Brooklyn Lawmakers On The Move Feb. 11, 2020

News Site Brooklyn

Felder Slams De Blasio On DOE’s Special Education Services

Sen. Simcha Felder

State Sen. Simcha Felder (D-Midwood, Flatbush, Borough Park, Kensington, Sunset Park, Madison, Bensonhurst) yesterday demanded an outside investigation of the city’s Department of Education’s (DOE) provision of special education services, charging that unparalleled levels of mismanagement are likely the result of corruption in the system.

At yesterday’s Joint Legislative Public Hearing on the ‘20-’21 Executive Budget in Albany, Felder also slammed Mayor de Blasio’s inability to make good on years of promises to improve special education services.

Felder said for 14 years, the DOE has been out of compliance with the federal Individual with Disabilities Education Act, leaving parents of special education students locked in a constant battle to obtain necessary services mandated for their child’s education. 

“Years of combined efforts by the State Senate and Assembly led up to the Mayor’s 2014 Press Conference where he committed to finally help families of special needs students,” said Felder.  “Unfortunately, a short-lived improvement was followed by years of decline.”

Documenting six years of unsuccessful outreach efforts to address a multitude of unlawful issues plaguing the special education system, including delinquent settlement decisions and reimbursements, re-litigation of settled cases and onerous paperwork and procedures that delay and obstruct necessary services, Felder proposed that the solution might be found outside of the de Blasio’s administration.

“Incompetence of this magnitude is not believable. Corruption is more likely what’s happening here,” said Felder, requesting an independent monitor from the Department of Investigations (DOI) to conduct a thorough investigation as to why 10,000 special needs students are in crisis.

Lander, Safe Streets Advocates Rally Ahead of Reckless Driving Vote

City Council Member Brad Lander

City Council Member Brad Lander (D-Park Slope, Gowanus, Windsor Terrace, Kensington) today will join safe streets advocates and elected officials in support of his legislation to curtail reckless driving across the city. 

The Dangerous Vehicle Abatement Law will create a pilot program to send the registered owners of vehicles that have accumulated 5 or more red-light violations or 15 or more school speed zone camera violations within a twelve-month period to complete a traffic safety course.  Such vehicles have been shown to be more likely to be involved in serious accidents. 

The purpose of the course is to intervene before these dangerous vehicles wreak havoc on the lives of pedestrians, cyclists and motorists. If a vehicle’s owner or responsible driver fails to take the course, the vehicle will be subject to impoundment by the NYC Sheriff and held until the course is completed.

The rally is slated for 11 a.m., today, Feb. 11 at City Hall in Lower Manhattan.

Schumer, Senate Dems Seek Removal of Obstructions Of Puerto Rico Disaster Funds  

U.S. Senator Charles Schumer

U.S. Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) yesterday led a U.S. Senate Democratic Party partisan effort in calling on the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to immediately remove undue restrictions and delays placed on $16.5 billion in Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) disaster mitigation and recovery funds for Puerto Rico.

Also demanding an end to the undue restrictions on the money were U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal, Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), and Bernie Sanders (I-VT).

“We are outraged that HUD is requiring Puerto Rico to agree to restrictions not imposed on any of the other nine states that received guidelines for the disbursement of funds.  These severe terms and conditions include a complex web of oversight for the release of recovery funds, the creation of a system of property registry that ignores local property law, a prohibition on the use of funds for reinforcing and improving Puerto Rico’s vital electrical grid, and a disregard for the island’s $15-an-hour minimum wage for federally funded projects,” the senators wrote in a letter to HUD Secretary Ben Carson.

“The federal government has an obligation to treat Puerto Rico like every other state and territory.  Our fellow Americans on the island have every right to access disaster funding free from egregious, unique, and discriminatory preconditions or delays.  We demand that HUD cease its obstruction and amend the notice and grant agreement to withdraw current restrictions immediately,” the senators concluded.

Clarke Introduces Resolution Addressing Fed Role in Redlining 

Congresswoman Yvette Clarke

U.S. Rep. Yvette D. Clarke (D-Brownsville, Crown Heights, East Flatbush, Flatbush, Kensington, Park Slope, Prospect Heights, Midwood, Sheepshead Bay, Marine Park, Gerritsen Beach, Prospect Lefferts Gardens) yesterday introduced a Redlining Resolution, H.Res. 829, acknowledging the history and lasting impact of redlining and the federal government’s role in creating this problem. 

This legislation addresses the role that the government played in systematically excluding marginalized communities from the single largest pathway of wealth creation in the nation’s history: homeownership.

