MANH Lawmakers on the Move, Jan. 27, 2021

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Benjamin Applauds City’s Fossil Fuel Divestment

State Senator Brian Benjamin (Photo by T.E.Shaw, CC BY-SA 4.0)
State Senator Brian Benjamin

State Senator Brian Benjamin (D-Harlem, East Harlem) released a statement on Monday in support of the City’s decision to divest from fossil fuels.

Earlier that day, Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) and Comptroller Scott Stringer (D) announced that two major pension funds – The New York City Employees’ Retirement System (NYCERS) and the New York City Teachers’ Retirement System (NYCTRS) – have voted to divest $4 billion from fossil fuel companies.

“The 4 billion divestment, one of the largest of its kind in the world, might best be measured in the brighter future it can give to neighborhoods like my home district of Harlem,” said Benjamin. “We see the effects of climate change every day in Harlem. Carbon emissions and decades of disinvestments from the racist policy of redlining have led to rising rates of asthma in our children and pockets of deadly summer heat that our seniors cannot weather. It is critically important that the City of New York take steps like these to build a more equitable and sustainable city.”

Espaillat, Pressley Urge Biden Admin to Abolish the Death Penalty

U.S. Rep. Adriano Espaillat (Photo credit: U.S. House Office of Photography)
U.S. Rep. Adriano Espaillat

Yesterday, U.S. Reps. Adriano Espaillat (D-Manhattan, Bronx) and Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) sent a letter to Attorney General-Designate Judge Merrick B. Garland, urging him to end the death penalty.

Both Espaillat and Pressley have been fighting to end the death penalty since 2019. In the letter, they encourage Garland to, among other things:

  • Enact legislation to abolish capital punishment and re-sentence those on death row;
  • Direct the Bureau of Prisons to close the federal death chamber at FCC Terre Haute prison;
  • And deauthorize all pending death penalty trial cases.

“We would like to congratulate you on your nomination by President Biden to serve as our nation’s next attorney general,” they wrote. “There is much work to be done to bring integrity to the Justice Department, and we look forward to working with the Biden Administration to address systemic racism within our criminal legal system. We strongly believe among the first actions of the new administration on this front ought to be fulfilling President Biden’s commitment of working with Congress to end the federal death penalty and incentivizing states to end capital punishment across the country.”

Read the full letter here.

Cuomo Accepts Project of the Year Award for Moynihan Train Hall

Governor Andrew Cuomo (Photo Credit:
Governor Andrew Cuomo

Yesterday, Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) accepted the Project of the Year Award from the Regional Plan Association (RPA) for the construction of the Moynihan Train Hall.

The RPA is a non-profit organization whose goal is to promote ideas to improve the economic health and sustainability of the Tri-State Area. This year, they chose the Moynihan Train Hall as the recipient of their Transformative Project of the Year award, with special recognition given to Cuomo for spearheading the project.

“A timely government project has almost become an oxymoron,” said Cuomo. “We purposefully refused to allow COVID to delay the project. We believe deeply that people must once again have confidence in their collective capacity, confidence in society’s ability, the confidence to achieve despite the odds, confidence in themselves, which means, by definition, confidence in their government. The confidence that it took at one time to build tallest buildings, and the longest bridges, and the deepest tunnels. We work hard to make that statement consistently, to restore public trust and public confidence.”

Brewer Announces Formation of Manhattan Vaccine Task Force

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

Yesterday, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer (D) announced the formation of the Manhattan Vaccine Task Force (MVTF).

The MVTF, modeled after the Complete Count Committee she formed in 2019, is designed to help make the borough’s vaccination efforts more efficient and equitable. It is composed of community-based organizations, volunteers, lawmakers and Community Board members.

“One of the most important aspects of this effort must be to encourage vaccine adoption,” said Brewer. “The extraordinary effectiveness of these vaccines is something to be celebrated; the sooner we can reach a critical mass of the vaccinated, the sooner Manhattan– and all of New York City– can get back to as close to business as usual as we can get, with curtains lifted on our stages, reservation books open at our world-class and neighborhood restaurants, and schools and offices that can finally swing their doors wide open.”