Bklyn Lawmakers On The Move June 18, 2015

News Site Brooklyn

Williams Urges Turnout At Tonight’s Rent Guidelines Board Meeting

Coming just as Albany this week failed to renew, let alone strengthen rent laws, East Flatbush City Councilman Jumaane Williams urged tenants to attend this evening’s final public hearing of the Rent Guidelines Board (RGB).

The RGB sets one-and two-year lease increases on all rent controlled apartments in the city, assuming the rent laws in Albany are renewed, and it is set to vote on June 24 on whether to increase rents for millions of working families, or to provide much needed financial relief by voting for a rent rollback or rent freeze.

City Councilman Jumaane Williams
City Councilman Jumaane Williams

“While Albany controls the rent laws – which as many of you know, expired this week – the city isn’t powerless in the fight to provide affordable housing. The current administration and the RGB have the power to improve the lives of millions of New Yorkers by supporting economic diversity and voting for a rent rollback,” said Williams.

Tonight’s meeting, which should be quite raucous, is slated from 5 to 8 p.m. at Brooklyn Borough Hall 109 Joralemon Street. For more information about the RGB or tonight’s public hearing, click here.

Bklyn Lawmakers Ramp Up Pressure for Lunar New Year Holiday

Brooklyn’s Assembly Member William Colton (47th Assembly District), City Council Member Mark Treyger (47th Council District) and David Greenfield (44th Council District) together with Democratic District Leader Nancy Tong (47th Assembly District), are calling on Mayor Bill de Blasio to call upon the Department of Education to add Lunar New Year as an official school holiday during which public schools would be closed.

The lawmakers call for the holiday comes as over 50 percent of the school population in Bensonhurst, Gravesend, Bath Beach, Dyker Heights, and Sunset Park are Asian-American.

Assemblyman William Colton, right, District Leader Nancy Tong, center, and City Councilman Mark Treyger in the background, left.
Assemblyman William Colton, right, District Leader Nancy Tong, center, and City Councilman Mark Treyger in the background, left.

“Mayor de Blasio promised that Lunar New Year would be made an official school holiday. This has been authorized by both the State and City legislatures and the time to effect it is now,” said Colton. “We should not delay any further in implementing this inclusive policy recognizing an important tradition of our city’s families.”

Treyger, a former public school teacher, said as a child of immigrant parents, he urged the city’s Department of Education to close public schools for the Lunar New Year holiday beginning in the 2015-2016 school year.

“With so many Asian American students already taking off for the Lunar New Year, schools face a challenging task in administering instruction. Asian-American students who want to have good attendance records and who are diligent students should be allowed to celebrate this important cultural holiday with their families without being penalized,” he said.

Tong, the only Asian-American elected official in Brooklyn, said the issue is about being inclusive of the Asian-American community and giving this community the respect that it deserves.

“It’s not fair to parents and their school children to have them choose between celebrating their cultural heritage and attending school. Now is the time to finally make Lunar New Year an official school holiday on which public schools will be closed,” she said.

Squadron Bill To Fix ‘Speedy Trial’ Law

Northern Brooklyn State Senator Daniel Squadron announced legislation (S.5988) to fix New York State’s “speedy trial” law following the recent death of Kalief Browder, who spent three years in pre-trial detention at Riker’s Island.

Dubbed Kalief’s Law, the measure closes a legal loophole that forces defendants to endure significant delays before trial, even while in jail, despite the time limits established by law. This change will limit delays by prosecutors and the court, so that defendants are afforded their constitutional right to a speedy trial.

State Sen. Daniel Squadron
State Sen. Daniel Squadron

“Any system that jails the innocent for years at a time is both unjust and un-American,” said Squadron, “Nothing we do will undo the tragedy of his death, but his experience has to be a call to action. Kalief’s incarceration was an outrage and the state law meant to guarantee his right to a speedy trial failed. We are introducing Kalief’s Law to reform the broken process that kept him in jail.”

