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This Week in New York City Government

Mayor:

De Blasio Moves Controversial Ramp at E. 91st Street

After more than a year of relentless protest, Mayor Bill de Blasio has agreed to move a controversial access ramp to the East 91st Street marine garbage facility.

The original ramp, already under construction, bisects the grounds of Asphalt Green, a popular recreational facility that serves nearly 40,000 children a year. While few locals are happy about the garbage transfer station’s siting on the Upper East Side, residents took particular umbrage with the idea of hundreds of garbage trucks rattling through Asphalt Green every day, just feet away from a children’s playground.

In May, Garcia made a recommendation to de Blasio regarding the ramp. She would not disclose what she said, but warned the new ramp, located just a block north, would cost roughly $25 million and could tie up traffic on the F.D.R. Drive indefinitely.

Asphalt Green launched an aggressive campaign to get the ramp moved. In the past year the nonprofit has lobbied elected officials, taken out a full-page ad in The New York Times, even organized a Zumba dance/protest in front of City Hall.

Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City and Corporation for National and Community Service Announce $30 Million Partnership to Support Mental Health Services

The Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City and the Corporation for National and Community Service announced a $30 million public-private partnership to advance the City’s vision of transforming the delivery of mental health care services. The partnership will support the implementation of the new Connections to Care program in collaboration with the Center for Economic Opportunity and the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, which will help integrate mental health services into programs already serving low-income communities.

The Mayor’s Fund, in partnership with CEO and DOHMH, have been awarded a five-year grant of an initial $6 million from the Social Innovation Fund of CNCS, and will be eligible for an additional $4 million in funding for the fourth and fifth years. This grant, to be matched by an additional $20 million from other funding sources – including selected service partners and the Mayor’s Fund – represents the largest public-private partnership engaged by this Administration in the past year and a half. The Chapman Perelman Foundation and Benificus Foundation are early funding partners. This partnership follows the launch of the Mental Health Roadmap effort, led by Mayor’s Fund Chair Chirlane McCray and DOHMH, to envision and implement reforms in mental health care delivery.

“I have talked with concerned New Yorkers in every borough and they have been loud and clear about the intensity of our mental health care crisis. Over and over, people told me how tough it was to travel outside of their communities and how much they would prefer to receive services from those who understand their culture. Trust and familiarity matter a great deal with a sensitive, complicated issue like mental health. The Connections to Care program is a new approach to fixing an old problem. It shows we are listening and so are our friends in Washington,” said First Lady Chirlane McCray. “With this grant, we can bring mental health services to New Yorkers in places where they already feel comfortable. Thank you to CNCS for giving us the opportunity to put this $30 million public-private partnership to work for New Yorkers.”

Mayor de Blasio Announces Over $2 Million Annual Investment to Fund Anti-Violence Prosecution Strategies that Target Intersection Between Violence and Narcotics

The de Blasio administration announced a more than $2 million annual investment to expand the Office of the Special Narcotics Prosecutor’s effective investigation and prosecution of crimes involving gun violence and narcotics trafficking, as well as the Office’s strategies to address the heroin epidemic. This announcement reinforces the Administration’s commitment to focus resources on proven law enforcement strategies for reducing violent crime.

The office of the Special Narcotics Prosecutor Bridget Brennan has citywide jurisdiction, functioning as an arm of the District Attorneys’ offices in each of the five boroughs, and is uniquely suited to investigate and prosecute narcotics-related criminal activity citywide. The New York Police Department, Special Narcotics Prosecutor, and the City’s five District Attorneys have had recent success infiltrating and dismantling such networks using cutting-edge technology to identify and pursue members of criminal enterprises from street-level dealers to top suppliers, often investigating related violent gang activity. This announcement is the first step the de Blasio Administration is taking to expand investment in targeted anti-violence prosecution strategies citywide.

