Spring 2011 • New York’s 66th Assembly District In Action • ISSUE 47
Domestic Security

I recently wrote to Congressman Peter King to express my grave disappointment regarding the hearing he convened under the guise of encouraging Muslim community leaders to do more to aid the United States in fighting against the threat of domestic terrorism. To focus so narrowly on this one group seems misguided, particularly given that since 2009, Muslim communities helped law enforcement prevent three-quarters of all Al-Qaeda related plots threatening the United States. Furthermore, I am disturbed by his insistence that the threat from “radicalized Muslims” is the greatest physical danger facing American citizens, when there are in fact, a wide variety of homegrown terrorists in this country, including Christian extremist militias like The Huratee, a group convicted last year of planning an attack on police officers to start a violent anti-government uprising, the Neo-Nazi groups connected with the attack on the Holocaust museum in 2009, and the anti-choice extremists responsible for the assassination of Dr. George Tiller, Dr. Barnett Slepian, and Officer Robert Sanderson in recent years.

The NYPD recently reported that there are 700 calls to the department every day reporting an incident of domestic violence in New York City alone. There are nearly 4.8 million reports of women who have experienced partner-related physical assaults and rapes every year, and of all the women who are murdered in the United States, one-third of these women were killed by an intimate partner.

Representative King often defends the limited focus of his hearings on Muslims by saying his role as Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee drives him to address threats solely regarding terrorist attacks similar to those that occurred in this country on September 11th. However, it is clear from recent events that the Department of Homeland Security is invested in addressing a wide range of “potential threats”—after all, just last year, the Department of Homeland Security obtained search warrants to seize and shut down the domains of several hip-hop oriented music linking sites, in an effort to protect the country from what I presume is the threat of illegal downloading.

Given this clear devotion to rooting out domestic threats to Americans wherever they may lurk, I asked that he widen the scope of his hearings to include the aforementioned extremist groups. I also pointed Representative King toward a violent threat that affects millions of Americans every year. The NYPD recently reported that there are 700 calls to the department every day reporting an incident of domestic violence in New York City alone. There are nearly 4.8 million reports of women who have experienced partner-related physical assaults and rapes every year, and of all the women who are murdered in the United States, one-third of these women were killed by an intimate partner. While law enforcement efforts have reduced the overall crime rate in recent years, incidents of domestic violence are increasing each year, proof that we do not yet have the policies and strategies we need to eradicate this societal problem.

Surely this qualifies as a serious issue for one who is concerned with protecting Americans from attacks, as he espouses so often when justifying the need for his hearings. Where are the hearings on how best to prevent this domestic threat to life and limb? Why is he not asking for better participation rates from state, local, and federal agencies and men’s groups whose help he needs to curtail these attacks? If he can countenance the use of Homeland Security resources available to address the threat of rap music websites, can he not find some way to divert some of his time and energy to address a threat that consistently causes great loss of life in our country each year?

I asked Representative King to bear out his stated intentions to protect American lives in the form of actions, not only words. Millions of American women could only hope for one-tenth of the attention he paid to this small group of supposed perpetrators in his hearings being directed to the far greater threat of those who inflict violence on their partners every year. Living in terror is the daily lot of millions of American women. Leaving or separating from an abuser too often doesn’t ensure relief from violence. Every day there are reports of women assaulted, or murdered, despite having an order of protection. These women’s lives could be significantly safer if the Congressman used his next hearings to bring attention to what is factually the greatest domestic threat to American life and limb, rather than focusing on what by all accounts is a threat already being successfully countered by Muslim Americans and vigorous law enforcement.


Assemblymember Glick helps celebrate Pharmacy Opening at Callen Lorde.

How Safe are Cell Phones?

