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This Week in New York City Government

Mayor:

De Blasio Administration Announces Over $1.6 Billion in Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprise Awards for Fiscal Year 2015

Mayor de Blasio and M/WBE Director Maya Wiley announced that New York City awarded $1,618,103,913 – over $1.6 billion – in contracts to Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprises in Fiscal Year 2015. The City is on track to meet the administration’s ambitious goal of awarding $16 billion in M/WBE contracts across agencies over the next 10 years. The administration released the first citywide report on M/WBE awarding across all agencies, reporting awards for every agency, including non-mayoral agencies and Authorities.

In July, the Mayor issued a directive to all agencies proposing new accountability measures to increase M/WBE contracting. The City also reached a record-breaking number of certified M/WBEs in Fiscal Year 2015 – over 4,100. Roughly 1,500 of those – more than one-third – have been certified since the start of the de Blasio Administration. To help increase certification, the administration cut down red tape by making it easier to certify and re-certify online, introducing one-on-one certification application review sessions, and improving the Payee Information Portal to better identify and reach out to firms that are minority or women-owned, but may not be certified.

The City is also pursuing legislation in Albany that would give the City wider legal authority to create opportunities for M/WBEs. That legislation, which passed the Assembly in June, would, for example, grant the City the same authority the State has to make discretionary awards up to $200,000 to M/WBEs.

Read the full report here.

Mayor de Blasio Announces Tentative Contract Agreement with Organization of Staff Analysts – Bringing Over 84 Percent of Workforce Under Contract Settlement

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that the City of New York has reached a tentative contract agreement with the Organization of Staff Analysts (OSA), representing over 4,000 employees across City agencies and bringing over 84 percent of the workforce under contract settlement.

The agreement is consistent with the established civilian pattern and requires no new funding over previous budgetary projections. The proposed seven-year contract would begin, retroactively, on August 25, 2010 and expire on August 24, 2017.
The agreement also includes the unprecedented health care savings agreed upon with the Municipal Labor Committee, ensuring that these raises are affordable and responsible for the City and its taxpayers. In total, the MLC and the City have agreed to secure $3.4 billion in health care savings through Fiscal Year 2018, and $1.3 billion in savings every year thereafter; the FY2015 target of $400 million was achieved, and the City is fully on track for the FY2016 target of $700 million. The City and the municipal unions are securing cost-cutting measures, aimed at bending the curve of rising health care costs for the first time. These savings are guaranteed and enforceable by arbitration.

The City and the OSA also agreed to launch innovative pilot programs to allow employees and agencies to work collaboratively on work schedules that best support worker and operational needs.

The terms of the agreements must be approved by the union’s full in-service membership.

Fair Wages
For the 2010 to 2017 round of bargaining, employees will receive increases based on the established pattern:

February 25, 2012: 1.00%
February 25, 2013: 1.00%
February 25, 2014: 1.00%
February 25, 2015: 1.50%
February 25, 2016: 2.50%
February 25, 2017: 3.00%

The agreements also include a one-time $1,000 ratification payment.

Affordable Costs
The total cost of the tentative agreement is covered by the pattern settlement and will require no new funding above previous budgetary projections.

FY2015-2019:

Gross Cost: $167.9 million
Stabilization Fund & Health Savings: ($65.6 million)
Net Cost: $102.3 million

Mayor de Blasio: City Task Force on Times Square Announces Recommendations

The de Blasio administration announced today a series of recommendations to improve traffic, pedestrian plazas, the solicitation of tips, and a number of other issues in and around the Times Square area.

Over the past two months, a multiagency task force co-chaired by Police Commissioner William Bratton and City Planning Commissioner Carl Weisbrod, regularly spoke and met with Times Square business owners, advocates, elected officials, and others to create a series of comprehensive recommendations. The Task Force also included external stakeholders from the Times Square community and local elected officials. The task force also included representatives from the New York City Police Department, the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, the Department of Transportation, the Parks Department, the Law Department, the Department of Consumer Affairs, the Department of City Planning, Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice, NYC & Company, and Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development Alicia Glen.

The recommendations include:  increasing the police presence in Times Square with a dedicated unit that will develop familiarity with recurring issues; giving the City – through legislation to be developed in collaboration with the City Council – the ability to make rules regarding the time, place, and manner of soliciting tips and other activities in Times Square and in pedestrian plazas citywide;  completing construction of the Times Square plazas and evaluating after its completion whether any further improvements can be made; and, mitigating traffic and crowding during construction by limiting street fairs and adding traffic agents in the area.

“Times Square is the Crossroads the World, and our task force has created recommendations that will ensure Times Square is a great experience for the millions of New Yorkers, families and tourists that make it such a popular destination.” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “These are a positive and constructive set of recommendations and we look forward to working with the City Council moving forward.”