Recent NYPD, District Attorney, and Special Narcotics Prosecutor successes include:

  • A 69-count indictment against 12 individuals – including Ackquille Pollard, aka “Bobby Shmurda,” who performs with a rap group that bears the name “GS9” – in December of 2014, crippling a gang that allegedly sold drugs, dealt guns and committed violent crimes. The investigation began after 24 shootings were traced to the gang since 2013. Pollard has since been indicted on additional charges by the Bronx District Attorney’s Office that stem from an alleged attempt to smuggle a weapon into Rikers Island’s Anna M. Kross Center.
  • A long-term investigation sparked by community complaints and incidents of drug and gang-related violence in Coney Island culminated last month in the 34-count indictment of four individuals on narcotic and firearm charges.

These effective takedowns underscore the fact that fighting violent crime is not only the job of police, but requires coordination among all criminal justice actors, including targeted prosecution.

Over the next five years, the City will invest nearly $2.1 million annually in bolstering the capacity of the Special Narcotics Prosecutor’s Office:

  • $1.27 million annually to fund drug and gun anti-violence prosecution
  • $280,000 annually for expanded resources to combat the heroin epidemic
  • $435,000 annually to reinforce sophisticated technology infrastructure
  • $75,000 annually to support day-to-day operations

Over the past 20 years, New York City has seen a crime decline that has led the nation and made New York the safest large city in the United States. Every major type of crime plummeted over the last two decades – both murders and robberies have dropped by over 80 percent. Mayor de Blasio finished his first year in office with the fewest homicides – 333 – in the city’s history. The NYPD recently announced that June 2015 was the safest June in the city since 1993, and that shootings have decreased by more than 19 percent and murders have dropped by 50 percent in the precincts that have received extra officers under the Department’s “Summer All Out” initiative.

Despite dramatic reductions in violent crime, New York City experiences isolated shooting spikes, often connected to drug gangs. Although shootings vary year to year and borough to borough, these incidents tend to be concentrated in a few neighborhoods and largely committed by a few gangs and street crews. Four of the top 10 precincts for narcotics arrests are also in the top 10 precincts for shootings incidents. These four precincts account for 12.8 percent of narcotics arrests and 18.4 percent of shooting incidents citywide. Brooklyn and the Bronx have had success in reducing shooting incidents this year, with the number in both boroughs dropping by 5 percent compared to last year.

Six Months After Launch, Mayor de Blasio and Speaker Mark-Viverito Announce Over 400,000 New Yorkers Have IDNYC Cards

Mayor Bill de Blasio and Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito  announced that over 400,000 New Yorkers – or 5.5 percent of eligible city residents – already have an IDNYC card in hand only six months after the program’s inception. IDNYC is now the largest municipal ID program in the country.

Additionally, more than 30,000 memberships have been redeemed at museums and other cultural organizations in all five boroughs since the program’s launch. The Cultural Institutions Group – private groups that occupy City-owned property – is offering free memberships for IDNYC card holders for the first year of the program as a way to open the doors to new audiences and in recognition of CIG’s close relationship to the civic fabric of New York. The benefits are comparable to a standard one-year individual or family membership package. The cultural and educational enrichment provided by these groups – which include 33 world-class museums, performing arts centers, libraries, concert halls, botanical gardens, and zoos in all five boroughs – is critical to improving the lives of all New Yorkers.

IDNYC is a vanguard program, inspiring cities across the country and the world to establish municipal IDs. Through the Cities United for Immigration Action coalition, the Administration has convened cities to discuss best practices around municipal ID cards. In key cities across the country – including Newark, Hartford, and Chicago – Mayors Ras Baraka, Pedro Segarra and Rahm Emmanuel are working to implement municipal ID programs. The City of Paris has cited IDNYC as a model for developing its own municipal ID cards.

More than 50,000 IDNYC cardholders have elected to participate in the New York State organ donor program when applying for their IDNYC. The integration of the organ donor program into the IDNYC application expands access for New Yorkers who do not qualify for a state ID and are not eligible to vote, giving them the option of contributing to this life-saving program.

