Assemblyman Dov Hikind

Assemblyman

DOV
HIKIND

reports to the people

FALL 2002

 



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  Assemblyman Hikind and Councilman Simcha Felder check out a hazardous bench along Ocean Parkway.  

OCEAN PARKWAY BENCHES RESTORED

For over a hundred years, the six mile promenade of Ocean Parkway, with its stately trees, pedestrian walkways and bicycle paths, has been a delightful haven for Brooklyn residents, particularly during the summer months, offering a welcome respite from the heat and humidity. Assemblyman Hikind had noticed, however, that the benches along the parkway were in serious disrepair, with many of the wooden slats on the seats and backs splintered, distressed, or missing entirely.

“New Yorkers deserve better than this,” Hikind declared. “The rotten benches pose a serious hazard to the thousands of residents, particularly seniors, who daily enjoy the cool shade of the Parkway. It’s a blot on Brooklyn’s park landscape.” The Assemblyman, along with Councilman Simcha Felder, alerted Parks Department Commissioner Adrian Benepe to the precarious situation, sending photos depicting the serious condition of the benches, and inviting the commissioner to survey the area in person.

After an inspection in early August by Brooklyn Borough Commissioner Julius Spiegel, the Parks Department undertook an overhaul of the benches, restoring missing planks, applying fresh paint, and in some instances replacing entire benches. Hikind and Felder praised Commissioner Benepe for his swift response in revitalizing the Ocean Parkway strip to the delight of the countless Brooklynites who can now comfortably and restfully partake of its beauty.




INN-EXCUSABLE BEHAVIOR

A local family recounted to Assemblyman Hikind a shocking instance of anti-Semitism they experienced this past summer in upstate New York. Rafael and Devorah Streicher, accompanied by three of their children, checked into the Catskill Days Inn for the weekend, arranging for payment with their credit card. The next day, when they complained to the management of seeing a rat in the hallway, they were told, “You don’t belong here. You belong in a different hotel where your kind stay.”

Shortly afterward, the motel manager appeared at their room and demanded additional payment in cash or they would have to leave. The Streichers explained that it was their Sabbath and they were prohibited from conducting any business transactions or from driving. Their request that the matter be resolved later was refused, and the State Police were called in. Under their supervision, motel employees removed the Streichers’ personal belongings from their room and drove their car off the grounds. In sweltering 95-degree heat, the Streichers were forced to trudge behind their automobile to a hotel up the road where, according to the Days Inn manager, reservations had been made for them. However, when they arrived, there were no vacancies, and they had to spend the rest of the day on the hotel lawn.

A similar incident occurred earlier in the year to a single mother and her two young children at the same Days Inn on Passover night, after they had checked in for the three-day holiday. State Troopers, called to the inn, informed the woman that she and her children were trespassing, and they were evicted in the dead of night and forced to relocate to a hotel “where lots of Orthodox people stay.”

Assemblyman Hikind called on Attorney General Eliot Spitzer to conduct an investigation into the matter. He also urged State Police Superintendent James McMahon to look into the practices of State Troopers who have functioned more like private police for the Days Inn than officers of the law. In the meantime, the Days Inn corporation has removed its franchise agreement and ended its affiliation with the motel, and attorneys are filing multi-million dollar lawsuits on behalf of the victims.

“Federal and state statutes prohibit these discriminatory practices, and institutions incur legal liability and penalties if they flout the law.” Assemblyman Hikind said. “We must be vigilant in exposing discrimination and bias. Our civil rights cannot and will not be violated at will.”

“I urge others who have been victims of religious discrimination to contact my office at 718-853-9616. We will advocate on your behalf and help you pursue the legal remedies available under the law.”




LANDMARK LEGISLATION
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Assemblyman Hikind joined a gathering of state legislators at Maimonides Medical Center to witness Governor George Pataki sign the landmark Fertility Bill. Under the provisions of this law, New York State health insurance companies are now required to provide insurance coverage for prescription drugs, diagnosis, and procedures to treat infertility. Standing with the Governor are (L-R) Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver; Assemblyman James Brennan; Assemblyman Hikind; and Assemblywoman Adele Cohen.




REACH OUT AND READ

A group of young constituents appear engrossed in the story being read to them by Assemblyman Hikind at the Maimonides Primary Care Pediatric Center. Reach Out and Read is a pediatric early literacy program that introduces young children to the world of books through the combined efforts of pediatricians, educators and volunteer readers. Operating in pediatricians’ offices and health clinics throughout the 50 states, the program gives out up to 25 million books a year.





