The City of New York and Goldman Sachs are providing $15 million in emergency loans to help New York City businesses damaged by Hurricane Sandy, and the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City and the Partnership for New York City are funding a $5.5 million matching grant program to supplement businesses seeking assistance through the Emergency Loan Fund. NYC Business Solutions and the New York Business Development Corporation (NYBDC) will administer the loan and grant programs. For more information, visit www.nyc.gov/nycbusiness.
As our City works to recover from the devastation of Hurricane Sandy, I want to thank the many residents of my district who have dedicated time and resources to help those in need – both in our neighborhoods and throughout the five boroughs. Your efforts are inspiring and represent the spirit and compassion of our community.
I strongly encourage everybody who has suffered adverse financial impacts caused by Hurricane Sandy—whether through property damage or loss of income, etc.—to register with FEMA. You can do so by calling FEMA at 800-621-3362 (TTY for the Deaf: 800-462-7585) anytime between 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. (local time) Monday through Sunday until further notice. You can also register online at DisasterAssistance.gov; Smartphone users can visit m.fema.gov. Assistance for affected individuals and families can include as required:
For many years, I have been calling for mitigation measures such as storm surge barriers to protect our waterfront neighborhoods from rising sea levels and intensifying storm surges. As recently as September 29, I wrote to the Mayor’s Office of Long Term Planning & Sustainability urging the City to more aggressively pursue such measures. After the immediate recovery from Hurricane Sandy, we will need to work together to craft long-term plans to prevent the kinds of damage to our City’s vulnerable neighborhoods and infrastructure that we are facing today.
As you may know, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Joe Martens recently requested that the New York State Department of Health conduct a Health Impact Assessment of high-volume hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. While neither agency has released substantive details about the assessment to the public, I am grateful to Governor Andrew Cuomo for authorizing this additional review and I am hopeful that it will be more comprehensive than the study of health impacts included in the draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement. In addition, according to news reports, New York will restart its regulatory rule-making process for fracking, including holding an additional public hearing. If this is true, it would mark another victory
On September 24, my office learned that significant structural damage to the eastern wall of the public school building at 420 East 12 Street led to the evacuation of its co-located schools: East Side Community High School (ESCHS) and Girls Prep Lower East Side Middle School. Since that time I have been working with my colleagues in government, the New York City Department of Education (DOE), the School Construction Authority (SCA), parents and other school stakeholders to secure appropriate temporary relocation of the schools and ensure that essential repair work on the building’s eastern wall is completed in an expeditious and safe manner.
On September 28, I sent a letter to Governor Andrew Cuomo and New York State Department of Motor Vehicles Commissioner Barbara Fiala applauding them for making online voter registration possible for New York State residents through MyDMV (my.dmv.ny.gov). I also respectfully recommended that they further promote voting by adding ‘share’ buttons enabling users to conveniently announce via social networking platforms both the site itself and the fact that they registered to vote online. I was pleased to receive a prompt response from Commissioner Fiala thanking me for the suggestion and letting me know that “adding such a button is being researched and will likely be part of social media policy currently under development.”
In early July, it came to my attention that a demolition application had been filed with the New York City Department of Buildings (DOB) for 186 Spring Street, part of a rare row of surviving federal-style houses that were deemed eligible for listing on the State and National Registers of Historic Places as part of the South Village Historic District. I was disappointed when the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) rejected the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation’s (GVSHP) request that the building be landmarked on the grounds that it “lacks the requisite architectural integrity” and was even more upset by that determination when I and many others learned or were reminded of the building’s historical and cultural significance in connection to Lesbi
On September 24, I was joined by the Hell’s Kitchen Neighborhood Association, the Clinton Housing Development Company, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ) and neighborhood volunteers in a ribbon-cutting for Alice’s Garden, a small strip of PANYN-owned green space between 33rd and 34th Street, 9th and 10th Avenues that is now a formally-recognized community garden. As you may know, for many years the garden had been tended by its namesake, Alice Parsekian, but after her death in 2009 it was locked to the public. Beginning in the summer of 2010, I spearheaded negotiations between PANYNJ, which owns the land, and community organizations so that Alice’s Garden could officially be opened to the public. Dozens of volunteers, led by my former aide Sarah Mei
On September 19, I joined New York State Senator Daniel Squadron and New York State Assemblymember Dick Gottfried, who spearheaded legislation mandating the creation of a task force on how to close major holes in the safety code at hundreds of state-owned buildings throughout New York City, in calling for that body’s recommendations to be implemented immediately. The New York City/New York State Task Force on Building and Fire Safety, led by Fire Department City of New York Commissioner Sal Cassano and New York State Homeland Security and Emergency Services Commissioner Jerome
On September 12, I joined the New York City Council Speaker, several members of the City Council and many other elected officials, advocates and industry representatives in hailing the passage of legislation that provides higher fines to support the stricter transient occupancy unit (“illegal hotel”) law passed by the State Legislature in 2010. Please see the press release here.
