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SANITATION SOLUTION

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Assemblyman Hikind displays copies of sanitation violations that were dismissed when property owners were able to prove them false.

“Sanitation fines are a minimum of $100. This is a tremendous financial burden on most homeowners, especially in today’s economy and for those living on a fixed income. With photographic evidence there can be no dispute as to the guilt or innocence of a property owner. It’s a win-win for the City and for its residents.”
-Assemblyman Hikind
One of the most frustrating situations that property owners are confronted with is receiving a sanitation summons. These tickets are hard to fight successfully, as it comes down to their word against the ticketing agent’s. In fiscal year 2011, the New York City Department of Sanitation (DSNY) issued 262,426 tickets for premises violations.

Assemblyman Hikind has introduced legislation in the Assembly that will require Department of Sanitation agents to photograph and document the condition of a property at the time the ticket is issued. Agents would be provided with a mobile device that would date and time stamp the photos and upload them to a central database. This legislation would protect home and business owners in cases of unjustified tickets and reduce paperwork and the cost of adjudication proceedings.

“Sanitation fines are a minimum of $100,” the Assemblyman noted. “This is a tremendous financial burden on most homeowners, especially in today’s economy and for those living on a fixed income. With photographic evidence there can be no dispute as to the guilt or innocence of a property owner. It’s a win-win for the City and for its residents.”

Assemblyman Hikind drove home his point at a press conference where he presented three instances where DSNY agents were captured on surveillance cameras issuing fraudulent tickets to innocent property owners. Each of the violations was dismissed because the respondents had visual evidence to prove their case.

“I would like to believe that DSNY agents are, for the most part, honest when issuing summonses,” said the Assemblyman. “But these videos tell a different story, and this legislation will help to ensure that they are not filing a false instrument when issuing tickets.”

THEIR BITE IS WORSE THAN THEIR BARK

Assemblyman Hikind has called on the NYPD and New York City’s Animal Care and Control (AC&C) to do more about a pack of pit bulls which has been terrorizing Midwood residents for the past several months. These pit bulls are responsible for the death of at least one dog and the mauling of another. According to published reports, six complaints about these dogs have been documented since last April.

The Assemblyman began monitoring the situation after a number of constituents reported that these pit bulls have been chasing neighborhood children and attacking people as well as other animals. Several railroad workers along the former LIRR tracks on Avenue I, who have been attacked as well, reported that numerous holes in the fence allow easy access for the dogs.

At a 66th Precinct Council meeting last June, angry residents noted that the dogs attacked an adult three years ago and then a year later attacked a 7-year old child who required close to 90 stitches. Another individual who was attacked had the tip of his little finger bitten off. A 70-year old woman was attacked by a pit bull that broke free of his leash and bit through her insulated winter coat, requiring her to get two dozen stitches in her arm and undergo painful rabies treatment.

Most recently, the Assemblyman received a call from a terrified constituent about another snarling pit bull which was barking wildly and circling the entrance to Friends Field park. Petrified residents had locked themselves inside the park to prevent the dog from entering and called 911. Officers from the 66th Precinct, along with an ESU team, responded promptly, and the pit bull was tranquilized and taken to the ASPCA.

“I am very thankful that the incident at Friends Field did not result in a tragedy,” Assemblyman Hikind said. “People have every right and expectation to feel safe in their neighborhoods, whether on a street or in a public park. I am immensely grateful to Mr. Sean Casey and his rescue team, the NYPD and the ASPCA for helping make our community safer. I’m hopeful that this third pit bull will not elude the authorities for much longer.”


CORPORATE COMPASSION

Assemblyman Hikind was approached several months ago by Mekimi CEO Chezky Kauftheil with a poignant request. (Mekimi provides a host of support services to children and young adults combating cancer and other serious illnesses.) A 12-year-old boy in the community had nearly lost his battle the year before with a vicious case of swine flu. It raged through his body and spread to his legs, which had to be amputated, leaving him confined to a wheelchair. The only way to get him into the family car was to carry him from his wheelchair, which was very upsetting for him and for them. Was there any way to help this family get a handicapped accessible vehicle?