Mayor Bill de Blasio and DOT Commissioner Trottenberg Announce Full-Implementation of 30-Minute Staten Island Ferry Service

Mayor Bill de Blasio, Department of Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg, and Borough President James Oddo announced the full implementation of expanded 30-minute Staten Island Ferry Service effective October 1, 2015. The de Blasio administration’s new service standard, funded by the City, will ensure the ferries depart at intervals no longer than every half hour, a huge improvement for late-night and early morning commuters and travelers who have previously waited as long as an hour for boats. The Staten Island Ferry moves 70,000 passengers on weekdays and 22 million people a year between St. George on Staten Island and Whitehall Street in Lower Manhattan.

The new service schedule has additional trips starting at 1:30 a.m. on Thursday. The first trip is departing from St. George terminal at 1:30 a.m. and from Whitehall terminal at 2 a.m.

Local Law 88, passed by the City Council, authorized a feasibility study into establishing 30-minute service, after which the de Blasio administration committed to making 30-minute service a reality earlier this year. Initial expansion began on May 1 with six new round trips per week, one each on Saturday, Sunday and Monday nights and three on Sunday morning.  DOT wants to remind New Yorkers and visitors alike that the Staten Island service is free of charge. Cars, motorcycles and trucks are no longer allowed on the ferries. Travel time between Whitehall and Saint George terminals and vice versa is approximately 25 minutes.

Holiday service will follow the weekend schedule. Also, the weekend schedule is provided on the following holidays: New Year’s Day, Presidents’ Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day.

All schedules are subject to change without notice. For periods of reduced visibility or heavy weather, schedule may be adjusted.

De Blasio Administration to Help Prevent Homelessness by Adding Resources to Keep New Yorkers in Their Homes

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced $12.3 million on homelessness prevention services to expand free legal representation in Housing Court and help thousands of New Yorkers facing eviction or harassment stay in their homes.

The two City-funded legal service programs total to $46.3 million in Fiscal Year 2016, growing to $61.8 million in Fiscal Year 2017 – ten times the $6 million that was spent on anti-eviction programs in Fiscal Year 2013. The two programs will serve 32,700 households a year – over 113,000 individuals – when fully implemented.  In Fiscal Year 15, over 62,000 individuals were enrolled in HomeBase, a proven homelessness prevention program that connects families and individuals on the brink of homelessness to resources to help keep them in their homes. Over 35,000 individuals were supported through the City’s anti-eviction legal services and tenant protection program.

Families with children comprise the largest proportion of the City’s shelter census, accounting for over 40,000 individuals – including over 23,000 children – of the approximately 57,000 total individuals shelter. Eviction is one of the leading causes of homelessness for families with children. 30 percent of the heads of households for families with children in shelter are actively employed, and 46 percent of the heads of households for families with children in shelter (including those actively employed) had been employed within the past year. Women lead 91 percent of the families with children in shelter.

The City’s civil legal services programs have been consolidated at HRA. New York City has two anti-eviction and tenant protection legal services programs, both housed at HRA:

  • Anti-Eviction Legal Services: $25.8 million (including the new $12.3 million) in FY16. Fully implemented, this program will serve 19,000 households each year. This program is aimed at communities in which the highest numbers of children and adults are losing their homes and entering shelter.
  • Anti-Harassment Tenant Protection Program: $20.5 million in FY16, increasing to $36 million in FY17 and serving more than 13,700 households each year when fully implemented. This program is aimed at preventing tenant harassment in communities that will be designated for rezoning and was announced by the Mayor in the State of the City.

The additional $12.3 million will allow the Anti-Eviction Legal Services program to expand in the following areas:

  • Brooklyn: Bedford Stuyvesant, Bushwick, Crown Heights
  • Manhattan: Central and West Harlem
  • Queens:  Jamaica and South Jamaica
  • Bronx: Tremont and Williamsbridge
  • Staten Island:  Port Richmond and Mariner’s Harbor

The City is re-launching a homeless prevention public awareness campaign, “Imagine” – targeting 15 communities with residents most likely to enter homeless shelters and encouraging those at risk to access HomeBase services. The ads depict families with children in housing crises, asking parents to “Imagine being forced out of your home. Now imagine seeing your kids go through it.” This outreach is intended to encourage families with children and individuals to access prevention services early on, averting the need for shelter. Beginning in January of this year and running through April of this year, the campaign appeared on television and in print and was featured on subways, buses, and check-cashing facilities.

Mayor de Blasio Proposes NYC Divestment from Coal, Comprehensive Study of All Fossil Fuel Investments

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that he is proposing that New York City pension funds divest from coal, the administration’s latest initiative to take on climate change, as the City undertakes an ambitious sustainability plan and charts paths to an 80 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and the cleanest air of any large U.S. city by 2030. The Mayor also proposed that the pension funds develop a long-term investment strategy that evaluates the funds’ fossil fuel investments and makes recommendations to further reduce contributions to climate change while protecting retirees.

The City’s five pension funds’ assets total over $160 billion; that includes at least $33 million of exposure to thermal coal in the public markets. By divesting from these investments in coal, New York City can prudently ensure that its investments are aligned with its values when it comes to climate change and fossil fuels.

