Schumer, Velazquez Sound Alarm On Trump’s EPA Cuts Hurting Gowanus Cleanup
U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer and Rep. Nydia Velázquez yesterday sounded the alarm and expressed serious concerns over the Trump administration’s proposal to cut the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) budget by $2.6 billion, or 31 percent.
As part of the EPA’s budget, the Administration has proposed cutting the Hazardous Substance Superfund Account by $330 million and cutting Superfund enforcement by $28.9 million. The lawmakers said that a portion of these federal funds aid in the cleanup efforts currently underway at Brooklyn’s Gowanus Canal, one of the most contaminated waterways in the country, and vowed to fight to protect funding for this crucial program.
“Cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Superfund budget could be detrimental to the cleanup efforts currently underway at the Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn,” said Schumer. “President Trump’s proposal would take an axe to federal funds we need to keep our water clean to drink, our beaches safe to swim in and our air safe to breathe and that’s why I will do everything in my power to beat back this radical effort to slash the EPA’s budget.”
Velázquez (D-Northern Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan) time and again, the Trump administration has shown a determination to put polluters ahead of the public health and the environment.
“This extends to the White House’s proposal to slash funding for EPA and its Superfund program, hobbling cleanup efforts at sites like the Gowanus Canal. We must stand united in opposing these ill-conceived cuts, which will damage our communities,” she said.
In the 1800s the Gowanus Canal was used as a major industrial transportation route and sat adjacent to manufacturing and chemical plants that discharged its waste into the waterway. Sanitary waste from sewer systems has also continued to flow into the Canal. As a result, according to the EPA, the Gowanus Canal has become one of the nation’s most seriously contaminated water bodies. In 2010, the EPA added the Gowanus Canal to the Superfund program’s National Priorities List. The cost of the cleanup plan is estimated to be $500 million.
Espinal Bill Curtails Faulty Used Car Dealers
City Council Member Rafael Espinal, Jr. (D-Bushwick, East New York), Chair of the Council Consumer Affairs Committee, along with Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) Commissioner Lorelei Salas and City Council Member Dan Gaordnick (D-Manhattan) yesterday announced two bills to put the brakes on predatory sales and financing practices in the used car industry in the City.
Additionally, the DCA issued a report about predatory lending in the used car industry. The report contains findings and recommendations based on a joint public hearing the agency held with Chairman Espinal in October 2016.
The package of bills addresses practices such as failing to clearly disclose interest rates and falsifying consumer loan information; such practices have had disproportionate impact on vulnerable consumers, including immigrants, people of color, and those with low incomes.
The introduction of these bills comes on the heels of DCA’s recent announcement of a large case against Major World Auto, one of the City’s largest used car dealers. The bills will update the City’s used car dealer licensing law to explicitly hold dealerships accountable for predatory business and financing-related practices.
Union Thanks Cumbo For Helping Solve Labor Issue
City Council Woman Laurie Cumbo (D-Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, Prospect Heights, Crown Heights) yesterday received a thanks from Arthur Cheliotes, President of CWA Local 1180 for introducing groundbreaking legislation that would require gender wage data for the public sector and city contractors be made available and transparent to the public.
The legislation comes just a few days after the city reached a settlement with about 1,500 minority women who hold administrative managerial jobs in almost every city agency that were found to be “grossly underpaid” compared to their male counterparts in the same position.
“Without first identifying where wage inequality exists, we cannot hope to successfully and adequately work to eliminate gender wage disparities. Transparency in wage data is the only way we will be able to engage in proactive solutions to correct the injustice women in the public sector face and hold employers accountable for discriminatory patterns of wage suppression. Council Member Cumbo’s legislation will be the first step in addressing discrimination and inequality in the workplace for public sector employees,” said Cheliotes.
Weinstein Gets Inclusion Of More Services For Domestic Violence In State Budget
Assembly Member Helene Weinstein (D-Flatlands, Sheepshead Bay) and Senator Marisol Alcántara (D-Manhattan) announced yesterday the inclusion of translation services for vulnerable domestic-violence victims in the state budget today.
This change, which they had previously introduced as standalone legislation, will require the Office of Court Administration to develop a phased-in program to translate, in writing, all court orders of protection into the top ten most frequently used languages in the courts of each judicial department and will require the court to interpret the essential terms of the orders into each party’s primary language. This will remedy a severe injustice in the treatment of domestic violence victims with limited English Proficiency.
