Liz Krueger: Standing Up and Speaking Out

Community Bulletin – February 2012

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

 

Table of Contents
  • Message from Liz
  • Community Spotlight:
    • Senior Roundtable: Planning Ahead
    • Vudu Lounge Closed!
    • Update on East 93rd Street Marine Transfer Station
    • Landmarks Hearing on First Avenue Estate
    • Kindergarten Applications Now Being Accepted
    • Financial Aid Online Resources
    • Study of Aging Irish Americans
    • Fighting Unauthorized Charges on Phone Bills
    • Summer Lifeguards Needed
    • Search and Care Volunteer Open House
    • Affordable Housing Opportunities in Manhattan
    • Heat Season Rules
  • Spotlight on Policy:
    • Bicycle Safety Legislation
    • Downed Animals
Message from Liz…
Several recent attacks on reproductive rights and access to healthcare for women have again highlighted the need for pro-choice voices to continue to make themselves heard. While these two attacks were quite different, both in how serious they were and in their potential consequences, they are both indicators of how far we have to go toward ensuring access to reproductive health services for those who need them.

The first attack was a particularly clumsy effort at censorship by the Senate Republican Majority. When Senator Toby Stavisky and I introduced a resolution joining many other states across the country to recognize January 21-28th as “Reproductive Rights and Justice Week,” the Majority Republican Counsel’s office sent back an absurdly censored version re-titled “Women’s Health Week.”

In the censored version, almost the entire text was eliminated and replaced. Terms such as ‘prenatal care’, ‘pregnancy’, ‘contraception’, ‘abortion’, ‘health care providers’ and ‘infant mortality’ were all deleted from the original resolution. I wish I could say I was shocked that they would consider such a non-binding resolution too controversial to even allow it to be printed, but based on past behavior I can’t say that I am. In this case, the effort at censorship backfired, as it brought much more attention to the resolution that it would have otherwise received.

The more serious threat to reproductive rights came with the announcement that the Susan G. Komen Foundation was withdrawing funding for breast cancer screenings from Planned Parenthood, apparently because Planned Parenthood also provides reproductive health services including abortion. News like this makes it clear – the war on reproductive rights across our country is expanding into a war against women's health and women themselves. This is the type of reckless, politically motivated attack that could cost women’s lives. The screening program, part of Planned Parenthood's commitment to promoting and improving women's health, literally provides a life-saving service, helping women identify breast cancer early and dramatically improve their chances of getting treatment in time and surviving.

That said, the strong and immediate backlash is an encouraging sign. Planned Parenthood stated they would not let Komen’s disappointing decision halt grant funding or get in the way of providing patients with the care they need, and in the wake of the announcement that Komen was defunding their work, they have raised millions of dollars from supporters. A national foundation announced a gift to create a Planned Parenthood Breast Health Fund to provide immediate funding for the women whose breast cancer screenings and care was jeopardized by Komen’s decision to withdraw its support, and in addition, Mayor Bloomberg pledged a matchable contribution of up to $250,000 to Planned Parenthood. 

In the wake of the tremendous backlash against their action and the outpouring of support for Planned Parenthood, the Komen Foundation announced they would restore funding to their partnership with Planned Parenthood. While the attacks on reproductive health are disturbing, it is also extremely gratifying to see the pro-choice community rallying so effectively and successfully fighting off attacks.

As many of you know, I joined fellow pro-choice legislators in forming the NYS Bipartisan Pro-Choice Legislative Caucus last year. 

For more information on the caucus, visit http://nys-prochoicecaucus.blogspot.com/.

Community Spotlight
Senator Liz Krueger’s
Senior Roundtable
2011-2012 Program
Planning Ahead: Senior Living in the 21st Century
A 5-Part Series for Boomers and Seniors

Join Us for Part 4:

Financial and Legal Preparation for Long-Term Care

Presenters:
Amy Bernstein
HIICAP -- the Heath Insurance Information, Counseling and Assistance Program
Martin Petroff, Esq.
Elderlaw Attorney
Carolyn Silver, Esq.
Director of Legal Advocacy and Organizing, Lenox Hill Neighborhood House

Thursday, February 23rd, 2012
8:00 – 10:00 am
Lenox Hill Neighborhood House
331 East 70th Street

A light breakfast will be served
RSVP required

For further information or to RSVP, email Dore Mann, doremann@gmail.com, or call (212) 490-9535.
 

