Fall 2011 • New York’s 66th Assembly District In Action • Issue 48

Dear Neighbor,

As the East Coast recovers from a series of storms and floods that have seriously disrupted people’s lives in several states, we should reflect on the importance of community. In so many places people had to rely on each other until assistance could arrive. Whether it was downed trees, power outages, or homes lost to flash floods, we should be reminded that gratitude for being alive and helping one’s neighbor are core American values.

The budget bickering in Washington D.C., which has so divided our country, seems to focus on each emergency as an opportunity to score a political point. There is a saying that divided government is good, because it offers balance. Recently, we have seen the downside of division, which reached its nadir when one Congressional leader suggested that any assistance offered to flood and storm-ravaged communities would have to be offset by spending cuts.

Offering emergency aid to some in exchange for budget pain inflicted on others, is not only counterproductive, it is cruel. This is not the America I grew up in. Politicians, regardless of political affiliation, should want to see communities rebuilt. Yet it seems for some, the notion that government is the root of all evil justifies the tactic of taking distressed citizens hostage and using them as a bargaining chip in the political arena. I find this reality extremely troubling and frankly hard to fathom.

As I write this, we are on the verge of the commemoration of the vicious attacks on the World Trade Center. In the aftermath of that disaster, the spirit of unity and shared purpose was reinforced. The barriers that usually separate us were wiped away. What has happened to so divert us from that moment? How has the accelerating competition for material goods distorted our focus on what is truly important? And the really big question is how do we get back to a place where our connection to each other is renewed?

As a dedicated public servant, I believe that government can be used as a tool to help us realize our potential and bridge our divides. As the passage of same-sex marriage earlier this summer has demonstrated, it is still possible for public policy to transcend party politics in order to realize a greater truth.

Although the present discourse in politics can be depressing, we cannot forget that at times we are a country whose populace has a noble spirit. The overwhelming outpouring of support for one another that we demonstrate time and again in any and every crisis, makes it obvious that we hold the keys for a tomorrow that is brighter than anything we can possibly imagine today.


As America’s energy consumption continues to rise, energy companies, eager to profit off of the high price of gasoline, have markedly increased their efforts to find new sources of natural gas and oil. This search has led such companies to utilize an intensive process for extracting natural gas known as hydraulic fracturing which has grave environmental risks and is unfortunately on the cusp of being permitted in New York State. Although it is claimed that fracturing may lead to increased revenues, the environmental risks are far too great for the State to allow such activity to take place.

While the State Assembly passed a new one-year moratorium on fracturing, the Cuomo Administration did not join us. Governor Cuomo extended the temporary ban only until the conclusion of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s (DEC) review process. DEC’s only major limiting recommendation was a ban within the confines of the New York City and Syracuse watersheds. The position of the DEC will undermine the collective voices of all New Yorkers who rightfully are concerned with the environmental and health impact of hydraulic fracturing anywhere in the state. Among its many flaws, DEC’s report fails to take into account the devastating impact that hydraulic fracturing has had in neighboring Pennsylvania. Furthermore, it is short-sighted as the revenues that will be created for the State of New York will only come from the amount received through permits, and this will be far less than the cost of ameliorating the situation if an accident occurs that threatens our State’s water supply.

DEC recently announced the extension of their original 60-day public testimony period to a 90-day public testimony period, before the conclusion of which no hydraulic-fracturing permits will be made available. This extension was a result of the many voices demanding a longer time frame, including a resolution passed by Community Board 1. Considering the catastrophic flood damage to communities likely to be the site of drilling, additional comment time is warranted.

While drilling for natural gas is a common process, fracking implements mixing water with a combination of sand and toxic chemicals. This “cocktail” is then injected at high pressure into shale more than a mile underground in order to fracture the rock and release the gas. In order to capture a commercially viable amount of gas from the Marcellus Shale formation, a well is drilled vertically to approximately 500 feet above the formation and then the well-bore is turned horizontal to tap all the tiny pockets and veins of gas in the shale. Each of these drilling wells requires an intensive industrial procedure; furthermore the drilling process itself uses and pollutes huge amounts of water. In fact, a single well requires between 1 million and 5 million gallons of water. About 40 percent of what’s injected into the wells is pumped back out, and it must be treated before it is discharged back into public waterways.

