Brooklyn News Review – 3:56 AM 12/29/2020
New York Leaders Refuse a Lifeline For Small Business
Mon, 28 Dec 2020 09:52:46 +0000
The covid crisis has shown that the future of our small businesses cannot be left in the hands of powerful lobbies and ambitious politicians, or they will have no future. If City Hall continues to do nothing, as it has for over a decade, to stop the closing of our long established businesses, then lawmakers will be responsible for triggering the worse economic catastrophe in our city’s history. Lawmakers must stop playing politics and make a choice for the future of all New Yorkers. Either continue serving party bosses and the special interests and stand on the side of protecting the profits of real estate speculators and profiteers, or stand on the side of our small business owners who created the jobs for working class families.
Democratic leadership is sending the message to business owners that, because our small businesses are the backbone of our economy, they are a priority to get help. Lawmakers are claiming to be working tirelessly to see relief is on the way to get businesses though this crisis to return to normal and thriving again. Nothing could be further from the truth, total disingenuous political rhetoric giving a false hope!
NYC small business owners stand alone in the nation by facing a crisis to survive for over the past decade, while our government did nothing to save one business. Today’s virus crisis has only greatly sped up what was already slowly happening to our long established businesses being forced to close when their leases expired and they had no rights to negotiate fair lease terms.
Pre-pandemic “normal” for NYC businesses prior to the virus were: the highest insane rents, highest taxes, highest utilities, highest cost of doing business, shortest leases, being extorted to stay in business, having no rights, and a government serving only wealthy campaign donors. Normal was NYC Courts* issuing warrants to evict an average 473 businesses each month and an estimated 1,200 to 1,400 closing each month. The new normal for the backbone of our economy was empty stores, sometimes for years, on every main street where once thriving businesses were, while this was acceptable to career politicians. Why would any business owner welcome going back to the most anti small business environment in America, where their futures were solely in the hands of their landlords£
* NYC Court evictions
Our desperate business owners deserve the truth as they face their greatest challenge ever to save their American Dream. That truth is our Democratic leadership has no intentions of throwing them any real lifeline to save them, or even give them a fighting chance. This is the shameful truth that exposes who really runs City Hall, even now in a time of a crisis.
Since April 2009,* our government knew our small businesses faced a crisis to survive. City Hall knew the cause of the crisis was years of unchecked government encouraged hyper real estate speculation which made our small businesses collateral damage to this economic policy. In June 2009 the Small Business Committee held a hearing to find an immediate real solution to save our small businesses. That lifeline to stop the closings of businesses was the Small Business Jobs Survival Act, Jobs Survival Act, and still is the only hope today. Jobs Survival Act gives business owners rights when their leases expired, rights to long term leases and rights to equally negotiate fair lease terms, which was the only real solution to save them. The entire committee became sponsors, making 32 council members ready to easily vote into law and throw all our businesses the lifeline they needed to survive.
*LATIN CHAMBER STUDY | savenycjobs The vote was never taken, and it will never be taken under this government controlled by powerful special interests, the real estate lobby and corrupt party machines. Democracy was stopped with the collusion between Speaker Quinn’s office and the real estate lobby who schemed to cook up a bogus legal claim to stop the vote. After stopping a vote on the Jobs Survival Act, which was reintroduced in 2010 and 2018, powerful lobbies took total control of our government’s oversight responsibilities on economic policy in order to protect the profits of a few wealthy, and they still are in control today.
After stopping good government from working, for the next 10 years plus, right up to today’s virus crisis, every Machiavellian act possible has been carried out at City Hall to deny economic justice to our small business owners. A lobby orchestrated charade included: picking the Speakers, hand picking the Small Business Committee Chairs, selecting the committee members, refusing to hold public hearings on the Jobs Survival Act or any bill to address store closings, using the SBS, BIDS, Chambers, Business organizations, bogus business advocates, funded pro real estate Community groups, fake coalitions and corrupt lawmakers themselves, all to cover up the city’s small business crisis while promoting status quo legislation created by a lobby.
City Hall’s leadership purposely lied about the legality of the Jobs Survival Act to stop any vote, while promoting a slew of fake studies, worthless initiatives or useless laws all with REBNY’s fingerprints on them. All substitute fake solutions for the Jobs Survival Act have the common factor of never giving small business owners any rights when their leases expired and none would seriously regulate the commercial landlords. In truth, no government action of any kind in the last decade would save a single business or job or protect a single business from their landlord’s greed or landlords’ having total control over a businesses’ future. Good government and the future of our small businesses did not matter to blind ambitious career politicians, and it still does not today.
It is disgraceful, the political theater by lawmakers today pretending to care about saving our businesses while never mentioning the Jobs Survival Act, sitting with 28 sponsors and easy passage if allowed a vote. Total silence from lawmakers on the past unresolved crisis that was destroying our businesses and would continue after the virus crisis. Our lawmakers will not even mention that a real lifeline exists bottled up in committee that would save the majority of our businesses or at least give them a fighting chance to survive. Instead, lawmakers are touting only temporary band aids that would do nothing to protect business owners after the virus crisis. Lawmakers throwing all the blame for business closings on the virus and directing the public to blame Washington’s lack of response or Albany for the closings. How about City Hall’s lack of response for 10 years for doing nothing to save our businesses£ These lawmakers only promoting lobby created solutions to keep the status quo proves our small businesses’ survive still does not matter, and never has. Appalling, not one lawmaker has called for an honest hearing to find the best lifeline to stop the closings of our small businesses, and they never will!
The outcome of this corrupt system of conspiracy, collusion and rigging to deny economic justice that exists at City Hall is the reason only NYC small business owners must now face two crises to survive. The first is the decade long crisis that our government refused to find a solution to end. The other is today’s virus crisis, which the City Hall leadership again refuses to throw a real lifeline to end. Two crises without any real lifeline can only end with an economic catastrophe.It is fair to say that the failure of our government to give economic justice to our small business owners for over a decade has made our business owners the most vulnerable to closing than any businesses in America. City Hall lawmakers serving only their campaign donors and party bosses are responsible for making a growing crisis worse by doing nothing for over a decade and failed to throw our struggling businesses a real lifeline in 2009, 2018 and again today with the virus crisis. Lawmakers knew in 2009 that without a real lifeline many businesses would not survive, David Yassky, former Chairman at 2009 hearing , “I will say simply as an opening statement that I believe that we absolutely have to do something, period. It’s not an option to do nothing. The mom and pop stores on the commercial strips in our neighborhoods are the heart of the neighborhood. We cannot allow them to be pushed to the point of disappearance, which is what is happening now.” Even with Yassky’s prediction coming true with record business closings from a growing crisis, and empty stores citywide, leadership refused to throw a real lifeline in 2018. Today’s two crises makes it an almost certainty every business is in jeopardy of closing, yet lawmakers still refuse to throw them a real lifeline to survive. Despicable, and the lowest point of immorality at City Hall.
Most people with strong morals could not phantom that lawmakers would intentionally conspire to prevent any real lifeline to save small business owners in their time of crisis. But that is exactly what happened at the Oct 22, 2018 hearing on the Jobs Survival Act, triggered by the empty store blight in NYC. The Democratic leadership abdicated full authority over this critical hearing to the real estate lobby, REBNY. How shameful was this act£ The very real estate industry, whose members created our small crisis and then bought off progressive lawmakers to “do nothing” to save the businesses, now had total control of the hearing and over our small business owner’s future.
This REBNY orchestrated hearing will go down in history as the most anti small business sham hearing ever held. Firstly, the Chairman of the Small Business Committee CM Mark Gjonaj is a real estate owner on record opposed to the Jobs Survival Act or any law regulating landlords. CM Gjonaj set records in 2017 for campaign donations of over $1.2 million from mostly big real estate. Never would Gjonaj be chairman of any small business committee in America, but this is NYC where conflict of interests means little. Where lobbyists are in City Hall offices making decisions more than elected officials.
Secondly, REBNY’s top cronies came to oppose the bill or give testimony distracting away from finding a real solution. Every group who made a financial killing from the real estate bubble boom was represented and gave testimony opposed to the bill. Lead by Commissioner Bishop, the entire administration came in force to oppose the bill and give misinformation and distractions only. Next came the fake small business advocates falsely claiming they were speaking for mom and pop owners. Finally, the fake heavily funded political community groups representing lawmakers opposed to the bill.
