This Week in New York City Government
De Blasio Administration Announces Record-Breaking Number of 311 Contacts with New Yorkers in 2014
The de Blasio administration announced that 311, New York City’s primary source of government information and non-emergency services, set a record in 2014 for the most annual customer contacts—over 28 million—in its history. This surpasses the previous record set in 2011 by approximately 16 percent.
New Yorkers contact 311 on a host of issues, ranging from information requests about expanded services like pre-kindergarten to heat-related inquiries and parking tickets. In November, the City launched a revamped 311 Mobile App, which allows tenants to file heat and hot water complaints from their mobile devices for the first time.
De Blasio Administration Bans Single-Use Styrofoam Products in New York City Beginning July 1, 2015
The de Blasio Administration announced that as of July 1, 2015, food service establishments, stores and manufacturers may not possess, sell, or offer for use single service Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) foam articles or polystyrene loose fill packaging, such as “packing peanuts” in New York City.
After consultation with corporations, including Dart Container Corporation, non-profits, vendors and other stakeholders, the Department of Sanitation (DSNY), has determined that Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) Foam cannot be recycled, which led to the ban. DSNY also determined that there currently is no market for post-consumer EPS collected in a curbside metal, glass, and plastic recycling program. As a result of the ban, manufacturers and stores may not sell or offer single-use foam items such as cups, plates, trays, or clamshell containers in the City. The sale of polystyrene loose fill packaging, such as “packing peanuts” is also banned.
Mayor de Blasio and Chancellor Fariña to Lift School Cell Phone Ban
Mayor Bill de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña announced the City will lift the ban on cell phones at schools, a policy affecting all 1.1 million students. The change will better enable parents to stay in touch with their children, especially before and after school. It will also end the inequity under the current ban, which was enforced mostly at schools with metal detectors in low-income communities.
The existing Chancellor’s Regulation bans cell phones and other electronic devices like iPads from school property. Students are required to leave their cell phones at home or leave them outside the building, often incurring a daily charge for private storage that can cost a family on average $180 each year.
The reform announced today lifts the ban, and, if approved by the Panel for Educational Policy in February, will take effect in all schools on March 2. It allows for each school’s principal to consult with School Leadership Teams in developing a cell phone policy tailored for the unique needs of their students. As part of the change, schools will increase education and training to identify and prevent cyber-bullying, including a “Misuse It, You Lose It” policy.
De Blasio Administration, New York City Council, City’s Three Public Library Systems Announce IDNYC Integration With Library Cards
The de Blasio administration, New York City Council, and City’s three library systems today announced the integration of the IDNYC municipal identification program with library cards in the New York, Brooklyn and Queens public library systems. This is the first time a single card will be accepted by all three city library systems.
Five of the City’s most-trafficked library branches will act as enrollment centers for the IDNYC program, which launches in mid-January, creating ease of access for applicants. The City will open a total of 11 permanent public enrollment centers across the five boroughs at launch in mid-January for all New Yorkers and six additional enrollment centers for clients of the Human Resources Administration and the Department of Probation. Late in January, the City will launch two rotating pop-up enrollment centers to fill geographic gaps and create increased accessibility for all New Yorkers. An additional public enrollment center will open in Spring 2015.
Mayor de Blasio, District Attorney Vance Announce $101 Million Investment in Infrastructure and Programming to Enhance Safety in NYCHA Developments
Mayor de Blasio and Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr. announced significant new investments to enhance security at targeted New York City Housing Authority developments, as part of the administration’s initiative to build stronger families and safer neighborhoods for people living in public housing developments.
The Manhattan DA’s Office—using a portion of funds forfeited by French bank BNP Paribas for violating U.S. sanctions—is committing approximately $101 million to fund key infrastructure upgrades, such as additional exterior and interior security cameras, exterior permanent lighting, new doors and layered (keyfob) access, as well as additional public safety evaluation and programming.
The announcement builds on the Mayor’s Action Plan for Neighborhood Safety, the $210.5 million plan announced by Mayor de Blasio in July 2014 to strengthen neighborhoods and reduce violent crime at the 15 NYCHA developments that account for nearly 20 percent of all violent crime in public housing through more targeted law enforcement efforts, immediate physical improvements, aggressive community engagement and outreach efforts, and the expansion of work and education programs. This initiative includes $25 million from the City Council and the City Council Speaker’s Office to fund infrastructure improvements.
Mayor de Blasio Announces Tentative Contract Agreements with School Custodians, Firemen, and Stationary Engineers
Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that the City of New York has reached a tentative contract agreement with Local 891 International Union of Operating Engineers, which represents public school custodians.
Additionally, Local 891 has reached a tentative contract agreement with Local 94 International Union of Operating Engineers, which represents school firemen and stationary engineers who work primarily in the City’s public schools but are not employees of the City’s; rather, Local 891 serves as their individual employer.
To date, the de Blasio administration has reached contract agreements with over 71 percent of the City workforce that had previously been working under expired contracts.
Local 891’s 880 employees have worked without a contract since 2008; Local 94’s 1,147 employees have worked without a contract since 2007.
Todays’ two tentative agreements are consistent with the pattern established by the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) contract earlier this year and require no new funding over previous budgetary projections. The proposed nine-year contract with Local 891 would begin, retroactively, on January 1, 2008 and expire on December 31, 2016. The proposed nine-year contract with Local 94 would begin, retroactively, on October 22, 2007 and expire on October 21, 2016.
Mayor de Blasio and Commissioner Bratton Announce 2014 Saw Fewest Murders in Recorded City History; Lowest Murders, Robberies, Burglaries in 10 Years
Mayor Bill de Blasio and Police Commissioner Bill Bratton announced 2014 saw the fewest murders last year in recorded city history. The Mayor and Commissioner also announced the city saw the lowest murder, robbery and burglary rates in the past 10 years. In 2014, Overall Index Crime was down 4.6 percent since the previous year, Overall Index Crime in transit was down 14.8 percent over the previous year, and housing crime was down 6 percent over the previous year. In 2014, marijuana arrests dropped 10.5 percent over the previous year. In 2014, complaints to the Civilian Complaint Review Board also dropped 11 percent compared to the previous year.
Over the past year, the de Blasio administration has invested over $350 million to make the NYPD safer and more effective, including providing tablets and smartphones for every patrol car and officer, in-service training for the entire department, and a new body camera pilot program to increase transparency and accountability. The administration also invested $210 million in NYCHA anti-violence programs, launched a $130 million plan to reduce crime among those with behavioral and mental health issues, and invested $12.7 million in gun-violence reduction programs in 14 key precincts.
Citywide and Borough Electeds:
Public Advocate James Holds Hearing on Proposed Comcast/Time Warner Cable Merger
On Thursday, December 11, 2014, New York City Public Advocate Letitia James, along with Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and New York City Council Member Ben Kallos, held a public hearing on the proposed Comcast- Time Warner Cable merger. The hearing focused on the economic impact of the proposal, including possible adverse impacts on underserved communities throughout the City of New York.
A diverse range of technology experts, tenant and community advocates, and New York residents examined whether a merger will help close the digital divide in our city as well as truly create economic growth and opportunity for the middle class. Among those who delivered testimony were representatives from Comcast, as well as internet experts: Columbia Law School profesor Tim Wu and New York Law School Director Michael Sartorelli. Additionally, other groups representing New York City small business, labor, and residential interests (including the Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Queens Chambers of Commerce) delivered testimony. The hearing may be viewed here.
Borough President Diaz & Council Member Espinal Introduce Legislation on ‘Nail & Beauty Salon’ Grading System
Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. and Council Member Rafael Espinal, chair of the City Council’s Committee on Consumer Affairs, officially unveiled a legislative package relating to the creation of a letter grading system for cosmetology businesses, including nail salons, spas, barber shops, beauty parlors and other similar establishments throughout the five boroughs.
This legislative package, which was officially introduced in the City Council at Wednesday’s stated meeting, includes a resolution calling on the state to allow New York City to create a letter grading system for salons and spas, as well as a bill creating a “Customer’s Bill of Rights” for salon and spa patrons. A third item, a resolution, calls on the New York State Division of Licensing Services, which provides licensing for cosmetology professionals, to expand its health and safety training options.
Borough President Oddo Kicks Off the New Year with Free Health Event
Borough President James Oddo has made the health of Staten Islanders a priority since taking office last January. After hosting and sponsoring a series of initiatives and events focused on the health and wellness of Staten Islanders, the BP is kicking off the New Year with a free Men’s Health Forum on Thursday, January 22 at 4 PM at the Bernikow JCC, 1466 Manor Road.
The first talk, “What You Need to Know about Bladder, Prostate and Testicular Cancer” will be given by Joseph Motta, M.D., Director of Urology and Urologic Surgery at Richmond University Medical Center. Chris Olsen, a testicular cancer survivor, will share his experience with diagnosis, treatment and advocacy.