Brooklyn Lawmakers On The Move May 8, 2019

News Site Brooklyn

BP Adams Supports Saving Weeksville Heritage Center

Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams

Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams yesterday addressed the recent news that Weeksville Heritage Center is facing closure following the announcement of financial instability at the iconic black cultural center.

On Monday, the President and Executive Director Rob Fields of the organization sent out an email notifying the public that the center could close as soon as July due to “high operating costs and challenging fundraising environment for black cultural institutions”, according to initial reports. To combat some of the financial challenges, they have launched a crowdfunding campaign and hope to raise $200,000 by June 30. As of press time, the institution has raised $54,142.

Weeksville Heritage Center is a multidisciplinary museum dedicated to preserving the history of the 19th century African American community of Weeksville, Brooklyn – one of America’s many free black communities. Founded by James Weeks in the 1830s as a free black community, by 1900 it had about 500 residents and its own newspaper. The community established the Zion Home for Aged Colored, Howard Colored Orphan Asylum and Berean Baptist Church.

“The Weeksville Heritage Center is an important part of our collective history, which is why it’s been so difficult to see the struggles they’ve faced in recent years. Organizations like Weeksville do not benefit from the major endowments and PR attention that have long supported cultural institutions along Museum Mile and other more affluent communities. It’s heartening to see hundreds of New Yorkers coming together to help Weeksville in its hour of need,” said Adams.

“Ultimately, a long-term sustainable funding strategy must be implemented to keep the organization going into the coming decades, and my administration stands ready to assist as best we are able. Brooklyn’s Black history must be preserved, promoted, and well patronized,” added Adams.    

Cymbrowitz Honors Winners of Holocaust Memorial Creative Arts Contest

Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz

Assembly member Steven Cymbrowitz (D-Sheepshead Bay, Manhattan Beach, Brighton Beach) honored the student winners of his 19th Annual Holocaust Memorial Creative Arts Contest last Sunday.

The contest attracted hundreds of entries from elementary, middle and high schools and aims to honor the six million who perished and also to teach students that anti-Semitism and bias- motivated violence remain painfully relevant issues. At the ceremony, Cymbrowitz told the story of his late parents, Sonia and Sam, who met as children in Demblin, Poland and were sent with family members to a slave labor camp when the Nazis came. Demblin’s entire Jewish population ended up in labor camps or concentration camps.

The ceremony featured keynote remarks by Rabbi Andy Bachman, executive director of JCP Downtown and a nationally recognized spiritual leader and social entrepreneur.

Also on display was an exhibit called “Unwelcomed Words: Nazi Anti-Jewish Street Signs,” provided by the Kupferberg Holocaust Center at Queensborough Community College. Cymbrowitz sponsors the student contest with the Manhattan Beach Jewish Center, Holocaust Memorial Committee, Lena Cymbrowitz Foundation, Project Witness, and Google.

“It’s not easy to listen to these stories, but it’s very important that we continue to tell them. With the passage of time, there are fewer and fewer people who bore witness to the Holocaust. The survivors need all of us to carry on their mission and make sure that the Holocaust stays vivid in our hearts and minds. That’s why it’s critically important that our children learn about the Holocaust and listen to survivors’ stories whenever possible,” said Cymbrowitz.

Velazquez Applauds BK Small Business Week Awardees

Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez

U.S. Representative Nydia Velazquez (D-Brooklyn, LES, Queens), House Small Business Committee Chairwoman this week is saluting two small businesses located in New York’s 7th Congressional district that have been recognized as National Small Business Week Awardees by the Small Business Administration (SBA).

At an awards ceremony yesterday, SBA’s New York District Office recognized Christopher Bren, William Freedman and Todd Stewart of Picture Farm Production, a creative services firm, with its Small Business Person of the Year Award. Additionally, Chelsea Brownridge, Founder of the startup DogSpot, will receive the Woman Small Business Owner of the Year Award. Both small businesses are located in Brooklyn’s Navy Yard.