“I introduced the Redlining Resolution to address the government’s role in redlining and housing discrimination that has driven a staggering wealth gap between white communities and communities of color. We know that Black families have been historically subjected to discriminatory and predatory lending practices that continue to negatively impact our community. Near-systematic exclusion from home ownership due to discrimination makes obtaining the American Dream nearly impossible for families of color,” said Clarke.

Through the Home Owners Loan Corporations (HOLC), the federal government effectively created the 30 year amortized mortgage. Before this, most mortgages were three to five years and had high-interest rates limiting access to homeownership. 

HOLC issued detailed maps subdividing the entire country based on the demographics of neighborhoods to assess the credit-worthiness of potential borrowers. These maps allowed banks to justify discriminatory lending practices across the country–reinforcing segregation where it already existed and integrating segregation into the social fabric of the newly developed suburbs.

Rose Calls for Feds To Fund New Brooklyn VA Garage

Max Rose
U.S. Rep. Max Rose

U.S. Rep. Max Rose (D-Southern Brooklyn, Staten Island), who serves on the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, called on the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to provide funding to construct a new parking garage at the Brooklyn VA Medical Center.

“As the bedrock of veterans’ health care in New York City, the Brooklyn VA should be easy to access for all veterans to receive care,” wrote Rose in a letter to VA Secretary Robert Wilkie. 

“However, I was shocked to hear so many complaints from my constituents about lack of parking access, and the burden this creates when traveling for an appointment. One veteran told me that he had to arrive at the Brooklyn VA an hour and a half early just to secure a parking spot. I have even heard from a staffer at the facility who regularly sees elderly veterans parking multiple blocks away from the VA entrance because the current parking lot cannot accommodate them, with our veteran seniors risking a fall or medical emergency. This is unacceptable and must be addressed immediately.”

Rose has requested that the VA’s budget request for FY 2021 include funding levels for the first phase of construction for a much-needed parking deck at the Brooklyn VA Medical Center, a project ultimately slated to cost $30 million over three years of construction. Unless VA includes a plan to construct in their budget request, Congress is unable to appropriate the necessary funds.

Montgomery Supports Gowanus Group’s Petition

Senator Velmanette Montgomery photographed by tracy collins
Senator Velmanette Montgomery

State Sen. Velmanette Montgomery (D-Fort Greene, Boerum Hill, Red Hook, Bedford-Stuyvesant, Sunset Park, Gowanus, and Park Slope) last month fired off a letter the state Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos in support of the Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group’s (CAG) petition to reclassify the waters of the Gowanus Canal. north of Hamilton Avenue. from their current industrial classification of Class-SD to Class—I. 

“I support the CAG’s request that the Gowanus Canal be given a waler classification that is more reflective of the ongoing investments to improve the quality of the water, including the federally mandated Superfund cleanup and recent and proposed infrastructure investments,” wrote Montgomery.

“The new classification would be protective of its current recreational uses, which include primary and secondary contact. The canal is home to an abundance of aquatic flora and fauna living in the Canal, including substantial fish populations in a variety of life stages. The reclassification would serve to protect that water life. It would also be more in line with near-term future uses of the Canal,” the lawmaker added.

Ortiz Calls On Congress To Eliminate ICE 

Assembly Member Feliz Ortiz

Assistant Assembly Speaker Felix W. Ortiz (D-Sunset Park, Red Hook) this week introduced a resolution in the State Assembly urging Congress to abolish the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE).

ICE was created after 9/11 to improve national security. After 9/11, President George W. Bush requested that lawmakers consolidate 22 federal agencies and 170,000 employees under a new Department of Homeland Security. ICE was created as a result.

The call comes after an ICE agent shot an innocent man in the face in Brooklyn while attempting to apprehend another individual. This kind of action is completely irresponsible and out of control, said Ortiz.

“Congress must abolish ICE and create an agency designed to protect our borders, ending ICE’s ability to conduct horrifying raids in our towns and cities. I’ve said this before. We need an immigration agency that works within the law and that recognizes that all people are created equal, deserve respect and must be treated with honor,” said Ortiz.

Maimonides To Celebrate Black History Month

In honor of Black History Month, Maimonides Medical Center tomorrow will host a celebratory event.

The program will include a special musical dance performance by the Medgar Evers College Preparatory School Contemporary Dance Theatre.

The event is slated for 12 noon, tomorrow, Feb. 12 at the Maimonides Medical Center’s Eisenstadt Administration Building, Schreiber Auditorium, 2nd Floor, 4802 Tenth Avenue in Borough Park.