MANH Lawmakers on the Move, Sep. 2, 2020

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Williams Voices Concerns About School Reopening Plan

New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams (Photo credit:
Public Advocate Jumaane Williams

Public Advocate Jumaane Williams (D) released a statement after Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) announced that the City will be delaying the resumption of in-person learning.

Schools are now slated to reopen to students on Sep. 21, eleven days past the original date. Teachers, however, will start reporting in on Sep. 8, and use that time to train and prepare for blended learning. In his statement, Williams said that the delay is a step in the right direction, but ultimately not enough.

“I’ve implored the administration to delay the reopening of school buildings in service of that goal, but I am deeply concerned that eleven days is not nearly enough to meet the monumental task before the city, and that the administration will fall victim to the same logistical failures and logical fallacies as it did previously, just with a new date,” said Williams. “We need more time for preparation and less focus on a looming, unrealistic and unsafe deadline amid deep budget uncertainty. Our approach must be intentional, not incidental – implementing the most effective system of remote learning possible while working to restore in-person learning in phases, beginning with those who have the greatest need. 

“If we face the same shortcomings on September 21 that we do today, nothing will have changed but the calendar, and further delay will be needed to put in place critical safety infrastructure before gradually phasing in re-opening. The Mayor needs to listen to the students, parents, teachers, scientists and school staff, who are imploring him to prioritize safety, not a schedule.”

Nadler and Co. Demand Restoration of Election Security Briefings

U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler (Photo Credit: U.S. House Office of Photography)
U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler

Last Monday, U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-Manhattan, Brooklyn) joined U.S. Reps. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) and Bennie G. Thompson (D-MI) and U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Gary Peters (D-MI) to call on National Intelligence Director John Ratcliffe to reschedule in-person election security briefings.

On Aug. 28, Ratcliffe sent out a letter announcing the cessation of in-person election security briefings. Allegedly, Ratcliffe made the decision due to members of Congress leaking details of the security briefings to the public.

“The important dialogue that comes from a briefing cannot be understated, as you’re well aware,” they wrote. “This is why the IC has for decades arranged for senior members of every administration to have intelligence briefers who provide regular, often daily, briefings, rather than simply sending written products to review. Intelligence memos are not a substitute for full congressional briefings. It is also unacceptable to fully brief only one Committee on matters related to federal elections.”

“As Members of the House and Senate with jurisdiction over federal elections, we call on you to immediately resume in-person briefings. We also remind you that the ODNI does not own the intelligence it collects on behalf of the American people; it is a custodian of the information. In addition to the power to establish and fund the ODNI, Congress has the power to compel information from it. “

Read the full letter here.

Cuomo Announces Launch of Absentee Ballot Portal

Governor Andrew Cuomo (Photo Credit:
Governor Andrew Cuomo

Yesterday, Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) announced the launch of an online portal where New Yorkers can directly request absentee ballots.

In mid-August, Cuomo enacted several sweeping election reforms to make it easier for New Yorkers to vote, including a law allowing anyone to request an absentee ballot due to fear of contracting COVID-19. He also enacted an Executive Order requiring boards of elections to be proactive in reminding voters about upcoming deadlines.

“This election is going to be one of the most critical in modern history,” said Cuomo. “It will be controversial. You already hear the statements questioning the vote, and the accuracy of the vote, and mail-in ballots. We want to make sure that every vote is counted, every voice is heard and that it’s fair and right and accurate. I’m issuing today’s executive order because we want boards of elections to count votes efficiently and we want them to get it right, but we want it done in a timely manner. We don’t want to hear after-the-fact excuses.”

To request an absentee ballot, click here.