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(L-R) Chezky Kauftheil; Assemblyman Hikind; Mike Ianelli and officials of Bay Ridge Toyota.

The Assemblyman immediately contacted Mr. John Giuffre of the Bay Ridge Automotive Group for assistance. “It was a no-brainer for him,” the Assemblyman said. “He said he just had to work out the logistics, and that the car would be ready within three weeks. He was nothing short of remarkable. John is truly the hero of this story.”

Shortly thereafter, at a ceremony held at Mekimi headquarters, Assemblyman Hikind was joined by representatives of Bay Ridge Toyota and Toyota of Manhattan to present the family with a 2012 Toyota Sienna Mobility Edition valued at close to $50,000. It is equipped with a special seat that moves in and out of the vehicle for convenience and ease.

“What Toyota has done is a shining example of the humanity that still exists in the world,” Assemblyman Hikind noted. “I am awed by their generosity and hopeful that other individuals and corporations will follow their example to help improve the quality of life for someone less fortunate.”


EXPRESSING GRATITUDE

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Assemblyman Hikind presents award to FBI Acting Supervisory Special Agent Myrna Williams.
Assemblyman Hikind collaborated with Councilman Mike Nelson’s office to organize a tribute to Bergen County law enforcement officials for their quick apprehension of a suspect in the recent anti-Semitic firebombing of Congregation Beth El in Rutherford, New Jersey.

Attended by a diverse representation of leaders of the Jewish, Asian, African-American, Russian, and Spanish communities, the event was a clear show of support that transcended state lines and an opportunity to demonstrate solidarity against hate crimes directed at any population.

“This was an amazing night,” said the Assemblyman, who presented awards to two of the honorees. “Bergen County law enforcement officials were so touched by the fact that the Jewish community of New York asked them to come to us so that we could thank them personally. The warmth in the room was palpable.”

The awards were inscribed with the words “In grateful recognition of your swift response and extraordinary investigative work. Your unwavering determination to eradicate hatred, thereby ensuring the safety of your communities, is praiseworthy. May you be blessed with continued success. On behalf of our elected representatives and communities throughout the city of New York.”

A meeting of minds

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Assemblyman Hikind joined Congressman Bob Turner at a press conference at the Jewish Center of Avenue N to emphasize the importance of preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. The Congressman, who had just returned from a trip to Israel where he met with leading government officials, spoke very strongly about how dangerous Iran is to U.S. friends and allies.

The Assemblyman had also previously met with the Congressman in Albany to discuss issues affecting our community, including federal financial assistance for private and parochial school parents, as well as allowing religious groups to utilize public school facilities for religious activities.

Assemblyman Hikind is a co-sponsor of a bill in the Assembly that would amend the State Education Law to allow religious meetings and services to take place in public school buildings when the school is not in use. “The Congressman and I are in complete agreement about this issue,” he said. “There is no reason why religious groups should not be able to use the premises when school is not in session. They pay to use the facilities and are not disruptive to anyone. I thank Congressman Turner for representing the interests of our community in Washington.”

MORE MONEY IN YOUR POCKET I
MORE MONEY IN YOUR POCKET II

At an Extraordinary Session of the State Legislature, the Assembly passed historic legislation that will help New York’s working families by cutting taxes and creating jobs. The agreement ensures that millionaires and billionaires pay their fair share. “Our legislation will provide much-needed tax relief to New York’s hardworking families, while helping create jobs and close our state’s budget deficit,” Assemblyman Hikind said. “Working with the governor, we have progressively reformed the tax system so that we have the revenue to allow us to continue delivering crucial services in education and health care.”