The Mayor’s Office will bring this proposal to all five New York City pension boards over the coming months to examine the specific impact and optimal reallocation of these assets. An analysis by the Mayor’s Office of Pensions and Investments found that divestment from coal poses little risk to pension fund returns, especially given the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s new clean power plant rules and increased regulatory limitations on emissions, which help reduce the attractiveness of thermal coal as an investment.

The five primary pension funds for New York City employees include the New York City Employees’ Retirement System; the Teachers’ Retirement System of the City of New York; the New York City Police Pension Fund; the New York City Fire Department Pension Fund; and the New York City Board of Education Retirement System. Mayor de Blasio has undertaken an ambitious plan to reduce New York City’s environmental footprint, committing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent by 2050 and dramatically increasing the use of renewable energy – including through a recent Request for Information that aims to power 100 percent of City government operations from renewables.

Mayor de Blasio Launches Retrofit Accelerator, Providing Key Support for Buildings to go Green as NYC Works Toward 80X50

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the official launch of the NYC Retrofit Accelerator, which will provide free technical assistance and advisory services for building owners to go green through critical energy efficiency, water conservation, and clean energy upgrades. The program is anticipated to reduce citywide greenhouse gas emissions by roughly one million metric tons per year by 2025, by accelerating retrofits in up to 1,000 properties per year by 2025 – the equivalent of almost 200,000 passenger vehicles taken off the roads – while saving New Yorkers an estimated $350 million a year in utility costs and generating over 400 local construction-related jobs.

The NYC Retrofit Accelerator is a key step forward as the City works toward a dramatic reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, with a goal of reducing emissions 80 percent by 2050. With buildings comprising nearly three-quarters of New York City’s emissions, Mayor de Blasio unveiled a sweeping plan last year ­– One City, Built to Last – that committed to retrofitting all public buildings with any significant energy use by 2025, and supporting (and, if needed, mandating) many private buildings to do the same. Those goals were expanded upon in OneNYC, released this spring.

Building owners can now register for the Accelerator by visitingnyc.gov/retrofitaccelerator or calling 311.

The Retrofit Accelerator will provide a dedicated team of efficiency advisors free of charge to assist building owners and operators take action, including selecting cost-saving retrofit projects for their buildings, completing the necessary permitting, acquiring financing and incentives to help cover the costs, training building staff, and completing measurement and verification of the completed measures. The Accelerator will use the information collected by Local Laws 84 and 87 of 2009, which require buildings to measure their energy and water use annually and conduct an energy audit and retro-commissioning once every ten years, providing useful information about potential areas for efficiency improvements.

The program is geared toward buildings that are required to comply with Local Laws 84 and 87, that are still burning heavy heating oil (No. 6 or No. 4 oil), or that are participating in an NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) or NYC Housing Development Corporation (HDC) program; however, the Accelerator will also work with small buildings that don’t have to comply with the City’s building energy regulations in order to determine the right program to improve their efficiency.

NYC Carbon Challenge
Mayor de Blasio also announced a major expansion of the NYC Carbon Challenge, with over 700 multifamily residential buildings joining nearly 40 major institutions in pledging to voluntarily reduce their building-based emissions by 30 percent or more within ten years.

More than two-thirds of the 700 multifamily buildings participating in the Challenge are affordable housing or serve low-to-moderate income residents. Nearly 40 universities, hospitals, commercial firms, and residential property management companies have made the Carbon Challenge pledge, including 12 that have expanded their commitment to a 50 percent reduction in emissions by 2025: Barnard College, Bloomberg LP, Deutsche Bank, the Fashion Institute of Technology, Google, the NYC Health and Hospitals Corporation, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Montefiore Medical Center, NewYork Presbyterian/Queens, New York University, NYU Langone Medical Center, and the School of Visual Arts.

This expansion was a key initiative in One City: Built to Last and provides a successful model for the retrofitting of buildings around the city. In total, current participants make up more than 250 million square feet of real estate and account for nearly seven percent of citywide building-based emissions. These participants are expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 515,000 metric tons (the equivalent of removing more than 100,000 passenger vehicles from the city’s roads) and save $220 million in reduced energy costs by the end of the program.

NYC Clean Heat
The Retrofit Accelerator will build on the successful program model of NYC Clean Heatin assisting private building owners; it will also continue Clean Heat’s work directly by providing assistance to owners of buildings still burning No. 4 heavy heating oil in converting to cleaner fuel. This summer, No. 6 heating oil – the most polluting heating oil previously available in New York City – was fully phased out in New York City. Across the five boroughs, there is an unprecedented 99.8 percent compliance rate with the NYC Department of Environmental Protection’s regulations banning the use of No. 6 oil.