New York’s entrance into the fracking field finds its way via the Marcellus Shale, which is a mile-deep rock reservoir which stretches through the Appalachian Mountain Range through New York, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. It is estimated that this natural resource could yield 82 trillion gallons of natural gas - 4 times the current national annual output; New York State currently is the fourth largest natural gas-consuming state and uses 1,200 billion cubic feet of natural gas per year for about five percent of the United States’ demand.

There has been an ongoing outcry via the media as to the dangers of fracking particularly exemplified through its adverse effects when implemented in Pennsylvania as well as many western states, like Wyoming. Films such as “Gasland” and a peer-reviewed study published in the National Academy of Science found that families in Pennsylvania, where fracking was used, had water contaminated with methane and heavy metals.

Clean water is one of our Nation’s greatest and most valuable resources. Only 2 percent of the water on Earth is fresh water, and most of that is still locked up in our polar ice caps, which demonstrates the scarcity of drinking water. Water is crucial to all life - animal and plant - we depend on it. Currently, storing, transporting, and treating the water wastes as a result of the fracking process poses an unacceptable risk to the water quality
of New York State and New York City residents. Although the current plan to prohibit the process in and around the Syracuse and New York City watershed offers some protection, it does not account for the flowback water from the process, estimated to have between 9-35% of the chemicals used in the process still in it, seeping into the groundwater and migrating beyond proposed buffer zones resulting in a contamination across the state of private and public wells, springs, and watershed systems. Furthermore, affecting the ground and surface water is the brine from the actual production itself which is five times saltier than seawater and flows to the surface level during the process.

Most of this proposed drilling will occur in the Marcellus Shale region, which underlies about 18,700 square miles in Southern New York. This includes the 1,585 square miles of watershed west of the Hudson River. After witnessing the devastation that Tropical Storm Irene and Lee have had on Upstate New York, it is chilling to think what would have happened if fracking had commenced. Since 1996 there have been at least four major floods that have devastated the region where fracking may occur. It is hard to assess how much more destruction would have been wrought if contaminated flowback water had also been unleashed.

Finally, there are naturally occurring radioactive properties in the Marcellus Shale that will be widely disseminated through fracking. Current EPA testing has already found levels of radiation that are 267 times the recommended amount in vertical wells. The DEC’s most recent SGEIS report states that the Marcellus Shale has been found to be higher in radioactivity than other bedrock formations including other potential reservoirs that could be developed by high-volume hydraulic fracturing. It is greatly disturbing that the DEC merely addresses this by stating that this is not a significant concern because currently the levels in and around the Marcellus Shale area are similar to those naturally encountered in the surrounding environment. The DEC neither mentions, nor is it known, what effect horizontal drilling will have. Currently, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is preparing data based on the information they have collected as to the effects of fracking on water supplies. This report is due during the spring of 2012.

I believe that the inherent risks of hydraulic fracking represent a danger to New York’s residents. In the event that the Cuomo Administration seeks to allow the use of this methodology, there must be strong pushback from all those who value the purity of our water and food supply. More studies have to be done that clearly answer questions that so far have been unanswered. Where will all the new water for drilling come from? Where will the toxic wastewater be sent? What happens in the event of flooding from storms or the spring snow melts? Furthermore, how can we guarantee that no state resources will be expended for any future cleanup costs? These outstanding questions need to have satisfactory answers before this invasive practice begins anywhere in New York State.


Assemblymember Deborah J. Glick speaking at a forum to address concerns about tour buses at the 9/11 Memorial Site. Also featured (from l. to r.) are Julie Menin, Chair of Community Board 1, Speaker Sheldon Silver, and Council Member Margaret Chin.

Sharing the Roads Safely

We live in a fast-paced city where pedestrians, cyclists and drivers converge, sometimes resulting in accidents that may have serious long-term ramifications. Even as we see increased traffic on the streets and sidewalks, we do not need to see increased accidents. Some restaurants and organizations have been taking steps towards creating safer streets.

One example of a new education campaign is 5 to Ride. The Stuart C. Gruskin Family Foundation created a training and certification program for restaurants to train their bicycle delivery people to abide by a “Pedal Pledge” for safety. This pledge is 5 rules of safe and legal biking. 5 to Ride has also partnered with Seamless Web, so you can filter restaurants on Seamless Web by those who abide by this safe delivery pledge. If there is a restaurant that you dine at frequently that is not on the list, consider approaching the manager or owner and suggest that they pursue such a commitment. More information can be found at www.5toride.org.

