Herman D. Farrell, Jr.
HERMAN D. FARRELL, JR.
Assemblymember 71st District
seal
2541-55 Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Blvd.
New York, NY 10039
TEL (212) 234-1430
FAX (212) 234-1868
April 4, 2012

…and this month in Albany

On Friday, March 30 in my capacity as Chair of the Ways and Means Committee I debated and helped pass a package of budget bills that finalized a $132.6 billion spending plan for Fiscal Year 2012-13, which began Sunday, April 1. These budget bills, which are the product of an accord the Assembly, Senate and Governor Cuomo had reached earlier in the week, completed the budget a few days early for the first time since 1983 and on time for the second year in a row. Though details were agreed to only recently, work on the budget actually began in December.

Tax Reform Benefits Middle-Class Families

During the final days of 2011, the Legislature returned to Albany to pass a major overhaul of the State tax code. This tax reform legislation allowed for a tax cut on middle-class families while at the same time raising taxes on wealthy New Yorkers, effectively extending the "millionaire's tax" which would have expired on December 31. Because the Assembly, Senate and Governor had to agree on revenue forecasts as part of this tax reform bill, this meant that we had reached consensus on revenue available for the Fiscal Year 2012-13 budget, a major part of the overall plan. Not only had we helped close an anticipated deficit for the coming year, it allowed us to keep our promise that we made last year to increase spending on health and education programs.

On Monday, March 12, after a period of debate, both the Assembly and Senate passed their own "one-house" budget bills. These "one-house bills," while similar, were not identical which they must be to be sent to Governor Cuomo for his signature. To reconcile the differences in their respective bills, on Tuesday, March 13, members of the Assembly and Senate met in the first of a series of General Conference Committee meetings. Ongoing negotiations during the following weeks led to an agreement that the Assembly, Senate and Governor Cuomo could all support. The Governor had also asked for other items that he wanted to be passed alongside the budget itself.

Constitutional Changes Voted Upon

On March 15, during an all-night session, the Legislature passed a series of bills which may effect historic reform relating to many key responsibilities of government. Likely to have the most longstanding impact is legislation that is intended to change the process of legislative redistricting, which follows the US Census by drawing new State legislative district lines. The intention is to equalize the population in each district. But changing the process can only be done through a Constitutional amendment that must pass the Legislature again during our next session, and then go before the public as a referendum. If this referendum passes, the State Constitution will be amended to relieve the Legislature of the responsibility of drawing new district lines.

Public to Vote on Casino Gaming Proposal

Legislation passed by the Assembly included a second Constitutional amendment, this one allowing for the creation of up to seven casino-type gaming facilities Statewide. A bill that will specify where these casinos may be sited should be introduced and debated in the near future. This Constitutional amendment will also have to be passed by two successive Legislatures before it goes before the public. On March 15 we also passed pension reform which will affect future State employees but by law cannot affect anyone now working in State government.

Expanding the DNA Databank to Protect Public Safety

We also passed a historic expansion of the State's DNA Databank to include all felonies and most misdemeanors. Persons convicted of minor marijuana possession charges will not have to submit their DNA to the Databank. My colleague Assemblyman Joseph Lentol and others fought for and won provisions in the new law that guarantee defense attorneys will have access to DNA evidence following a court order. It also allows defendants who have been convicted of a crime to petition the courts for access to evidence held by prosecutors, and if they are not capable of paying to obtain this evidence, the State will pick up the expense for them.

New Opportunities to Exonerate the Wrongfully Convicted

Previously, there was no provision of State law that laid down these requirements. The new law also allows judges to order evidence be tested against the DNA Databank. Broadening the pool of DNA data available presents the opportunity to close open cases and to prevent offenders from committing new crimes. At the same time, opportunities to exonerate the wrongfully convicted will be made stronger.

New Funding for Education and Health Care

Overall support for education programs in the 2012-13 budget totals $20.3 billion, including $805 million in new funding that was promised last year, $75 million of which is for New York City schools. This 3.9 percent increase in funding for public schools is matched by a similar increase in funding for health care programs.

Keeping the Promise to Support Vital Programs

As we have discussed in the past, these and other programs were cut as State government dealt with funding shortfalls caused by the Wall Street crash of 2007 and the economic decline that followed. This new budget, which recognizes the ongoing weakness in the economy, is structured in such a way as to provide for the most vital needs of the State and its' people while increasing only 1.9 percent. I am happy to announce that we were able to do away with the State share of sales tax on clothing purchases under $110, easing the cost of living for families even more.

Setting Priorities, Saving Taxpayer Money

Because under the State Fiscal Year 2012-13 budget the same amount of money is to be spent in a smarter way, proposed cuts were not actually made in the final budget. These restorations include $239 million in expense-based school aid, more funding for SUNY and CUNY including campus child care centers, and a restoration of $30.6 million to the Elderly Pharmaceutical Insurance Coverage (EPIC) program. The budget fully funds increases to the public assistance grant, which is scheduled to rise by 5 percent this summer and again by 5 percent in the fall.

Budget Offers Relief for Local Governments and Help For Citizens

An appropriation of $6.5 billion will fund unemployment insurance benefits, and the budget also finalizes plans for the State to shoulder increased Medicaid costs, freeing localities from this cost and saving local governments an estimated $1.2 billion over the next five years. Also included is $34.3 million to maintain the right of spousal refusal, meaning that seniors whose ailing spouses require long-term care will not be at risk of losing vital assets.

Improving the State's Transportation Infrastructure

Businesses owned by women and minorities who wish to contract with the State will find a helping hand has been extended, as funds have been allocated to support these companies and track the business they are doing with the State, data that will be useful in the future. Capital projects, including road and bridge maintenance, are funded at aggressive levels, as is State support for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Under the 2012-13 State budget, $4 billion has been provided to support the MTA, a 5 percent increase from the previous year.

Protecting Affordable Housing

The Neighborhood Preservation Program, a program I started in the 1970s which the Governor had proposed eliminating this year, has been restored to the tune of more than $10 million, plus an additional $4.2 million for the Rural Preservation Program. Last year, these programs were funded at $8.48 million and $3.54 million respectively. This, I am sure, will be welcome news to our friends and neighbors who are fighting to save their homes. Other housing rehabilitation and foreclosure prevention programs were also saved, affirming the State's commitment to preserving affordable housing in Northern Manhattan and other communities.

Yours truly,

Herman D. Farrell, Jr.




April 2, 2012

Ways and Means Chair Farrell Debates 2012-2013 Budget
Fiscal Plan Boosts NYC School Funding by $75M

Assemblyman Farrell on Friday debated and helped pass a package of budget bills that flesh out a $132.6 billion spending plan for Fiscal Year 2012-13, which began Sunday, April 1. These budget bills, which are a product of an accord the Assembly, Senate and Governor Cuomo reached earlier in the week, completed the budget process early for the first time since 1983.

photo
Assemblyman Farrell debates budget legislation on Friday, March 30, 2012.

"After several years of cuts, I am happy to say that we will at last be able to undo some of the damage caused by the Great Recession," Assemblyman Farrell said. "I commend Governor Cuomo for keeping the promise he made last year and releasing $805 million to our schools, including $75 million that has been set aside for New York City schools."

Overall support for education programs in the 2012-13 budget total $20.3 billion. This 3.9 percent increase in funding for public schools is matched by a similar increase in funding for health care programs. These and other State programs were cut as State government dealt with funding shortfalls forced by the Wall Street crash of 2007 and the economic decline that followed.

This budget, which recognizes ongoing weakness in the economy, is structured in such a way as to provide for the most vital needs of the State and its' people while staying below the self-imposed spending cap of 2 percent called for by Governor Cuomo. Because the same amount of money is to be spent in a smarter way, proposed cuts were not actually made in the final budget.

These restorations include $239 million in expense-based school aid, more funding for SUNY and CUNY including campus child care centers, and a restoration of $30.6 million to the Elderly Pharmaceutical Insurance Coverage (EPIC) program. The budget fully funds increases to the public assistance grant, which is scheduled to rise by 5 percent this summer and again in the fall.

An appropriation of $6.5 billion will fund unemployment insurance benefits, and the budget also finalizes plans for the State to shoulder increased Medicaid costs, freeing localities from this cost and saving local governments an estimated $1.2 billion over the next five years. Also included is $34.3 million to maintain the right of spousal refusal, meaning that seniors whose ailing spouses require long-term care will not be at risk of losing vital assets.

Businesses owned by women and minorities who wish to contract with the State will find a helping hand has been extended, as funds have been allocated to support these companies. Capital projects, including road and bridge maintenance, are funded at aggressive levels, as is State support for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Under the 2012-13 State budget, $4 billion has been provided to support the MTA, a 5 percent increase from the previous year.

The Neighborhood Preservation Program, which the Governor had proposed eliminating this year, has been restored to the tune of $10 million. Other housing rehabilitation and foreclosure prevention programs were similarly saved, affirming the State's commitment to preserving the stock of affordable housing in Northern Manhattan and other communities.

Budget bills passed by the Assembly on Friday include A.9050D, which makes an appropriation of $34.7 billion to provide for the operations of State government agencies (passed 124-1); A.9054D, which makes an appropriation of $52.1 billion to fund capital projects by State agencies (passed 132-5); A9053E, which provides aid for localities including education funding (passed 134-2); A.9051A, which makes an appropriation of $2.7 billion to fund the State judicial system (passed 121-3); A.9056D, which enacts and implements the health and mental hygiene components of the budget (passed 128-4); A.9057D, which enacts and implements the education, labor and family assistance components of the budget (passed 119-8); and A.9059D, which implements the fiscal plan for Fiscal Year 2012-13 (passed 115-14).



Herman D. Farrell, Jr.
HERMAN D. FARRELL, JR.
Assemblymember 71st District
seal
2541-55 Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Blvd.
New York, NY 10039
TEL (212) 234-1430
FAX (212) 234-1868
March 15, 2012

…and this month in Albany

Early this morning, during an all-night session, the Assembly and Senate passed a series of bills which may effect historic reform relating to many key responsibilities of government. Likely to have the most longstanding impact is legislation that is intended to change the process of legislative reapportionment, also known as redistricting, which follows the once-per-decade US Census with the drawing of new State and Congressional district lines to reflect the new demographic data. The intended result is to equalize the population in each district. But changing the process can only be done through a Constitutional amendment that must pass the Legislature again during our next session, and then brought before the public as a referendum. If the public referendum passes, the State Constitution will be amended to relieve the Legislature of the responsibility of drawing new district lines for ourselves and members of Congress.

Wednesday night and Thursday morning's work included a second Constitutional amendment, this one allowing for the creation of up to seven casino-type gaming facilities Statewide. A bill that will specify where these casinos may be sited should be introduced and debated in the near future. This Constitutional amendment will also have to be passed by two successive Legislatures before it goes before the public.

We also passed a new and less generous pension package, called Tier VI, which will affect State employees who have yet to be hired but by law cannot affect anyone who is now working in State government. New York City and other municipalities have complained for years that the cost of paying the pensions and health benefits of retired employees was overly burdensome and ate up dollars that could be spent on public safety, education, health care and other vital needs. The Legislature worked with Governor Cuomo to craft a deal intended to save money in the future.

Our negotiations with the Governor allowed us to reach a deal that may do less harm to middle-class families who rely on income from a State job. Non-union employees who earn more than $75,000 per year will have the option of enrolling in a 401(k)-style defined contribution plan, as some SUNY and CUNY employees have done for years. Those who choose a traditional pension will be fully vested after 10 years, not the 12 that the Governor had asked for. Though they will have to contribute more toward their pensions than current employees, new employees will be asked to contribute less than was initially proposed. Rather than the 4 to 6 percent contribution the Governor sought, those earning up to $45,000 will contribute 3.5 percent. Higher-earning employees will pay more, a maximum of 6 percent for those earning $100,000 or more.

The minimum retirement age, now 62, will be raised to 63; the Governor had wanted it to be 65. The New York Police Department and Fire Department of New York will be excluded from most of the cuts, while future sanitation workers and corrections officers will see their benefits reduced compared to their colleagues who are on the job today. The new rules also limit the use of overtime in pension calculations and require the State, rather than the City, to pay for any future pension enhancements.

We also passed a historic expansion of the State's DNA Databank to include all felonies and most misdemeanors. Persons convicted of minor marijuana possession charges will not have to submit their DNA to the Databank.

My colleague, Assemblyman Joseph Lentol, and others fought for and won provisions in the new law that guarantee defense attorneys will have access to DNA evidence following a court order. It also allows defendants who have been convicted of a crime to petition the courts for access to evidence held by prosecutors, and if they are not capable of paying to obtain this evidence, the State will pick up the expense for them. Previously, there was no provision of State law that laid down these requirements. The new law also allows judges to order evidence be tested against the DNA Databank.

Broadening the pool of DNA data available to police and prosecutors presents the opportunity to close open cases and to prevent offenders from committing new crimes. At the same time, opportunities to exonerate the wrongfully convicted will be strengthened compared to past law.

With many of the difficult questions the Legislature expected to face this year now answered, we will be able to turn more of our attention to the budget, which we are attempting to close early.

On Monday, March 12, after a period of debate, both the Assembly and Senate passed their own "one-house" budget bills. These "one-house bills," while similar, are not identical which they must be to be sent to Governor Cuomo for his consideration and signature, making them the final budget for Fiscal Year 2012-13, which begins April 1. To reconcile the differences in their respective bills, on Tuesday, March 13, members of the Assembly and Senate met in the first in a series of General Conference Committee meetings. After each house has passed its' own "one-house" budget bill, the Permanent Rules of the Senate and Assembly require lawmakers to convene conference committees to resolve differences in the respective houses' budget bills.

Over the next few days, committees will meet to discuss each of the following components of the budget: economic development; education; environment, agriculture and housing; general government operations and local assistance; health; higher education; human services and labor; mental hygiene; public protection, the judiciary and criminal justice; and transportation. Any remaining items will be discussed during other committee meetings in the near future.

These sub-committees will be overseen by the "mothership" committee, which on the Assembly side is made up of Speaker Silver, myself, Majority Leader Ronald Canestrari, Deputy Speaker Earlene Hooper, and Minority Leader Brian Kolb. On the Senate side are Senator Dean Skelos, Finance Chair John A. DeFrancisco, Thomas Libous, Owen H. Johnson and John L. Sampson.

Yours truly,

Herman D. Farrell, Jr.




March 14, 2012

Assembly and Senate Move Toward Finished 2012-13 Budget
Legislative Conference Committees will Finish Spending Plan

On Monday, March 12, after a period of debate, both the Assembly and Senate passed their own "one-house" budget bills. These "one-house bills," while similar, are not identical which they must be to be sent to Governor Cuomo for his consideration and signature, making them the final budget for Fiscal Year 2012-13, which begins April 1.

To reconcile the differences in their respective bills, on Tuesday, March 13, members of the Assembly and Senate met in the first in a series of General Conference Committee meetings.

Readying Budget Bills for the Governor's Pen

After each house has passed its' own "one-house" budget bill, the Permanent Rules of the Senate and Assembly require lawmakers to convene conference committees to resolve differences in the respective houses' budget bills.

Over the next few days, committees will meet to discuss each of the following components of the budget: economic development; education; environment, agriculture and housing; general government operations and local assistance; health; higher education; human services and labor; mental hygiene; public protection, the judiciary and criminal justice; and transportation. Any remaining items will be discussed during other committee meetings in the near future.

Detailed Analysis of Budget Legislation

These sub-committees will be overseen by the "mothership" committee, which on the Assembly side is made up of Speaker Silver, Assemblyman Farrell, Majority Leader Ronald Canestrari, Deputy Speaker Earlene Hooper, and Minority Leader Brian Kolb. On the Senate side will be Senator Dean Skelos, Finance Chair John A. DeFrancisco, Thomas Libous, Owen H. Johnson and John L. Sampson.

Breaking Down the Budget

Once the Assembly and Senate have come to agreement on all aspects of budget legislation, the two houses vote to pass their budget legislation, which will be sent to Governor Cuomo for his consideration.

Public Protection

The Public Protection committee will be chaired by Assemblyman Joseph Lentol and include Helene Weinstein, Jeffrion Aubry, Steven Englebright and Philip M. Boyle. Members Daniel O'Donnell and Joseph Giglio will serve as alternates.

Environment

The Environment committee will be chaired by Vito Lopez and includes Robert Sweeney, William Magee, Michael Cusick and Clifford Crouch. George latimer and Peter Lopez will serve as alternates.

Higher Education

The Higher Education committee will be chaired by Deborah Glick and includes Jose Rivera, William Colton, John McEneny and William Barclay. Donna Lupardo and Janet Duprey will serve as alternates.

Mental Hygiene

The Mental Hygiene committee will be chaired by Felix Ortiz and includes Harvey Weisenberg, Barbara Clark, Steven Cymbrowitz and Steve Hawley. Naomi Rivera and Nancy Calhoun will serve as alternates.

Transportation

The Transportation committee will be chaired by David Gantt and includes James Brennan, Margaret Markey, Barbara Lifton and William Reilich. Andrew Hevesi and James Tedisco will serve as alternates.

Human Services

The Human Services committee will be chaired by Keith L.T. Wright and includes Peter Abbate, Amy Paulin, Michele Titus and Teresa Sayward. Michael Benedetto and Daniel J. Burling will serve as alternates.

Economic Development

The Economic Development committee will be chaired by Robin Schimminger and includes Peter Rivera, J. Gary Pretlow, William Scarborough and Marc W. Butler. Aileen Gunther and George Amedore will serve as alternates.

Health

The Health committee will be chaired by Richard N. Gottfried and includes Joseph Morelle, Joan Millman, Charles Lavine and Louis R. Tobacco. Crystal Peoples-Stokes and Andrew Raia will serve as alternates.

Education

The Education committee will be chaired by Catherine T. Nolan and includes Vivian Cook, N. Nick Perry, Kevin Cahill and Joel Miller. Philip Ramos and Gary Finch will serve as alternates.

General Government/ Local Assistance

The General Government committee will be chaired by William Magnarelli and will include Sandra Galef, Jeffrey Dinowitz, Carl E. Heastie and Michael Fitzpatrick. Karin Camara and Thomas McKevitt will serve as alternates.



March 12, 2012

Broadway Block Renamed in Memory of Dr. Betty Shabazz
Farrell, Others Honor Memory of Malcolm X's Late Widow

Assemblyman Farrell recently joined relatives of the late Malcolm X and Dr. Betty Shabazz and fellow Northern Manhattan elected officials for a ceremony during which a block of Broadway at West 165th Street was renamed Dr. Betty Shabazz Way.


Joining Dr. Shabazz's daughters Ilyasah and Malaak Shabazz were Councilman Robert Jackson, Assembly Member Guillermo Linares, Senator Adriano Espaillat, Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez, Assemblyman Farrell and members of the Northern Manhattan community.

The corner marks the site of the former Audubon Ballroom, where Malcolm X was gunned down while delivering a speech in February 1965. After his death, Dr. Shabazz continued his work by becoming an educator and founding a community center in Washington Heights.

From this building, the Malcolm X and Betty Shabazz Memorial and Education Center, the couple's work continues. Dr. Shabazz died in 1997.



March 12, 2012

Farrell Attends Polo Grounds Community Center Opening
Thanks NYCHA Chair Rhea for Correcting Construction Errors

Assemblyman Farrell recently joined NYC Housing Authority Chair John B. Rhea and other members of the community in a ribbon-cutting ceremony to open the Polo Grounds Community Center, a recent building which remained closed while construction errors were fixed.

"While it was frustrating to watch years go by as this valuable community resource remained closed, Chairman Rhea deserves a lot of credit for getting the work done and the building open," Assemblyman Farrell said. "It was a pleasure to help him welcome the public to this Center."

Following the ribbon-cutting, Farrell and others took part in a discussion before a packed house.

photo

While the 23,000-square-foot building was under construction, mistakes including improper flooring in the gym and other faults were made by the construction company, who later ran into legal trouble. After the City's construction inspector noticed these problems, the building could not be judged safe, approved and opened until these problems were corrected.

The completed Community Center includes office space and common areas that encompass the gymnasium, a performance stage, club room, locker rooms, game room, video room with sound booth, arts and crafts areas with a kiln, and a commercial kitchen, all for community use.



Herman D. Farrell, Jr.
HERMAN D. FARRELL, JR.
Assemblymember 71st District
seal
2541-55 Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Blvd.
New York, NY 10039
TEL (212) 234-1430
FAX (212) 234-1868
March 7, 2012

…and this month in Albany

As you may have heard, with regard to the once-per-decade process of drawing new Assembly, Senate and Congressional lines, a Federal judge was recently appointed magistrate to break an impasse and draw new Congressional lines. Yesterday, the magistrate released a set of proposals for Congressional lines that would leave Congressman Rangel's district mostly intact while adding new territory in the North Bronx to meet the statutory requirements regarding the number of constituents that must live in the district. As of now, Congressional primaries are scheduled for June 26, which means that the first day to circulate petitions could be Tuesday, March 20.

If the Legislature is able to come to an agreement on Congressional district lines by the end of this week, the Federal magistrate's proposal will be taken off the table. If we are not able to negotiate an agreement, her proposal will stand, which will please no one. Once that has been settled, the magistrate may then have to deal with the question of the Assembly and Senate district lines if the Assembly and Senate have not come to an agreement on their lines.

Also at this time, the Assembly and Senate primaries are scheduled for September 11, 2012 but there is the possibility that the Assembly and Senate primaries may also be moved to June 26, which would come with two benefits. One, having a single primary date would save State taxpayers about $50 million statewide. Second, moving State primary dates forward to June would solve the conflict with the September 11 national day of remembrance.

In other news, having reached consensus on the revenue component of the State budget for Fiscal Year 2012-13, the Assembly, Senate and Governor continue to make progress toward adopting an on-time budget by April 1, which is the first day of the new Fiscal Year.

On Friday, March 2, Governor Cuomo announced the release of a statutorily-required Consensus Economic and Revenue Forecast Report that the Assembly Ways and Means Committee, Senate Finance Committee and Governor's Division of Budget had all generally agreed upon. This consensus detailed our opinions on the strength of the ongoing economic recovery and projected revenue growth path within a narrow range for the two-year revenue total.

Our individual revenue forecasts were within 0.3 percent of the Executive Budget two-year revenue total of $143.2 billion. The variations were $133 below the Executive forecast to $315 million above. The Assembly's revenue figure was $53 million above the Executive forecast. Our differences resulted mostly from how the data was interpreted by staff.

As the Governor correctly noted, this consensus is an important milestone on the path toward an on-time budget. It is required by State finance law, which calls for the Assembly, Senate and Governor to issue a joint report by March 1 containing a consensus forecast showing the condition of the economy and estimates of revenue receipts.

Our report shows that, after a series of setbacks during 2011 that were not directly related to the economy, the labor market and other economic factors have begun to climb uphill. Over time, household and business investment spending is forecast to accelerate over the course of the next year. It is anticipated that domestic growth will be strong enough to balance or offset any continuing weakness in the European markets.

All parties expect to see fairly significant growth in the job market, which would be even more welcome news. Employment, with the exception of farm work, is expected to grow by 1.3 percent, slightly more than was forecast for 2012. However, gas prices and other energy costs, stock market volatility and the possibility of weak consumer spending if Wall Street bonuses are weak cast doubt on these projections.

Governor Cuomo recently announced a new program intended to help persons returning home from State prisons establish a normal life after they have paid their debt to society. As we have seen, many opportunities are automatically closed to people who have been in prison. Some, becoming desperate, return to the criminal lifestyle which lands them back in prison.

The Governor's "Work for Success" initiative seeks to change that grim reality. Those who choose to pursue the opportunity for success will have access to vocational and other programs that will give them an honest chance to re-enter the job market and once again become law-abiding, tax-paying citizens of New York State. Existing programs will be evaluated and changed to make them more useful. Non-profits such as The Fortune Society have shown support for the Governor's idea and I am looking forward to their participation in this effort.

Also being discussed is a proposal that would restore the voting rights of former felons who have served their time and returned to society. A proposal by Congressman John Conyers of Michigan, the "Democracy Restoration Act," would grant former felons the right to vote. This plan has seen support among the Congressional Black Caucus, and New York's Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Legislative Caucus has asked the Governor to add this important proposal to his Work for Success program.

Yours truly,

H.D. Farrell, Jr.




Herman D. Farrell, Jr.
HERMAN D. FARRELL, JR.
Assemblymember 71st District
seal
2541-55 Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Blvd.
New York, NY 10039
TEL (212) 234-1430
FAX (212) 234-1868
February 28, 2012

…and this month in Albany

This week, following a short break for the holidays, the Assembly will return to Albany. Though we were not in session, work on reapportionment continued, though no agreement has yet been reached. If no legislation is in print within the next two days, we may miss our self-imposed March 1 deadline to draw new State and Federal lines. The Federal courts have stepped in to draw Congressional lines and have given us a few more days to draw our own lines. During our break, staff continued to prepare to release our revenue forecast for State Fiscal Year 2012-2013, which begins April 1. Tomorrow, we will meet for our Economic and Revenue Consensus Forecast Conference to discuss our staff forecasts with the forecasts of the staff of the Senate Finance Committee and the Governor's Division of Budget. By March 1, we will come to an agreement on a consensus revenue figure.

Once an agreement has been reached, the Assembly, Senate and Governor will have a firm figure to work with as we discuss priorities that must be addressed in the coming year's financial plan. The Governor has proposed an ambitious set of plans for the coming year, not only increasing State aid for education and health care while keeping spending basically flat, but also putting forth policy changes couched in budget language. In the coming weeks, the Assembly and Senate will have their opportunity to respond to these plans through budget amendments.

In other Albany happenings, the Governor recently announced a new program intended to help persons returning home from State prisons establish a normal life after they have paid their debt to society. As we have seen, many opportunities are automatically closed to people who have been in prison. Some, becoming desperate, return to the criminal lifestyle that landed them in prison in the first place.