This hearing should have been to find the best lifeline to save small businesses, but instead, the real goal for the lobbies and Democratic party machine was the opposite, to stop any lifeline from being voted on. While the bad actors succeeded in stopping the Jobs Survival Act none offered a solution to save a single small business. After the hearing in Oct 2018, the collusion and rigging continued at City Hall to stop any vote on the Jobs Survival Act or stop any lifeline to stop the closings. Therefore, it is justifiable to blame the failure of our government to serve the will of the people and allow democracy to work which produced two crises that few business owners will be able to survive. If a business if forced to close today, do not just blame the virus, blame unethical corrupt lawmakers also.
For the sake of the future of our small businesses, jobs, our neighborhoods, and society lets admit the obvious. In the past elections all the pledges made by candidates claiming to be progressive and ready to support progressive legislation to take the city in another direction from Bloomberg’s and de Blasio’s pro real estate policies were nothing but political rhetoric to con the voters into electing them. But nothing has changed, the real estate lobbies’ policies remain, REBNY controls City Hall economic policy and have gotten richer and more powerful.
Where is the conscience and basic decency from our lawmakers to allow this small business tragedy to continue knowing the terrible outcome to families£ It is clear from a decade of collusion and rigging for a lobby and the non action from City Hall to find real solutions to save our businesses, while showing no empathy for the dire plight of business and worker’s families to even attempt to save our small businesses, that the only hope for a future for our business owners and workers is to elect only new truly ethical progressive candidates to office. Candidates who have the political will and progressive values to stand up to the special interests and corrupt pollical machines and restore democracy again in our government.
Sung Soo Kim, recognized as the city’s leading small business authority and advocate for over 3 decades. The “Godfather of immigrant businesses” is the founder of the oldest small business service center in NYC, the Korean American Small Business Service Center, and was Chairman of the Mayor’s First Small Business Advisory Board, appointed by Mayors Dinkins and Giuliani. He is co-founder of Small Business Congress and sole creator of the Small Business Bill of Rights. He has spent every working day for 34 years addressing the problems of immigrant small business owners. He never took a salary from government as Chairman of Small Business Advisory Board nor in consulting on numerous regulations. He turned down offers to run a BID in Queens and turned down government funding for his business service center. In 34 years he has personally negotiated and re-negotiated an estimated 50,000-55,000 commercial lease for his Asian members. He has gone to court weekly for 34 years to fight over 5,000 times for his members in court. He personally consulted in the drafting of the original version of Small Business Jobs Survival Act and every version introduced by seven prime sponsors.
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Train & Bus Service Changes on New Year’s Eve and Day
Mon, 28 Dec 2020 09:52:46 +0000
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) is strongly urging customers to adhere to advice from public health experts to avoid travel this holiday season to best keep themselves, their families and fellow New Yorkers healthy and safe. Service changes in effect for the New Year’s eve and days are detailed below.
“The holidays are traditionally about gathering with family, but this year, in accordance with CDC guidelines, we are asking the public to avoid unnecessary travel as COVID-19 cases continue to rise in the nation,” said Patrick J. Foye, MTA Chairman and CEO. “The MTA will continue to provide clean, safe and reliable service for those who must ride with us and we look forward to continuing to serve our customers in the new year.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is continuing to recommend use of face masks in public, and is providing this guidance to Americans: “The safest way to celebrate winter holidays is to celebrate at home with the people who live with you. Staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others.” The MTA has found that that 97% and 99% of customers are wearing masks on subways and buses, respectively, and 97% of customers are wearing masks on both the Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North Railroad. The MTA’s Mask Force has distributed more than 400,000 free masks to riders since July and 5.8 million masks have been made available at station booths, on board bus dispensers and at other locations.
Subways will operate on a regular weekday schedule on New Year’s Eve, Thursday, Dec. 31.
Subways will run on a Sunday schedule and the Staten Island Railway will run on a Saturday schedule on New Year’s Day, Friday, Jan. 1, 2021.
The subway is closed between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. for car and station disinfection and cleaning.
On New Year’s Eve, Thursday, Dec. 31, buses in Brooklyn, the Bronx, Manhattan and Queens will operate on a reduced weekday schedule. Buses on Staten Island will operate on a weekday school closed schedule.
On New Year’s Day, Friday, Jan. 1, 2021, buses in all five boroughs will operate on a Sunday schedule.
Metro-North Railroad will operate on a regular weekday schedule on New Year’s Eve, Thursday, Dec. 31. Off-Peak fares remain in effect at all times on East of Hudson service; Peak/Off-Peak fare rules remain in effect on West of Hudson service.
On New Year’s Day, Friday, Jan. 1, 2021, Metro- North will operate on a regular weekend/holiday schedule. Trains do not operate between Southeast and Wassaic on weekends and will not operate on New Year’s Day. Off-Peak fares are in effect all day on both East of Hudson and West of Hudson services.
Drinking alcohol on Metro-North trains and in stations is banned from noon New Year’s Eve until noon New Year’s Day.
Long Island Rail Road
The LIRR will operate on a regular weekday schedule on New Year’s Eve, Thursday, Dec. 31 and on a holiday/weekend schedule on New Year’s Day, Friday, Jan. 1.
Drinking alcohol on LIRR trains and in stations is banned from noon New Year’s Eve until noon New Year’s Day.
Bridges and Tunnels
MTA Bridges and Tunnels will suspend all lane closures related to routine maintenance and temporary construction work beginning at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 23. Overnight work will end at 7 a.m. on Thursday, Dec. 24 and will not resume until the morning hours of Saturday, Dec. 26. Roadwork will again be suspended at 1 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 31 through 11:59 p.m. on New Year’s Day. Exceptions will be in place at the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge where off-peak lane closures with minimal traffic impact are required to support critical ongoing work. Any extraordinary weather-critical work that must be accomplished over the holiday weekends would occur only during overnight hours when traffic is at its lightest.
Channels for Service Updates Information about the planned schedule change noted in this press release, and all planned service changes, is available through the MTA’s many real-time service information sources. MYmta app – Customers who use the comprehensive MYmta smartphone app will see real-time travel information for all MTA services all in one place.
MTA.info–The “Service Status” box at new.MTA.infois always the definitive source for the latest status for each line. Live Subway Map – The MTA launched a public beta of its groundbreaking Live Subway Map on Oct. 20. In its first iteration the Live Subway Map shows the real-time position of trains, planned service changes at any given time, highlight accessible stations, and much more. Email and text message service updates – Customers are urged to sign up to receive alerts, tailored by specific branch and time of day, by visiting www.MyMTAAlerts.com. Twitter – Twitter users can follow @MTA, @NYCTSubway, @NYCTBus, @LIRR and @MetroNorth to receive dynamic service updates and customer service support. WhatsApp – NYC Transit recently started using WhatsApp to expand the number of customer service channels available to riders and is especially helpful for non-native English speakers. Riders can receive customer service support in their native language through the help of Google Translate. These communication channels can be accessed while at home or on the go. For customers who are located at stations, the MTA will post the latest service updates on digital signs at station platforms and will make audio announcements over public address systems, and on-board announcements made by train crews. For those who prefer to contact the MTA by telephone, information is available by dialing 511, the New York State Travel Information Line. For customers calling from Connecticut, the number is: 877-690-5114. Those who are deaf or hard of hearing can use their preferred service provider for the free 711 relay to reach the MTA at 511.
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Vaccine For All Program In New York City
Mon, 28 Dec 2020 09:52:46 +0000
With the City’s vaccine effort now underway, Mayor de Blasio today announced the launch of the NYC Vaccine for All Campaign. The Campaign—translated into 16 languages for radio, television, newspapers, and digital media—will spread the word of a safe, effective, and free vaccine in New York City.
“Finally, hope has finally arrived in New York City,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “We are launching a massive vaccination campaign at breakneck speed, guaranteeing that a vaccine will be safe, free, and easy to get for all New Yorkers.”
With a full rollout in January, the campaign will use a host of paid and earned media in over 16 languages—including TV spots, radio, subway and digital ads, social media and more—to spread public awareness around the City’s vaccination effort. A social media campaign will begin today, and digital campaign and subway live boards will begin next week.
This public awareness campaign will build on the work of the City’s Equity Plan, announced earlier this month. Spearheaded by the Taskforce on Racial Equity and Inclusion, the plan seeks to build trust and access to the vaccine in the 27 neighborhoods hardest hit by the virus. Through a broader outreach effort, the City will work with NYCHA residents, community partners, and faith leaders to spread accurate and trustworthy information about the vaccine and improve the distribution process.
