Thomas K. Duane's Blog entries

Holding a Forum on Medically-Assisted Torture

On November 15, 2011, I held a public forum to address the controversy surrounding accusations of medical professionals’ participation in torture or “enhanced interrogation” as well as to analyze the potential impacts and implementation of proposed legislative responses.  A number of court cases and petitions to state disciplinary boards have included evidence that licensed medical professionals abdicated their professional responsibility by taking part in torture.  Since these professionals are licensed at the State level, it is within New York State’s jurisdiction to determine whether violations have occurred as well as the appropriate sanctions.  The forum explored the legal, regulatory and ethical obligations of medical professionals relating to torture and other enha

November 16, 2011
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Leading a Panel at Annual Tenant’s Conference

As a longtime tenant advocate, I have always fought to preserve and expand New York State’s Emergency Tenant Protection Act and to ensure that tenants are armed with the information they need to defend themselves against harassment, neglect and unwarranted evictions.  Toward that end, I was a proud sponsor the Sixth Annual West Side Tenants’ Conference on November 5, 2011, where I led a break-out session with New York State Assembly Member Dick Gottfried and Legal Aid staff attorney Ellen Davidson on the new rent laws, recent legal rulings and what tenants can do to help in the fight for stronger rent regulations.  I focused my remarks on the struggles and gains of the past year’s rent law renewal fight, as well as the challenges that lay ahead.  This annual conference, o

November 6, 2011
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Dedicating John Jay College of Criminal Justice’s New Vertical Campus

On November 2, I had the privilege of speaking at the ribbon-cutting of John Jay College of Criminal Justice’s magnificent new building on Eleventh Avenue between 58th and 59th Streets.

November 3, 2011
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Hosting a Forum on Medically-Assisted Torture

On November 15, I will be holding a public forum to address the controversy surrounding accusations of medical professionals’ participation in torture or “enhanced interrogation” as well as to analyze the potential impacts and implementation of proposed legislative responses.  A number of court cases and petitions to state disciplinary boards have included evidence that licensed medical professionals abdicated their professional responsibility by taking part in torture.  Since these professionals are licensed at the state level, it is within New York State’s jurisdiction to determine whether violations have occurred as well as the appropriate sanctions.  The purpose of this forum is to explore the legal, regulatory

File: 
MAT Forum notice.pdf

November 3, 2011
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Marching in Solidarity with Occupy Wall Street

I encourage you to consider participating in END TO END FOR THE 99%, a November 7 solidarity march from Uptown Manhattan along Broadway to Zucotti Park, where we will join the Occupy Wall Street protest.  The march is leaving 181st Street and St. Nicholas at 10:30 A.M. and is expected to pass through Verdi Square at 72nd Street and Broadway at approximately 1:30 P.M.

File: 
Verdi Square Flyer.pdf

File: 
Union Square Flyer.pdf

November 2, 2011
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Receiving a Top Score for Protecting Our Environment

On October 12, 2011, The EPL/Environmental Advocates, the lobbying arm of Environmental Advocates of New York, issued its annual scorecard grading members of the New York State Legislature on their positions and votes on key legislation affecting New York’s air, land, water, wildlife and public health.  I am pleased to have received a 99, tied with Senators Bill Perkins, Gustavo Rivera and Jose Serrano for the highest score among members of the Legislature’s upper house.  By contrast, the average score for New York State Senators was a 70. I will continue my work to pass legislation that will have a positive impact on our environment and it is my sincere hope that when next year’s scorecard is issued, every one of my Senate colleagues will receive a similarly high mark.

October 12, 2011
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Opposing the FAA’s Elimination of Airspace Safety Rules

I was outraged to read in the October 10, 2011 New York Post that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) had eliminated important safety rules regarding airspace for helicopters and private planes without any public notification.  That same day, I joined New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and New York State Assemblymember Dick Gottfried in submitting a letter to the FAA expressing our dismay over this backroom decision. 

October 11, 2011
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Calling for More Comprehensive Testing for PCBs at PS 199

While progress had been made in remediating PCB contamination at P.S. 199 (270 West 70th Street), and tests conducted earlier this year found that the concentration of PCBs in the school had fallen below the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) recommended maximum levels for elementary schools, the most recent tests found significantly elevated contamination levels in eleven of the school’s spaces.  I along with other elected officials and the school’s PTA and administration have met privately and publicly with the New York City School Construction Authority (SCA) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency about this alarming development.  At this point, the agencies are struggling to identify the source of the contamination.  On October 3, I joined U.S.

October 4, 2011
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Recommending Conditional Approval for NS-LIJ’s proposed Center for Comprehensive Care

On September 22, I joined New York State Assembly Members Deborah Glick and Dick Gottfried, U.S. Representative Jerry Nadler and New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn in submitting testimony before the New York State Department of Health Public Health and Health Planning Council regarding North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System’s (“NS-LIJ”) Certificate of Need Application for its proposed Center for Comprehensive Care (“The Center”) to be located at the former St. Vincent’s O’Toole Pavilion.  While I will continue to strongly advocate for the reestablishment of a full service hospital Manhattan’s Lower West Side, NS-LIJ’s proposed facility, including a 24/7 free-standing Emergency Department capable of treating more than 90% of the conditions seen at the former St.