Governor Cuomo's "Work for Success" initiative seeks to change that grim reality. Those who choose to pursue the opportunity for success will have access to vocational and other programs that will give them an honest chance to re-enter the job market and once again become law-abiding, tax-paying citizens of New York State. Existing programs will be evaluated and changed to make them more useful. Non-profits such as The Fortune Society have shown support for the Governor's idea and I am looking forward to their participation in this effort.

Also being discussed is a proposal that would restore the voting rights of former felons who have served their time and returned to society. A proposal by Congressman John Conyers of Michigan, the "Democracy Restoration Act," would grant former felons the right to vote. This plan has seen support among the Congressional Black Caucus, and New York's Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Legislative Caucus has asked the Governor to follow suit.

Finally, as some of you may have heard, I am supporting a member of our community who is asking the Department of Transportation to study the possibility of creating a "Neighborhood Slow Zone" in our community. After it was approved by the appropriate sub-committee, the idea is before you tonight for a vote by the full Board. It is my argument that, while it is too early to decide whether this would be the right fit for our community, asking DOT to collect and sort the appropriate data will allow us to have a reasoned discussion of the issue at some future date.




February 17, 2012
Governor Cuomo to Honor Farrell During Caucus Weekend

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, during an invitation-only event at the Executive Mansion in Albany, will host a celebratory reception honoring Assemblyman Farrell's extensive and distinguished career in public service. The event will take place February 18, 2012 at 5 p.m.


photo
Assemblyman Farrell and Governor Cuomo during the February 18 event.



February 17, 2012
Farrell Joins Celebration of Dominican Heritage Month

Assemblyman Farrell joined colleague Assembly Member Guillermo Linares and members of New York's Dominican community during a celebration of Dominican Heritage Month held in the Legislative Office Building in Albany on Monday, February 13, 2012.


photo
Assembly Members Farrell and Linares in Albany during Dominican Heritage Month.

Also visiting Albany during the event was the Dominican Republic's ambassador, Roberto Saladin, who along with other Dominican dignitaries was shown and introduced around the Capitol complex by Senator Adriano Espaillat. Featured during the event were Assembly Members Nelson L. Castro and Rafael Espinal and Senators Jose Peralta and Espaillat.



Herman D. Farrell, Jr.
HERMAN D. FARRELL, JR.
Assemblymember 71st District
seal
2541-55 Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Blvd.
New York, NY 10039
TEL (212) 234-1430
FAX (212) 234-1868
February 16, 2012

…and this month in Albany

On Tuesday, the Assembly Ways and Means Committee and Senate Finance Committee held a hearing on Mental Hygiene issues in the Governor's Executive Budget for Fiscal Year 2012-13. This hearing was the last of 13 Constitutionally-required hearings. The following are some of the testimony from our hearings.

Commissioner King: Most Fast-Growing Job Fields Require Post-Graduate Degree

Dr. John King, Commissioner of the NYS Department of Education, told the Committee that it has never been more important that students graduate high school with the tools they need to succeed in their higher education careers. Seven of the ten fastest-growing fields of employment require a post-secondary degree, King testified, and New York's competitors know this. CUNY Class Sizes Up, New Teachers Sought

Dr. Barbara Bowen, President of Professional Staff Congress, testified that the ratio of CUNY students to teachers is 39 to 1, up from 34 to 1 in 1991, a time when the number of students enrolled in CUNY was far smaller than today's student body. Bowen said in her opinion that ratio should be closer to 20 to 1, which would require up to 10,000 new faculty members. According to Bowen the Legislature and Governor must now begin to restore the CUNY funding that has been eroded over the years. Community colleges as a whole get much less of their funding from the State than in the past; in 2011 51 percent of community college funding came from the State and 47 percent from students according to Bowen.

Chancellor Zimpher: Students and SUNY Benefit from Rational Tuition

Representatives of SUNY and CUNY and the teachers who work there, along with students who attend the State's institutions of higher learning, sounded off February 1 on higher education components of the Governor's draft Executive Budget for Fiscal Year 2012-13. SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher, who was the first speaker of the day, offered full-throated support of the Governor's spending and reform plans along with recent reforms that affect the SUNY system. According to Zimpher, the rational tuition policy adopted by the State in 2011 now allows students and families to plan out the five years of a college career while allowing SUNY to more accurately chart its' own financial near future.

SUNY leaders are not sitting back and there is much to do to heal SUNY after years of budget cuts, Zimpher said. She said plans are in the works to cut five percent of SUNY's operating budget over the next three years and re-dedicate those funds to educational operations. While SUNY leaders are listening to feedback, she said, they have no plans to stop pushing to improve services while holding down costs.

CUNY Chancellor Goldstein: Student Preparedness a Concern

CUNY Commissioner Dr. Matthew Goldstein, like Commissioner Zimpher, expressed concerns that some students are graduating high school without being academically prepared for higher education, a concern that was echoed by educators and students throughout the day. However, Commissioner Goldstein testified, CUNY's graduation rate has risen to 55 percent and he believes a higher rate is possible if adequate funding is provided.

Educators: Decades of Funding Cuts Causing Bad Outcomes

Andrew Pallotta, Executive Vice president of New York State United Teachers, testified that State funding for higher education has been cut by nearly $2 billion in recent years, and the property tax cap enacted last year could aggravate that situation. Base State aid is lower now than in Fiscal Year 1971-72 when adjusted for inflation, leaving students to finance 60 percent of campus operating costs, he said.

Health Commissioner: A New Way of Delivering Services

During a Feb. 8 hearing lawmakers heard testimony from the State's top health official, who explained how the Cuomo Administration plans to spend a planned 4 percent increase for health programs, and advocates for consumers of State health services who complained recent cuts to pharmaceutical programs were already affecting seniors. Dr. Nirav Shah, Commissioner of the State Department of Health, spoke about the Governor's plans to streamline the State's role in the health delivery system. The Governor chose last year to do away with the old system of funding increases, Commissioner Shah said, meaning that a 13 percent boost became a 4 percent boost. The 4 percent boost will be tied to the medical inflation index, the Commissioner explained, which is anticipated to be just enough to cover the needs of the five million New Yorkers who are now enrolled in Medicaid. He said officials hope that, as the economy improves, Medicaid enrollment declines as people are able to secure coverage through new employment.

AARP representative: Seniors Squeezed by EPIC Cuts

Neal Lane, an AARP member who sits on their New York State Executive Council, told the Committee that many of the 2.5 million New Yorkers who are AARP members are reporting difficulty paying for their medications after cuts to the EPIC program took effect Jan. 1. Prior to the cuts EPIC enrollees paid no more than $20 in co-pay fees per prescription; now, the majority of enrollees pay 25 percent of the cost of their prescription drugs, Lane testified. Members who had been eligible for co-payment assistance under the catastrophic coverage provision of Medicare Part D are now falling into the "donut hole" if their drug costs exceed $6,658, Lane said. These persons now must pay 5 percent of the cost of their medicine at the counter. These drugs, often taken to treat cancer or multiple sclerosis, are very expensive. The average EPIC enrollee in New York is 78 years old and takes four prescription drugs, Lane said.

MTA Commissioner: Capital Plan Fully Funded

NYS Department of Transportation Commissioner Joan McDonald and Metropolitan Transportation Authority Chairman Joseph Lhota opened the Thursday, January 26, 2012 Joint Legislative Budget Committees hearing on transit components of the 2012-13 Executive Budget. Lhota testified that, in an effort to increase the MTA's efficiency, the Authority has been selling excess real estate, consolidating functions, renegotiating contracts, cutting unnecessary overtime and other cost-trimming initiatives that are on track to save $1 billion per year. He said that the Executive Budget seeks to allocate $4 billion for the MTA, including $250 million in new State funding to make up for losses incurred when the MTA Payroll Tax was cut in December.

With regards to MTA's five-year Capital Program, Lhota said only the first two years were initially funded and we are now beginning the third year of the cycle. The MTA Board has approved a package to provide $770 million in new revenue to fund the final three years of the cycle. The new Capital Program is $2 billion less than anticipated with no cuts, Lhota said. The Authority is also seeking funding through a new Federal loan called a Railroad Rehabilitation and Investment Financing loan, which will help pay for the LIRR's East Side Access Project at a lower cost than through traditional MTA bonds, Lhota said.

Budget Contains $2.9 Billion for New Transportation Projects

Commissioner McDonald, who spoke first, began her testimony by pointing out that the Executive Budget shows that Governor Cuomo recognizes the significance of investment in the transit system, and that this investment has the potential to put New Yorkers idled by the recent recession back to work. The Commissioner said that she was "thrilled" by a recent policy change that could streamline bidding and construction of capital projects, and that she supports public-private partnerships designed to improve public transit at less cost to taxpayers. Within the Executive Budget are $2.9 billion for new construction commitments, McDonald said, including $1.2 billion for accelerated bridge and pavement projects that will enable the State to replace over 100 bridge decks and preserve more than 2,000 miles of roadway. These new projects will be put out to bid beginning in April so they begin in this construction season.




February 13, 2012
Budget Hearing on Housing Issues in 2012-13 Budget

Members of the Assembly Ways and Means and Senate Finance Committees took part in a hearing regarding housing issues in the 2012-13 Executive Budget.


photo Assemblyman Farrell and Commissioner Towns at the opening of a senior housing building.

Towns: Governor Committed to Helping Families

In his opening remarks, Commissioner Daryl Towns of NYS Homes and Community Renewal explained how the Governor's budget and policy choices support economic development and housing for low and moderate income families. The Governor's message, the Commissioner testified, is clear: sticking with the status quo is not acceptable and state government must change in order to bring prosperity back to New York.

However, the Governor's plans, including defunding some community preservation programs, did not go unchallenged by members of the Legislature who took part in the hearing. Assemblyman Farrell said that while he supports most of the Governor's proposals, eliminating community preservation programs would do damage and lawmakers will work to save these programs.

Farrell: Housing Programs Exist for a Reason

Farrell explained how, before his election to the Assembly, he had worked for Mayors John Lindsay and Abe Beame on housing issues. A major issue at that time, Farrell said, was housing abandonment - absentee landlords who would collect the rent but seldom if ever perform repairs. In many cases, these landlords simply walked away from their buildings and the tenants who lived in them when the problems became too much to deal with.

After consulting with lawyers and staging rent strikes, Farrell said, it was realized that no one but the landlord had legal control over abandoned buildings even though the landlords were nowhere to be found. Using the 7A proceedings (which allow tenants to petition the courts for the authority to collect rent and manage the building themselves) tenants were able to take control of their buildings and begin to rebuild their lives.

But without professional help to manage these buildings, not much changed. Farrell realized that a non-profit company must be created to maintain buildings on behalf of the tenants, which led him to create the Neighborhood Preservation Companies Program, which became law in 1978.

For Some Tenants, Problems Remain

Though the housing situation in Northern Manhattan and throughout the City has largely changed, Farrell said, it would be very disappointing if after all these years the program that saved these buildings was eliminated. Many buildings, particularly in Washington Heights, can still benefit from the program, Farrell said.

During the recent economic downturn, some companies who own many buildings defaulted on their payments. Tenants who live in these buildings will, once again, need to rely on the Neighborhood Preservation Companies Program as they try to figure out how to maintain the quality of life within their buildings.



February 8, 2012
Health and Medicaid Issues Discussed at Hearing
Speakers: Recent Health Care Cuts Already Affecting Seniors

During a Joint Legislative Budget Committee hearing Feb. 8 lawmakers heard testimony from the State's top health official, who explained how the Cuomo Administration plans to spend a planned 4 percent increase for health programs, and advocates for consumers of State health services who complained recent cuts to pharmaceutical programs were already affecting seniors.

Health Commissioner: A New Way of Delivering Services

Dr. Nirav Shah, Commissioner of the State Department of Health, spoke with members of the panel for over two hours about the Governor's plans to streamline the State's role in the health delivery system. The Governor chose last year to do away with the old system of funding increases, Commissioner Shah said, meaning that a 13 percent boost became a 4 percent boost.

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Dr. Nirav Shah, Commissioner of the Department of Health, testifies on health and Medicaid issues in the proposed 2012-2013 budget.

The 4 percent boost will be tied to the medical inflation index, the Commissioner explained, which is anticipated to be just enough to cover the needs of the five million New Yorkers who are now enrolled in Medicaid, Shah said. He said officials hope that, as the economy improves, Medicaid enrollment declines as people are able to secure health care through new employment.
Medicaid Inspector General: More Cooperation, Less Fraud Will Improve Program

James Cox, acting Medicaid Inspector General, testified that continuing efforts are in place to improve the program's integrity. One of his first acts following his appointment by the Governor was to undertake a thorough review of the program, Cox said. As a result, the State has sought to educate providers on how to avoid over-billing the State while cracking down on fraud, he said.

AARP representative: Seniors Squeezed by EPIC Cuts

Neal Lane, an AARP member who sits on their New York State Executive Council, told the Committee that many of the 2.5 million New Yorkers who are AARP members are reporting difficulty paying for their medications after cuts to the EPIC program took effect Jan. 1. Prior to the cuts EPIC enrollees paid no more than $20 in co-pay fees per prescription; now, the majority of enrollees pay 25 percent of the cost of their prescription drugs, lane testified.

Catastrophic Prescription Drug Coverage, Catastrophic Costs

Members who had been eligible for co-payment assistance under the catastrophic coverage provision of Medicare Part D are now falling into the "donut hole" if their drug costs exceed $6,658, Lane said. These persons now must pay 5 percent of the cost of their medicine at the counter. These drugs, often taken to treat cancer or multiple sclerosis, are very expensive.

The average EPIC enrollee in New York is 78 years old and takes four prescription drugs, Lane said.



February 7, 2012
Fracking Takes Center Stage
During Conservation Hearing
DEC Commissioner: No Immediate Plans To Authorize Drilling

Testifying during a Joint Legislative Budget Committee hearing on the draft 2012-13 Executive Budget, State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joseph Martens made headlines by saying that no funds for oversight of hydraulic fracking (also known as hydrofracking) were in the budget because the Cuomo Administration does not see approval of fracking as a foregone conclusion, and do not see drilling beginning in the immediate future.

Commissioner: 50 DEC Staff Reviewing 60,000 Public Comments on Fracking

Commissioner Martens said the public response to proposals to drill for natural gas in the Marcellus Shale formation, which includes New York City's watershed, has been unprecedented. 50 DEC staff members have been assigned to review and respond to 60,000 public comments as DEC considers possible regulations. In response to a question from Senator Bill Perkins, the Commissioner said it would be premature to include fracking funds in the budget before DEC completes its' review. He said 200 new staff would be needed to monitor fracking statewide.

Budget Does Not Seek to Cut Environmental Protection Fund

Also noted during the Commissioner's testimony were the Administration's plans to keep funding for the State's Environmental Protection Fund level at $134 million. Martens said at the present time DEC is not experiencing a backlog of claims or payouts against the Fund.
Advocate: Texas' Fracking Experience Should Give NY Pause

Testifying later in the day, Deborah Rogers of Energy Policy Forum gave an overview of natural gas markets and looked back at fracking near Fort Worth, TX.

By late 2009, some time after Texas allowed fracking, enough data had built up to show that the results did not match the projections of these wells' yield. Furthermore, she said, the Federal government has cut its' estimates of how much gas is trapped underground by 66 percent, with the currently accepted estimates amounting to six years' supply at current rates of consumption.

Figures Show More Wells, More Pollution

While fracking revenues were initially strong sources of revenue for local government, Deborah Rogers said, revenues began to fall off until drillers built more wells. Revenues rebounded, but at the cost of allowing additional pollutants to escape into the environment. A 2011 environmental impact study by the City of Fort Worth found 94 percent of drill sites were leaking benzene, a known cause of cancer in humans, along with high levels of formaldehyde, Rogers said.
Drillers Could Increase Profits by Selling NY Gas Overseas

Because of price and policy differences, drillers stand to reap significantly greater profits selling natural gas from New York wells on the foreign markets, Rogers testified. While gas sells domestically for about $2.50 overseas markets, such as Asia, link natural gas prices to crude oil prices which causes natural gas to sell for between $12 and $16 according to Rogers. She also pointed to studies that claim gas prices would jump 54 percent because of shale gas exploration.

February 6, 2012
Farrell and Walcott Discuss Congregations in Schools

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Assemblyman Farrell and Chancellor Walcott discuss the relationship between public schools and religious congregations who sometimes rent space in school buildings.

During a recent meeting in Albany, Assemblyman Farrell and City Education Chancellor Dennis Walcott discussed the issue of congregations renting space in public schools, a practice that is scheduled to end soon without action from Albany, where new legislation is being discussed.

While legislation that would allow religious groups to once again rent space in publicly owned buildings passed the Senate, this bill was criticized by Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, who called the Senate bill overly broad and could possibly allow inappropriate groups into schools.

As of this time, discussions of the issue are ongoing and parties to the talks have expressed confidence that a compromise could be reached soon.



February 6, 2012
State Tax Policies Discussed During Budget Hearing

During a hearing on tax policy components of the draft 2012-13 Executive Budget held Monday, February 6, 2012 the State's tax commissioner delved into details of how the Executive Branch seeks to change tax policies and procedures and representatives of government watchdog groups testified that the plans did not do enough to level the playing field State taxpayers face.

Commissioner Maddox
Assemblyman Farrell and State Taxation and Finance Commissioner Maddox discuss policy changes in the 2012-13 draft Executive Budget.

Thomas H. Maddox, Commissioner of the Department of Taxation and Finance, began his testimony with a brief statement; reading a list of 2011 accomplishments, Commissioner Maddox called the 2012-13 budget plan a blueprint for reform. Reforms mentioned during his testimony included reducing the Department's downstate office space footprint by 50 percent, saving taxpayers some $4 million, and consolidating functions with other State offices.

Farrell Questions Inspector General Tax Reports

Farrell and other members of the Budget Committee questioned Commissioner Maddox at length about issues brought to light in a news report about plans to deputize a number of Department employees, giving them special powers to look at tax returns and to share some tax information. Please click here to view video.

The Commissioner explained that the relationship between Taxation and Finance and the Inspector General's office dates back to 1996, which the article did not detail. In light of last year's agency consolidations, the Commissioner said, they were forced to consider formalizing that relationship. Formal training will be required for employees empowered to review tax returns, and the new powers will extend only to State employees' tax records, he said.

Commissioner: Agency Consolidations Led to New Powers

Asked by Farrell what circumstances would require court action and a subpoena to examine tax records, and what circumstances would allow the newly deputized inspectors to act on their own without court authorization, the Commissioner said that taxpayers' right to secrecy has always been respected. In some past cases, Maddox explained, if specific conditions were met court authorization was not required to access taxpayer records.

Why then, Farrell asked, has it been proposed that these controls be eliminated?

The Commissioner explained that in the past, one Deputy Inspector General had special privileges to examine tax records. Maddox said that 62 inspectors now have this special power. Because of numerous control measures, it did not worry him that these individuals now possess the broad new powers, he said.

Guest Speaker Says Income Inequality Getting Worse Over Time

Testifying later, Ron Deutch, Executive Director of New Yorkers for Fiscal Fairness, said that the 2012-13 Executive Budget did not go far enough to make New Yorkers' income more equal or close corporate tax loopholes. The top one percent of earners now earn 35 percent of income, Deutch said, up from 10 percent of income in 1980. At the same time, some corporations pay taxes at a rate of one tenth of one percent - far less than the average family, he said.



February 1, 2012

Farrell Pledges Support for Red Cross in 2012-13 Budget

Diane Cross
Farrell and Red Cross of Greater New York CEO Diane Cross during a recent meeting.
Following a recent meeting with Diane Cross, CEO of the American Red Cross' Greater New York Region, Assemblyman Farrell pledged to fight for financial support of the agency's work in the 2012-13 State Budget, which is due to be complete before April 1.

"Over the years, the American Red Cross has been there for the people of my Assembly District and the State as a whole," Farrell said. "Now, it is time to stand up for the Red Cross."

This year the Red Cross has requested the State provide $4.5 million, which includes $3.75 million for local and large-scale disaster response and readiness and $750,000 to ensure that an adequate blood supply is available. Last year, the Red Cross helped almost 6,000 New York State families and provided almost $4 million in direct financial assistance. In the 71st Assembly District, during 2011-12 the agency helped 127 people and dispensed $13,000.



February 1, 2012

College and Union Leaders Discuss Executive Budget
Support and Criticism of Governor's Plans Heard

Representatives of SUNY and CUNY and the educators who work there, along with students who attends the State's institutions of higher learning, sounded off on higher education components of the Governor's draft Executive Budget for Fiscal Year 2012-13.
SUNY Chancellor Zimpher
SUNY Chancellor Zimpher (at center) speaks to the Legislative Budget Committees

SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher, who was the first speaker of the day, offered full-throated support of the Governor's spending and reform plans along with recent reforms that affect the SUNY system. According to Zimpher, the rational tuition policy adopted by the State in 2011 now allows students and families to plan out the five years of a college career while allowing SUNY to more accurately chart its' own financial near future.

Chancellor: Students and SUNY Benefit from Rational Tuition

Saying that SUNY leaders are not sitting back, Zimpher said there is much to do to heal SUNY after years of budget cuts. She said that plans are in the works to cut five percent of SUNY's operating budget over the next three years and re-dedicate those funds to educational operations. While SUNY leaders are listening to feedback, Zimpher said, they have no plans to stop pushing to improve services while holding down costs.

CUNY Chancellor: Student Preparedness a Concern

CUNY Commissioner Goldstein
CUNY Commissioner Goldstein (center) testifies to the Joint Legislative Budget Committee

CUNY Commissioner Dr. Matthew Goldstein, like Commissioner Zimpher, expressed concerns that some students are graduating high school without being academically prepared for higher education, a concern that was echoed by educators and students throughout the day. However, Commissioner Goldstein testified, CUNY's graduation rate has risen to 55 percent and he believes a higher rate is possible if adequate funding is provided.

King: Most Fast-Growing Job Fields Require Post-Graduate Degree

Dr. John King, Commissioner of the NYS Department of Education, told the Committee that it has never been more important that students graduate high school with the tools they need to succeed in their higher education careers. Seven of the ten fastest-growing fields of employment require a post-secondary degree, King testified, and New York's competitors know this.

Educators: Decades of Funding Cuts Causing Bad Outcomes

Andrew Pallotta, Executive Vice president of New York State United Teachers, testified that State funding for higher education has been cut by nearly $2 billion in recent years, and the property tax cap enacted last year could aggravate that situation. Base State aid is lower now than in Fiscal Year 1971-72 when adjusted for inflation, leaving students to finance 60 percent of campus operating costs, Pallotta testified.

CUNY Class Sizes Up, New Teachers Sought

Dr. Barbara Bowen, President of Professional Staff Congress, testified that the ratio of CUNY students to teachers is 39 to 1, up from 34 to 1 in 1991, a time when the number of students enrolled in CUNY was far smaller than today's student body. Bowen said in her opinion that ratio should be closer to 20 to 1, which would require up to 10,000 new faculty members.

According to Bowen the Legislature and Governor must now begin to restore the CUNY funding that has been eroded over the years. Community colleges as a whole get much less of their funding from the State than in the past; in 2011 51 percent of community college funding came from the State and 47 percent from students according to Bowen.



January 31, 2012
Economic Development Plans
Discussed at Budget Hearing
State Officials, Private Sector React to Executive Budget Plans

On Tuesday, January 31, 2012 Economic Development components of Governor Cuomo's draft Executive Budget for Fiscal Year 2012-13 were discussed during a hearing in Albany.

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Empire State Development's Kenneth Adams testifies on the Executive Budget.

Kenneth Adams, President, CEO and Commissioner of Empire State Development testified that under Governor Cuomo's leadership the State's economy was pulled back from the brink of disaster by actions taken during one of the most productive Legislative Sessions in recent years.

Adams: Now We Must Build on Last Years Successes

Actions cited by Adams included the New York Open for Business campaign and Regional Economic Development Councils, which aligned local priorities with State financial power. At the center of Cuomo's second-year agenda are plans to maintain fiscal discipline while driving private-sector investment in items on the State's agenda, Adams testified.

Adams said that the Governor seeks to encourage more local economic development projects by investing a further $200 million in a competitive grant program and promoting the State as a strong and worthy vehicle for private-sector investment.

Javits Renovation Part of Long-Term Plan

In response to questions, which sought answers to explain why the State plans to continue a $400 million renovation of the Jacob Javits Center on 34th Street and later raze the structure if a new convention center is built near the Aqueduct Race Track, Adams said that Genting New York LLC could take several years to construct the new facility at Aqueduct. The Javits Center must remain available to provide a smooth transition while offering a venue to trade shows, he said.

In regards to a related question, regarding Genting's reported plans to ask the State for permission to pay a lower percentage of the profits from new slot machines, Adams said that Genting now pays 71 percent of the profits from existing slot machines to the State, and seeks to pay a smaller percentage of the profits strictly from any machines that are added in the future.

Business Leaders Praise Governor's Plans

Brian McMahon, Executive Director of the NYS Economic Development Council, testified that his organization considers the Executive Budget to be strong and worthy of the Legislature's support.

Heather Briccetti, President and CEO of the Business Council of New York State, offered praise for the Governor's spending plan and support for his regulatory reform proposals.

Steven Lefebre, President of the Association of Builders and Contractors, offered praise for the Design-Build reform that will let the same company bid on the design and construction components of a capital project, and supported similar streamlining efforts.



January 30, 2012
Public Protection Discussed at
Legislative Budget Hearing
Court Officials, Police, Emergency Services Testify

Public Protection components of Governor Cuomo's draft Executive Budget for Fiscal Year 2012-13 were discussed during a hearing held by the Joint Legislative Budget Committee on Monday, January 30, 2012.

