MANH Lawmakers on the Move, July 24, 2020

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Rodriguez Calls on City to Reopen Highbridge Pool

Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez (Photo credit:
Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez

Councilmember Ydanis Rodriguez (D-Washington Heights, Inwood) released a statement yesterday calling for the reopening of Highbridge Pool in Washington Heights.

The statement came after the City announced that it will open 15 public pools across the City by Aug. 1. Rodriguez beckoned the City not to leave his district out of the new initiative.

“New Yorkers should have safe access to our City pools and beaches as long as they are following all proper social distancing guidelines,” said Rodriguez. “Unfortunately, Northern Manhattan does not have the same access to public or private pools for its more than 200,000 residents. This has prompted many local residents to begin finding out-of-the-box solutions to combat the heat, like creating makeshift pools in front of their apartment buildings. Although this is a creative solution, it comes with its share of problems and with little to no oversight of social distancing rules.

“The only pool located in Northern Manhattan is the Highbridge Pool, which is currently closed and near a COVID-19 testing site. We need every single COVID-19 testing site in the City and more. However, I am asking the City to put together a plan to move the current testing site to a different location and reopen the pool for the community to start using it as soon as possible.”

Kavanagh’s Bill to Pause Facial Recognition Tech in Schools Passes State Legislature

State Senator Brian P. Kavanagh (source:
State Senator Brian P. Kavanagh

Yesterday, State Senator Brian Kavanagh (D-Upper East Side) and Assemblymember Monica Wallace (D-Lancaster) that their bill to instate a moratorium on facial recognition technology in New York schools passed the Legislature.

The bill imposes a two-year moratorium on the use of facial recognition technology in public and private schools, in effect until July 1, 2022. It also directs the New York State Education Department Commissioner to examine the issue and decide whether the technology is appropriate for school use.

“I am concerned that this technology is an inherent threat to the privacy and civil rights of students, staff, and visitors, that it is an ineffective form of school security, and that data in the system may not be stored securely,” said Kavanagh. “We certainly should look with skepticism upon any plan that is premised on ubiquitous high-tech surveillance of schoolchildren as the best way to keep them safe.”

State Senate Passes Hoylman Bill Banning PFAS in Food Packaging

State Senator Brad Hoylman
State Senator Brad Hoylman

Yesterday, State Senator Brad Hoylman (D-Chelsea, Midtown) announced that the State Senate passed his bill to ban the use of per- and polyfluoroalkyl chemicals (PFAS) in food packaging.

PFAS are a known carcinogen and immune system toxicant; exposure to the chemicals has been linked to cancer, kidney disease and weakened immune systems. The new bill, which he sponsored alongside Assemblymember Patricia Fahy (D-Albany) will ban the sale of any packaging containing intentionally added PFAS chemicals.

First-time offenses will result in a $10,000 fine, while repeat offenders will be fined $25,000.

“Donald Trump’s FDA has failed to properly regulate the dangerous class of chemicals known as PFAS, putting the health of families across New York at risk,” said Hoylman. “If the federal government won’t lead, New York will. Today, New York is joining Washington State and Maine in passing strong protections against cancer-causing PFAS chemicals in food packaging.”

Benjamin, Cruz Call on Congress to Prevent Overreach of Federal Law Enforcement

State Senator Brian Benjamin (Photo by T.E.Shaw, CC BY-SA 4.0)
State Senator Brian Benjamin

Yesterday, State Senator Brian Benjamin (D-Harlem, Upper West Side) and Assemblymember Catalina Cruz (D-Queens) led 66 of their colleages in writing a letter to Congress regarding the recent conduct of federal law enforcement agents in Portland, Oregon.

In the letter, they call on the New York Congressional Delegation to take action to cease the federal lawlessness and unconstituationality in Portland, and prevent it from being replicated anywhere else.

“Armed interference from the federal government has done nothing to make the people of Portland any safer, and it will do nothing to keep us safer here if implemented in New York,” said Benjamin. “The federal government has sent in riot squads in combat gear, they have abducted people off the streets and they have terrorized the people of Portland—we implore Congress to take steps to prevent these actions from spreading to anywhere else in the country, including New York.”