Community Newsletter - June and July 2010

Kavanagh's Housing Hotline: 646-459-3023

Assemblymember Kavanagh sponsors a 74th Assembly District Housing Hotline. Legal advice is provided by the Urban Justice Center. The service is easy to use and free for district residents. Simply call and leave a message, and an attorney will return your call within 48 hours.

Kavanagh's Office Convenes East 4th Street Quality of Life Meeting

On July 20th, representatives of Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh, Senator Daniel Squadron, Borough President Scott Stringer, and Councilmember Rosie Mendez met with community members and Detective Jaime Hernandez of the 9th Precinct to discuss quality of life issues on East 4th Street between Avenues C and D, the site of a supermarket-based deposit-bottle processing facility.

Kavanagh's office called the meeting in response to community complaints of late night and early morning noise, public urination, and individuals engaging in aggressive behavior toward pedestrians on the block. During the meeting, community residents spoke on these issues, and the police described steps taken to address community concerns while recognizing that congregating near the facility is not, in itself, an offense.

In order to address these issues most effectively going forward, Detective Hernandez urged community members to attend 9th Precinct community council meetings, held on the 3rd Tuesday of each month at the precinct's stationhouse at 321 East 5th Street, and to call 311 to document complaints whenever they witness illegal behavior that threatens their wellbeing or security.

Kavanagh Addresses P.S. 110 Parents on Faulty Admissions Process

On June 11th, Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh, Senator Daniel Squadron, and District One Community Education Council (CEC) President Lisa Donlan addressed parents during a kindergarten orientation at P.S. 110, located at 285 Delancey Street, regarding a recent Department of Education (DOE) enrollment error and steps that are being taken to mitigate the effects of that error.

Prior to this year's admissions season, Kavanagh, Squadron, and Donlan had worked with the CEC, families in the community, DOE, and other elected officials - including Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, Borough President Scott Stringer, and Councilmembers Rosie Mendez and Margaret Chin - to develop an admissions policy that would allow pre-kindergarten (pre-K) students to automatically enroll in kindergarten in the school they are already attending. The result was a new admissions policy that allows District One families to use pre-K as a point of entry into the school of their choice and remove the uncertainty and inconvenience that came with reapplying for admission to kindergarten.

However, during this year's application period, DOE inadvertently failed to give priority to certain current P.S. 110 pre-K students who were entitled to seats in the school's kindergarten under the new policy. As a result, 7 of the original 36 pre-K families were offered kindergarten seats at P.S. 110 along with 51 other students. Upon realizing this error, DOE offered kindergarten seats to all P.S. 110 pre-K students who should have been eligible for automatic admission to kindergarten. As a result, the school is expected to have more students in kindergarten next year than its normal capacity would permit.

Kavanagh assured the parents that he is monitoring the situation closely and that DOE has agreed to work with the principal to minimize the effects of the error. Specifically, DOE has agreed to take several steps that will aid P.S. 110 make the best of a difficult situation, including the following: Unfortunately, due to space limitations, P.S. 110 is not able to accommodate an additional kindergarten section. Kavanagh believes that the alternative of adding extra teaching staff is by no means perfect, but it is the best option available under the circumstances. There is no indication that this error occurred elsewhere in District One, and the new policy has had its intended effect in schools other than P.S. 110.

Kavanagh Visits Wald Senior Center

On July 13th, Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh visited with seniors attending the Lillian Wald Senior Center, which is staffed by the United Jewish Council. The City had proposed eliminating the Center to cut costs and close a budget gap that resulted partly from a proposed reduction in State funding in Governor David Paterson's executive budget. Kavanagh, joined State Senator Daniel Squadron, City Councilmember Rosie Mendez, and other elected officials to fight successfully to restore the State funds, and the City agreed to keep the Center open. During his visit, Kavanagh spoke about the importance of the Center and assured his continued support for this and other programs that provide vital services in our community.

Kavanagh Attends Wald Family Day

Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh joined residents of Lillian Wald Houses on the Lower East Side at the public housing complex's Family Day on Saturday, July 24th. Kavanagh spent the occasion chatting with residents about neighborhood happenings and issues large and small. The event was organized by Wald Tenant Association President Charlotte Miles and other officers of the association, and featured copious amounts of food and drink, music, and games. Fun was had by all. Kavanagh's mobile District Office was also available throughout the afternoon to provide information and make services available to residents.

Kavanagh Celebrates with LES People's Federal Credit Union

On June 19th, Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh attended the Lower East Side People's Federal Credit Union's 24th Annual Meeting and Membership Celebration at its branch at 37 Avenue B. The event featured door prizes, music, and refreshments. Kavanagh addressed the attendees and congratulated Chief Executive Officer Linda Levy and the board, staff, and members of the credit union on another successful year serving and investing in the community. He also spoke about legislative efforts to strengthen credit unions, including Assembly bill A00238B, which he introduced along with Senator Daniel Squadron to allow low-income credit unions to achieve greater public support through the State's Banking Development District Program.

Kavanagh Attends Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village Tenant Association Meeting

On June 12th, Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh joined residents of Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village who gathered at Baruch College's Mason Hall for a Tenant Association (TA) meeting. The meeting focused on the details of the tenants' efforts to gain a seat at the table regarding the apartment complex's new ownership. The TA's financial advisors, investment-banking firm Moelis & Company, presented financial information about the potential tenant-sponsored restructuring plan.