Since 2012, a total of nearly 6,000 buildings in NYC have converted from No. 6 or No. 4 oil to a cleaner fuel – with 1,500 conversions happening in the last year alone. PM 2.5 emissions from buildings that were previously burning No. 6 and No. 4 oil have been reduced by 65 percent. Overall, citywide reductions in sulfur dioxide levels have dropped 69 percent since 2008 and citywide PM 2.5 emissions have been reduced by 23 percent – estimated to prevent roughly 600 premature deaths, 400 hospital admissions, and 1,200 emergency department visits in New York City each year.

Citywide and Borough Electeds:

Council to Vote to Combat Spread of “K2” and Other Synthetic Drugs

The City Council will vote on a legislative package of 3 bills to combat the spread of “K2” synthetic cannabinoids in New York City through increased enforcement and stronger penalties. The Council will also vote on legislation ensuring increased transparency with regard to safety and discipline in city schools. Finally, the Council will approve landmark designation for the Stonewall Inn, an iconic historical location in the LGBT equality movement.

“K2” Synthetic Marijuana
The use of “K2”, a popular synthetic cannabinoid product, has become widespread in certain areas of New York City. While it is advertised as an alternative to marijuana, sometimes even being referred to as “synthetic marijuana,” the effects of K2 are unpredictable and can be dangerous. While K2 is illegal, manufacturers and distributors exploit legal loopholes to keep the product on the street. The Council is voting on a package of three bills to help reign in the spread and sale of K2.

Introduction 917-A, sponsored by Council Member Ruben Wills, will prohibit the manufacture and sale of synthetic cannabinoids (sometimes referred to as synthetic marijuana, K2, or other brand names) and synthetic phenethylamine (sometimes sold as “bath salts”) or imitations of these substances. In addition to criminal and civil penalties, the bill will authorize the sealing of businesses that violate the provisions of this bill twice in a three-year period. It will not criminalize possession of these substances if such substances are not manufactured, being sold, offered for sale, displayed for sale, distributed for sale, or possessed with intent to sell them by the possessing individual.

Introduction 885-A, sponsored by Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, will mandate the suspension of a cigarette dealer license for any licensed cigarette dealer who violates the provisions of the proposed synthetic drug prohibition outlined in Introduction 917-A. The bill will create a mandatory revocation for a second violation of such proposed prohibition. It will also allow the Department of Consumer Affairs commissioner to take such violations into account as they consider whether to grant future cigarette dealer licenses to such violator.

Additionally, Introduction 897, sponsored by Council Member Garodnick, will add violations of Introduction 917-A to the factors that allow the declaration of a public nuisance under the City’s Nuisance Abatement Law. The bill will allow a court, under the Nuisance Abatement Law, to issue restraining and closing orders against premises that repeatedly violate the proposed synthetic drug prohibition. All three of these bills will go into effect 60 days after becoming law.

Student Safety
Introduction 730-A, sponsored by Council Member Vanessa Gibson, will expand the current reporting that the Department of Education (DOE) provides to the Council relating to school discipline pursuant to Local Law 6 of 2011, known as the Student Safety Act. Specifically, it will require expanded reporting from the DOE relating to student suspensions, teacher removals, student transfers during suspension, and instances where EMS is called and students are transported to a hospital.

The bill also requires the New York City Police Department (NYPD) to report on data relating to the use of handcuffs in schools, arrests, summonses and violations issued in a school or on school grounds, complaints lodged against School Safety Agents (SSA’s), as well as injuries sustained by SSA’s due to student misconduct. NYPD would also be required to report on permanent and temporary metal detectors in schools. This bill will take effect on January 1st, 2016.

Stonewall Inn
The City Council will vote to designate the Stonewall Inn as an historic landmark. The Stonewall Inn is well-known as an important site in the history of the movement towards Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGMT) civil rights. It was the site of the June 28, 1969 “Stonewall Rebellion,” one of the first major public protests against police and government oppression of LGBT communities, an event that gave rise to numerous advocacy organizations and the tradition of celebrating June as LGBT Pride Month.

Speaker Mark-Viverito, Council Members Donovan Richards, Costa Constantinides, and Julissa Ferreras Announce Funding of Greener NYC Initiative

Speaker Mark-Viverito, Council Member Donovan Richards, Council Environmental Protection Chair Costa Constantinides, and Council Finance Chair Julissa Ferreras joined numerous New York City environmental groups at Green Force City to announce over $1 million dollars in funding for the “Greener NYC” Initiative. The initiative supports environmentally friendly focused programs that encourage education, advocacy, community service, and green-job training contributing to the improvement and conservation of New York City’s air, land, energy, open space, and other vital resources.

The Greener NYC Initiative is part of the City Council’s ongoing commitment to making New York a more environmentally friendly city. In 2014, the Council announced a climate change platform to make New York City greener, more energy efficient, and more sustainable. This platform includes, among many other measures, legislation to reduce the city’s car fleet and update the municipal air code for the first time in over 40 years. Most significantly, Local Law 66 of 2014, which the Council passed by a vote of 47-0, will require New York City to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80% before the year 2050.