Every year since 1963, the President has designated a week to celebrate the contributions of small businesses and entrepreneurs across the country. This year, National Small Business Week is being held from May 5-11th.

“This week and every week, we pay tribute to the small businesses that exemplify America’s commitment to entrepreneurship and innovation. There is certainly no shortage of these firms in my district in New York and I am proud to see two of them recognized by SBA this National Small Business Week,” said Velazquez.

“As Chairwoman of the House Small Business Committee, I am working every day to ensure that small firms at home in New York and across this country have the tools they need to create jobs and drive our prosperity forward,” added Velazquez.

Felder, NYS Senate Pass Comprehensive School Bus Safety Legislation

Sen. Simcha Felder

State Senator Simcha Felder (D-Boro Park, Midwood) alongside colleagues in the New York State Senate unanimously passed sweeping legislation (S3558, S4385, and S2960) last week taking measures to ensure children’s safety while traveling to and from school by increasing penalties and education around school bus safety.

The first bill seeks to stem the immediate danger and deter law breakers who pose a threat to the lives of over 2 million NYS school children daily, by immediately increasing penalties for overtaking and passing a school bus. A first conviction will carry a fine between $350 and $500.

The second bill, addresses the education of new drivers on the road, ensuring they are aware of the dangers and illegality of passing a stopped school bus. The measure amends the driver’s education curriculum and ensures at least one question on school bus safety is part of the written pre-licensing exam.

The last bill directs surcharges collected from these fines be directed to a school bus safety education fund that will support school bus safety research to improve, develop and implement proposals to reduce violations. An estimated 50,000 illegal school bus passings occur across New York State each school day, according to Felder’s office. The fund will also promote awareness through public service announcements and other safety initiatives.

“The recent evidence of excessive recklessness around school buses with red lights flashing and children disembarking has been truly sobering. Immediate action is called for and I hope that people will take notice, wake up and realize that no appointment, no schedule or meeting is worth risking a child’s life,” said Felder.

Nadler Sends Letter To McGahn Responding To Failure To Produce Documents Under Subpoena

U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler

Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-Borough Park, Kensington, parts of Bay Ridge, Bensonhurst, Dyker Heights, Red Hook, Sunset Park, Midwood and parts of Manhattan), Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, yesterday threatened to hold former White House lawyer Don McGahn in contempt if he didn’t respond to a congressional subpoena for special counsel Robert Mueller’s documents.

The White House has ordered McGahn not to comply with the subpoena, according to a letter obtained by CBS News. Nadler said Tuesday the White House did not invoke executive privilege. Late last month, the Department of Justice released the redacted 448-page Mueller report to dismay of House democrats, that details Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential Election. 

However, White House counsel Pat Cipollone wrote to Nadler, saying that McGahn does not have the legal right to disclose the documents to the committee. Cipollone asked that they direct the request for records to the White House. The White House argues that it had provided documents to McGahn that were requested by the special counsel during the investigation, but “with the clear understanding that the records remain subject to the control of the White House for all purposes,” Cipollone wrote, according to CBS News.

Executive privilege is the power of the President of the United States and other members of the executive branch of the United States Government to resist certain subpoenas and other interventions by the legislative and judicial branches of government in pursuit of information or personnel relating to the executive.

“[t]he White House Counsel’s letter did not actually invoke executive privilege… Even if the President were to properly invoke privilege, any claim of executive privilege has been waived as to documents that the White House voluntarily disclosed to Mr. McGahn and his counsel,” read Nadler’s letter to McGahn.

“I fully expect that the Committee will hold Mr. McGahn in contempt if he fails to appear before the Committee, unless the White House secures a court order directing otherwise. Moreover, with regard to Mr. McGahn’s testimonial obligations, there is no valid executive privilege invocation that could be asserted in good faith regarding the subject of the Special Counsel’s investigation and report,” concluded the letter.