The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene will also host virtual conversations with residents in the 27 neighborhoods and community leaders to share information on vaccine planning and provide opportunities for community members to raise questions and concerns. Community partners will have access to a training model, allowing them to serve as trusted messengers and hold webinars and community conversations on the City’s vaccine plan information and updates.
Following the successful partnership model the City established with NYCHA for COVID-19 testing, the City will use NYCHA space—including NYC Health + Hospitals clinics—to vaccinate priority populations. Finally, the Taskforce on Racial Inclusion & Equity will establish a subcommittee to focus on vaccine distribution in the city’s hardest-hit neighborhoods and engage their robust network of over 200 community organizations to ensure effective outreach. Their work will inform the City’s Vaccine Equity Principles, a set of commitments to ensure the vaccine is accessible to priority populations, with the obligation to continually solicit feedback from hardest-hit neighborhoods throughout the distribution process.
“Vaccination will put our city on the road to restoration,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Dave A. Chokshi. “This campaign is about bringing the vaccine to all New Yorkers in a way that ensures it is accepted and accessible to everyone. This is the beginning of an important dialogue and we look forward to the forthcoming conversations with city communities in the months ahead.”
“Our City’s recovery depends on ensuring all New Yorkers are able to access and receive the vaccine,” said Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Melanie Hartzog. “This mission is one of the most important in our City’s recent history and one of the largest and most complex––and we know it will take all of us doing our part to achieve it. Through this awareness campaign, we plan to spread the word about how free, safe, and easy it is to get vaccinated, while giving New Yorkers the information they need to understand where we are in this process and how they can help.”
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Racists Assault Man on Brighton Beach Yelling “Black Power”
Wed, 23 Dec 2020 04:09:58 +0000
It has come to our attention that two weeks ago a man was assaulted walking from Netcost Market on Neptune Avenue on Brighton Beach/Coney Island around 9 pm.
Four unidentified criminals began beating him without provocation while screaming “white pig, black power and black lives matter” according to the victim’s family. He was knocked down from behind and then brutally assaulted while on the ground.
As more proof that this was a racially-motivated assault, according to the victim nothing was taken from him and he was beaten strictly for the sake of racial violence. The victim filed a police report, but the perps were all wearing hoodies and masks, so the video footage does not show their faces. To make matters worse, the man is now afraid to be identified because he is afraid he will get fired by his company for his confrontation with BLM supporters.
“How many more innocent civilians will suffer from BLM’s incitement and propaganda which brainwashes communities to believe that all white people are racists, that America is systemically racist and that the world is a miserable, racist place£” stated attorney Inna Vernikov who is closely familiar with the family of the victim.
UPDATE: Another person who chose not to be identified claimed the same thing recently happened to her family member on the subway, but that victim was too fearful to go public with the story.
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Congressman Rose on COVID-19 Relief Bill
Tue, 22 Dec 2020 21:10:41 +0000
Congressman Max Rose issued the following statement on the $900 billion short-term, bipartisan coronavirus relief legislation that is passing the House of Representatives today and expected to be signed into law:
“It’s taken far too long, but I’m glad that we’re finally able to get bipartisan COVID-19 relief across the finish line. In addition to expanded unemployment, stimulus checks and small businesses assistance, I’m proud to have helped secure billions to protect our toll discounts and mass transit, open our schools safely, and accelerate vaccine distribution.
“This compromise bill should have been finished months ago and we all will have to live with the lives lost and human suffering caused by our inability to act for so long. It’s also a horrible indictment of our politics that this ‘compromise’ required cutting the amount spent on those struggling the most: the unemployed, small businesses, and state and local governments. Yes, it is important to get whatever money we can out the door now, but this bill must be a down-payment, not the end of federal assistance.
“Unfortunately, in these past few days we’ve seen Washington, D.C. again turn into its worst self; a thousand-plus page bill negotiated by a select few behind closed doors presented just hours before a vote, ladened with special interest giveaways. This broken system cannot continue.
“For those in need of this relief, there will be more details on how to access it in the coming days and weeks as these programs are implemented. Until my final day in office, I pledge to continue to update you and share that information.
“The end of this long coronavirus nightmare is hopefully within our sights, but we cannot let up. We must continue to fight this with everything we have and be there for those who have lost so much and put their lives and livelihoods on the line. Please continue to wear masks, be safe, and socially distance—especially around the holidays, as tough as it is. Serving the people of Staten Island and South Brooklyn has truly been the honor of my lifetime and I won’t stop fighting until the end.”
The funding package includes:
· Accelerating vaccine distribution and crushing the coronavirus: The bipartisan COVID relief package finally recognizes that we cannot get our economy working unless we can get the coronavirus under control. The package provides billions in urgently need funds to accelerate the free and equitable distribution of safe vaccines to as many Americans as possible as soon as possible, to implement a strong national testing and tracing strategy with billions reserved specifically for combating the disparities facing communities of color, and to support our heroic health care workers and providers.
· Ends surprise billing: The package includes bipartisan, bicameral legislation that will end surprise billing for emergency and scheduled care.
· Strong support for small business: Democrats secured critical funding and policy changes to help small businesses, including minority-owned businesses, and nonprofits recover from the pandemic. The agreement includes over $284 billion for first and second forgivable PPP loans, expanded PPP eligibility for nonprofits and local newspapers, TV and radio broadcasters, key modifications to PPP to serve the smallest businesses and struggling non-profits and better assist independent restaurants, and includes $15 billion in dedicated funding for live venues, independent movie theaters, and cultural institutions. The agreement also includes $20 billion for targeted EIDL Grants which are critical to many smaller businesses on Main Street.
· Community Development Financial Institutions and Minority Depository Institutions: The agreement includes dedicated PPP set-asides for very small businesses and lending through community-based lenders like Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) and Minority Depository Institutions (MDIs); $9 billion in emergency U.S. Treasury capital investments in CDFIs and MDIs to support lending in low-income and underserved communities, including persistent poverty counties, that may be disproportionately impacted by the economic effects of the COVID–19 pandemic; and $3 billion in emergency support for CDFIs through the CDFI Fund to respond to the economic impact of the pandemic on underserved low-income and minority communities.
· Rental assistance: Democrats secured $25 billion in critically needed rental assistance for families struggling to stay in their homes and an extension of the eviction moratorium.
· Strengthens the Low Income Housing Tax Credit: The package enhances the LIHTC to help increase affordable housing construction and provide greater certainty to new and ongoing affordable housing projects.
· Direct payment checks: Democrats secured a new round of direct payments worth up to $600 per adult and child, also ensuring that mixed-status families receive payments.
· Strengthened Earned Income Tax Credit & Child Tax Credit: The agreement helps ensure that families who faced unemployment or reduced wages during the pandemic are able to receive a strong tax credit based on their 2019 income, preserving these vital income supports for vulnerable families.
· Supports paid sick leave: The agreement provides a tax credit to support employers offering paid sick leave, based on the Families First framework.
· Employee Retention Tax Credit: The agreement extends and improves the Employee Retention Tax Credit to help keep workers in the jobs during coronavirus closures or reduced revenue.
· Enhanced Unemployment Insurance benefits: Democrats averted the sudden expiration of Unemployment Insurance benefits for millions and added a $300 per week UI enhancement for Americans out of work.
· Nutrition assistance for hungry families: Democrats secured $13 billion in increased SNAP and child nutrition benefits to help relieve the historic hunger crisis that has left up to 17 million children food insecure.
· Education and child care: The agreement provides $82 billion in funding for colleges and schools, including support for HVAC repair and replacement to mitigate virus transmission and reopen classrooms, and $10 billion for child care assistance to help get parents back to work and keep child care providers open.
· Historic expansion of Pell Grants: The package includes the largest expansion of Pell Grant recipients in over a decade, reaching 500,000 new recipients and ensuring more than 1.5 million students will now receive the maximum benefit.
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Ari Kagan Submits More Votes Than Exist, Leading to Corruption Accusations
Tue, 22 Dec 2020 00:19:20 +0000
The Brooklyn Paper is reporting that in a recent internal Democratic Party vote, more people voted that the number eligible to vote, and Ari Kagan, the Democratic Party District Leader for Sheepshead Bay, Brighton Beach and Midwood, is at the center of the storm for submitting twice as many votes as exist.
According to the report, “The Brooklyn Democratic Party’s first ever virtual full membership meeting went off the rails Wednesday, with party bigs miscounting votes and members pushing them for more transparency.”