Judge Prudente testifies regarding State Court operations
Judge Prudente testifies regarding State Court operations.

The first to speak, the Hon. A. Gail Prudente, Chief Administrative Justice of NYS Office of Court Administration, testified that the spending plan reflects the Cuomo administration's commitment to addressing the State's fiscal crisis by cutting $3.9 million from the Courts' budgets at a time that the cost of providing these services is rising.

Judge: Courts Focusing Resources Where Most Needed

Judge Prudente told the Committee that court services have been streamlined to focus on trial courts. Court staffing levels are now similar to the levels of a decade ago, she said, despite a 16 percent increase in the Courts' workload.

Because of these cuts, she said, public impacts are becoming visible; the judge referred to a study by the State Bar Association that found the public is experiencing longer lags between arrest and arraignment, and ending the working day at 4:30 p.m. instead of 5:00 is also having an impact on the delivery of services. Judge Prudente said that cost-cutting must not be allowed to further burden the public.

Commissioner: 2011 Storms an Unprecedented Disaster

Jerome Hauer, Commissioner of the State's Division of Homeland Security, testified that disasters always begin and end at the local level, as shown by the effects of last summer's severe storms. The Division plans to invest in regional offices and rapid response teams, he said. Also discussed at length were efforts to expand emergency communications capacity without adding infrastructure, which would have helped offset the effects of last year's disastrous weather.

Reform Plan: Smarter Policing, More Support for Ex-Offeneders

Sean M. Byrne, acting Commissioner of the Division of Criminal Justice Services, said that the Governor's draft budget continues spending restraint while advancing reform efforts. Central to the plan are efforts to reduce violent crime and recidivism while improving State operations.

A key component of reform plans is a proposal to expand the State's DNA database to include all felonies and a number of misdemeanors, Byrne said. This would, according to the acting Commissioner, help convict the guilty, exonerate the wrongfully accused and exclude the innocent from scrutiny.

Other reform proposals mentioned included giving judges more freedom to assign probation and providing new job opportunities to ex-offenders including new funding for services offered at the local level. DCJS is not currently investigating the City's stop-and-frisk program, he said.

Lentol: Defense, Like DA, Must Have Access to Evidence Before Trial

Richard M. Aborn, President of the Citizens Crime Commission of New York City, testified at length in favor of expanding the State's DNA database to include all crimes. Since the Databank was created in 1994 the State has on three occasions expanded the number of crimes for which DNA can be collected, Aborn said. To date, he said, 27 have been freed after DNA evidence proved their innocence and there have been no cases of false conviction based on DNA evidence.

Calling the use of DNA crime-fighting at its' best, Aborn testified that offenders convicted of a crime that required their DNA be added to the Database had an average of three prior convictions on charges that did not require they be added to the database. Nearly 40,000 unsolved past crimes could be solved if the database is expanded, Aborn said.

In an exchange with Assembly Member Joseph R. Lentol, Aborn returned to his statement that there is no case on record of DNA evidence having been misused, though he eventually conceded to Lentol's argument that exonerated persons could have been freed more quickly. And, Lentol said, just because no one has yet misused DNA evidence does not mean that no one ever will. Lentol expressed support for legislation that would guarantee defense attorneys equal access to DNA evidence.



January 26, 2012
Transportation Commissioners Testify to Budget Committee
MTA Commissioner Lhota, DOT Commissioner McDonald Speak

NYS Department of Transportation Commissioner Joan McDonald and Metropolitan Transportation Authority Chairman Joseph Lhota opened the Thursday, January 26, 2012 Joint Legislative Budget Committees hearing on transit components of the 2012-13 Executive Budget.

Lhota testified that, in an effort to increase the MTA's efficiency, the Authority has been selling excess real estate, consolidating functions, renegotiating contracts, cutting unnecessary overtime and other cost-trimming initiatives that are on tract to save $1 billion per year. He said that the Executive Budget seeks to allocate $4 billion for the MTA, including $250 million in new State funding to make up for losses incurred when the MTA Payroll Tax was cut in December.

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Chairman Lhota testifies to the Joint Legislative Budget Committees.

Also in play is the MTA's five-year Capital Program; Lhota said only the first two years were initially funded and we are now beginning the third year of the cycle. The MTA Board recently approved a package to provide $770 million in new revenue to fund the final three years of the cycle. The new Capital Program is $2 billion smaller than anticipated with no cuts, Lhota said.

The Authority is also seeking funding through a new Federal loan called a Railroad Rehabilitation and Investment Financing loan, which will help pay for the LIRR's East Side Access Project at a lower cost than through traditional MTA bonds, Lhota said.

Commissioner McDonald, who spoke first, began her testimony by pointing out that the Executive Budget shows that Governor Cuomo recognizes the significance of investment in the transit system, and that this investment has the potential to put New Yorkers idled by the recent recession back to work. The Commissioner said that she was "thrilled" by a recent policy change that could streamline bidding and construction of capital projects, and that she supports public-private partnerships designed to improve public transit at less cost to taxpayers.

Within the Executive Budget are $2.9 billion for new construction commitments, McDonald said, including $1.2 billion for accelerated bridge and pavement projects that will enable the State to replace over 100 bridge decks and preserve more than 2,000 miles of roadway. These new projects will be put out to bid beginning in April so they begin in this construction season.



January 25, 2012
Budget Committee Considers State Workforce Issues
Public hearing guests include workers, management

Representatives of the Cuomo Administration and State employees' unions were among the speakers who appeared at a Joint Legislative Budget Committee hearing on State workforce issue components of Governor Cuomo's draft Executive Budget for Fiscal Year 2012-13. The hearing was held Wednesday, January 25, 2012 and is the third of 13 scheduled hearings.

Speaking first was Robert L. Megna, Director of the Governor's Division of Budget, who offered a brief statement before engaging in a lengthy dialogue with Assembly members and Senators who questioned him about the State work force and what the Administration plans to do with it.

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A view from the dais as Division of Budget Director Megna testifies.

According to Megna, the Cuomo Administration plans to continue on the course set during the Governor's first year in office by seeking a leaner and less expensive State work force that performs to a higher standard. A relatively stable workforce is sought, Megna said, with about 186,000 Executive Branch employees projected to be on the payroll at the end of next year.

The Executive Budget, apart from setting spending levels, seeks to bring in reforms to increase government efficiency: a Business Service Center will be created inside the Office of General Services and tasked with many of the day-to-day administrative functions of State government.

But, Megna said, the most critical reform envisioned in the Executive Budget deals with pension reform. According to the Director, by 2014-15, pension costs for schools and local governments will have increased by 185 percent over 2009-10 levels. By creating a sixth tier in the State retirement system, local governments stand to save $83 billion over 30 years, with another $30 billion savings accrued by New York City during that period of time, Megna testified.

Tier 6 employees would also have to contribute more toward their retirements during weak economic times, but less during flush times and automatically contribute 4 percent of salary and match up to an additional 3 percent for some SUNY and CUNY employees, Megna said.

Union leaders who spoke during the hearing objected to being vilified and blamed for the ongoing economic weakness. Joseph Fox, Vice president of the Public Employees' Union, said that the pension reform proposal was a positive spin on a bad idea that is disguised as reform. However, Fox said, the union supports true reform that would improve State services.

Fox said that at present, the State and Local Pension Fund is fully funded and that 83 cents of every dollar paid out by this fund is covered by pension fund earnings, and that the average annual pension is less than $20,000. Further, changing future pensions will not affect budget shortfalls today, Fox said. He testified that the reform plan would lessen economic security for workers and would at least double their contributions to their own retirements.

He also testified that the reform plans could subvert civil service rules that guarantee that State employees are qualified to fill their jobs, and downsizing or closures of State-run or -supported facilities could deny the public access to quality affordable care. Fox also criticized plans to increase the State's reliance on consultants who are paid an average $72.37 per hour compared to State employees who are paid an average $49.29 per hour including benefits.

Francine Turner, Director of the Civil Service Employees Association's Legislative and Political Action Department, said that the last few years have seen a drastic increase in animosity toward public servants who some see as overpaid. Turner said the average CSEA member employed by the State is paid between $30,000 and $40,000 and will receive pensions of less than $15,000.

According to Turner the State is at a crossroads - either State government can further vilify its' employees, eliminate retirement security, privatize jobs and make services harder for the public to obtain, or the State can embrace its' longstanding commitment to allow retirees to earn a decent pension and avoid poverty in their golden years.

If Tier 6 of the State retirement system is enacted, Turner testified, all workers hired after April 1, 2012 would see their minimum retirement age raised from 62 to 65, increase vesting time from 10 years to 12, increase employee retirement contributions and eliminate overtime from pension calculations, and base pensions on the average salary over five years rather than three.

She testified that the end goal of the pension reform proposal would be to give employees a choice between an inadequate pension plan and a 401(k)-style defined contribution plan that would force them to work longer, pay more and benefit less. Turner cited a study by the National Institute on Retirement Security that shows public assistance spending on the elderly would increase by 40 percent without defined pension benefits - in other words, once inadequate 401(k) balances and other savings run out, taxpayers will be forced to support retired State workers.

Also speaking in support of current or retired employees were Barbara Zaron, President of OMCE, who said Management/Confidential employees are offered no relief in the Executive Budget; Retired Public Employees Association President Alan Dorn, who said that though pensions are Constitutionally protected retirees are losing access to health coverage through rising costs, administrative action and collective bargaining, and NYSCOPBA President Donn Rowe, who testified that though the State prison system is smaller attacked on staff remain unchanged.



January 24, 2012
Assemblyman Farrell Helps Pass Legislation to Increase Taxi Service in Northern Manhattan and the Outer Boroughs
Legislation will also improve access to taxis for people with disabilities

Assemblyman Herman D. Farrell, Jr. (D-Manhattan) announced the Assembly passed legislation he supported (A.8691-A) that will allow New York City to issue 18,000 Hail Accessible Inter-borough Licenses (HAIL) allowing livery cars to pick up street hails. Twenty percent of the licenses will be for accessible vehicles to provide more transportation options to people with disabilities. An agreement on this legislation has been reached with the Governor and the Senate.

"For too long, persistent transportation problems within New York City have gone unanswered, leading to nearly nonexistent taxi presence outside of Manhattan's Central Business District and a troubling lack of vehicles for people with disabilities," Farrell said. "This new plan will afford New Yorkers in underserved areas greater access to taxicab service in and around the city. This will also lead to more revenue for the City of New York, helping protect vital programs for seniors and hardworking families."

Under the legislation, New York City will be able to issue the new licenses over the next three years. The city will also be authorized to issue up to 450 new base permits, generating up to $1.3 million in revenue. In addition, the Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) will issue 2,000 new taxicab licenses for vehicles that are accessible to people with disabilities. The TLC will also be required to provide grants of up to $15,000 to retrofit HAIL vehicles to accommodate people with disabilities and establish a program to support the introduction of handicapped-accessible vehicles into the HAIL vehicle fleet.

"The issuance of new HAIL licenses to service the underserved areas of the five boroughs and Upper Manhattan, and new medallions, will substantially improve the ability of New Yorkers, especially those with disabilities, to get where they need to go quickly and easily," Farrell said. "It is imperative that that we continue to support these kinds of initiatives to make traveling within New York City more accessible, efficient and affordable."



Herman D. Farrell, Jr.
HERMAN D. FARRELL, JR.
Assemblymember 71st District
seal
2541-55 Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Blvd.
New York, NY 10039
TEL (212) 234-1430
FAX (212) 234-1868
January 24, 2012

…and this month in Albany

Leading off this morning's public hearing held by the Joint Legislative Budget Committee on Local Government components of Governor Cuomo's draft Executive Budget for Fiscal Year 2012-13, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg told members of the Assembly and Senate that he agreed with most of the Governor's budget and reform plans but criticized several of the Governor's policy proposals.

At the beginning of his remarks, as the first of many speakers representing local governments across the State, Mayor Bloomberg offered strong support for many elements of the Governor's plan but said that the Legislature could improve other areas and outlined the City's agenda. Calling the Governor's agenda "far-reaching and ambitious" Mayor Bloomberg expressed approval for plans to create a new and less generous pension tier for public employees and reform the pension system overall; creating new teacher evaluations; providing mandate relief to localities; and balancing the budget without relying on new broad-based taxes and fees. According to the Mayor, pension costs constitute 12 percent of the City's budget, more than the Police, Fire and Sanitation Department budgets combined, and the cost of pensions is rising. This is the last best chance to change the continual rise of pension costs, the Mayor said.

Turning to teacher assessments, the Mayor called them an essential tool to evaluate teacher effectiveness. Most other people live in a world where their performance is constantly evaluated, and these people have managed to survive, the mayor said. He also spoke in favor of the Governor's after-school and juvenile justice policies that are related to the budget. The Mayor said that young offenders are less likely to re-offend if they remain close to family, rather than be sent far from home while they are in custody.

Plans opposed by Bloomberg include the elimination of the State share of administrative costs for some youth and family programs; changes to the system by which services for the homeless are funded; plans to pay a smaller share of child-care costs for families on public assistance; and funding cuts that would create a shortfall in services for expectant mothers. Speaking to policy proposals not in the Governor's budget, the Mayor expressed support for calls to increase the minimum wage and to pass the DREAM Act, which would allow greater educational opportunity to the children of undocumented immigrants.

Comptroller John C. Liu, speaking later, commended the Legislature for last year's actions to close a $10 billion budget gap without doing harm to citizens. He pointed to a recent Rockefeller Institute study that found the City gave the State 45 percent of revenues, but only 40 percent were sent back to the City. Calling the City the economic engine of the State, Comptroller Liu asked that this imbalance be corrected.

Citing the ongoing fiscal problems in European markets, the Comptroller said that the City's economic recovery has largely stalled. Further problems in Europe will cause new problems here, he said. At the same time, unemployment rose slightly, particularly among persons of color. In closing, he cited ongoing plans to ease the City's burden of pension costs by streamlining the City's pension investment system.

New York State Commissioner of Education Dr. John B. King, Jr. appeared Monday morning to testify regarding elementary and secondary education components of Governor Cuomo's Budget. The hearing continued until afternoon. Of the Governor's proposal to increase education funding by $805 million, 73% would be directed to high-needs districts. $555 million would be allocated. A further $250 million would be used for competitive grants. Statewide, of more than 3 million students, 2.7 million students attend public schools. Statewide, nearly half currently receive free or reduced lunch, eight percent are not native English speakers and 14 percent are students with disabilities. The State recognizes 4,680 public schools in 696 districts including more than 1,800 non-public schools and 180 public charter schools.

Commissioner King said there is good and bad news to report: graduation rates are up to 73.4%, but not all are ready for higher education, particularly minority students and students who are not native English speakers. In New York City in 2006, 61% graduate in four years, up from 46.5% in 2001 and 53% in 2003. In June 2010, African American and Hispanic students graduated at a rate of less than 58 percent.

The State Board of Regents has proposed a significant reform agenda to improve schools and better prepare students, Commissioner King said. The Legislature has in recent years taken steps to support that reform agenda, the Commissioner said. These include more substantial evaluation systems and pursuit of further financial investment in education. The teacher evaluation reform law of 2010 seeks to build a system of continuous improvement by requiring annual evaluations for teachers and principals, setting clear expectations, using a greater number of criteria to judge educators' job performance, allowing school administrators to make better decisions regarding educators' continuing employment, he said.

The Commissioner's 2012-13 budget request includes a request for $10 million -- $8.5 million to continue current exams and $1.5 million to develop new English language arts exams in grades 9 and 10. Commissioner King called this initiative a key component of the State's education accountability system that is need for successful teacher and principal evaluations. A further $2.1 million has been requested to ensure the integrity of tests for students in grades three through eight and the Regents' examinations. A report to the Board of Regents on alleged testing improprieties is due in the coming weeks, he said.

Commissioner King testified that the tenure system is broken and must be fixed; legislation has been introduced that is intended to streamline the complaint review process and save money while taking less time to resolve complaints. Other legislation related to the budget seeks to expand access to higher education, Commissioner King said. Bills have been introduced to give undocumented immigrants access to State higher education funding, and to open the TAP system to early college high school students.

With regard to the No Child Left Behind Waiver Initiative, Commissioner King testified that the Federal education program gives New York the opportunity to focus on schools that need the most support, measure students' readiness for college and careers, use new diagnostic tools and coordinate the use of funds, and grant the most successful schools new flexibility. In order to receive additional flexibility, schools must set college- and career-ready standards for all students, develop measures of accountability, support effective teaching and reduce unnecessary spending to provide taxpayers with relief.



Farrell and King meet before budget hearing.



Yours truly,

Herman D. Farrell, Jr.

photo



January 24, 2012
Mayor Bloomberg Testifies to Joint Legislative Budget Committee
Offers Praise, Criticism of Cuomo's Budget and Reform Plans

Leading off a public hearing held by the Joint Legislative Budget Committee on Local Government components of Governor Cuomo's draft Executive Budget for Fiscal Year 2012-13, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg told lawmakers he agreed with most of the Governor's budget and reform plans but criticized several of the Governor's policy proposals.

photo
Assemblyman Farrell greets Mayor Bloomberg during a Legislative hearing on local government issues held Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2012.

At the beginning of his remarks, as the first of many speakers representing local governments across the State, Mayor Bloomberg offered strong support for many elements of the Governor's plan but said that the Legislature could improve other areas and outlined the City's agenda.

Calling the Governor's agenda "far-reaching and ambitious" Mayor Bloomberg expressed approval for plans to create a new and less generous pension tier for public employees and reform the pension system overall; creating new teacher evaluations; providing mandate relief to localities; and balancing the budget without relying on new broad-based taxes and fees.

According to the Mayor, pension costs constitute 12 percent of the City's budget, more than the Police, Fire and Sanitation Department budgets combined, and the cost of pensions is rising. This is the last best chance to change the continual rise of pension costs, the Mayor said.

Turning to teacher assessments, the Mayor called them an essential tool to evaluate teacher effectiveness. Most other people live in a world where their performance is constantly evaluated, and these people have managed to survive, the mayor said.

He also spoke in favor of the Governor's after-school and juvenile justice policies that are related to the budget. The Mayor said that young offenders are less likely to re-offend if they remain close to family, rather than be shipped far from home while they are in government custody.

Plans opposed by Bloomberg include the elimination of the State share of administrative costs for some youth and family programs; changes to the system by which services for the homeless are funded; plans to pay a smaller share of child-care costs for families on public assistance; and funding cuts that would create a shortfall in services for expectant mothers.

Speaking to policy proposals not in the Governor's budget, the Mayor expressed support for calls to increase the minimum wage and to pass the DREAM Act, which would allow greater educational opportunity to the children of undocumented immigrants.

Comptroller John C. Liu, who spoke later, commended the Legislature for last year's actions to close a $10 billion budget gap without doing harm to citizens. He pointed to a recent Rockefeller Institute study that found the City gave the State 45 percent of revenues, but only 40 percent were sent back to the City. Calling the City the economic engine of the State, Comptroller Liu asked that this imbalance be corrected.

Citing the ongoing fiscal problems in European markets, the Comptroller said that the City's economic recovery has largely stalled. Further problems in Europe will cause new problems here, he said. At the same time, unemployment rose slightly, particularly among persons of color. In closing, he cited ongoing plans to ease the City's burden of pension costs by streamlining the City's pension investment system.

Also speaking Tuesday were Division of Budget Director Robert Megna, Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown, Yonkers Mayor Michael Spano, Rochester Mayor Thomas S. Richards, the Erie and Onandaga County Executives, City Council Finance Chair Dominick Recchia and representatives of associations of local government officials.



January 23, 2012
NYS Education Commissioner King Testifies
on Governor's Budget
Schools chief is first to appear before joint Legislative Committee

New York State Commissioner of Education Dr. John B. King, Jr. appeared before members of the Assembly Ways and Means Committee and Senate Finance Committee this morning to testify to lawmakers regarding elementary and secondary education components of Governor Cuomo's draft Executive Budget for Fiscal Year 2012-13. The hearing continued until afternoon.

brochure
The cover sheet of Commissioner King's testimony.

Of the Governor's proposal to increase education funding by $805 million, 73% would be directed to high-needs districts. $555 million would be allocated. A further $250 million would be used for competitive grants.

Statewide, of more than 3 million students, 2.7 million students attend public schools. Statewide, nearly half currently receive free or reduced lunch, eight percent are not native English speakers and 14 percent are students with disabilities. The State recognizes 4,680 public schools in 696 districts including more than 1,800 non-public schools and 180 public charter schools.

photo
Assemblyman Farrell meets in his office with State Education Commissioner King and his staff before Monday's Joint Legislative Public Hearing on Elementary and Secondary Education.

Commissioner King, who is also President of the University of the State of New York, told members of the joint Legislative Budget Committees that there is good and bad news to report: graduation rates are up to 73.4%, but not all graduates are ready for higher education, particularly among minority students and students who are not native English speakers. In New York City in 2006, 61% graduate in four years, up from 46.5% in 2001 and 53% in 2003. But in June 2010, African American and Hispanic students graduated at a rate of less than 58 percent.

The State Board of Regents has proposed a significant reform agenda to improve schools and better prepare students, Commissioner King said. The Legislature has in recent years taken steps to support that reform agenda, the Commissioner said. These include more substantial evaluation systems and pursuit of further financial investment in education.

The teacher evaluation reform law of 2010 seeks to build a system of continuous improvement by requiring annual evaluations for teachers and principals, setting clear expectations, using a greater number of criteria to judge educators' job performance, allowing school administrators to make better decisions regarding educators' continuing employment, the Commissioner testified.

The Commissioner's 2012-13 budget request includes a request for $10 million -- $8.5 million to continue current exams and $1.5 million to develop new English language arts exams in grades 9 and 10. Commissioner King called this initiative a key component of the State's education accountability system that is need for successful teacher and principal evaluations.

A further $2.1 million has been requested to ensure the integrity of tests for students in grades three through eight and the Regents' examinations. A report to the Board of Regents on alleged testing improprieties is due in the coming weeks, the Commissioner said.

Commissioner King testified that the tenure system is broken and must be fixed; legislation has been introduced that is intended to streamline the complaint review process and save money while taking less time to resolve complaints.

Other legislation related to the budget seeks to expand access to higher education, Commissioner King said. Bills have been introduced to give undocumented immigrants access to State higher education funding, and to open the TAP system to early college high school students.

With regard to the No Child Left Behind Waiver Initiative, Commissioner King testified that the Federal education program gives New York the opportunity to focus on schools that need the most support, measure students' readiness for college and careers, use new diagnostic tools and coordinate the use of funds, and grant the most successful schools new flexibility.

In order to receive additional flexibility, the Commissioner testified, schools must set college- and career-ready standards for all students, develop measures of accountability, support effective teaching and reduce unnecessary spending to provide taxpayers with relief.



Herman D. Farrell, Jr.
HERMAN D. FARRELL, JR.
Assemblymember 71st District
seal
2541-55 Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Blvd.
New York, NY 10039
TEL (212) 234-1430
FAX (212) 234-1868
January 19, 2012

…and this month in Albany

It has been an exciting week in Albany. On Tuesday we got our first look at the second budget of Governor Cuomo's tenure, which proposes to overhaul the way Albany and State government operate. Earlier today, we received word that exciting plans are in the works to upgrade Riverbank State Park. An announcement was scheduled for today, but the Governor has apparently decided to postpone his announcement regarding the upcoming Riverbank work.

These plans, which Assemblyman Wright and myself have been pushing for, call for the State to spend $4.2 million replacing the deteriorating artificial turf on the playing field, running track and gymnasium floor. These plans also call for improvements at the skating rink, including a new chiller and replacement of the deteriorating boiler system.

My Ways and Means staff and I are in the process of digesting details of Governor Cuomo's draft Executive Budget for State Fiscal Year 2012-13, which begins April 1. By way of overview, the Governor's $132.5 billion budget seeks to hold most areas of State spending flat with several exceptions, including education and health care. After numerous cuts in recent years, it appears the Governor has kept his promise to increase funding for these vital programs.

An additional $800 million has been allocated for education, most of which will be targeted to high-need districts, and a significant portion will be disbursed as competitive grants. The Governor has also made a significant commitment to using State and Federal funds to encourage public-private partnerships. This means public money will be used as seed funds to encourage private concerns to invest private money in projects that have a clear public benefit. Because the State will not have to find the money to pay for road, dam and bridge work, we will have the freedom to invest these public funds elsewhere. I believe this is a smart and positive idea.

These investments will be paid for in part through the changes to the tax code passed by the Legislature in December, which ask high-earning New Yorkers to dig a little deeper while cutting taxes paid by middle-class families, and in part by moving monies around. As a result, the smallest out-year budget deficit in modern times, a mere $715 million, has been forecast.

The Governor also proposes to hold the line on State agency spending and cutting $1.14 billion in planned funding increases for state agency spending. Similar plans are in store for local assistance grants, saving the State $756 million. The Governor further proposes strict spending controls.

Early in his January 17 budget address, the Governor called the document his "Executive Budget and Reform Plan," as it was intended to go far beyond the normal scope of a budget. The Governor said his second budget, unlike others in the past, would not be like a box of Crackerjack candy with a mystery hiding at the bottom, but would instead be an "honest" budget.

Turning his attention to how public funds are spent, the Governor reminded us that about half of the budget goes to pay for the work of some 140,000 contractual service providers who do business with the State. All of these contracts, the Governor said, are managed and measured differently. While some of these contractors spend a fraction of every public dollar on administrative overhead, others spend far more. He believes it is time for this way of doing the people's business to change in order to achieve a savings while improving services.

Also on the table is a plan to complete New York State's role in the Federal health care reform effort. By passing legislation to set up a health care exchange for New Yorkers, the Governor said, we could connect as many as one million State residents with health insurance while reducing employers' health care costs by 22 percent, all of which would be federally funded.