Vudu Lounge Closed!
After a long fight, Vudu Lounge on First Avenue between 77th and 78th has closed and has withdrawn its application for a liquor license renewal. This is a huge victory, as this establishment had a long history of violations and had created serious safety, noise, and nuisance problems for the surrounding community. My staff and I have been working with community leaders and other elected officials to pressure Vudu Lounge for several years now, and we are glad the burden on area residents is finally lifted.
Update on East 93rd Street Marine Transfer Station:
On January 28th I joined Congresswoman Maloney, Assemblymember Kellner, and community members to protest the decision by New York City to begin soliciting bids for construction of the Marine Transfer Station, despite the fact that it has not been granted a permit by the Army Corps of Engineers. The Army Corps has indicated it has not yet received all the documentation it needs to consider the application. Our community has been clear in our opposition to the construction of this facility, but now residents of the East Side have reason to be doubly outraged. In soliciting bids before completing a host of other necessary steps, the City government has attempted to jump the gun and short-circuit its responsibility to safeguard the East River environment and our communities. I will continue to work with the community and my colleagues to vigorously oppose this ill-advised project.
Landmarks Commission Hearing on First Avenue Estate:
On January 24th, I submitted testimony to the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) "hardship" hearing for two individually landmarked buildings within the City and Suburban Homes First Avenue Estate. If the owner’s application is granted, the owner would be permitted to demolish the landmarked buildings at 429 East 64th Street and 430 East 65th Street on the grounds that they do not generate sufficient economic return.

The landlord has been warehousing numerous apartments in these buildings, and is trying to use the resulting low returns to justify his hardship claim. The LPC has traditionally only granted hardship claims in the most extreme circumstances, and the facts in this case clearly do not rise to that level. City and Suburban Homes is a critical piece of the Upper East Side’s architectural and social history, which was recognized in the landmarking process.

The community came out in force to oppose the demolition of these buildings, and I was encouraged by the questions the commissioners asked the applicant. For more information on the hearing, as well as on how to submit your own testimony into the record, visit http://www.friends-ues.org/.
Kindergarten Applications Now Being Accepted:
The kindergarten application period is open through March 2, 2012. Parents must submit an application in order for your child to attend kindergarten at any New York City public school in September 2012, even if you are applying to your zoned school.

To apply, visit your zoned school to fill out an application. Some districts also have non-zoned or choice schools to which you can apply during the application period.

Your zoned school is determined by your home address. If you don't know which school is your zoned school, type in your home address on the School Search website at http://schools.nyc.gov/default.htm, or call 311.

All applications received by the March 2, 2012 deadline will receive the same treatment – admission is not first-come, first-served. All children born in 2007 who reside in New York City are eligible for enrollment.

When applying, bring the child's birth certificate or passport as well as two documents which provide proof of residence. A list of acceptable documents for proof of residence is available at http://schools.nyc.gov/NR/rdonlyres/E79B29EE-A7B8-4388-8891-6B5522C5D4D4/0/201213KAdmissionsFlyer.pdf. You do not need to bring your child with you when you apply.

For more information about kindergarten admissions and eligibility,  email the DOE at ES_Enrollment@schools.nyc.gov, or call (718) 935-2009 or visit
http://schools.nyc.gov/ChoicesEnrollment/Elementary/Enrollment+Information.htm.
College Financial Aid Online Resources:
New York State has established a website with information on applying for financial aid. This site, called Start There, Get There, includes information on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form and TAP, among other resources. The site can be accessed at http://www.startheregetthere.org.
Study of Aging Irish Americans:
The Gallagher Initiative is seeking volunteers for a survey project designed to identify the needs of aging Irish Americans. The survey is being conducted by professors from Hunter College and Fordham University under the auspice of the Fund for the Advancement of Social Services. If you volunteer to participate in this survey, you will be interviewed by a trained interviewer at a time and location that you choose. The interview will be private and confidential.

You may participate in the survey if:
  • You or your parents or any of your grandparents were born in Ireland
  • You live in New York City
  • You are age 55 years or older
Participants will receive a FREE tote bag and resource pamphlets upon completion of the interview. To learn more about the survey or if you or someone you know would like to participate in the survey, please call: 917-575-7158 or email Gallagher.initiative@gmail.com or visit us at: GallagherInitiative.blogspot.com.
Fighting Unauthorized Charges on Phone Bills:
“Cramming” is the practice of placing unauthorized, misleading or deceptive charges on your telephone bill. Crammers rely on confusing telephone bills in an attempt to trick consumers into paying for services they did not authorize or receive, or that cost more than the consumer was led to believe. I have introduced legislation that would require written authorization before such charges are added to you bill. However, until such legislation is enacted, it is important to carefully review your phone bill for any such charges, and to report them to you phone company. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has additional information of fighting cramming or filing a complaint at http://www.fcc.gov/guides/cramming-unauthorized-misleading-or-deceptive-charges-placed-your-telephone-bill. You can also call the FCC at 1-888-CALL-FCC (1-888-225-5322) for information or to file a complaint.
Summer Lifeguards Needed:
The New York City Parks Department is recruiting lifeguards to work from late June through Labor Day. First-year lifeguards earn at least $13.57 an hour. Applicant must be 16 years or older, be  able to swim 50 yards in 35 seconds, and meet uncorrected vision requirements. For more information on testing sites, visit http://www.nycgovparks.org/opportunities/jobs/lifeguards.
Search and Care Volunteer Open House:
Search and Care offers volunteer opportunities to help the elderly in our neighborhoods, and is holding an open house for potential volunteers to learn more about their service and how they can help. The open house will be held Wednesday, February 29, from 6 - 7:30 pm, at Search and Care, 1844 2nd Avenue. To RSVP, call (212) 289-5300. Tapas and sangria will be served.
Affordable Housing Opportunities in Manhattan:
West 53rd/54th Street Apartments is now accepting applications for 96 affordable studio, 1-, 2- and 3-bedroom apartments under construction on West 54th Street, between Tenth and Eleventh Avenues, in the Clinton Section of Manhattan. Rents for these apartments range from $508 to $964 depending on income and unit size. To be eligible, applicants must have incomes between $19,920 and $48,150, depending on income and family size. Preference will be given to Community Board 4 residents for 48 units, mobility-impaired persons for five units, visual- and/or hearing-impaired units for two units, and City of New York municipal employees for five units. Preference for all units will go to New York City residents.

