MANH Lawmakers on the Move, Aug. 20, 2020

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De Blasio Announces Commitments to Further Black Entrepreneurship in New York City

Mayor Bill de Blasio (Credit: William Alatriste)
Mayor Bill de Blasio

Yesterday, Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) announced new commitments to invest in Black entrepreneurs in all five boroughs.

BE NYC is a first-of-its-kind initiative which seeks to increase the number of Black-owned businesses in the City, focusing on high-growth industries. As part of the initiative, the Department of Small Business Services (SBS) is using its partnerships to launch four new programs for Black business owners across New York.

“Black entrepreneurs built New York City,” said de Blasio. “This historic public-private partnership will ensure we can come together to support them, and give them the recognition they have deserved for so long.”

Cuomo Announces Corrective Action for Utilities Following Botched Response to Tropical Storm Isaias

Governor Andrew Cuomo (Photo Credit:
Governor Andrew Cuomo

Yesterday, Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) announced the completion of phase one of the investigation into utility preparedness and restoration efforts regarding Tropical Storm Isaias.

As a result of the findings, the New York State Department of Public Service (DPS) is imposing fines on four major electric service providers – Con Edison, Orange & Rockland, PSEG LI and Central Hudson – for their failures to adequately respond to the crisis. The DPS is also demanding that they take corrective measures to ensure that the failures don’t happen again during this hurricane season.

“The response to tropical storm Isaias by the electric utilities was completely unacceptable,” said Cuomo. “Fifteen days later and we are still hearing complaints from families and businesses. With many weeks remaining in the hurricane season, we do not have the luxury of time; utilities must act immediately to fix their broken storm response apparatus, and the Department of Public Service must act more swiftly to hold utilities accountable.”

Levine: Make Buses Free Permanently

Council Member Mark D. Levine (Photo source: Wikipediting, CC BY-SA 3.0)
Council Member Mark D. Levine

Councilmember Mark Levine (D-Manhattan Valley, Manhattanville) wrote an op-ed for the New York Daily News yesterday, arguing that we should make free bus service a permanent policy in New York.

Since the pandemic began, the City has adopted several new policies to adapt to our new normal, one of which was making bus service free. However, according to the MTA, that change is currently slated to end on Aug. 31. Levine wrote that changing back would do some serious damage to low-income and working-class New Yorkers, who are still hurting from the effects of the pandemic and lockdown.

“Keeping NYC’s buses free would be a uniquely powerful tool for increasing ridership,” he wrote. “It would also advance equity, since bus riders are disproportionately low-income, elderly, people of color and people with disabilities.”

Furthermore, he argued, we must incentivize New Yorkers to stick to public transit to stave off what he called an impending “carpocalypse”.

“Beyond the obvious benefit free buses provide to New Yorkers struggling to pay the bills, increasing bus usage is critical now because New Yorkers are choosing to travel by car at alarming rates,” he wrote. “Traffic in Manhattan’s central business district is already at 80% of pre-pandemic levels, compared to 20% for subways and 35% for buses. If this trend continues, we could be headed towards a ‘carpocalypse’ — with streets constantly jammed by New Yorkers abandoning mass transit for cars. This would be an environmental, economic and public health disaster.

“Buses — the overperforming workhorses of this pandemic — are one of the keys to avoiding this fate.”

Read the full article here.

Brewer, Bonilla Announce ‘New York County Census 2020 Complete Count Outreach Grant’ Awardees 

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer (Photo source: US Departmetn of Labor, CC BY 2.0)
Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer

Yesterday, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer (D) and Deputy Borough President Aldrin R. Bonilla announced that 15 organizations won outreach grants from Empire State Development to conduct census outreach for undercounted communities and neighborhoods.

Last month, the Census Bureau announced that operations will end on Sep. 30, and not Oct. 31 as they originally planned. To make up for lost time, the 15 organizations have received $215,000 total to undertake emergency Census work in Manhattan.

“The stakes have never been higher for Manhattan,” said Brewer. “We already faced enormous challenges when it came to a complete and accurate census count before the pandemic arrived, and now we face the prospect of a census with a high number of residents who have temporarily or permanently relocated. We are thankful for the leadership and commitment of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, NYS Complete Count Committee Co-Chairs Secretary of State Rosanna Rosado and Jim Malatras, President, Rockefeller Institute of Government, and Empire State Development for ensuring this funding gets to proven and trusted non-profit organizations in Manhattan. The census bureau’s announcement of its decision to cut short its timeframe and to rush the census means that this funding is needed more than ever by these worthy organizations to beat the clock and ensure that every single of us completes the census.”