Everyday New Yorkers are integrating their IDNYC cards as their library cards at the New York, Queens, and Brooklyn Public Library systems. Eligible New Yorkers are also using their IDNYC cards to open bank accounts, enter City buildings such as schools, and as recognized identification for interacting with the NYPD for issuance of summons and desk appearance tickets. New York City veterans are able to designate their veteran status on their IDNYC and receive exclusive veteran benefits. All New York City residents ages 14 and above with proof of identity and residency can apply for an ID.

De Blasio Administration Provides Update on City’s Steps to Protect New Yorkers from Legionnaires’ Disease

Mayor Bill de Blasio and Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett announced that City health officials have identified and are overseeing the cleaning of two sources of Legionnaires’ disease in the South Bronx. The two sources already identified are cooling towers at Lincoln Hospital and Concourse Plaza. The Department is working with the owners of both cooling towers and they have begun the process of remediation to reduce the potential for exposure. The City is also testing other possible sources and will order decontamination of any additional sources. Today the Health Department is testing 10 additional sites surrounding the affected area. The Health Department is also interviewing patients and reviewing records to determine whether cases share a common exposure.

Initial steps for decontamination include treating the cooling tower where Legionellabacteria were found with a disinfectant, and continuously flushing the system with fresh water. There have been 46 reported cases of Legionnaires’ disease reported in the South Bronx since July 10, 2015. Nine of the hospitalized patients have been discharged. Two patients have died.

Legionnaires’ disease is NOT contagious. It cannot be spread from person to person, and it is treatable with antibiotics. As with any infection, early diagnosis is desirable. The vast majority of patients recover from the infection.

About Legionnaires’ disease:

  • Legionnaires’ disease (or Legionellosis) is a common type of pneumonia caused by a bacterium called Legionella.
  • Most of the cases have been reported from the South Bronx neighborhoods of High Bridge-Morrisania and Hunts Point-Mott Haven.
  • There were 301 cases reported in 2013 and 225 in 2014. Generally, 5 to 10 percent of cases are fatal.

Mayor de Blasio Appoints New Members to NYCEDC Board of Directors

The de Blasio administration announced the appointment of ten new members to New York City Economic Development Corporation’s Board of Directors. The appointees, who include business, community, nonprofit and academic leaders, will join the organization’s 27-member board, which helps to guide NYCEDC’s agenda. As the City’s primary economic development vehicle, NYCEDC leverages the City’s assets to create good jobs and drive growth, ensuring equitable and sustainable development across all five boroughs.

The new members of NYCEDC’s Board of Directors are:

William S. Floyd is head of external affairs for Google New York, leading Google’s government and regulatory interactions, public affairs programs, and community relations. Prior to joining Google, Floyd was a member of the Law Offices of Claudia Wagner and a Senior Advisor in the Government and Regulatory Affairs Division of Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP. He has served as Executive Director of the New York City Districting Commission and as Director of Community Affairs for New York and Connecticut for Verizon Communications Inc.  Floyd spent nine years working in New York City government, including at NYCEDC. He is an active member of several non-profit boards, including the Little Red/Elizabeth Irwin School and the Children’s Museum of the Arts. Floyd is a graduate of Columbia University.

Wilton Cedeno is the Director of State Regulatory Affairs for Consolidated Edison Company of New York, Inc. (Con Edison), where he works to develop and implement internal and external communication strategies and advocacy related to state energy policy. Since 1993, Cedeno has worked at Con Edison, serving as Director for Information Resources and General Manager for Staten Island Electric Operations, among other positions. He sits on the board of the Brooklyn Technical High School Alumni Foundation, and is a recipient of the Defining Trends in Latino Culture (DTM) Trendsetter Award in recognition of his work with the community and excellence in his position at Con Edison. Cedeno founded the Cooperative Technical High School Intern Program, which enables high school students to work at Con Edison.  He is a graduate of Columbia University.

