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MAHN Lawmakers On The Move April 22, 2019

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Kallos, City Council Pass Climate Mobilization Act

Council Member Ben Kallos
Council Member Ben Kallos

City Council Member Ben Kallos (D-Upper East Side’s Yorkville, Lenox Hill, Carnegie Hill, Roosevelt Island, Midtown East, Sutton Place, El Barrio in East Harlem) was one of the city council members leading the way as the city council last week passed Climate Mobilization Act, a nine-piece legislative package to fight the growing effects of climate change on the City’s future.

Together, the bills significantly reduce carbon emissions from large buildings, better optimize their roofs for green planting and renewable energy, and take the first steps to fostering clean power throughout the five boroughs.

The legislative package includes these measures the two lawmakers worked on:

·         Intro. 1252: Constantinides’ bill to establish a low-cost PACE program to finance upgrades required under the clean tower plan.

·         Intro. 1317: Constantinides’ bill to clear red tape currently making it difficult to erect large wind turbines in New York City.

·         Intro. 1318: Constantinides’ bill requiring the City determine by 2021 which of the 21 gas-fired power plants across the five boroughs can be feasibly closed in favor of renewable energy sources and batteries to store the power.

·         Intro. 276: Council Member Donovan Richards’ bill to promote green roofs — natural planting, solar panel and small wind turbine installations — on buildings five stories or smaller.

·         Reso. 845: Constantinides, Speaker Johnson and Richards’ resolution calling on the NYSDEC to block the application to construct the Williams Pipeline.

Multiple reports last year — published at the international, federal, and local level — warn of catastrophic circumstances as soon as 2030 without government taking real action now.

The National Climate Assessment, published in November, warned the New York region could see up to 100,000 climate refugees by 2100 due to intense flooding and other effects from this phenomenon. Areas such as the Rockaways, Coney Island, Staten Island could see regular flooding in the coming decades unless bold steps are taken to decrease carbon emissions from large buildings and the electrical grid.

“I am proud to be a co-sponsor of Introduction 1253 as it sets ambitious, comprehensive standards on New York City’s worst polluters, old buildings. By modernizing buildings to raise efficiency standards we will dramatically cut pollution long term,” said Kallos. “Retrofitting for efficiency and sustainability will reduce our City’s carbon footprint and create thousands of much-needed, good paying jobs.”  

Levine Continues To Push For Tenants Rights To Council Law

City Councilman Mark Levine

City Council Members Mark Levine (D-Manhattan Valley, Manhattanville, Morningside Heights, Hamilton Heights) and Vanessa L. Gibson (D-Bronx) last week joined with the Right to Counsel NYC Coalition to announce new legislation that would require the city to work with trusted tenant organizing groups to engage and educate tenants about their rights.

The bill would strengthen the City’s landmark Right to Counsel (RTC) by ensuring that all tenants know about the new RTC law, understand it, and use it as a tool to address housing issues.

Council Member Levine and Gibson’s new bill calls on the city to fund the work being done by tenant organizing groups across the city to further expand the Right to Counsel law’s success. The Members also reiterated their call to pass the Right to Counsel 2.0 legislation they introduced last year.

“The latest eviction numbers confirm what we already know — when tenants are given a fair chance to fight in housing court, they will win,” said Levine, who Introduced the City’s Right to Counsel Law. “In the past five years we have seen an unprecedented 37% decline in the number of people forced to leave their homes, but we can’t afford to take our foot off the gas. We need to expand and strengthen this law to keep New Yorkers in their homes, off the streets, and out of the shelter system. And most importantly, we need to empower the groups responsible for reaching out to tenants, and making sure they know they don’t have to face eviction on their own.”

Quart, Electeds Demand Probe Into NYPD Vice Unit

Assemblyman Dan Quart

Assembly members Dan Quart (D-Upper East Side, Midtown East), Ron Kim (D-Queens), State Senator Jessica Ramos (D-Queens), and City council member Ritchie Torres (D-Bronx) recently sent a letter to the city’s Department of Investigation (DOI) calling for an immediate investigation into the New York Police Department’s (NYPD) Vice Squad.

The letter cites three recent incidents as justification for investigation: first, when retired Detective Ludwig Paz was charged with running a prostitution and gambling ring that racked up $2M+ in profits in 13 months. Second, in November of 2017, sex worker Yang Song died while fleeing apprehension by Vice officers. Her family and her attorney believed she was sexually assaulted and harassed by an officer for months preceding her death. Third, Vice officers have engaged in inappropriate contact, including sexual abuse, of sex workers during stings.

The letter states, “We have to accept that we are not dealing with one or two bad apples. These recurring incidents point to not only a culture of corruption and misconduct, but a consistent exploitation, endangerment, and victimization of sex workers by the NYPD.”

This letter comes in the midst of calls by Queens City Council members Peter Koo and Donovan Richards on Vice Squad to crack down on the Asian migrant workers of Flushing massage parlors. Koo and Richards asked residents to surveil and report massage parlors so that police could raid and shut them down.

“Particularly troubling is the squad’s continued harassment, endangerment, and in some cases downright exploitation, of sex workers. For far too long NYPD Vice has been allowed to operate in the shadows, abusing its power and skirting accountability. No more,” said Quart.

Speaker Johnson Announces NYC Parks Super Steward Workshop

Council Member Corey Johnson
Council Member Corey Johnson

City Council Speaker Corey Johnson (D-Chelsea, Hell’s Kitchen) last week announced an upcoming NYC Park Super Steward event, in which attendees will be able to take the first steps in helping the city’s parks department.

This workshop will give individuals an opportunity to learn from experts on how to work in an urban landscape and the tools needed to help beautify a local neighborhood.

NYC Parks Super Stewards work independently by taking the lead on caring for their neighborhood parks and spreading the word about the benefits of nature in the city. Super Stewards can work on their own, lead other volunteers, host projects, apply for mini-grants, network with other volunteers, and get a sneak peek at the inner-workings of the agency.

Types of Super Stewards:

•    Care Captains, who take care of street trees

•    NAVigators, who take care of forests and meadows

•    Shorekeepers, who take care of wetlands

The event is slated for 6:30 p.m. to 8: 30 p.m., Tuesday, April 30, at P.S. 41, 116 West 11th Street (between 6th and 7th Ave.) in Greenwich Village.

Those looking to attend, can RSVP here.

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