The Governor said his plans to reform New York State's education system would make schooling less about what he called the education industry and more about the students. This can be done, he believes, by following a national trend toward spending less on education while doing more to promote achievement which can be measured by standardized testing.

According to the Governor, the education reform law passed in Albany last year is not working, and the Federal government is displeased enough to threaten to pull back almost $1 billion in new funding that was awarded to the State. The Governor said, and I and others agree, that we simply cannot afford to lose a billion dollars in education aid students and teachers rely upon.

With regard to his economic development plans, the Governor's stated intention is to use $1.3 billion in State funds and $1.7 billion in new and accelerated Federal aid along with $9 billion in State Authority spending to lure $3 billion in private financing. This combined $15 billion will be used to replace the Tappan Zee Bridge and other large capital projects that can put New Yorkers back to work rebuilding our infrastructure and meeting other vital needs.

I hope that you all have a happy and healthy New Year, and I will continue to report from Albany as our Legislative Session continues.

Yours truly,

H.D. Farrell, Jr.




January 11, 2012

Farrell Co-Sponsoring MWBE Certification Training
Thursday, January 19, 9 to 11 a.m. Isabella Geriatric Center

Assemblyman Farrell will join City and State elected officials including Senator Adriano Espaillat and Borough President Scott M. Stringer in co-sponsoring a certification and training program by the New York State Minority and Women Owned Business Enterprise.

Delivering remarks during the event will be Yrthya Dinzey-Flores, Governor Cuomo's Chief Diversity Officer, and Steve Cohen, Senior Vice President and Deputy Commissioner of the Empire State Development Corporation. Also expected to be on hand are representatives of the State Workers' Compensation Board and Department of Taxation and Finance. An awards ceremony will follow.

The event is scheduled to be held from 9 to 11 a.m. Thursday, January 19 at Isabella Geriatric Center, 515 Audubon Avenue at 190th Street. Please RSVP Aneiry Batista at (917) 547-1147 or batista@nysenate.gov.




Herman D. Farrell, Jr.
HERMAN D. FARRELL, JR.
Assemblymember 71st District
seal
2541-55 Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Blvd.
New York, NY 10039
TEL (212) 234-1430
FAX (212) 234-1868
January 4, 2012

…and this month in Albany

Earlier today, Governor Cuomo delivered his second State of the State speech to a crowded Albany convention center. Beginning his remarks with a metaphor - comparing the physical condition of the State Capitol building, which is now near completely restored, to the governing that takes place inside the Capitol - the Governor described a transformation of government in Albany that has been as dramatic as the beautiful and ahead-of-schedule restoration of the Capitol building.

Running down a long list of achievements that took place during his first year in office, the Governor discussed closing a $10 billion budget gap without gimmicks or new taxes, passing new rent laws that do more for tenants than for landlords, supporting youth employment programs, capping local property taxes, cutting taxes for middle-class families, ethics reform, marriage equality, and other legislative successes.

Turning then to the future, the Governor laid out his plans for the second year of his tenure. These plans consisted of three elements. First was the challenge of figuring out how State government can encourage job creation in a weak economy without spending more money. The solution, Governor Cuomo believes, includes making our City and State more of a tourist destination. He also seeks to further the local economic development efforts that are being led by Lieutenant Governor Duffy. The Governor also seeks to pass a Constitutional amendment to legalize casino gambling in New York, which would take several years to complete. The Governor plans to invest in and strengthen the MTA and the State's energy infrastructure, including expanding solar power.

The Governor, in his second year in office, seeks to build on the government reforms he got passed during 2011. After closing an anticipated $2 billion budget gap, in the coming months, he will ask the Legislature to sign off on recommendations that will be made by a Mandate Relief Council before our Session adjourns this summer. School reform is also on his agenda. Calling his reform plans a drive to put the students first, the Governor will seek to make public education cost less and work more effectively.

Tenants and homeowners were not forgotten. The Department of Homes and Community Renewal, which is headed by my former Assembly colleague Darryl Towns, will soon include a new unit dedicated to enforcing existing laws that to protect tenants. As we all know, unscrupulous landlords find ways around or simply ignore laws that are on the books but are not adequately enforced, and this must change.

After touching briefly on plans to train the leaders of tomorrow, guide recent immigrants into our communities, implement campaign finance reform and other ideas, the Governor closed his remarks with words of encouragement that reflected on the past achievements of earlier generations of New Yorkers.

Wishing you a Happy New Year,

H. D. Farrell, Jr.




December 23, 2011

A Promise Kept: City Paves 155th Street Near Viaduct

Several years ago, while work on the 155th Street viaduct was ongoing, the City promised to repave a stretch of 155th Street that runs through our community.

While things sometimes take longer than they should or than we would prefer, in this case, the job did get done. With the new pavement in place on 155th Street from Bradhurst Avenue to Seventh Avenue, the refurbishing of the 155th Street corridor is complete.

I would like to thank Margaret Forgione, the City Department of Transportation's Manhattan Borough Commissioner, for her hard work on this project





December 22, 2011
Season's Greetings and a Happy New Year

Dear Neighbor,

The Legislature returned to Albany in December to consider and pass a more progressive income tax system than our State has had in many years. Many people, myself included, consider this to be the crowning achievement in a year that saw many legislative successes. I applaud Governor Cuomo for his success in making New York State a more fair and just place to live and I was proud to carry the tax reform bill during the debate on the Assembly floor.

Many have supported the "millionaire's tax," a special income tax surcharge on single filers with income over $200,000 or joint filers who together make over $300,000, which was put into place several years ago to deal with the weak economy and was scheduled to end Dec. 31, 2011. Myself and others did not see this as the time to be giving wealthy people a tax cut. This would have left the State $1.5 billion short in this fiscal year, which ends March 31, and almost $4 billion short during the fiscal year beginning April 1, 2012. If this had happened, millionaires would pay income tax at the same rate as a young family struggling to make ends meet on $40,000 a year.

The money collected through the new progressive tax system will be used to fulfill our commitment to increase education and health care funding by 4 percent next year. It will also help close the budget gap we forecast for Fiscal Year 2012-13. This new progressive income tax system gave middle-class families a tax cut, making their tax burden lower than it has been in decades. This new system will have struggling individuals and families pay less and high-income New Yorkers pay a little bit more. This new tax structure, aside from making the system more fair, will also help close the budget hole caused by the struggling economy's inability to meet the projections we made while working on the budget last spring.

My Ways and Means Committee forecasts that the new tax rates will bring the State about $1.9 billion in new revenue over the next year, about half of what was collected through the "millionaire's tax." Because of these new tax revenues we were able to fund the ATTAIN computer lab at the Polo Grounds Houses, guarantee summer jobs for our youth, and other important programs.

A progressive income tax system that will require all New Yorkers to pay according to their means is a tremendous final act in a year that finally saw marriage equality signed into law, saw the rent laws not only extended but strengthened in a way that does more for tenants than for the landlords, and passing a difficult but on-time budget.

Happy Holidays and a Healthy New Year,
H. D. Farrell, Jr.





December 21, 2011
Farrell Applauds Livery Reform Deal

Assemblyman Farrell congratulated and thanked Governor Cuomo and Mayor Bloomberg for their completion of a deal to reform livery service in Northern Manhattan and throughout the City, which includes legal street hails of livery cars north of 96th Street. Their agreement finalized a law passed by the Legislature at the close of Session six months earlier.

Since the original bill was passed in June, stakeholders continually worked to satisfy the needs of all parties involved in the discussion. In particular, Assemblyman Farrell offered thanks and congratulations to Assemblyman Linares and Senators Espaillat and Perkins, saying the successful reform effort is an example of what can be accomplished when people work together.

"The livery industry came into being because our community has never been serviced by Yellow Cabs, but livery drivers have always operated under the threat of punishment if they pick up a hail on the street. Reforming the livery laws will end this historic inequality and could also give an economic boost to our City as well as the call bases and drivers who service it," Assemblyman Farrell said.

According to the agreement 6,000 new livery medallions will be created in the next year, one-fifth of which must be accessible to handicapped riders. An equal number of medallions will be released during the following two years, many of which will be required to be accessible. The City must also come up with a plan to soon make all Yellow Cabs accessible, and once this plan is complete, up to 2,000 additional accessible Yellow medallion Cabs could be put into service.

"The small number of accessible cabs that are now available is a problem that the bill we passed in June attempted to solve, but did not go far enough," Farrell said. "After hearing the facts of the matter from advocates I was among those who fought to expand the number of accessible vehicles, and I am glad to know that soon thousands of accessible vehicles will be in service."

Under the terms of the deal, the City is expected to receive up to $1 billion in new revenue from these reforms.



December 21, 2011

Farrell Attends P.A.L. Holiday Party


photo
Assemblyman Farrell recently joined Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly (not shown), former District Attorney Robert M. Morganthau and 1,000 children at the NYPD Police Athletic League Holiday Party.

While youth gang issues remain a problem in Northern Manhattan and other quality of life issues remain, in early December the NYPD was on track to end 2011 with fewer than 500 murders on the books in all five boroughs. This is down 22% compared to 2001 and 74% compared to 1993 according to NYPD statistics. Programs like the P.A.L. can help keep young people on the right track and out of trouble.





December 21, 2011

photo
Farrell and Stringer Sponsor
Town Hall Meetings

Friday, Jan. 27, 2012
7:00 p.m.

Esplanade Gardens,
South Community Room
133 W. 147th St., Building #3

Saturday, Jan. 28, 2012
11:00 a.m.

Church of Intercession,
550 W. 155th St.
(between Broadway and Amsterdam)

Thursday, Feb. 9, 2012
7:00 p.m.

Mt. Sinai Jewish Center
187th St. and Bennett Ave.

Invited guests include Borough President Stringer, Councilman Jackson and Senators Espaillat and Perkins.





November 30, 2011
Assemblyman Farrell Attends Opening of Petioni Plaza
Innovative Green Housing Project Possible Through Government Cooperation

"Dr. Muriel Petioni has worked all her life to help the people of our community. For her namesake to be this environmentally-conscious project, which will continue to serve our community, is the proper way to carry on her proud legacy," Assemblyman Farrell said. "It is even better that this building will provide homes to low-income seniors, which by itself is a wonderful thing."

The eight-story building is located at 203 West 146th Street and is Harlem's first LEED-Silver designed affordable housing development for low-income seniors. HCCI will offer on-site health and wellness programs and HUD will provide an on-site social services coordinator. The project came together due to the combined efforts of Federal, State and City officials.

photo
photo
Assemblyman Farrell thanks State Homes and Community Renewal Commissioner and CEO Darryl C. Towns (above left) and US Dept. of Housing and Urban Development Regional Administrator Adolfo Carrion (above right) for their hard work which created the Petioni Plaza project.

Dr. Petioni, known to many as "The Mother of Medicine in Harlem," based her practice on a then-innovative concept: treating the patient and not their symptoms. A living legend in the Manhattan medical community, she serves on HCCI's Board of Directors, helping to connect seniors and other members of the community with affordable housing and access to services.

The building which bears her name was designed by Harlem-based architect Body Lawson Associates and exceeds current environmentally-conscious development standards. Its' green features, including a rainwater harvesting system, non-toxic materials, and EnergyStar lights and appliances, will not only support residents health but also protect them from rising energy costs.



Herman D. Farrell, Jr.
HERMAN D. FARRELL, JR.
Assemblymember 71st District
seal
2541-55 Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Blvd.
New York, NY 10039
TEL (212) 234-1430
FAX (212) 234-1868
November 17, 2011

…and this month in Albany

The Assembly Majority, with the guidance of the Ways and Means committee staff, is now preparing to release a report on the State's finances at the mid-year point in our budget cycle. As you may have read in the news coverage of similar reports released by the Governor and Comptroller, while revenues were higher than expected earlier in the year that trend has reversed and revenues are less than we had forecast.

According to the Governor's report, the State is looking at a $350 million deficit in Fiscal Year 2011-12 (which ends March 31) which by law must be closed before the end of the fiscal year. Considering the fact that the Governor has ordered his agency heads to cut their budgets by 2.5 percent, it seems clear that State programs will be affected by these shortfalls. You may recall that the Governor, while with one hand cutting education and health care funding earlier this year, promised that each of these crucial programs would have their funding increased by 4 percent next year. Students and patients are hurting because of these cuts, and I will be fighting to make sure that this commitment is fulfilled.

The Assembly is still supporting an extension of the surcharge on high-income New Yorkers, which if nothing is done will expire on Dec. 31. On top of allowing us to offset the cuts to education and health care programs, revenues raised through this surcharge would allow us to close the deficit without more harmful cuts. The Governor and the Senate have so far remained opposed to extending the "millionaires' tax" but I am hopeful that the circumstances give them reason to change their positions on this issue. It seems that the public supports the concept of asking the wealthy to pay their fair share, based on polls that show support for the "Occupy Wall Street" movement whose goals seem to include greater income equality. As you may know, I took part in the "End to End for the 99%" rally which marched from 181st Street and St. Nicholas Avenue on November 7. I spoke with many of the marchers and listened to their points of view on the goals of the march as they expressed their right to free public speech and assembly.

Closing on a more pleasant note, earlier this month I had the opportunity to meet with Joseph Gates (see photo below), who has replaced Dr. Gregory Hodge as Principal of Frederick Douglass Academy. Mr. Gates, who grew up in our community, now lives a few blocks away from the school which will help him live up to the around-the-clock responsibility of running this school. While it is a loss to no longer have Dr. Hodge working in the school, I am sure that Mr. Gates will prove to be a strong and able successor.

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Yours truly,

H. D. Farrell, Jr.




October 26, 2011
Farrell and Espaillat Sponsor Free Community Flu Clinics

Assemblyman Farrell and Senator Adriano Espaillat are jointly sponsoring a series of free flu shot clinics throughout the Northern Manhattan community. As cold and flu season approaches, it is very important to protect the health of your family.

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A clinic was held at Hebrew Tabernacle, 551 Fort Washington Avenue, on Wednesday, October 26, 2011 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Upcoming clinic will be held November 1 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Church of the Ascention (221 West 107th Street between Amsterdam Avenue and Broadway); and on November 3 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at The Caroline Apartments (210 Sherman Avenue at West 207th Street).

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Taking part in the October 26 free flu shot clinic sponsored by Assemblyman Farrell and Senator Espaillat are (back row) Liz Ritter and Ben from Senator Espaillat's office and (front row) Martin Collins from City Councilman Robert Jackson's office, Madelyn Pichardo, Gloria Pazmino and Mariella Rueda from Assemblyman Farrell's office.


October 21, 2011
Farrell Talks Education with Schomburg Center New Director, Dr. Khalil Gibran Muhammad

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Assemblyman Farrell recently met with Dr. Khalil Muhammad, who replaced Howard Dodson as Executive Director of the Schomburg Center of Research in Black Culture.
Assemblyman Farrell recently met with Dr. Khalil Muhammad, the new director of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, to discuss the community's needs and history.

"Dr. Muhammad is an energetic and outstandingly bright young man, and it was a pleasure to meet and speak with him," Assemblyman Farrell said. "I know he will do a great job guiding the Schomburg Center through its' ongoing restoration and into the future, and I look forward to working with him as he preserves and protects our community's sense of itself."

Dr. Muhammad, 39, most recently worked as a professor of history at an Indiana university before he was recruited by former Director Howard Dodson, who led the Schomburg Center for over 25 years and expanded its' collection to more than 10 million items.

Son of an award-winning New York Times photographer, the Chicago native attended the University of Pennsylvania and Rutgers University. A noted author and commentator, he lives with his family in New Jersey.

Dr. Muhammad reported that his immediate plans revolve around doing more to attract young people to the Center by including pairing state-of-the-art technology with historical items from their collection, increasing community outreach, and continuing to document Harlem's culture.



October 21, 2011
Farrell, Jackson Present Clinkscales Family with Check For New Park and Community Garden

City Council Member Robert Jackson and Assemblyman Farrell today presented a ceremonial $1.2 million check to the family of the late Robert Clinkscales, with whom they have worked for years to construct a half-acre park including a community garden for seniors on 146th Street between Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Blvd (7th Ave.) and Frederick Douglass Blvd (8th Ave.).

"Now that financing for this wonderful community benefit has been secured, we can at last move forward toward construction," Assemblyman Farrell said. "I thank Councilman Jackson for his unwavering support, and look forward to the groundbreaking ceremony planned for this spring."

Friday's event was attended by NYC Parks Manhattan Commissioner William T. Castro (in hat) and several generations of the Clinkscales family.

photo Assemblyman Farrell and Councilman Jackson are shown here presenting the family of the late Robert Clinkscales with a ceremonial check. Katharine Clinkscales, widow of the new park's namesake, is shown in sunglasses to the right of the Councilman. Frederick Wilson, who worked with Mr. Clinkscales on the early stages of project, stands to her left.

Robert Clinkscales was involved in a project that began in the late 1990s and was intended to end with the construction of a community playground for children aged three to eight. In the years that followed the Clinkscales family and Frederick Wilson, who was then President of the 146th Street Tenants Association, worked with Councilman Jackson and the Parks Department to secure land and funding to build the playground.



October 17, 2011
Working to Save the Annex Post Office

Members of the community came together on two occasions recently to argue their case to the US Postal Service in hopes of saving the Annex Post Office on 158th Street. Facing a deficit, the government is considering closing a number of Post Offices across the country.

Assemblyman Farrell met Sept. 29, 2011 with members of the community including Virginia Dajani, executive director of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, to plan how the community would make its' case to postal officials in the second meeting. This second meeting was scheduled to be held at the Church of the Intercession the following week.

At the next meeting, in early October, members of the community spoke directly with postal officials to explain how having their Post Office closed would negatively affect their lives. Many customers do not have bank accounts, and pay bills through the mail with money orders bought at the Post Office. Others use this service to send needed funds to relatives still living overseas.

Still others explained that they do not use e-mail to communicate with friends and relatives who are far away, or to do business. There was also a concern that there was inadequate advance notice of the meeting.

The US Postal Service is circulating a survey informing customers of the potential closing and asking for information about how customers use the Annex Post Office, and what services they rely on in their daily lives. It is important that when you receive these surveys that you complete and return them as soon as possible.



Herman D. Farrell, Jr.
HERMAN D. FARRELL, JR.
Assemblymember 71st District
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2541-55 Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Blvd.
New York, NY 10039
TEL (212) 234-1430
FAX (212) 234-1868
September 27, 2011

…and this month in Albany

I hope you all had a good summer. Since our last correspondence I have been holding regular meetings with my Assembly Ways and Means Committee staff whose job it is to watch and analyze our local, State and national economies and track the progress of the State budget throughout the year.

These analysts report that despite the persistently sluggish nature of the economy, the State budget stayed on track during the first quarter of our 2011-2012 fiscal year, which ended this summer. However, the stock market remains erratic and the national economy is weak. Some of this is due to the recent stalling in Washington, as the opposition party attempted to embarrass President Obama by refusing to raise the federal debt ceiling, as was done six times under President Reagan as well as under Presidents Bush, Clinton and Bush II. Raising the debt ceiling to pay for the promises made by the government to citizens and creditors alike has been standard practice since before the days of President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

The Federal government had to raise its' debt ceiling in order to pay for the two 10-year wars abroad and the War on Terror here at home, all of which the second former President Bush started. Because President Obama's political opponents refuse to act as responsible stewards of our economy, the markets have been dancing up and down at the slightest statement of economic policy as nervous investors seek to protect their money from the whims of Washington, where deals are cut by leaders and killed by House members.

This political stalemate has also threatened to block efforts to find money in Washington to help pay for what could be billions of dollars in losses in New York and other states associated with Tropical Storm Irene. It is both mean and unprecedented to demand that funding to help people who have lost everything in a natural disaster be offset by cuts to critical social programs such as food stamps which are a last resort to the one in five American children who are living in poverty. As of this morning the Senate had passed a bipartisan aid plan and the House will have to return to Washington to vote on this new bill.

Essentially what the Senate did last night was to carve the Federal Emergency Management Agency out of the continuing resolution which will fund the Federal government in the absence of a new Federal budget. FEMA officials, meanwhile, announced last night that they would not run out of money today or tomorrow as had been expected because enough money had been found to keep them in business for a few more days. By stretching their supply of money through Saturday, which is the first day of the new Federal fiscal year, the crisis was averted and the government will be able to continue programs which help people in need.

While all of this was going on in Washington, I had the good fortune to visit many block parties and other events throughout our community, which gave me the chance to speak one-on-one with our friends and neighbors and hear their thoughts and concerns directly. It has long been my practice to go through the district on foot during the weekends, and the mostly pleasant weather this past season allowed me much more one-on-one time with my constituents to find out what is on their minds, and what I can do to help.

I also spent time this summer working with members of the community and elected officials to find solutions to the quality of life problems in our community, such as motorcycles and noisy sidewalk cafes. Though crime is down overall, during the last few years things have begun to show signs of going the wrong way and quality of life complaints have been increasing. Working against this trend consumes a great deal of time and energy. I recently took part in a meeting that brought together District Attorney Vance, federal drug enforcement agents and your Chair, Pamela North, to discuss these issues. It was a productive meeting and I expect that we may soon see positive outcomes because of our common goals.

One of the top priorities at this time is finishing the livery bill passed by the Legislature earlier this year. The legislation passed by the Assembly sought to create 30,000 new livery medallions which would be sold for $1,500 apiece to what we now call black car services. Working with Assemblyman Guillermo Linares and other representatives, I succeeded in adding language to the original bill that would make the longstanding practice of street hails by these black cars legal.

As anyone who has spent any time in Northern Manhattan knows, it is almost impossible to hail a Yellow Cab north of 96th Street. On the rare occasion that a Yellow Cab driver is persuaded to drop off a passenger in our area, instead of picking up a hail, the driver usually gets straight onto the highway and heads back to midtown. It is because of these practices that the black car industry came into being, and became the flourishing industry and steady employer that it is today.

Since our livery reform bill passed the Legislature, pressure has been brought to bear on Governor Cuomo to convince him to veto our bill. There are those who say that 30,000 car service vehicles on our streets would be a bad thing, so a smaller number of new medallions should be created. This would also have the effect of protecting the value of Yellow Cab medallions, which sell for a substantial amount of money. This argument ignores the fact that it is unlikely that all 30,000 new medallions will be sold any time soon, and having such a large supply of new medallions will keep the price of doing business at a level that our small local car services will be able to afford while generating up to $1 billion for the City.

The other major issue that must be resolved before the taxi issue can be laid to rest is the number of handicapped-accessible vehicles that will be required by law. Our original bill called for only 569 handicapped-accessible vehicles to be made available to the public. Since we passed the bill, activists have presented evidence that this number is much too small and must be increased, a demand that the cab industry has fought because of the higher estimated costs of fielding a larger fleet of accessible vehicles.

Last week I spoke with the Governor and asked him not to veto our bill. I was pleased to hear on the radio earlier this week that the Governor is publicly calling for a roundtable discussion among parties of interest to this issue so the bill can be finished. By bringing everyone together to work out a solution that will be acceptable to the majority, the details can be finished and the Governor can move toward signing the finished bill into law.

I will keep you abreast of new developments as we work toward a final answer to this important question.

Yours truly,

H. D. Farrell, Jr.



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HERMAN D. FARRELL, JR.
Assemblyman 71st District

Room 923
Legislative Office Building
Albany, NY 12248
(518) 455-5491
(518) 455-5776 FAX

CHAIRMAN
Ways and Means Committee

COMMITTEES
Rules
Black & Puerto Rican Caucus

THE ASSEMBLY
STATE OF NEW YORK
ALBANY

Press Release
from
Assemblyman Herman D. Farrell, Jr.

"While the United States is still a free country, where every person has the right to come and go as they please, in light of Governor Perry's past statements and positions on immigration I can only believe that when he departed Texas, he turned to the left and ended up in a community in Manhattan that is home to many immigrants old and new," Assemblyman Herman D. Farrell, Jr. said. "Furthermore, I am stunned that Fernando Mateo, a supposed leader of and advocate for hardworking New Yorkers, would enable one of the most prominent anti-immigrant bullies on the national stage to raise money here for his Presidential campaign."



Seal
HERMAN D. FARRELL, JR.
Assemblyman 71st District

Room 923
Legislative Office Building
Albany, NY 12248
(518) 455-5491
(518) 455-5776 FAX

CHAIRMAN
Ways and Means Committee

COMMITTEES
Rules
Black & Puerto Rican Caucus

THE ASSEMBLY
STATE OF NEW YORK
ALBANY

August 17, 2011

Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly
New York Police Department
One Police Plaza
New York, NY 10038

Dear Commissioner Kelly,

I am writing in response to a disturbing article in this morning's paper regarding the recent reassignment of Deputy Inspector Jose Navarro, which, in the article, is described as a response to what the paper calls a spike in major crimes committed within the 34th Precinct. I sincerely hope that this nasty piece of press does not reflect your thinking or perspective on our situation.

This article is based exclusively on statistics showing an increase, from 2010 to 2011, in seven categories of major crime. It is my belief that without looking at statistics from the last five or more years, we cannot form an accurate picture of what is really happening. Therefore, we do not know if crime has gone up or down overall. Should we take a long view of the statistics, we may learn that last year Deputy Inspector Navarro was given command of a precinct where crime may have been on the rise before his arrival.

As I am sure you know, I am not one to accept problems in my district, particularly an increase in violent crime. But considering that Deputy Inspector Navarro has only been in charge of the precinct for a short time and that other factors are at play, it is imperative that we make a fair evaluation of what is happening in this neighborhood before assigning blame for these problems.