Matthew Hiltzik is the Founder and CEO of Hiltzik Strategies, which provides a wide range of communications services including strategic counsel, crisis management, and corporate positioning. Hiltzik previously held roles as the President and CEO of Freud Communications and as Senior Vice President of Communications and Government Relations for Miramax Films. He also served as Press Secretary/Deputy Executive Director of the New York State Democratic Committee, having worked on campaigns for Senator Charles Schumer and former Senator Hillary Clinton. Hiltzik is a graduate of the School of Industrial and Labor Relations (ILR) at Cornell University and Fordham University School of Law.

Pam Kwatra is President of Kripari Marketing where she serves as a link between major American corporations and the Indian community. Kwatra is a member of the Association of Indians in America, Arya Samaj of Bergen County, and an Executive Committee member of Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan. She sits on the boards of the American Conference on Diversity, Indian Chamber of Commerce, and South Asian Business Alliance, among many others. She is a graduate of Delhi University in India.

David Lichtenstein is Chairman and CEO of The Lightstone Group, one of the largest privately held real estate companies in the United States. Since its founding in 1988, Lichtenstein has directed all aspects of the acquisition, financing and management of Lightstone’s diverse portfolio of multi-family, hospitality, retail and industrial properties. Lichtenstein is a member of the Board of Governors of the Real Estate Board of New York, a Trustee of the Citizens Budget Commission, a Member of the Real Estate Roundtable and Co-Chair of the Real Estate Capital Policy Advisory Committee. Lichtenstein is a founder of the Friendship House, an organization that provides housing for families of sick children and adults in the Greater New York City area.

Lynn B. Kelly is the Chief Executive Officer and President of Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden, one of the City’s premier cultural destinations. Prior to her position at Snug Harbor, Kelly worked for ten years at NYCEDC, serving as a Senior Vice President and as President of the Coney Island Development Corporation. Kelly is the Staten Island Vice Chair of the Cultural Institutions Group and is a member of the Executive Committee of the Board of NYC & Company, where she chairs the Committee for Arts and Culture. She is a graduate of New York University and the Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service at NYU.

Dr. Gail O. Mellow has served as President of LaGuardia Community College in Long Island City since 2000. Under Dr. Mellow’s leadership, LaGuardia is pioneering new approaches to educating and graduating under-represented students and leveraging education to support the growth of local businesses and create jobs. On a national level, Dr. Mellow is actively involved in promoting the role community colleges play in spurring economic growth while developing both education and career ladders for students. Prior to joining LaGuardia Community College, Dr. Mellow served as President of Gloucester County College. She is a graduate of Jamestown Community College, SUNY Albany, and The George Washington University.

Fred Heller is owner of Team Systems, a family-owned and operated taxi fleet and garage in Long Island City. Heller is also Principal of Ace Scrap Metal Recycling, a metal recycling and construction and demolition debris disposal company. Heller is an Advisory Board Member for the Queens Museum of Art, an Executive Board Member for the Metropolitan Taxi Board of Trade, and serves on the board of advisors of the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City. He is a graduate of Adelphi University.

Timothy A. Wilkins is a corporate partner at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, where he advises leading U.S. and international corporations on cross-border mergers and joint ventures, and serves as the Co-Chair for the New York Office’s Diversity & Inclusion Committee. Wilkins is an Adjunct Professor of International Law at Hunter College and founding Chair of the Steering Committee of The Opportunity Agenda, a non-profit organization dedicated to expanding equal opportunity. Prior to joining Freshfields New York, Wilkins worked for 11 years in Tokyo, Japan as an investment banker and lawyer. He serves on the Board of Directors of New York City Global Partners, The Public Theater and the New York City Bar Fund. Wilkins is a graduate of Harvard College, Harvard Law School and Harvard Business School.

