Report to Community Board 3

May 26, 2009

Kavanagh Joins New York Chapter of State Legislators Against Illegal Guns: On May 8th, Assemblymember Kavanagh joined fellow New York State legislators as a founding member of the New York chapter of State Legislators Against Illegal Guns (SLAIG) at a summit meeting at Gracie Mansion. Hosted by Mayor Bloomberg and State Senator Schneiderman, and joined by Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, NYC Criminal Justice Coordinator John Feinblatt, and legislators from around the country, the group announced its intentions to cultivate practical means by which to keep guns away from criminals. Modeled after Mayors Against Illegal Guns, SLAIG will aim to find common sense measures to limit criminals’ access to illegal guns. Assemblymember Kavanagh was honored to serve on the panel of speakers at the opening meeting. He discussed bill A.05696, his bill that would ensure that gun store employees who sell or handle firearms be subject to criminal background checks. Another significant piece of gun legislation Kavanagh introduced, A.03076B, passed the Assembly on April 28th as part of the Assembly gun bill package; the bill would broaden the eligibility criteria for firearm licenses to ensure that people with certain indications of mental illnesses or other limited mental capacity not be granted firearms licenses, and that all applicants for a license be required to take a safety course before the license is granted.

Assembly Passes Kavanagh’s Legal Fees for Bad Faith Residency Challenges Bill: Assemblymember Kavanagh’s bill, A.00473A, which passed the Assembly on May 6th, would allow rent-stabilized and rent-controlled tenants to recover attorneys’ fees and damages from landlords who challenge their primary residency in bad faith. In the 74th Assembly District and throughout the city, some landlords have attempted to evict tenants on the grounds of non-primary residence through false allegations. Often these measures are applied indiscriminately in the hopes of generating vacancies in apartments that can then be decontrolled and rented at market rates. Kavanagh’s bill would require that landlords who challenge tenants in bad faith by making false claims reimburse tenants for court costs, attorneys’ fees, and three times their monthly rent or actual damages. The Assemblymember has also introduced bill A.03912, which would address frivolous litigation in cases other than non-primary residence challenges.

Kavanagh’s Tenant Key-Card Privacy Bill Passes Assembly: On May 6, 2009, the Assembly recently passed Assemblymember Kavanagh’s tenant key-card privacy bill, A.00514, which would prohibit landlords from employing key-card systems to track personal information without tenants’ consent. The bill, sponsored in the Senate by State Senator Tom Duane, would restrict the use of key-card systems that collect personal data, including photographs, names, addresses, and the dates and times tenants or their guests enter and exit their apartments.

Language Access in New York, A Priority for Kavanagh: Assemblymember Kavanagh has introduced three bills this session that aim to bring language access to New Yorker’s whose primary language is not English:

  • A.07390 would establish the Education Equity Act and would provide language assistance to parents/guardians who have children enrolled in public school. This legislation would encourage parents to be active participants in their children’s education by enabling them to read and interpret their children’s report cards and teacher notices. State Senator Jose Serrano is sponsoring this bill in the Senate (S.4459).
  • A.00475 would add Chinese and Korean to the languages in which the General Education Diploma (GED) examination is offered. Many students who are proficient in Chinese and Korean currently are denied the opportunity to demonstrate skills tested on the GED exam because they are unable to complete the GED in any of the languages currently available. Earning a GED in another language can help non-English-proficient students to fulfill a common requirement for many jobs and educational programs. The GED is currently offered in English, Spanish, and French. State Senator Daniel Squadron is sponsoring this bill in the Senate (S.4107).
  • A.07916 would authorize the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) to conduct a survey among tenants to determine the percentage of non-English-proficient residents with the purpose of requiring the implementation of language assistance programs for those developments where more than ten percent of the residents do not speak English. State Senator Jose Serrano is sponsoring this bill in the Senate (S.4459).