While I cannot quote statistics, I can state with certainty that in addition to the major crimes described in the news article, the last three commanders of the 34th Precinct have had to deal with continual increases in quality-of-life complaints. These complaints, which have jammed 311 and the 34th Precinct's telephones for years, include but are not limited to motorcycles racing on Dyckman Street and the West Side Highway, noisy bars, restaurants and motorcycles on Dyckman Street, and automobile racing north of 190th Street and Amsterdam Avenue.

While these problems have been continuous over the last five or six years, because of factors beyond either of our control the number of officers assigned to the 34th Precinct has declined. I am sure that I do not need to remind you of how bitterly myself, other elected officials and members of the community have complained about reduced manpower for our precinct and the many times that we have asked for additional officers on the street.

In the past, you have been able to temporarily assign additional officers to the 34th with good effect. Only weeks ago, you committed additional manpower to the 34th Precinct in order to address major crimes (and we thank you). It is my belief that if these assignments were made permanent, the situation would markedly improve. At the very least, we should give these additional officers time to make a positive impact on this community before assigning blame for a spike in violent crime, especially in such a public and damaging fashion.

During the time that I have worked with Deputy Inspector Navarro in his role as commanding and executive officer, I have found that he has worked tirelessly with the community on the many issues we have just discussed. Word of his reassignment has generated a great deal of concern in the community.

I sincerely hope that steps can be taken by your office to eliminate the effects today's nasty press attack may have had on the Deputy Inspector's reputation. At the very least I would request that the additional officers you have recently assigned to the 34th Precinct be given more time to have a positive impact on crime in this community. If you wish to discuss this matter further please call my office and my staff will connect us.


Yours truly,

H. D. Farrell, Jr.
Member of Assembly



August 4, 2011

DYCKMAN STREET MEETING
Friday Night – August 5th – 5 PM
with Deputy Inspector Jose Navarro
Isabella Geriatric Center
515 Audubon Avenue, NY, NY

Jay Dias and the Residents of 4761 Broadway had scheduled meeting to see if the issues caused by the late-night establishments renting space in their building on Dyckman Street, namely Papasito, could be resolved to avoid continuing a case against Papasito in court. Their meeting had been scheduled for this Friday at 6 pm.

Following my Friday, July 22nd evening walk through with members of the community, I too had requested a meeting with Deputy Inspector Jose Navarro with reference to what we could do to alleviate the heavy automobile and motorcycle traffic on Dyckman Street.

The Deputy Inspector has chosen to combine these meetings together at the time and place noted above. We look forward to the meeting and we appreciate the time he is giving us.

August 1, 2011
Farrell Supports Affordable Housing in Place of Prison Site

In the wake of plans by Governor Cuomo to close prisons Assemblyman Farrell is calling for the State to use any land in Manhattan vacated by a prison closure be used to build affordable housing.

"While I am neither for nor against prison closures, decisions which are the Governor’s alone to make, I hope that rather than sell the site at auction to a private developer the State should choose to keep the land and use it in a way that provides a clear public benefit," Farrell said.

On Friday, July 29, Farrell met with representatives of Harlem Community Development Corporation, a local organization dedicated to preserving Northern Manhattan’s supply of high-quality affordable housing and supporting local small businesses with short-term cash loans.


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Farrell discusses strategy to protect affordable housing with community advocates Curtis Archer and Wayne Benjamin of Harlem Community Development Corporation.

After a long discussion with HCDC’s President Curtis Archer and Director of Residential Development Wayne Benjamin, Farrell supports the concept of working with local nonprofits to make new and productive use of any land that becomes vacant following a State prison closure. While selling land provides a quick shot of revenue, keeping and developing this land would provide two benefits: increasing the housing stock and providing a long-term revenue source.

While no Manhattan facility was among the seven prisons the Cuomo administration announced in late June would be closed, two State prisons are in Manhattan: Edgecombe Correctional Facility at 611 Edgecombe Avenue and Lincoln Correctional Facility on West 110th Street.

Farrell proposes that, if either of these facilities were to be closed, that it be used as a facility to help transition former inmates back into society or be torn down and redeveloped to help ease Manhattan’s chronic shortage of high-quality affordable housing.

July 28, 2011
Farrell: City Pledges Quick Action on
Damaged Plant

City officials responsible for operating and maintaining the fire-damaged North River Waste Treatment Plant below Riverbank State Park have promised to take quick action to repair the important public works facility while investigating what happened and figuring out how to avoid a repeat accident. Last week, an explosion and four-alarm fire stopped waste treatment and led to a sewage spill.

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Farrell speaks with City officials responsible for a sewer plant that serves Manhattan.

Assemblyman Farrell and Councilman Robert Jackson’s staff members joined local Community Board members from Manhattan today toured the plant, led by officials from the New York City Department of Environmental Protection. DEP officials explained that three of the plant’s five turbines are operational. In dry weather two turbines are needed to run the system but in rainfall additional turbines are needed depending on the amount of rainfall.

A fourth turbine should be back on-line by mid-August, DEP staff told Farrell. The fifth turbine was damaged in the explosion and electrical fire that destroyed much of the wiring, and will have to be replaced. While the repair team rushes to fix the equipment, an outside team has been hired to investigate what went wrong and why, and will be responsible for making recommendations to stop a similar incident from occurring in the future.

Farrell had put together a list of questions about the incident and its aftermath, which can be seen below. One of the first questions asked during the tour was why there was no standpipe or other fire suppression system in place. DEP officials said that no fire suppression system is in place because the building was constructed under federal requirements which did not require construction to meet City code. Also, as the fire was mostly electrical, it was extinguished using foam and not water. The electrical lines and relays that bring in the large amount of power needed to run the plant were heavily damaged and must be rebuilt, DEP officials said.

In response to Farrell’s question asking if turbines were off-line at the time of the explosion, DEP officials said that turbines number one, three, four and five were on-line. When turbine number one exploded, the fact that the second turbine was inactive and not receiving fuel may have caused it to act as a firewall and not allow a daisy-chain effect that could have set all five turbines on fire, according to the DEP.

During the fire, DEP officials told Farrell, all five generators were taken off-line. Due to fire damage to the wiring, it would have been impossible to run them. DEP officials told Farrell that they had a stock of spare parts on hand that would allow them to weather a smaller emergency, but not an emergency of this severity. Spare parts were brought in from other facilities to get the plant running again. While the plant was inactive, DEP officials told Farrell, a fraction of the sewage was able to be diverted to a plant in Queens.

The City officially reopened all surrounding waterways Thursday after testing, and found bacteria at acceptable levels. The City put sterilizing agents into the water to get the bacteria levels under control. Though asked by Farrell for a schedule of equipment replacement, DEP officials did not fully answer this question. Farrell thanks DEP for the tour of the plant, which allowed a close look at the damage. Farrell said that not all of his questions were answered to his satisfaction, he plans to pursue the answers, which will be reported on this page.



July 27, 2011
Farrell Questions Controls at Riverbank

In the wake of the recent fire and sewage spill in the treatment plant below Riverbank State Park, Assemblyman Farrell and other elected officials are questioning the lack of fire prevention systems and other health and safety issues at this vital piece of public infrastructure. Assemblyman Farrell will visit the site tomorrow, July 28, at the City's invitation. On Tuesday, August 2 Community Board 9 will hold a public hearing on the treatment plant incident.

photo Senator Adriano Espaillat was joined by Assemblyman Farrell's staff and members of the public at a July 27 media event, demanding answers from the City regarding the recent fire and sewage spill at the Riverbank State Park sewage treatment plant.


"Our City has had a complete fire code for decades. I cannot understand why a facility constructed in 1985 did not observe those rules," Farrell said. "If the staff of this important facility had adequate fire control resources on hand, it is likely that the effects of this incident would have been much less harmful. The public health would not be at risk of exposure to harmful bacteria that got into the river."

Among the many questions Farrell plans to ask City officials during tomorrow's planned visit to North River Wastewater Treatment Plant:

  • Is there a standpipe or other adequate fire suppression system in place, as other buildings are required to maintain? If not, why?
  • Were any of the turbines off-line prior to the initial explosion? If so, why?
  • Why were the functioning turbines that were not affected by the explosion taken off-line and how long did they remain off-line? Is there a schedule of replacement for the turbines and other machinery used by the facility?
  • What is the condition of the turbines, and are spare parts kept on hand for use as needed?
  • Is it possible to divert waste to another treatment plant during an emergency? If so, which plants, and what is the capacity of those plants over and above their usual demand?
  • Are samples of the water and soil near the plant regularly tested? If so, who performs the tests, and are the results made public or provided to the appropriate Community Board?


July 26, 2011
Farrell Working With Community to Quiet Dyckman

photo A photo taken on Dyckman Street early in the morning on a recent Saturday.

Assemblyman Farrell joined members of the community who are concerned with the noise and nighttime disturbances that have become part of daily life in the Dyckman Street area. In an evening walk through the area, which has become associated with popular bars and restaurants.

This walk took place Friday, July 22 between 8 p.m. and 9:30 p.m., a time when the night life in this area begins to build up to full swing before peaking in the early morning hours while people are trying to sleep. More than a dozen neighbors joined Farrell and City Councilman Robert Jackson on the walk to point out problems including motorcycles parked on the sidewalk, what appeared to be illegal gambling and a broken hydrant gushing water.

Calls were placed to 311 regarding the hydrant, but the callers were unable to reach an operator to notify 311 of the problem. Neighbors say it is not uncommon for the noise to continue almost until dawn. Among the ideas being considered to calm the noise is eliminating parking for cars and motorcycles during certain hours, closing the street to traffic altogether, or both.

Farrell and members of the community including people who live above the bars and restaurants on Dyckman Street are planning to meet with Deputy Inspector Jose A. Navarro of the 34th Precinct to discuss ways to quiet the area. Details of this meeting including the date, time and location will be posted on this page



member photo
title
member name
July 2011
Assembly District 71
NYS Assembly Seal

Marriage Equality is Now the Law
Governor Signed Bill Hours after Legislature's Historic Vote

Like the majority of New Yorkers who now say that they support changing the laws of our State to make marriage an equal right open to all, I watched with great excitement the New York State Senate's vote on this important equality issue. The moment the 33rd Senator voted for marriage equality was the moment that the dreams of many of my fellow New Yorkers finally came true. Making marriage equality the law of our State is no less of an achievement in furthering civil rights than the United States Supreme Court's 1967 decision in Loving vs. Virginia, which struck down bigoted laws forbidding a man and woman of different ethnicities to marry. The civil marriage law does not require any church, synagogue, temple or mosque to perform a marriage.

Promoting equal rights has always been the touchstone of my public service career. My first election to the Assembly in 1974 was a success due in part to the support of the gay and Lesbian members of my community, and it was my privilege to go to bat for them once I was in office. In 1981, the year I was elected New York County Democratic Leader, I stood on steps of City Hall with Alan Roskoff, a gay leader, to announce that I would fight to pass an equal rights bill that was being debated in the City Council at that time. And in 2004, while I was State Chairman of the Democratic Party we passed a resolution expressing our commitment to marriage equality.

While I will not be among the beneficiaries of marriage equality legislation, I have fought for the spirit that motivated it for decades. I am very proud of my colleagues for the bravery they showed in their votes and commend the Governor for exercising the political will that was required in order to pass it. Warmest congratulations to all the New Yorkers who will in short order find themselves to be equal citizens in the eyes of the law.



Farrell Effort to Include Northern Manhattan Is Key Part of Assembly Livery Car Reform

"Catching a ride in Washington Heights and Harlem should soon be easier thanks a bill to make street hails of Livery drivers legal," Assemblyman Herman D. Farrell, Jr. said. "With the new law in place, riders will be able to legally hail Yellow Cabs and Livery cars north of 96th Street."

The bill includes important language that for the first time will allow Livery cars to accept street hails. After the City announced plans to improve taxi service in the other boroughs, Farrell asked Taxi Commission Chair David Yassky to include Northern Manhattan in the plan and to include legalized street hails of Livery cars in the final plan. These suggestions were accepted and kept.

"This means that riders who live and work in Northern Manhattan will have access to the same basic transportation options that have long been available south of 96th Street," Farrell said. "Access to transportation is not a luxury. Many people feel comfortable taking a cab from their subway stop to their home, and this new law will make that easier for them to do."

Street hails of Livery cars were common, though they were against the law. That left drivers open to fines and punishment while they worked to make their living and support their families. The new Livery law will not be a free ride for drivers. Drivers will have to pay $1,500 every three years for a permit, and will have to follow a new set of rules. The new law could also change the relationship between drivers and the car services they drive for. These changes will take some time to work out, but the law will not take effect until next summer, leaving time for further talks and compromise. Overall, though, the new system is an improvement, Farrell said.

"It pleased me to support this legislation, because it is important that my constituents and other New Yorkers be able to hail a cab at Seaman Avenue and 215th Street, or Fort Washington Avenue and 190th Street, the same way they would at Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street," Farrell said. Though the legislation passed both houses of the Legislature, because of ongoing discussions of further changes to the legislation the Governor has yet to sign the bill into law.



Rent Laws Improved for First Time in Years

Legislation passed by the Assembly and Senate in the final hours of the 2011 session will expand tenant protections for the first time in almost two decades. The bill sponsored by Housing Chair Vito Lopez with support from Speaker Silver will make it harder for landlords to take apartments out of the rent regulation system and will also extend the rent laws for four years.

"Renewing and strengthening the rent laws was a top priority for the Assembly in 2011, and I am glad to say that the new bill starts to improve a system that has been falling apart for decades," Farrell said. "While these new protections are not the deal that we wanted, it is better than the old system and we are already looking for ways to improve these laws when they expire in 2015."

Under the new law the maximum monthly rent for a regulated apartment will be $2,500 (up from $2,000) and the tenant's maximum yearly income $200,000 (up from $175,000). Landlords will be allowed to raise the rent between tenants only once per year, and landlords will be able to increase rent during the term of a lease by a smaller amount to cover the cost of capital repairs in buildings with more than 35 units. The State Department of Housing and Community Renewal will have more oversight power over landlords than was the case under the old rent laws. The rent law renewal was part of a package that included an upstate property tax cap. The cap included a plan supported by Farrell to allow schools to borrow from their pension reserve funds to help pay for unexpected expenses. Governor Cuomo did not agree and vetoed the bill July 13.



Assembly Passes Power NY Act

In the final days of the 2011 Legislative Session, lawmakers reached agreement and passed a bill that is intended to increase the supply of clean energy across New York State. The Article X program, which was established in 1992 but lapsed in 2002, makes it easier for power producers including both traditional power plants and modern generating facilities such as wind farms to be approved by regulators, constructed, and connected to the power grid.

"As the hot weather settles in for the summer, many New Yorkers seek refuge from the heat in their air-conditioned homes. Year after year, we have seen this added demand for power crash the system and cause blackouts that take hours or days to fix," Farrell said. "I was pleased to join the sponsors of this important bill to help bring New York's power system into the 21st Century."

Under Article X, companies who wish to build large power-generating facilities must first get a certificate from a seven-member panel who must hand down a decision on the power company plan within one year. Then, the company must lay out the potential environmental effects of their plan and establish a security deposit that will help local governments clean up pollutants associated with the power facility. This money would be held in trust by the State until needed. The legislation also calls for further study into solar power, which came into wider use in New York based on a Farrell law that made tax credits available to co-ops and condos that set up solar panels to generate their electricity. Farrell's apartment building is participating in the program.



Some of Farrell's Bills That Passed During the 2011 Session

A3778: Requires dental facilities to possess automatic external defibrillators

A6274: Extends the tax rate reduction under the NYC real estate transfer tax and the NYC real property transfer tax for conveyance of real property to existing REITS

A6923: Relates to the sale of bonds, the down payment for projects financed by bonds, variable rate debt and interest rate exchange agreements of the City of New York

A7238: Establishes a 20-yeartime limit to collect tax liability

A7239: Relates to personal income tax or corporate franchise tax overpayment

A7735: Extends certain provisions of law relating to temporary investments by local government

A7764: Expands requirements relating to development and operation of a data match system for tax collection purposes

A8180: Reforms the offer-in-compromise program

A8223.A: Exempts electronic news services and electronic periodicals from sales taxes

A8235: Extends provisions of Part RR of Chapter 57 of the laws of 2008 relating to administration of certain funds and accounts

A8286: Provides a cap on the maximum class growth rate at 2.5% for fiscal year 2012

A8445: Relates to stipends and funds from the State University of New York

Office Addresses:

District Office
751 West 183rd Street
New York, NY 10033
212-568-2828
District Office
2541-55 Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd.
New York, NY 10039
212-234-1430
Albany Office
LOB 923
Albany, NY 12248
518-455-5491

June 21, 2011
Farrell Effort to Include Northern Manhattan
Is Key Part of Assembly Livery Car Reform

"Catching a ride should soon be much easier, thanks to an Assembly bill to legalize street hails for Livery drivers," Assemblyman Herman D. Farrell, Jr. said of a bill passed today. "Once the new law takes effect, riders will be able to legally hail Yellow Cabs and Livery cars alike."

The bill includes important language that for the first time will allow Livery cars to accept street hails. After the City announced plans to improve taxi service in the outer boroughs, Farrell met with Taxi Commission Chair David Yassky to discuss improvements in Manhattan north of 96th Street. Farrell's suggestions to bring Northern Manhattan into the discussion and to legalize street hails were accepted and kept.

"This means that riders who live and work in Northern Manhattan will have access to the same basic transportation options that have long been available south of 96th Street," Farrell said. "Access to transportation is not a luxury. Many people feel comfortable taking a cab from their subway stop to their home, and this new law will make that easier for them to do."

Street hails of Livery cars were common in our neighborhoods, though they were against the law. That left Livery drivers open to fines and punishment while they worked to make their living and support their families.

The new Livery law will not be a free ride for drivers. Drivers will have to pay $1,500 every three years for a permit, and will have to follow a new set of rules. The new law could also change the relationship between drivers and the car services they drive for. These changes will take some time to work out, but the law will not take effect until next summer, leaving time for further talks and compromise. Overall, though, the new system is an improvement, Farrell said.

"It pleased me to support this legislation, because it is important that my constituents and other New Yorkers be able to hail a cab at Seaman Avenue and 215th Street, or Fort Washington Avenue and 190th Street, the same way they would at Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street," Farrell said.

The Assembly bill must be passed by the Senate before it can come to the Governor's desk to be signed into law.



member photo
title
member name
June 2011
Assembly District 71
NYS Assembly Seal

Assembly Passes Tough New Ethics Bill
Good Government Groups Praise New Oversight Rules

Last year, the Legislature passed significant ethics reform only to see it vetoed by the former Governor, who did not think our efforts went far enough to fix some of the problems of Albany.

Today, with Governor Cuomo as our partner, we have passed even tougher reform legislation that will give State government the tools to crack down on unethical behavior. Our new ethics legislation, of which I am among the sponsors, applies to elected and appointed State officials, who will be watched by an independent Joint Commission on Public Ethics.

This Commission will be made up of 14 members, some of whom will be chosen by the Governor and others by legislative leaders. These Commissioners, who will serve five-year terms, cannot be lobbyists, legislators, political chairpersons or others involved in the day-to-day work of government. Their job will be to find violations and report them to the appropriate law enforcement authority. Our legislation also includes a number of other important reforms.

Public officials who work outside jobs will have to disclose more about those outside duties. Officials who are convicted of felonies related to their public service will face the loss of their pensions. Other provisions in the law close loopholes that could make for cleaner election campaigns. These measures build on past ethics reforms in an historic and important fashion.

While we must remember that a person who is not brought up right and intends to commit a crime will do so no matter how severe the consequences may be, Albany has a duty to be accountable to the people of New York State. Over the years, we have watched several of our colleagues be brought up on charges of breaking the law and the public trust. I hope that these new rules will help to clean up much of the bad behavior we have become all too familiar with.



Farrell Believes Marriage Equality Bill Passes Tonight
Bill Passed Assembly for Fourth Time Tuesday but Senate Hedging

Assemblyman Farrell joined advocates and colleagues who supported legislation that would allow same-sex civil marriage in New York State in expressing concern at the State Senate's continuing inaction on this important bill. Negotiations are ongoing and include Mayor Bloomberg, who traveled to Albany on Wednesday, June 16 to meet with the Senate on this issue. Farrell and other supporters believe the bill may pass the Senate as soon as tonight.

On Wednesday, June 15 the Assembly passed Assembly Member Daniel O'Donnell's marriage equality bill for the fourth time, following an impassioned two-hour debate. During this debate, three Assembly members who had previously voted against marriage equality voted in support.

Farrell and other advocates point to this fact as evidence the prejudice against same-sex marriage is less than it was in the past. In years past, votes on equal rights failed because sufficient support could not be found and the sponsors of these bills had to pull the legislation from consideration because of this lack of support. Times appear to have changed, though, as recent polls show that more than 50 percent of New Yorkers support marriage equality. However, the issue remains deadlocked in the Senate, which must also pass the O'Donnell bill before it can be signed into law by the Governor, who is among its supporters.



Rent Law Renewal Fight Comes Down to the Wire
Governor and Assembly Join Rent Advocates in Final Push

In the final hours before the June 15 deadline to renew New York State's rent laws, Governor Cuomo joined the Assembly to push not only for renewal of the rent laws, but also called for the immediate strengthening of the existing laws, which regulate rent in over one million apartments.

Governor Cuomo made his statement on renewing and strengthening the rent laws in a taped message posted to his Web site, www.governor.ny.gov May 17. A Senate bill to temporarily keep the rent laws in force until 3 p.m. Friday passed the Assembly within hours Tuesday, June 15 but the Senate voted 43-14 against their own rent law extender. The Governor has vowed to keep the Legislature in Albany until the laws are renewed. Farrell and other rent advocates point out that the rent laws have temporarily expired before without permanently damaging the system. Advocates are focused on ending vacancy decontrol, which removes apartments from the system.



Farrell and Assembly Fighting for Disabled New Yorkers
Bills Passed in Recognition of Disabilities Awareness Day

Recognizing the everyday struggles faced by New Yorkers who are living with disabilities, Assemblyman Farrell and his colleagues in Albany on May 16 passed a comprehensive package of legislation focused on improving the quality of life of the disabled community while safeguarding and extending their disability rights.

The legislation reflects Assembly members' belief that New Yorkers with disabilities have the same right to live their daily lives without unfair restrictions as do their friends and neighbors. To fight discrimination, the Assembly bill would clarify protections against discrimination by making State law more consistent with the federal Americans with Disabilities Act.

Furthermore, the hearing impaired would have access upon request to sign language interpreters at public meetings and hearings, and State Human Rights Law would be amended with respect to service animals. These bills would ensure that voters with disabilities have equal access to ballots, require the owners of high rise buildings to establish and maintain evacuation plans that specifically pertain to disabled occupants and make those plans available to first responders, and give mobility-challenged residents of New York City Housing Authority buildings the option of moving into a vacant apartment on a lower floor than the unit they currently occupy.

Transportation would also be made easier for New Yorkers living with disabilities. The Assembly bills would create a Metropolitan Transportation Authority Riders' Council for People with Disabilities to investigate the MTA's day-to-day operations and make recommendations to improve conditions with respect to disabled riders, provide a tax credit to transportation companies to offset the cost of purchasing accessible vehicles and require that handicapped parking spaces are at least eight feet wide with adequate access aisles.



Farrell Bill Would Expand Availability of Defibrillators
Devices Stop Heart Attacks, Save Lives

Legislation sponsored by Assemblyman Farrell and recently passed by the Assembly would continue the expanding availability of automatic external defibrillators, lifesaving devices that are simple to use and allow persons with little or no medical training to stop a heart attack.

In recent years, the State and City have adopted policies that led to defibrillators being placed in public places including the Legislative Office Building in Albany and carried in vehicles driven by first responders. The devices automatically determine if a person suffering a cardiac incident would benefit from a jolt of electricity, instruct the user on how to proceed and, if warranted, deliver an electric shock that re-sets the patient's heart rhythm, potentially saving their life.

Existing law requires some dentists to keep a defibrillator on hand, but Farrell's bill requires that all dentists' offices have one of the devices on hand in case of emergency.

Office Addresses:

District Office
751 West 183rd Street
New York, NY 10033
212-568-2828
District Office
2541-55 Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd.
New York, NY 10039
212-234-1430
Albany Office
LOB 923
Albany, NY 12248
518-455-5491

Seal
HERMAN D. FARRELL, JR.
Assemblyman 71st District

Room 923
Legislative Office Building
Albany, NY 12248
(518) 455-5491
(518) 455-5776 FAX

CHAIRMAN
Ways and Means Committee

COMMITTEES
Rules
Black & Puerto Rican Caucus

THE ASSEMBLY
STATE OF NEW YORK
ALBANY

June 13, 2011
Press Release

"Against the backdrop of Police Department statistics showing falling crime, these attacks are shocking and saddening," Assemblyman Herman D. Farrell, Jr. said. "On behalf of the people of Northern Manhattan, I urge the Mayor to make permanent the 'temporary' assignment of additional police officers to our neighborhoods, which have a large number of parks which must be made and kept safe. I will work to assist neighborhood watch programs organized by the community to stop more of our friends and neighbors from becoming victims."



June 7, 2011
Roadside Brush Cleanup Underway

Several weeks ago, while I was on the West Side Highway south of the George Washington Bridge, I took note of the downed trees, broken branches and brush that were knocked down by the rough weather earlier this year and had been allowed to pile up along the roadside.

When I spoke with the Parks Department and Department of Transportation about having it cleaned up, I was initially told that responsibility for the cleanup fell into a grey area neither agency wanted to be responsible for.

Because of a backlog of similar cleanup efforts, our area had to wait for several weeks for our mess to be cleaned up. I am pleased to report that cleanup has begun and is expected to be complete in a week or two, before the debris dries out enough to pose a fire hazard.