“We just had 102 percent turnout,” declared the former Greenpoint District Leader Nick Rizzo. Mariana Alexander, the President of the New Kings Democrats, counted 2,205 votes, which is 26 votes more than the actual membership of 2,179.
“We are the laughing stock of this entire city,” said Assemblywoman Maritza Davila of Bushwick.
The most egregious violation seems to have come from Ari Kagan who is reported to have submitted almost 80 proxies — more than twice the amount of proxy votes available in his district.
“Given that discrepancy, we can’t move forward until the vote is audited, otherwise all future votes can’t be trusted,” said Boerum Hill District Leader Jesse Pierce.
In the coming year, Mr. Kagan will be a candidate for City Council District 47. He previously ran for Assembly-46, losing to Alec Brook-Krasny. He then lost to Chaim Deutsch in Council-48, which largely overlaps with the district Kagan represents as a Democratic Party District Leader. Kagan spent the last few years trying to run for Council-48, but made no headway among the Orthodox Jews, deciding eventually to run in the neighboring Council-47 that includes Coney Island, Warbasse, Seagate, Bath Beach, Gravesend.
Kagan will again face Alec Brook-Krasny in 2021, as well as first time candidate Steven Patzer.
UPDATE: We discussed this matter with Democratic Party sources, and they believe that the reason for Kagan’s count being at 80 was a counting error rather than his purposeful attempt to cheat. Since we were not present at the meeting, we do not know if our sources or the Brooklyn Paper are accurate. However, we do believe that there is serious doubt that Mr. Kagan did anything purposely wrong.
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Senate Candidate Condemns Prioritizing Vaccine By Race as “Racist”
Tue, 22 Dec 2020 00:19:20 +0000
It was recently reported that the State of New York and the City of New York will be prioritizing distributing the coronavirus vaccine to minorities over whites. I believe it is racist to prioritize medicine by the race of a person unless the person’s race is a contributing factor in the medical condition.
The CDC does not list race as a risk factor when contracting COVID-19. It list plenty of other things, including conditions that the elderly tend to suffer from as a greater proportion of their population. The priority should be health care workers exposed to COVID patients on a regular basis and elderly people 65+ years of age. If states cannot distribute the vaccine fairly and without an agenda, deliveries of the vaccine to those states should be suspended.
Politicians in NYC and NYS are forced to pursue more aggressive lockdown protocols because the health care system has not been properly funded in our areas for a long time. The underfunding of health care hits poorer neighborhoods harder because health problems accumulate in communities with less disposable income. In our city, that is where a larger number of minorities are represented. In upstate NY, most of those folks affected by poor health care are white.
If elected as a US senator, I will make practices like this illegal. Medicine should never be prioritized by race unless race is a risk factor and the risk factor should not be created by shortages in government services.
* Joel Anabilah-Azumah will be running for the United States Senate in 2022.
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Middle School and HS Admission Changesâ€¯
Tue, 22 Dec 2020 00:19:20 +0000
Mayor Bill de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Richard A. Carranzaâ€¯today announced changes to the middle and high school admissions process for NYC Department of Education (DOE) public schools beginning this winter for the 2021-22 school year. As the City charts its path forward with its COVID-19 response, these changes will result in a fairer process for all New York City families.
“The COVID-19 crisis has exposed longstanding inequities in our City’s public schools,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “Now, as we rebuild our city, we are expanding opportunities for all public-school students and doubling down on our mission to provide a quality education for all, regardless of a child’s zip code.”â€¯
“It is my responsibility to deliver the highest-quality education possible to each child, so that they are prepared for a successful, productive life, and empowered with the skills they need to chase their dreams and lead us all forward,” said Schools Chancellor Richard A. Carranza. “This year, we have faced the unknown together, and as we look ahead, we know that opening up more of our schools to more of our students will make our system stronger and more equitable for all.”
Today’s announcements build on existing steps the administration has taken to advance diversity and equity in admissions decisions and expand opportunity for all students They include:
A pause on use of all screens for middle school admissions for this year, meaning that students applying to middle school will not be selected based on previously used screening criteria. 196 middle schools use screens—metrics by which applicants are sorted and selected—for admissions decisions. These screens can include grades, student interviews, school-based assessments, behavioral evaluations, standardized test scores, and attendance. Instead, students will rank their choices on their middle school application as they always have; for schools with more applications than seats available for their sixth-grade class, students will be chosen through a lottery-based system.
The DOE will evaluate this one-year pause on middle school screens in the enrollment cycle for the 2022-23 school year, depending on the availability of data for next year’s applicants and the outcomes of this new approach. A district priority will remain in place for middle schools that currently have it, as many families across the city have indicated they want their young children to go to a school close to their residence. Schools and districts that have priorities in place for students from historically underserved communities, those will remain in effect also.
Students and families can start applying to middle school the week of January 11, 2021, and the deadline to apply will be the week of February 8, 2021.
District priorities for high school admissions will be permanently eliminated this year, and all other geographic priorities will be eliminated next year. This phase out over two years will start with 48 high schools that use district priorities in this first year. Approximately 250 total high schools have some type of district or geographic priority in place, such as borough-based priority, limiting opportunity for hard-working students to attend some of our most in-demand schools based on where they live. This will expand opportunity and increase choice for all rising high school students.
Academic screens may remain in place at high schools that currently use screens and wish to continue to use them. If a student lists a screened school on their high school application, a combination of 2018-2019 state tests, the previous years’ grades, and/or school-established criteria. Schools will be required to publicly publish their rubric criteria on MySchools and the ranking process will be centralized to ensure equity and transparency.
Screened schools have the option of not using screens this year if they wish, and are encouraged to make a concerted effort towards greater equity in their processes, either by electing to remove additional screens now or implementing a Diversity in Admissions priority. Approximately 100 NYC public schools currently prioritize targeted groups of students including, but not limited to, low-income students, English Language Learners, and students in temporary housing — we invite more schools to expand access to students of all backgrounds.
The high school application will open the week of January 18, 2021, and the deadline to apply is the week of February 22, 2021.
District Diversity Plans
The DOE will support five additional districts in joining districts 9, 13, 16, 28, and 31and secure a grant to develop a community-led District Diversity Plan to foster greater integration in their classrooms. Including districts 1, 3, and 15 who have also launched community driven plans to increase diversity in their schools, this will bring a total of 13 districts actively developing or managing diversity plans. Over the next four years, diversity planning will be expanded to all 32 community school districts, which will help our schools and classrooms become more inclusive for all and center community voice in developing a path forward.
SHSAT and Arts Auditions
The City is required by State law to administer the Specialized High School Admissions Test (SHSAT). Beginning Monday, December 21, 2020, students can register to test for admission to the Specialized High Schools.
The logistics involved in proctoring the exam are being altered to ensure the health and safety of staff and students. The SHSAT registration will close on January 15th, 2021. The exam will now be administered in students’ own middle schools to reduce travel and mixing of different cohorts of children.
The SHSAT will be administered beginning in late January. Families can complete their application via the MySchools portal, by calling P311, or through a virtual Family Welcome Center.
Arts high schools will move to a virtual audition system that will allow students to submit their audition online.â€¯Students will only need to create one audition that can be submitted for all schools that require it.
“New York City’s school system was the most segregated in the nation before the pandemic, and COVID-19 has only deepened these inequities in the classroom and remotely, exacerbating the immediate need to bring justice to our admissions systems and create transformational change inside our schools” said New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams. “This is a time not only to adapt, but to advance. The measures announced today are welcome, if overdue, efforts to remove barriers and begin to expand access to equitable education. At the same time, educational injustice was a crisis before the pandemic, with many unjust school screens in middle and high schools perpetuating inequity. We will need to continue advocating and implementing school and community led reform , such as a weighted lottery that provides greater access for the most marginalized students across our city, to create truly equitable schools.”
“Equal access to a quality education is something generations of families living in historically underserved communities across this city have sought, but never received. If diversity truly is our strength, like it is in The World’s Borough, then diversity must be a bedrock principle of our education system — these changes in admissions policy announced today bring us closer to that reality,” said Queens Borough President Donovan Richards. “The work doesn’t stop here, however. We must commit ourselves to expanding our Gifted and Talented programs and leave no stone unturned in building a diverse, equitable education system deserving of our families.”
“I am encouraged by many of these changes to the admissions process,” said State Senator Robert Jackson. “We’re finally moving in the right direction. As advocates have long pointed out, the status quo of admissions locks in the status quo of segregation. I hope that pausing middle school screens will open the door to eliminating them entirely and putting in place inclusive admissions that groups like the SDAG have long recommended. Ending geographic preference for high schools will also move us toward the goal of desegregation and equity.”