Kalief Browder was 16 years old when he was arrested in May 2010, accused of stealing a backpack. He was sent to Rikers Island and spent three years in pre-trial detention. Browder spent more than 700 days in solitary confinement and had 31 court dates. The charges were dropped against Browder in May 2013, and he was released. He committed suicide this month at the age of 22.

Despite the promise of a speedy trial guaranteed by the United States Constitution, New York’s current speedy trial statute has been ineffective. The statute mandates that the People be ready for trial within six months for felony charges; 90 days for Class A Misdemeanors; 60 days for Class B Misdemeanors; and 30 days for violations.

Yet in 2013, in New York City defendants averaged waiting 594 days before going to trial. In 2012, 55 percent of felony cases were pending for more than six months citywide.

Rikers Island holds about 11,000 inmates daily, with about 77,000 people cycling through in a year. Inmates held on bail or remanded to custody make up about 85 percent of the Rikers Island population.


Cymbrowitz Bill Establishes Alzheimer’s and Dementia Database

People suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and dementia will soon benefit from a statewide program database thanks to Sheepshead Bay Assemblyman Steve Cymbrowitz bill, which has now passed both the assembly and senate and is heading for the governor’s signature.

Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz
Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz

“Because of this legislation and the database it creates, groups that provide assistance to Alzheimer’s and dementia patients will be able to replicate successful programming models that are being used anywhere in New York State,” said Cymbrowitz, Chair of the Aging Committee. “This is a case where access to information and the sharing of cutting-edge ideas will benefit thousands of patients and their families.”

The legislation requires the state Office for the Aging, in conjunction with the Department of Health, to establish a database of successful programs serving people with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. The information in the database would be made available to the public on the Office for the Aging’s website.

“There are many programs across the state that are designed to assist and support individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Innovative ideas are implemented at the local level, but it is difficult for groups in other areas of the state to find out about them,” Cymbrowitz said. “It makes sense to have information about these successful programs available to all so that their success can be replicated in other parts of the State.”

Bichotte, Eugene Take Stand For Haitian-Dominicans

Haitian-American Brooklyn lawmakers Assemblywoman Rodnyese Bichotte and City Councilman Mathieu Eugene, yesterday, issued strong statements to stop the deportation of Haitian-Dominicans in the Dominican Republic, which was scheduled to begin last night.

Assembly member Rodneyse Bichotte
Assembly member Rodneyse Bichotte

“What is happening in the Dominican Republic is a crime against humanity. Nationality is a basic fundamental right that all people share. The Dominican government has stripped hundreds and thousands of people of their citizenship leaving them without any country to call their home,” said Bichotte. “As New Yorkers, we cannot let this injustice to continue. That is why I introduced resolution K376 that the New York State Assembly passed in May to condemn the violations of basic human rights and civil rights of a group of a people solely because of their ethnic heritage.‎”

Meanwhile, Eugene created a petition calling on the Dominican government to stop displacing hundreds of thousands of people who call the Dominican Republic home.

Eugene said the majority of the individuals being deported are of Haitian descent, but classifying them as Haitians is inaccurate because many of these men and women and boys and girls were born in the Dominican Republic or have lived in the Dominican Republic for most of their lives.

City Councilman Mathieu Eugene
City Councilman Mathieu Eugene

“My heart hurts for the hundreds of thousands of people who are facing the unfathomable: deportation from their own country. Hard-working individuals who call the Dominican Republic their home are being forced out by a discriminatory ruling,” said Eugene. “Families are in limbo right now, fearing the worst. We must take a stand against this injustice and tell the Dominican government we will not idly stand by as people are thrown out of their country.”

Eugene’s online petition is at at http://chn.ge/1fhRybg. For more information, contact Vanessa Ogle at (212) 788-7352 or at vogle@council.nyc.gov.

Cornegy’s Walk Through History

Bedford-Stuyvesant City Councilman Robert Cornegy Jr. is holding a bus tour of notable African-Americans, titled A Walk Through History. Below is the poster with the information on the tour.