Political Odds & Ends, Dec. 16, 2021


Brannan Caps First Term With Passage of Key Bills

Justin Brannan
City Council Member Justin Brannan

City Council Member Justin Branan (D-Democrats) saw the Council pass four bills he sponsored including Intros 2246-A, 277-A, and street dedications for late community members Dr. Ahmad Jaber and Joe Joyce.

In consideration of the city’s ongoing housing & affordability crisis in addition to pandemic conditions creating an unprecedented amount of vacant commercial space, Intro 2246-A creates a task force to conduct a study on converting vacant office space into affordable housing, and to make recommendations within two years on whether and how the city should pursue that approach. Intro 271 addresses the climate crisis and related environmental concerns including light pollution by limiting the use of unnecessary indoor and outdoor lighting in city-owned buildings.

Fifth Avenue between 72nd Street and Ovington Avenue in Bay Ridge will be co-named Dr. Ahmad Jaber Way. Born in Palestine, Dr. Jaber emigrated to the United States in 1974 and settled in Bay Ridge not long after. Dr. Jaber was beloved and renowned for his medical practice, clergy service as an Imam at the State Street mosque, and co-founder of social services and advocacy agency the Arab American Association of New York.

Third Avenue between 79th Street and 80th Street will be co-named Joseph Joyce Way. Mr. Joyce was a Vietnam veteran turned local pub owner and special education public school teacher, beloved for his business’s welcoming atmosphere, the philanthropic events he hosted there, and for his involvement with adult disability nonprofit Lifestyles for the Disabled.

“It’s been the honor of a lifetime to represent my community and serve this city for the last four years,” Brannan said. “I’m proud of the things I have accomplished with my colleagues, and I’m grateful that we’re closing out the year with some great legislation. It’s a privilege to get to stay in office after being re-elected, and I’m excited to build upon the great foundation these bills are laying for next year.”

Brannan’s bills will now move to the Mayor’s office, where they are all expected to be signed into law.

QDA Katz Announces Colleen Babb Awarded Thomas E. Dewey Medal

Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz

Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz announced yesterday that Colleen Babb, Executive Assistant District Attorney of the Community Partnerships Division, is the Queens County recipient of the seventeenth annual Thomas E. Dewey Medal.

The Thomas E. Dewey Medal is awarded each year by the Association of the Bar of the City of New York to an outstanding assistant district attorney in each of the City’s five District Attorney’s offices and in the Office of the City’s Special Narcotics Prosecutor. Chief Babb accepted the award during a ceremony on Tuesday evening, December 14, 2021, which was attended by many of her colleagues.

“Colleen Babb has brought tremendous experience and vision to our Community Partnerships division. Under her leadership, Community Partnerships has played a significant, visible role in each of the diverse neighborhoods in Queens, participating in more than 800 public events, engaging more than 400 local leaders who currently serve on our community advisory councils, awarding nearly $3.5 million dollars in grants to deserving partner programs this year to help our young people and sponsoring gun buyback events to take hundreds of dangerous firearms off our streets,” said Katz

Babb joined the Queens District Attorney’s Office in January 2020, shortly after Katz took office. She has served as Queens Borough Chief of the New York City Law Department Office of Corporation Counsel and was previously Deputy Bureau Chief of the Early Case Assessment Bureau, Deputy Bureau Chief of Criminal Court Grand Jury, First Deputy Bureau Chief of Major Narcotics Investigations and Executive Assistant District Attorney of the School Advocacy Bureau with the Brooklyn District Attorney where she worked since 1994.

Espaillat Delivers $185 Million in Tax Cuts 

U.S. Rep. Adriano Espaillat

U.S. Rep. Adriano Espaillat (D-Manhattan/Bronx) announced yesterday he will deliver approximately $185 million in tax cuts for more than 77,000 hardworking families in New York’s 13th congressional district this year through the expanded Child Tax Credit.

Statewide, an estimated $4,986,200 in tax cuts will go to more than 2,010,000 hardworking families. Nationwide, 90 percent of families with kids received the Child Tax Credit monthly tax cuts this year.

“We are continuing to deliver for the American people as communities continue to recover from the pandemic, and the Child Tax Credit has put more of hardworking families’ own money back in their pockets each month,” said Espaillat. “Ahead of the holidays, that means gas to visit family, extra money to buy presents for the kids, and grocery money to get holiday dinner on the table. Additionally, many of these families will see even more tax cuts when they file their taxes next year.”