  IDENTIFYING RISK  

Identity theft is often called the fastest growing crime in America, with more than 750,000 cases nationwide each year, costing billions in damages to both consumers and the financial industry. Identity theft occurs when someone uses personal identification about another person–including their social security number, name, or credit card numbers–to apply for credit, open bank accounts, or make unauthorized purchases. When your identity has been stolen, you cannot get a credit card or open a checking account, qualify for a car loan or student loan, or be eligible for a mortgage.

Until now police in New York State could only charge identity thieves with crimes of impersonation and theft. In some cases, police refused to take reports from victims, since it technically was not a crime. Financial institutions, such as credit card companies or banks, were legally considered the sole victims of identity theft, leaving consumers with ruined credit and no means of rebuilding their financial reputation.

However, a new law that went into effect last month specifically makes identity theft a crime in New York State, punishable by up to seven years in prison, and gives victims the right to seek restitution for financial losses. “This law provides recourse for both the credit institution and the consumer,” Assemblyman Hikind noted. “However, consumers must learn to take necessary precautions to avoid falling victim to identity predators.”

You can protect yourself from identity theft by not giving out personal identification information such as your maiden name, mother’s maiden name, or social security number; keeping items with personal information in a safe place, and destroying ATM and bank receipts. Be alert to bills and credit cards that don’t arrive on schedule or seem to have been opened. Scrutinize your credit card bills to make sure you can identify all purchases. Avoid getting pre-approved credit card offers by calling 888-567-8688. Carry your checkbook, credit and ATM cards only when you plan to use them.

If you have been the victim of identity theft, contact the fraud departments of the three major credit bureaus: Equifax, 800-525-6285; Experian, 888-397-3742; and Trans Union, 800-680-7289. Contact the security departments at the financial institutions where accounts have been fraudulently opened. File a report with your local police or the police where the identity theft took place. File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission’s Identity Theft Hotline, 877-438-4338.

For more information contact the Identity Theft Resource Center www.idtheftcenter.com, 858-693-7935, or Trans Union’s Fraud Victim Assistance Department, 800-680-7289.

 



SEEKING STUDENT SAFETY
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Assemblyman Hikind holds a copy of his School Safety Survey at a press conference calling for increased school protection. Among the public officials joining him were (L-R) Senator Carl Kruger; Councilman (now State Senator-elect) Martin Golden; Jonathan Greenspun, Commissioner of the Mayor’s Community Assistance Unit; Assemblyman William Colton; Senator Seymour Lachman; and Councilman Bill DeBlasio.

 

In an interview on the “60 Minutes” television program, one of the co-conspirators of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing revealed that the bombers originally planned to blow up sites in Jewish neighborhoods before deciding to attack the Trade Center. In the wake of this disturbing revelation, Assemblyman Hikind called for city and state funding to provide protective measures for yeshiva, private and parochial schools, on a par with the Division of School Safety, which provides security for public schools.

An informal survey conducted by Hikind’s office of 74 private schools in Brooklyn disclosed serious security lapses. “How can we justify providing security for public schools exclusively while leaving others vulnerable?” the Assemblyman asked. “The overwhelming concern of every parent is the safety of their children. We cannot leave nearly 80,000 yeshiva students and 150,000 Catholic school students defenseless.”




HEATING HELP
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The approach of the cold weather brings with it increased heating costs. The good news is that there are programs available to help low-income families cope with their energy bills. The Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) offers a one-time award to eligible homeowners or tenants toward their heating or electric bills. The Neighborhood Heating Fund, administered by HeartShare Human Services and KeySpan Energy, is limited to owners and tenants of one and two family homes who pay for their own heat. Applications for both the HEAP and Heartshare programs are available at Assemblyman Hikind’s district office.




WITHSTANDING TERROR

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radio flyer

As a guest on Assemblyman Hikind’s weekly radio program, Rabbi Moshe Goldsmith of the West Bank settlement of Itamar identifies various intersections where terrorists stake out the movements of the settlement’s residents, intent on killing its Jewish inhabitants. In the last 12 months, Itamar has lost 13 souls, most of them children. In response to these vicious attacks, Itamar has initiated a campaign to purchase a highly sophisticated video surveillance system to protect its families. The Assemblyman helped raise thousands of dollars to help them toward their goal. “This is a war that is being fought in bedrooms and kitchens and on basketball courts, where innocent children, yeshiva students and mothers are being targeted,” Hikind noted. “We must do all that we can to help protect Itamar’s children.”




ALBANY OFFICE:
Room 551 LOB
Albany, NY 12248
(518) 455-5721

DISTRICT OFFICE:
1310 48th Street
Brooklyn, NY 11219
(718) 853-9616


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