Mark Patricof is Managing Director and Co-Head of Houlihan Lokey’s Technology, Media & Telecom Group, where he advises a wide range of leading technology, telecom, media, entertainment, and gaming companies.  Before joining Houlihan Lokey, Patricof was a Co-Founder and Managing Partner at MESA Securities and President and Chief Operating Officer at the Rockwell Group. Patricof also co-founded <kpe>, a digital media agency and business incubator. He is a member of the Boards of Directors of NEP Broadcasting, New York Cruise Lines, and Board Chair for the New York based non-profit, New Heights. Patricof is a graduate of Emory University.

Citywide and Borough Electeds:

Comptroller Stringer: Defective Roadways Put $138 Million Hole in New York City’s Budget Over Last 6 Years

With over 12,000 claims for damage to cars and trucks, nearly 6,000 personal injury claims, and close to $138 million dollars paid out in settlements over the past six years, New York City’s pothole problem persists, according to a new ClaimStat Alert released by New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer.

Potholes

The ClaimStat Alert examined the defective roadway problem on a city-wide basis, identifying the roadways that garnered the highest number of claims from FY 2010 to FY 2015.

The three worst roadways for potholes were:

  • The Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, which had a total of 422 claims during the six year period;
  • The Grand Central Parkway, which had a total of 433 claims during the six year period; and
  • The Belt Parkway, which had a total of 706 claims during the six year period.

Trip and Fall Claims

Pedestrian-heavy Manhattan led the way in trip and fall claims, with 1,832 claims over the past six years.

The top three roadways for trip and fall claims were:

  • 3rd Avenue in Manhattan, with 103 claims
  • 2nd Avenue in Manhattan, with 107 claims; and

Broadway in Manhattan, with 195 claims;

Weather

Snowfall levels are a strong predictor for the volume of pothole claims. Last year’s harsh winter generated the second-highest number of defective roadway property damage claims in the last four years.  The heavier snows seen in 2011 and 2014 also resulted in peak years for claims:

  • In FY 2010, 51.4 inches of snow fell and 2,292 claims were filed;
  • In FY 2011, 61.9 inches of snow fell and 2,823 claims were filed;
  • In FY 2012, 7.4 inches of snow fell and 1,098 claims were filed;
  • In FY 2013, 26.1 inches of snow fell and 1,073 claims were filed;
  • In FY 2014, 57.4 inches of snow fell and 2,955 claims were filed; and
  • In FY 2015, 50.3 inches of snow fell and 2,045 claims were filed.

Additional Data Points

Comptroller Stringer’s analysis found that from FY 2010-2015 there were:

  • 12,286 defective roadway claims—aka “pothole” claims – for property damage, and 1,549 settlements for defective roadway claims worth a total of $1.5 million.
  • 5,913 claims for personal injuries, mostly trip and falls, related to defective roadways, and 2,681 settlements for personal injury claims worth approximately $136.3 million.
  • 48 percent of those settlements were for $5,000 or less and just 7.9 percent were for more than $100,000.

Recommendations:

While DOT filled over 74,000 potholes in the first four months of FY 2015, the average time to close a pothole work order in the same time period was 6.7 days, nearly triple the 2.4 days it took in the previous year.

“The City has taken a proactive approach to improving pothole maintenance, including pothole blitzes, targeted repaving, and material enhancements, and I commend DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg for all of her efforts,” commented Comptroller Stringer. “However filling potholes remains an uphill battle.”

Additional steps that could be taken include:

  • Exploring a complete reconstruction of certain City streets – a tactic that initially costs more than repaving, but that could save taxpayers money in the long haul;
  • Continuing to pioneer the use of new and more durable materials such as rubberized asphalt and recycled plastic in road resurfacing;
  • Re-evaluating DOT’s procedures to ensure that utilities properly reconstruct City streets following work that involves excavation of roadways; and
  • Ensuring street repairs are completed as quickly as possible so that pedestrians don’t have to combat uneven road surfaces.

