November 2008 Community Report

Dear Neighbor:

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

Albany Update

On November 18, Governor Paterson called the legislature back to Albany for a special session to deal with the looming (and growing) $1.5 billion budget deficit. Although I pledge to work tirelessly with the Governor and my colleagues to establish new revenue sources, deep and painful cuts, across the board, must be enacted to have a balanced budget. Unfortunately, the Republican controlled State Senate, playing political games, decided not to heed Governor Patersonfs call. Shamefully, no action was taken. The Governor indicated that he would not call another special session before the end of the year, but will deliver his Executive Budget a month early in order for the Legislature to immediately address the budget crisis when regular session begins in January. It is imperative that strong action be taken; the state's projected budget gap for next year has ballooned to a record $12.5 billion. The time for political games is over. Even though it will be painful, I will fight in Albany for a fiscally responsible, fair and balanced state budget.

Fighting for Program for Disabled Children in Foster Care

With such an enormous deficit to close, it is inevitable that there will be cuts proposed that both adversely impact New York's most vulnerable residents and will end up costing the State more money than would be saved. In an effort to stop one such misguided move, on November 18, New York State Assemblymember Micah Kellner and I wrote to Governor Paterson to urge him to reconsider a 50% cut in the Bridges to Health program that was specifically designed to lower the Statefs long-term health care costs by providing alternatives to institutionalization for the most severely disabled children in foster care. The program not only costs less than a third as much per child as institutionalization, but it also brings in three dollars in federal and local matching funds for every dollar the state invests. Please see our letter.

Seeking Comprehensive Plan in Response to Proposed M8 Bus Elimination

On November 20, I joined State Senator-Elect Daniel Squadron and Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh to respond to reports that the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) has proposed completely eliminating M8 crosstown bus service from the Lower East Side to the West Village. While I recognize that hard times call for difficult decisions, it is too soon to tell if this is the most economically prudent choice in light of community needs and the State's fiscal crisis. I and other elected officials have called on the MTA to develop comprehensive plans in all communities affected by service cutbacks and have reached out to CB3 and CB2, senior advocates and other stakeholders to weigh in on alternatives and potential mitigations to the elimination of the M8.

Victory! LPC Landmarks Silver Towers, Baumann Brothers Furniture Store

On November 18, The NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) voted to designate University Village/Silver Towers – including its landscaping, outdoor sculpture and outdoor furniture – and the Baumann Brothers Furniture Store as landmarks. I want to thank LPC for its favorable action on both these designations and congratulate the community members and advocates who have long fought for them on these tremendous victories.

Hosting an Amsterdam Houses and Addition Town Hall Meeting

On November 12, I hosted an Amsterdam Houses and Addition Town Hall Meeting on Crime, Quality of Life and Fire Safety at the Lincoln Square Neighborhood Center (250 West 65th Street, between Amsterdam and West End Avenues). The event was co-sponsored by Congressman Jerrold Nadler, Borough President Scott Stringer, Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal, Councilmember Gale Brewer and Community Board 7. I am pleased that many residents came to share their concerns with representatives from the New York City Housing Authority, the New York County District Attorney, NYPD 20th Precinct and Manhattan North, NYFD Fire Safety Education Speaker's Bureau, Amsterdam and Amsterdam Addition Residents Associations, and West Side Crime Prevention Program.

HCC Honors My Deputy Chief of Staff Colin Casey

On October 24, the non-profit affordable housing advocacy organization Housing Conservation Coordinators (HCC) recognized my Deputy Chief of Staff, Colin Casey, with a leadership award for his dedication to community needs while working on local development projects, fighting building-wide rent increases and assisting individual constituents. I am proud to have Colin on my staff and congratulate him on the much deserved honor.

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