MANH Lawmakers on the Move, Feb. 4, 2021

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Rivera Promotes COPA in New Op-Ed

Council Member Carlina Rivera (Photo credit:
Council Member Carlina Rivera

Councilmember Carlina Rivera (D-East Village, Gramercy Park) wrote an op-ed for Medium last Tuesday about the importance of passing her bill, the Community Opportunity to Purchase Act (COPA).

According to the article, New Yorkers owe a combined $1 billion in unpaid rent; thus, when the eviction moratorium expires, we may face an unprecedented wave of evictions late in the year. Rivera’s bill would give affordable housing developers, Community Land Trusts and other housing organizations the Right of First Refusal (ROFR) whenever landlords decide to sell their property. The ROFR refers to the right to be the first party to make an offer on a property once it goes on the market.

This, wrote Rivera, would allow affordable housing providers to be more competitive in the real estate market.

“This legislation will only be as effective as New York City is willing to invest the financial resources needed to support it,” she wrote. “As we embark on the new budget season, it’s imperative that investments are made in community-led development to codify housing as a human right. We must pass Intro. 1977 to protect those in affordable housing and provide them with an equal shot to both improve upon and continue their community development. New Yorkers deserve that, and the urgency of the crisis before us demands nothing less.”

Read the full article here.

Johnson, Menchaca Call for Dismissal of ICE New York Field Office Director

Council Member Corey Johnson (Credit: Jeff Reed)
Council Member Corey Johnson

Yesterday, Council Speaker Corey Johnson (D-Chelsea, Hell’s Kitchen) and Councilmember Carlos Menchaca (D-Brooklyn) sent a letter to Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas, calling for the prompt dismissal of ICE New York Field Office Director Thomas Decker.

Johnson and Menchaca held Decker responsible for the “dangerous, discriminatory, and legally dubious enforcement activities” that his office has engaged in. As an example, they cited the recent case of Javier Castillo Maradiaga, who is currently facing deportation despite being eligible for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Decker is also guilty of defying an Executive Order from President Joe Biden (D) instating a 100-day moratorium on deportations.

“As President Biden and Congress work to reverse the previous administration’s harmful policies and re-envision a more fair and humane immigration framework for our nation, we must ensure that no further harm comes to New Yorkers at the hand of ICE generally, and Director Decker specifically,” they wrote. “Therefore, we respectfully reiterate our request that Director Thomas Decker be dismissed immediately from his post as director of the New York Field Office of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.”

Read the full letter here.

Jackson Helps Pass Legislation to Address New Yorkers’ Health and Values

State Senator Robert Jackson (Photo Credit:
State Senator Robert Jackson

Yesterday, State Senator Robert Jackson (D-Washington Heights, Inwood) and the Senate Democratic Majority advanced legislation to address and eliminate racial disparities in healthcare quality.

Among the bills passed during this session were:

  • S. 1352, which will require healthcare professionals to complete courses in cultural awareness;
  • S. 410A, which will create a minority coordinating council of asthmatic affairs to assess asthma risk factors for people of color in New York;
  • and S. 679A, which will create a Council for Treatment Equity within the Office of Addiction Services and Supports to address racial disparities in substance abuse disorder treatment.

“In May 2020, I had the honor of chairing a joint legislative hearing on the disparate impacts of COVID-19 on minorities in New York State,” said Jackson. “Even at that early stage, the devastating disproportionate impact of the pandemic—especially in Black and Latinx communities like the ones I represent in Northern Manhattan—had become clear. This package of bills addresses these and other long-standing findings of racism within our public health system. I am proud to be part of a Senate Majority that is addressing these issues head-on with progressive legislation. And now, in the wake of this pandemic, we have an opportunity to win big in our fight for health justice, providing the healthcare access all New Yorkers deserve.”

Gottfried Congratulates Empire Center for Successful FOIL Request

Richard N. Gottfried (Photo Credit:
Assembly Member Richard N. Gottfried

Assemblymember Richard Gottfried (D-Chelsea, Midtown) released a statement yesterday after the Empire Center for Public Policy filed a successful FOIL request for data on COVID-related deaths in New York State nursing homes.

“I applaud the Empire Center for its persistence in successfully pursuing its request for data on COVID-related deaths of residents of nursing homes and long-term care facilities in New York state under the Freedom of Information Law,” said Gottfried. “The State Supreme Court has ordered the Health Department to stop stalling and provide full details on the numbers of nursing home residents who came down with COVID-19 and died in a hospital. 

“It’s an important victory for all of us. This is important data that we in the Legislature and countless New Yorkers have been demanding for months. The Health Department says it is already complying with the FOIL demand, and it should also announce it will not appeal this court decision.

“The Empire Center has performed an important public service.”