Comptroller Stringer Releases Analysis of New York City’s Fiscal Year 2016 Adopted Budget

New York City’s FY 2016 Adopted Budget of $78.5 billion benefited from $5.9 billion in additional resources since June of last year, including higher than projected tax revenues, savings and prior-year funds rolled over, according to an analysis released by New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer

The Comptroller’s Office’s independent tax revenue projections span the FY 2016 – FY 2019 plan period and project additional tax revenues of $822 million in FY 2016, $1.1 billion in FY 2017, $1.3 billion in FY 2018 and $1.5 billion in FY 2019, stemming primarily from higher forecasts in personal income, property and real estate transaction taxes.

Comptroller Stringer also identified risks to the financial plan, such as understated uniformed overtime costs and lower than budgeted federal Medicaid reimbursement for special education services. When those risks are combined with the Comptroller’s projected additional resources, the cumulative out-year budget gap is reduced to $1.85 billion – the lowest cumulative out-year gap at budget adoption in over twenty years.

Other findings include:

  • Tax revenues in FY 2015 grew by 7 percent— almost a full percentage point higher than average growth from FY 2009 through FY 2014. The additional resources in FY 2015 were rolled to FY 2016 and added to the retiree health benefits trust.
  • The FY 2016 budget utilized its additional resources to close the budget gap, fund City Council initiatives, pay for increased expenses, add to the General Reserve, establish the Capital Stabilization Reserve and offset the revenue loss from delaying yellow taxi medallion sales.
  • From FY 2016 through FY 2019, expenditures, when adjusted for prepayments and other prior-year actions, average 2.3 percent growth annually.
  • The Comptroller identified several high growth areas: salaries and wages, debt service, health insurance, other fringe benefits and judgments and claims which grew by 14 percent over the Plan period, averaging 4.6 percent a year.
  • Areas that saw lower growth include: pensions, Medicaid, public assistance and other non-personal services costs.

Bronx Borough President Diaz & Council Member Greenfield Host Latino/Jewish Networking Event

On Monday, July 27, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. and Brooklyn City Council Member David Greenfield co-hosted a citywide Latino/Jewish networking event in Manhattan.

The event, which brought together over 150 leaders from across the city, was designed to create dialogue between government and other professionals from both communities in order to discuss shared concerns and ways to develop strategic partnerships.

In addition to Borough President Diaz and Council Member Greenfield, the event was also attended by City Council Members Andrew Cohen, Rafael L. Espinal, Daniel R. Garodnick, Vanessa Gibson, Corey Johnson and Mark Levine, as well as dozens of leaders from across the city in government, business, clergy and the non-profit sector.

Bronx Borough President Diaz: Unemployment Drops Again

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. is praising new job numbers from the New York State Department of Labor, which show another drop in the borough’s unemployment rate and a significant increase in the county’s labor participation rate.

Newly released statistics from the New York State Department of Labor show The Bronx unemployment rate at 7.8% for June 2015, down from 9.7% in June 2014 and down from a peak of 13.9% in January 2010. In addition, these numbers indicate that roughly 20,500 more Bronx residents are employed now than in June 2014, and that the overall Bronx labor force grew by roughly 10,000 individuals over the same time period.

Since Borough President Diaz took office in 2009, The Bronx has seen more than $7 billion in total development, which has led to the creation of over 15,000 new jobs. In addition, a new partnership announced by Governor Andrew Cuomo announced in August between the New York State Department of Labor and the Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation, as part of the “NY Works,” program is placing Bronx residents in these jobs, helping to ensure that new development here benefits everyone, especially Bronxites.

The Department of Labor’s complete release can be found here.

Bronx Borough President Diaz: New York State Assembly Passes Resolution Commending FreshDirect

FreshDirect would like to thank the New York State Assembly for commending FreshDirect for the “efforts  of  its  dedicated  staff, whose involvement is, and always has been, characterized by an impressive commitment, an unbridled  enthusiasm,  and  an  uncompromising standard of excellence in all endeavors on behalf of the organization and the community it serves.”

