Reports to the People
Winter 2008

Dear Neighbor:

There are certain incidences in our life and our history where it seems like time freezes and we have a mental “snapshot” of where we were, what we were doing, who we were with when witnessed or heard of this event. For many, the recent tragedy of September 11 was such an event. By contrast, witnessing President-Elect Barack Obama win the General Election to become the 44th President of the United States of America represents one of those “freeze moments” that will remain an indelible impression forever in our minds. It was an event of tremendous anticipation, joy and excitement.

President-elect Obama has inspired a “hope movement” and will be a great leader for this country as our next president. However, if we are going to make our democracy relevant and our communities vital, it is going to require ongoing, community effort. So my hope, my prayer and my request is that, here in the local community, we continue to create an environment where we can identify our priorities and solve the problems of our communities. Obama’s declaration that “we are the change that we’ve been looking for” and that “change is from the bottom up not the top down” should be a clarion call for all, particularly those who live in urban communities such as the great neighborhoods of Crown Heights, Prospect-Lefferts Garden, and Flatbush.

While the challenges ahead of us may seem daunting, the possibilities of what we can achieve together are limitless.

I am anxious to hear from you as to how we can start creating change from the bottom up in our local community. Please email me with your thoughts at

With warm regards,
Karim Camara
Member of the Assembly (43rd Assembly District)

Happy Holidays

Assemblyman Karim Camara gave out turkeys to needy families and community groups for Thanksgiving this year. “The holidays are supposed to be a time of celebration but during these tough economic times this traditional celebration has become more muted. It is now more important than ever for us to reach out to those in need and give a helping hand to our friends and neighbors so we can all have a reason to celebrate,” said the Assemblyman.

Assemblyman Camara Honors Local Heroes
at His State of the District Address
Assemblyman Camara and Principal Shimon Waronker of M.S. 22 in the Bronx and community resident
Assemblyman Camara and Sara Keys Evans a local resident and heroine of the civil rights movement

Assemblyman Awards Scholarships to Outstanding Students

Assemblyman Camara is proud to announce this year’s New York State Black and Puerto Rican Legislative Caucus scholarship recipients Mr. Jonathan Holoman and Ms. Shequasia Shannon. Both of these outstanding students were admitted in the class of 2012 at Benedict College and Cornell University respectively. Mr. Holoman plans to pursue a career in journalism while Ms. Shannon plans to become a doctor. The office wishes them infinite success.

Assemblyman Karim Camara Speaks at a Community Walk to Remember Murder Victim Chanel Petro-Nixon

Assemblyman Camara Stands with the Family of Murder Victim Chanel Petro-Nixon and other Community Leaders
On Saturday June 20th as part of the movement to take back the streets from crime in Central Brooklyn, Assemblyman Karim Camara joined with the parents of murdered victim Chanel Petro-Nixon, Brooklyn D.A. Charles Hinds, and Community Activist Tahaka Robinson in protest to the violence that is being perpetuated. The same violence that took the life of the 16-year-old Brooklyn teen. Also standing in support with the slain teen’s family was the mother of Benny Lyde, a 21-year-old college honor student who was shot outside his parents’ home in 2005. Ms. Lyde gave an impassioned speech and called for the violence in “our community” to stop. Community residents also showed their concern as their voices echoed an outcry to stop the violence.

Assemblyman Camara Stands with Elected Officials, Community Leaders, and Local Clergy to Voice Opposition to Bedford Atlantic Armory

Barbara Brown Allen, Sandy Taggart (CHRM), Assemblymembers Hakeem Jeffries & Karim Camara, Special Assistant to Brooklyn Borough President Yvonne Graham. Back row right concerned residents, Father Caleb Buchannan of Saint Gregory The Great Roman Catholic Church, and Rev. Dr. Clive Neil of Bedford Central Presbyterian Church
On Thursday, September 18th Brooklyn Clergy, elected officials and the Crown Heights Revitalization Movement convened on the steps of Saint Gregory The Great Roman Catholic Church to bring attention to the city’s plan to close the Manhattan Central Intake Center for homeless men and transfer it to the Bedford-Atlantic Armory, in Brooklyn New York. The announcement came in April by the Bloomberg Administration followed by the New York City Economic Development Corporation bids to convert the Bellevue Men’s Shelter into a luxury hotel and conference center. Community organizers voiced their disapproval by presenting 2,350 signed letters from concerned residents who expressed safety concerns about the increased capacity of the Armory; by adding additional beds it would increase drug activities, street violence and solicitation. “This is not just a NIMBY (not in my backyard) stance. This particular plan is as bad for the homeless as it is for the community. I am sure this agency can come up with a better plan that effectively serves the homeless and respects the local community “stated, New York State Assemblyman Karim Camara of the 43rd Assembly District.