We are also pursuing safety among delivery people on the legislative level. Legislation (A5587), which I support, would hold businesses accountable for violations made by their bike delivery staff while they are at work. It would also require that all bicycle delivery people carry identification of their employer. Once this bill becomes law, violations could be called into 311.

In addition to legislative and organizational efforts, it is important to take personal responsibility for our own actions as well. To ensure greater safety for everyone, a few moments of caution can go a long way. Here are a few reminders to ensure that we are all looking out for the safety of others on the road as pedestrian and bicycle traffic grows by leaps and bounds.

If You're in a Car
Take greater care when turning by looking out for bike riders and pedestrians. Don’t drive or park in bike lanes - these are for bikers only. Never open your door without looking for a bicycle approaching alongside your car and ensure that your passengers do the same.

If You're on Foot
Always keep in mind that cars and cyclists sometimes don’t follow the rules. Don’t step off the curb until the traffic light changes and cars stop and always look both ways before crossing a street, even a one-way street. Be particularly careful to observe turning vehicles and don’t start to cross the street if it’s obvious that you can’t get the entire way across before the light turns.

If You're on a Bike
Travel with traffic, follow traffic control signals and do not ride on sidewalks or the wrong way down one-way streets. Be careful of car and truck door openings and turning vehicles. And always wear a helmet - nearly all cycling fatalities and serious injuries occur to cyclists without helmets.

Construction Impact on Bike Lanes
Due to construction of the Manhattan Bridge, there is a temporary switch for bikers and pedestrians - cyclists will use the south path and pedestrians will use the north path of the bridge. This change is expected to continue through January 2012. There is also an additional bike lane detour to get to the bridge. The New York City Department of Transportation is responsible for the details of this detour. For more information, please contact Teresa Toro, community liaison for this project at 347-325-1622 or manhattanbridgeoutreach@gmail.com.

While there is also construction being conducted on the Brooklyn Bridge, there is no planned detour for pedestrian or bicycle traffic.

Legislative Update

Assemblymember Deborah Glick and Assemblymember Keith Wright celebrating after the passage of Marriage Equality.
Well, we certainly had a productive end of session this year. The passage of Marriage Equality, here in New York, made headlines around the country. I am almost without words to express the depth of my feelings on this historic and long-awaited passage of marriage equality legislation in both houses of the Legislature.

Although we are not the first state in the Union to pass this legislation, we are the largest state to date. It has been a remarkable journey for my colleagues and me. The long debate has resolved the differences between civil and religious marriage and between personal beliefs and the belief that all people should have access to the same rights and privileges.

I am delighted that my New York legislative colleagues have found it in their hearts to do the right thing. This historic moment belongs to all who have come before us fighting to be recognized as full and equal members of society. The senseless discrimination that has denied same-sex couples equality in New York State is relegated to the ash heap of history - where it belongs.

Another important piece of legislation was the passage of stronger housing laws. We were able to give hardworking New Yorkers access to affordable housing with stronger rent protections for middle-class and low-income families. The law closed the loopholes that made raising rent and rent decontrol far too easy for landlords who priced families out of their homes. This was done in the context of the early refusal of the Senate majority to negotiate any changes except a straight extender of the current law.

SUNY and CUNY 2020
We were also able to enact legislation that would provide our public university systems with much-needed funds to address the funding cuts they have received in the last 3 years. We were able to provide a predictable reasonable tuition increase for students and their families for the next five years. Our TAP-eligible students will receive a tuition credit in direct proportion to the TAP award they currently receive. There is an agreement that these tuition funds will be passed on to the public higher education systems in addition to the subsidy that the state now provides to SUNY and CUNY, which is the maintenance-of-effort provision I deemed essential in any agreement reached. Additionally, there will be no differential tuition by campus or for undergraduate programs.

We had to balance the continuing viability of public higher education with the ability of families to pay even a modest tuition increase. Not raising tuition could have meant that students might need an additional year to graduate since they are now in danger of being crowded out of classes needed to graduate. We feel that we succeeded in keeping SUNY and CUNY public and affordable.

The Cruelty of Horse-Drawn Carriages

Horse carriages are often used as an iconic symbol of New York. We associate them with romantic movies and of times when our world was not as fast-paced. Unfortunately, you may be surprised to learn the reality is far less romantic; horse carriages in New York City are really just a dressed-up form of animal abuse. Mixing horses, cars, pedestrians, buses and cyclists in one crowded space is inevitably going to cause harm to humans and animals. And, once again, on July 25th, it did.