Seal
HERMAN D. FARRELL, JR.
Assemblyman 71st District

Room 923
Legislative Office Building
Albany, NY 12248
(518) 455-5491
(518) 455-5776 FAX

CHAIRMAN
Ways and Means Committee

COMMITTEES
Rules
Black & Puerto Rican Caucus

THE ASSEMBLY
STATE OF NEW YORK
ALBANY


June 7, 2011

Jennifer M. Hoppa, Executive Director
Fort Tryon Park Trust Administrator
741 Fort Washington Avenue
New York, NY 10040

Dear Ms. Hoppa,

Thank you for the good news. As you know, I have been very concerned that someone could set fire to the dead brush and tree limbs that were knocked down by the winter and spring weather, and have been left alongside the Henry Hudson Parkway, West Side Highway and other roads.

Though the spring was wet enough to keep this debris from burning, I was concerned that the wood could dry out enough to burn as the weather heats up and dries out with the approach of summer.

Again, thank you, and keep up the good work.

Yours truly,

Herman D. Farrell, Jr.
Member of Assembly



June 6, 2011
Assembly Passes Fracking Study Bill

On June 6 Assemblyman Farrell and his colleagues passed legislation calling for a one-year period of study before New York State environmental officials may issue permits allowing companies to tap underground natural gas deposits in western New York State and other areas.

Hydraulic fracturing, better known as hydrofracking, is the process of injecting water, sand and chemicals deep underground under high pressure in order to break up shale beds and free valuable natural gas trapped in the rock.

Environmentalists fear that chemicals used in the process could pose a danger to health. The Assembly bill calls for a suspension of hydrofracking operations for one year, ending June 1, 2012, in order to allow time to develop a better understanding of safety concerns.

Fracking supporters say that the gas could be a valuable form of domestically-produced energy and harvesting it could create jobs in an area of the State that badly needs new employment opportunities. The Marcellus Shale deposits are located west of Syracuse, near the Finger Lakes. The gas deposits are thought to stretch as far east as the Hudson valley, which is part of New York City's watershed where the City's supply of drinking water is collected.

Farrell and his Assembly colleagues, announcing their support for the bill, pointed out that the gas deposits will not be lost while the health and environmental effects of hydrofracking are further studied. The State Department of Environmental Conservation is expected to issue a new report on hydrofracking within the coming weeks.

In states where hydrofracking is underway, including Pennsylvania, chemicals have spilled during accidents at fracking sites. The health effects of these incidents are unknown. States that allow hydrofracking are also struggling with policies that state how water used in the process must be cleaned of chemicals before this water is released back into the environment.


member photo
title
member name
May 2011
Assembly District 71
NYS Assembly Seal

Earth Day Bills Aim to Improve Environment
Farrell and Assembly Colleagues Seek
A Greener, Healthier NY

In recognition of Earth Day, May 1, Assemblyman Farrell and his colleagues in Albany passed a package of legislation intended to address pressing issues including protecting our drinking water from pollution, combating global warming, the presence of toxic chemicals in the environment, and improved recycling guidelines intended to help the City and State generate less trash.

"Protecting public health by improving the environment across our State should always be a priority of government," - Assemblyman Farrell

Northern Manhattan has long been painfully aware of the effect an unhealthy environment has on the community - high asthma rates are blamed on car exhaust and the black smoke that pours from old, oil-burning furnaces that heat our homes and schools. The issue of waste management, and who must live side-by-side with the City's refuse, came to a head years ago when the City agreed to build Riverbank State Park on top of a sewage treatment plant that serves Manhattan.

Our Earth Day legislation would give the public a greater say in government decision-making regarding environmental problems, while pushing State government to use less energy and buy products that are greener and less toxic to the environment. This legislation also restricts the sale of certain chemicals, including some flame retardants that have been linked to health problems, calls for "cool roofs" to be placed on renovated State buildings to cut energy costs, and for thermostat manufacturers to do a better job of recapturing mercury. These bills build on Farrell legislation creating tax incentives for residential buildings wishing to generate solar power. In 2007 the first Farrell solar bill was signed into law, followed by an expanded solar bill in 2008.


Farrell and Assembly Fighting for Disabled New Yorkers
Bills Passed in Recognition of Disabilities Awareness Day

Recognizing the everyday struggles faced by New Yorkers who are living with disabilities, Assemblyman Farrell and his colleagues in Albany on May 16 passed a comprehensive package of legislation focused on improving the quality of life of the disabled community while safeguarding and extending their disability rights.

The legislation reflects Assembly members' belief that New Yorkers with disabilities have the same right to live their daily lives without unfair restrictions as do their friends and neighbors. To fight discrimination, the Assembly bill would clarify protections against discrimination by making State law more consistent with the federal Americans with Disabilities Act.

Furthermore, the hearing impaired would have access upon request to sign language interpreters at public meetings and hearings, and State Human Rights Law would be amended with respect to service animals. These bills would ensure that voters with disabilities have equal access to ballots, require the owners of high rise buildings to establish and maintain evacuation plans that specifically pertain to disabled occupants and make those plans available to first responders, and give mobility-challenged residents of New York City Housing Authority buildings the option of moving into a vacant apartment on a lower floor than the unit they currently occupy.

Transportation would also be made easier for New Yorkers living with disabilities. The Assembly bills would create a Metropolitan Transportation Authority Riders' Council for People with Disabilities to investigate the MTA's day-to-day operations and make recommendations to improve conditions with respect to disabled riders, provide a tax credit to transportation companies to offset the cost of purchasing accessible vehicles and require that handicapped parking spaces are at least eight feet wide with adequate access aisles.


Push to Extend and Strengthen Rent Law Gains Steam
Governor Expresses Support for Improved Rent Laws

As the June 15 deadline to renew New York State's rent laws approaches, Governor Cuomo earlier this month expressed his support not only for renewal of the rent laws, but called for the immediate strengthening of the existing laws, a position similar to that taken by the Assembly.

Governor Cuomo made his statement on renewing and strengthening the rent laws in a taped message posted to his Web site, www.governor.ny.gov May 17. I am supporting Speaker Silver, who is calling for the rent laws to be tied to a new tax cap, which would affect mostly upstate.


Farrell Bill Would Expand Availability of Defibrillators
Devices Stop Heart Attacks, Save Lives

Legislation sponsored by Assemblyman Farrell and passed by the Assembly earlier this week would continue the expanding availability of automatic external defibrillators, lifesaving devices that are simple to use and allow persons with little or no medical training to stop a heart attack.

In recent years, the State and City have adopted policies that led to defibrillators being placed in public places including the Legislative Office Building in Albany and carried in vehicles driven by first responders. The devices automatically determine if a person suffering a cardiac incident would benefit from a jolt of electricity, instruct the user on how to proceed and, if warranted, deliver an electric shock that re-sets the patient's heart rhythm, potentially saving their life.

Existing law requires some dentists to keep a defibrillator on hand, but Farrell's bill requires that all dentists' offices have one of the devices on hand in case of emergency. This bill also passed the Senate on May 23, and will soon be delivered to the Governor for his signature.


Governor Signs Farrell Bill Into Law
Legislation Protects Electricity Customers

Governor Cuomo recently signed into law legislation sponsored Assemblyman Farrell that would protect electric-service customers from a possible rate hike. The bill passed the Assembly May 10 by unanimous vote, and later the state Senate, before being signed by the Governor May 18.

The growing demand for electricity in the State has led to the construction of new, small power plants that sit idle until the demand for electricity peaks, such as during the summer months. A ruling by federal energy regulators authorized power companies to charge their customers a higher price for electricity.

The companies were allowed to raise prices in order to recoup the higher property taxes they were expecting to pay for their newly constructed plants which only operated at times of peak power demand. This would have occurred even if they were found eligible by the City for other tax breaks that would have been worth more than the higher property tax increases.

The Farrell bill is intended to block the threat of rising prices by bringing back an expired, automatic tax abatement for some power plants that operate only at times of peak demand. Only power plants under construction or finished by April 2015 will be eligible to claim the tax break.


Farrell Finance Bill Passes Assembly

Legislation sponsored by Assemblyman Farrell which provides New York City with easier access to loan funding to pay for capital projects was passed by the Assembly May 23, and the Senate is expected to take up the measure in the near future.

Farrell's bill extends until June 2012 rules which allow the City cost-effective access to loans, a program that is credited with helping the City emerge from its' financial crisis in the late 1970s.

Office Addresses:

District Office
751 West 183rd Street
New York, NY 10033
212-568-2828
District Office
2541-55 Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd.
New York, NY 10039
212-234-1430
Albany Office
LOB 923
Albany, NY 12248
518-455-5491

June 1, 2011
Farrell and NYS Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Caucus Members Call for Renewed, Strengthened Rent Laws

Assemblyman Farrell joined tenant advocates and 40 members of the NYS Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Legislative Caucus today to express strong support for renewing the rent laws, strengthening tenant protections and ending vacancy decontrol, the process by which apartments are priced out of the rent regulation system by the landlords.

Farrell pointed out that the last time the rent laws were renewed, then-Gov. Pataki worked on behalf of the landlords, not the tenants. Current Governor Andrew M. Cuomo is working to make sure that a bill that will protect tenants' rights is passed into law, Farrell said.


Tenant advocates and lawmakers including Assemblyman Farrell spoke to the media June 1, highlighting the importance of renewing and improving the rent laws before they expire June 15.

Lawmakers and advocates say improvements to the rent laws must be made before the laws expire June 15, which could place tenants who live in rent-regulated apartments in jeopardy and remove many apartments from the system.

Over two million New Yorkers live in about one million rent regulated apartments throughout the City. Nearly one quarter of those renters live below the poverty line. Northern Manhattan in particular has seen rents skyrocket, pricing renters out of homes they have lived in for years or decades.

"Renewing our rent laws is one of the most important actions the New York State Legislature must take this year," Farrell said. "Thousands of tenants will be at risk of sky-high rents and eviction without the protection of the rent laws.

"Tenants matter. Their rights matter. And housing permanency matters to the ongoing stability of our City and State. The rent laws are a perfect example of why government and laws exist: to protect the poor and weak from the strong and powerful.



Seal
HERMAN D. FARRELL, JR.
Assemblyman 71st District

Room 923
Legislative Office Building
Albany, NY 12248
(518) 455-5491
(518) 455-5776 FAX

CHAIRMAN
Ways and Means Committee

COMMITTEES
Rules
Black & Puerto Rican Caucus

THE ASSEMBLY
STATE OF NEW YORK
ALBANY

May 24, 2011

Ross Levi, Chief Administrative Officer
New Yorkers United for Marriage
16 West 22nd Street, Second Floor
New York, NY 10010

Dear Mr. Levi,

Part of the problem of remaining an elected official over the course of decades, as I have, is that people tend to forget what you have done. This is particularly true when one is not in the habit of ringing their own bell.

So it was with some dismay that I received a telephone call last week from a New York Daily News reporter, who has been around almost as long as I have. This reporter wanted to know why my name was not on the letter/press release your organization submitted to the New York State Legislature in support of marriage equality.

In case you are not acquainted with my record of support for the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community, I ask you to consider the following:

  • In 1974, the year that I first ran for election to the Assembly, I asked for and received the support of New York City's gay and lesbian community. On the strength of their support, and the support of others, I was elected. During my first year in office, then-Assemblyman Bill Passannante who along with myself and others sponsored legislation that called for civil rights for the gay community. Though this bill was later pulled from the floor by its' sponsor due to a lack of support, I was among those few who publicly voted for it.

  • In 1981, the year I was elected New York County Democratic Leader, my first official action in that office was to climb the steps of City Hall with Alan Roskoff and declare my support for an equal rights bill that was being debated at that time.

  • While County Leader I worked for the elections of the first openly gay and Lesbian Civil Court and Supreme Court judges in the history of our City and State.

  • As County Leader I worked with my District Leaders as part of the fight against AIDS, which was then devastating the gay community in a way that is almost unimaginable today. I stood by several of those District leaders as they grew sick and died due to AIDS-related illnesses.

  • In the early 1980s, when AIDS was more feared than understood, I worked with the African-American community in New York City to warn them of the coming problems that would be caused by this disease, which as we know now is not just a "gay disease" but was also affecting the heterosexual community.

  • In addition to serving as a District Leader and County Leader, for five years I served as State Chairman of the Democratic Party. In 2004, while I was Chair, the Party passed a resolution expressing a firm and unwavering commitment to marriage equality for all. I am also a co-sponsor of the marriage equality bill sponsored by my colleague, Danny O'Donnell.

I am writing this letter not to reprimand, but to inform you of my record. While today these may seem like minor accomplishments, at the time that they were taking place we faced a great deal of opposition. These things were never easy.

Further, I affirm that as long as I am alive I will continue to fight for equal rights for the gay, Lesbian, bisexual and transgender community as well as all other New Yorkers.

Cordially,

H. D. Farrell, Jr.
Member of Assembly



May 10, 2011

Farrell, Silver Bill Seeks to Protect Power Customers


Legislation jointly sponsored by Speaker Silver and Assemblyman Farrell would protect electric-service customers from a possible rate hike. The bill passed the Assembly by unanimous vote, and now moves on to the state Senate.

The growing demand for electricity in the State has led to the construction of new, small power plants that sit idle until the demand for electricity peaks, such as during the summer months. A ruling by federal energy regulators authorized power companies to charge their customers a higher price for electricity.

The companies were allowed to raise prices in order to recoup the higher property taxes they were expecting to pay for their newly constructed plants which only operated at times of peak power demand. This would have occurred even if they were found eligible by the City for other tax breaks that would have been worth more than the higher property tax increases.

The Silver/Farrell bill is intended to block the threat of rising prices by bringing back an expired, automatic tax abatement for certain power plants that operate only at times of peak demand. Only power plants under construction or finished by April 2015 will be eligible to claim the tax break.



May 10, 2011

The following is a letter I sent to Commissioner David Yassky prior to a recent meeting we held at my office in Albany. As you may know, the City is considering changing how taxi and livery car services are regulated, which will supposedly have a positive effect on transportation in our community. But as you will see in this letter, I have my doubts how much these proposed changes would actually benefit our community. Any changes will have to be approved by the Assembly, and I will keep you informed on the state of our discussions. If you have anything to add to the conversation, please call my District Office at (212) 234-1430.


Seal
HERMAN D. FARRELL, JR.
Assemblyman 71st District

Room 923
Legislative Office Building
Albany, NY 12248
(518) 455-5491
(518) 455-5776 FAX

CHAIRMAN
Ways and Means Committee

COMMITTEES
Rules
Black & Puerto Rican Caucus

THE ASSEMBLY
STATE OF NEW YORK
ALBANY

April 27, 2011

Commissioner David Yassky
NYC Taxi and Limousine Commission
33 Beaver Street
New York, NY 10004

Dear Commissioner Yassky,

I am writing to pass along the concerns of my constituents regarding Mayor Bloomberg's plans to change how New York City regulates street hails of taxi cabs. Many of my constituents feel that Northern Manhattan is being left out of this process of change. However, I understand that a final plan has yet to be reached, and I hope that appropriate accommodations can be made.

The plan at this time, as I understand it, will legalize the widespread but illegal practice of street hails and also allow Manhattan-style taxi service to expand to the outer boroughs.

However, doubts remain about a dual use license provision that is said to be part of these ongoing discussions. It would be truly unfortunate if taxi service operators who serve areas where yellow cabs cannot (or will not) go see their businesses suffer because of this change.

I hope that the revised plan, when a final version is adopted, will not only equalize access to taxi service for all New Yorkers but will also not harm taxi operators who are presently serving areas where yellow cabs are seldom seen, such as my Assembly District.

However, I remain unconvinced that this discussion will have any real effect on the availability of taxi service in Northern Manhattan, considering the historic reluctance of some drivers to pick up fares above 96th Street.

Yours truly,

Herman D. Farrell, Jr.
Member of Assembly



Herman D. Farrell, Jr.
HERMAN D. FARRELL, JR.
Assemblymember 71st District
seal
2541-55 Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Blvd.
New York, NY 10039
TEL (212) 234-1430
FAX (212) 234-1868


Assemblyman Farrell's Testimony in Opposition to Rent Increases To the New York City Rent Guidelines Board
May 3, 2011

My name is Denny Farrell. I am a New York State Assembly Member representing the 71st District, which includes Harlem, West Harlem, Washington Heights and Inwood. I would like to thank you for the opportunity to testify on behalf of the many people in my district who are in need of help and justice.

As reflected in the 2010 Federal Census, the people who live in my district struggle with some of the lowest incomes in our City, while living in what is arguably its' most expensive borough. Just three years ago, these people, who are already burdened with high rents that consume a large portion of their income, were told that landlords would be allowed to raise their rents. Now is not the time to raise the rents again.

More must be done to keep housing affordable, not allow it to grow more expensive as cuts to the City's budget endanger the future of housing support programs, shelters, and other resources low-income New Yorkers need to avoid ending up on the street. Again and again, during these already trying times, New Yorkers who rent their homes are forced to dig a little deeper. Those who cannot are forced to uproot their families and upend their lives in the search for a new home, while the supply of vacant apartments remains critically low. The most unfortunate lose their homes altogether and are cast out onto the streets.

Since the 2008 rent increase, we have seen the economy improve without creating a significant number of good jobs or raising people's incomes. We have seen the price of food and other necessities rise, driven by exploding energy costs. And, most disturbingly, we have seen video in the media of a meeting of landlords, during which one of these landlords boasts of "emptying our piggy bank" to support candidates who would help landlords make more money, hurting the tenants who must pay up or become homeless.

Today, you have before you a proposal to raise the rents again, at a time when working New Yorkers are only beginning to find their feet after the end of the recent recession. This is wrong. It is not the time to bleed more money from tenants. We should be moving in the exact opposite direction. Along with my Assembly colleagues in Albany, I am fighting to not only renew the rent laws that expire next month, but strengthen them. Our legislation would make it harder for landlords to remove apartments from the pool of affordable housing, and give tenants stronger and sharper legal tools to use if their rights are trampled upon in search of greater profit. It would also stop bad landlords from hiding questionable fees in the rent.

Across our City and State, New Yorkers are finding ways to cut corners and live within their means to cope with the economy. Albany and City Hall have made deep budget cuts. And again, the landlords ask you, the Commissioners, to raise the rents. Enough. Give tenants a break and leave the rents as they are.

Thank you.

Herman D. Farrell, Jr.

member photo
title
member name
April 2011
Assembly District 71
NYS Assembly Seal
Farrell Fighting for Tenants' Rights
Landmark Housing Bill Passes Assembly
On April 11, the Assembly passed an omnibus bill that is intended to not only renew the State's rent laws which expire June 15, but to strengthen those laws to better protect tenants and make it harder for landlords to take rent-regulated apartments out of the system.

More than 2.5 million New Yorkers live in rent-regulated apartments, which number about 1 million. However, the rules regulating how landlords must rent and run those apartments allow this vital pool of affordable housing to shrink every year. If the new law is not passed, tenants could be evicted or priced out of their homes at the end of their lease.

Just Renewing the Rent Laws is Not Enough
In 2009, the last year for which statistics are available, more than 13,000 rent-regulated units were taken out of the system. This cold fact means that hardworking New Yorkers, especially the majority who occupy rent-regulated apartments and are barely scraping by, have an ever harder time finding a place to live.

But just renewing the rent laws is not enough. We must close the loopholes that allow regulated apartments to be taken out of the system. Vacancy decontrol and major capital improvement increases are the most clear-cut problems. The current system allows landlords to continue charging their tenants for improvements to their apartment even after the loan the landlord took out to pay for the work has been repaid. Our new bill would slam the door on this hidden cost. Landlords will still be allowed under our proposed law to cover their costs by increasing the rent slightly to pay for apartment improvements, but by a smaller amount than what is allowed now and only temporarily, until the cost of making the improvements is repaid.

New Rent Laws: One of The Most Crucial Issues This Year
Landlords are also allowed to game the system by bumping up the rent while the apartment is unoccupied, which often results in the rent exceeding $2,000 which is the maximum rent allowed under the system. Once the rent is higher than $2,000 the rent is no longer regulated and the landlord can charge whatever they want. Landlords will also be allowed to increase the rent between tenants by a smaller amount.

Our bill increases the maximum rent to $3,000 and the tenants' maximum income to $300,000, figures that better reflect how New Yorkers live today than did the old numbers, which were put in place years ago and not changed since. This bill would also bring some apartments that were deregulated since 2007 back into the system, providing those tenants with immediate rent relief. Also, New York City will be allowed to implement even more stringent rent laws of its' own. If these vital laws are not renewed and improved, millions could be at risk of losing their homes.

Without New Laws, Tenants May Be Evicted When Lease Ends
Speaker Silver said, and I fully agree, that the job of society and government should be to ensure that working families, children and seniors should be afforded the opportunity to stay in the homes and communities they have known all their lives. Passing this bill was an important step toward that goal, and I look forward to your continued support as we fight on your behalf.
Silver, Farrell, Lopez and Members of the Assembly Are Fighting for Tenants' Rights
This is part of the Assembly's battle to renew and strengthen the rent laws, which expire June 15. Be assured that we will continue to fight for tenants and tenants' rights until a fair deal is reached. I will continue to remain in contact with you as our fight continues.
Farrell Fights for Working People
Assembly Equal Pay Bill Protects Women, Minorities
Throughout his career, Assemblyman Farrell has fought to protect the rights and opportunities of working people. This year, Farrell joined his Assembly colleagues in supporting and passing a package of bills that seek to end unfair pay practices that shortchange women and minorities.

The Assembly marked Equal Pay Day, which was Monday, April 11, by passing an important package of four bills intended to end the problem of pay discrimination across New York State. The flagship bill, sponsored by Assemblyman Keith Wright, forbids employers from paying their employees differently based on the employee's sex, race, or national origin.

"Women in the workplace should earn pay that is equal to the pay earned by their male counterparts." - Assemblyman Farrell
Equal Pay Day, first recognized in 1996, is a reminder that the pay women earn for work that is often not comparable to their male counterparts' pay. In 2009, according to a study by The National Committee on Pay Equity, overall women earned only 77 percent as much as their male colleagues. Women of color were left even further behind. The growing number of educated, skilled and experienced women in the workforce has only served to highlight this pay inequality. This problem has continued in the nearly 50 years since the federal Equal Pay Act became law.

A package of three companion bills also passed by the Assembly that day would implement a new State policy of equal pay for equal work for all State employees, make pay discrimination unlawful even when comparing traditionally male professions to traditionally female professions, and prohibit public employers from paying their employees differently based on gender.


Defending the D.R.E.A.M.

Assemblyman Farrell with activists Gabriel Aldana, Tania Mattos and Sergio Galvez.
The D.R.E.A.M. Act, a bill that has been gathering support for some time, would help working youth who came into this country at a young age with parents who did not have immigration visas. These young people, having grown up and established themselves in the community, could under the D.R.E.A.M. Act apply for New York State driver's licenses, work opportunities and health insurance after they meet certain community service criteria.

Having met with young community activists from his District, Assemblyman Farrell announced he would support the D.R.E.A.M. Act (Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors), which has also found support among other elected officials throughout the City and State. Farrell said he will work with his colleagues in the Legislature to pass the bill into law.

The criteria that must be met include graduating from high school or earning a GED, having entered the United States without a visa while still under the age of 16, and not having been convicted of a felony in New York or any other state. Other criteria include having been a New York State resident for at least two years, service in the National Guard, completion of two years of a four-year college degree, or completion of at least 910 hours of certified community service.

Office Addresses:

District Office
751 West 183rd Street
New York, NY 10033
212-568-2828
District Office
2541-55 Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd.
New York, NY 10039
212-234-1430
Albany Office
LOB 923
Albany, NY 12248
518-455-5491


Seal
HERMAN D. FARRELL, JR.
Assemblyman 71st District

Room 923
Legislative Office Building
Albany, NY 12248
(518) 455-5491
(518) 455-5776 FAX

CHAIRMAN
Ways and Means Committee

COMMITTEES
Rules
Black & Puerto Rican Caucus

THE ASSEMBLY
STATE OF NEW YORK
ALBANY

March 3, 2011

STONEWALL Veterans' Association
70-A Greenwich Avenue, Suite 120
New York, NY 10011

As we prepare to mark the 42nd anniversary of a tragedy that became the flashpoint of a civil rights struggle that I hope will soon see a victorious end, I offer you my best wishes and continued support.

Though some have falsely characterized this issue as a matter of religious belief, I believe that in truth the fight for equality of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender members of our community is in fact a civil rights issue. It is clear that these persons' fundamental rights are unequal to those of their peers, which I find to be offensive and unacceptable.

Discrimination against these persons, who may find that they cannot take simple actions the rest of us take for granted, actions as simple as visiting a stricken partner in hospital, has no place in an enlightened society and must end.

Congratulations and thank you for all you have achieved, and for what it is worth you have my support as you continue to pursue your worthy goals.

Yours truly,

Herman D. Farrell, Jr.
Member of Assembly


March 3, 2011

The Hon. Sheldon Silver
Speaker, NYS Assembly
Legislative Office Building 932
Albany, NY 12248

Dear Speaker Silver,

I am writing to share my concerns regarding the deep cuts to State education funding that have been proposed for Fiscal Year 2011-12. As you know, supporting public education has long been among my top priorities. I believe that these cuts, if they are implemented in the manner they have been proposed, would lead to lasting damage and undo much of our hard-won success.

I believe a more balanced approach is required as we work together to complete an on-time budget. One method by which we could erase the proposed $1.5 billion cut to our public schools is to renew the current surcharge assessed on New Yorkers who earn the highest incomes. As you know, by renewing this surcharge the State will collect, almost to the dollar, the level of revenue we will need to erase these school aid cuts. In Fiscal Year 2012-13, the State stands to collect an estimated $5 billion that would otherwise remain in the pockets of those who need this money the least, while taking it away from those who need it the most.

Many recent polls have shown that a strong majority of New Yorkers support continuing to assess New York's wealthiest this special assessment if this revenue is spent fairly, i.e. to support our public schools, students and teachers.