For better or for worse, cell phones have become a ubiquitous part of life. And with the increase in cell phone use by nearly everyone, new questions have arisen about their safety. Although there is no definitive evidence that cell phones can be bad for your health, more people are questioning the health risks associated with them. Thus, with over 208 million cell phones in use in the U.S., it is essential that the federal government take greater responsibility in informing the public of all the hazards associated with frequent cell phone use. Making relevant information and warnings readily accessible to the public is the first step in addressing this issue.

In June of 2010, the city of San Francisco enacted the “Cell Phone Right-to-Know Ordinance,” mandating that retailers list the specific absorption rate (SAR), which is the amount of radio waves absorbed into the cell phone user’s body tissue in at least 11-point type next to all phones. According to the FCC, all phones sold in the U.S. must have a SAR rate no greater than 1.6 watts per kilogram. This law, the first of its kind in the U.S., also provides customers with access to educational resources to inform the customer about cell phone radiation when making their purchasing decisions.

This bill passed with an overwhelming majority despite opposition from The Wireless Telephone Association (CTIA) which criticizes the labeling ordinance as a potential business-killing precedent. The San Francisco law does not function to limit cell phone use or sales, but does provide more information to consumers. All mandated information about cell phone SAR rates are already accessible in instruction booklets and on manufacturer and carrier websites, this law just makes it easier to find.

This law is the first to pass after several failed lawsuits, including Murray v. Motorola, in which the Court ruled that those plaintiffs could not pursue claims that they were injured b y phones which met FCC emission standards. At this time, the U.S. has failed to take any substantive stance against limited cell phone use and safety.

There have been no conclusive studies in the U.S. that link cell phone use to cancer. Instead, the San Francisco law cites studies from government agencies and scientific bodies in the European Union (EU) and Israel. Indeed, cell phone use is much more regulated in Europe. In the EU’s “Health Concerns Associated with Electromagnetic Fields” resolution of 2009, a similar transparency ordinance for all cell phone retailers was implemented. This resolution also instituted an expansive educational campaign in order to inform children of good cell phone techniques, such as the use of hands-free kits, keeping calls short, switching off phones when not in use (such as when in classes) and using phones in areas that have good reception. Other countries, such as France, have taken it a step further and in 2009, the French Senate passed legislation that restricted the use of cell phones for children, including a ban on the advertising of cell phones to children under the age of 14, and a ban on sales of phones intended for use by children under the age of 6. In addition, it will require all phones to be sold with accompanying headsets.

As part of widespread awareness campaigns, governments in France, Sweden, and other European nations have made it a point to educate the public about restricting their exposure to cell phone radiation, especially for children.

  1. In Switzerland, the Federal Office of Public Health recommends limiting cell phone use by either sending a text message (SMS) or using wireless, air tube headsets rather than a hands-free system, which must be inserted into the ear canal. The Federal Office for Radiation Protection in Germany even suggests using a landline for calls.

  2. When buying cell phones, make sure it has a low SAR rate that is less than 0.6 W/kg.

  3. Do not use the cell phone in enclosed metal spaces such as tunnels or elevators, where devices may need more power to establish a connection.

  4. Switch off cell phones when not in use. When cell phones are still on, do not place them in your pocket or belt. According to a study from the Cleveland Clinic men faced up to a 30% reduction in sperm count when phones were left on in their pockets.

Even though we may not know all the risks associated with cell phone use, this is still an issue that should be carefully examined. In America, we have a history of regulating industries only after significant damage has occurred. In 1965, there was no scientific consensus that cigarettes were hazardous, but Congress still passed legislation necessitating all cigarette packages include labels that warned, “Cigarette Smoking May Be Hazardous to Your Health.” However it wasn’t until 1984 when Congress called for a more unambiguous label reading, “Smoking Causes Lung Cancer, Heart Disease, Emphysema, And May Complicate Pregnancy.” Today, no one would argue the health risks associated with smoking and tobacco companies have paid billions of dollars to the states and the federal government. In regard to cell phones, the federal government has already determined that there is an issue of concern when it set a maximum limit on the amount of this radiation that can be emitted in 1996. Unlike regulations regarding cigarettes, we should not wait another 19 years until we inform the public about the risks of cell phones.