The American Rescue Plan expanded the Child Tax Credit to up to $3,600 per child for children ages 0 to 5, and $3,000 per child for children ages 6 to 17.  The American Rescue Plan also authorized advance monthly payments of that tax cut beginning in July and running through December 2021 – allowing families to get up to $300 a month per child for children ages 0 to 5 or $250 a month per child for children ages 6 to 17 each month. Families will get their remaining expanded Child Tax Credit when they file their 2021 tax return next year. 

Rosenthal Bill to Post Job Listings with Salary Info Passes Council

Council Member Helen Rosenthal
Council Member Helen Rosenthal

City Council Member Helen Rosenthal (D-Manhattan) yesterday saw the council pass her legislation making it an unlawful discriminatory practice to not include in job listings the minimum and maximum salary offered for any position located within New York City. 

The range for the listed maximum and minimum salary would extend from the lowest salary to the highest salary that the employer in good faith believes it would pay for the advertised job, promotion, or transfer. This bill would exempt temporary staffing firms as they already provide wage information in compliance with the NY State Wage Theft Prevention Act.

“Lack of salary transparency is discriminatory and anti-worker. Every New Yorker should have the right to determine whether they will be able to support themselves and their family when they apply for a job. It is time to level the playing field, and restore some dignity to New Yorkers seeking employment,” said Rosenthal

Increasing pay transparency, as this bill does, allows job applicants to better calculate salary expectations. Studies show that women often ask for a lower salary when they negotiate than men, regardless of qualifications or the nature of the role. Pay transparency also works to shrink the racial pay gap. It improves precision with which observable performance metrics and pay are linked. 

The New York City Commission on Gender Equity recommends that employers that adopt pay transparency policies with standardized and objectively measured performance outcomes to limit bias in advancement decisions. This law will take a positive step towards closing the racial and gender pay gap by disclosing salary ranges and leveling the playing field by facilitating fairer negotiations.

This bill will go into effect 120 days after it becomes law.

Cymbrowitz Commends MTA For Making Sheepshead Bay Subway Station ADA Accessible 

Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz

Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz (D-Brooklyn) yesterday commended the MTA’s announcement that it will install elevators in the Sheepshead Bay B/Q and Kings  Highway F stations — a long-overdue move that will finally make these stations accessible to the many thousands of seniors, people with disabilities and young families who have been asking him for these improvements for years. 

Cymbrowitz has long been an outspoken and longtime proponent of the need for accessibility upgrades at stations in his district and throughout the city. 

“For southern Brooklyn and other areas with relatively few mass transit options,  full accessibility at these stations will be a game-changer,” said Cymbrowitz. “It’s terrible that it took this long, but I look forward to the day when seniors, people  with disabilities and families with baby strollers can enjoy the same right as  anyone else to access these local stations and get around our city,” 

Treyger Helps Expand Community Schools Program in Coney Island  

Council Member Mark Treyger

City Council Member Mark Treyger (D-Brooklyn) yesterday joined NYC Schools Chancellor Meisha Porter and other officials to announce that PS/IS 288 in Coney Island has been selected to become a new community school. 

This school will now have additional services available to support the whole child, the child’s family and learning inside and outside of the classroom. 

Coney Island is one of the hardest-hit communities in New York City throughout the pandemic, especially at its height in 2020. Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, the city has seen how pre-existing inequities in the school system have led to deeply divergent educational experiences. 

Community Schools partner with a community-based organization to design programming to meet their community’s needs, including after-school; comprehensive health care including vision, dental, and mental health services; mentoring and tutoring; family engagement; and adult education. They provide entire neighborhoods with access to critical social services, delivered by trusted providers in a familiar location.

“Every city school should be a community school, and they need to meet the needs of the whole child. They’re not just a place for passing state exams and graduating on time. Our schools are so much more than that. Schools are lifelines, and students are not robots; they’re human beings,” said Treyger.

Kim Celebrates Senior Community Holiday Gift Giveaway

Assemblymember Ron Kim (Photo by Yuhline, CC BY-SA 3.0)
Assemblymember Ron Kim

Assemblymember Ron Kim (D-Queens) today will join Voices for Seniors, the nursing home advocate group, to spread holiday cheer for seniors at the Korean Community Service Center. 

The group will help distribute over three hundred presents to senior community members while honoring the late Ms. Sunhee Kim, AM Kim’s mother, who passed away on October 26, 2021 from breakthrough Covid-19.

The event is slated for 10:30 a.m., today, Dec. 16 at the Korean Community Services of Metropolitan New York (KCS), 42-15 166th St. in Flushing, Queens.