Funded organizations include:
• Alley Pond Environmental Center, Inc.
• CEC STUYVESANT COVE INC AKA Solar One
• Eastern Queens Alliance
• Green City Force
• Greenbelt Conservancy, Inc.
• Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance, Inc.
• New York Botanical Garden
• New York Restoration Project
• North Shore Waterfront Conservancy Of Staten Island, Inc.
• Prospect Park Alliance, Inc.
• Queens Botanical Garden Society, Inc.
• Rockaway Waterfront Alliance
• Sustainable South Bronx
• West Harlem Environmental Action, Inc.
• New York Aquarium WCS
• Zimmer Club Youth Conservation Program of Staten Island, Inc.
• Protectors of Pine Oak Woods Inc.
• Van Cortlandt Park Conservancy
• Council on the Environment, Inc.
• City Growers Inc.
• Friends of Hudson River Park, Inc.
• Bed-Stuy Campaign Against Hunger
• Friends of the Highline
• Brooklyn Queens Land Trust
• Goddard Riverside Community Center
• St. Nick’s Alliance

Bronx Borough President Diaz Proposes Creation of a “Lowline” Park in Mott Haven 

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. has issued a letter to Mayor Bill de Blasio concerning the creation of a “Lowline” park and other development along the CSX right-of-way in Mott Haven.

You can read the letter here: http://on.nyc.gov/1FGhfOR.

Bronx Borough President Diaz Economy Grows, Unemployment Falls 

The Bronx economy continues to grow and improve, according to recently released numbers from the New York State Department of Labor. The unemployment rate in The Bronx fell to 7.3 percent in August 2015, down from 7.7 percent in July 2015 and 9.5 percent in August 2014. In January 2010, the borough’s unemployment rate hit an all-time high of 14.1 percent.

Those same statistics show that the borough’s labor force participation rate grew by 7,000 since August 2014, with about 19,600 more Bronxites employed and roughly 12,600 residents of Bronx County coming off the unemployment rolls. Earlier this month, Borough President Diaz co-hosted a job fair with the New York State Department of Labor and the Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation. The event featured representatives of 23 companies offering 1,000 jobs, and was attended by hundreds of individuals.

Also in September, Borough President Diaz cut the ribbon at the new home of tech firm Doran Jones in Port Morris. The company’s new Urban Development Center will bring hundreds of high-­tech jobs and millions in economic development to the South Bronx. The Department of Labor’s complete release can be found at http://on.ny.gov/1Fwtb65.

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.

Bronx Borough Presdient Diaz: The 21st Annual Tour de Bronx Registration is Now Open

Registration for the 21st Annual Tour de Bronx, the largest free cycling event in New York State, is now open. The event was established in 1994 by the office of the Bronx Borough President and The Bronx Tourism Council as a means to promote a healthier lifestyle, an alternate mode of transportation and a way to tour the burgeoning neighborhoods, scenic waterfronts and greenways of the borough.

Participants come from all over the country to ride one of two possible routes: The 25-mile ride takes riders through the south, east and mid portion of the borough including the Mott Haven district, Clason Point along the East River, andPelham Bay Park, the largest park in New York boasting nearly 3,000 acres of natural forest; The 40-mile route includes a visit to the historic Fort Schuyler on the Throggs Neck peninsula, the nautical community of City Island and the northwest communities such as Woodlawn and Riverdale. Both rides conclude at the iconic New York Botanical Garden where riders receive a complimentary souvenir T-shirt and enjoy a live musical performance as they relax from the day’s festivities.

The New York City Department of Transportation will fit and distribute free bicycle helmets from 8am to noon (while supplies last) and Metro North Railroad will waive their bicycle permit requirements and quantity limits for the day. Throughout the years, the event has grown exponentially. In 2014 the Tour de Bronx saw a record-breaking 7,000+ participants from all over the country as well as a few who come from abroad.

The Tour de Bronx is made possible by Montefiore Medical Center; Bronx Lebanon Hospital Center and St. Barnabas Health System. Additional support is provided by Transportation Alternatives, The Coca Cola Company, Domino’s Pizza and Clif Bar.

For more information and to register for the 21st Annual Tour de Bronx, visit  www.ilovethebronx.com.

Brooklyn Borough President Adams, Manhattan Borough President Brewer and Norman Siegel Unveil Report on Improving Police – Community Relations

Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams, Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer, and civil rights attorney Norman Siegel unveiled a new report with recommendations for improving police-community relations. The findings in “Improving Police-Community Relations” are taken from feedback gathered from over a thousand New Yorkers at a series of community forums they convened in both boroughs, as well as four digital dialogues hosted by Borough President Adams with students across Brooklyn, connecting over Google Hangout.

“As a victim of police brutality during my teenage years, and later as a man who decided to work from the inside of One Police Plaza to achieve reform, I know on a personal level what is at stake if we cannot restore the symbiotic relationship between the community and police: the safety and security of New Yorkers lie in the balance,” said Borough President Adams. “The town halls and digital dialogues we hosted in Brooklyn with hundreds of New Yorkers were more than an opportunity for emotional release; they were a crucial exercise in understanding where police-community relations are and where they need to go. It is my hope that this report, and all of the efforts and energies that went into it, help to strengthen our foundation with a greater understanding of the challenges that lie ahead of us. Moreover, I look forward to a thoughtful consideration of the recommendations this process has borne as opportunities to make New York City a more safe, just, and equitable place to raise healthy children and families.”

The report made a number of recommendations, including: ensuring the NYPD Patrol Guide and training materials concerning stop and frisk procedures clearly guide officers on compliance with the Supreme Court’s standards for “reasonable suspicion”; establishing a permanent Statewide Independent Special Prosecutor to investigate allegations of misconduct; strengthening the Civilian Complaint Review Board system with an increased budget, greater staff resources, and disciplinary authority; lengthening Police Academy Training from six months to a full year; offering sabbaticals at partial salary to NYPD officers; reforming “Broken Windows” policing by decriminalizing many non-threatening behaviors; and implementing body cameras for patrol officers only once proper protocols are in place. Changes prescribed to strengthen community and neighborhood policing include: creating a new NYPD diversity plan that allows peace officers to take the police exam if they have served honorably for at least two years in their roles; assigning more officers to Community Affairs and Youth roles in police precincts; assigning more experienced patrol officers to regular beats; and establishing different hiring, training, and evaluation criteria for officers engaged in “Neighborhood Policing” work. The report also endorses enhancing NYPD officers’ training in conflict de-escalation and sensitivity, rotating patrol officers weekly between cars and foot patrol, and increasing psychological screening for Academy applicants and current officers. Many of these ideas were raised directly by community members in one or more of the town halls and digital dialogues.

The report is available online on Borough President Adams’s website by visiting brooklyn-usa.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/NYPD-Town-Hall-Report-FINAL.pdf and on Borough President Brewer’s website by visiting manhattanbp.nyc.gov/downloads/pdf/NYPD%20Town%20Hall%20Report.pdf.

Brooklyn Borough President Adams Calls for Citywide Ferry Plan to Include MTA Fare Integration, Better Community Access to Ferry Landings

Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams called for Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) fare integration and better community access to ferry landings in testimony he submitted to the New York City Economic Development Corporation (EDC) regarding an Environmental Impact Study Scoping Hearing for Mayor Bill de Blasio’s citywide ferry plan. The hearing, held at Brooklyn Borough Hall, reviewed a plan that, according to EDC, would consist of six routes and carry an estimated 4.6 million trips per year when fully operational in 2018. While he applauded the ferry’s fare structure for aligning its fares with that of single-trip MTA rides, he stressed the need for integrating into the next generation payment system, as well as providing free transfers in the short-term, in order to “generate ridership and effectively [connect] the City’s transit networks.” Additionally, Borough President Adams called on the City to work with EDC to give greater consideration to the need for ferry service to connect ferry landings seamlessly with MTA bus routes, Citi Bike stations, general bicycle routes, and safer pedestrian connections.

Borough President Adams applauded EDC’s overall plan, particularly its call for the introduction of a Southern Brooklyn local ferry route which would provide reliable service to Bay Ridge, Sunset Park, Red Hook, Brooklyn Heights, and DUMBO; he added his belief that there was potential for an additional stop in Sunset Park in proximity to the Bush Terminal complex. He also supported the Rockaway ferry proposal which would include express ferry service to Bay Ridge, and suggested that the route “could subsequently be modified after initial success to add service to the Canarsie Pier, the marina opposite Aviator Sports in Dead Horse Bay, Plumb Beach, and Coney Island (possibly [the] West 21st Street landing in Coney Island Creek).”

In addition, Borough President Adams called on EDC to improve the existing plan by revisiting its site selection process in Red Hook, based on local concerns regarding “distance to the nearest points of transportation and to concentrations of community residents,” as well as the potential impact of adverse seasonal weather conditions, at the Beard Store site and Valentino Pier. He proposed greater consideration of a ferry landing closer to the dead end of Van Brunt Street, the dead end of Wolcott Street, or Atlantic Basin.

Borough President Adams’s testimony can be viewed on his website by visiting brooklyn-usa.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/Citywide-Ferry-Service-EIS-Scope-BP-Testimony-Comments.pdf.

Brooklyn Borough President Adams Convenes Brooklyn Task Force on Early Childhood Development

Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams convened the first meeting of the Brooklyn Task Force on Early Childhood Development, aimed at promoting the healthy growth of Brooklynites ages zero to three, along with their families, as well as helping to expand existing evidence-based development programs and bring new programs to children and families across the borough. In the months ahead, the task force will be working on making policy recommendations to Borough President Adams that address family risk factors for adversity that can impair early childhood development, such as illiteracy, mental illness, and poverty. Borough President Adams spoke about the importance of this effort, which will include creating a resource guide of evidence-based early childhood development programs available in Brooklyn.

