Thomas K. Duane's Blog entries

Serving on Governor Cuomo’s Medicaid Redesign Task Force

On January 5, 2011, Governor Cuomo issued an executive order creating the Medicaid Redesign Team.  New York’s Medicaid program provides health insurance coverage to almost one in four New Yorkers, and costs over $52 billion per year.  The Medicaid Redesign Team is charged with conducting a comprehensive review of the State’s Medicaid program; making recommendations to the Governor by March 1, 2011 on potential Medicaid spending reductions in the State’s Fiscal Year 2011-12 budget; and issuing a final report at the end of Fiscal Year 2011-2012 on additional short-term reforms and systemic changes to improve quality of care at lower cost. 

January 13, 2011
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Seeking Cost-Efficient Solutions to School Overcrowding

In light of the decision by the judge handling the St. Vincent's Hospital bankruptcy case to approve St. Vincent's retention of a real estate advisor, I joined New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and our other local elected officials in sending a strongly-worded letter to St. Vincent's Chief Restructuring Officer Mark Toney regarding the disposition of the properties.  Since, regrettably, we have not heard from Mr. Toney, our primary contact with St. Vincent's, in quite some time, we reached out to him to reiterate the necessity of restoring a full acute care hospital and a 24-hour emergency room on Manhattan's Lower West Side.

January 12, 2011
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Submitting Testimony to Protect New York City’s Vulnerable Waterfronts

Comments by New York State Senator Thomas K. Duane andNew York State Assembly Member Richard N. GottfriedRegarding the New York State Sea Level Rise Task ForceDraft Report to the New York State Legislature

December 12, 2010

December 13, 2010
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Moving Forward in the Fight Against Fracking

On December 11, Governor David Paterson vetoed legislation which I co-sponsored that would have established a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) in both vertical and horizontal wells throughout New York State until May of 2011.  He also signed an Executive Order requiring the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to reissue a draft Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement on fracking in horizontal wells and subject it to a public comment period in early June.  The latter move effectively delays all fracking in horizontal wells until at least early summer, enabling the State Legislature to develop legislation to comprehensively address the threats fracking poses. 

December 12, 2010
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Opposing NYU's Bid to Acquire Public Land South of Washington Square

On December 5, I joined Manhattan Community Board 2 (CB2), the Community Action Alliance on NYU Plan 2031 (CAAN), other elected officials and hundreds of Greenwich Village residents in a rally calling on New York University (NYU) to withdraw its application to acquire more than two acres of City-owned land along Mercer, LaGuardia, Bleecker and West 3rd Streets between Washington Square South and Houston Street.

December 6, 2010
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Raising Awareness on World AIDS Day

Every December 1 since 1988, World AIDS Day has been observed around the globe.  As New York State’s only openly-HIV-positive State legislator, and as the representative of a district that has one of the highest rates of known HIV infections in the country, HIV/AIDS is, for me, a daily concern.  However, I recognize the importance of World AIDS Day in helping to bring the HIV/AIDS pandemic – and what each individual can do to bring an end to it – into focus for the wider public.

December 1, 2010
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Advocating for Community Stewardship of Green Spaces Bordering Bike Lanes

After hearing reports that a small vegetable garden planted by a Chelsea resident in a Ninth Avenue bike lane median was removed by a landscaper commissioned by the New York City Parks Department, I and my staff took immediate action to ensure that such plantings not be removed again.  We have had continued dialogue and correspondence with the Parks Department seeking written affirmation of the constituent’s right to plant in that public space.  I am also in the process of organizing a meeting to discuss how the small but much-needed plots of green space created by protected bike lanes can be planted and maintained by community members across the city.  Please see the Chelsea Now story on the issue

November 23, 2010
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Moderating a Panel on Reducing Speeding

On November 19, I moderated a panel entitled “Slower Vehicle Speeds: Healthier New Yorkers” as part of Transportation Alternative’s Stop Speeding Summit, hosted at the NYU Wagner Graduate School of Public Service.  The summit brought together elected officials and leaders in the fields of transportation policy, public health, medicine, traffic safety and enforcement to discuss innovative traffic safety measures.  The panel that I moderated focused on the use of hospital and 911 call center data to identify streets and intersections that are most dangerous to pedestrians, as well as efforts to synchronize healthy eating and fitness by providing Summer Play Streets near farmers’ markets.  I look forward to continuing to work closely with other elected officials and transpor

November 22, 2010
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Opposing DOE Proposal to Open a Charter Elementary School on Brandeis Campus

On November 19, 2010 I released the following statement in opposition to the New York City Department of Education’s proposal to co-locate a Success Charter Network elementary school with the five high schools currently occupying the Louis D. Brandeis High School campus (145 West 84th Street):

Statement of NYS Senator Thomas K. Duane Re: Proposal to Co-Locate Charter School at Brandeis Campus

November 20, 2010
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Celebrating Victories and Engaging in Civil Disobedience for New York’s Disadvantaged

On November 11, at Voices of Community Advocates and Leaders New York’s (VOCAL NY) 10th Anniversary Gala, I was honored to receive the inaugural Bob Kohler Award in recognition of my work on behalf of people who are living with or affected by HIV/AIDS, homelessness or incarceration.  This award was especially meaningful not only because of my close partnership with VOCAL NY in securing significant legislative victories but also because the award was named for my friend the late Bob Kohler, who was a legendary progressive activist and champion for New York's least advantaged.  I was also pleased to share the recognition with the organization's other honorees, U.S.

