MANH Lawmakers on the Move, Feb. 17, 2021

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Stringer Calls Out City for “Unacceptable” Disparities in Vaccination Rates

NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer (Photo credit: Thomas Good, CC BY-SA 4.0)
NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer

City Comptroller Scott Stringer (D) posted a Twitter thread yesterday after the City published data on vaccination rates by zip code.

The data showed that 16 percent of NYC’s vaccinated adults live in the wealthiest and most predominantly white parts of the City. Stringer called the disparities “unacceptable”, and urged the City to adopt his comprehensive vaccine equity plan, Fair Shot NYC (which is available here).

“The hardest hit low-income communities of color are being left behind,” said Stringer. “This is a moral and management failure of the highest order. FIRST — the City must create one functioning website for sign-ups — with no bugs and no delays. The current, broken system only exacerbates the digital divide and pushes out people most in need. We need to reach every New Yorker where they are — breaking down systemic barriers that have long perpetuated unequal public health outcomes.

“We need to enlist faith leaders, workplace leaders, public figures, and influencers. These are people who have deep roots in their communities and can reach wide audiences. We also need more information about what sites are getting allocations of the vaccine to better strategize getting doses to the communities most in need. New York City can be the COVID-19 vaccine capital of the world — but only if we aim for it.”

Krueger Calls for State Department of Labor to Forgive Unemployment Overpayments

State Senator Liz Krueger
State Senator Liz Krueger

Yesterday, State Senator Liz Krueger (D-Upper East Side, Lenox Hill) and 11 other senators sent a letter to the New York Department of Labor, urging them to waive or forgive repayment obligations for New Yorkers who have received overpayments of unemployment benefits.

In 2020, the Department of Labor overpaid New Yorkers on unemployment insurance by a total of more than $114 million; the overpayments were largely the product of errors made by the Department itself. Thanks to the COVID relief bill that passed last December, states have the choice to waive or forgive these overpayments.

“Out of work New Yorkers have suffered enough in this pandemic – they don’t need the state pounding on their door to collect debts they never even knew they had incurred in the first place,” said Senator Krueger. “These overpayments were the result of mistakes made by the state, and the state should pay for them. Almost a year into the pandemic I still have constituents calling my office every day because they can’t get a response from DOL on their unemployment claims. Let’s use Department resources to help those people, instead of trying to collect from our neighbors in need.” 

Cuomo Announces Partial Restoration of Overnight Subway Service

Governor Andrew Cuomo (Photo Credit:
Governor Andrew Cuomo

Last Monday, Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) announced that the MTA will partially restore overnight service on the New York City subway, if the City’s COVID-19 metrics continue to improve.

Since last May, the subways have closed every night from 1 – 5 a.m.; however, starting on Monday, Feb. 22, the MTA will shorten its closing hours to 2 – 4 a.m. daily. The change will allow the subway to extend its hours of operation while allowing the MTA to maintain its rigorous cleaning and sterilization regimen.

“Thanks to the hard work of New Yorkers, COVID hospitalization and infection rates have continued to decrease, allowing us to begin re-opening different facets of the economy in a cautious, thoughtful, data-based approach,” Cuomo said. “With the expansion of hours of operation for restaurants and bars, as well as the re-opening of cultural centers and sports facilities, we must ensure that both employees and patrons have transportation options to get them where they need to go, when they need to get there. Accordingly, the MTA will be expanding the overnight hours for subway service to ensure transportation is available, while still maintaining the organization’s comprehensive cleaning procedures.”

Johnson, Rosenthal Call for Justice for BPHN Survivors

Council Member Corey Johnson (Credit: Jeff Reed)
Council Member Corey Johnson
Council Member Helen Rosenthal (Photo: Emil Cohen/ NYC Council)
Council Member Helen Rosenthal

Yesterday, Council Speaker Corey Johnson (D-Chelsea, Hell’s Kitchen) and Councilmember Helen Rosenthal (D-Central Park, Lincoln Square) sent a letter to Mayor Bill de Blasio (D), in response to allegations that the former director of the Bronx Parent Housing Network (BPHN) sexually assaulted several homeless women.

After the allegations became public, de Blasio called on BPHN to hire an independent party to investigate them. Johnson and Rosenthal, however, were dissatisfied, demanding that he respond in a way that prioritizes the welfare of the abuse survivors.

“We are gravely disappointed by your response to allegations that a homeless service provider, formerly of the Bronx Parent Housing Network (BPHN), regularly sexually assaulted homeless women,” they wrote. “As the New York Times reported, these assaults were carried out in addition to financial exploitation. It is despicable that the City was doing business with an abuser, and continued to do business with him, despite multiple survivors reaching out to the NYC Department of Social Services (DSS) to alert them of the situation.”

Read the full letter here.

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