Report to Community Board 6

September 9, 2009

September 9, 2009

Night Out Against Crime a Success: Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh celebrated National Night Out Against Crime on August 4, 2009 with police officers and community residents in six different neighborhoods throughout the 74th Assembly District, including the 7th, 9th, 13th, and 17th Precincts, Police Service Area 4, which serves and protects public housing residents, and Transit Bureau District 4, which polices the subways and buses in much of Manhattan’s East Side and held its event in Union Square. The night was a resounding success. The precincts’ commanding officers and rank and file members, precinct community council members, community leaders, and neighborhood residents of all ages enjoyed the festivities, and communities acknowledged the importance of uniting to combat crime, keep residents safe, and support the efforts of local precincts – and celebrated our continued success in these efforts. At many of the events, Kavanagh presented an official Assembly proclamation to the precinct and the community council in honor of National Night Out and in recognition of their work throughout the year. More information on getting involved in the local police community council in your neighborhood is available through Kavanagh’s district office at 212-979-9696 or your local precinct. Councils meet monthly; the 13th precinct’s Council meets the third Tuesday at 6:30pm at the station house at 230 East 21st Street, and the 17th precinct’s Council meets the last Tuesday at 6pm at Sutton Place Synagogue, 228 East 51st Street.

New York Times Cites Kavanagh Bill in Editorial Spelling Out Election Reform Agenda: In an August 8th editorial entitled “To Reform Albany: Start Here,” The New York Times laid out a broad agenda for making New York’s elections fairer and more competitive. The editorial includes praise for bill A.657/S.5288, introduced by Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh and State Senator Daniel Squadron. As the Times states, “Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh has offered a constitutional amendment that would allow the Legislature to set real qualifications for members of the elections boards.”

Kavanagh Joins Gillibrand, Quinn, Stringer, and Duane to Call for Improved Child Nutrition Act: On August 12th, Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh joined US Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, State Senate Health Committee Chair Tom Duane, Deputy Mayor Linda Gibbs, City Harvest Executive Director Jilly Stephens, and other officials and advocates to call for legislative and policy initiatives to improve child nutrition and combat obesity. The officials gathered in support of a five-point plan developed by Gillibrand and Quinn that would overhaul the Federal Child Nutrition Act, increase Federal funding for school meals, improve nutrition programs for infants and pregnant mothers, and help schools provide more nutritious meals through procurement of local food and other means. The Child Nutrition Act is due to be reauthorized in Washington this fall.

“As so many New York City children face the threats of both hunger and obesity, strong efforts must be made to improve the Child Nutrition Act,” Kavanagh said. He stressed the importance of ensuring that children who live in areas like Manhattan are not denied access to needed child nutrition programs because of one-size-fits-all eligibility criteria. “By increasing access to low-cost and free meals for children who live in high-cost areas, we can help all of our children stay healthy and increase their opportunity for success in school and in life.”

Kavanagh, Other Elected Officials, Tenants, Workers and Advocates Launch SOUND Housing Campaign for Public Housing: On July 16th, Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh, State Senator Daniel Squadron, and an extraordinary coalition of elected officials, public housing residents, public housing employees, and tenant advocates announced the formation of a campaign to “Save Our Underfunded NYCHA Developments” (SOUND). The campaign will be a coordinated effort to ensure that the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) gets its fair share of State and City funding and that funds are properly spent on basic maintenance and repairs, safer and more reliable elevators, security cameras, and other measures to keep buildings and hallways safe and clean. In an article on August 3rd about efforts throughout the city to improve living conditions in public housing, City Limits Magazine cited the SOUND Housing Campaign as a sign that the chances of addressing long-neglected maintenance and safety issues might be improving.

Kavanagh Celebrates NYCHA’s 75th Anniversary at Gracie Mansion: On August 3rd, Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh joined Mayor Michael Bloomberg, New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) Chair John Rhea, NYCHA board members and staff, about a dozen elected officials from throughout the city, hundreds of NYCHA residents and tenant leaders, and other special guests for a barbecue celebration at Gracie Mansion to commemorate the 75th anniversary of New York City’s first public housing. It was a joyful event where attendees enjoyed good music, great food, and the pleasant views up and down the East River from Gracie Mansion’s backyard.

Kavanagh Attends 50-State Legislative Conference, Accepts Appointment to National Committee on Elections: Assemblymember Kavanagh joined legislators from every State at the annual Legislative Summit of the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) held on July 21st through 23rd in Philadelphia. Kavanagh has been appointed to the NCSL’s Redistricting and Elections Committee, where he hopes to build on his work as a member of the State Assembly’s Election Law Committee and his recent appointment as chair of the Assembly Subcommittee on Election Day Operations and Voter Disenfranchisement. During the conference, Kavanagh participated in various voting sessions, panels, issue forums, and discussions held by the various bodies of the NCSL, and also attended meetings of the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators, of which he is also a member.

