MANH Lawmakers on the Move, Jan. 6, 2021

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Williams Announces New Nominee for City Planning Commission

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

Yesterday, Public Advocate Jumaane Williams (D) announced that he will nominate progressive activist Cea Weaver to serve on the City Planning Commission.

Weaver currently works as the Housing Justice for All campaign coordinator. She coordinated a statewide tenants’ rights campaign in 2019 and later helped secure an eviction moratorium during the COVID-19 pandemic. In a letter to Council Speaker Corey Johnson (D-Chelsea, Hell’s Kitchen), Williams advocated on her behalf.

“Cea Weaver has been an unwavering advocate for equity and justice on behalf of New Yorkers, and has helped to lead movements with real, tangible, transformational impact on the lives of people in our city and state,” said Williams. “I have been proud to work with her in many of these fights. Her background, qualifications, commitment to fighting for progress and track record of achieving it make her ideally suited to this position and this moment, and I urge the City Council to quickly confirm her appointment.”

After the nomination, the City Council will hold a hearing and confirmation vote.

Levine Calls for Quicker Vaccine Rollout

Council Member Mark Levine (Photo credit: Credit Emil Cohen/NY City Council)
Council Member Mark Levine

Councilmember Mark Levine (D-Manhattan Valley, Manhattanville) appeared on PIX11 Morning News yesterday to discuss the State’s vaccine rollout plan.

Levine lamented that the pace of New York’s vaccine rollout is ” so far behind where we need to be”. As of this writing, New York has been administering roughly 40,000 vaccines per week. According to Levine, we need to be vaccinating New Yorkers at least ten times as fast if we want to reach herd immunity by the middle of the year.

To do that, he said, we must start offering vaccinations at places other than hospitals – such as schools, community centers and houses of worship. Furthermore, he said, we need to be vaccinating New Yorkers 24/7, not just during business hours.

“We’ve done it before, in 1947,” said Levine. “New York vaccinated six million people in just over three weeks, and that’s the scale we need now. This is a warlike situation, and we need to deploy people all over the city – city workers, volunteers, we have a medical reserve corps. But I also want to mention that we need more flexibility. We have very rigid prioritization right now. If a vaccine site has a few doses left over at the end of the day, they shouldn’t have to throw them out. They should be able to give it to someone else.”

Brewer, Advocates Applaud Inclusion of Home Health Aides as Vaccine Priority Group

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer (Photo credit: New York County Politics)
Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer

Yesterday, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer (D) and disability advocates praised Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) for prioritizing home health aides in the New York State Vaccination Program.

Last December, Brewer wrote a letter to Cuomo urging him to include home health aides in the next vaccine rollout phase. She argued that health aides for homebound New Yorkers must be in constant contact with their patients – putting both themselves and their patients at risk. For both their sake and their patients’ sake, she wrote, they must be first in line to receive a vaccine.

On Jan. 4, Cuomo announced that vaccine eligibility will be expanded to include “home care workers, hospice workers, and nursing home and other congregate setting workers”.

“Home health aides deserve all the protections that the COVID-19 vaccine offers because they provide dignity and freedom to our seniors and people who are disabled, keeping them out of already-burdened hospital systems,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “I commend Governor Andrew M. Cuomo for ensuring that they are recognized as essential workers and will be among those first in line to receive a COVID-19 vaccine in New York State so that they can remain New York Tough, Smart, United, Disciplined and Loving.”

James Sues to Stop Trump Admin from Enabling Predatory Lending

Attorney General Letitia James (Photo credit: Mike Groll/Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo)
Attorney General Letitia James

Yesterday, New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) lead a coalition of eight attorneys general to stop a proposed new rule from the Trump Administration that would facilitate predatory lending across the nation.

New York has interest rate caps and usury laws in place to prevent lenders from charging exorbitant interest rates on loans. But the proposed new rule would allow them to circumvent that via “rent-a-bank” schemes, in which lenders launder loans through out-of-state banks that are not subject to the same regulations.

“This rule would be a mistake at any time, but the Trump Administration’s attempts to unleash predatory lenders on unsuspecting New Yorkers in the midst of a pandemic is cruel and heartless,” said James. “Rather than stem the tide of exploitative and predatory loans that trap vulnerable consumers in cycles of debt, the Trump Administration wants to open the floodgates by sanctioning schemes that allow the financial services industry to target New Yorkers and paint a bullseye on their backs. Rent-a-bank schemes make a mockery of federal law, and the administration’s sanctioning of these schemes undermines the sovereignty of the states where legislatures and voters have told payday lenders, in no uncertain terms, that their ‘services’ are not welcome here.”

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