“Creating more diverse schools and eliminating the stress associated with NYC’s middle and high school admissions process is a step in the right direction, said Assembly Member Jo Anne Simon. “Yet we need to go much further to create equity for future generations of New Yorkers. Looking forward to building on this.”
“Admissions testing failures in New York City have perpetuated inequities in education for years,” said Assembly Member Rodneyse Bichotte. “The pandemic further exposed these racial and socioeconomic disparities, and digital divide issues, especially in districts like mine where a large percent of students in the district are non-white. As a result of educational inequities students of color, in particular, have historically not had access to the same quality of education as their peers. This pause on testing helps to break down those barriers. I thank the mayor and Chancellor for taking on this initiative.”
“The novel coronavirus known as “COVID-19” has produced a pandemic that has brought drastic changes to all our lives,” said Councilmember Inez Barron and Assembly member Charles Barron. “This pandemic has highlighted many of the underlying circumstances that have manifested the inequities, injustices, and barriers to having a fair and equitable distribution of services and access to opportunities to all people. This pandemic has disrupted the usual structure and schedule of teaching and learning. Students have not had an opportunity to engage with their classmates, to dialogue in real time with their peers, nor to have the benefit of immediate feedback from their instructors. The usual schedule of instruction has been disrupted, preparation and targeted practice for standardized test has not occurred. However, as with many crises, there is an opportunity for improvement. The unbalanced and disparate enrollment of black and Latino students in schools with greater resources and better learning outcomes, can now be addressed in this change to the admission policy for middle schools and high schools. This change reflects the concerns raised throughout the city by students and parents who are reflecting on the issues raised during this period of heightened awareness of the systemic injustices that marginalized communities have faced. We look forward to the implementation of this policy by the department of education. We expect that there will be full transparency in all phases of the implementation of this new policy.”
“I am pleased to see that the NYC Department of Education is working to implement a more equitable school admission process,” said City Council Finance Chair Daniel Dromm. “It is important to focus on the systemic issues that adversely impact middle and high school admissions, and to revamp the system so that a greater range of students have access to a superlative education. While there is more work to be done, this is a significant step in the right direction.”
“This is a huge and important step towards fairness and integration in our schools, and fundamentally necessary this year to mitigate the inequalities of pandemic school,” said Council Member Brad Lander. “All too often admissions screens measure access to resources far more than ability, furthering segregation and inequality in our public schools. This year, using old test scores, grades and meaningless attendance data to sort children into schools makes no sense at all. I’m very glad the Mayor and the DOE are taking this opportunity to pursue a fairer admissions process for this generation of students. We still have lots of work to do to close the gaps in educational opportunity and advance integration, but suspending middle school screens and reducing geographic priority for high schools are helpful steps in that direction amidst the disruption of this pandemic year.”
“The pandemic has laid bare the need to create a fairer education system for all New Yorkers,” said Council Member Keith Powers.” These reforms are a positive step forward for our students and city. Thank you to the Mayor and DOE for progress on school admissions.”
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NYS and NYC To Prioritize Giving Vaccine To Minorities Ahead of Whites
Mon, 21 Dec 2020 03:22:42 +0000
We previously reported that New York City’s official website has a plan to prioritize distributing vaccine to minorities over whites. Now it is reported that the State will also prioritize black and Hispanic populations.
According to Daily Mail, “25 states have committed to a focus on racial and ethnic communities as they decided which groups should be prioritized in receiving a coronavirus vaccine dose.” Among those 25 states is New York.
According to the official statistics, some populations such as African-Americans, Hispanics and Hasidic Jews have higher than average rates of coronavirus infection. The government of the State and City of New York adopted different approaches for these communities, prioritizing the first two for vaccines, while choosing punishment, fines, more strict lockdowns and nationwide public shaming as a means of dealing with the health crisis among the Orthodox Jews.
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Councilman Justin Brannan to Distribute Vegan Roasts
Sat, 19 Dec 2020 13:13:21 +0000
After a very successful vegan roast during Thanksgiving, Councilmember Justin Brannan will once again be teaming up with NYCLASS and PETA to give away vegan roasts in time for the holidays. The giveaway will take place in front of Councilmember Brannan’s office on Friday, December 18th starting at 1 PM, and will be first come first serve.
Councilmember Justin Brannan said, “After our last giveaway was such a success, we figured we would make a tradition out of it! As a vegetarian myself, I love giving our constituents an opportunity to try a karma-free holiday dinner, and hopefully this is another opportunity to make sure no one goes hungry this holiday. Thanks to NYCLASS and PETA for once again making this possible in our district!”
Edita Birnkrant, Executive Director of NYCLASS said, “NYCLASS is thrilled to partner again with Councilmember Justin Brannan and PETA to distribute delicious plant-based holiday hams and roasts to the Bay Ridge community during the holiday season. The first vegan roast giveaway we held with Councilmember Brannan before Thanksgiving was such a big success that we wanted to hold a second and bigger one before the end of the year, and we hope to hold many more of these around New York City! People were thrilled to be offered plant-based options – and we’d like to continue making those choices available to those in need.
Tracy Reiman, Executive Vice President of PETA said: “PETA was delighted to help Brooklynites celebrate a happy ThanksVegan, and we’re pleased as Christmas punch to be back with NYCLASS and Council Member Brannan to give humane holiday feasts a boost,” says PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman. “Opting for a delicious vegan roast is a wonderful way to offer sensitive pigs and turkeys a little peace on Earth.”
WHO: Councilman Justin Brannan, NYCLASS, PETA
WHAT: Vegan Roast Distribution
WHEN: December 18, 2020 @ 1PM
WHERE: 8203 3rd Avenue, Brooklyn 11209
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NYS Small Business Lease Assistance Program
Wed, 16 Dec 2020 06:29:22 +0000
Assemblyman William Colton (D – Gravesend, Bensonhurst, Bath Beach, and Dyker Heights) says that Governor Cuomo has launched the New York Forward Small Business Lease Assistance Partnership program. This program will provide Small Businesses and Landlords with Pro Bono Legal Assistance to Renegotiate Lease Terms in Wake of COVID-19.
“I appreciate that Governor Cuomo is initiating this program which will provide small businesses and their landlords with informational resources and pro bono assistance to help both parties reach equal and favorable lease agreements. This service will be available to all New York State small businesses and landlords. Small businesses and the economy have been impacted greatly during the COVID-19 pandemic, which is very damaging,” Colton said.
“The Empire State Development Corp. is partnering with the New York State Bar Association and Start Small Think Big, a New York-based non-profit organization dedicated to supporting small, under-resourced entrepreneurs with high-quality professional services. Start Small will be offering pro bono legal services from its network of more than 1,000 attorneys, to commercial tenants and landlords seeking lease amendments to cope with the impacts of COVID-19,” Colton continued.
“The Small Business Lease Assistance Partnership website includes information on the lease renegotiation process and details the different types of lease workouts available to help small businesses with the financial impacts of COVID-19. If you are interested in pro bono assistance to initiate a lease renegotiation, then you will need to complete the partnership’s intake form. After completing the form, you will receive an email, and the volunteer attorney will email the applicant to schedule an appointment. My office is open to provide information to help small neighborhood businesses on this and other such programs in these difficult times. If you need any assistance, then please call 718-236-1598 or visit 155 Kings Highway, Brooklyn, NY 1223,” Colton added.
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Assemblyman Bill Colton Opposes City Shutdown
Wed, 16 Dec 2020 06:29:22 +0000
Assemblyman William Colton (D – Gravesend, Bensonhurst, Bath Beach, and Dyker Heights) doesn’t believe that shutting down restaurants for indoor dining is the sole factor in slowing the coronavirus spread.
“The chart released by Governor Cuomo between September and November of 2020, clearly showing that out of 46,000 data points of Exposure the percentage of infection rate tracing data is concluding that 73.81 % of exposure is from private household gatherings. The health care services are at 7.81% which is a second-high tracing exposure rate. The education employees are at 2%, travel is at 1.05%, religious services at 0.69%, retail at 0.61%, transit and parks are at 0.96%. Ironically restaurants and bars are at 1.43%, which is far lower than private household gatherings and health care services. Yet only they were ordered to shutdown indoor dining which is the only way of surviving for small businesses especially during the winter season,” Colton stated.