To request an application, mail a postcard, including your name and full address to: West 53/54 Street Apartments Phase 2, 1357 Broadway, Box 410, New York NY 10018, or download the application from www.w5354phase2.com

Completed applications must be returned by regular mail only to a post office box that will be listed on the application and must be postmarked by February 20, 2012. Applicants who submit more than one application will be disqualified.
Heat Season Rules:
The City Housing Maintenance Code and Multiple Dwelling Law requires building owners to provide heat and hot water to all tenants. Building owners are required to provide hot water 365 days a year at a constant minimum temperature of 120 degrees Fahrenheit.

Between October 1st and May 31st, a period designated as “Heat Season”, building owners are also required to provide tenants with heat under the following conditions:
  • Between the hours of 6AM and 10PM, if the outside temperature falls below 55 degrees, the inside temperature is required to be at least 68 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Between the hours of 10PM and 6AM, if the temperature outside falls below 40 degrees, the inside temperature is required to be at least 55 degrees Fahrenheit.
Tenants who are cold in their apartments should first attempt to notify the building owner, managing agent or superintendent. If heat is not restored, the tenant should call the City’s Citizen Service Center at 311. For the hearing-impaired, the TTY number is (212) 504-4115. The Center is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
 
 
Policy Spotlight
Bicycle Safety Legislation
I have recently updated my bill cracking down on delivery bicycles by holding the businesses that employ them responsible for safety violations such as riding on the sidewalk. The bill (S419D), which Assemblymember Kavanaugh carries in the Assembly, allows police to fine businesses when their delivery people break the law.

The intent of this bill is to address the growing problem that sidewalks in New York City’s most crowded neighborhoods have been taken over by speeding delivery bicyclists. By riding on sidewalks instead of the streets, these delivery bicycles pose a serious risk for community residents on foot – particularly seniors and young children. Currently the police can only ticket the bike rider, but under the new law the businesses that employ these reckless riders will face the fine. When a business has a vested monetary interest in its employees following the “rules of the road,” they will be motivated to educate their delivery people to follow the law. This will act as a very strong deterrent for the kinds of reckless activities which injure and sometimes kill pedestrians.

This has been a growing problem in many of our neighborhoods. It’s evident by the large volume of calls my office receives on the matter, not to mention concerns expressed at local Community Boards and police precinct meetings. I am a strong supporter of expanded safe biking access, but everybody needs to follow the rules. This legislation will bring us far closer to a responsible public policy for the coexistence of bike delivery persons and pedestrians.

The issue of sharing our streets among pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists is one of compromise. We must all work together to ensure general public safety. This legislation will go far in ensuring the proper regulations are in place, so our community's public safety can be ensured. I am pleased to see the Senate’s approval of this legislation, working toward a responsible policy for keeping our pedestrians safe by removing the threat of bicycles on our sidewalks.
Downed Animals
I am the lead sponsor of state legislation in New York on “downer” livestock (S. 427), which would ban the sale of livestock too sick to walk for human consumption, and require humane euthanasia of these animals. Unfortunately, last month the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision overturned California’s similar downer livestock law. In the decision, the Supreme Court affirmed the supremacy of the Federal Meat Inspection Act over state laws, declaring that states could not enforce stronger requirements than those imposed under the federal law. This court decision highlights the need for immediate congressional action.

“Downer livestock” describes animals who cannot stand or walk, usually because of sickness, injury, or age. Downer livestock is far more likely to carry disease, and under the Federal Meat Inspection Act, downer adult cattle may not be slaughtered and may not be sold for food. Meat from downer cattle in particular is at increased risk of carrying Mad Cow Disease. Meat from other downed livestock can pose serious public health threats as well, however, but the federal law did not institute similar protections for downed livestock animals other than adult cattle.

Congress must respond right now. In many instances, it is legal to slaughter these sick animals, and they can enter the food supply. Now the Supreme Court has taken even the option of state legislation off the table. Congress must amend the Federal Meat Inspection Act to protect Americans and prevent the mistreatment of these animals. At a bare minimum, Congress must amend the law to allow states like California and New York to enact their own protections.

Four members of New York’s congressional delegation are pushing the Downed Animal and Food Safety Protection Act (H.R. 3704), legislation sponsored by U.S. Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-Queens) to close loopholes in the Federal Meat Inspection Act and permanently protect the food supply from unhealthy livestock. Joining Rep. Ackerman as co-sponsors are Reps. Peter King (R-Seaford), Nita Lowey (D-Harrison), and Michael Grimm (R-Staten Island) from the New York delegation.