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MAHN Lawmakers On The Move June 25, 2019

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Nadler, Maloney, Velázquez Lead Call for FAA to Stop Non-Essential Helicopter Flights Over NYC

U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler
U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler
Carolyn Maloney
U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney
Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez
Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez

Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-Upper West Side, Morningside Heights, Hell’s Kitchen, Chelsea, Greenwich Village, Soho, Wall Street,Battery Park City), along with Representatives Carolyn B. Maloney (D-Upper East Side) and Nydia Velázquez (D-LES, Brooklyn, Queens) last week sent a letter to Federal Aviation Administration Acting Administrator Daniel Elwell, urging the FAA to ban all non-essential helicopter flights over New York City. 

In their letter, the members explain, “New York City has one of the highest rates of helicopter use in the world [and] is one of the most densely populated cities in the United States, exponentially increasing the potential dangers of a helicopter accident in our city. The number of helicopter flights over New York City creates intolerable risks to the community and negative impacts on the quality of life of all its residents. There is no justification for allowing tourists to joy-ride through our skies, endangering people below and adding to the heavy burden of noise pollution residents already endure. Commuter helicopter flights impose risks to the community that far outweigh any benefits to the very small number of people who use them.”

Mayor Bill de Blasio in a recent interview on WNYC Radio with Brian Lehrer, publicly stated that he supports a ban of non-essential helicopters over Manhattan and that he is working with the Congressional delegation on this effort.

Joining the Members on the letter are Reps. Adriano Espaillat (D-Washington Heights, Sugar Hill), Kathleen M. Rice (D-Long Island), Grace Meng (D-Queens), Thomas R. Suozzi (D-Long Island), Eliot L. Engel (D-Bronx, West Chester), and José E. Serrano (D-Bronx). This request comes after the June 10 crash which resulted in the death of the pilot after he crashed on the roof of a Midtown building.

The call comes weeks following a fatal commercial helicopter crash in Midtown Manhattan, that still is under investigation. Tim McCormack was killed when he flew his commercial helicopter into a building at West 30th Street after he told air traffic controllers he was having problems as he flew through heavy fog and rain, according to the New York Post. McCormack had just dropped off his boss at the 34th Street heliport on the east side prior to the crash-landing, sources said. Police have said they believe his chopper was headed back to an airport in Linden, New Jersey, while conducting executive travel.

Rivera Applauds New York City Budget 2020

Council Member Carlina Rivera
Council Member Carlina Rivera

City Councilmember Carlina Rivera (D-East Village, Gramercy Park, Kips Bay, Lower East Side, Murray Hill, Rose Hill) recently applauded passage of the recent $92.8 billion Fiscal Year 2020 budget, which was finalized last week. 

Highlights of the Fiscal Year 2020 Adopted Budget include:

  • Placing 200 additional social workers in DOE schools, including mental health specialists, to help support students and provide necessary social and emotional support ($26 million).
  • Investing jointly with the City Council in an expansion of criminal justice related diversion programs, such as post-arrest diversion, supervised release and transitional housing.
  • Launching NYC Care to guarantee healthcare access for 600,000 uninsured New Yorkers and enhance MetroPlus, NYC’s Public Option, by increasing enrollment and improving access to care, including mental health services ($25 million in Fiscal Year 2020, ramping up to $100 million in Fiscal Year 2022).
  • Expanding 3-K for All by funding 1,900 new seats in the Bronx (District 8) and Brooklyn (District 32) for next school year. This investment brings 3-K to 14 districts and 20,000 children by September 2020, and includes the 10 highest-need districts in the city ($25 million).
  • Increasing Mayoral funding for 2020 Census outreach staff and public awareness campaigns to ensure a fair and accurate count that gives New York City its fair share ($22 million for a total Mayoral investment of $26 million).
  • Fulfilling a commitment to energy efficiency with green technology by retrofitting City buildings as part of NYC’s Green New Deal ($60 million).
  • Providing annual funding for the “Bridging the Gap” program that provides social services and academic support for students in shelters ($14 million).

“I am particularly proud that we are bringing more resources to ensure that all New Yorkers are treated with respect and dignity, whether in the classroom, the hospital, or elsewhere. And we are funding new programs to tackle some of our long-standing issues. We talk a lot about how welcoming New York is to all people – I’m happy that we are now putting our money where are mouth is with this budget,” said Rivera

“In District 2, I prioritized funding for increased sanitation service, new affordable housing units, improved school facilities, and greater access to the arts,” added Rivera. 

Velázquez Wants Private Prisons Out of Immigration Enforcement

Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez
Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez

Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez (D-LES, Queens, Brooklyn) last Thursday  offered an amendment signaling Congress’ disapproval of private facilities being used to house immigrant detainees.

Due to a “current surge in illegal border crossings,” U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) partnered with the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) to house immigrants in these private complexes. While BOP currently houses 11 percent of all detainees in facilities run by private contractors, immigrant detainees are increasingly comprising that percentage. As a result, immigrant communities are increasingly exposed to unsafe and unhealthy conditions.

While Immigration and Customs Enforcement has said the use of BOP facilities is a “temporary measure,” the government now allocates $2 billion to private prison facilities, a funding measure which would continue jeopardizing immigrant health and safety without Congressional opposition.

“Private prisons have a well-known history of putting profit before those they detain, and the federal government should play no role in this problematic narrative when it comes to American citizens or vulnerable immigrant communities,” said Velázquez. “Immigrants, regardless of status, need to be treated with dignity and respect, and private prisons undermine our efforts to ensure humane enforcement.”

“My amendment puts all agencies on notice that taxpayer dollars should not be financing the private prison industrial complex, especially when these facilities are housing asylum seekers who’ve just fled natural disasters or violence areas,” said Velázquez. “I stand with my colleagues in saying that we need to shut private prisons down once and for all.”

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