Community Commentary- Bedford Atlantic Armory

By Sandy Taggart of Crown Heights Revitalization Movement (CHRM)

Last spring the Department of Homeless Services announced its plan to move the only city-wide single men’s intake center from Belleview Hospital in Manhattan to the Bedford Atlantic Armory in Crown Heights. 60% of homeless men are in Manhattan and only 16% in Brooklyn. An intake center is the first step that a homeless person must to enter into the City’s shelter system. Placing an intake center at the Bedford/Atlantic Armory would force most of the city’s homeless men to make an arduous trek just to begin seeking shelter.

An intake center is different from shelters and assessment centers. The people entering an intake center are unscreened. The estimate is that a minimum of 40 men per day (12,000/year) would be entering the community to apply at the proposed intake center. Although the vast majority of these men are down on their luck, inevitably some will have problems that could compromise the safety, health and economic development of the community. Currently, the Bedford/Atlantic Armory is an assessment center. Men are sent there after they have been screened at the intake center in Manhattan. According to the current city plan, both the assessment center and the proposed intake center will be housed in the Armory

The community has worked hard and made great progress in improving safety and quality of life, but still struggles with a high rate of unemployment and serious criminal activity. We simply do not have the resources to absorb and support an increased flow of men in to an intake center. The oversaturation of the community with social services and the unreasonable distance to the Armory will negatively impact the thousands of homeless men who will have traveled so far for help. And, the daily flow of these same unscreened men will, in turn, negatively impact the communities that surround the Armory. It is for these and other reasons that I am vehemently opposed to the Bedford-Atlantic Armory plan.

Crown Heights Family Fun Health Fair…
A Unity in the Community Event

Assemblyman Camara addresses the crowd at the Crown Heights Family Fun Health Fair
This past September, in collaboration with NYS Senator Eric Adams and Brooklyn District Attorney Charles J. Hynes, we hosted the Crown Heights Family Fun Health Fair. With over one thousand attendees, this event was a huge success. In addition to participation from each of the three local hospitals, Kings County, Kingsbrook Jewish and SUNY Downstate Medical Center, additional participants included the Mobile Eye Van from the Friend of Congressional Glaucoma Caucus, Pills on Wheels, One Touch and Animas Corporation.

There were activities for children, including bouncy rides, a Parks and Recreation Play Mobile, face painting and basketball camp hosted by former NBA all-star Darryl Dawkins. The crowd was entertained by Shems Disciples, Y-Love, C.H.A.O.S. dance group, Chiam Folegman and others. There were plenty of give-a-ways, and refreshments.

The success of this event was made possible by a partnership with several community based groups such as The Crown Heights Mediation Center, C.H.A.O.S and volunteers from P.A.L. of the 71st Precinct .As a result of this great educational and very entertaining event, we also accomplished the goal of bringing together our very diverse African American, Caribbean and Hassidic Community in a pleasant, educational and fun filled afternoon.

The Solution
By Ryan Mack of Optimum Capital Management Solutions

The recession of 2000- 2003 and the recession started in 2008 both could have been avoided. If the people would have been educated about the right time to invest in stocks they would have avoided being hurt by the internet bubble bursting or not diversified in company stock (such as the employees of Enron who lost the majority of their retirement savings because they were heavily invested in their company stock).  As stated previously, the best defense against predatory lending is an educated consumer.  We have limited control over the actions of the government outside of voting and petitions.  We have even less control over the private sector.  We have complete control over the knowledge that we seek and apply within our lives.  This is the solution to our economic success as individuals…knowledge and the application of knowledge.

2008 was a year that many of us would choose to forget financially.  However, we would be foolish to not remember to learn from those mistakes and apply this new knowledge in 2009.

Many are excited that we have a new President in Barack Obama.  Let’s celebrate by applying his message of a “bottom-up” approach to bringing back the greatness in this country. Greatness defined in part by financial prosperity for all.  This can be done if we each do our part to prepare the finances in our households.  If each of us is disciplined enough save more we spend, consume less than we produce, and research thoroughly before we invest we will see our economic futures take a turn for the better once again.

Six Small Steps
By Ryan Mack

Pre-Paid Debit Cards – These are the biggest scams in the book! Why do you have to pay so many fees to have access to YOUR money!? These are NOT a suitable replacement for opening your own bank account where you can have a FREE debit card. If you cannot open a bank account then you need to fix problem that is causing you to not be able to open an account…not seek out an expensive/wasteful alternative!

Check Cashing Facilities – Why don’t you have your own bank account where you can cash your check without paying excessive fees just to get YOUR money?