The financial crunch we are weathering in the wake of the recent recession was not caused by public school students and teachers. It would be wrong to make them pay for it while offering wealthy New Yorkers what amounts to a tax break.

As part of your team, working together to craft a budget that protects all New Yorkers during hard times, I hope that we can continue this discussion as we near the end of the budget process.

Yours truly,

Herman D. Farrell, Jr.
Member of Assembly



Il Sole's Liquor License Has Assemblyman Demanding Answers
February 18, 2011 4:26pm

Assemblyman Denny Farrell wants to know how Il Sole had its license renewed, despite a vote against it from CB12.

By Carla Zanoni

DNAinfo Reporter/Producer

INWOOD - The State Liquor Authority's decision to renew a controversial restaurant's liquor license late last month - against the wishes of residents, Assemblyman Denny Farrell.

Farrell fired off a letter requesting information about the Authority's decision to grant Il Sole, at 229-233 Dyckman St., a two-year liquor license renewal on Feb. 1.

According to SLA spokesman William Crowley, the Authority made the call without knowledge of the community sentiment. He said the Authority renewed the restaurant's license seven days before receiving the letter from CB12 regarding its vote against the renewal.

The board only has 30 days to make its opinions known on liquor license applications. Because Il Sole submitted its liquor license application to CB12 on Dec. 23, just over a full month before the full board would meet again on Jan. 25, the board could not send in their decision until the end of January. The letter carrying their decision against the renewal was mailed Jan. 28, a scan of the envelope showed, and the Authority received it Feb. 3. But it had already approved the liquor license renewal Feb. 1.

"While I cannot say for sure whether this renewal came to pass because the proprietors of Il Sole took advantage of the timing by which Community Board 12 and the Liquor Authority reviewed their application, or whether this arose from some flaw in the application process, I am interested to learn how this came about," Farrell's letter reads.

Pamela Palanque-North, chair of CB12, felt that Il Sole had manipulated the process by timing their liquor license application so that it was filed a full month before the CB's next full board meeting, which would not give them enough time to get the required postmarked letter to the Authority.

"This appears to have been structured so that community input would never be received," she said.

Il Sole did not respond to calls for comment.

Last spring, a similar situation arose when another Dyckman Street restaurant's liquor license renewal was approved despite a vote against it by CB12. The SLA said it had received word of the board's vote against Mamajuana Café's application too late.

Since Mamajuana's renewal, the cafe has worked with elected officials to scale back its outdoor hours of operation in order to help quiet the residential stretch of Dyckman Street where it operates. Dyckman Street restaurants Papasito and MamaSushi have also agreed to such terms.

In the fall, Il Sole owner Sandra Jaquez had told elected officials closing the restaurant's outdoor seating area earlier would cause economic hardship.

As a last ditch effort, Farrell has pledged his support of Councilman Robert Jackson's petitioning of the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) through the City Council to "discontinue Il Sole's permit to offer sidewalk seating" as another means of quieting the block.

In a letter to Jackson dated Feb. 8, Farrell wrote that he was disheartened by Il Sole's unwillingness to change its outdoor hours of operation.

"For a moment recently, it seemed that things would soon change for the better, as most of these establishments had agreed to close their outdoor seating at an earlier hour and allow the neighbors a chance to rest peacefully," he wrote. "I am greatly concerned that, seeing Il Sole's ability to game the system and rebuff the deal the other establishments had agreed to, the accord you engineered could collapse."

Jackson has repeatedly asserted his plan to work with DCA as a last resort to deal with noise on Dyckman Street coming from Il Sole.



February 16, 2011

Communication, Collaboration Discussed
At Farrell's Town Hall Meetings

Strengthening the communications between the community, their elected officials and the public safety personnel charged with safeguarding them was a primary subject during two Town Hall Meetings organized by Assemblyman Farrell on Friday, February 11 and Saturday, February 12.


At a recent Town Hall Meeting in the Community Room of Esplanade Gardens, Assemblyman Farrell speaks with Esplanade residents Bernadette Whitley-Penceal, PhD., Sam Penceal and Alice LaBrie (from left to right) about issues of concern in the community .

The weekend meetings were held at Esplanade Gardens and Church of the Intercession. Officials joining Farrell included representatives of the NYPD's 30th, 32nd and 33rd Precincts, Congressman Charles Rangel, Borough President Scott Stringer and City Councilman Robert Jackson.

A third meeting will be held March 3 at Mt. Sinai Jewish Center, located at 187th Street and Bennett Avenue. Those invited include administrators of the NYPD's 34th Precinct, Borough President Stringer, Senator Adriano Espaillat and City Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez.



Seal
HERMAN D. FARRELL, JR.
Assemblyman 71st District

Room 923
Legislative Office Building
Albany, NY 12248
(518) 455-5491
(518) 455-5776 FAX

CHAIRMAN
Ways and Means Committee

COMMITTEES
Rules
Black & Puerto Rican Caucus

THE ASSEMBLY
STATE OF NEW YORK
ALBANY

February 8, 2011

Chairman Dennis Rosen
NYS Liquor Authority
80 South Swan Street
Albany, NY 12210-8002

Dear Chairman Rosen,

I was surprised to learn last week that the New York State Liquor Authority recently voted to renew the on-premises liquor license held by Sol's Restaurant, AKA Il Sole, which is located at 229-233 Dyckman Street in Manhattan. This renewal was granted despite the objections of Community Board 12, many community members and elected officials including City Councilman Robert Jackson and myself.

While I cannot say for sure whether this renewal came to pass because the proprietors of Il Sole took advantage of the timing by which Community Board 12 and the Liquor Authority reviewed their application, or whether this arose from some flaw in the application process, I am interested to learn how this came about and hope that you will share the facts of the matter with me.

Having visited Dyckman Street, I do not need to explain to you the noise and other problems that are associated with Il Sole and other establishments along the strip. However, you may not be aware that Councilman Jackson has recently succeeded in convincing many of these establishments to close their outdoor seating areas early, which mutes the noise and has afforded the neighbors a measure of peace after the restaurants take their business inside at midnight.

Il Sole was not among those who agreed to close their outdoor seating early. Many are concerned that, having seen Il Sole granted a liquor license renewal despite their flagrant disregard of the community's wishes, the other restaurants will balk at the agreement to close early. Please find enclosed a letter I wrote the NYC Department of Consumer Affairs, which elaborates on the points I made above and should make clear that Councilman Jackson and I will continue to work together to improve the quality of life throughout Northern Manhattan.

Yours truly,

H. D. Farrell, Jr.
Member of Assembly



Seal
HERMAN D. FARRELL, JR.
Assemblyman 71st District

Room 923
Legislative Office Building
Albany, NY 12248
(518) 455-5491
(518) 455-5776 FAX

CHAIRMAN
Ways and Means Committee

COMMITTEES
Rules
Black & Puerto Rican Caucus

THE ASSEMBLY
STATE OF NEW YORK
ALBANY

February 8, 2011

Councilman Robert Jackson
751 West 183rd Street
New York, NY 10033

Dear Councilman Jackson,

I am writing to express my continuing support of your efforts to preserve the quality of life in the Dyckman Street area. As you are aware, earlier this week the New York State Liquor Authority chose to renew an on-premises liquor license held by Sol's Restaurant, AKA Il Sole, which is located at 229-233 Dyckman Street. As you are further aware, this renewal was granted despite the stringent objection of Community Board 12, members of the community, and myself.

The SLA's decision is particularly distressing because it would seem to jeopardize the accord you negotiated with other establishments in the Dyckman Street area, who had agreed to curtail their outdoor seating during the warm weather months. The fact that Il Sole refused to even discuss taking part in this accord, and later had their license to serve alcohol renewed, is galling.

We have discussed, and I agree, that the next logical step should be for the City Council to petition the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs to discontinue Il Sole's permit to offer sidewalk seating. For too long, the neighborhood has suffered the noise and traffic that are the undesirable side effects of these establishments' success. For a moment recently, it seemed that things would soon change for the better, as most of these establishments had agreed to close their outdoor seating at an earlier hour and allow the neighbors a chance to rest peacefully.

But I am greatly concerned that, seeing Il Sole's ability to game the system and rebuff the deal the other establishments had agreed to, the accord you engineered could collapse. Please rest assured that I continue to support your efforts to improve the quality of life in the Dyckman Street area, and furthermore I will continue to pursue every remedy to this ongoing problem.

Yours truly,

H. D. Farrell, Jr.
Member of Assembly

Cc: Commissioner Jonathan Mintz, NYC Department of Consumer Affairs



December 24, 2010
Happy Holidays!

As we light our holiday trees as part of this festive season, I wanted to share with you this photo of the tree we placed on the roof of my building, which like this tree, is powered by solar energy. As you may remember, several years ago I passed a bill that created a tax credit for buildings and homeowners who choose to have solar equipment installed to offset their energy consumption. My building recently elected to participate in this program, and our solar array was built on the roof. This year, we decided to celebrate in part by plugging our tree into the solar system.

photo

Season's Greetings,

Denny



July 20, 2010

Ball Players Return to Carmansville Playground

Assemblyman Farrell recently joined a reunion of basketball teammates and opponents who once squared off at the Carmansville Playground courts, which are located on Amsterdam Avenue between 151st and 152nd Streets. The athletes, who once played the courts nicknamed the Battlegrounds, and member of the community come together every year. Shown below are the Rev. Jose Roberto Gandara-Perea, priest-in-charge of the Church of the Intercession, Jewel Johnson, Director of Social Services for West Harlem Group Assistance, and Assemblyman Farrell.

photo

Carmansville Playground takes its' name from one of the small villages, which included Inwood Village, Bloomingdale Village and Manhattanville, which came together during the 1800s to become modern-day Manhattan. Carmansville, which reached from 140th to 158th Streets, was named for Richard Carman, a wealthy landowner who helped rebuild much of the city following the Great Fire of 1835. The playground, where many members of the Harlem Globetrotters learned to play during pickup games, was created by the city in 1913.



July 8, 2010

Farrell Welcomes Irish President McAleese

Assemblyman Farrell recently brought greetings to Mary McAleese, the President of Ireland, during services at Temple Shearith Israel. On the final day of her four-day visit, Sunday, May 23, President McAleese visited Temple Shearith Israel to formally thank New York's Jewish community for their generosity during a time of great need in her country more than 100 years ago.

Famine followed a crop failure in 1846, and the following years were difficult ones for the people of Ireland. The Rabbi of Shearith Israel, which was founded in 1654 and is known as the Spanish-Portugese Synagogue, raised about $1,000 (which would be the equivalent of $80,000 today) to help ease the suffering in Ireland. A full 163 years after this gesture of generosity, President McAleese visited Temple Shearith Israel to offer thanks on behalf of her countrymen.

photo
Assemblyman Farrell, Martin McAleese and President McAleese.


June 11, 2010

UPDATE 2: Liquor Authority Chairman Visits Dyckman Street

I was glad to join with members of the community in welcoming State Liquor Authority Chairman Dennis Rosen to our neighborhood. I invited the Chairman to visit our community after a recent exchange of correspondance about the increasing number of bars and restaurants on Dyckman Street. We walked and talked about Dyckman Street for an hour and a half before we were interrupted by the rain. He has promised to come back for an unannounced visit to see and hear for himself what goes on here at night. I will continue to keep you informed about our work.




June 8, 2010

UPDATE: Information on State Liquor Authority Chairman's
June 10 Visit to Dyckman Street

My staff has received a number of calls and e-mails regarding State Liquor Authority Chairman Dennis Rosen's June 10 visit to the Dyckman Street area, when he will meet with us and tour the neighborhood beginning at 4 p.m. Many of you have asked why he will visit during the day, before many bar and restaurant patrons come into the community and the noise level picks up.

The reason Chairman Rosen will visit during daylight hours is to see how close these bars are to each other, and to your homes. The Chairman has promised ongoing, unannounced surveillance throughout the summer so that these establishments cannot clean up their act for one night and then go back to business as usual.

Your concerns are very important to us. Please continue to pass along your concerns, and we will continue to follow up on them. Thank you very much for your assistance with these matters.



June 5, 2010

Assemblyman Farrell Addresses Children's Aid Society

Offering words of encouragement, Assemblyman Farrell spoke during The Children's Aid Society's End of Year ceremony Saturday, June 5 at The Mirabel Sisters Campus. During the event, more than 300 parents were recognized for their participation in programs to better themselves, their family and the community as a whole.

photo
Assemblyman Farrell and City Council Member Robert Jackson outside The Mirabel Sisters Campus, where a ceremony was held Saturday, June 5 2010 by The Children's Aid Society.

The Institute's mission is to help parents and guardians become effective advocates for their children, as well as leaders in their homes, schools and communities while also supporting their learning in educational issues, entitlements and personal enrichment. Throughout the year, parents participate in Institute-run classes on family, trade skills, and other subjects.

photo
Assemblyman Farrell and Children's Aid Society Director of Public Policy Katherine Eckstein.

During his remarks, Farrell told the 350 parents in the audience that it was clear that their children would succeed in life, as their parents are willing to go back to school to learn to be more effective role models. The mother of US Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, another native New Yorker, followed a similar path, Farrell pointed out.



June 4, 2010

Farrell Supports Sophia's House Development on 153rd Street

Following a meeting Friday, June 4, 2010, Assemblyman Farrell agreed to support a project 11 years in the making that would offer affordable housing to families and individuals with special needs. The building, Sophia's House, will be constructed on land purchased last year by the Sisters of Charity at 542-546 West 153rd Street, and will be the ninth building operated by Sisters of Charity.

photo
Assemblyman Farrell meets with Sisters of Charity representatives Sister Florence Speth, Barbara Leeds, and Eric Feldmann Friday, June 4, 2010.



June 3, 2010

It Takes Experience to Bring About Change

Walking Tour of Dyckman Street Thursday, June 10

I recently received the following letter from New York State Liquor Authority Chairman Dennis Rosen in response to a letter I wrote to him May 7 about what is going on in the Dyckman Street area (you may read my original correspondence here) and decided to share this letter with you.

Though we did not prevail in our fight against opening another bar in this already oversaturated neighborhood, our fight may have a lasting effect that will create change in the system as we move forward. Chairman Rosen has pledged to improve how his agency conducts its' affairs on behalf of the public. He has also promised to work closely with the public and with the elected officials who serve you, and I have every reason to believe that he will be true to his word. Chairman Rosen will on Thursday, June 10 personally visit Dyckman Street to see himself what we worked so hard to get the Liquor Authority to understand, and I hope that you will join me in welcoming him to the neighborhood.

letter
letter




June 1, 2010

Inwood American Legion Parade Honors Fallen Soldiers

Manhattan's only Memorial Day parade to honor fallen soldiers, an event held without fail for more than 70 years, traveled up Broadway from Dyckman Street and ended in Inwood Hill Park where a wreath was laid in honor and memory of fallen soldiers from New York and elsewhere.

photo
Assemblyman Farrell is shown above with Inwood resident Thomas Hoare of American Legion Inwood Post #581, the organization which hosts the annual parade. City Council Member Robert Jackson is at left.

Participants in this year's parade included the Marine Forces Reserve Band from New Orleans, members of the armed forces who were in New York City for Fleet Week, and many of Northern Manhattan's elected officials. These included Assembly Member Adriano Espaillat and City Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez.

"From our nation's very beginning, residents of Northern Manhattan have answered the call to service at times of national emergency. It was good to see such a strong turnout in the community to honor those who have returned home after completing their service, and also those who gave their lives to preserve and defend our freedoms," Assemblyman Farrell said.




May 28, 2010

Riverbank Open Full Time

Legislation passed by the Assembly in the early morning hours of Friday, May 28 will allow State parks including Riverbank State Park in Northern Manhattan to open in time for the Memorial Day holiday. In the days prior to this action, hours at Riverbank had been scaled back and other parks closed entirely.

"Despite the state's fiscal problems, there are some areas that we simply cannot cut," Assemblyman Herman D. Farrell, Jr. said. "The measure passed by the Assembly today will ensure that some of New York's greatest assets - our state parks - remain open for our families to enjoy throughout the summer season. Constituents deserve to have continued access to these beautiful, outdoor recreational activities."

Overall, the Assembly bill will provide $11 million to ensure that all state parks and several campgrounds operated by the Department of Environmental Conservation remain open through the end of the season. In February, the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation announced 41 state parks and 14 historic sites would close due to the state's financial crisis.

To pay for the parks, the Assembly legislation modernizes the way fees charged for disposal of hazardous waste are calculated. Under the old system, smaller waste producers are charged higher fees than large-scale producers. The new system ends this inequality while also providing incentives for companies to reduce production of toxic chemicals that are harmful to the environment.

Also included in this legislation is a provision that establishes an electronic waste recycling program, which has long been supported by the Assembly. This program would require manufacturers that sell certain electronic equipment, including computers, televisions and digital music players, to set up and carry out plans to take back and recycle these items. This should cut down on the amount of hazardous waste that is deposited in landfills.




Seal
HERMAN D. FARRELL, JR.
Assemblyman 71st District

Room 923
Legislative Office Building
Albany, NY 12248
(518) 455-5491
(518) 455-5776 FAX

CHAIRMAN
Ways and Means Committee

COMMITTEES
Rules
Black & Puerto Rican Caucus

THE ASSEMBLY
STATE OF NEW YORK
ALBANY

May 17, 2010

Commissioner Jonathan Mintz
NYC Dept. of Consumer Affairs
42 Broadway
New York, NY 10004

Dear Commissioner Mintz,

I am writing in support of the recent decision by Manhattan Community Board 12 not to renew a sidewalk permit for a restaurant named Mamajuana which is located at 247 Dyckman Street. I strongly recommend that your Department follow suit.

Before making any decision on this matter, or any other pertaining to the quality of life in this area, I would strongly urge you and the voting members of your Department to visit Dyckman Street on the evening of your choice. As this residential neighborhood's number of bars has grown along with its' reputation as a party area, the quality of life here has fallen off a cliff.

Like moths to flame or bees to honey, revelers are drawn to this short stretch of Dyckman Street by the bars and restaurants, many of which offer sidewalk seating. These bars are known for remaining open all night, often until the early morning. As a patron, these may seem beneficial. As a neighbor, they are nightmarish, and Mamajuana has been described to me by the community as Public Enemy Number 1 as far as peace of mind and quality of life is concerned.

Though the owners of this bar performed lip service to neighborliness by closing their sidewalk cafe before midnight, after which time the restaurant often converts to a nightclub, with thumping music and partiers until 4 a.m. Many of the working people of this neighborhood do not hear quiet until dawn, when they have to arise and face the prospect of another working day without rest. For them this is, simply, purgatory for some unknowable sin.

Not only does Community Board 12 and many neighbors stand opposed to granting Mamajuana a renewal of its sidewalk permit, the Police Department's 34th Precinct has also adopted a policy of opposing the renewal application for sidewalk seating. Because they allowed their permit to expire, Mamajuana's current application must be seen as a new application. Please accept the advice of the experts who must live with this establishment every day, and join us in our opposition. My staff will be contacting your office to open a line of communication, through which I hope to remain informed with regard to the status of this application and your timeline for resolving it.

Yours truly,

Herman D. Farrell, Jr.
Member of Assembly




May 20, 2010

Planning for the Future of West Harlem's Waterfront

Assemblyman Farrell attended a recent discussion sponsored by WE ACT for Environmental Justice on the future of West Harlem's waterfront. WE ACT, a well-known environmental justice organization, played a leading role in a project that transformed a riverside parking lot between 123rd Street and 130th Streets into a community space now called Piers Park.

Next on the to-do list is a proposal to transform the abandoned 135th Street Marine Transfer Station, which sits in the river a short distance from Piers Park, into a usable community space. Members of Community Board 9 laid the groundwork to reinvent the old sanitation facility, and on Saturday, May 8, 2010 the public was invited into the discussion at the City College forum.

photo
Assemblyman Farrell and WE ACT Executive Director Peggy Shepard discuss plans to rebuild the 135th Street Transfer Station as a public space during a recent meeting.

"More and more, the public is demanding that the unusable and unsightly leavings of the Industrial Age that dot our waterfront be removed and replaced with projects that provide a public benefit," Assemblyman Farrell said. "I am happy to support the work of WE ACT, their volunteers, and others in our community who are working to bring those plans to fruition."

At the May 8 meeting, following a presentation from Community Board 9's Waterfront and Economic Development Committee, members of the public who attended broke into groups to discuss aspects of the project. Their ideas were shared with the larger group, and will be recorded in a report on the plan.

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Among those who attended the May 8 meeting at City College were WE ACT staff member Charles Taylor (at left) and parks advocate Mary Ann Tobin (center).

This report will be discussed and improved during upcoming meetings between June and August 2010 followed by a large community meeting on the redevelopment project in September 2010. To read more, visit www.weact.org.




May 20, 2010

Farrell Visits New Fortune Society Apartments

Assemblyman Farrell recently dropped by Cattle Gardens, a new supportive- and affordable-housing facility built by The Fortune Society behind Fortune Academy, known as The Castle for its' appearance, and located in West Harlem. The 43-year-old not-for-profit helps former inmates successfully transition from incarceration back into society and provides associated support.

"During the boom times of a few years ago a great number of apartments were built. Unfortunately, many of those apartments were priced well out of reach of many New Yorkers, especially those struggling with health or substance-abuse issues," Assemblyman Farrell said. "I was happy to support The Fortune Society as they undertook this important, necessary project."

photo Assemblyman Farrell with Fortune Society President and CEO JoAnne Page, and Martin J. Horn, a distinguished lecturer on law and criminal justice, at Fortune Academy May 13, 2010.

The new building holds 114 new apartments, which include 50 furnished studio apartments for homeless individuals with histories of incarceration; 13 one- two- and three-bedroom supportive housing units for families with at least one formerly incarcerated member; and 51 studio to three-bedroom units that will provide subsidized housing for community residents and families.

Also located in the new building are a 20,000 square foot Service Center where residents will receive counseling, case management, financial counseling and other services; meeting space for local community groups; a computer lab and library; and office space for Fortune Society staff. The building is LEED Gold Certified, and meets high standards for health and energy efficiency.

The Fortune Society provides "one-stop" support services including education, intervention and counseling, employment services and substance abuse treatment. Since opening in 2002, Fortune Academy has provided emergency and phased-permanent housing to men and women who would otherwise have been homeless following their release from custody.

The 625 West 140th Street facility has been named a "model program" by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, the US Justice Department and others. Fortune Gardens is scheduled to open July 1. For more information about The Fortune Society or Fortune Gardens apartments, call (212) 691-7554 or visit www.fortunesociety.org.

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May 11, 2010

Farrell Fighting for State Parks, State Employees

The Legislature on Monday, May 10 debated and later approved a temporary budget bill that is handed down each week by the Governor's office, Assemblyman Farrell addressed a number of key issues including funding for State parks such as Riverbank State Park and the unfortunate necessity to approve furloughs for State employees rather than shut down government altogether.

Though funding for State parks was cut deeply in the original version of the budget handed down by the Governor in January, in their "one-house" budget revisions both the Assembly and Senate restored funding for parks, reflecting legislators' belief in the importance of preserving parks. However, the Governor's Division of Budget is refusing to recognize that more funding will be made available under the pending Fiscal Year 2010-11 budget to keep parks open and maintained, and are releasing only a fraction of the proper funding.

"Parks workers are now busy fixing damage caused by winter weather and taking other steps to ensure that our parks are safe and attractive for their patrons," Assemblyman Farrell said. "Now is not the time to hold back funds that are needed to pay for this important and timely work."

Assemblyman Farrell debates a budget extender bill
Assemblyman Farrell debates a budget extender bill.

Also touched on during the debate were the likely effects of shutting down State government, which the Governor presented as the lone alternative to legislative approval of one-day, unpaid furloughs for about 100,000 State employees. According to the Governor, the furloughs were a necessary step to achieve a $250 million savings. He inserted language forcing the furloughs into bills that provide that pays the State's bills on a temporary basis while budget talks continue.

Though the Legislature explored ways to approve the bills but reject furloughs, it became clear that the most likely tool to achieve that goal was explicitly blocked by the courts several years ago. Therefore, to avoid shutting down State government, the furloughs had to be approved.

"The consequences of shutting down State government by cutting off funding for all State operations would be devastating," Farrell said. "Many State employees have direct deposit of their paychecks, and have their credit cards and other bills paid automatically out of their bank accounts. Freezing their pay would cause a chain reaction that could touch thousands of lives."


April 22, 2010
Buczek Little League Parade Honors Fallen Officer

On Saturday, April 17 Assemblyman Farrell had the honor of being among those who marched in the 22nd annual Police Officer Michael Buczek Little League Opening Day Parade. The event not only officially opens the Little League season in Northern Manhattan, but also serves to remind the community of the sacrifice of a young police officer killed in the line of duty.

Officer Michael Buczek and his partner were investigating a series of drug-related burglaries neat West 161st Street in 1998 while Officer Buczek was fatally shot while attempting to detain a group of men who fled when police approached them. He was only 24 years old. His father, Ted, is shown below seated in a wheelchair. Sgt. John Moynihan, the Little League's president, is shown standing behind Ted Buczek wearing a Yankees shirt. Deputy Inspector Andrew Capul, who is commander of the 34th Precinct to which Officer Buczek was assigned, is third from left.

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"Members of our community like Ted Buczek, who like his son is not afraid of fighting what look like impossible odds, deserve a lot of credit for the positive change in Washington Heights," Assemblyman Farrell said. "Because of his hard work, the ball field at West 191st Street and Amsterdam Avenue is something we can all be proud of, and the good relations we have today between the police and the community have a lot to do with the volunteers that run this league."