I am not surprised by the report of a taxi cab running into a horse carriage by Central Park nor am I surprised that the story got little coverage in the press despite the fact that at least 4 people and a horse were injured in the accident. I am, however, surprised that as an evolved society we continue to be complacent about activities that are unnatural and unsafe for humans, and animals alike. I cannot fathom how the City - both the Administration and City Council - has continued to be complicit in these inhumane activities.

While the City has failed to act, the State has not ignored this issue. Legislation introduced by Assemblymember Rosenthal (A7748) and Senator Avella (S5013), would prohibit horse carriages in New York City. I am a proud sponsor of this legislation. In addition to prohibiting the horse carriages, the legislation also ensures that carriage horses are humanely retired, and makes sure that these horses aren’t simply sold to slaughterhouses, as is currently the usual practice.

Assemblymember Deborah Glick and Bobby, a rescue horse, at Equine Advocates in Chatham, NY.

This second part of the bill goes hand in hand with other legislation, A3504, of which I am the lead sponsor, which would make it illegal to sell or transport horses for slaughter for human consumption. It may be news to many people, but there is a significant market for horse meat in Europe and Japan. The bill would also implement penalties for those caught breaking the law. One would think that legislation that would prohibit the slaughter of horses for human consumption would be easy to pass through the Legislature, but this bill has been stalled in the Agriculture committee of the Assembly. I will continue to support this bill and urge the committee members to allow this bill to be voted on by the full Assembly.

While the Legislature works to create humane laws and penalties for failure to comply, there are private organizations scattered around the State that are working to protect and provide safe havens for large animals that have been deemed unwanted. Such organizations include: Catskill Animal Sanctuary (Saugerties, NY), The Farm Sanctuary (Watkins Glen, NY), Equine Advocates (Chatham, NY) and Woodstock Sanctuary (Willow, NY). These organizations are no-kill homes for large animals, such as livestock and horses, which have been discarded by or rescued from an array of atrocious situations. I have been told that even at these safe havens, the chance of a former carriage horse being saved is rare. The thinking is that by the time carriage horses are retired, they are in such bad physical shape that the owners prefer the horse be killed than remain a testament to their barbarous life. I encourage everyone to become familiar with the work of these fine organizations, which not only provide a haven for these animals, but have strong educational programs to inform the public about the conditions in which many of these animals toil and advocate on behalf of them for more humane treatment.

I applaud the work of animal shelters, sanctuaries and other groups that take in and protect discarded animals but we must work towards ending the practices, such as horse carriage operations in New York City that put the animals in danger in the first place.

Waste Crisis in America

We are in the middle of a burgeoning environmental crisis. It is a crisis of waste. Just as we have become disconnected from where our food comes from, we have become similarly disconnected to where it goes setting the stage for an environmental crisis of vast proportion.

Americans, on average, disposed over four pounds of garbage every day. That’s about 30 pounds of garbage per person, per week. If we didn’t take the trash out, it would soon fill up our houses and apartments. If garbage trucks didn’t haul it from our streets, it would soon fill up our neighborhoods and cities.

As cities, states, and countries run out of room for their garbage, they look for places elsewhere on the planet to ship the waste. New York City, for example, sends garbage by rail to landfills in Virginia, South Carolina, and other states. In fact, each day trains and trucks carry 50,000 tons of trash from New York to huge landfills and incinerators in New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and South Carolina.

In order to help make the world a little greener here are a few simple tips that can make a big difference:


recycle bag
1. Bring Your Own Bags
Every year, Americans use approximately 1 billion shopping bags, creating 300,000 tons of non-biodegradable landfill waste. Next time you are shopping bring your own bags from home, or carry one in your briefcase for those spur of the moment visits to the market after work.
coffee cup
3. Mug-to-Go
Disposable coffee cups contribute to about 3.7 million pounds of solid waste a year. Using your own mug at your favorite coffee shop helps the environment and in many places you will be charged less.

2. Buy Local
Each pound of local food you purchase prevents a quarter pound of climate change (CO2) emissions. Support local farmers’ markets and you’ll help farmers and the environment.
4. Meatless Mondays
Don’t eat meat one day a week. The meat industry generates nearly one-fifth of the man-made greenhouse gas emissions that are accelerating climate change worldwide. An estimated 1,800 to 2,500 gallons of water go into a single pound of beef. Reducing the amount of meat you eat can make a big difference in the environment and perhaps even your health.