Brooklyn Lawmakers On The Move Dec. 19, 2016

News Site Brooklyn

Gillibrand Gets Extended Leave For Service Members

U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand

U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, on Friday announced new extensions to parental leave policies for servicemembers were included as part of the Fiscal Year 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that passed the Senate and now heads to the President to be signed into law.

The extensions Gillibrand fought to include in the NDAA for the first time allow adoptive and LGBT parents in the military up to six weeks of parental leave.

“I’m very pleased that the national defense bill includes a provision to ensure all parents have the opportunity to take sufficient leave to care for their new children,” said Gillibrand. “Every parent regardless of gender or sexual orientation, has a right to take the time to care for their families. I fought to make sure this provision got into the final version of the bill because fathers and adoptive parents were given little to no coverage in parental leave. Now our servicemembers can care for their families at the time children need their caregivers most.”

Gillibrand’s provision would grant fathers and adoptive parents up to six weeks of paid parental leave; previously fathers received leave for only 10 days and an adoptive parent would receive leave for 21 days. This would allow the Department of Defense to let households with two servicemembers make the decision as to who would receive either six weeks or three weeks in parental leave, whether they are birth or adoptive parents.

Schumer Wants Recalls For E-Cigarettes

U.S. Senator Charles Schumer

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer yesterday called on the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to take a hard look at issuing recalls on e-cigarette batteries and devices that have caught fire and exploded, injuring dozens of users. 

E-cigarettes are battery-operated devices that are designed to resemble traditional cigarettes. E-cigarettes contain a mechanism inside the device that heats up liquid nicotine and turns it into a vapor that smokers then inhale and exhale. According to Wall Street Journal report, dozens of lawsuits have been filed involving exploding e-cigarettes and many of the batteries at issue are manufactured by Chinese companies.

According to the FDA and an Associated Press chronicling from this past week, since 2009 there have been at least 92 exploding e-cigarette incidents. The AP analysis also explained that the numbers are likely undercut simply because many victims are not reporting the incidents. Moreover, according to a New York Times report, approximately 90 percent of  the world’s e-cigarettes are produced in China. Despite these dangers, Schumer said that there have been no product recalls or defective warnings issued on e-cigarette products.

“Where there’s smoke, there’s fire and that seems to be the case–again and again–for many popular e-cigarettes that have injured dozens of people,” said Schumer. “With any other product, serious action would have been taken—and e-cigarettes should be no exception. Despite the explosions, no recalls have been issued. It’s radio silence from both the industry and the feds, so that’s why I’m sounding the alarm. The CPSC and FDA should investigate and determine which e-cigarette batteries and devices are the most volatile, and require a recall to make sure these explosions stop.”

Reports of exploding e-cigarettes have occurred throughout the country, including Brooklyn. Earlier this year, an e-cigarette exploded in the face of a 14-year old Brooklyn boy at a vape shop at Kings Plaza Mall in Mill Basin. According to reports, the boy is now blind in his left eye. Metal  shards from the e-cigarette’s battery penetrated both of his eyes and left a large gash on his hands.

De Blasio Leads Gala Of Pols In Praising Parcel Purchase of Bushwick Inlet Park

Mayor Bill de Blasio on Friday joined the city Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver, FAICP, Council Member Steven Levin, Borough President Eric Adams, Assembly Member Joseph Lentol, Congress Members Carolyn Maloney and Nydia Velazquez, State Senators Daniel Squadron and Martin Malave Dilan, and Friends of Bushwick Inlet Park to celebrate the City’s acquisition of the final parcel of land in Bushwick Inlet Park.

The $160-million purchase of the 11-acre former CitiStorage site allows the City to realize its vision for a complete, 25.4-acre park.

Mayor Bill de Blasio

“Our administration keeps its promises. When we commit to build a new park or a new school in a growing community, we deliver,” said de Blasio. “Today we celebrate – and tomorrow, we look forward to working with all these dedicated local officials, activists and residents as we design and build a Bushwick Inlet Park we can all be proud of.”


The CitiStorage site is one of six parcels that make up Bushwick Inlet Park, the centerpiece of the Greenpoint-Williamsburg Waterfront. Already, 3.5-acres of the park are complete and open to the public, featuring a multi-purpose field and a building for community activities with a state-of-the-art green roof which doubles as a seating area.

Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams

“A completed Bushwick Inlet Park is the gift that will keep on giving. This is a present for our future, a healthier and happier future for the advocates and longtime residents who fought so hard for the open space equity they deserve. I am proud to be part of the winning coalition that made the acquisition of this final piece of the park a reality. Thank you Mayor de Blasio for showing that community-driven and community-focused movements can and do make a difference in our city,” said Adams.

“This is a big deal,” said Levin. “The community has been eagerly anticipating the final step on the path to a completed Bushwick Inlet Park for decades — now the wait is over. Beyond North Brooklyn, communities citywide, especially those undergoing the land use process, will know and appreciate what this precedent might mean for them — when the City makes a promise, it keeps it. I would also like to thank my North Brooklyn elected officials for their tireless dedication and support for this acquisition and the countless community residents who have tirelessly advocated for Bushwick Inlet Park, especially the Friends of Bushwick Inlet Park and the Open Space Alliance for North Brooklyn. Their steadfast support, undiminished for two decades, galvanized the community in anticipation of this historic agreement.”

Assemblyman Joe Lentol

“Through the ups and downs, I never doubted that the acquisition of the final parcel to complete Bushwick Inlet Park would happen,” said Lentol. “It was a group effort of persistence and community pressure. While the promise to build this park was made over a decade ago and the completion is a few years out, I know that Bushwick Inlet Park will be the shining star of the 2005 rezoning. I applaud both Norm Brodsky and Mayor Bill de Blasio for making this park a reality.”

“The acquisition of the final parcel of land in Bushwick Inlet Park is an important step forward for Brooklyn and all New Yorkers. It will mean more open space and greater outdoor options for working families throughout our community,” said Velázquez.

Sen. Daniel Squadron

“Bushwick Inlet Park was a promise made, and now we are one big step closer to it being a promise kept,” said Squadron. “For over a decade, this community has worked towards a full Bushwick Inlet Park, and this land purchase means we’re on our way to a world class park on the Greenpoint and Williamsburg waterfront — our Harbor Park, a Central Park for the center of our city.”

“I don’t think we could have asked for a better way to close out the year and begin anew. Any open space is a welcomed addition in Brooklyn, but the dedication of advocates who fought long and hard to complete Bushwick Inlet Park has been inspiring. For me, this park will always be a monument to the passion and concerted effort of the community that made it a reality,” said Dilan.

Jaime Williams Brings Early Holiday Surprise To Mill Basin Kids

Assembly Member Jaime Williams

Assembly Member Jaime Williams (Canarsie, Georgetown, Mill Basin, Marine Park, Gerritsen Beach) las week donated an onslaught of toys and treats to an engaged audience of kindergarteners at the Hebrew Language Academy Charter School in Mill Basin.  

It was difficult to tell if the youngsters were paying attention to the Assembly Members or the toys and gadgets sprawled out before them. In addition to the toys, Williams welcomed the Hebrew Language Academy to the Mill Basin location and donated a glowing globe for the Principal’s office. The parent’s organization continued the festivity by giving out doughnuts and other treats in honor of Hanukah and the holiday season.

The children walked away with an understanding of their community and the importance of elected officials and of course a toy of their choice. They were greatly appreciative and expressed their appreciation with a multitude of thank you cards.

Richardson Warns Residents To Bundle Up During Winter Cold Snaps

Assembly Member Diana Richardson

Assemblywoman Diana C. Richardson (Crown Heights, Lefferts Gardens) urges all community residents to be responsive to upcoming frigid temperatures and prepare for  harsh conditions.

“We will be experiencing very cool temperatures,” said Richardson. “I encourage all community members to check in on the well-being of friends and family. In addition, it is important that residents in need have access to vital services.”

Please note, that the people most at increased risk include those who lack shelter, drink heavily or use drugs, or live in homes without heat, and:

  • Are 65 years of age or older.
  • Have chronic medical conditions such as heart or lung disease.
  • Have serious mental illness or developmental disabilities.
  • Are socially isolated, have limited mobility, or are unable to leave the house.
Health problems resulting from prolonged exposure to cold include hypothermia, frostbite and exacerbation of chronic heart and lung conditions. If you suspect a person is suffering from frostbite or hypothermia, call 911 to get medical help. While waiting for assistance, help the person by getting them to a warm place if possible, removing any damp clothing and covering them with warm blankets. Recognize the signs and symptoms of hypothermia and frostbite:
  • Hypothermia is a life-threatening condition where the body temperature is abnormally low. Symptoms can begin gradually and get worse without the person realizing how serious it is. Early symptoms include shivering, dizziness, trouble speaking and lack of coordination. Signs of moderate to severe hypothermia include sluggishness, drowsiness, unusual behavior, confusion, and shallow breathing.
  • Frostbite is a serious injury to a body part frozen from exposure to the cold. It most often affects extremities like fingers and toes or exposed areas such as ears or parts of the face. Redness and pain may be the first warning of frostbite. Other symptoms include numbness or skin that appears pale, firm, or waxy.