The bill includes a tax cut for the middle class that will benefit approximately 4.4 million taxpayers, who make up more than 99 percent of those filing statewide. The middle-class tax cut will be paid for by creating a new tax bracket for high-income earners making over $2 million per year—less than 1 percent of all taxpayers. A commission will also be established to review and make suggestions for improving the state’s tax system.

“This tax code reform is a simple matter of fairness,” the Assemblyman said. “Reforming the tax code to support middle-class families is the right thing to do and is the best way to stimulate consumer spending and jumpstart the economy.”

In this tough economy, more and more hardworking families struggle to cover day-to-day expenses, let alone have extra money to save or put aside for the future. Earned Income Tax Credits (EITCs) can give families a boost to help make ends meet by offering up to thousands of dollars in tax refunds.

EITCs are refundable federal, state, and city tax credits that help low-income, working individuals and families keep more of their earnings. The state credit is currently 30% of the allowable federal earned income credit. State, federal and city credits could potentially put over $7,000 back in the pockets of qualifying families.

Assemblyman Hikind urges all eligible households to claim their EITC tax credits before the April 17 deadline. To be eligible for the federal and New York State EITC, taxpayers must:

To be eligible for the New York City EITC, in addition to the above requirements, taxpayers must:


SIGNALING CHANGE

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Pedestrian countdown signals are finally coming to our neighborhood, and crossing busy streets will now be safer. These signals feature an LED display of the number of seconds remaining before the light changes.

A long-time advocate of these countdown timers, Assemblyman Hikind requested the signals in a letter to DOT Commissioner Sadik-Khan and Brooklyn Borough Commissioner Palmieri last July. “These clocks protect pedestrians—particularly senior citizens and mothers with strollers and small children—by letting them know how much time they really have to safely cross the street,” he noted. “They eliminate the need for pedestrian islands because people know what to expect and can decide whether to cross or to wait.”

The signals will be installed along Fort Hamilton Parkway in Boro Park and along Ocean Parkway and Coney Island Avenue in Midwood. “I hope these are the first of many,” the Assemblyman said. He praised Commissioner Palmieri for his support and prompt response.

Rx FOR PRESCRIPTIONS

Two bills that have been approved by the Legislature and signed into law by the Governor will help to protect consumers from arbitrary policies instituted by insurance companies. Health insurers will no longer be allowed to demand that members have prescriptions filled by mail. The law also requires prescriptions filled by local pharmacies to cost no more than the mail order prescriptions some health insurers prefer.

The other new measure requires fertility drugs to cost the same whether purchased at a local pharmacy or by mail order. It also prevents insurers from tacking on extra co-payments or other costs to fertility drugs obtained from local drug stores and not mail order pharmacies.

An amendment to the law agreed to by the Senate and Assembly will require pharmacies to agree to accept the same reimbursement rate and terms and conditions created for mail order pharmacies.

“Independent pharmacies in ethnic communities throughout the city provide an invaluable service by being able to speak directly to their customers in their native languages,” Assemblyman Hikind remarked. “This advantage would be lost for people forced to use mail order pharmacies.”


LENDING A HAND

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At the Yad Ephraim dinner, Assemblyman Hikind was thanked for the help and support he has provided to the organization, which offers fresh, nourishing meals and a range of volunteer services to hospital patients and their families.

SAFETY REFLECTIONS

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Assemblyman Hikind has announced that he is offering free safety reflectors for pedestrians and bicyclists to wear at night to make them more visible to motorists. These reflectors are similar to reflective stripes found on safety vests and other clothing worn by road and rescue personnel, which work by reflecting light from the headlights of oncoming traffic.

According to the New York State Department of Transportation, 119 pedestrian accidents occurred on 13th Avenue in Boro Park between 2005 and 2010.

“Protecting and helping my constituents is my utmost priority,” the Assemblyman said. “If even one life is spared because of these reflectors, it more than outweighs the cost of purchasing them.”

The reflectors are available at Assemblyman Hikind’s office at 1310 48th Street, 2nd floor, in Boro Park. For more information, call 718-853-9616.