The New York State Assembly passed a resolution commending FreshDirect at the end of this year’s legislative session. The effort to pass the resolution was led by Assemblymember Michael Blake from the Bronx’s 79th Assembly District.

The resolution acknowledges FreshDirect for helping the economy in the Bronx grow and for delivery of “top-quality groceries” that have been “instrumental in combatting health issues like obesity and diabetes,” by “increasing access to healthy food options.”

“FreshDirect has been an outstanding partner not only to my office but to the people of The Bronx. This resolution reflects the company’s strong commitment to our borough’s future as a partner on both economic development and environmental issues, and I congratulate them on this considerable honor,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.

Manhattan Borough President Brewer Report: Fewer than 10 Percent of Broadway Curb Cuts ADA-Compliant

Standing this morning at Broadway and East 11th Street, Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer issued a report finding that fewer than 10 percent of curb cuts along the entire length of Broadway in Manhattan fully comply with the specifications of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), whose 25th anniversary was celebrated last Sunday.

Starting in September 2014, more than 40 staff and volunteers from the Manhattan Borough President’s Office surveyed 1,357 locations where curb cuts are mandated by law along Broadway, from Bowling Green through Inwood. Of those locations, only 1,209 curb cuts could be located and measured. The remaining 142 curb cuts (10.5 percent) counted as missing were either entirely absent or obstructed by barriers. In addition:

  • 6 percent led directly into a pothole,
  • 18 percent were blocked by street furniture such as garbage cans, newsstands, or scaffolding,
  • 24 percent were crumbling,
  • 28 percent were too steeply sloped to comply with ADA specifications, and
  • Nearly 90 percent were missing the required “bumps” to warn vision-impaired New Yorkers of the presence of a ramp.

Under Section 19-152 of the New York City Administrative Code, property owners are responsible for the installation and repair of sidewalks adjoining their properties, including curb cuts, while the city Department of Transportation is responsible for inspections and oversight. When property owners are given notice of deficiencies and fail to maintain sidewalks, the Department of Transportation is authorized to retain private construction firms and bill property owners for the needed repairs.

In the report, Brewer states “this system is not working,” citing the widespread noncompliance her office’s canvass found along Broadway, and noting even when property owners undertake repairs, they are sometimes inconsistent with ADA specifications. Brewer’s report recommends the city step up efforts to educate property owners on their responsibilities and ADA requirements, and more resources for the Department of Transportation to undertake inspections and compliance work.

Brooklyn Borough President Adams Invites Brooklynites to Enjoy Free Entertainment at 33rd Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Concert Series

Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams invited New Yorkers of all ages to enjoy the free entertainment that is beginning tonight at the 2015 Martin Luther King Jr. Concert Series, the 33rd season of weekly performances held at Wingate Park in East Flatbush. All shows, which will be held on four consecutive Monday nights concluding on August 17th, are free to the public and begin at 7:30 PM.

The 2015 Martin Luther King Jr. Concert Series begins on Monday, July 27th with Morris Day and the Time. The Annual Gospel Night will be on Monday, August 3rd, with performances by Ricky Dillard & New G, Mike Willis & The Called, as well as the Christian Cultural Center Choir. On Monday, August 10th, VP Records Presents Reggae Night will include Freddie McGregor, Christopher Martin, New Kingston, and Ikaya. Old School Night will close out the series on Monday, August 17th with Doug E. Fresh, Kurtis Blow, and Special Ed.

Last week, Borough President Adams hosted The Seaside Summer Concerts 2015 Festival at MCU Park, a three-day series of shows attended by thousands of music lovers from across Brooklyn. Performers included JT Taylor “The Voice”, formerly of Kool & the Gang; The Lord Calverts; Starship featuring Mickey Thomas; N’Klabe; and Eddie Santiago.