“We need to look at the data pointing to sources of infection more carefully. Making decisions on business closure clearly indicates that we should reconsider the closing of indoor dining. The family holiday get-togethers and social gatherings must be planned more carefully. We can avoid penalizing businesses that are complying and avoid another business shutdown and still bring infection rates down by being diligent in wearing masks, practice social distancing, and washing hands frequently. Let’s beat this virus together and avoid another shutdown!” Colton added.
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NYC Will Receive 465,000 Doses of Vaccine in January
Mon, 14 Dec 2020 06:03:06 +0000
Mayor Bill de Blasio announced additional preparations for vaccine distribution. The City is expected to receive 465,000 doses of the vaccine by the beginning of January.
“With a vaccine on the horizon, we are in the last big battle against the virus,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “Hope is finally on the way, but we must stay vigilant to get through these winter months. We need New Yorkers to keep doing what we know works: wear a mask, get tested, socially distance, and if you’re a senior citizen or have a pre-existing medical condition, stay home as much as possible.”
“The vaccine is one step to protect New Yorkers, especially our extraordinarily dedicated health care heroes,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Dave A. Chokshi. “As the broader public awaits a vaccine, remember that we have other sources of protection, namely those precautions that brought COVID-19 under control the first time around—masking, distancing, hand-washing and staying home.”
In accordance with State and CDC guidelines, the initial expected doses will be given to nursing homes and health care personnel performing high-risk activities. The first shipments of the vaccine will be sent to hospitals, who have the capacity for ultracold storage, which is required for the Pfizer vaccine. Other healthcare personnel will receive vaccine next. To ensure equity in distribution, the City will also prioritize vaccination for residents and communities of color in the 27 neighborhoods that had been disproportionately hard hit in the spring,
The Health Department is prepared to stand up and operate temporary sites for additional capacity to supplement hospital vaccinations. Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control is operating a program in partnership with pharmacies to bring vaccination to long-term care facilities throughout the country. Through this program, providers from CVS and Walgreens will bring vaccines and needed supplies to long-term care facilities to vaccinate both residents and staff.
Additionally, Health Department has been working closely with healthcare providers in New York City to prepare for forthcoming vaccine distribution. This has included sharing information on what we know about vaccine trials, timelines, and anticipated logistics for a campaign. The City is also continuing to enroll healthcare providers in the Citywide Immunization Registry, which allows the Health Department to track doses and vaccinations across healthcare providers within the City. The City is additionally prepared to launch sites citywide in coordination with emergency response partner agencies to offer vaccinations, ensuring access and availability citywide.
Yesterday, the FDA made public the data Pfizer provided in their Emergency Use Authorization application, which offers promising information about the safety and efficacy of the Pfizer vaccine. On Thursday, an independent FDA advisory committee is scheduled to discuss authorization. The FDA could issue the Emergency Use Authorization as soon as Saturday, and if so, on Sunday a CDC advisory committee will also meet and vote on clinical guidance to accompany the vaccine rollout. If all goes according to plan, the first doses of the Pfizer vaccine could arrive as early as next Tuesday, December 15th. A similar process will unfold for the Moderna vaccine, which could arrive a week or two after the Pfizer vaccine.
Ahead of next week, providers like BronxCare have now conducted trial runs of the COVID vaccine ordering process, from submitting the other all the way to facility confirming receipt of a test package.
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De Blasio, Cuomo Demand A Federal Bailout
Mon, 14 Dec 2020 06:03:06 +0000
Mayor Bill de Blasio, Governor Andrew Cuomo, Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and New York labor leaders today sent a letter to the New York Congressional Delegation on the critical need for state and local funding in any stimulus bill in order to prevent massive damage.
The text of the letter is in full below and can be found online here:
Dear Senators Schumer and Gillibrand and Members of the New York Congressional Delegation:
You are well aware of the desperate circumstances New York suffered at the outset of the COVID crisis and continues to endure today. We understand Congress is considering a short-term federal funding measure of approximately $908 billion in COVID-19 relief. As an interim measure, this proposal should address states’ immediate and pressing needs, and it is essential and fair that New York receive at least a minimum amount of funding necessary to stop further massive damage.
It is important to remind your federal colleagues that New York paid a unique price for COVID. New York’s damages were a direct result of federal negligence. Unlike almost any other state, the COVID crisis in New York was caused by the COVID virus coming from Europe. Scientists have definitively traced our COVID strain to European countries. The Trump Administration was either unaware or did not inform New York that the virus had traveled from China to Europe and was traveling to New York State.
The Trump Administration banned travel from China on February 1 but did not ban European travel until March 16. By that time, over 3 million Europeans had traveled to New York and had been spreading the virus for months prior to our notification. That explains the explosion of cases in New York State. These facts have been confirmed by Dr. Redfield and Dr. Fauci in testimony before Congress.
Federal aid in the $908 billion package must be proportionate to the damage incurred by states and consider the federal liability. New York has the highest number of deaths in the nation and has among the highest number of unemployed people in the nation because COVID came to New York before the Trump Administration even acknowledged COVID’s presence on the eastern seaboard. Federal funds should not be distributed politically but rather distributed by need and damage. By any fair estimate, New York is the economic engine of the United States, a fact that should be recognized in any federal legislation intended to jumpstart the national economy, and no state was damaged to the extent that the federal government damaged New York.
New York’s need is dire. If the MTA does not receive $4.5 billion this year, 9,000 workers will be laid off, and subway and bus fares and tolls on crossings will be increased beyond the level of inflation. If New York State does not receive a minimum of $15 billion in aid, or if New York City does not receive a minimum of $9 billion in direct aid, then tax increases, layoffs of essential workers, and significant borrowing will all be necessary. This is no time to be imposing more burdens on hard-working New York families, nor is this the time to lay off essential workers, moments before we undertake a complicated and labor-intensive vaccination program.
We understand that you hope this initial package will fund states through next March at which time a more substantial package will be passed. However, we will not make it to March without the necessary funding outlined above.
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo
Mayor Bill de Blasio
Temporary President and Majority Leader
New York State Senate
New York State Assembly
New York State AFL-CIO
Transport Workers Union of America
Transportation Workers Union of Greater New York Local 100
Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York
Henry A. Garrido
District Council 37
President, Teamsters Local 237 &
Vice President-At Large, International Brotherhood of Teamsters General Board
United Federation of Teachers
NYS Public Employees Federation
Mary E. Sullivan
CSEA Local 1000, AFSCME
New York Hotel and Motel Trades Council
Municipal Labor Committee
Communications Workers of America District 1
Council of School Supervisors & Administrators, New York City
1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East
New York State United Teachers
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De Blasio, Taskforce For Racial Equity Launch Employee Ownership Conversion
Sun, 13 Dec 2020 10:54:46 +0000
Mayor Bill de Blasio, in concert with the Taskforce on Racial Inclusion and Equity, the Department of Small Business Services (SBS), and the Mayor’s Office of Minority and Women-Owned Businesses Enterprises (M/WBE), today announced the launch of Employee Ownership NYC, the nation’s largest municipal initiative for education and technical assistance around employee ownership and conversion. Business owners taking full advantage of the program can access services worth $10,000 or more in the private sector, all while building sustainable business models that offer true wealth-building opportunities for their workers.
“Enabling workers to buy their businesses is a proven model to address the wealth gap in this city – and it will be a transformative approach for businesses looking for creative ways to recover from the challenges posed by COVID-19,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “This approach helps anchor small businesses in the communities they serve, and I’m excited to see workers take a greater leadership role in their companies.”
“To promote small business ownership, we must do more than open doors of opportunity in New York City, especially in underserved communities,” said First Lady Chirlane McCray. “This new program will address the key challenges of sustaining a small business with education, training and high level supports. Removing the obstacles to entrepreneurship for people of color will move the city forward in the recovery, while preserving the culture and personal connections small businesses nurture in our neighborhoods.”
“Employee-ownership is a powerful and longstanding strategy for bolstering business resiliency, preserving jobs, generating wealth, and cultivating a sense of ownership amongst working people, especially employees of color, in their workplace and in this nation,” said Deputy Mayor for Strategic Policy Initiatives J. Philip Thompson. “I’m excited the City will support owners to sell their businesses to their employees towards advancing an equitable recovery and closing the racial wealth gap.”
Employee Ownership NYC offers businesses and workers support in adopting this compelling business model. The launch of a rapid response hotline, Owner to Owners, will ensure that more businesses access these services. The service is available at www.Owner2Owners.NYC or at 646-363-6592 and offered in ten languages: English, Spanish, Chinese-Mandarin, Russian, Haitian Creole, Korean, Vietnamese, Urdu, Bengali, and Arabic.
