On February 1, I was honored to attend the Centennial Anniversary celebration of Grand Central Terminal (GCT), which I am proud is within my Senate District. Since its opening on February 2, 1913, GCT has served hundreds of millions of passengers and remains one of the City’s most treasured and iconic landmarks. At the time it was completed, GCT was the largest construction project in New York’s history – costing more than $2 billion in today’s dollars.
As you may have read, the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) recently announced that it is considering rescinding its nationwide policy of banning gay young men from membership and gay and lesbian adults from leadership positions. However, rather than bringing discrimination within its organization to an end across the nation, BSA plans to authorize local chapters to establish their own discriminatory policies.
I was honored to be named one of the New York League of Conservation Voters’ ‘New Generation’ of environmental leaders. I am looking forward to working with the League and my colleagues to demand full funding for our state's Environmental Protection Fund, to defend our state from environmental threats--from climate change to hydrofracking--and to fight for proactive measures to ensure a more sustainable future.
On January 28, I was named as the Ranking Democratic member of both the New York State Senate Consumer Protection Committee and the Investigations and Government Operations Committee. I am honored that Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins has placed her trust in me to be the consumer and state watchdog in the State Senate. I was also appointed to the Codes; Crime Victims, Crime and Correction; Cultural Affairs, Tourism, Park and Recreation; and Judiciary committees.
On Jan 26, I had my first opportunity as a New York State Senator to address a meeting of the Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association (ST-PCV TA). It was inspiring to see hundreds of ST-PCV residents stream into the Baruch College Mason Hall on a freezing Saturday afternoon to hear an update on matters of importance to tenants of the complex, to voice their concerns, and to come together in unity for benefit of the community as a whole. It speaks to the TA's strength that not only local elected officials but citywide leaders attended as well.
On January 23, I submitted testimony to the New York City Planning Commission in strong support of applications for zoning changes that would allow for the transformation of the long vacant Pier 57 at 15th Street in Hudson River Park into an innovative cultural and commercial destination.
ALBANY, January 23, 2013 – Today, I fulfilled a pledge that I made to co-op and condo owners during my campaign for State Senate to vote to extend the long-standing property tax abatement program that had expired in June 2012. Without this vote of the Senate, New York City homeowners in co-ops and condos would have to pay dramatically more in real estate taxes than owners of comparably assessed one-, two- and three-family homes, and the high tax bills could force some of them to sell their homes and leave their neighborhoods.
This week the nation saw an historic first as President Obama made a passionate and eloquent defense of equality for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Americans in his second inaugural address. I am particularly proud of his mention of Stonewall, the birthplace of the modern LGBT rights movement, which is located in the 27th State Senate District, in the same breath as Seneca Falls and Selma. I am deeply moved by President Obama’s recognition of families like mine and so many others in my district. I applaud the President’s substantive accomplishments for LGBT Americans during his first term and am heartened by his soaring declaration, at the outset of his second, that all Americans must be treated as true equals under the law.
On January 17, I joined City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, State Assembly Member Glick, Manhattan Community Board 2, the District 2 Community Education Council and many parents and community members in an information meeting about the new public school building that we, along with Congressmember Nadler and Manhattan Borough President Stringer, secured at 75 Morton Street. I was encouraged to see so many parents and community members, as well as representatives of the New York City School Construction Authority and Department of Education, at this first in a series of discussions about the school or schools we wish to see created there. To read DNAinfo.com’s coverage of the meeting, please click
On January 17, I was joined by New York State Assembly Member Dick Gottfried in submitting joint testimony at a New York City Council committee hearing on the New York City Public Housing Authority’s (NYCHA) emergency planning and management during and after Superstorm Sandy. In our testimony, we highlighted a number of alarming failures by NYCHA to properly plan for and respond to the storm, thereby leaving tens of thousands of residents without heat, water, electricity, food, means of egress, medical attention, or clear information for days on end. Certainly, the impacts of Superstorm Sandy were felt by property owners and residents throughout the region, but the disproportionate suffering of NYCHA residents is unacceptable. Please see our testimony below.
Last evening, I was proud to join my Democratic colleagues in the State Senate to provide the necessary margin of votes to pass Governor Cuomo's NY SAFE Act of 2013, which enacts the toughest assault weapons ban in the nation. This long-overdue legislation expands our State’s ban on assault weapons by closing a myriad of loopholes and, among other things, requires background checks to be conducted prior to all private gun sales and ammunition purchases, establishes a statewide gun permit database, and requires individuals who own guns to renew their permits every five years.
On January 11, I submitted comments to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) regarding the agency’s draft regulations on high-volume hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”). I identified a number of dangerous omissions in the regulations and called for a statewide prohibition on fracking. I also expressed deep concerns that DEC had released these regulations prior to the completion of the ongoing health and environmental impact reviews and strongly urged the agency to formally consider additional comments on any updated or amended regulations. Please see my comments below.
I recently joined Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, New York State Senator Liz Krueger and New York State Assemblymember Dan Quart in sending a letter to Mayor Bloomberg demanding more time for the community to analyze and respond to the East Midtown Rezoning Plan proposed by the Department of City Planning (DCP). We echoed many of the concerns that have been raised by the Tri-Board Task Force on East Midtown Rezoning, comprised of Manhattan Community Boards 4, 5 and 6.
One of my first acts as State Senator was to join the New York State Bipartisan Pro-Choice Legislative Caucus (BPCLC). With 72 members from both parties and both houses of the State Legislature, the BPCLC works to protect access and remove barriers to quality reproductive health services for women, ensure access to education about reproductive choices, and respond to any potential infringement to the legal rights to reproductive healthcare in the State of New York. Advancing legislation that furthers reproductive health is high priority for me and I am pleased to stand united with so many colleagues who share this important commitment.
On January 8, I joined New York State Assembly Member Deborah Glick in testifying against New York University’s application to the New York City Board of Standards and Appeals for several variances at 726-730 Broadway which would allow the university to convert multiple floors into research and laboratory space and add up to 35 feet of associated mechanicals to this building in the NoHo Historic District. We echoed many of the points in CB2’s December 20, 2012 resolution on this matter. I strongly believe that the community has already made more than enough sacrifices and compromises for NYU, and I strenuously oppose its further encroachment into our historic neighborhoods. Please see our testimony below.
On January 8, I was delighted to stand with Google Chief Information Officer Ben Fried, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Hudson Guild Executive Director Ken Jockers, Chelsea Improvement Company (CIC) President Dan Biederman, CB4 Chair Corey Johnson, Fulton Houses President Miguel Acevedo and others to announce that Google and CIC are providing free WiFi to a dozen square blocks in southern Chelsea.
On January 8, I joined New York City Speaker Christine Quinn, Lee Ielpi of the September 11th Families’ Association, New York Public Library (NYPL) President Tony Marx, and CB2’s Shirley Secunda to unveil a new exhibit of the 9/11 Memorial Tiles at Jefferson Market Library (425 6th Avenue). The tiles on display are just some of the thousands that people from near and far spontaneously decorated and affixed to the chain-link fence at Mulry Square, across from St.
On January 6, I participated in an event held by Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer at the West 72nd Street Dog Run to announce the release of his report, “Led Astray: Reforming New York City’s Animal Care & Control,” which shines a light on the systemic problems that have long plagued New York City Animal Care & Control (AC&C). The organization is contracted by the City to provide animal care and rescue services in all five boroughs but, as the Borough President’s report details, it has failed to fulfill its mission. The reforms outlined in the report will help turn around the City’s dysfunctional approach to rescuing, caring for and finding loving homes for