Brooklyn Lawmakers On The Move Oct. 31, 2019

News Site Brooklyn

Montgomery, Wright Bring DFS To Bed-Stuy For Deed Theft Complaints

Senator Velmanette Montgomery photographed by tracy collins
Senator Velmanette Montgomery
Tremaine Wright
Assemblymember Tremaine Wright

State Sen. Velmanette Montgomery (D-Fort Greene, Boerum Hill, Red Hook, Bedford-Stuyvesant, Sunset Park, Gowanus, Park Slope) and Assemblymember Tremaine Wright (D-Bed-Stuy, Northern Crown Heights) will host the first of several intake events for the state Department of Financial Sevice (DFS) to collect deed fraud complaints.

After reading a troubling report on deed fraud and deceptive practices targeted at homeowners in Brooklyn, Governor Cuomo called on the DFS to launch an investigation. He also directed DFS to dispatch their Foreclosure Relief Unit to assist homeowners who believe they may have been a victim of deed fraud or unfair, deceptive, or abusive practices concerning the sale or attempted purchase of their home.

“Predators have been targeting homeowners in our communities for many years and it has only gotten worse as gentrification causes property values to skyrocket all over the city. They target our most vulnerable homeowners and snatch generations of wealth from our families,” said Montgomery. “I am glad the Governor is directing resources to address deed fraud. I welcome DFS to the 25th District, which includes some of the most impacted neighborhoods in New York State and I encourage my constituents to file their complaints with DFS either in person, over the phone or online.”

This announcement comes in the wake of the March legislative hearing hosted by Montgomery, Wright and Brooklyn Borough President Adams. Over 300 attendees heard testimony from homeowners, legal experts, foreclosure prevention advocates and stakeholders on homeowner issues including predatory practices and deed fraud. In August, Montgomery’s Deed Theft bill was signed into law to address the behavior of fraudulent companies who target struggling homeowners and trick them into signing away their deeds.  

“The authorization of the DFS Investigation into Deed Theft and Mortgage Fraud is a strong and necessary step toward quelling the ongoing assault on Brooklyn homeowners,” said Wright. “Homeowners have been victimized by unscrupulous entities and individuals that utilized deceptive and illegal practices. As a result, homeowners suffered as they were unable to assert their rights and protect their homes. I thank Governor Cuomo for recognizing that investigation and enforcement are essential to addressing this problem; as well as committing to use every available resource to hold accountable those unscrupulous parties. Our communities have been ground zero for deed theft and mortgage fraud, so this Saturday’s intake session will be the first of many as we work together to curb these abuses and preserve homeownership in New York State.”

Homeowners who believe they may have been a victim of deed fraud or unfair, deceptive, or abusive practices in regard to the sale or attempted purchase of their home, may call the Foreclosure Relief Hotline at: 1-800-342-3736, or visit: https://www.dfs.ny.gov/consumers/help_for_homeowners for more information or to file a complaint.

The first DFS event is slated for 10:30 a.m. -1:30 p.m,  Saturday, Nov. 2 at Restoration Plaza, 1368 Fulton Street in Bed-Stuy. 


Reynoso’s Sanitation and Commercial Waste Legislation Passes City Council

Antonio Reynoso
City Council Member Antonio Reynoso

City Council Member Antonio Reynoso (D-Bushwick, Greenpoint, Williamsburg, Ridgewood/Queens) saw his legislation to mandate the establishment of commercial waste zones pass the city council yesterday.

Under the measure, the Department of Sanitation (DSNY) would designate commercial waste zones and enter into agreements with up to three private carters to operate in each zone. There would also be up to five carters authorized to operate citywide to pick up large containers of waste that are brought directly to a waste transfer station. Certain micro-haulers, including those who collect organic waste by bicycle, would be able to continue to operate under a particular tonnage.

The bill would encourage private carters to submit proposals to ensure the goals of the program – improved safety for workers and the public; reduction of waste hauling vehicle miles travelled and associated pollutants, including greenhouse gas emissions; and improved customer service. DSNY would be authorized to set minimum rates that carters must charge businesses, if necessary.

The bill would also protect workers by requiring worker retention in the case of a merger or acquisition, and the department would make available a displaced employee list to companies.

The much-debated legislation was covered at length in a ProPublica series that appeared to write in favor of the legislation. On the other side, opponents point to a faulty similar rollout in Los Angeles and the possible increase of sanitation pickups to small businesses.

“Companies in the private carting industry are currently engaged in a race to the bottom in which workers are denied training, and old diesel trucks are used to travel impossibly long routes that zig-zag inefficiently across our city,” said Reynoso. “Today, we are putting an end to the private carting industry’s horrific practices and the devastating impacts they have had on workers, community members, and our environment.”


Ortiz Bill Protecting Banking Customers Signed Into Law

Assembly Member Feliz Ortiz

Assemblyman and Assistant Speaker Félix W. Ortiz (D-Sunset Park, Red Hook) yesterday saw Gov. Andrew Cuomo sign his legislation (A.3168), requiring banks to post a toll-free consumer’s hotline number for complaints about banking institutions into law.

“Consumers often have nowhere to turn if they are dissatisfied with the services their bank provides, while in fact, they can voice their complaints to a toll-free consumer hotline run by the NYS Department of Financial Services,” said Ortiz. 

“As a legislator, I have the responsibility to help enact protections that serve the people. Ensuring consumers are aware of their rights and have easy access to information is part of that responsibility. I want to thank the Governor for approving this legislation.”


