Brooklyn Lawmakers On The Move Dec. 26, 2018

News Site Brooklyn

BP Adams Mourns Passing of William Thompson Sr.

Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams

Brooklyn Borough President mourned the passing of New York State Supreme Court Justice William C. Thompson Sr. this week.

William Thompson Sr., who became Brooklyn’s first African-American state senator in 1965, died at the age of 94 on Monday, according to NY1. Thompson, who was a member of the state Senate from 1965 to 1968, also served on the City Council, and later became an associate justice of the Appellate Division of State Supreme Court. He was the father of former City Comptroller Bill Thompson Jr., whom he swore into office in 2002.

“I join all Brooklynites in mourning the passing of retired New York State Supreme Court Justice William C. Thompson Sr., a man who I have been honored to call a friend and confidant for so many years. A proud graduate of Brooklyn College and Brooklyn Law School, he served our nation with distinction in World War II as a member of the Army’s ‘Buffalo Soldiers.’

Justice Thompson broke barriers as our borough’s first Black state senator, and continued to break barriers as he ascended the ranks of our judicial system. Across five decades, Justice Thompson was the embodiment of the principles we expect out of public service, values he imparted to his children Bill and Gail.

His legacy of public good includes meaningful work to advance quality child care, combat breast cancer, mentor young law students, as well as bring together our African-American and Jewish communities. Our One Brooklyn family will collectively carry Justice Thompson’s torch in the struggle for justice going forward,” said Adams.

BK Lawmakers Announce Update On BQE Reconstruction Project

Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez
State Sen. Brian Kavanagh
Jo Anne Simon
Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon
City Councilman Stephen Levin

U.S. Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez (D-Brooklyn, Queens, Lower Manhattan), State Senator Brian Kavanagh (D-Northern Brooklyn, Lower Manhattan), Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon (D-Downtown Brooklyn, Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens, Boerum Hill), and Councilmember Stephen Levin (D-Williamsburg, Vinegar Hill, Brooklyn Heights, Carroll Gardens, Boerum Hill, Cobble Hill, DUMBO,  and parts of Bedford-Stuyvesant, Clinton Hill, Greenpoint, Downtown Brooklyn, Gowanus, Park Slope) recently released an update regarding the proposed plan to reconstruct a 1.5 mile stretch of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway (BQE) from Atlantic Avenue to Sands Street.

Earlier this year, the New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) proposed two possible options for the reconstruction: one using an incremental lane-by-lane approach, and the other using a temporary Promenade-level bypass highway during construction.

Both plans have local officials and residents concerned about the consequences of closing off a vital stretch of roadway including noise levels associated with construction and the loss of the promenade. However, city officials caution that leaving the aging structure to deteriorate could cause trucks to be rerouted due to weight restrictions in 2026 and result in a total shutdown by 2036, according to Gothamist.

“While we understand that reconstruction of the BQE is a necessary project—and that any project of this scale would inevitably be difficult and disruptive—both of the options the City has proposed so far would have significant and profoundly problematic impacts on the communities we represent.

Each of these approaches would entail numerous negative impacts on the health, safety, and quality of life of local residents. As such, we are committed to ensuring that all plausible alternatives are fully considered before any version of this project receives the Federal, State, and City approvals that will be necessary before DOT can move forward.

We appreciate that DOT has agreed to examine alternative solutions beyond the existing proposals, including a thorough analysis of the Brooklyn Heights Association’s proposal, which would pull the temporary bypass highway away from Heights residences, using the Brooklyn Bridge Park side of Furman Street and part of the area where the Park’s berms are currently located.

We look forward to seeing DOT’s timely analysis of the feasibility and impacts of this option and of any additional options that DOT or others may identify. We also appreciate that DOT has recently committed to us that they will hold a series of robust discussions with local residents and stakeholder groups to review the proposals and discuss alternatives and outstanding concerns. We hope that our constituents and other New Yorkers with questions, concerns, or ideas about this project will continue to be in touch with our offices,” read a joint statement.

Colton Demands Mayor Stop Small Biz Harassment

Assembly Member William Colton

Assembly member William Colton (D-Gravesend, Bensonhurst, Bath Beach, and Dyker Heights) is demanding Mayor Bill de Blasio step in to stop the harassment of small business owners for awning violations.

In a letter to de Blasio last week, Colton reminded the Mayor of the recent rash of fines issued by the Department of Buildings (DOB) to small business owners throughout the city for technical violations for the antiquated sign regulations.

According to previous KCP stories, immigrant Bodegas and mom & pop stores, particularly Chinese, Arabic and Hispanic owned, have been hit hardest by an uptick of anonymous 311 calls these past few months complaining about illegal sign awnings. A recent City Council bill would have established the Awnings Act to help with the situation but the measure was pulled from a vote last week.

According to Colton, merchants are still getting hit with fines for having signage over their stores, which do not involve any safety concerns, ranging from $2,500 up to $6,000.

“What really ticks me off is that the Department of Buildings was not enforcing these antiquated awning and sign regulations for over thirty years. The city administration’s bureaucracy is allowing some entity to harass small business owners, driving them out of business. I am calling on you, Mayor de Blasio, to intervene and issue an order to the Department of Buildings to stop the issuing of non-safety signage violations against small business merchants,” Colton stated.

“Council Member Espinal introduced a bill which was supposed to be voted on December 20, 2018 and I was pleased that the council was acting promptly to stop future fines, but a vote was put off until January 9, 2019. This decision is unacceptable. The city administration’s policy must be to support and encourage small businesses which provide so many jobs to New York City neighborhood people,” added Colton.

Cymbrowitz Reappointed Chair of Housing Committee

Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz

Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz (D-Sheepshead Bay, Manhattan Beach, Brighton Beach) announced last week his reappointment as Chair of the Assembly’s Housing Committee.

Among its duties, the Housing Committee addresses important issues that directly affect low- and middle-income families across New York State, including public housing, the Mitchell-Lama housing program and rent regulation protections. Under Cymbrowitz’ leadership, new laws were enacted to help address issues with illegal conversions and promote transparency in decisions made by the boards of directors of cooperative and condominium housing.

In the coming legislative session, the Committee will work to renew and strengthen the State’s expiring rent regulation laws, and will continue its efforts to safeguard the affordability of regulated units by prohibiting steep preferential rent hikes upon lease renewal, turning a critical eye to the many other ways rents can be increased beyond the deregulation threshold, and implementing much-needed, common-sense reforms.

“I want to thank Speaker Carl Heastie for reappointing me Chair of the Housing Committee. I look forward to continuing to advance legislation that will help provide safe, affordable, and accessible housing to millions of New Yorkers,” said Cymbrowitz.

“For our fixed-income seniors, for families working to make a better life for their children, for homeless people struggling for financial stability, and for so many other vulnerable New Yorkers, housing can be an all-consuming issue that makes or breaks their lives. As Housing Committee Chair, I will continue to meet the challenge of advocating for all New Yorkers and ensuring that our residents have safe, affordable and quality housing,” added Cymbrowitz.