Employee owned firms are better for communities, employees, and businesses themselves. Research shows that since the onset of COVID-19, majority employee-owned firms have retained four times more jobs than their non-employee owned counterparts and are better equipped to manage uncertainties and risks associated with economic downturns. Selling all or part of the business to their employees can help business owners keep their doors open and increase financial security. Although 90 percent of business owners plan to use liquidity from their businesses to fund retirement, 85 percent of business owners do not have a succession plan and 70-80 percent of businesses put onto the market do not sell.
Employee owned companies provide more opportunities for workers to build wealth, particularly workers of color. Workers at employee owned companies are seven times less likely to be laid off than their counterparts. And workers of color at employee owned companies also have 79 percent higher median household net worth and 30 percent higher median income from wages than their counterparts.
“Innovation, collaboration, and adaptability are key when envisioning how small businesses will recover from the challenges posed by COVID-19. The launch of the Employee Ownership program is a powerful way to assist business owners in selling their business to their employees, giving workers a personal stake in helping the business succeed,” said Jonnel Doris, Commissioner of the NYC Department Small Business Services. “SBS is ready and here to help business owners transition to this model to ensure that they preserve their legacy and keep jobs in their community.”
“Ownership is a crucial component of addressing the racial wealth gap. With today’s announcement, the City is taking a bold step to support entrepreneurs looking to sell their business to convert to an employee-ownership model,” said Sideya Sherman, Executive Director of the Taskforce on Racial Inclusion and Equity. “Owner to Owners will ensure business continuity while saving jobs and offering employees a real opportunity to build assets and control their financial future.”
Four community-based organizations – the Democracy at Work Institute, The Working World, the ICA Group, and the Business Outreach Center Network – will offer expert support for business owners considering and implementing the transition to employee ownership. The program is expected to reach at least 20,000 businesses.
Specific services offered to interested businesses will include:
· Initial consultation and Eligibility Assessment
· Succession planning, including estimate of business value
· Business Readiness Assessment
· Access to capital, depending on eligibility
· Guidance through sale process
· Training and education for founders, managers, and staff to support successful ownership transition.
This builds-on the foundations laid by City Council through the Worker Cooperative Business Development Initiative (WCBDI), a program administered by Small Business Services (SBS).
“Employee ownership programs are a business strategy that helps to raise wages and boost wealth for New York City workers,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “I encourage small businesses to take a look at the services and support that Employee Ownership NYC offers to them and see the significant benefits a transition to employee ownership can bring, from increasing opportunity to strengthening the local economy.”
“It’s great that Mayor de Blasio and the City have invested in Employee Ownership and Worker Cooperatives. For many years, The Worker Cooperative Business Development Initiative has paved the way for many great worker coop organizations to support conversions, doubling down on that work during the COVID crisis. This hotline is a great progression of the work and how worker cooperatives and the organizations that support them can rebuild New York’s economy. Worker Cooperatives are genuinely committed to racial and gender equity and collaboration,” said Council Member Helen Rosenthal.
“At this critical moment, alternative business structures and solutions for sustainability offer the real chance to support wealth-building for underserved New Yorkers and support community economies. Business Outreach Center Network and BOC Capital CDFI are committed to this collaborative effort that promises to advance inclusive business development in NYC,” said Nancy Carin, Executive Director of The Business Outreach Center (BOC) Network.
“Being a worker owner means you’re not held back by what other people think your limits are, and as a Latina woman, that has meant everything to me,” said Linda Diaz, worker owner and President of Brooklyn Stone and Tile. “Employee ownership provides the opportunity for workers to become the best version of themselves that New York City needs and deserves. Brooklyn Stone and Tile is stronger because our workers take an owner’s approach to growing the business and serving our customers.”
“Employee ownership is an option worth exploring for any business owner looking to retire. My employees know the business best and are motivated to keep it running successfully,” said Eric Greenberg, President of Green Mountain Graphics. “The support I received from the ICA Group helped me evaluate my options and find a solution that will meet both my financial needs on my timeline and allow for a transition that benefits me, my employees, and our customers.”
“Employee ownership is a proven job preservation strategy and must be a central part of the economic response to the current crisis. We have already seen a disproportionate number of black and minority-owned businesses shut down and we must act now. Employee ownership addresses the challenges that distressed business owners face, and it preserves critical jobs and main street businesses,” said David Hammer, Executive Director of The ICA Group.
“It makes so much sense that NYC is turning to employee ownership as the city plans for an effective, equitable recovery that preserves small businesses and the value they’ve created. Employee ownership is a powerful tool to build broad-based prosperity and a thriving small business sector. We know that firms owned by their employees tend to be more productive and resilient. They create more stable jobs as well as wealth-building opportunities that grow alongside business growth. The Democracy at Work Institute co-founded Owner to Owners because helping existing businesses sell to their employees is a win all around: for business owners, workers, and communities,” said Melissa Hoover, Executive Director of the Democracy at Work Institute.
“The Working World is dedicated to the preservation and support of the small businesses that are New York’s economic backbone. Providing the capital and assistance for owners to sell to their employees can keep thousands of businesses open and give their longtime owners a chance to get back some of the value they put in. The Business Hotline provides one of the fastest ways for any owner thinking about selling to get the support they need to do it well,” said Brendan Martin, Executive Director of The Working World.
“Since 2014, NYCNoWC and the 13 organizations of the Worker Cooperative Business Development Initiative have built community power by building cooperative businesses and saving good jobs,” said Sadé Swift, Advocacy Council Coordinator of the NYC Network of Worker Cooperatives (NYCNoWC). Our collective impact has laid the strong foundation that makes Owner to Owners possible at a critical moment for NYC small businesses. Our future looks bright when we put workers and community first!”
Service Providers Background:
· The Business Outreach Center (BOC) Network is a micro-enterprise/small business development organization focused on inclusive business development. BOC delivers customized business services to under-served entrepreneurs in the New York City metropolitan area as well as capacity-building services to organizations establishing and operating community and micro-enterprise development programs.
· The ICA Group is a leading expert on employee ownership and the oldest national organization dedicated to the development of worker cooperatives. ICA’sKeep the Doors Open Business Resilience Program helps business owners preserve their retirement savings, legacy, and local jobs by determining whether selling all or part of the business to their employees is right for them. The ICA Group administers the Fund for Jobs Worth Owning, which provides investment capital and gap financing for businesses transitioning to employee ownership.
· The Working World a leading partner for business owners interested in selling their company to their employees, with over 15 years of experience providing the technical assistance and financial capital needed to ensure a smooth transition to employee-ownership. As a certified Community Development Financial Institution, The Working World has invested millions of dollars in employee-owned businesses and conversions. The Working World is part of the Mayor’s Equitable Industrial Development (EqID) Initiative.
· The Democracy at Work Institute (DAWI) works to expand the worker cooperative model to reach communities most directly affected by social and economic inequality, specifically people of color, recent immigrants, and low-wage workforces. DAWI is a movement-based think-and-do tank supporting worker cooperatives to grow to a scale that creates meaningful change in the economy through research, innovation, and education.
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Cuomo Signs The Frontus Central Park 5 Bill
Sun, 13 Dec 2020 10:54:46 +0000
Brooklyn lawmakers today lauded the passage of their Central Park 5 bill, requiring video recording of all juveniles accused of delinquency in family court.
The legislation (S.6533/A.7970) was introduced by Assemblymember Mathylde Frontus and Sen. Velmanette Montgomery and signed into law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo this week. Previously, video recordings were required only in the few cases where minors were accused of violent felonies.
“When the power of law enforcement is focused on minors, we must make sure that they are not coerced or manipulated into confessing to something that is not true,” Frontus said. “What happened to the Central Park 5, who we now refer to as the Exonerated 5, should never happen to any child, and the way to ensure that is with the transparency that these recordings will provide.”
“Even though we passed Raise the Age, there are still so many corners of the juvenile justice system that need to be addressed,” Montgomery said. “These coercive situations are not uncommon. Our children should never find themselves in a room alone with law enforcement and no record of the interaction.”
Though New York’s Raise the Age legislation increased the age of criminal responsibility to 18 and treats 16- and 17-year-olds as adolescent offenders, some parts of the juvenile justice system are not covered by that law. By requiring that all interrogations are recorded, the Central Park 5 bill ensures that juveniles in family court are protected from coersive tactics, reducing abuses and promoting accountability in the juvenile justice system.