Kavanagh Introduces Additional Bills in Support of Public Housing Residents:

  • A.08479 would amend the public housing law to prevent the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) and the City of New York from using scarce housing funds to pay for sanitation services provided by the New York City Department of Sanitation. Public housing residents and NYCHA should not have scarce housing funds diverted to pay the City for basic services that are routinely provided for free to other New Yorkers, particularly in light of the financial deficit NYCHA faces. Assemblymember Kavanagh is also a co-prime sponsor of similar legislation, introduced by Assemblymember Dick Gottfried, that would prevent the Authority from making payments to the City for police services. Both bills have been introduced in the Senate by State Senator Toby Ann Stavisky.
  • A.08154 would increase the safety of elevators in buildings owned by NYCHA. This legislation would mandate the installation of door zone restrictors, which prevent elevator doors from opening between floors. The bill would also regulate elevator inspections – prohibiting the previous practice of the Buildings Department of delegating such inspections to NYCHA – and mandate interagency coordination and the sharing of information among city agencies regarding elevator hazards and rescue missions by the Fire Department. Finally, it would require the disclosure of all inspection data to the public, including a detailed explanation of how the elevators were graded and why the elevators received an unsatisfactory grade. The bill buildings upon the work of Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, addressing the concerns raised in his September 2008 report on elevator safety. State Senator Jose Serrano has introduced this bill in the Senate.

Kavanagh Introduces Anti-Idling Bill on World Asthma Day: Assemblymember Kavanagh and State Senator Daniel Squadron introduced legislation on May 5th that would mandate idling time for all heavy-duty vehicles statewide be no more than 1 minute. Not only would the reduction of idling time lessen air pollution, but it would also help combat respiratory illnesses like asthma that poor air quality can trigger. With approximately 1.1 million adults in New York State suffering from asthma, as well as 370,000 children, broad solutions are needed to address the congestion of our streets. This legislation would be one step toward reducing the harmful effects of the pollution and allowing all New Yorkers to breathe more easily as they live, work and play in our communities.

Kavanagh Works to Resolve School Admissions Issues in District One: In the past two months, Assemblymember Kavanagh and his staff have been working closely with the Department of Education (DOE), Community Education Council (CEC) members, parents, and other elected officials to address issues that affect children who live in District One, particularly those that relate to admissions policies. Some of the issues include the desire of many parents and community members to make Pre-K a point of entry to schools and helping students who are currently waitlisted for a seat in the school of their choice. This is a “district of choice” where students are not zoned into specific schools and parents can choose up to three schools for their children. Unfortunately, 44 students are still waitlisted in three schools and their parents still do not know where their children will go to school in the Fall. Last Thursday, at the request of Assemblymember Kavanagh and State Senator Squadron, DOE met with parents and CEC representatives to discuss ways of addressing the needs of wait-listed children. DOE provided a list of schools in District One with available seats and their progress reports in an effort to assist parents. An agreement was also made to keep the students on the waitlist, even when accepted to other schools to make sure that if a seat is made available they can still enroll in the school they were waitlisted for. Our office will work closely with parents, the CEC, and the DOE until all District One students are placed. In addition, the DOE has committed to us that they will revisit Pre-K and Kindergarten admissions policies in District One before next year’s admissions cycle. For information or assistance, or for a copy of the school list, please contact Paula Castro in the district office at 212-979-9696.

Kavanagh Walks the 1st Annual Lower Eastside Girls Walk-A-Thon: On May 16th, Assemblymember Kavanagh joined the Lower Eastside Girls Club and Councilmember Rosie Mendez for their first ever walk-a-thon event. The girls and their supporters and friends walked 5 kilometers through the Lower East Side to raise awareness of girls’ and women's health issues; all funds raised will support Girls Club health and nutrition programs for economically disadvantaged girls and young women. Assemblymember Kavanagh applauds the initiative and is already looking forward to next year’s event!

