In mid-August, New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) officials expressed cautious optimism that a dangerous outbreak of meningitis among gay and bisexual men had been contained. Between August 2010 and February 2013, DOHMH reported 22 cases, including seven which were fatal, but no new cases have been reported in the past seven months.
In response to the Russian Federation’s recent enactment of a number of discriminatory laws against LGBT people and their supporters, I joined City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and my other LGBT colleagues in City and State government in sending a letter to President Obama calling on him to refuse any diplomatic mission to Russia until President Putin repeals its anti-LGBT statutes. According to Human Rights Watch, the statutes include:
New York, NY (August 16, 2013) – In the wake of the most recent anti-LGBT attack on August 14 in Chelsea, New York State Senator Brad Hoylman today released a report on New York’s Hate Crimes Law, informed by expert testimony from a Senate forum earlier this summer. The report contains four recommendations, including a call for the New York State Comptroller to conduct an audit of law enforcement agencies to ensure they are properly reporting hate crimes and training officers and supervisors in identifying, responding to and investigating such crimes.
In my last report, I noted that I had joined U.S. Senator Charles Schumer and my colleague, New York State Senator Betty Little (R-Queensbury), at a press conference calling on Amtrak to add baggage cars capable of carrying bicycles on their Adirondack and Ethan Allen trains, which run from Penn Station to Albany and Saratoga, and other points north. I’m pleased to announce that Amtrak heeded our call and began accommodating bicycles on board in a demonstration program in late July. I’m optimistic that this demonstration will soon become a full-fledged convenient and affordable new way for my constituents to access the beautiful bicycle trails of the Adirondacks and surrounding areas.
On August 7, I submitted testimony to the New York City Planning Commission opposing the proposed rezoning of East Midtown. I appreciate the importance to our city of securing East Midtown’s position as a premiere business district, but I have serious reservations about the proposal, which was drafted with limited community consultation and rushed into the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure. I am disappointed that the Department of City Planning refused to slow this process down and work with affected communities, preservationists and advocates for a more livable city to develop a more thoughtful, bolder rezoning that would truly revitalize East Midtown. Please see my testimony detailing my major concerns with the proposal below.
The New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD), in conjunction with Artimus Construction, plans to construct an 18-story affordable residential building with 158 units and community facility uses on a site currently used as a parking lot at 429-433 West 18th Street. Earlier this month, community members learned that the proposal – a hard-fought provision of the 2005 West Chelsea Rezoning – had been modified without any community consultation to include the demolition of an existing playground, used by residents of the adjoining Robert Fulton Houses, to provide for accessory parking. On July 10, I spoke out against this outrageous plan at a public forum held by HPD and Artimus at the Fulton Houses Community Center.
On July 24, I held an organizing meeting on adopting and gardening the tree pits in the pedestrian islands adjoining bike lanes (also known as “bike lane tree pits”) at Metro Baptist Church on West 40th Street. The meeting, facilitated by Cultivate Hell’s Kitchen New York horticulturist Shanti Nagel, gave constituents from across my district the opportunity to learn about gardening best practices and the resources available to volunteer gardeners, as well as meet and organize with others in the neighborhood.
As I have reported in previous months, New York State’s Fiscal Year 2013-14 Budget approved the closure of Bayview Correctional Facility, a former medium-security women’s prison located at 550 West 20th Street. On July 24, I held a meeting, attended by Assembly Member Richard Gottfried, representatives of other local elected officials, members of Manhattan Community Board 4 (CB4), and representatives from New York State Empire State Development (ESD) – the entity tasked with the sale of the building – to establish a dialogue between the community and ESD about Bayview’s next chapter. I was pleased to hear from ESD that the State is interested in the community’s priorities for the facility.
On July 24, I submitted testimony at the New York City Housing Authority’s (NYCHA) public hearing on its fiscal year 2014 Draft Annual Plan. I addressed some of the many shortcomings in the Plan and expressed my deep concerns regarding the proposed infill development plan, the cuts to Section 8 vouchers, the deteriorating conditions in NYCHA developments across my district, and the City’s failure to address NYCHA’s fiscal challenges. Please see my testimony below.