On September 11, I submitted testimony to the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) opposing a proposed nine-story hotel at 27 East 4th Street, within the NoHo Historic District and directly adjacent to the Merchant’s House Museum, which is an interior and exterior New York City Landmark. I stressed my deep concerned that demolition, excavation and significant construction at the site could damage Merchant’s House and urged LPC not to seriously consider approval of this application unless and until the developer undertakes a comprehensive assessment of potential damages and takes all necessary preventative measures. I also echoed Manhattan Community Board 2’s concern that the proposed building is out of character with the East 4th Street block and is out of c
In late July, constituents reached out to my office to report that a local community gardener’s landscaped tree pits in the pedestrian islands at 8th Avenue and West 12th Street had been totally removed without warning as part of an on-street project. My staff quickly identified the agency responsible for the project—the New York City Department of Design and Construction (DDC)—and wrote to its commissioner to inform him of the agreement with the City’s Departments of Transportation and Parks & Recreation that I helped to broker enabling area residents to safely and responsibly assume stewardship over their local tree pits. I requested that the agency make itself aware of community-tended bike lane tree pits within all of its project boundaries, make best efforts to avoi
On August 7, I joined the New York Police Department’s 20th Precinct, as well as the leaders and members of the precinct’s Community Council, in observance of National Night Out Against Crime. The event, held in Verdi Square Park, was a great example of the neighborhood coming together to honor the work that the 20th Precinct does for our community. I was pleased to join so many Upper West Side residents, including many children who came with their families. The youth in particular remind us that we need to be continually working together to improve our neighborhood’s safety. The event was fun for all ages, and I thank Deputy Inspector Brian McGinn and all of the dedicated public servants of the 20th Precinct for putting it together and for all they do to keep us
On July 26, I was honored to participate in a symposium entitled, “Leaders’ Perspective on Turning the Tide Together: Mayors, Legislators and Parliamentarians” at the 19th International AIDS Conference held in Washington, DC. Joining me on the panel were Vanessa R. Williams, Executive Director of The National Conference of Black Mayors; Ryuhei Kawada, an openly HIV-positive Member of Japan’s Parliament; Nonceba Molwel, health commissioner for the City of Johannesburg, South Africa; and Jeffrey O’Malley, Director of HIV/AIDS at the United Nations Development Programme.
On July 25, I submitted testimony at the New York City Housing Authority’s (NYCHA) public hearing on its 2013 Draft Annual Plan, expressing my deep concerns over several aspects of the plan, including the lack of transparency in the agency’s controversial revenue-generating proposals, the failure to adequately address the backlog in crucial repairs and basic maintenance, and the agency’s inhumane policies and procedures for moving residents who live in under-occupied units. Please see my testimony attached.
On July 25th, I joined other elected officials, community organizations, faith communities, and labor organizations in a National Day of Action for Low Wage Workers to highlight the daily injustices these workers face and to reiterate our call for New York State’s minimum wage to be increased.
On June 28th, I was honored to speak at the Health Care for All New Yorkers rally in celebration of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision upholding the federal Affordable Care Act. It was indeed a historic day. The Supreme Court’s decision will ensure affordable health care for millions of Americans, including 3 million previously uninsured young people who can stay on their parents’ plans until age 26 and those who had previously been denied coverage because of preexisting conditions. And it will ensure no more annual or lifetime caps on benefits.
June 21 marked the official end of the 2012 Legislative Session in Albany -- and my last Session as a New York State Senator. It was a bittersweet moment for me. Together, we have accomplished much during my fourteen years in Albany. Last year’s Legislative Session ended with the historic Marriage Equality vote which caused shockwaves around the world. This year’s was much more subdued in comparison. While I am deeply disappointed that crucial pieces of legislation did not pass in the Senate, there were some key bills that did pass and will impact the lives of countless New Yorkers. Here is a brief summary of key pieces of legislation that passed about which I am particularly gratified: