September 2007 Community Report

Dear Neighbor:

The following is a summary of some of my office's activities since my last community report:

Seeking Equal Access to Farley Post Office for Disabled Postal Customers:

Through a story in the August 13, 2007 New York Post, it came to my attention that the James A. Farley Post Office, New York City's only 24-hour, 7-day a week postal station, does not provide full weekend access for wheelchair-bound or otherwise mobility-impaired individuals. I joined Congressmember Jerrold Nadler, New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and Assemblymembers Dick Gottfried and Micah Kellner in sending a letter to the Postmaster General and calling on the United States Postal Service to rectify this inequity.

Requesting Public Review of Rail Yards RFP Responses:

Please see my August 6, 2007 letter to Metropolitan Transportation Authority Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer Elliot "Lee" Sander requesting that there be an opportunity for public review of the Project Profile portion of the responses to the West Side Yard Request for Proposals before a proposal is selected. I had previously spoken to Mr. Sander about this request and he assured me that he would investigate any legal restrictions on what material may be made available for public review and get back to me. I will be following up with him in the days ahead and will keep you posted.

Fighting for a Full-Service West Village Post Office:

Like so many of my West Village constituents, I was outraged to learn that the United States Postal Service (USPS) had plans to re-open the West Village Post Office on Hudson Street, which is currently undergoing renovations, as an entirely automated station. Not only was there no consultation or communication between the USPS and community representatives about this plan, there was apparently no rational basis for this decision. I have been working with Congressmember Jerrold Nadler, New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, State Assemblymember Deborah Glick and Community Board 2 to persuade USPS to reverse this decision and re-open a full-service, staffed West Village Post Office.

Hosting a Public Meeting on the Proposed Mulry Square Fan Plant:

The MTA/NYC Transit is considering a major infrastructure development in Greenwich Village: An emergency ventilation plant -- similar to the one recently installed on West 13th Street -- that has been proposed for the Mulry Square area (Greenwich Ave. and Seventh Ave. South). MTA/NYCT says it is necessary for safety reasons, and is looking for community input on how to make it appropriate or at least less intrusive for the neighborhood. In July, the agency held a public information session about the project -- and when I learned how poorly attended it was, I asked the agency's new president to hold another public meeting in conjunction with me and the Community Board. He agreed, and the meeting will be held this Monday, September 24, in the Cronin Auditorium at St. Vincent's. It is important that the community come to learn more about the project, and make its voice heard on matters including where the fan plant should be sited.

Asking for a List of Buildings that Accept J-51 Tax Abatements:

In order to help Federal Section 8 voucher holders looking for housing where their vouchers will be accepted, State Senators Liz Krueger, Eric Schneiderman and I sent a letter to New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development Commissioner Shaun Donovan and New York City Department of Finance Commissioner Martha Stark requesting that a list of all buildings that accept New York City J-51 tax abatements be compiled and made public. While many landlords turn away voucher holders, a local law which I ushered to passage while a New York City Councilmember and which was recently upheld by the New York State Court of Appeals, mandates that landlords who take advantage of the J-51 tax abatement program may not discriminate against tenants or prospective tenants who use Section 8 vouchers. Given that earlier this year the Mayor Bloomberg announced that 22,000 new vouchers would be awarded to low-income New Yorkers, Senators Krueger, Schneiderman and I believe that a list of buildings that are prevented from discriminating against voucher holders would be exceptionally useful at this time.

Responding to Illnesses and Deaths of Dogs Using the Chelsea Waterside Park Dog Run:

As you may know, last month there were a number of reports of dogs apparently ingesting a toxic, and in a few instances deadly, substance at Chelsea Waterside Park's dog run. New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and I are very concerned about these incidents and reached out to the Hudson River Park Trust (HRPT), the 10th Precinct and the Chelsea Dog Park Coalition to gather information and offer assistance. Please see the letter we recently sent to Chelsea dog owners updating them the situation, detailing steps already taken by HRPT, the 10th Precinct and our offices, and outlining ways for dog owners to help ensure that the dog run is once again safe for our canine friends.

Expressing Concerns about NYCHA's 2008 Draft Annual Plan:

On August 1, 2007, I submitted testimony at the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) hearing on its 2008 Draft Plan. With six NYCHA developments and hundreds of City and State funded NYCHA units in the 29th Senate District, I had particular concerns about some of the cost-cutting proposals in the plan.

Hailing Governor Spitzer's Signing of the Public Housing Shelter Allowance Bill:

I was a strong advocate of legislation passed by both houses of the Legislature this year requiring the State to increase the shelter allowance provided to public housing authorities serving families on public assistance. The bill creates parity between public housing authorities and private sector landlords with respect to shelter allowance assistance, and is very important to New Yorkers who live and work in public housing. I was among many area legislators who urged Governor Spitzer to sign the bill and was thus very pleased on August 15, 2007, when the Governor announced that he had indeed signed it into law. As a result of the new law, which will be phased in over three years, funding for the New York City Housing Authority and other public housing will increase by tens of millions of dollars annually.

Opposing "Murder Music" on City-owned Property:

I was outraged to learn that the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation (Parks Department) approved a for-profit concert on Randallfs Island on August 25, 2007 featuring Bounty Killer and Buju Banton, two reggae artists whose repertoires include songs calling for the murder of gay people. While the contracts that the artists signed with both their promoter and the Parks Department excluded such hateful and violent music to be performed at the venue, the two have repeatedly refused to sign gThe Reggae Compassionate Act,h a document drawn up by the LGBT activist group Stop Murder Music, by which other reggae artists have pledged not to perform songs urging the killing of gay men and not to re-release any such songs previously recorded.

While the Parks Department did not heed my concerns and those of Gay Men of African Descent, Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, People of Color in Crisis, The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and the New York City Gay and Lesbian Anti-Violence Project, among others, Clear Channel and its Power 105.1 radio station pulled their sponsorship from the concert. My office was also able to facilitate a permit for a peaceful protest outside the event.

As I explained in the Daily News on August 16, 2007, "Randall's Island is a [city-owned] public space...This music incites violence. It's of concern to the safety of many New Yorkers." I added in the New York Blade on August 24, 2007, "I do not think that the Parks Department should've signed a contract with anyone who spews hate speech or hate lyrics and gets paid for it."

Recycle Your Unwanted Computers and Electronics on October 6-8:

On October 6 and 7 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and October 8 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., the American Institute for Architecture, NY Chapter is sponsoring an Electronics Recycling Day at the Center for Architecture, 536 La Guardia Place between West 3rd and Bleecker Streets. Acceptable items for recycling include computers, monitors, printers, all peripherials (cables, mice, keyboards), TVs, VCRs, CD players, etc., cell phones, cameras, camcorders, batteries. For More information please contact the Lower East Side Ecology Center, or call 212-477-4022.

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