Tree Stewardship Opportunities

In order to maintain the public trees throughout the city, MillionTreesNYC has a citizen-based tree care program—the Stewardship Corps—which provides intensive workshops in urban tree care and connects New York City residents with the tools they need to take care of trees in need on the sidewalks of New York. Upon completion of a free training program, Tree Stewards are responsible for the maintenance and care of a public tree of their choice.

MillionTreesNYC tree keepers engage everyday New Yorkers in urban tree care and maintenance with tree care and community organizing workshops, tree care toolkits and online coordination of tree adoption and tree care. Visit www.milliontreesnyc.org to find out about upcoming workshops and learn how you can adopt and care for newly planted trees.
Assemblymember Glick speaking at a rally to landmark 35 Cooper Square.

Reflections on This Year’s Budget

Assemblymember Glick delivering keynote address at Hudson Valley LGBQT 4th Annual Gala.
There is no doubt that this year’s budget is one of the most dispiriting in a long time. With a budget deficit of $10 billion to be overcome, the budget was always going to include painful cuts. Those of us who felt that the continuation of the emergency tax surcharge on high income earners or our amended Millionaire’s Tax could help alleviate some of the deepest cuts were disappointed that Governor Cuomo and the Senate majority did not join us in enacting this common sense short-term revenue stream to mitigate program cuts in the budget.

The existing deficit and reduced revenue provided limited funds to restore education funding and health care funding. Education will withstand two years of sharply reduced funding at a time when we must increase test scores and graduation rates, to say nothing of readiness for college skills. Higher education took a significant hit for the third year in a row and our public university systems (SUNY and CUNY) forfeited 30 percent of their operations funds over this period.

After closely examining all the cuts made, it remains unfathomable to me why the Governor did not push to maintain the tax on higher earners which could have helped blunt some of the service cuts. $1 billion will be lost in this fiscal year and $4 billion will be lost the following year.

The Governor assembled a Medicaid Redesign Team which included many, though not all, stakeholders in health care to propose cuts to Medicaid and other health programs. The inclusion of a $250,000 cap on pain and suffering for the victims of medical negligence was rejected. I hope that the various pilot programs focused on reducing medical errors and hospital infections will be scaled up to ensure greater protection for the public and medical providers alike.

Environmental issues received no cuts in this budget which must be viewed as a victory. While there is $3 million in funds from the Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) for projects in the Hudson River Park, the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation did receive a 10% cut which will reduce staff needed to confront the push for hydrofracturing for natural gas exploration.

After closely examining all the cuts made, it remains unfathomable to me why the Governor did not push to maintain the tax on higher earners which could have helped blunt some of the service cuts. $1 billion will be lost in this fiscal year and $4 billion will be lost the following year. Practically speaking, individuals making $1 million will save about $21,000 as a result of eliminating the tax. We face an economic emergency, exacerbated by the end of federal stimulus support. The loss of essential jobs, from firefighters to school teachers, undermines our recovery. I am not alone in feeling this way, polling indicated that the majority of New Yorkers agree with me, but unfortunately, the Senate and the Governor were unwilling to compromise, so now New Yorkers will have to. We will compromise our health, safety, education, and transportation needs because some forces in Albany refused to budge. I will continue to fight for middle-class values and if our economic situation does not dramatically improve, then I hope that the Millionaire’s Tax will be seriously considered in the future.

Hospital Executive Salary Cap

I recently introduced legislation that would cap the salary of hospital executives whose hospitals receive public funds at $250,000 annually. I think that it would be in keeping with some of the recent initiatives proposed by Governor Cuomo. The Governor has discussed a number of items that should be capped. He has suggested a cap on the salary of educational superintendents at $175,000. There were also proposed caps on pain and suffering for those who have been victims of medical negligence.