Borough President Adams is co-chairing the task force with State Senator Daniel Squadron, a leading voice in the New York State Legislature for early childhood development initiatives such as universal home visiting. The Parent-Child Home Program (PCHP), a social services organization providing home-based literacy education and parenting support for underserved families, is serving as lead partner amongst the group of participants, which includes practitioners such as Nurse-Family Partnership as well as advocates, community stakeholders, and local hospitals.

Borough President Adams highlighted the lasting impact of sustained investment in infants’ cognitive, emotional, mental, and social development, noting research has shown children participating in early learning programs have significantly fewer needs related to corrections, special education, or welfare than their counterparts. Additionally, he noted that investing early in children’s futures can result in increased tax revenues later in life, along with decreased public expenditures on social services.

Brooklyn Borough President Adams Releases Bilingual Brooklyn Parent Guide to Public Education, Helping Brooklynites Navigate City Resources for Students

Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams released English and Spanish versions of the Brooklyn Parent Guide to Public Education, a handbook compiled to help Brooklyn parents navigate City resources for students. The guide addresses important educational issues such as pre-K enrollment, high school admissions, career and technical schools, special education, and charter schools. It also provides contact information for various offices in the New York City Department of Education as well as Community Education Councils representing families Brooklyn and citywide.

“I am a firm believer in the principle that the more Brooklyn parents are involved in their children’s education, the better the results are for our students and for our borough’s future,” wrote Borough President Adams in the guide’s introduction. “Whether you are looking for information on enrollment, finding your zoned school, getting safety or transportation services, or simply need to speak to someone about the many programs available for your child, just turn to the correct page in this guide and you will find the key you need to unlock the answer.”

The English version of the guide can be viewed on Borough President Adams’s website by visiting brooklyn-usa.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/Parents-Ed-Guide-September-10-2015_FINAL-.pdf; the Spanish version can be found atbrooklyn-usa.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/Parents-Ed-Guide-September-2015_UPDATE-spanish-FINAL.pdf .

City Agencies:

Housing Preservation & Development Commissioner Been Announces Beginning of the 2015-2016 “Heat Season” – Reminding Landlords of their Legal Obligation to Provide Heat and Hot Water to Tenants

New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) Commissioner Vicki Been reminds residential building owners of their legal obligation to provide tenants with hot water year-round and heat when the outdoor temperature warrants it. The 2015-2016 “heat season” begins today, October 1st, and continues through May 31st 2016.

During heat season, residential building owners with tenants are required by law to maintain an indoor temperature of at least 68 degrees Fahrenheit between 6:00 A.M. and 10:00 P.M. when the outdoor temperature falls below 55 degrees. Between 10:00 P.M. and 6:00 A.M., building owners must maintain an indoor temperature of 55 degrees when the outside temperature falls below 40 degrees. It is legally required that hot water is maintained at 120 degrees year-round.

In the event of a heat deficiency, a tenant should first attempt to notify the building owner, managing agent or superintendent. If heat is not restored, the tenant should register a complaint via 311. Tenants should call 311, the City’s central 24-hours-per-day, seven-days-a-week information and complaint line, or file complaints via 311 Online at www.nyc.gov/311. Hearing-impaired tenants can register complaints via a Touchtone Device for the Deaf TDD at (212) 504-4115.  Tenants can now also file heat and hot water complaints easily from their Android or iPhone using 311MOBILE.  Once the 311 mobile app is downloaded, the tenant simply opens the app and selects “Make a Complaint” from the main menu. Tenants can then select “Heat or Hot Water” from the complaint menu.  The app will identify the customer’s location and list the address as the complaint location. Once the customer confirms the address, he or she may select the type of condition – i.e. no heat, no hot water, or both – and indicate if one unit or the whole building is affected.

When the complaint is received, HPD attempts to contact the building’s owner or managing agent to have heat or hot water service restored. Before an HPD code inspector is dispatched to the building, HPD will call the tenant back to determine if service has been restored. If the tenant indicates that service has not been restored, an HPD inspector is sent to the building to verify the complaint and, if it is warranted, will issue a violation and attempt to access the boiler to assess the problem. If HPD receives multiple heat complaints from the same building, the inspector will attempt to inspect the first apartment that calls in a complaint. If the inspector observes that heat is not adequate in that apartment, a violation will be issued for the building and the inspector will not attempt an inspection at every apartment in the building that called in a duplicate heat complaint. If the inspector cannot access the first apartment, inspections are attempted at other apartments that registered duplicate complaints. If inspectors cannot access any apartments that registered complaint, they will also knock on doors of apartments that did not call in heat complaints to request access to perform a heat inspection.

Health Department Investigating Cluster of Legionnaires’ Disease in Morris Park Section of the Bronx

The Health Department is currently investigating a cluster of seven Legionnaires’ disease cases in the Morris Park section of the Bronx. This cluster is unrelated to the outbreak in the South Bronx this summer that was attributed to Legionella found in the cooling tower of the Opera House Hotel. Patients in the current cluster live or work in Morris Park, range in age from 45 to 75 and are all currently hospitalized. There have been no deaths. New Yorkers with respiratory symptoms, such as fever, cough, chills and difficulty breathing, are advised to promptly seek medical attention.