"Each year over 300 children take part in this Little League, meaning many thousands have had the benefit of this positive influence on their lives over the last 22 years. In fact, two of the former players, Franklin Diaz and Carlos Peralta, went on to join the NYPD and were present in uniform for the parade. Their stories are only two of the many tales of community service that began with this Little League program and the tireless work of Ted Buczek, the community, and the officers of the 34th Precinct," Farrell said.




April 22, 2010

Assemblyman Farrell Welcomes Advocates
for the Developmentally Disabled to State Capitol

On Wednesday, April 21, Assemblyman Farrell welcomed advocates for developmentally disabled New Yorkers and their care providers to the Capitol Building in Albany, where they met to discuss how proposed cuts in the State budget would affect vital services they rely on.

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The advocates were participating in a program called Inclusive Democracy in Action, which brings disabled advocates from around the State to Albany so that they may speak directly with Assembly Members and Senators. The advocates who met with Assemblyman Farrell, who are residents of Rockland and Westchester Counties, explained how cuts in the Executive Budget would affect their daily lives and why State lawmakers should fight to have this funding restored.

"The cuts to services for these vulnerable New Yorkers are based in the sins of Wall Street and sub-prime mortgage marketers and the negligence of Washington regulators under the previous administration. It is unfair that these persons are being punished for the sins of others," Farrell said.




April 19, 2010

Assemblyman Farrell, New York Police Department Working to Control Noise

Assemblyman Farrell met with the commanders of the New York Police Department's 30th and 34th Precincts, which include Riverside Park and the Dyckman Street corridor respectively, on Friday, April 16th to discuss ongoing issues in the district including noise.

The police commanders said that they were prepared for the recent warm weather, which often leads to increased use of the park and outdoor tables at eateries and bars along Dyckman Street. Both situations affect the quality of life in the neighborhoods and lead to increased noise complaints, and the police say their precincts have been taking a proactive approach to prepare for warm weather and more noise.

A recent enforcement effort in the 34th Precinct led to the confiscation by police of the vehicle shown below, whose driver's 16 speakers drew attention during a recent noise enforcement patrol. The vehicle was impounded pending court action, and was one subject discussed during a recent meeting between Assemblyman Farrell and the commander of the 34th Precinct. To read more about these meetings, click here

speaker van

The numbers of Dyckman Street businesses serving alcohol has been a source of concern not only in the community, where it has been dubbed "Alcohol Alley," but also among the police charged with protecting the community. Assemblyman Farrell is shown below speaking at a recent meeting with 34th Precinct commander Deputy Inspector Andrew Capul, whose precinct includes Dyckman Street. Assemblyman Farrell has repeatedly contacted the State agency in charge of liquor licenses to pass along the community's concerns about Dyckman Street bars.

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Noise in Riverside Park has long been a source of irritation for those who live nearby, especially those who live uphill from the park and whose windows overlook it. Often, park patrons bring loud radios with them or play their car stereos loudly, and the noise travels up the hill to the apartment buildings that overlook the river. 30th Precinct commander Deputy Inspector Scott Shanley, shown below, reports that he ordered increased patrols of the park area some time ago.

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Deputy Inspector Shanley told Assemblyman Farrell that his officers were prepared to step up their presence in the park during the upcoming weekend (April 17/18); however, due to the weather, park attendance was light and additional police presence was not required.




Assembly Releases Fiscal Year 2010-11 Budget Proposal

get the flash player to see this video.
Assemblyman Farrell speaking on the floor March 24, 2010 in support of the Assembly Majority's Fiscal Year 2010-11 budget resolution.




March 4, 2010

Farrell Wishes Constituent Helen Moore a Happy 90th

On Saturday, February 27th, between appointments Assemblyman Farrell stopped by Esplanade Gardens where a 90th birthday party was held for Gardens resident Helen J. Moore. The longtime Harlem resident, who during her working years was one of the first African-American managers at the New York Telephone Company, was joined by about 40 of her closest friends. Pictured below (from left to right) are Rosalee Calloway, Assemblyman Farrell and daughter Sophia, Ms. Moore (in tiara), and Eleanor Kennedy.

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March 2, 2010

Assemblyman Farrell Among Black History Month Honorees

Assemblyman Farrell and four other prominent members of the community were presented with awards during a recent ceremony marking Black History Month. The Saturday, February 27th event in the Garden Apartments Community Room was led by City Councilman Robert Jackson, who is shown here presenting Farrell's award. Also honored were activist Dr. Muriel Petioni, artist and educator Faith Ringgold, historian Dr. Yosef A.A. Ben-Jochannan and Congressman Charles B. Rangel. Remarks were delivered by Assemblyman Keith L.T. Wright.
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Dr. Petioni, a native of Trinidad and Tobago, moved with her family to Harlem where her father set up a medical practice. After interning at Harlem Hospital, she maintained a practice in the community for more than 40 years, 30 of those in community schools.

Ringgold, a painter, is known for creating quilts that mix paint and fabric in order to tell a story. Her work has been shown worldwide, and some of her pieces are in the permanent collections of the Guggenheim Museum, Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Museum of Modern Art.

Dr. Ben-Jochannan, a native of Ethiopia who moved to Harlem shortly after World War II, counts among his many academic credits an extended adjunct professorship at Cornell University and a number of scholarly books on North African cultures and their effects on Western civilization.



March 1, 2010

Questions about pending MTA service cuts?
Come to the Meeting!

Members of Assemblyman Farrell's staff will join WE ACT for Environmental Justice and representatives of Transit Workers Union Local 100 during a meeting Tuesday, March 2 at the Tioga Club, 201 West 148th Street, to discuss a proposal to cut Metropolitan Transportation Agency services.

The purpose of this meeting is to prepare members of the community for a public hearing on the service cuts, which will be held Thursday, March 4 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Fashion Institute of Technology's Haft Auditorium, which is on Seventh Avenue at 27th Street in Manhattan.

Among these proposals are a plan to cut the student Metrocard discount in half this year and eliminate the discount altogether in September 2011; eliminate door-to-door Access-A-Ride service; eliminate the W and Z trains, as well as G train service beyond Long Island City; eliminate or restructure Harlem M1, M3, M5, M10, M11, M15, M18, M98, M100, M104, M116, BX15, BX20 and BX33 service; transfer funds within MTA; and seeking new sources of revenue such as an East River toll.

WE ACT and the TWU are sponsoring a bus for up to 50 persons who want to attend Thursday's hearing but do not have transportation to the meeting. The bus will leave the Adam Clayton Powell State Office Building (163 West 125th Street) at 4:30 p.m. and return at 9 p.m. For more information or to reserve a bus seat, call James Burke at (347) 465-8488 (burke@weact.org) or Charles Calloway at (347) 465-8492 (charles@weact.org).



Seal
HERMAN D. FARRELL, JR.
Assemblyman 71st District

Room 923
Legislative Office Building
Albany, NY 12248
(518) 455-5491
(518) 455-5776 FAX

CHAIRMAN
Ways and Means Committee

COMMITTEES
Rules
Black & Puerto Rican Caucus

THE ASSEMBLY
STATE OF NEW YORK
ALBANY


February 22, 2010

Dear Members of Manhattan Community Board 12,

I am writing to air my concerns regarding your pending recommendations to the New York State Liquor Authority on the issuance or renewal of several on-premises liquor licenses in the Dyckman Street corridor. You are certainly aware that this neighborhood has gained a reputation as a "bar neighborhood" with all the noise problems and quality of life issues that characterization carries with it. The resolutions before you tonight add a new twist to that dynamic.

Unless I am misinformed, tonight your members will be dealing with a recommendation that the license of an existing business be taken away, and will be dealing with a recommendation that the State Liquor Authority grant a new license to a start-up business that shares a common wall with a restaurant that already holds a liquor license.

While I am not opposed to increasing business in this neighborhood or any other, it is clear that the effect of closing a small business and opening a larger business that may include outdoor seating could increase the amount of noise in an already noisy neighborhood that is the source of year-round complaints from people who live nearby. If you are in the habit of following the neighborhood blogs, as I am, you know that neighbors are already complaining of being disturbed by loud noise from the late-night bars, and we are many months from summer.

In the past, I have publicly opposed bringing still more bars into this neighborhood, which is already so saturated with these businesses it seems to make a mockery of the standing rule which forbids more than three bars from locating within 500 feet of each other. If your decision tonight is based on noise, that standard should apply evenly across all businesses and applications.

However, until such time as I feel totally assured that there is no effort afoot to simply rearrange or redistribute an already excessive number of licenses, I must oppose any recommendation that would undercut a business which has made reasonable efforts to coexist in this neighborhood and transfer their license to some new and largely unknown entity. Thank you for reading this letter, and I know you will do what you believe will be best for the community.

Sincerely,

Herman D. Farrell, Jr.
Member of Assembly



February 12, 2010

Assemblyman Farrell Praises AG Cuomo's Settlement
Protecting Vantage Tenants

Assemblyman Herman D. Farrell, Jr. praised the "superb job" done by New York State Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo to protect tenants of Vantage Properties who live in the company's Northern Manhattan buildings. On Thursday, February 11, after only two weeks of negotiations, Attorney General Cuomo convinced Vantage to stop aggressively evicting tenants and also pay $1 million in damages.

"The agreement arranged by Attorney General Cuomo is a victory for all residents of New York City. It shows that law enforcement in this state will stand up for those who are facing abuses and will use the power of the law to protect tenants' rights," Farrell said. "Those who stood firm to insure that these buildings survived while other buildings were being abandoned all over New York City deserve respect. The Attorney General is doing a superb job to make sure those tenants receive that respect, and I commend him for it."

In his lawsuit the Attorney General accused the landlord, which owns almost 10,000 apartments in 35 buildings in Manhattan and 90 others elsewhere in the City, of falsely claiming that rent-stabilized and rent-controlled tenants had not paid their rent, or were not the legal occupants of their apartments. Vantage would then begin efforts to force out the legal tenants, many of whom had lived in their apartments for many years, and raise rents for the illegally vacated apartments.

Under the terms of the settlement, the landlord must set aside $750,000 to be paid as damages to tenants harmed by Vantage's actions, and give $250,000 to community groups that advocate on tenants' behalf. Vantage must also create and follow stricter policies that must be completed before eviction proceedings begin; hire an independent monitor to review claims of harassment filed by tenants against the landlord; hire an independent auditor to oversee Vantage's compliance with anti-harassment laws; and report to the Attorney General for the next three years to demonstrate ongoing compliance.

"Though the landlord has claimed that by accepting this settlement they will lead their industry as an enlightened protector of tenants rights, the truth is that Vantage accepted a million-dollar settlement because the company's lawyers knew they had violated tenants' rights and would lose badly in court. I look forward to working with Attorney General Cuomo and my colleagues including Assembly Member Adriano Espaillat in the future to protect tenants' rights in Northern Manhattan," Farrell said.



February 9, 2010

Assemblyman Farrell's Discourse on Health Commissioner Daines' Testimony
To the Joint Legislative Budget Committees

In his testimony during a Joint Legislative Budget Hearing today, New York State Department of Health Commissioner Richard F. Daines, M.D. painted a fuller picture of how his Department's policies and operations would be affected by the draft 2010-11 Executive Budget. According to the Commissioner, under the proposed budget many existing programs would continue but be reworked into new forms, while others which fall outside the Department's core mission would be eliminated, all with the goal of preserving health while minimizing the expense to taxpayers.

Much of his testimony offered little new information beyond what could be immediately read in the Executive Budget when the draft Budget was first released January 19. The Commissioner's most specific and detailed testimony pertained to anti-obesity and anti-smoking policies that would be codified in the budget and which, not coincidentally, would raise significant revenues under the Executive's plan by increasing a tax on cigarettes and placing an excise tax on sugars.

Daines testified that in New York State $7.6 billion is spent each year treating conditions related to overweight and obesity, conditions which affect about 60 percent of adults and 35 percent of children and adolescents in the State. He said this means each household in the State pays $771 annually to treat obesity-related diseases. This testimony led to an overview of health-related savings and fees, much of which was not new, then into a discussion of new anti-smoking plans.

Commissioner Daines noted a 2.1 percent falloff in the number of adult smokers between 2007 and 2008 - roughly 300,000 adult smokers who quit- and said the Executive plans to build on that trend. By adding another $1 onto the existing $2.75 State per-pack tax, Daines said, the Executive expects another 50,000 adult smokers to quit, to stop 100,000 minors from becoming smokers and cut youth smoking by 10 percent, and save 50,000 New Yorkers from early death. However, the plan faced resistance from members of the Senate conference who opposed the tax. Some of my colleagues expressed their concerns with the proposed addition to the per-pack levy, and some said they would not support it while taxes are not collected for packs sold on reservations.



Assemblyman Farrell and Borough President Scott M. Stringer
Host Town Hall Meetings on the 2010 US Census

In the coming weeks households in our community and others will start to receive the "short form" federal Census questionnaire. The US Constitution requires the government to count every person in this country and collect other information every 10 years. This information will be sent to the President in December and used to decide how the federal government will be run.

The most important government decisions based on Census data are representation in Congress and federal funding based on population. If New York State or New York City's population has changed since the last Census, our number of seats in the House of Representatives will change. More than $400 billion in federal funding for hospitals, education, transportation, job training, senior services and other important programs is distributed based on Census information. Obviously, this makes full participation in this process very important.

Federal law requires that everyone participate, but in the last Census it is estimated that only 70 percent were counted. Minorities are statistically more likely to go uncounted, unrepresented and under-funded because Census forms are not returned to the government. On the forms are 10 questions, in English and Spanish in some areas, that ask for your name, age, race, household makeup, whether you own or rent your home, and other questions. This form should be sent back by April 1. Those who do not return their forms by mail will be visited between April and July by a Census worker who lives in the community and who will ask Census questions in person. For more information call the NYC 2010 Census Office at (212) 442-9150, or the US Census hotline, (866) 861-2010.

Friday, January 22 7 p.m.
Esplanade Gardens
South Community Room
133 W. 147th Street
Saturday, January 23 11 a.m.
Church of Intercession
550 W. 155th Street



January 19, 2010

Farrell Meets With Community Board Leaders
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Assemblyman Farrell held morning meetings Saturday, January 16 with staff members Earnestine Bell-Temple and Gabrielle Rosa, first with Community Board 9 Chair Patricia Jones, and later with Community Board 12's Chair Pamela Palanque-North and District Manager Ebenezer Smith to discuss ongoing issues in the community. Among the topics discussed were the equipment needs of police in the 33rd and 34th Precincts, who are dealing with perennial noise problems. Palanque-North expressed her concern with other activity in the criminal justice arena including maximum sentences and alternatives to incarceration programs. Pictured from left to right are Smith, Palanque-North, Assemblyman Farrell and staff member Rosa.

Also discussed were pending upgrades at nearby historic structures and ways to obtain future state funding to help pay for those projects. Work on a retaining wall at the Morris-Jumel Mansion and sidewalks around the grounds, which will be partly funded by a state grant obtained by Farrell, are set to begin in the coming months. Also pending is a proposal by the Hispanic Society of America for upgrades at their 155th Street and Audubon Terrace facility. Both buildings are in line for other improvements to make them more accessible to the handicapped, a topic that is also seeing ongoing discussion.

Later in the morning, during a separate meeting, Assemblyman Farrell met with Wallace Ford, who was recently hired by the West Harlem Local Development Corporation as Program Director. The temporary position entails setting up and preparing to implement an entity that will administer cash and in-kind services in exchange for land, as was laid out in a landmark agreement between Columbia University and the West Harlem community.

Assemblyman Farrell will hold public meetings on these and other issues in the near future, the first of which is Friday at Esplanade Gardens' South Community Room, beginning at 7 p.m. Watch this space for the latest information.



January 12, 2010

Farrell Applauds Passage of HIV/AIDS Housing Bill
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Assemblyman Farrell speaking on the floor during a Legislative session Tuesday, January 12, 2010. During that session, the Assembly passed a bill to aid certain residents of public housing who are afflicted with HIV/AIDS.

Assemblyman Herman D. Farrell, Jr. applauded the Assembly's passage today of a bill designed to protect the housing and health of thousands of tenants on fixed incomes who are living with HIV/AIDS by reducing the share of rent these tenants must pay.

Under the bill, which was sponsored by Assembly Member Deborah Glick and whose multi-sponsors include Farrell and others, individuals who are receiving Shelter Assistance or Emergency Shelter Allowance funds and are living with clinical or symptomatic HIV or AIDS would not pay more than 30 percent of their household income toward rent.

Currently, persons with HIV/AIDS who are enrolled in housing programs pay between 50 and 85 percent of their disability income toward their rent. Any rent over and above the 30 percent cap would be paid by the state and New York City. Supporters believe the program will cost as much or less than the amount now spent providing emergency shelter to patients who lose their homes.

"In passing this legislation, the Assembly has taken an important step forward in the fight to protect our most vulnerable citizens," Assemblyman Farrell said. "This bill was designed to reduce the strain on friends and neighbors who are torn between keeping a roof over their heads and preserving their health by making doctor visits and buying medicine.

"Further, this bill could slow the destabilization of our communities that is caused by evictions and foreclosures which continue to wreak havoc on the lives of New Yorkers who have fallen on hard times," Farrell continued.

Assembly Member Glick, who initially introduced the bill and fought diligently for its passage, said the bill builds upon earlier legislation that brought persons suffering from HIV/AIDS off the streets and into shelters where they were better able to focus on treatment of the disease.

"With joint passage of this bill and the pledge of Governor Paterson to sign the bill, New Yorkers with HIV/AIDS will no longer have to make heart rending decisions whether to buy groceries or go to the doctor in order to pay their rent," Glick said.

The bill amends existing Social Services law, and a similar version passed the Senate in mid-2009. However, because the Assembly and Senate passed their respective bills in different years, the Senate must re-consider the legislation now that it has been passed by the Assembly.

A 30-percent rent cap is already in place for those enrolled in the Section 8 program, or who live in public housing or supportive housing. The bill would affect HIV/AIDS tenants in affordable housing statewide, and will benefit about 11,000 residents of New York City alone.

"We cannot allow these citizens to be forced out of affordable housing and into emergency housing where their health would be at risk," Speaker Silver said.



January 12, 2010
Assemblyman Farrell's Speech Eulogizing
the Late Percy E. Sutton
Delivered to the Assembly January 12, 2010
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Assemblyman Farrell speaks in support of a Legislative Resolution honoring the late Percy E. Sutton, a prominent Harlem resident who died in December 2009 aged 89.

Fellow members, I would like to speak for a moment in memory of my friend, the late Percy Sutton, who passed away at the age of 89 on December 26, 2009. For those of you who knew him, such as our New York County Chairman Keith L. T. Wright, who was a close friend, there isn't much that I could tell you about Percy Sutton that you don't already know. For those of you who were not fortunate enough to meet him, I cannot think of another individual who had as much of a positive impact on the Harlem community as Percy did. There are those who call him the Father of Modern Harlem, and I believe that this description is accurate, just and well deserved.

Charlie Rangel described Percy, who he followed into the Assembly, as an outstanding legislator who set a high standard for those who followed him. J. Raymond Jones, who was County Leader and also an outstanding figure in Harlem politics, recalled for his biographer that he chose Percy as his candidate for Manhattan Borough President because Percy was known throughout the State and City as the co-parent of a then-new divorce law. He also chose Percy because he had the best personality and strongest skills out of all the candidates, better style, better campaign skills, and most importantly Percy wanted the job more than anybody else, so he got the position.

He was born in Texas in November 1920 and was the youngest of 15 children, many of whom went on to noteworthy success in their chosen fields. His father, Samuel, was an educator, entrepreneur and early civil rights activist who was among the founding fathers of the NAACP. Amazingly for Texas in the 1930s and 1940s, all of the Sutton children completed college and post-graduate degrees and several went on to public service. Brother Oliver Sutton became a judge on the New York Supreme Court. At the age of 12, Percy snuck onto a train bound for New York City and ended up in Harlem, sleeping at Father Devine's Rockland Palace at 155th Street and what is now Frederick Douglass Boulevard. His first stay in what is now my Assembly district was brief, but he later made New York his permanent home.

In the years that followed, he continued his father's work for civil rights through the NAACP while building a resume that was impressive on its' own merits. Eagle Scout. Stunt pilot, and later, a pilot and intelligence officer with the Tuskegee Airmen. War hero. Freedom Rider. Counsel to, and friend of, the late Malcolm X, which was a risky and controversial thing to be at that time. Founder of Inner City Broadcasting, which ran New York's first minority-owned radio station among other concerns. Redeveloper and rescuer of the Apollo Theater. Two-time president of the New York chapter of the NAACP. It was Percy Sutton's idea to expand a small foot race through Central Park into what we know today as the New York City Marathon, which is responsible for bringing a great number of tourists into New York City in November, and boosting our local economy. As a freshman Assemblyman, he introduced and passed a bill that modernized New York State's divorce laws.

The list goes on; for brevity's sake I will not recite his every achievement.

I first met Percy in the 1960s, when he was making one of his many bids for public office. Some of you may know that, for all his success, Percy was usually not a winning candidate. In 1965 he won election to this chamber - in fact, to the very seat that Assembly Member Wright now holds - and it was not for want of effort or persistence, believe me. The following year, he was elected Manhattan Borough President, replacing Constance Baker Motley, New York's first black female borough president who was appointed to a federal judgeship in 1966. Percy resigned from the Assembly to become Borough President and served for the next 12 years.

I remember that The Post (which at the time was considered a liberal newspaper) printed a story that described Percy, after his Borough President win, as a fresh new face on the political scene. He found this very funny, and would point out that he had been beaten by almost every politician in Harlem, having lost seven elections in 11 years!

Percy was one of the first people I spoke with after I was elected District Leader in 1973. By right, in those years, the District Leader chose the candidate who would run for Assembly the following year. You can probably guess who I chose.

When I explained my decision to Percy and asked for his endorsement, he agreed that I had every right to throw my hat into the ring, but I had beaten Mark Southall, the incumbent Assemblyman who preceded me as District Leader and was Percy's longtime friend. Because of this, Percy explained that he would have to oppose me in the 1974 election.

Percy pointed out to me that he and Mark had worked together as New York City subway conductors for many years. You may have heard that Percy earned his law degree by studying between stops on the subway. It makes for a wonderful story, until you consider how he was able to take time off to take tests. The answer is that Mark covered for Percy at work, and they became good friends in the process. So because of this, in 1973 and 1974 Percy was unable to support me. But he told me, Denny, I know you will be in politics for a while - little did he know, ha ha - and in the future I will make it up to you. Percy was true to his word and became a strong supporter who helped me become County Leader.

In later years, after Percy left public service for the private sector, working with Gov. Mario Cuomo, Vince Tese and others, I was able to get state funds to help Percy with the restoration of the Apollo Theater. Even with the state loans that he accepted to help pay for the restoration, I know Percy lost a lot of his own money on the project. He almost certainly knew that these types of theaters always lose money and he would never recoup his investment, but he also knew that it had to be done and no matter what the cost, for the good of the community the theater had to survive.

That the Apollo stands today, and was not knocked down like countless other buildings, is one thousand percent because of Percy Sutton. It was a privilege and honor to work with him. New York is a better place for his efforts, and we are all poorer for his absence.

Thank you.



2010 Alternate Side Parking Schedule

New Year's Day (January 1)
Martin Luther King Jr.'s Birthday (January 18)
Lincoln's Birthday (February 12)
Asian Lunar New Year (February 14)
Presidents' Day (February 15)
Ash Wednesday (February 17)
Purim (February 28)
Passover First/Second Days (March 30-31)
Holy Thursday (April 1)
Good Friday (April 2)
Passover Seventh/Eighth Days (April 5-6)
Solemnity of the Ascension (May 13)
Shauvot (May 19-20)
Memorial Day (May 31)
Independence Day (July 4)
Feast of the Assumption (August 15)
Labor Day (September 6)
Rosh Hashanah (September 9-10)
Idul-Fitr (September 10-12)
Yom Kippur (September 18)
Succoth (September 23-24)
Shemini Atzereth (September 30)
Simchas Torah (October 1)
Columbus Day (October 11)
All Saints Day (November 1)
Election Day (November 2)
Diwali (November 5)
Veterans Day (November 11)
Idul Adha (November 16-18)
Thanksgiving Day (November 25)
Immaculate Conception (December 8)
Christmas Day Observed (December 24)
Christmas Day (December 25)
New Year's Day Observed (December 31)

Town Meetings

Friday, January 22nd 2010
7 p.m.
Esplanade Gardens
South Community Room
133 West 147th Street
Building No. 3
Saturday, January 23rd 2010
11 a.m.
Church of Intercession
550 West 155th Street
(between Broadway and Amsterdam)




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HERMAN D. FARRELL, JR.
Assemblymember 71st District

January 5, 2010




December 3, 2009
Farrell, Espaillat, Stringer
Visit Senior Centers

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Assemblyman Farrell visited seniors at two community centers Wednesday, December 3 along with Assemblyman Adriano Espaillat and Manhattan Borough President Scott M. Stringer to tell seniors in person that recent state budget cuts had not led to funding cuts as some had feared. They were met at Isabella Geriatric Center by CEO Mark J. Kator and at the A. Philip Randolph Senior Center by Assistant Director Tina Ashley.

"While finding savings to bring our budget out of deficit without raising taxes meant that we had no choice but to make cuts, we were able to trade our budget axe for a scalpel," Assemblyman Farrell said. "By carefully targeting our cuts, we were able to preserve services that seniors and other member of our community rely on every day."

Earlier in the week, the Assembly approved changes to the state budget to reduce an anticipated deficit while preserving senior services and school funding. As originally proposed, state budget cuts would have led to cuts in federal matching cuts. Instead, the cuts approved by the Assembly were not tied to federal funds, so savings have been achieved without magnifying the damage to providers and nonprofits. The Senate approved the legislation one day after the Assembly vote, and the Governor is expected to soon sign the bill.