I hope everyone had a safe and enjoyable summer. It’s been an active time for me, as I’ve participated in a number of community events. I’ve also been developing ideas for proposed legislation which will benefit residents and business owners in my district.
My staff and I are ready to help you with any problems relating to government services or benefits. My office can be contacted Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. if you need assistance. Members of the staff speak several languages besides English: Spanish, Korean, Urdu and Hindi. A free legal clinic is also available every other Tuesday from 6:00–8:00 p.m. at the District Office.
Now that the economy has shown some signs of improvement, I am hopeful that people will be able to gain employment or keep the jobs they have, and local businesses will become more profitable. Our community includes many multi-cultural merchants, companies and organizations, all of which contribute to the high quality of life in the district. Ethnic diversity enriches this community, especially since the various groups of people with a variety of different cultures and customs are living and working together in harmony.
The 34th Assembly District contains strong, vibrant communities. I will work with you to further strengthen our neighborhoods and continue to make this area a great place to live, work and go to school.
Michael G. DenDekker
Assemblyman DenDekker is encouraging residents to sign up for NY-Alert, a program that provides New Yorkers with vital information about threats and emergencies that may occur. Unexpected disasters can be devastating to families and communities. Whether it’s a natural emergency like a dangerous storm, or a man-made threat, the more information we have the better we can respond to the situation.
Individuals signed up for NY-Alert, which is free, will receive warnings and information about emergencies, including road closures, inclement weather and terrorist alerts. This information, issued by New York State and local governments, can be sent via cell phones, home phones, or e-mail. As many as three phone numbers can be listed, as well as two e-mail addresses and three cell phones for receipt of text messages.
When signing up for NY-Alert, people can specify which locations, types of emergencies and threat levels they want to hear about. The information received will include instructions on how to respond accordingly. Since every emergency is different, alerts will provide information that is appropriate for the incident. To sign up for NY-Alert, go to www.nyalert.gov or call (888) 697-6972.
New York City residents are also urged to sign up for Notify NYC, a free service that allows participants to receive a combination of e-mail, text and telephone notifications about emergencies, significant events, and non-emergency advisories such as unscheduled suspensions of alternate side parking rules and public school closures and delays. To sign up for Notify NYC, go to www.nyc.gov/oem or call 311.
Assemblyman DenDekker announces the availability of the New York Prescription Saver Card, a free card that will help low income individuals save on the cost of prescription drugs. The discount can be as much as 60 percent on generic drugs and 30 percent on brand name drugs. Most outpatient prescription drugs are eligible for a discount.
The Prescription Saver Card is for people 50 to 64 years old who meet the income requirements, and are without prescription coverage. Those who have Medicaid coverage are not eligible. Low-income disabled individuals are eligible regardless of age.
This program is being sponsored by New York State in conjunction with a statewide network of over 3,700 pharmacies that are providing these discounts on prescription drugs. The Prescription Saver Card can only be used at participating pharmacies. Pharmaceutical manufacturers are also being encouraged to join the program and provide additional discounts.
Applications for the Prescription Saver Card are available at participating pharmacies and community organizations. Individuals can apply online at http://nyprescriptionsaver.fhsc.com, or download the Prescription Saver application from the Web site and mail it in. Information on participating pharmacies and the discounted prices of drugs can be found on the Web site.
The Prescription Saver Card will be mailed to the applicant within two weeks after the application is approved. Call the toll-free Helpline at 800-788-6917 for more information and assistance with applying for this drug discount program.
Assemblyman DenDekker is reminding people about the importance of both children and adults remaining up-to-date on immunizations. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, immunization is one of the most significant public health achievements of the 20th century, since diseases like smallpox and polio have been eradicated in the U.S., and there has been a significant reduction in the number of cases of measles, diphtheria, rubella, pertussis and other diseases. Millions of cases of disease and thousands of deaths in children are prevented each year through immunization.
Immunization for the H1N1 (Swine Flu) is now available in the form of a shot or a mist. New York City will be offering free H1N1 vaccination to elementary school students whose parents want them to receive it. Vaccines for influenza are recommended for people ages 65 and older, who are at high risk for hospitalization and death should they catch the flu.
Parents must see that their children receive routine childhood vaccinations. There are currently vaccines that protect children against 14 diseases before the age of two. Programs like Child Health Plus and Vaccines for Children (VFC) offer parents a convenient, low-cost way to ensure their children receive basic immunizations.
In New York State, students attending K-12 or college are required to be immunized against poliomyelitis, mumps, measles, rubella, hepatitis B, diphtheria, and chickenpox. Students living in dormitories should be immunized against meningitis, a rare but deadly contagious disease that affects people in crowded living conditions. It’s also recommended that girls and women 11-26 years of age receive vaccinations for HPV (human papillomavirus), which causes cervical cancer and genital warts. Anyone traveling to a foreign country may need to be vaccinated against infectious diseases such as typhoid fever and yellow fever.
For information on where to get the H1N1 or any other vaccine, call 311 or contact the NYC Department of Health & Mental Hygiene’s local Health Center, located at 34-33 Junction Boulevard–the phone number there is 718-476-7645.
New York State has made a new tax credit available that is expected to save qualified homebuyers thousands of dollars over the life of their loans. The NYS Mortgage Credit Certificate (MCC) will enable first-time homebuyers to get a federal tax credit equal to 20 percent of their annual mortgage interest costs. This is in addition to the $8,000 tax credit the federal government is offering first-time homebuyers. Unlike the federal tax credit that expires November 30, the state program has no expiration date.
