Velázquez Bill Bring Green Rooftops to Public Schools
Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez (D-Northern Brooklyn, Lower Manhattan, Queens) last week sponsored legislation allocating federal resources for the adoption of green roofs at public elementary and secondary schools, known as the Public School Green Rooftop Program.
“There is no better place to begin teaching our children about conservation than our public schools,” said Velázquez. “However, their education does not need to be confined to the classroom. These roofs allow students to directly engage with sustainable practices and see for themselves the impact that environmentally conscious initiatives can have on their hometowns and neighborhoods. By exposing them to these ideas early on in their education, we forge a path to a cleaner, healthier community.”
Under this program, the Department of Energy will implement a grant program for the installation and maintenance of green roof systems. Green roofs are a sustainable, durable method of improving a building’s carbon footprint, as well as a place where exploration by teachers and students of pressing environmental and agricultural issues can take root. Children living in urban areas will have the chance to see these practices firsthand, an opportunity they are not often afforded. The roofs, according to the EPA, provide a notable advantage to urban communities, where greenery is often hard to come by.
Brannan Brings Garbage Pick-up Back
City Councilman Justin Brannan (D-Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Bensonhurst, Bath Beach) stepped in and made sure that garbage cans in the 43rd Council District will be emptied 7 days a week starting in August after the city budget passed on July 1 made budget cuts to the Department of Sanitation.
“Clean streets are important to our community and they matter to me, so when I heard that corner baskets would be picked up at half of the frequency as before, I knew that I had to fight like hell in order to prevent that from happening. And I got it done. So starting in August in my council district, we will be back to 7 times a week including weekends! It will go a long way and make a huge difference in our quality of life,” said Brannan.
Brannan conceded that budget cuts this year were tough, with a $10 billion gap to fill because of economic loss from COVID. In order to close that gap, every single service, program, agency, and department in the City of New York saw budget cuts.
Felder “NY Drivers Deserve to Pay the Fine – Not Time”
State Sen. Simcha Felder (D-Boro Park, Midwood) co-sponsored and saw passed legislation (S-5348) which would prevent people from having their license suspended for unpaid traffic tickets or for failing to appear in court for those tickets.
“Every year, drivers suffer under an unfair law that makes criminals out of law-abiding people who rely on their cars to manage their work and family responsibilities. Crushing surcharges, fees and fines trap people in a financial hole they can’t climb out of, and put them at risk of grave consequences,” said Felder. “Living paycheck to paycheck in NYC, where everyone is over-taxed, over-ticketed and over-fined is not a crime, but driving with a suspended license is. Giving drivers the option of paying off their fines in a reasonable way that doesn’t break the bank is just good, common sense.”
The bill does away with the state’s $70 suspension lift fee; under current law, drivers must pay that fee, on every suspension on their license, before driving privileges are restored. It requires the Department of Motor Vehicles to send drivers who receive traffic tickets reminders of their court dates and offer payment plans in proportion to their monthly income. Limiting payments to two percent of monthly net income or $10, whichever is greater. It also allows courts the flexibility to reduce or totally waive both fines and fees when appropriate.
Rose Combats Global Anti-Semitism
U.S. Reps. Max Rose (D-Southern Brooklyn, Staten Island) and Ted Deutch (D-FL) passed an amendment last week to double the budget for the Office of the Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism and to strengthen the U.S. government’s counter-terrorism efforts against transnational white supremacy and identity groups.
The amendment doubles the funding for the Office of the Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism as part of the Fiscal Year 2021 State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations bill.
The legislation increases the office’s budget by $500,000. Both lawmakers have been strong supporters of the Special Envoy’s office, including cosponsoring and helping pass the Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism Act last year.
“For far too many Jewish communities at home and around the world, it is clear that the threats we face from anti-Semitism both are all too real, and unfortunately, growing,” said Rose,“We need to be doing everything we can to fight this threat, and we can’t do it with one hand tied behind our back. I’ve been proud to support Elan Carr, who has done tremendous work as the Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism—and by doubling the resources he has to do his work I’m confident he’ll be able to continue effecting real change. Meanwhile, we need real action from the federal government to confront white supremacist groups around the world who are leading purveyors of anti-Semitism.”
Gounardes Bill to Revive 9/11 Workers Protection
State Sen. Andrew Gounardes (D-Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Bensonhurst, Bath Beach, Gravesend, Gerritsen Beach, Manhattan Beach, Marine Park) and Assemblymember Stacey Pheffer Amato’s (D-Queens) bill to revive and extend the September 11th Workers Protection Task Force passed both the State Senate and the Assembly last week and will be sent to the Governor’s desk for signature.
“While we have made progress to protect first responders who were not originally covered, we have a long way to go before we achieve full benefits and assistance for all those who answered the call to action on 9/11 and in the days after. This Task Force will help us fill in the gaps in worker protection and address those issues that still remain decades after the 9/11 terrorist attack,” said Gounardes.
The task force legislation reauthorizes the task force until 2025 and seeks to revitalize it by refreshing appointments, expanding the areas of study, and setting a biannual meeting requirement to accompany the provision that the task force deliver reports on its findings to the governor, senate and assembly by June 1 each year.
Adams on American with Disabilities Act
Borough President Eric Adams released the following statement yesterday on the 30th anniversary of the American with Disabilities Act (ADA).
“On July 26, 1990, President George H.W. Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) into law. In doing so, new protections in employment, transportation, telecommunications, public accommodations, and public services were put in place for Americans with disabilities. At the bill signing, President Bush remarked that the ADA would now offer Americans with disabilities new freedoms that they could only previously “…glimpse, but not fully grasp.”
“The 30th anniversary of the ADA marks an important milestone and offers an opportunity to recognize every person living with a disclosed or undisclosed disability — more than one million New Yorkers and more than 60 million Americans — for their advocacy and voice. It also highlights how far our nation has come regarding disability rights and how much more work must be done, because Brooklyn, New York City, and America are stronger when every American can more fully participate in everyday life.
“Over the last few years, I have worked to strengthen the foundation of the ADA in Brooklyn and the City through the release of an ‘Access-Friendly NYC’ report and the Barrier-Free BK initiative. These efforts continue to push local government to make the City more accessible, navigable, and open to people with disabilities.
“I stand with every Brooklynite, every New Yorker, and every American with a disability. I recognize you and thank you for your advocacy and contributions to American life. I will continue to use the power of my voice and my office to support you,” he said.
Clarke on Ocasio-Cortez/ Yoho’s Verbal Fight
U.S. Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-East Flatbush, Central Brooklyn) issued the following statement after the controversy in which U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL) blasted U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-Queens, Bronx) with derogatory and sexist comments.
“Earlier this week there was an unfortunate incident in which Congressman Yoho verbally assaulted Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez, using profane language to attack her character and work as an elected official. Such conduct is unacceptable and unbecoming of a Member of Congress.”
“What was already a regrettable incident was made far worse, however, as a result of Yoho’s offensive ‘apology’ delivered on the floor of Congress. Allow me to be clear: his remarks did not constitute an apology in any sense of the word. ‘Passion’ is not an excuse for verbally assaulting a colleague. Having a wife and children does not automatically mean that you are a decent man, when your words and actions indicate the contrary. There is no place for hatred, sexism nor profanity in this Congress and I condemn Congressman Yoho’s actions.”
“I call on Yoho to take full responsibility for his actions. This means apologizing directly to Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez, and admitting fully to his wrongdoings. Anything less is an offense not only to the Congresswoman herself but also to women everywhere who are subjected to this sort of demeaning language all too often,” she said.