Borough President Calls for Passage of Kavanagh Legislation to Clear Bus Lanes: In an August 5th report issued by Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer regarding the frequent delays in bus service caused by drivers of other vehicles that block bus lanes, Stringer called for passage of A.417. This bill, introduced by Assemblymember Kavanagh, would allow for cameras to be used to enforce existing laws against blocking the lanes. As Stringer’s report details, “Enforcement cameras already have proven to be effective in New York City to prevent violation of traffic signals, and in other municipalities (such as London) to improve the flow of traffic in bus lanes…Expansion of the legislation is critical for Manhattan bus lanes such as the ones examined in our survey that do not have the [Bus Rapid Transit] designation, but nonetheless are essential mass transit thoroughfares damaged by unpunished violations. AM Kavanagh’s legislation, bill number A.417, already embraces this wider scope.”

Kavanagh Tours Former Bellevue Psych Building: On July 20th, Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh joined other elected and City officials and their staffs, CB6 members, and other community leaders on a tour of the former Bellevue Psychiatric Hospital Building on First Avenue at East 30th Street. The tour was arranged by the City’s Health and Hospitals Corporation (HHC) and Economic Development Corporation (EDC) so that Kavanagh and the other participants could learn more about the structural and functional condition of the building and how these might affect future uses that HHC, EDC, and the community have been discussing in preparation for the planned relocation of homeless shelter services that are currently located there. LaRay Brown, Senior Vice President of Corporate Planning, Community Health and Intergovernmental Affairs for HHC, conducted the tour, which comprised large portions of the third floor (dining services), the sixth floor (typical floor plan with dormitory rooms and offices), the second floor lobby, and the adjacent auditorium. Discussions will continue regarding the feasibility and challenges of various potential uses – including a subacute care medical facility, which many in the community, including CB6 and the Bellevue CAB, have expressed a desire to see included in plans for the site.

Governor Signs Texting While Driving Ban Into Law: On August 27, 2009, Governor David Paterson signed new legislation that will ban text-messaging while driving in New York. Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh supported the measure in the Assembly, which approved it back on June 17, 2009. The bill then passed the Senate on July 16th and was delivered to the Governor on August 14th. The new law, bill A8568B/S3619A, will reduce driver distraction and inattention, which threaten public safety. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that 25 percent of all police-reported crashes involve some form of driver inattention. Under the new law, those using a handheld device or laptop to send or read text messages or images while driving a vehicle will be subject to a fine of up to $150. Talking on a handheld mobile phone while driving is already illegal in New York.

Kavanagh on Board for City of Water Festival: On July 18th, Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh joined Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, State Senator Ruth Hassell-Thompson, Governors Island Alliance Executive Director Robert Pirani, Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance (MWA) President Roland Lewis, and many other guests to launch this year’s “City of Water” Festival on Governors Island. The MWA and the Governors Island Alliance presented the event, transporting many of the participants aboard the Clipper City, one of the nation’s largest sailing ships and a replica of a 19th Century tall ship, to Governors Island for a narrated tour and ribbon-cutting ceremony. Kavanagh was pleased to help kick off the festivities, which highlighted the potential of the City’s waterfront through kayak, canoe, and boat activities as well as harbor tours, live music, educational workshops, and an information fair.

Public Authorities Reform Bill Passes Both Houses: While the agenda of the Legislature has been thrown into disarray by recent political instability in the State Senate, on July 16th, the Senate took a major step toward substantial reform of the State’s public authorities by joining the Assembly in passing the Public Authority Accountability Act of 2009. The bill, introduced by Assemblymember Richard Brodsky and State Senator Bill Perkins, had already passed the Assembly on June 17th. As a member of the Assembly Committee on Corporations, Authorities, and Commissions and an advocate for greater accountability in State government, Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh has been a strong supporter of the bill, helping to vote it out of committee and voting for it on the Assembly floor.

Billions of dollars are expended each year by hundreds of public authorities throughout the State, with little effective oversight. This bill would:

  • Create an independent Authorities Budget Office with the staff and budget to provide financial review and oversight of all public authorities;
  • Close loopholes that allow public authorities to dispose of public property without proper consideration;
  • Strengthen provisions governing public authorities’ boards of directors, for example by ensuring that they have a legal fiduciary duty to the public purpose of the organization and a qualified audit committee;
  • Give the State Comptroller the power to approve or disapprove public authority contracts over $1 million;
  • Create strict new rules to control public authority debt;
  • Limit the ability of public authorities to create new subsidiaries or affiliates;
  • Protect whistleblowers who report wrongdoing at public authorities; and
  • Make public authorities subject to the same requirements regarding minority and women’s business enterprises that other State entities follow.

Now that both houses have approved the bill, Assemblymember Kavanagh hopes that Governor David Paterson will sign it into law promptly.