With the MCC, 20% of annual mortgage interest can be converted into a tax credit and deducted from federal income tax liability. The remaining 80% of mortgage interest continues to qualify as an itemized tax deduction. Only fixed-rate mortgages are eligible, and the loan can’t be refinanced. Participants must keep the house as their primary residence.
Families often need the stability and investment opportunity that home ownership provides. Working families are the backbones of our community and should receive the assistance necessary for them to be able to buy homes in our neighborhoods.
For more information about the first-time homebuyer tax credit and low interest fixed-rate mortgages, visit www.nyhomes.org. For information on the federal First-Time Homebuyer Tax Credit, visit www.federalhousingtaxcredit.com/2009/index.html.
The Science and Technology Entry Program (STEP) at Columbia University is an educational enrichment program that strengthens the math and science skills of disadvantaged high school students. The goal of the program is to help these students gain entry into college and health professional schools, and to enable them to graduate and become a health professional.
Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons is one of ten medical schools in New York State participating in The Associated Medical Schools of New York (AMSNY), which is providing STEP services throughout the State.
In 2007-2008, the STEP Program at Columbia University served 88 students from 48 high schools. The students received over 1,900 total hours of personal, financial, career and academic counseling, and over 300 total hours of math tutoring. Of the 27 graduating seniors, 85% are attending a four-year college or university in New York State, and all of these seniors who have declared a major are majoring in a medical field.
The STEP Program has been an effective tool in addressing the state-wide physician shortage issue. Assemblyman DenDekker is pleased that STEP helps students gain the skills they need for medical educational programs, and encourages young people to take advantage of this opportunity.
Young people interested in attending the STEP Program can go to www.cumc.columbia.edu/dept/step, or call 212-305-4157.
$100 Payment to Person Receiving Erroneously Issued Parking Violation – Bill A.9133:
Assemblyman DenDekker is the Prime Sponsor of this proposed legislation, which would require compensation of $100 to a motorist or vehicle owner who receives a parking violation summons written in error. A hearing officer would have to determine that the violation was erroneously issued due to no fault of the person receiving the summons.
According to the Mayor’s Management Report, in Fiscal Year 2008, 14.7% of all parking violations issued were dismissed, and 17.1% of parking tickets appealed were reversed. In order to go to Traffic Court to fight parking tickets, people have to take off from work, and are often prepared with pictures and other records they’ve kept. This is costly and inconvenient—when the summons has been written erroneously, people should be compensated.
Requirement of Verbal Warning Prior to Issuing Parking Violation – Bill A.9135:
This proposed legislation, also sponsored by Assemblyman DenDekker, would require traffic agents or other law enforcement authorities to give a verbal warning to the occupant of a vehicle prior to writing a parking violation summons. The occupant would have to be a licensed driver who could move the vehicle to prevent the writing of the summons.
The need for this legislation is illustrated by a couple of recent examples. In one of these instances, a motorist received a ticket after he had stopped driving and pulled to the curb at a “no parking” location in order to take a phone call. Another motorist waiting for a car to pull out of a parking space was given a summons for double parking. This legislation requiring a verbal warning will prevent unfair writing of parking tickets in similar situations.
Assemblyman DenDekker has introduced a bill (A.8530) in the Assembly that would allow anyone arrested by police the right to make a long distance phone call if necessary.
Under current legislation, law enforcement agencies are required to allow an arrested individual one phone call, however it must be a local call or a collect long distance call. When a person is arrested they are allowed one phone call for the purpose of obtaining counsel or to notify a family member of their arrest. There are a growing number of New Yorkers who have only a cell phone. They do not have a home phone and you cannot make a collect phone call to a cell phone.
This past May, in Brooklyn, a man was arrested for biking on the sidewalk, a “quality of life crime”. He was arrested because he could not provide photo identification to the police because he forgot his wallet at home. He and his wife had just moved to New York City and did not have a home phone number. The man was not allowed to call his wife’s cell phone, which had a different area code and was considered by the police to be a long distance phone call. The man was detained for 35 hours and his panic-stricken family desperately searched for him the whole time.
Assemblyman DenDekker is very concerned that students attending college here in NY who may get arrested for some minor infraction would not be allowed to call their out-of-state parents’ cell phone. The legislation proposed by Assemblyman DenDekker and sponsored in the Senate by Senator Toby Stavisky (Bill S5688) takes into account the fact that more people now choose not to have a home telephone line. The law should be corrected to reflect the use of newer telecommunication equipment such as cell phones and PDA devices. The Bill passed the Assembly by a vote of 144 to one and it is awaiting passage in the Senate.
Assemblyman DenDekker and the 115 Police Precinct worked with various merchants on an effort to get illegal handguns off our streets. The store owners helped out by posting signs announcing a $1,000 reward that will go to people who supply information that leads to the arrest of anyone in possession of an illegal handgun.
The Assemblyman and Inspector John LaVelle, Commanding Officer of the 115 Precinct, can be seen in these four photos with: Ron Levy of the Prima Donna Boutique; Lenore Ronquillo from Young World; Anthony Parisi, new owner of Pearle Vision, and his staff; and Manny Delmas from State Farm Insurance. These are some of the business owners who are cooperating in this program to get guns off the street.
Assemblyman DenDekker is encouraging young people to become a state trooper and make a difference in the lives of New Yorkers. The New York State Police have a recruitment drive underway, and are looking for qualified individuals from New York City. The starting salary is $50,374.
Anyone who is interested in a career as a state trooper can register online at www.nytrooper.com, or contact Troop NYC on Wards Island at 917-492-7126, NYCRECRUIT@troopers.state.ny.us.
FREE LEGAL CLINIC available every other Tuesday 6:00-8:00 p.m.