November 12, 2010
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Responding to Apparent Homophobic Attacks in Chelsea and Greenwich Village

October 2010 was marred by reports of three apparent hate crimes perpetuated in Greenwich Village and Chelsea in which the victims were perceived to be gay men. In response to each of the attacks, my office has been working with the Manhattan District Attorney's office, the New York City Anti-Violence Project (AVP), and NYPD Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender liaison Tim Duffy to ensure that those who are responsible are brought to justice.Hate and prejudice of any kind are unacceptable in New York City or anywhere, but there is a heightened injustice that these apparently anti-gay attacks occurred in Chelsea and Greenwich Village, neighborhoods with their long-standing connections to the LGBT community.

November 4, 2010
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Addressing Alleged Gang Activity and Violence in Hell's Kitchen

Earlier this fall, a number of Hell's Kitchen residents notified my staff about suspected gang activity and violence, particularly around Matthews-Palmer Playground on West 45 Street between Ninth and Tenth Avenues. In response, my office reached out to the New York Police Department's (NYPD) Midtown North Precinct, which has since stationed a uniformed officer outside the playground, and continued to patrol other locations where incidents have been reported. I want to thank the Midtown North Precinct for its swift attention to this matter as well as its participation along with NYPD's 10th Precinct in a community meeting to address concerns regarding increased violence in Hell's Kitchen.

November 4, 2010
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Sponsoring an Informational Tenants' Meeting on Rent Regulation

On October 29, U.S. Representative Jerrold Nadler and I sponsored an informational meeting on rent regulation facilitated by the New York State Tenants & Neighbors Coalition.  Rent regulation benefits all New Yorkers, whether or not they live in a rent-regulated apartment, and is one of the main reasons that New York is such a racially and economically diverse, dynamic, vibrant and exciting place.  At the meeting, Mary Tek of Tenants & Neighbors discussed with an enthusiastic group of tenants recent housing bills passed by the New York State Legislature and New York City Council, the campaign for rent regulation reform and pending legislation, and how to become involved in the fight to strengthen and preserve affordable housing.

October 30, 2010
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Cutting the Ribbon at VillageCare's New Rehabilitation and Nursing Center

On October 21, I had the privilege of giving remarks at the ribbon-cutting of VillageCare's new Rehabilitation and Nursing Center at 214 W. Houston Street, which succeeds the beloved but outdated Village Nursing Home on Abingdon Square. This state-of-the-art center builds upon progress that has been made in rehabilitative care, providing facilities for the growing number of people requiring short-stay intensive rehabilitative services so they can return home, rather than becoming permanent nursing home residents. I particularly appreciate VillageCare's consultation with and responsiveness to community concerns throughout the center's planning and construction processes.

October 22, 2010
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Seeking the Closure of the Dangerous Nightclub Sin Sin and a More Responsive SLA

In the wake of August's shooting death in front of Sin Sin nightclub at 248 East Fifth Street, I joined Assemblymember Deborah Glick and other local elected officials in sending a letter to New York State Liquor Authority (SLA) Chair Dennis Rosen outlining our concerns not only about Sin Sin but also about the overall liquor license approval process. The current system – which allows bars and clubs like Sin Sin to open despite cogent objections from the local Community Board, elected officials and neighborhood residents and to remain open despite persistent adverse effects on the surrounding community – is clearly not working.

October 22, 2010
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Welcoming the Debut of the M15 Select Bus Service

After several years of work and advocacy by the Community Advisory Committee for Select Bus Service (CAC) on First and Second Avenues, East Side elected officials, Manhattan Community Board 6, Transportation Alternatives and other transportation and community stakeholders, the New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) debuted the M15 Select Bus Service (SBS) along First and Second Avenues on Sunday, October 10.  While short of the true Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system for which many of us had advocated, SBS has proven to increase bus speed and convenience.  An SBS installed in the Bronx has resulted in 20% faster bus trips, and it is expected that we will see similar if not greater benefits along the underserved East Side of Manhattan.  As with any new service, imple

October 11, 2010
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Convening a Forum for Harassed Tenants of Shalom Buildings

On September 23, I along with other elected officials and tenants advocacy organizations co-sponsored the Shalom Tenants Alliance’s (STA) City-wide tenant organizing meeting for tenants of buildings owned and managed by the notorious Shalom family, as well as for tenants of other landlords known for buying rent-regulated buildings, systematically dismantling required building services, and forcing out legal residents through harassment, intimidation, negligence, and deception.

September 24, 2010
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Working Together to Preserve and Expand Public Housing

As you may be aware, crucial repairs in New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) apartments throughout the City have been delayed by a combination of funding shortages and bureaucratic errors. On September 20, the Alliance to Preserve Public Housing, a citywide coalition of residents, advocates and elected officials of which I am proud to be a member, met with NYCHA's executive board to secure commitments to overcome these obstacles and improve living conditions for public housing residents. We are also working to improve transparency within the authority and to increase resident participation in major decisions. I will continue to work with all stakeholders as we fight to preserve public housing as a safe, decent and affordable option for low- and moderate-income New Yorkers.

September 21, 2010
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Celebrating the Enactment of the Dignity for All Students Act

On September 8, Governor Paterson signed into law my bill, the Dignity for All Students Act (DASA), to protect the entire school family in every public school across the state.  The legislation also specifically protects all students, including those of transgendered experience, from being bulled in schools.  DASA was one of the first bills I introduced in the State Senate and I am thrilled that for the first time protections for New York's transgendered community are enshrined in State law.  Please see The Villager coverage of the bill signing here.

September 9, 2010
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