The bill was named for the Central Park 5, who were all juveniles when they were convicted of sexually assaulting a jogger in 1989. They later become known as the Exonerated 5 when their convictions were overturned following identification of the real attacker. Each of the Exonerated 5 defendants endured hours of interrogation without an adult present and served years in prison for a crime they did not commit. The City of New York has paid out $45 million in settlements with the Exonerated 5 defendants, whose story was detailed in the series When They See Us.
 https://www.thewrap.com/central-park-five-received-additional-3-9-million-settlement-from-new-york-in-2016-report/; https://www.esquire.com/entertainment/a27574472/when-they-see-us-central-park-5-false-confessions/
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Malliotakis & Community Activists To Rally Against Animal Abuse in Bay Ridge
Tue, 08 Dec 2020 17:36:24 +0000
United States Congresswoman Elect Nicole Malliotakis confirmed her attendance at a local protest against animal abuse, hosted by community activist Liam McCabe and other Concerned Residents of Bergen Place in Bay Ridge Brooklyn where an illegal puppy mill is being operated in a decrepit foreclosed property.
As was reported recently Joe Mauruci for WPIX NEWS, a foreclosed Bergen Place property in Bay Ridge Brooklyn was being used as a puppy mill by squatters. According to the report and witness accounts the premises has no heat and the animals are often wailing through the night while they are kept in deplorable conditions. LINK HERE: https://www.pix11.com/news/local-news/brooklyn/neighbors-say-squatters-are-running-puppy-mill-out-of-foreclosed-bay-ridge-home.
Local resident Liam McCabe spoke to the neighbors on the block and decided to hold a protest calling on the City to rescue these animals and hold the perpetrators accountable.
McCabe said: “My wife and I are loving dog owners and when she alerted me to this situation we reached out to the residents on Bergen Place as well as other local animal rescue groups to see what could be done. Unfortunately the only answers we have heard back are “we are working on it.” Well that is not acceptable and that is why we decided to protest this horrible situation.” He added, ” I am delighted to hear that Nicole Malliotakis has joined in the fight. An advocate for animals herself she will surely get the attention of the mayor and the agencies that fix this situation.
WHEN: Tomorrow Sunday December 6th, 2020
TIME: 1:00PM to 2:00PM
WHAT: Protest of Animal Abuse and running of illegal puppy mill
WHERE: 6659 Bergen Place, Brooklyn NY 11220
WHO: Congresswoman Elect Nicole Malliotakis (NY11), Local Neighbors, Concerned Animal Advocates and Activist Liam McCabe
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New ‘Tolls NY’ App to Manage Toll Bills & E-ZPass
Tue, 08 Dec 2020 17:36:24 +0000
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) today announced ‘Tolls NY’, a new, free mobile application ready for download, is available to help customers easily manage toll bill payments and E-ZPass accounts from their phone. The smartphone app is designed to assist customers with handling routine transactions in a quick and efficient way without needing to call the Customer Service Center. The new application allows customers to do the following:
Manage E-ZPass accounts, including checking their account balance, adding funds or setting up automatic payments
Update E-ZPass account profile, including vehicle information
Pay Tolls by Mail bills quickly and easily before receiving an invoice
View toll and payment history
“The ‘Tolls NY’ mobile app has come at exactly the right time and will be a welcomed benefit to our existing and new customers,” said Daniel F. DeCrescenzo Jr., President of MTA Bridges and Tunnels. “Using this application on your smartphone makes locating your toll information – be it Tolls by Mail or E-ZPass accounts – quick and easy, like one-stop shopping.” In addition to account information, customers downloading the new app will find frequently asked questions, “how to” videos, and contact information for customer service centers, and will have the ability to leave feedback for the app’s developers. Additionally, Tolls by Mail customers can use the ‘Tolls NY’ app to proactively pay their tolls without waiting for a bill, and rental car users and day-trippers can plan and pay for tolls in advance of their travel.
The ‘Tolls NY’ app was designed by MTA Bridges and Tunnels, the New York State Thruway Authority and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, in collaboration with our E-ZPass service center contractor, Conduent.
Since its soft launch in mid-June 2020, the ‘Tolls NY’ app has been downloaded more than 300,000 times with a 4.8 rating in the Apple App store. MTA Bridges and Tunnels conducted extensive focus groups, design workshops and surveys to identify and incorporate the needs and preferences of customers.
Customers with an iPhone can download the free app through the Apple App store and Android users can download it through the Google Play store.
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NYC To Prioritize Distribution of COVID Vaccine To Minority Communities
Tue, 08 Dec 2020 17:36:24 +0000
According to nyc.gov, COVID-19 vaccines may not be widely available to the general public until mid-2021, but it is already getting ready to distribute it in a “socially just” manner.
Once the vaccine is approved and produced, it will likely be given first to people who work in health care and are at increased risk of getting COVID-19. Among the people in these groups are:
Nursing home residents
People at high risk of complications from COVID-19 because of age or underlying medical conditions
Essential workers who interact with the public and who are not able to physically distance
When there are enough vaccine doses available for the general public, the City’s plans will account for health inequities and disparities faced by underserved communities. The City says that “we recognize that underinvestment in these neighborhoods and structural racism are risk factors for COVID-19.”
New York will be implementing an “Equity Action Plan uses a racial justice framework” in distributing the vaccine.
“While every New Yorker has been profoundly affected by COVID-19, the disproportionate impact on Black, Latino, immigrant and low-income communities is unacceptable and must be addressed. The disproportionate impact is compounded by underinvestment and structural racism rooted in existing social, economic and health systems. Now is the time to help our
fellow New Yorkers and the rest of the world understand the consequences of social inequity. We are only as healthy and secure as our least healthy and most at-risk community.”
It is highly unlikely that Hasidic Jews, who were hard hit by COVID, will be prioritized for the vaccine, and the City is expected to continue to battle the Coronavirus among the Orthodox Jews through strict shutdown enforcement, fines and arrests.
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Verrazzano Deck Reconstruction Completed Five Months Ahead of Schedule
Sun, 06 Dec 2020 19:48:58 +0000
Milestone is Part of Major Project to Replace the Upper Level Brooklyn Approach to the Bridge from the Gowanus Expressway.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) today announced the completion of another critical stage of roadway reconstruction for the Brooklyn upper level approach ramp to the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge from the Gowanus Expressway, marking an important milestone for the $143 million reconstruction of the Verrazzano’s upper level approaches and roadways over the anchorages. The completion of this stage of work improves access to the bridge’s upper level from the Gowanus Expressway with a new, wider and smoother roadway surface, easing the traffic flow for customers.
While more work remains to reconstruct the upper level roadways over the Brooklyn and Staten Island anchorages, the early completion of the current stage of work is a significant achievement, completed five months ahead of schedule. The early completion of this work was another successful milestone of the Governor’s NY Forward acceleration initiative along with the recently completed addition in October of a fourth lane to the Verrazzano’s eastbound Gowanus approach and the implementation of split tolling which took effect on Tuesday, Dec. 1.
“Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, we are getting projects done in a safe way, and in many cases – like here at the approach to the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge – getting them done ahead of schedule,” said Janno Lieber, President of MTA Construction & Development. “But, to continue delivering projects like this — projects that save our customers time and help cut traffic and air pollution — we need Washington to step up and provide billions in emergency relief to offset the MTA’s pandemic-related financial crisis.”
“All motorists who commute between Staten Island and Brooklyn will be able to experience these roadway and customer environment improvements,” said Daniel F. DeCrescenzo Jr., President of MTA Bridges and Tunnels. “The Verrazzano is a vital regional crossing and these upgrades will benefit drivers for decades to come.” The project to reconstruct the upper level approaches and anchorage roadways is a vital state-of-good repair effort and features a full replacement of 1960s-era concrete roadway decks and barriers. The newly installed deck and barrier comprises more durable concrete and corrosion-resistant reinforcing to achieve a service life of 75 years.
The new roadway deck was also designed to reduce the number of joints, thereby improving rideability and reducing long-term maintenance needs. All these improvements increase the deck’s longevity and reliability, which are critically important for this high traffic-volume crossing.
In addition to the roadway deck and barrier replacement, this project will also replace other critical infrastructure. The roadway lighting system will be replaced and upgraded with high-efficiency LED luminaires, a new fire standpipe system will be installed, as well as new drainage inlets and downspouts which are designed for greater capacity, compliant with current standards. These improvements will provide a significant safety benefit to the facility and the motorists who use it. For more information on MTA Bridges and Tunnels, visit https://new.mta.info/bridges-and-tunnels.
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