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.
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.
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.
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of VillageCare's new Rehabilitation and Nursing Center at 214 W. Houston Street, which succeeds the beloved but outdated Village Nursing Home on Abingdon Square.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.
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.
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
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.
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 19, 2010"Governor Paterson's veto of the HIV/AIDS Services Administration (HASA) 30% rent cap bill is an incredible tragedy. Thousands of New Yorkers living with HIV/AIDS who receive housing assistance from HASA will continue to be forced to live on $11 and change a day because all the rest of their monthly income – in some cases upwards of 70% – must go towards paying rent.
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.
Excerpt from Sienna Baskin and Melissa Broudo's September 2, 2010 Huffington Post column on New York State's new law, sponsored by Senator Duane and Assembly Member Gottfried and co-authored by the Sex Workers Project at the Urban Justice Center, that allows sex trafficking victims to clear their records of prostitution-related crimes.
September 2, 2010
A Victory for Survivors of Trafficking in New York State
Finally, after much advocacy and hard work, The North Shore-LIJ Health System (NS-LIJ) has announced a plan, in affiliation with VillageCare, to operate a 24-hour urgent care center at 121A West 20 Street on the Lower West Side of Manhattan. I and the community expect that the proposed facility will provide the highest quality, state-of-the-art urgent care possible and that the New York State Department of Health (DOH) will quickly approve the project. That said, actions speak louder than words. Nothing can be taken for granted. We must remain vigilant until this facility is operational and we can be sure that it is providing the same level of high-quality, culturally sensitive care to all who need it regardless of their ability to pay.
On Thursday, August 5, 2010, Justice Robert Lowe of the New York State Supreme Court denied a motion by Met Life to dismiss the claims of Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village tenants for damages resulting from Met Life’s illegal deregulation of apartments and rent overcharges. The ruling came in the ongoing litigation of the Roberts case, in which the State’s highest court had previously found that Met Life and Tishman Speyer, which purchased the complex from Met Life in 2006, had given up their right to deregulate apartments by accepting generous tax benefits under the City’s J-51 program.