BP Adams Calls For Independent Commission Into Wrongful Convictions At BK DA’s Office
Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams will call for an independent state commission to investigate and determine all parties responsible for the wrongful convictions crisis at the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office today.
Adams will lay out his rationale for the call to have a thorough State-level review of procedures and past cases at the DA’s office in order to determine all responsible parties, restore trust in local criminal justice and ensure patterns of institutional malfunction are not perpetuated.
The announcement comes just days after the July 12th release of 43-year-old Jabbar Washington, a wrongfully convicted Brooklynite who spent 20 years in prison for a 1995 robbery and shooting in Brownsville. It was later found that Washington’s lawyers were blocked by prosecutors from obtaining key information that would have aided his case, particularly that the witness who identified him in a lineup later retracted her statement.
Washington’s case is among 70 that the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office has investigated for potential wrongful conviction and exoneration; since its inception in 2014, the office’s Conviction Review Unit (CRU) has led to the release of 23 wrongfully convicted individuals for crimes they did not commit.
The event is slated for 11 a.m., today, July 18 at 209 Joralemon Street, Brooklyn Borough Hall Courtroom in Downtown Brooklyn.
Donovan Passes Amendment On Student-Vet Housing Assistance
Congressman Dan Donovan (R-Staten Island, South Brooklyn) is applauding the passage of his amendment to student-vet housing assistance.
Yesterday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act, requiring the Department of Defense (DoD) to redo its 2014 analysis of Staten Island housing costs. The DoD uses its analysis to determine housing stipends to veterans who attend college through the Post-9/11 GI Bill. The amendment is the latest in Donovan’s push to bring assistance to Staten Island student-vets in line with the rest of the City.
The DoD, through the Post-9/11 GI Bill, provides housing assistance to veterans attending a college or university. The amount of assistance is pegged to the military’s standard Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH), which offers rental assistance to service members when government quarters are not available.
The Department of Defense has a formula to determine BAH payments by calculating average rental prices in 300 different Military Housing Areas. New York City has two Military Housing Areas: one for Staten Island and one for the other four boroughs. The military provides BAH assistance to student-veterans according to the Military Housing Area in which their school is located, not according to where the veteran actually lives.
U.S. Census data shows Staten Island’s median gross rent is within $50 of Brooklyn’s and $100 more than the Bronx. But students attending a Brooklyn or Bronx college receive up to $1,413 per month more than students attending a Staten Island college. This disparity creates a disincentive for student-veterans in New York City to attend college on Staten Island.
“This isn’t the end of the fight, but it’s a step in the right direction. The Department of Defense needs to merge Staten Island’s military housing area with the rest of New York City. While I continue my push to make that a reality, my amendment requires DoD to update its Staten Island rental analysis, hopefully resulting in a boost for student-vets,” said Donovan.
Gentile Announces Water & Sewer Credit; Decries New Sanitation Practice
City Council Member Vincent Gentile (D-Bay Ridge, Bensonhurst, Dyker Heights, Bath Beach) announced an automatic $115 Water and Sewer Credit for low-income Homeowners yesterday; as well as his dislike for a new sanitation practice in Bay Ridge.
The water and sewer credit will extend to approximately 12,000 additional senior citizens in Fiscal Year 2018 citywide, some of which reside in the Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Bath Beach and Bensonhurst areas. Altogether, the $115 Water and Sewer Bill Reduction will apply to 16,659 residents across the borough of Brooklyn.
“This credit will go a long way towards helping those in my district of low-income who are struggling and working hard every day to make ends meet. Hundreds of homeowners, renters, and senior citizens will feel the positive effects of this water credit that I have been on the front lines in advocating for,” said Gentile.
Gentile also announced his united stand with Barwell Terrace residents from Bay Ridge against the Department of Sanitation’s (DSNY) new change in practice to discontinue garbage pickup in the common alleyways.
The change which took effect on March 13, 2017, will include placement of more than 40 garbage cans on the sidewalk space on 97th street. The change has also led to pedestrian safety issues including blockage of the sidewalk and possibly trip zones along the street.
Gentile will plead with the DSNY today to have them reevaluate the change that has changed a decades long practice into a safety issue for local residents.
The event is slated for 11 a.m., today, July 18, at 97th Street between 3rd and 4th Avenues at Barwell Terrace in Bay Ridge.
Nadler Introduces Disaster Assistance Equity Act
Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-Brooklyn/Manhattan) alongside Congressman Mark Sanford (D-SC) introduced H.R. 3238, the Disaster Assistance Equity Act, a bipartisan bill which would make common interest communities eligible for the same Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) assistance available to other homeowners.
H.R. 3238 would make two changes to the Stafford Act:
1. Make homeowners associations eligible for the Public Assistance Program for debris clearance and repair of common infrastructure; and
2. Enable condominium associations and housing cooperatives to be eligible for the Individual Assistance Program.
“In the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, thousands of New Yorkers were shocked to learn they could not restore their condos and co-ops to livable condition because their common areas were not eligible for assistance. Millions more Americans have come to the same startling realization after natural disasters in the five years since Sandy. A storm doesn’t care what type of home you live in before destroying it, and FEMA should treat all homeowners fairly when helping them rebuild,” said Nadler.