As soon as the possibility of a cluster was identified, DOHMH began an aggressive response:

  • The Health Department was notified of these seven cases between Sept. 21 and Sept. 27
  • On Sept. 21, when the first case was reported, the Health Department’s disease detectives began investigating immediately. This work initially involves interviewing patients and reviewing medical records.
  • Since Saturday, environmental scientists visited all cooling towers and took samples.
  • Issued a Health Alert to providers advising them to look for symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease, conduct appropriate tests on patients, and provide proper samples to the Department for lab testing
  • Conducting tests at our Public Health Lab and the New York State Wadsworth Center
  • Monitoring Emergency Department visits for pneumonia among residents of Morris Park, which have remained at normal levels
  • Identifying facilities such as nursing homes and senior centers where vulnerable populations live in and near Morris Park. The Department will work with other City agencies to send staff to these locations, distributing Frequently Asked Questions about Legionnaires’ disease, answering questions and reminding people to seek care immediately if they have symptoms such as fever, chills and muscle ache.

About Legionnaires’ Disease
Legionnaires’ disease is caused by the bacteria Legionella, and New York City sees 200-300 cases each year. Additional symptoms include: headache, fatigue, loss of appetite, confusion and diarrhea. Symptoms usually appear two (2) 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.

Legionnaires’ disease cannot be spread from person to person. Groups at high risk for Legionnaire’s disease include people who are middle-aged or older – especially cigarette smokers – people with chronic lung disease or weakened immune systems and people who take medicines that weaken their immune systems (immunosuppressive drugs). Those with symptoms should call their doctor and ask about testing for Legionnaire’s disease. New York City’s drinking water supply and drinking water tanks are unaffected.

Health Department Launches “Maybe The IUD” Campaign to Increase Awareness of This Effective and Low-Maintenance Birth Control Option

The New York City Health Department announced the launch of “Maybe the IUD,” a public education campaign to increase awareness of the intrauterine device (IUD), a highly effective, low-maintenance birth control option. The campaign, which will include subway and online ads, social media, print materials and a website, provides information about a full range of birth control options, and stresses the importance of getting accurate information about contraceptive options, so that every woman can choose the method that best meets her needs and lifestyle.  Campaign materials also recognize the importance of using condoms to prevent sexually transmitted infections including HIV. Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett was joined at LaGuardia Community College by LaGuardia President Gail O. Mellow, Dr. Ayman El-Mohandes, Dean, CUNY School of Public Health, Ashwini Hardikar, Director of Adolescent Sexual Health at the Grand Street Settlement, and two CUNY students, Anna Jankowski and Carla Peralta.

The Health Department is partnering with the City University of New York (CUNY) on this campaign. CUNY is a key partner in reaching young adults who often have limited access to sexual and reproductive health care information and services.  The “Maybe the IUD” campaign is part of a broader five-year initiative to increase awareness, access, utilization and coordination of a full continuum of sexual and reproductive health and related services.  The campaign aims, in part, to spark a citywide dialogue around sexual and reproductive health justice – which promotes individual choice and body autonomy within the context of our nation’s history of reproductive oppression and coercion directed at women of color and low-income women.  The reproductive justice framework states that every woman has the right to:

  • Decide if and when she will have a child and the conditions under which she will give birth.
  • Decide if she will not have a child and her options for preventing or ending a pregnancy.
  • Parent the child(ren) she has with the necessary social supports in safe environments and healthy communities, and without threat of violence

To this end, the Health Department is working with diverse community stakeholders to plan activities complementary to the campaign, as well as to help shape the future work of the five-year initiative.

The Health Department is committed to ensuring that women and their partners know what their birth control options are so that they can choose a method that works best for them.  In 2013, almost 40% of New York City women aged 18 to 45 who had vaginal sex in the past year did not use birth control, despite the fact that most of these women did not intend to become pregnant. This indicates that more can be done to educate women about the range of available birth control options and assure that they have easy access to all options. Among those who used birth control, the most popular methods were condoms (63.4%) and the pill (35.3%).  About 8.4% of women using birth control used IUDs or contraceptive implants.

As part of its commitment to sexual and reproductive justice, the Health Department wants to ensure that low-income women and women of color who want to prevent or delay pregnancy – those for whom a history of reproductive oppression may still resonate – can take control of their reproductive health and choose the method that best meets their needs. Preventing unintended pregnancy is more difficult for women with the least resources: among women who gave birth in 2011, 46% of those in the lowest-income households (<$10,000) reported that their pregnancy was unintended, compared with 20% of women in the highest-income (>$75,000) households.  Increasing awareness of birth control options, including the IUD, will support all women to make informed choices.

 

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