Clarke Urges Support for Digital Journalism During Pandemic
U.S. Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-Brownsville, Crown Heights, East Flatbush, Flatbush, Kensington, Midwood, Prospect Heights, Prospect Lefferts Gardens, Park Slope) led a letter to the House leadership urging payroll assistance for the digital news workforce during the ongoing pandemic.
“While Americans are staying home for the betterment of society during this pandemic glued to their devices, now more than ever, journalists who are reporting digitally are critical in delivering essential information about COVID-19 and other news. I led a letter to House Leadership so the important work of the digital press can continue to deliver high-quality journalism to Americans during the coronavirus pandemic,” said Clarke.
The letter states: “Initial reporting estimates a 51% decline in spending on advertisements over March and April. This collapse is hitting digital-native outlets hardest, since most do not charge subscription fees and thus are disproportionately dependent on advertising revenue. For the professionals who work in digital newsrooms, federal financial support – whether by grant, loan, or other means – is all that stands between continuing to produce critical journalism and unemployment.”
Digital-native outlets employ over 16,000 news professionals across the country. But most of these professionals have not benefited from the payroll support programs passed into law by prior stimulus packages. Clarke’s letter highlights this fact – and urges House leadership to ensure the digital news workforce is protected.
Perry Wants New Yorkers to Monitor Police Misconduct
Assembly Member Nick Perry (D-East Flatbush) yesterday called on legislative colleagues and all New Yorkers to join him in his push to pass the “Right to Monitor Act” which will codify into law, and unambiguously affirm, by statutory enactment, the right of all New Yorkers to record police activity throughout the state.
“A quick scan of social media in the past week will highlight the benefit, and great need for New Yorkers to be feel assured that they indeed have a right to monitor and record police arrests and activity occurring in public places. These amateur videographers often shine a bright light on police brutality, and abuses of power. Such recordings have played a major role in helping to advance the conversation for criminal justice reform across our city, state and nation. However, those who photograph police activity are often subject to harassment and/or false arrest. The need to codify this right to monitor is paramount,” said Perry.
“My “Right to Monitor Act” would protect the right to record police activity. In so many of the recordings which capture blatant police misconduct, the officers on the scene often turn their attention to the individual recording the activity, in order to hinder the recording, destroy the evidence or arrest the individual on trumped-up charges.
“I have seen countless recordings where police officers approached and impeded citizens who were in no way interfering with their official duties. They shined their flashlights into the lens, formed a human wall to block the camera’s view, or worse, physically knocked away the recording device. My personal belief is that anyone, with a badge or without, who goes to such great lengths to avoid being recorded, needs a camera pointed at them,” he added.
The bill is currently on the floor of the Assembly and ready for passage. The bill is co-sponsored in the Senate by State Sen. Kevin Parker (D-Flatbush, East Flatbush, Midwood, Ditmas Park, Kensington, Windsor Terrace, Park Slope).
Lentol Announces Joint Hearing on COVID19-Affected Small Businesses
Assemblyman Joe Lentol (D-Greenpoint, Williamsburg) announced that a joint assembly and senate public hearing will ensue today, focusing on COVID-19 affected small businesses.
“New York State has the highest number of COVID19 cases in the country, and as a result, small businesses statewide are facing dire economic conditions. The COVID19 pandemic has drastically changed life as we know it. It has made life more difficult for everyone, and small businesses have been hit especially hard. Many have had to shut their doors or drastically reduce or modify operations, placing their continued existence and financial stability at risk. In light of these circumstances, the federal government has passed legislation allowing small businesses to take out loans to maintain payroll and make up for other losses of income due to the pandemic,” said Lentol.
“In order to better understand the effectiveness of this legislation and the challenges small businesses face as we begin the reopening process, the Assembly and Senate will hold an online public hearing to solicit feedback from the small business community.
“Stakeholders will be asked to share their experiences with federal programs created by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act, and whether the federal assistance provided was adequate and accessible,” he added.
Rose Stands Up For Fed Correction Officers
U.S. Rep. Max Rose (South Brooklyn, Staten Island) called for the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) to provide more personal protective equipment (PPE), testing, and time off to self-quarantine and to address the reports that correction officers are saying that BOP is refusing to pay overtime that is owed.
“A large number of my constituents are COs and serve valiantly in this demanding job to keep our community safe,” wrote Rose to Michael Carvajal, Director of the Bureau of Prisons. “I am deeply concerned about the numerous issues raised by my constituents who work at the Metropolitan Detention Center (MDC) in Brooklyn and the Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC) in Manhattan, among other facilities. I am sure these issues are also occurring at the BOP facilities across the nation.”
Rose highlighted specific concerns from constituents who serve as correction officers at the Metropolitan Detention Center (MDC) in Brooklyn and the Metropolitan Correction Center (MCC) in Manhattan.
At MDC, COs have reported that despite a need for N95 masks and hand sanitizer, BOP officials refused to allow them to accept a donation of PPE. Additionally, Rose raised concerns that BOP has not instituted rigorous enough testing and tracing policies for inmates and COs, nor have COs been provided proper time off to self-quarantine when necessary.
Velázquez Announces $99 Million Fed Aid for Local Hospitals
U.S. Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-Brooklyn Heights, Boerum Hill, Bushwick, Carroll Gardens, Cobble Hill, Dumbo, East New York, East Williamsburg, Greenpoint, Gowanus, Red Hook, Sunset Park, Williamsburg, Queens, Lower Manhattan) announced two local hospitals within New York’s 7th Congressional District- NYC Health and Hospitals Woodhull and Wyckoff Heights Medical Center- are receiving federal funding from the CARES Act, legislation Congress enacted in late March.
“New York City has been an epicenter of this pandemic,” said Velázquez, “Our healthcare workers are performing heroically to provide patients with quality treatment, but hospitals are struggling against unprecedented surges in patients and demand for care. These targeted grants, appropriated under the CARES Act, focus on specific hotspots of activity, servicing the areas that need it most. I’m pleased to see these funds allocated for our hospitals to supply our doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals with the tools they need.”
The resources, being disbursed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, are targeted to hospitals with high rates of COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations. The two local hospital groups, NYC Health and Hospitals Woodhull and Wyckoff Heights Medical Center, will receive an aggregate of $99,779,000 to directly combat the COVID-19 pandemic.