City Agencies:

Chancellor Fariña Announces Expansion of Showcase Schools

Chancellor Carmen Fariña announced the expansion of Showcase Schools and the Middle School Quality Initiative (MSQI), key programs that support collaboration between school communities and lead to improved instruction across the City’s schools. For the 2015-16 school year, the Showcase Schools program will expand from 20 to 27 host schools, positioning more schools that excel in a specific area to open their doors to educators from other schools and share successful structures and strategies. MSQI, a citywide literacy program to improve middle school students’ pathways to success in high school and college, will grow from 87 to 108 schools – a 24% increase.

Showcase Schools host three half-day visits throughout the year to share promising practices in a specific learning focus area. On these tours, visiting educators explore innovative systems and structures aimed to better support student achievement. Then, educators bring these practices back to their own schools to drive improvements. In the program’s inaugural 2014-15 school year, 98.6% of participants found the visit experience to be valuable, and 55% of participants traveled out-of-borough to visit a Showcase site.

Through MSQI, middle schools receive a wide range of instructional supports, including coaching, funding, teacher and school leader professional development, as well as assessment resources. Across all grades, students in MSQI schools outpace national gains on the Degrees of Reading Power (DRP) literacy assessment. Struggling students benefited the most; over three years, students who could not read and comprehend a 3rd-grade level text independently saw the most significant gains on the DRP – 15 points over three years compared to 12.7 for other students.

Health Department Advises New Yorkers to Avoid Certain Ayurvedic Medications Found to Contain Elevated Levels of Arsenic, Lead, and Mercury

The New York City Health Department advises New Yorkers to avoid certain Ayurvedic medications made in India by Shree Baidyanath as they have been found to contain elevated levels of arsenic, lead, and mercury. The levels of heavy metals found in these medications manufactured exceed the limits for arsenic (3 ppm), lead (2 ppm), and/or mercury (1 ppm) for certain food additives as referenced by the Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine of the National Academies.

In many of these products, the heavy metal content greatly exceeded the acceptable limits. Products had levels as high as 27,000 ppm of mercury, 470 ppm of lead and 240 ppm of arsenic. People who regularly use products containing high levels of heavy metals are at an increased risk for harmful health effects, including damage to the brain, kidneys, nervous and reproductive systems. The Health Department issued Commissioner’s Orders to cease sales at neighborhood stores where the products were found.

Recommendations

  • New Yorkers should immediately stop using these products.
  • Those using these products should consult with their doctor and consider receiving tests for exposure to lead or other heavy metals.
  • Call 311 to report locations where these products are being sold.

For a list of products, please view the Health Alert. For additional information, please click here.

Health Department Investigating Outbreak of Legionnaires’ Disease in the South Bronx

The Health Department is currently investigating an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease in the South Bronx. Thirty-one cases have been reported since July 10. There have also been two deaths reported in patients with Legionnaires’ disease in these neighborhoods. The Health Department is actively investigating these deaths and their relationship to the outbreak. The Health Department is testing water from cooling towers and other potential sources in the area to determine the source of the outbreak. New Yorkers with respiratory symptoms, such as fever, cough, chills and muscle aches, are advised to promptly seek medical attention.

“We are concerned about this unusual increase in Legionnaires’ disease cases in the South Bronx,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett. “We are conducting a swift investigation to determine the source of the outbreak and prevent future cases. I urge anyone with symptoms to seek medical attention right away.”

Legionnaires’ disease is caused by the bacteria Legionella. Additional symptoms include: headache, fatigue, loss of appetite, confusion and diarrhea. Symptoms usually appear two to 10 days after significant exposure to Legionella bacteria. Most cases of Legionnaires’ disease can be traced to plumbing systems where conditions are favorable for Legionella growth, such as whirlpool spas, hot tubs, humidifiers, hot water tanks, cooling towers, and evaporative condensers of large air-conditioning systems.

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