Adams, Brannan Demand Reforms to Power Lines, Tree Maintenance
Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams and City Council Member Justin Brannan (D-Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Bath Beach, Bensonhurst), chair of the Committee on Resiliency and Waterfronts, today will demand infrastructural changes and policy reforms to directly address the ongoing challenges faced by southern Brooklyn and other parts of the city in the wake of Tropical Storm Isaias, and reduce the damage wrought by future extreme weather events.
Isaias, which hit New York City last week amid an extremely active hurricane season, downed thousands of trees throughout the five boroughs and left 260,000 Con Edison customers without power in New York City and Westchester County, making it the second-largest outage in Con Edison’s history of operating in the state.
The storm did the most damage in areas such as southern Brooklyn, where many power lines are above ground and susceptible to damage from falling trees and heavy winds.
Adams and Brannan will call for the immediate exploration of burying power lines, urge the City to loosen stringent regulations around tree pruning, allowing more leeway for homeowners to hire private contractors rather than relying on the Parks Department for preventative pruning, and advocate for restoration of cuts to the City’s pruning budget, which would be less costly than retroactively addressing downed trees.
Cuomo, NGA Call on Congress to Come Together on Coronavirus Relief
In a nonpartisan move, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, the chair of the National Governors Association, and Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson (R), the NGA vice chair, today reacted to Congress’ failure to reach a compromise on a new coronavirus relief package last week and the President’s subsequent memorandum to provide some supplemental unemployment benefits by using disaster-relief funds.
“The devastating economic effects of this unprecedented public health crisis are being felt by Americans all across this great nation. Governors not only have led from the front lines to protect our citizens, but also have worked to provide relief to every unemployed American who has been negatively impacted by COVID-19. We recognize the federal partnership in which Congress and the Administration have worked together with states to provide much-needed financial assistance during this crisis. We appreciate the White House’s proposals to provide additional solutions to address economic challenges; however, we are concerned by the significant administrative burdens and costs this latest action would place on the states.
“The best way forward is for the Congress and the Administration to get back to the negotiating table and come up with a workable solution, which should provide meaningful additional relief for American families. NGA has requested $500 billion in unrestricted state aid and NGA continues to urge Congress and the White House to reach a quick resolution to provide immediate assistance to unemployed Americans. This resolution should avoid new administrative and fiscal burdens on states. It is essential that our federal partners work together to find common ground to help restore our nation’s health and protect our economy,” the governors said in a statement.
Brooklyn Lawmakers Support Calls for Public Power System
Assemblymember Robert Carroll (D-Park Slope, Windsor Terrace, Kensington, Ditmas Park), State Sen. Kevin Parker (D-Flatbush, Midwood, Kensington, Park Slope) and City Councilmember Antonio Reynoso (D-Greenpoint, Williamsburg) yesterday all supported Public Advocate Jumaane D. Williams recent call for a public power system, a municipal grid in New York City.
“A week after Tropical Storm Isaias, there are still New Yorkers without electricity – but we need to give them power. When Con Edison can oversee historic blackouts, leave New Yorkers in the dark, and then get a rate hike, it’s long past time for change, for bold ideas that meet the scope of the challenge,” said Williams. “I am grateful for and encouraged by the support we have seen for this proposal. Our plan not only demonstrates the need to restore power to the people with public power, it outlines the path to get there, and it’s a path we need to start down now.”
Carroll said Tropical storm Isaias is the latest in a long line of disasters that have left thousands of New Yorkers without power for days on end.
“It is unacceptable that our access to energy is left in the hands of Con Ed, a corporation that puts profit over access to power. Energy is a basic human right, which is why I introduced legislation in 2019 to bring Public Power to New York. Instead of investing in vital grid maintenance, rate-lowering efficiency measures, and the rapid transition to 100% renewables our planet needs, Con Ed seeks profit above all else,” said Carroll.
“Everything has to be on the table. Every summer we have storms, every summer we have heat, and every summer we have a failure in service. That can no longer be the case.” said Parker, Chair of the Committee on Energy and Telecommunications. “We’re asking Con Ed to really give a real commitment to keeping the people of the city of New York in power. Keep their lights on. That’s the least you can do – and so we are really not satisfied as a community in terms of Con Ed’s commitment to execution.”
“Thousands of New Yorkers are still waiting for their power to be restored after this past week’s storm. This is further proof that private delivery of public utilities is not working. Without any oversight or accountability, state sanctioned monopolies like Con Edison can continue to provide unreliable service while continuously increasing customers’ rates. It’s time for public control of utilities because New Yorkers deserve environmentally sustainable, reliable, and cost effective power,” said Reynoso.
Gillibrand Wants More Funding for Older Adults
U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), member of the Special Committee on Aging, and U.S. Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), Chairman of the Special Committee on Aging, led Senate colleagues in calling for the inclusion of $1.1 billion in funding for Older Americans Act (OAA) programs, including $750 million in funding for the OAA Nutrition Services in the next coronavirus relief package.
The funding would provide grants to states, territories, and tribes to help support the delivery of nutritious meals for older adults throughout the country. Older, low-income residents are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19 and, due to public health guidelines, many more have become newly homebound without access to food outside the home.
Additionally, many older adults have lost access to existing emergency feeding programs in senior centers and other congregate feeding programs that have been closed during the pandemic. While the HEROES Act included $20 million for senior nutrition under OAA, this amount is nearly the current weekly budget for New York City’s senior food program and advocates are calling for a significant increase in funding to meet the unprecedented need.
“Before the pandemic, more than 5 million older adults experienced food insecurity and more than 17.4 million lived alone. Now, as the majority of older adults have been required to self-isolate for months in order to keep themselves safe and healthy, the need for essential nutrition resources and programs has grown exponentially,” said Gillibrand.
“It is our job as public servants to protect our most vulnerable and we must ensure that low-income older adults do not go hungry. Bolstering OAA programs in the next relief package with significant funding and resources is a vital step to address the unique barriers they face. I’m proud to lead this call for emergency funding so that everyone has food on the table during these challenging times,” she added.
Persaud Presents Story Time Part 2
State Sen. Roxanne J. Persaud (D-Canarsie, East New York, Brownsville, Mill Basin, Sheepshead Bay, Bergen Beach, Marine Park, Flatlands, Mill Island, Georgetown, Ocean Hill, Starrett City) and author Kamla Millwood tomorrow will present, “Story Time – Peach has Questions Part 2: ‘Mama, is it Cool to go Back to School?’ “
Ms. Millwood will discuss with children concerns they may have regarding their return to the classroom and the start of the new school year.