Brannan Passes Landmark Animal Welfare Legislation

Justin Brannan
City Council Member Justin Brannan

City Council Member Justin Brannan (D-Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Bensonhurst, Bath Beach) yesterday saw his two two animal welfare bills passed the city council yesterday.

The first measure, Intro 1478-A establishes an office of animal welfare which would have the power to oversee animal welfare issues and policy. 

The second measure, Resolution 798, calls upon the state legislature to pass and the governor to sign A6298/S4234 which would ban the sale of commercially bred dogs, cats, and rabbits from retail pet shops

Brannan stressed the importance of the new agency.

“They say the greatness of a society and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated. That is why, in a truly humane city, animals cannot be treated as an afterthought. By establishing this office, the first of its kind in the nation, New York will lead the way as a city that not only cares about, but prioritizes animal welfare. Animal-related issues will no longer be relegated to a disorganized, bureaucratic morass of city agencies. The Mayor’s Office of Animal Welfare will be a centralized division that will ensure strong oversight of all animal affairs, no matter who the mayor is,” said Brannan.

About Resolution 798, Brannan said, “For too long, big retail pet shops have been selling animals bred from commercial breeders, often referred to as “puppy mills.” These mills have a common practice of overbreeding animals and keeping them in cramped inhumane conditions so as to maximize profits. Resolution 798 urges my colleagues in state government to stifle this inhumane practice by banning the sale of puppy mill-bred animals in big retail shops. No longer should we allow profits to be prioritized over animal welfare.”


Cuomo Announces Fed Grant To Reduce Maternal Mortality Rates

Gov. Andrew Cuomo

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that New York is one of 24 states that have been awarded a grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to support ongoing work to reduce maternal mortality rates and address racial disparities.

The Governor also announced the members of his recently formed NYS Maternal Mortality Review Board, which was created to review the cause of each maternal death in the state and make recommendations to the Department of Health on strategies for preventing future deaths and improving overall health outcomes.

“All women should have access to quality health care especially before, during and after childbirth – and we’ve enlisted the best and the brightest to continue our important work to help ensure that happens,” Cuomo said. “This award will help New York address this national crisis by supporting the efforts of the experts we’ve enlisted on our Maternal Mortality Review Board.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention awarded $450,000 to the State Department of Health to work in partnership with the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. The funding from the CDC is intended to help sustain the work of the NYS Maternal Mortality Review Board in facilitating an understanding of the drivers of maternal mortality and complications of pregnancy, as well as racial disparities in maternal mortality rates. The MMRB will recommend to the Commissioner clinical and community interventions to improve outcomes for families and communities.

The United States has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the developed world – and racial disparities continue to persist, as black women are nationally almost four times more likely to die in childbirth than white women, and three times more likely in New York. While New York State has made improvements in reducing maternal mortality rates since 2010 when it was ranked 46th in the nation, the state still ranks 30th in the nation.


Rose Presses To Designate Global White Supremacist Organizations

Max Rose
U.S. Rep.-Elect Max Rose

U.S. Rep. Max Rose (D-Southern Brooklyn, Staten Island), chair of the Homeland Security Subcommittee on Intelligence & Counterterrorism), this week pressed top Homeland Security and counterterrorism officials on whether or not law enforcement has the necessary tools and authority to properly address the threats of white supremacist terrorism. 

Earlier this month, Rose led a letter with 40 Members of Congress to the Secretary of State demanding answers as to why white supremacist extremist groups are not included on the list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTO).

“Do we need to consider designating some of these [white nationalist] entities as Foreign Terrorist Organizations, or is the current policy of the United States of America that we only designate Muslim organizations as FTOs?” Rose asked witnesses at a subcommittee hearing on the subject. “If a white nationalist organization fits the criteria of an FTO, as I believe these do, should we consider designating them as such so you have the broad-based authorities you currently do to fight ISIS, al-Qaeda, and its affiliates?”

Rose has been consistent in keeping his focus on international and domestic terrorism including working in close cooperation with the NYPD, calling on social media companies to work more closely with law enforcement to prevent the spread of terrorist content on their platforms, increasing counterterrorism funding to New York City, and getting Facebook to ban links on its platform to terrorist content. 


Myrie Continues Push To Ban Deceptive Police Interrogation Techniques

State Senator Zellnor Myrie
State Senator Zellnor Myrie

State Sen. Zellnor Myrie (D-Brownsville, Crown Heights, East Flatbush, Gowanus, Park Slope, Prospect Heights, Prospect Lefferts Gardens, South Slope, Sunset Park) this week continued to push his recently proposed legislation that would ban the use of deceptive police interrogation techniques.

The measure’s genesis stems from Netflix miniseries depicting the story of the Exonerated Five, “When They See Us,” based on the true story of how five Harlem teenagers were falsely convicted of raping a woman in Central Park more than 30 years ago utilizing deceptive police interrogation techniques.

Myrie’s legislation would bar police from using deception in the interrogation room and ensure courts consider the reliability of a confession before it is admitted as evidence. There is currently nothing stopping a cop from lying when interrogating suspects or using tactics such as expressing sympathy or presenting false evidence.

“The fact that it is still legal for the police to lie to people they have in their custody is a disgrace. The legislation we introduced, along with bills introduced by my colleagues that would protect the rights of the justice involved, would help ensure that the tragedy that befell the Exonerated Five never happens again,” said Myrie.

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