Brooklyn Lawmakers On The Move Feb. 21, 2019

News Site Brooklyn

Gounardes Rides Subway, Building Support For Congestion Pricing

Andrew Gounardes
State Sen.-Elect Andrew Gounardes

State Senator Andrew Gounardes (D-Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Bensonhurst, Marine Park, Gerritsen Beach, Gravesend) alongside members and advocates with the Riders Alliance will take the state legislative subway ride-along series to R train riders in Bay Ridge today to document the depth of the transit crisis as momentum builds toward congestion pricing.

In the coming days, some local legislators and riders will board subways across the city in an attempt to talk to riders about their commutes in a final push for a fair, sustainable, progressive transit funding plan in the upcoming state budget.

The state budget is slated for an April 1 deadline.

First proposed last year, Congestion Pricing aims to create a congestion zone and tolling drivers entering the Manhattan Central Business District (MCBD). The proposed charge would raise $1.5 billion annually  — the amount the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) agrees must be raised to fix the system — and reduce congestion by 20%.

The event is slated for 7 a.m., today, Feb. 21, at 77th Street Subway Station (enter at NE corner of 4th Avenue and 77th Street; Manhattan-bound R train) in Bay Ridge.

Tenants Demand Landlord Fix Hazardous, Unsanitary Building Conditions

Crown Heights tenants today in demand that one of New York City’s “worst” landlords fix unsafe living conditions across his buildings.

Rubin Dukler, dubbed New York City’s 17th worst landlord by the Public Advocate’s office, is facing demands from his tenants and local officials to fix 561 violations. Violations include inadequate heat and hot water during winter months, mold and leaks, vermin infestations, and broken front doors and intercoms. Tenants also are demanding that Dukler stop harassing them.

The tenants, organized by the Urban Homesteading Assistance Board (UHAB) and represented by Brooklyn Legal Services’ Tenants Right Coalition, are seeking a court order to force Dukler to make the repairs and stop the harassment, which tenants believe is an attempt to force them out of their rent-stabilized units.

The buildings are located at 1018 Eastern Parkway, 1074 Eastern Parkway, 1392 Sterling Place and 1460 Sterling Place in Crown Heights, Brooklyn.

The event is slated for 9 a.m., today, Feb. 21, outside of Kings County housing Court, 141 Livingston Street in Downtown Brooklyn. Note: This item originally stated that State Sen. Zellnor Myrie would attend this event. That information was incorrect. 

Rose, Brannan, Gounardes, Frontus Call on MTA To Split R-Train, Help South Brooklyn Commuters

Max Rose
U.S. Rep.-Elect Max Rose
Justin Brannan
City Council Member Justin Brannan
Andrew Gounardes
State Sen.-Elect Andrew Gounardes
Mathylde Frontus
Assembly Member Mathylde Frontus

Congressman Max Rose (D-South Brooklyn, Staten Island) joined with City Council member Justin Brannan (D-Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights), State Senator Andrew Gounardes (D-Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Bensonhurst, Marine Park, Gerritsen Beach, Gravesend), and Assembly member Mathylde Frontus (D-Coney Island, Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Sheepshead Bay, Borough Park and Midwood) yesterday in calling on the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) to split the R-Train between Brooklyn and Manhattan, to improve the subway service in South Brooklyn.

Earlier this week, the coalition of elected officials wrote an open letter to MTA Chair Andy Byford, asking for better R train service for commuters. Over the last two years, the train line has been plagued by systemic failures including signal malfunctions and track delays. The train was delayed by signal problems 11 times and mechanical problems five times over 23 days this past August according to recent figures.

From 2013-2014, the R train was split following Hurricane Sandy. That previous bifurcation resulted in more reliable and dependable commute times as commuters in South Brooklyn were no longer being impacted by delays in Queens. The R train is the only subway line that serves Bay Ridge. The MTA currently is not planning on any upgrades to the R-Train for more than a decade.

“In 2013, the Montague Street Tunnel was closed for Hurricane Sandy repairs and the R-Train line was split between Brooklyn and Manhattan between from August 2013 to September 2014. Many commuters braced themselves for what they thought would be a truly miserable commute. However, the split at Court St insulated the Southern Brooklyn line from traffic delays occurring earlier along the line, improving reliability and commute times for constituents in our district. By bifurcating the R-Train, Bay Ridge commuters were no longer being delayed due to a sick passenger up in Queens,” wrote the elected officials to MTA Chairman Byford.

“As per the MTA’s Fast Forward Plan, South Brooklyn is not scheduled to receive signal upgrades for over a decade. Putting South Brooklynites through another ten years of a commuting nightmare is simply not an option. It’s time for us to think outside the box. We are asking you to study the possible bifurcation of the R-line at Court St as it had been from August 2013 to September 2014. Considering that this was put in place before—and it was an unexpected success—we expect the MTA to move quickly to reimplement,” continued the joint letter.

Ortiz Introduces Bill Covering Treatment For Eating Disorders

Assembly Member Feliz Ortiz

Assistant Speaker Assembly member Félix W. Ortiz (D-Sunset Park, Red Hook) recently introduced legislation to help thousands of New Yorker’s suffering from eating disorders get treatment.

The new measure would require insurance companies to cover multiple types of eating disorder treatment and follow up care to prevent relapses.

“It’s inexcusable that insurance companies deny coverage for eating disorder treatment. These disorders lead to the most deaths from all mental illnesses and treatment should be covered just like any other serious medical illness,” said Ortiz.

Schumer, Gillibrand Introduce The Plum Island Conservation Act

U.S. Senator Charles Schumer
U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) alongside U.S. Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), and Chris Murphy (D-CT) yesterday announced the reintroduction of the Plum Island Conservation Act.

The measure would permanently repeal a law that requires the federal General Service Administration (GSA) to sell the Plum Island to the highest bidder. The Plum Island Conservation Act would allow the island to be transferred to another federal agency, such as the National Park Service or U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, to a state or local government, or to a private steward that can commit to preserving the environmental integrity of Plum Island.

Plum Island is recognized for its significant environmental value. The island is home to a number of unique and endangered species, such as Osprey, Bank Swallow, Piping Plovers, as well as many plants. Plum Island, and the adjacent Great Gull and Little Gull Islands, were identified for protection in 2006 by the federally created Long Island Sound Stewardship Initiative, which singled them out for their “exemplary” ecological value. In addition, the GSA’s own Final Environmental Impact Statement concluded that any development of Plum Island could harm the land use, air quality, water resources, and biological resources in the area.

Currently, the GSA is required by law to sell the entire island, including the Plum Island Animal Disease Center research facility and its surrounding natural habitat, to the highest bidder. Congress mandated the sale of Plum Island in order to help pay for construction of the new bio-lab in Kansas. However, legislation since then successfully included money for the lab, making the sale of the island unnecessary.

“With open space ever dwindling on Long Island, we should do everything possible to preserve the environmental and wildlife habitat on Plum Island. It would be a mistake to sell Plum Island to a developer and rip apart this unique 840-acre ecological treasure and destroy the habitat of the endangered species that live there. I am proud to cosponsor this legislation to repeal the sale of Plum Island and I will continue to support this cause,” said Schumer.

“Plum Island is one of New York’s natural treasures and it should never be sold off. I am proud to reintroduce this legislation to protect this land and preserve it for future generations, and I urge all of my colleagues to join me in supporting this bill. Congress has a responsibility to protect our public lands, and this legislation is an important step toward that goal,” said Gillibrand.