File: 
NS-LIJ CON testimony.pdf

September 22, 2011
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Addressing Sanitation Issues at ST-PCV

On September 20, I sent a letter to Adam Rose of Rose Associates—the managing agent for Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village (ST-PCV)—regarding tenant’s complaints of trash left for days on the sidewalks throughout the complex prior to scheduled New York City Department of Sanitation (DSNY) pickups. 

September 21, 2011
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Charting Progress on the M15 Select Bus Service

Ten months after the M15 Select Bus Service (SBS) was introduced by the New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority-New York City Transit (NYCT), my office conducted a three-week study to assess its implementation and identify outstanding concerns. The study found that while many early glitches have been resolved and riders are generally pleased with the new bus service’s speed, there are still issues DOT and NYCT must address. The most prominent problem is peeling, obstructed or missing signage at SBS stops explaining how the system and its ticket machines work. Such instructions are vitally important, since riders who do not purchase a ticket before boarding are subject to a $100 fine.

File: 
Sen Duane M15 Select Bus Service Progress Report.pdf

September 19, 2011
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Supporting Stronger Governance of City-Aided and Supervised Limited-Profit Housing Companies

On September 13, I delivered testimony before the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) regarding its proposed amended rules governing City-aided and supervised limited-profit housing companies.  While I made a number of additional suggestions, as a whole, the package of proposed changes will strengthen the governance of these housing companies to facilitate the preservation of this precious affordable housing stock for current and future generations of moderate- and middle-income New Yorkers. 

File: 
HPD Rules Changes testimony.pdf

September 13, 2011
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Supporting Our Unions

There has been a recent flurry of activity by unions that are fighting to achieve fair and just contracts for their members, and I have been proud to stand with them.  Unfortunately, many employers continue to ignore the needs of their workers.

July 26, 2011
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Celebrating New York State’s First Legal Same-Sex Marriages

On Sunday, July 24, 2011 New York State’s Marriage Equality Law took effect – exactly thirty days from the bill’s historic Senate passage in Albany.  For the first time in the history of New York State same-sex couples are granted the right to marry the one they love with full and equal protection under the law.  Marriage in New York is now gender-neutral!

July 25, 2011
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Securing Community Stewardship of Green Spaces Bordering Bike Lanes

Since I learned late last year that a landscaper commissioned by the New York City Parks Department had removed vegetables planted by area residents in a protected bike lane median’s tree pit, I and my staff have been working with the Parks Department to ensure that green space bordering bike lanes can be planted and maintained by members of the community. 

July 5, 2011
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Fighting the Rent Guidelines Board’s Proposed Rent Increases

Please see attached testimony I submitted on June 20 to the New York City Rent Guidelines Board (RGB) opposing any rent increases for rent regulated apartments as well as for lofts, hotels, rooming houses, single room occupancy buildings and lodging houses.  Given the continuing toll the recent economic recession has taken on average New Yorkers and the steady rent increases the RGB has approved in prior years, I am dismayed that the RGB approved rent increases of 3.75% for one-year and 7.25% for two-year rent stabilized leases.  The approval of these increases is further evidence that the RGB system is broken and unjust.  In addition to sponsoring (and advocating for) every pro-tenant bill, I am the author and prime sponsor of legislation that would reform the rent board

File: 
NYS Sen Duane RGB Testimony 2011.pdf

June 28, 2011
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Ensuring Culturally Competent Aging Services for LGBT and other Underserved New Yorkers

The passage of Marriage Equality was not the only legislative victory for LGBT New Yorkers this year.  On June 14, the New York State Senate overwhelmingly passed my bill (S.1303) which requires the New York State Office for the Aging (NYSOFA) to assess the needs of traditionally underserved older adults—including veterans, immigrants, the disabled and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) seniors. This legislation will help ensure that traditionally underserved communities have access to appropriate health services.

June 28, 2011
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Statement of NYS Senator Thomas K. Duane on the New York State Senate Passing Historic Marriage Equality Legislation

There are rare moments when the historical significance of an action speaks for itself and words can’t capture the magnitude.  This is one such moment.Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered (LGBT) New Yorkers will no longer be denied the right to marry the ones they love.  For the first time in New York’s rich history they will be granted equal protection under the law.

June 24, 2011
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Passing Landmark Autism Insurance Reform

On June 17, the Senate passed landmark legislation requiring insurance companies to provide coverage for the screening, diagnosis and treatment of autism spectrum disorders, including behavioral health treatments, speech therapy, occupational therapy and physical therapy.I worked closely with the bill’s prime sponsor Senator Charles Fuschillo (R–Merrick), Senate Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Committee Chair Roy McDonald (R–Saratoga), Senate Insurance Committee Ranker Neil Breslin (D, WFP–Albany) and Senate Health Chair Kemp Hannon (R, C, I–Garden City) to craft this comprehensive legislation which will provide relief to countless New York families suffering from the financial toll that comes with autism.

June 17, 2011
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Fighting for Stronger Rent Regulation

On the night of June 15th, one hour before the Rent Regulations were set to expire, I, along with the majority of my Democratic Colleagues, refused to support with our votes a proposal that would have extended the current rent regulations for an additional two days. This legislation was designed to allow the legislature and the governor more time to negotiate the Rent Laws.Enough. We have waited far too long for Albany to negotiate in good faith a fair, and comprehensive rent control package which protects tens of thousands of New Yorkers from predatory landlords and their connected friends in Albany who are trying to eliminate and destroy our precious affordable housing stock.

June 16, 2011
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