mr. Peralta has called on the mayor to adopt an amnesty program under which proprietors can seek to have fines incurred during the Bloomberg administration dismissed by the new mayor.

For full article, click here

Read more...
Syndicate content