“The ability of victims and defendants with limited English proficiency to understand the contents of orders of protection issued by the court is the most basic imperative for meaningful access to justice and to ensure victim safety,” said Weinstein, Chair of the Assembly Judiciary Committee. “This measure is a significant step in that direction.”
During budget negotiations, the lawmaker’s strong advocacy persuaded legislative leaders to make fixing this injustice a priority and they are pleased that equality for domestic violence sufferers is finally enshrined in New York State Law.
Deutsch Announces Special Passover Sanitation Pickups
City Councilmember Chaim Deutsch (D-Sheepshead Bay, Manhattan Beach, Brighton Beach, Homecrest) yesterday announced the Special Passover Sanitation pickups for residents living in Community Board’s 14 and Board 15.
For those living between Avenue L and Avenue P, and between Coney Island Avenue and Nostrand Avenue, the special pickup times is Friday, April 7. Garbage must be placed outside no later than 11 a.m.
For those living between Ditmas Avenue and Avenue L (between Coney Island Avenue and Nostrand Avenue), the special pickup is on Monday, April 10 with trash placed outside no later than 11 a.m.
An additional recycling pickup for both of these areas will begin Sunday evening during the overnight hours. A dumpster will be located in front of Hudde Junior High School at 2500 Nostrand Avenue on Monday morning.
Donovan Blasts Dems For Obstructing Gorsuch’s Supreme Court Confirmation
Congressman Dan Donovan (South Brooklyn, Staten Island), the former Staten Island District Attorney, yesterday blasted Senate Democrats for obstructing Neil Gorsuch’s confirmation for the Supreme Court.
“Let’s call this what it is: a sickening display of party loyalty over the best interests of the country. Neil Gorsuch is eminently qualified and firmly in the mainstream. He has the lowest rate of other judges dissenting from his opinions on the 10th Circuit. If Senate Democrats refuse to confirm this man, who would they confirm? I understand they may be frustrated because they didn’t get their pick last year, but the election is over. It’s time to govern,” said Donovan.
Last year, Donovan said Senate Republicans should move ahead with confirmation hearings to judge former President Obama’s pick, Merrick Garland, on the merits.
“For 250 years, our country has moved on after bitter elections. This obstruction is deeply unhealthy. Our Supreme Court needs nine justices, and the unprecedented theatrics on display to prevent that from happening because of who occupies the White House must end,” said Donovan.
Hamilton, Savino, IDC Secure Funding For Immigrant Legal Aid
State Senators Jesse Hamilton (D-Central Brooklyn) and Diane Savino (D-Coney Island, Brighton Beach, Staten Island), along with their Independent Democratic Conference (IDC) Senate colleagues yesterday announced they helped make the largest commitment to immigrant legal aid in New York State history — securing $10 million for services in the 2017-2018 budget.
IDC members worked with Gov. Cuomo to secure this major fund which will work in conjunction with Governor Cuomo’s Liberty Defense Project.
Immigrant and legal defense groups praised the IDC for their steadfast commitment to immigrant rights. Funding awards include: $4 million to the Vera Institute of Justice, $1 million to the New York Immigration Coalition, $1 million to the Empire Justice Center, $1 million to the Northern Manhattan Immigration Coalition for Immigrant Rights, $2 million to the Hispanic Federation and $1 million to Catholic Charities Community Services.
“Now more than ever, immigrant families in New York are uneasy about the actions being taken at the federal level and the fear of deportation or losing a family member to deportation is indescribable. Those facing immigration actions have an exponentially higher chance of winning their cases when they have legal representation. That’s why the IDC worked to secure this critical funding to ensure that across the state public defenders are available for those in deportation court,” said Savino.
“Our nation has a history of benefiting from the genius of immigrants – their creativity, their talents, and their contributions to our communities make us all immeasurably richer. We must be prepared to defend our immigrant communities from those who seek to build walls instead of bridges. For each unjust misstep, for each affront to our inclusive values, we must be prepared to manifest our core beliefs. That’s why this $10 million investment in immigrant legal services is so important. It comes at a moment when New Yorkers are looking to us for reassurance that Lady Liberty’s torch will not dim. I am proud to stand with my colleagues, uphold these values, and dedicate the resources to help our immigrant friends and neighbors,” said Hamilton.
The funds will be awarded to immigrant legal services groups through the state’s Office of New Americans and will be used for immigrant defense services to prevent deportation, green card application processing, job assistance and other endeavors to advance immigrant rights.