Kavanagh Coordinates Theater Workshops for LES Teenagers: Assemblymember Kavanagh’s staff is working with the Clemente Soto Velez Cultural and Educational Center (CSV) and the FELT Theater to integrate youngsters in the community through acting and directing of theatrical presentations workshops. On May 13th, Paula Castro coordinated and hosted a meeting with CSV, FELT, the office of Speaker Silver, and various Tenant Association Presidents from public housing developments in the Lower East Side, including Wald, Riis, Campos, and LES II Houses, to discuss what programs are available. If you know any teenagers who would be interested in participating in acting or directing workshops and need more information, please call Paula Castro in the District office at 212-979-9696.

The Lower East Side Goes Green from the Ground Up: On Monday, May 11th, the Green Buildings sub-committee of Go Green Lower East Side (GGLES), Solar One, and OROE sponsored a series of workshops entitled “Green from the Ground Up.” These workshops included three presentations where the attendees learned how to set up an effective recycling system in their buildings, which rooftop opportunities are available, and how to use energy efficiently in order to green their property. Over forty people participated in the event ranging from residential building managers, superintendents, board members, and other residents. The event was held at University Settlement and it was also co-sponsored by Assemblymember Kavanagh, CENYC, LES People’s Mutual Housing Association, Cooper Square Committee, Fourth Arts Block, and the LES Business Improvement District. For information on how to bring these workshops to your residential property, please contact Paula Castro in the District office at 212-979-9696.

Annual It’s My Park Day: On May 16th, communities came together to celebrate and enjoy New York City parks. This spring, It's My Park Day focused on community members working to “Reclaim our Waterfront Parks”, with shore clean-ups, free paddling and rowing, and other fun water-based activities at sites throughout the city. The kick-off celebration was held at the East River Park with various activities including a wildflower and butterfly garden tour and composting info sessions. Projects and activities were coordinated by CHERP (Community Hooked on East River Park) and Lower Eastside Ecology Center. In his remarks at the event, Kavanagh congratulated the many volunteers who work to make our parks as clean, functional, and green as they can be, and emphasized our community’s desire to see construction in East River Park completed so we can enjoy our waterfront outdoor space.

Internet Safety at Immaculate Conception School: On May 22nd, a representative of the Manhattan District Attorney’s office came to Immaculate Conception School to address approximately 150 students on how to protect themselves from cybercrimes and predators who seek victims online. The presentation was coordinated by the office of Assemblymember Kavanagh and the Education Outreach Department of the District Attorney’s Office. If you would like similar presentations at your school or community center, please contact Paula Castro in the district office at 212-979-9696 who would be happy to make the necessary arrangements for your event.

New York State Assembly Passes MTA Rescue Plan: On May 6th, both houses of the Legislature passed a bill that will alleviate the massive fare hikes on subways, buses, and trains served by the MTA. A.08180 prevents service cuts proposed by the MTA from going into effect and mandates important reforms of the Authority’s operations and governance. The legislation averts a planned 32 percent increase in fares and tolls scheduled to go into effect soon. Instead, fare and toll increases will be held at 10 percent while preserving subway, train, and bus line operations, which include the M8. Assemblymember Kavanagh voted in favor of the plan.

Kavanagh Continues to Support New York’s Marriage Equality Bill: On May 12th, the Assembly passed the Marriage Equality Bill, A.7732, which would allow same-sex couples the opportunity to enter into civil marriages. The measure, a bill introduced by Assemblymember Daniel O’Donnell with the support of Governor David Paterson, would grant same-sex couples the same legal recognition afforded to couples of opposite sex. Assemblymember Kavanagh voted in favor of the bill, as he did in 2007. The bill is now pending approval in the State Senate.

Volunteers Needed at Lady of Sorrow’s Food Pantry: Our Lady of Sorrows Food Pantry located at 101-103 Pitt Street is in need of volunteers to run their operations. Volunteers who are outgoing and patient are needed to give the food out on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays between the hours of 12:30 and 3:00 p.m. Volunteers do not need to sign up for all three days, but are welcome to do so if they are willing. Please call the food pantry at 212-673-0900 for information on how to help.