Homeless Services

Scores of homeless citizens will be highly affected by the cold weather. Code Blue Weather Emergency notice is issued when the temperature drops to 32 degrees or below. No one seeking shelter in New York City will be denied. Anyone who sees a homeless individual or family out in the cold should call 311 immediately and an outreach team will be dispatched to assist them. Code Blue Weather Emergencies includes the following options for the homeless:
  • Shelters: During a Code Blue, unsheltered homeless adults can access any shelter location for single individuals. Shelter is available system-wide to accommodate anyone brought in by outreach teams or walk-ins.
  • Drop-in centers: All drop-in centers are open 24 hours a day when Code Blue procedures are in effect, taking in as many as people as possible for the duration of inclement weather. Drop-in staff can also make arrangements for homeless individuals at other citywide facilities.
  • Safe havens and stabilization beds: Chronically homeless individuals may be transported to these low-threshold housing options, where they may go directly from the street to a bed.
Safe Home Heating Tips
Improper use of portable heating equipment can lead to fire or dangerous levels of carbon
monoxide. Take precautions to ensure you are heating your home safely.Fire safety tips:
  • Make sure you have a working smoke alarm in every room. Test them at least once a month and change the batteries twice a year.
  •  Use only portable heating equipment that is approved for indoor use. Space heaters are temporary heating devices and should only be used for a limited time each day.
  • Keep combustible materials, including furniture, drapes, and carpeting at least three feet away from the heat source. Never drape clothes over a space heater to dry them.
  • Never leave running space heaters unattended, especially around children. Always keep an eye on heating equipment. Turn it off when you are unable to closely monitor it.
  • Plug space heaters directly into a wall outlet. Never use an extension cord or power strip.Do not plug anything else into the same outlet when the space heater is in use. Do not use space heaters with frayed or damaged cords.
  • If you are going to use an electric blanket, only use one that is less than 10 years old from the date of purchase. Also avoid tucking the electric blanket in at the sides of the bed. Only purchase blankets with an automatic safety shut-off.
 What to Do if You Lose Heat or Hot Water at Home
Building owners are legally required to provide heat and hot water to their tenants. Hot water must be provided 365 days per year at a constant minimum temperature of 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Heat must be provided during the “Heat Season”, between October 1
st and May 31st under the following conditions:
  • Between the hours of 6 AM and 10 PM, if the outside temperature falls below 55 degrees, the inside temperature is required to be at least 68 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Between the hours of 10 PM and 6 AM, if the outside temperature falls below 40 degrees, the inside temperature is required to be at least 55 degrees Fahrenheit.
Any New York City tenant without adequate heat or hot water should first speak with the building owner, manager, or superintendent. If the problem is not corrected, tenants should call 311. For the hearing impaired, the TTY number is (212) 504-4115. The center is open 24-hours a day, seven-days a week. You may also file a complaint via mobile app, 311 MOBILE,or online at 311 ONLINE.

The Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) will take measures to ensure that the building owner is complying with the law. This may include contacting the building’s owner and/or sending an inspector to verify the complaint and issue a violation directing the owner to restore heat and hot water if appropriate. If the owner fails to comply and does not restore service, HPD may initiate repairs through its Emergency Repair Program and bill the landlord for the cost of the work. HPD also may initiate legal action against properties that are issued heat violations, and owners who incur multiple heat violations are subject to litigation seeking maximum litigation penalties and to continued scrutiny on heat and other code deficiencies. Emergency Heating Assistance

The Human Resources Administration (HRA) administers the federal Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP), which can help low-income renters and homeowners with heating bills and other energy expenses. HEAP can help with:

  • Regular heating bills from a variety of heat sources (even if heat is included in your rent or you live in subsidized housing).
  • Emergency payments to keep you from losing your heat.
  • Replacing damaged furnaces, boilers and heating units.
Eligibility for HEAP is based on your household income, family size and energy costs. If you are homebound and need help with your heating bills, you can call the NYC Heat Line at 212-331-3150 to arrange a home visit. For more information, call 311.