On July 9, I joined with Assembly Member Glick to submit testimony to the Landmarks Preservation Commission in opposition to the proposed demolition of 130 Seventh Avenue South, to make way for a new, seven story building that would be out of context with the Greenwich Village Historic District in which it is located. Please see our testimony below.
Earlier this year, I sent a letter to the New York City Department of Education (DOE) supporting a proposal by the Clinton School for Writers and Artists’ School Leadership Team and Parent Association for the school to become a combined middle and high school, enrolling students in grades 6 through 12. Manhattan Community Board 5 (CB5) passed a resolution in support of this proposal back in April.I am pleased to report that the DOE has heeded our call and will be submitting this proposed expansion to the Panel for Educational Policy in the fall—in time to take effect when the Clinton School moves into its new home at 10 East 15th Street for the 2015-16 school year. I’d like to thank CB5, as well as Clinton School parents and the SLT for their advocacy.
I was pleased to learn that on June 25, the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) voted unanimously to designate the Church of St. Paul the Apostle a Landmark. I had submitted testimony to the Commission in favor of landmark designation of the Church, which is located at 120 West 60th Street. You may read LPC's designation report here. I am grateful to LPC for acting to preserve the remarkable 19th Century Medieval Revival-style church and protect it from the looming overdevelopment on the Upper West Side.
On June 26, Senator Hoylman spoke before a crowd of thousands who gathered in front of the Stonewall Inn to celebrate the United States Supreme Court’s ruling in United States v. Windsor, which struck down the Defense of Marriage Act’s ban on federal recognition of legal same-sex marriages. Following is a transcript of Senator Hoylman's remarks:
On June 25, I testified before the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) in support of approving the proposed South Village Historic District. The area has transformed itself several times, beginning as a fashionable residential neighborhood on the outskirts of the city in the early 19th century, evolving into a haven for working-class immigrants and eventually becoming a hotbed of political and social revolution. Many of its buildings remain intact and the district is undeniably worthy of designation. I also strongly urged LPC to move forward with designation of the final portion of the South Village Historic District south of Houston Street. Please see my testimony below.
Recently, DOT solicited comments on its proposed regulations relating to the Intercity Bus Permit System. On June 24, I sent a letter to DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan outlining my concerns and echoing recommendations that had been made by Manhattan Community Boards 3 and 4, which are disproportionately impacted by the growing number of commercial buses on city streets. Please see my letter below.
On June 17, I joined U.S. Senator Charles Schumer and my colleague, New York State Senator Little (R-Queensbury), at a press conference calling on Amtrak to add baggage cars capable of carrying bicycles on their Adirondack and Ethan Allen trains, which run from Penn Station to Albany and Saratoga, and other points north. Presently, there is no room on those lines for passengers to bring their bicycles on-board, but Senator Schumer revealed that Amtrak is currently building new baggage cars that could be configured for bike storage at a facility in Elmira, NY. Moreover, Amtrak already has successful “Bring Your Bicycle On Board” programs on its Boston-Portland line, New York-Charlotte line, and in California, where the program is so popular that Amtrak now requires reservations.
On June 14, I held a public forum in my capacity as Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Investigations and Government Operations to assess the efficacy of New York State’s 13-year-old Hate Crimes Law, including how state and local government agencies are implementing and enforcing the Law and whether amendments should be considered to expand the data collection, statistical reporting, law enforcement training requirements and/or otherwise further the Law’s goals.
On June 13, I submitted comments at a public hearing concerning the New York City Education Construction Fund’s (ECF) plan to solicit proposals to redevelop the current sites of P.S. 191 and P.S. 199 as residential towers with new school facilities. The hearing, organized by the Save Our Schools Coalition and Assembly Member Linda Rosenthal, gave community members the opportunity to hear from experts about the potential implications of the redevelopment plan, as well as a platform from which to voice their own opinions.