I find it regrettable that hospital executives told the Legislature about how budget cuts would hurt their hospitals, while they are being paid salaries in the millions of dollars. After seeing an article in Crain’s New York Business featuring these salaries, I decided that we needed to take a stand on this hemorrhaging of public funds used for executive salaries. Any budget discussion needs to include both sides of the balance sheet.

A Valentine for Village Businesses Hurt by the Close of St. Vincent’s

Assemblymember Glick speaking at her “Love the Village” Valentine Event designed to help support small businesses hurt by the close of St. Vincent’s.
As someone who has spent nearly my entire adult life in Greenwich Village, I was crestfallen when St. Vincent’s shut its doors. Not only was the hospital the center for our community’s physical health, it also has been the lifeblood for many small local businesses. Now the health needs of our community have been severely diminished, and the local stores that give our neighborhood its character are withering in silence.

My connection to small businesses goes back many years. During my formative years, my family ran a print shop in the Far West Village, when operations like Superior Ink actually manufactured ink on the premises and weren’t condominiums. I saw first hand how much work it takes to make a small business successful and how few resources exist to assist mom and pop operations. Unfortunately, this fact remains as true today as it did then. The City invites small businesses to open their doors but then does little to help them be successful. It’s hard enough to make it in New York City as it is, so imagine the effect when a 3,500 person operation, like St. Vincent’s, suddenly shuts its doors. The wake of such a closure has been harsh and swift.

The closing of St. Vincent’s has been a devastating blow to the Village and just as devastating for the businesses that depended on St. Vincent’s for their customer base, from employees to visitors. Many businesses have already closed, while others are struggling to survive. To confront this problem, my office invited the Greenwich Village and Chelsea Chamber of Commerce, Community Board 2, Congressman Jerrold Nadler, Borough President Scott M. Stringer, Senator Thomas K. Duane, and Council Speaker Christine M. Quinn to participate in a Valentine-themed shopping extravaganza on Saturday, February 12, 2011 entitled, “Love the Village,” with the goal of supporting businesses that have been adversely impacted.

“Love the Village” was a day-long shopping extravaganza which encouraged the public to shop at businesses in the immediate vicinity of St. Vincent’s. Participants were given a map of businesses on Greenwich Avenue, 6th Avenue, and 7th Avenue and, after shopping at these businesses, they were encouraged to exchange their receipts (that value at least $10) for raffle tickets that entered them in drawings for wonderful prizes donated by local business owners.

By all measures, the day was extremely successful. A large number of people participated and helped generate nearly $3,000 spent on merchandise from local businesses. Although a one day event may not save a business that is teetering on the edge, it helped introduce people to businesses that they might pass every day without ever entering. If we do want our neighborhood to be more Jane Jacobs than Marc Jacobs, a good first step is by patronizing independently-owned local business. Now, more than ever, we need to come together as a community and help our local businesses.

Strengthening Rent Stabilization

As you know, I am a staunch supporter of tenants’ rights and will continue to fight for rent protections for New Yorkers. It is my position, as well as that of the Assembly, that we must do more than simply renew existing regulations, we must try to strengthen these laws. At a time of great financial hardship, we can not afford to displace over a million New Yorkers who depend on stable affordable housing. From 2000 to 2007, New York City lost over 569,000 units of affordable housing. In addition, we must work hard to close the loopholes which allow for the deregulation of approximately 10,000 units a year.

A rent stabilization bill, which I am co-sponsoring, has been passed in the Assembly. This bill, A.2674-A, would protect existing rent-regulated buildings, as well as create additional rent-regulated units by repealing vacancy decontrol, limit rent increases as a result of major capital improvements, re-regulate units that were deregulated due to vacancy decontrol and grant home rule to allow New York City to strengthen regulations beyond that which the state allows.

In order to be successful, we must also secure partners in the Senate and the Governor’s office. I would encourage you to write to the Governor directly as well, to ensure that he hears this message directly from the community as well as from the Legislature.

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66th District
New York City
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