Lentol, Cuomo Announce Seven Acre Park Beneath Kosciuszko Bridge
Assembly Member Joe Lentol (D-Greenpoint, Williamsburg) announced yesterday that Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has committed to state funding for the completion of the first and second phases of “Under the K” – a transformative Open Space project that will turn nearly seven acres beneath the Kosciuszko Bridge in Brooklyn into a world-class public park.
Under the agreement, the state Department of Transportation will provide the use of state land to North Brooklyn Parks Alliance – which is leading the design and construction, and will ultimately operate and maintain the space – to allow for the completion of phase one and the beginning of programming by the summer of 2020. The state is also providing $6 million, which will completely fund phase two of the project.
“This new project to transform space under the Kosciuszko Bridge into a public open space is exactly what this community needs. Not only will this versatile space encourage New Yorkers to spend more time outdoors, it will serve our community through artistic programs, youth programs and entertainment for all ages. I commend Governor Cuomo for recognizing this need for our community and for getting it done, and through these efforts, we are learning that as we rebuild our infrastructure we can add beauty and open space in new and refreshing ways,” said Lentol.
Cymbrowitz Gets Perfect Rating On Environment Record
Assemblymember Steven Cymbrowitz (D-Sheepshead Bay, Manhattan Beach, Brighton Beach) yesterday announced that the state’s leading health and environmental advocacy group has once again given him a perfect legislative rating.
On the annual 2019 State Environmental Scorecard released by the NY League of Conservation Voters, the lawmaker earned 100 out of 100 points, placing him among the state’s greenest legislators.
The advocacy group grades lawmakers according to their votes on a wide variety of environmental and health issues and publishes the results in its Voters’ Guide, which has been distributed for more than 40 years and is the only scorecard of its kind.
During the last legislative session, Assemblyman Cymbrowitz supported the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (A.8429), which requires the state to achieve 100% clean power by 2040; and the Child Safe Products Act (A.6296A), which will ban chemicals that have been proven to be harmful to human health from children’s products; and congestion pricing, which will reduce vehicle emissions and raise funds to improve mass transit in New York City.
A member of the Environmental Conservation Committee, Assemblyman Cymbrowitz also voted in favor of legislation that creates a paint stewardship program that requires paint manufacturers to accept unused paint for recycling or safe disposal (A.6373); aligns New York’s water-saving performance standards, which have not been updated since 2002, with federal guidelines (A.2286); bans 1,4-Dioxane above certain levels from cosmetics, personal care products, and household cleaning products (A.6295A); and prohibits the harvesting of Atlantic bunker fish, which are important to the marine ecosystem (A.2571).
“I am honored to have this important recognition from the NY League of Conservation Voters for the work I’ve been doing to safeguard the environment both in my own community and throughout New York State,” said Cymbrowitz.
PA Williams Addresses NYPD Mental Health
Public Advocate Jumaane D. Williams yesterday held a roundtable discussion with representatives from policing organizations to address officer mental health following a recent increase in New York Police Department suicides.
Nine NYPD officers have lost their lives to suicide this year, an increase from a previous average of four to five annually.
The roundtable brought together a coalition of NYPD officer fraternal organizations including the National Latino Officers Association, the Grand Council of Guardians, the NYPD Guardians Association, the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement. Also in the conversation were the Police Benevolent Association and mental health advocacy organization Samaritans NYC.
Attendees candidly discussed daily stressors faced by New York City police officers – their members – including:
- Pressure to meet ‘performance goals’
- Broadly held perceptions of police officers nationwide.
- The Department’s lack of flexibility in meeting officers’ personal requests/needs e.g, changing shifts, precinct reassignments etc.
- Lack of a system to track complaints about supervisors
- The stigma and consequences attached to officers asking for mental health support, and;
- Officers being “psyched out” of career advancement and even the NYPD
“Suicides are up around our nation and NYPD officers suicides are among the highest, especially this year. This conversation, this press conference, is not meant to be a harsh criticism of the department on this issue. This is about moving away from stigma and moving toward solutions that can save lives,” said Williams after the roundtable. “We have a mental health crisis, and we need to meet the very human and personal needs of men and women who police our communities.”
Several ways to address the crisis were raised within recurring themes that included:
- The creation of an independent support system that allows officers to seek help anonymously. Currently, according to attendees, there are reporting mandates when officers seek mental health support.
- Creating career mentorship programs within the department.
- Normalizing conversations about mental health and creating opportunities for regular check-ins, and;
- De-stigmatizing officers and programs that support those who ask for help
Williams has been an outspoken advocate for mental health services, and shares his own experiences in order to help reduce stigmas surrounding mental health.
Cuomo Orders Broadening National Grid Investigation
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo yesterday issued a letter directing the Department of Public Service to broaden its investigation into National Grid’s refusal of service.
The letter comes as Cuomo and National Grid remain deadlocked over the state Department of Environmental Conservation’s rejection earlier this year of a National Grid proposal to build the 37-mile Williams Cos Inc’s Northeast Supply Enhancement (NESE) pipeline that would tap into an existing pipeline stretching from Pennsylvania to New York City.
According to National Grid, the pipeline has become an urgent need, as the economy in New York City is booming, and their current pipeline is at capacity. Thus, they imposed the moratorium meant to prevent a gas shortage during colder days which would result due to the lack of NESE.
In the letter, the Governor directed DPS to ensure National Grid immediately provides service to customers who were improperly refused service and impose penalties and sanctions, as appropriate. If National Grid is unable to provide safe, affordable and reliable service to these existing customers, the Governor has directed DPS to consider alternatives to National Grid as a franchisee for some or all of the areas it currently serves.
Malliotakis Decries Proposal to Shutter Gifted & Talented Programs
Assemblymember Nicole Malliotakis (R-Bay Ridge, Staten Island) yesterday decried Mayor Bill de Blasio’s education commission that recommended the shuttering of the city’s gifted & talented programs in public schools because of its lack of diversity.
“Instead of increasing opportunities for our students to succeed, the mayor seems intent on disassembling those programs that work. We’ve already seen the mayor waste $773 million on his failed Renewal Program and his attempts to do away with the current entrance exam for NYC’s highly competitive Specialized High Schools. If he really cared about our students and their future he would be expanding gifted and talented programs in schools throughout the city and giving all children the opportunity to succeed. His ongoing actions reaffirm my vote against mayoral control of our schools and hardens my resolve to fight for a good education for all New Yorkers,” said Malliotakis.
“It’s time that parents, educators and taxpayers send a strong and clear message to the mayor and the chancellor to stop playing politics and return the DOE to the core mission of educating New York’s children,” she added.
Brooklyn Lawmakers Unveil Legislation For Better Lactation Facilities
Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams and City Council Members Laurie A. Cumbo, Robert E. Cornegy Jr., and Stephen Levin announced recently-introduced legislation yesterday that would establish training requirements, maintenance protocols, and regular inspections of rooms for locations required to make lactation rooms available.
The announcement coincided with National Breastfeeding Month and was made in front of the ground-floor lactation room in Brooklyn Borough Hall. The lounge, which has a hospital-grade breast pump, rocking chairs and educational literature about breastfeeding, was established in 2015.
Its’ establishment set the tone for a movement that resulted in first-in-the-nation legislation from Adams, Cumbo and Cornegy to establish breastfeeding-friendly facilities in public buildings across New York City.
Breastfeeding mothers and advocates also spoke at the announcement about the importance of ensuring all mothers have access to safe, healthy lactation facilities.