Suggestion: If you cannot open a bank account, join a local credit union with a credit program that will allow you to re-establish your credit and work on correcting the bad habits causing you to tarnish your banking record (bouncing checks, overdraft, etc.).

Rent-to-Own Furniture and Appliance Stores – Ownership is power. Owning a home is a commendable goal, but not owning your own furniture is a disgrace! If you cannot afford to purchase an item that is sold at rent-to-own furniture and appliance stores -- SAVE UP! DO NOT purchase an item on credit where you will end up paying more money because of interest! Excessive consumption is bad, but paying interest on excessive consumption is destructive!

Suggestion: If the item is not a necessity, save up your money until you have enough to purchase the item. Saving is not easy but where there is a stream of money, there is an ability to live beneath our means to provide for your household and savings. Set up a household budget and provide more oversight to your household cash flow.

Cash Advances – These are legalized loan sharks! They provide the highest and most volatile interest rates available. If used through your credit card or through a provider you will have to pay a hefty premium for those funds. Do not use them…period!

Suggestion: You should never wait for it to rain before purchasing an umbrella, purchase a smoke alarm after the fire hits, or consider saving extra money when the need arises. Think proactively by opening a high-yield savings account today. In this account you can begin a project to save at least three to six months of living expenses in case of an emergency.

ATM Withdrawals – Since when did it become okay to make someone else rich because we cannot walk or drive a few extra blocks? Pennies add up to dollars and we need to treat our hard earned money with more respect. We clinch our pockets when we see a homeless person asking for a quarter but we gladly give away $2.00 to $5.00 to a bank because we refuse to search for our own ATM where we pay no fee…what does that say about our values in this society?

Suggestion: If ATM accessibility is an issue to you, open an account that has plenty of ATM machines in your area. Go online to become familiar with all your banks ATM locations in your area and plan ahead by having enough cash on your hands when going out

Mortgage Lenders – In this capitalistic society we have seen much greed and despicable actions in the quest of a dollar. Why is it that we are so surprised when we find out that there are mortgage lenders that exist who care more about a dollar then about your financial well being?

Suggestion: Predatory lending is a detestable act and should not be condoned. However, ignorance should not be condoned either. For many in this nation the home is the largest investment in their life, do not do it without proper education. Hire a good real estate attorney to assist you to explain fully the documents before you sign. Hire a good financial planner to assist you in putting together a home budget because the bank pre-approval system will not do as good of a job as you in discerning your lifestyle and true level of affordability. If you don’t have the money for a planner, talk it through with a good friend or an unbiased party who has also gone through the process. Don’t rush the decision!

Fast Food Places – It has been said that you can find out what one values by looking at his checkbook. You can see how much one values their life by looking at their diet. Just because food is convenient, does not mean it is good!

Suggestion: With high blood pressure, hypertension, and diabetes becoming an increasing problem, it is paramount that we watch what we eat. This is a key financial literacy issue because the largest cause of bankruptcy is medical bills. Talk to a nutritionist to prescribe a diet that is fit for you, exercise regularly, and make sure that you take care of your body…you only get one!

Assemblyman Karim Camara presents $250,000 to Dr. Roy Hastick
President of (CACCI) Caribbean American Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Inc.

In this photo: local business owners, Assemblyman Karim Camara, Drs. Eda & Roy Hastick, Assemblyman N. Nick Perry and Congresswoman Yvette Clarke

New York State Assemblyman Karim Camara presents Dr. Roy Hastick, president of (CACCI) a check in the amount of $250,000 for capital improvements for the Caribbean American Trade Center at the International Power Breakfast, held on October 31st, at Brooklyn Borough Hall. Assemblyman Camara appropriated this funding in the 2006 budget for CACCI’s capital improvement plans, and said, “I believe in business development and this appropriation only underscores my commitment to businesses development in urban communities.”

Assemblyman Camara Brings State
Funding to the 43rd Assembly District

Assemblyman Camara is pleased to announce that he has requested funding for several community organizations within the 43rd Assembly District. Groups expected to receive funding as a result of the Assemblyman’s efforts include:

Assemblyman Camara Secures $30,000
for Nostrand Avenue Graffiti Removal

If you have walked along Nostrand Avenue lately you may notice that there is less graffiti along the store fronts. That’s because Assemblyman Camara allocated $30,000 from this year’s budget to City Solve- a company that specializes in graffiti removal from building and pull down gates. This cleanup was done free of charge for all businesses along Nostrand Avenue between Atlantic Avenue and Linden Blvd. “It’s like night and day walking along Nostrand Avenue This graffiti removal has breathed new life into a once depressed business district,” said the Assemblyman. The Assemblyman hopes to bring this project to other commercial strips in the district.

Assemblyman Karim Camara
Karim Camara

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