Brooklyn Lawmakers On The Move Oct. 17, 2018

News Site Brooklyn

Deutsch Cautions Vigilance On City’s Launch of  New eVital Program

City Councilman Chaim Deutsch

City Councilman Chaim Deutsch (D-Sheepshead Bay, Manhattan Beach, Brighton Beach, Homecrest, Midwood) cautioned vigilance as the city sets to relaunch a new and controversial city program for issuing death certificates and burial permits.

The concerns stemmed from last year’s failed rollout of the new program, known as eVital, which crashed just 40 minutes after going live, resulting in funerals being significantly delayed, in some cases for days, and necessitating a temporary return to the old system.

Deutsch had previously led a conversation with stakeholders and the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) in mid-July, to offer activists the opportunity to present their concerns to the team responsible for managing the program. He convened another meeting last week on the issue at the DOHMH headquarters late last week that included elected officials, representatives from the Mayor’s office, and a contingent of concerned Jewish and Muslim community leaders and funeral directors.

Many participants at the meeting were displeased over what they described as less-than-satisfactory responses from the DOHMH regarding how the new system’s two-step electronic process might affect time-sensitive religious burials; potential problems resulting from the new system’s reliance on facial recognition technology rather than fingerprints; reports of the new system crashing during training sessions; and whether the DOHMH has appropriate measures in place to deal with problems if and when they arise.

Deutsch, who chairs the City Council’s Jewish Caucus and has led the efforts to ensure that New York’s faith communities, will not be adversely affected by this week’s eVital relaunch, said that while he was pleased with the results of last week’s meeting,  he “will keep a vigilant watch over what transpires.”

“Jewish and Muslim leaders came together and joined forces on this important matter, which affects our communities in a similar way. I thank Speaker Corey Johnson for working with me on this, and Misaskim Director Rabbi Jack Meyer for bringing the issue to my attention,” he said.

Adams, Williams Testify Before Property Tax Reform Commission

Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams
Jumaane Williams
City Council Member Jumaane Williams

Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams (D) and City Council Member Jumaane Williams (D-Flatbush, East Flatbush, Midwood) both testified this for the need to change the city unequal property tax assessment system before the city’s Advisory Commission on Property Tax Reform.

Adams, in written testimony, described the current assessment system as unequal, burdensome, and lacking openness. He called for the commission to expand its outreach efforts in order to garner maximum input, and noted his office has received concerns about the outreach process, inclusive of homeowners and their associations as well as tenant advocacy organizations.

“New York City’s property tax system is an unnecessary labyrinth of confusion that hinders and hurts all it touches, homeowners and renters alike,” Adams wrote. “Homeowners have been suffering under this unfair assessment system for too long, one that places different property tax burdens on similarly valued properties across the five boroughs, and renters often bear the burden of this unequal system as the cost is passed on through increasing rents across the city.”

Williams joined community leaders and elected officials to call for reform to the inherent inequities in the system. He also spoke about the disproportionate burden that the current tax system places on communities of more color, including within his own district.

“Overwhelmingly, the individuals and neighborhoods being disadvantaged, even targeted, by the current tax structure are in communities of more color,” said Williams. “Draining money from the residents while providing breaks for the wealthiest blocks across boroughs is holding back entire communities from financial advancement. People of more color are paying more into a system that supports them less.”

Felder Joins Call to Monitor and Fix B82 Select Bus Service Rollout

Sen. Simcha Felder

State Sen. Simcha Felder (D-Midwood, Flatbush, Borough Park, Kensington, Sunset Park, Madison,  Bensonhurst) recently took a walk tthrough the Kings Highway/Nostrand Avenue area with City Council Members Chaim Deutsch and Jumaane Williams to assess the issues and discuss possible solutions of the B82 Select Bus Service rollout that has clogged traffic and increased congestion.

Felder also wrote NYC Transit President Andy Byford explaining how his office as well as those of Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein, Deutsch and Williams have been inundated with complaints about unmanageable gridlock around Kings Highway and Nostrand Avenue.

“The new bus lane on Kings Highway coupled with the Nostrand Avenue treatments has created congestion that is wreaking havoc all the way to Flatbush Avenue and beyond,” wrote Felder.

“This untenable situation is causing lengthy delays, endangering pedestrians and intensifying commuter stress. The negative effects of the select bus service lane are now becoming clear. Though your agency asserts that this is a work in progress these issues must be addressed and corrected immediately. To remedy this dangerous situation, we ask you to take any, and all necessary steps to ease traffic flow.
I look forward to your swift response.”

AM Williams, Electeds Celebrate Annual Bluefish Festival

Jaime R. Williams
Assemblymember Jaime R. Williams

Assembly Member Jaime Williams, U.S. Reps. Hakeem Jeffries and Yvette Clarke, along with State Sen. Roxanne J. Persaud – all Democrats whom represent areas around Jamaica Bay – recently celebrated the 59th Assembly’s Bluefish Festival honoring the aquatic life and marine environment only mere inches from people’s homes.

Students, parents and faculty of PS 277, PS 236, & PS 115 and others took part in aquatic themed activities such as, fish gathering and staining, beach clean ups, nature walking and even taking part in some environmentally friendly fishing  and replanting the much needed sea grass along the shoreline.

Despite the raindrops the students demonstrated their dedication to the environment and were thrilled to give back. All of the students left the Canarsie Pier with a new understanding of the local ecosystem and giant smiles and some plush toys.

“The importance of inculcating within our youth the ability to preserve and care for their local marine environment will only garner and foster a respect and love for Jamaica Bay and the surrounding shore.” said Williams.

Williams plans on showcasing the documentary “Saving Jamaica Bay” at local public schools in the immediate future. 

Levin, Espinal To Introduce Legislation Addressing MARCH Nightlife Raids

City Councilman Stephen Levin
City Councilman Rafael Espinal Jr.

City Council Members Stephen Levin (D-Northern Brooklyn, Boerum Hill) and Rafael Espinal (D-Bushwick, East New York) will rally nightlife venue & business owners, and community advocates around their legislation to improve accountability and transparency of Multi-Agency Responses to Community Hotspots (MARCH).

Nightlife advocates and local businesses have shared serious concerns about the Task Force’s nighttime raids, which scare businesses and can shut down bars and venues. Data will help City officials demystify MARCH. operations and implement a transparent and equitable enforcement system for violations that does not put small businesses at risk of unnecessary closure. 

The rally is slated for 12 noon, today, Oct. 17 at City Hall Park in Lower Manhattan.