Kavanagh, Councilmember Dan Garodnick, and State Senator Tom Duane addressed the tenants at the meeting. In his remarks, Kavanagh discussed crucial tenant legislation currently pending in the Legislature and vowed to oppose any bill that would reverse the Roberts v. Tishman Speyer decision, including a proposal recently put forth by Governor David Paterson that would seem to threaten certain rights tenants won in the hard-fought case.

Kavanagh then moderated a question and answer session, alongside Gardonick, TA President Al Doyle, and TA Executive Vice President Susan Steinberg, directing questions submitted by tenants to the legal and financial advisors and answering legislative and policy questions directly.

Grant-Funded Blueway Project Kicks Off

On June 10th, the offices of Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh and Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, along with Community Boards 6 and 3 and the Lower East Side Ecology Center, held an inaugural meeting for community and waterfront stakeholders to discuss an overview of a $650,000 grant awarded by the New York State Department of State for projects along the East River. The meeting, attended by representatives of the offices of Senators Daniel Squadron and Tom Duane, Councilmembers Rosie Mendez and Dan Garodnick, the City Departments of Parks, City Planning, and the Economic Development Corporation, and many community organizations and advocacy groups, was held inside at the 14th Street Y at 344 East 14th Street, as a June thunderstorm thwarted efforts to kick off the project on the rooftop.

Staff members from Kavanagh and Stringer's offices described the structure, components, and scope of the project, and the opportunities presented by the Blueway grant. Participants at the meeting also discussed timelines and efforts to coordinate with other waterfront plans.

Kavanagh Calls for Moratorium on Hydraulic Fracturing

On June 11th, Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh joined the Sierra Club, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and dozens of others in support of legislation to establish a moratorium on natural gas drilling in New York using the technique known as high-volume hydraulic fracturing (HVHF), at least until the US Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) study on the matter is released. The HVHF technique is a method of extracting natural gas from shale deposits by injecting enormous amounts of a fluid mixture of water, sand, and toxic chemicals deep into the ground.

The method, which the State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has proposed be permitted in New York, has raised concerns about the effect of massive water withdrawals, the effects of transportation of the fluids and equipment and other aspects of this large-scale industrial activity, the safety of storage and use of toxic fluids, the short- and long-term effect on water sources and other environmental resources, drill site safety and the secrecy surrounding the precise content of the fluids, appropriate training for emergency workers who may be required to respond to accidents and treat people who have been burned or otherwise injured, and the handling and proper disposal of the fluids after use. Kavanagh submitted extensive formal comments on December 31, 2009, regarding the DEC's draft proposal to permit the technique in New York. In the meantime, concern over the technique has increased nationally, prompting the EPA review.

Numerous accidents have occurred in states where this drilling method has been permitted. During the first week in June, in Clearfield County, Pennsylvania, for instance, a gas explosion occurred immediately following an episode of hydraulic fracturing. The incident spewed explosive natural gas and toxic hydraulic fracturing fluids into the environment, and went unabated for sixteen hours.

Kavanagh is a co-prime sponsor of the legislation introduced by Senator Joseph Addabbo and Assembly-member Steve Englebright, bills S7592A and A10490 respectively, that would institute a moratorium until the EPA study has been released. Once the EPA study is available, New York will have the opportunity to review and analyze it and determine the best course forward.

Kavanagh Champions Water Access Progress at City of Water Day

On Saturday, July 24th, Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh joined the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance for the 3rd annual City of Water Day on a boat trip from the shores of Manhattan Island to Governors Island. Also aboard were State Senator Ruth Hassell-Thompson, Assemblymember and State Attorney General candidate Richard Brodsky, City Comptroller John Liu, City Councilmember Rosie Mendez, Colonel and New York Regional Commander John R. Boulé II of the US Army Corps of Engineers, Captain Gregory Hitchens of the US Coast Guard, Suzanne Mattei of the State Department of Environmental Conservation, Commissioner Cas Holloway of the City Department of Environmental Protection, and other elected officials, advocates, and fans of New York City's waterways. The day went swimmingly.

Kavanagh spoke at the kick-off event about progress in gaining access to the waterfront and waterways while the Clipper City, one of the country's largest sailing vessels and a replica of a 19th century tall ship, navigated the waters of New York harbor to Governors Island, where the majority of the festival's events occurred. Once on Governors Island, Kavanagh and the others participated in a ribbon cutting and special eye-dotting ceremony with the Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival and the Museum of Chinese in America.

Each year on City of Water Day, New Yorkers have more access to waterways throughout the five boroughs to celebrate, enabling them to take advantage of kayaking, boating, and other recreational and educational opportunities. In the coming year, Kavanagh hopes to promote continued progress through projects like the East Side Blueway, which he is leading with Borough President Scott Stringer, the Lower East Side Ecology Center, and community organizations and which is intended to increase access along the East River from East 38th Street to the Brooklyn Bridge.

For information about water access in general or the East Side Blueway project, please contact Doron Taleporos in Kavanagh's District Office at 212-979-9696.

Kavanagh Celebrates Gramercy Residence's 35th Anniversary

Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh was proud to honor the 35th anniversary of the Gramercy Residence at a party and open house on Saturday, June 24th, at the residence, located at 61 Gramercy Park North. Operated by YAI Network, the residence serves adults with developmental and learning disabilities and their families. Kavanagh thanked Gramercy Residence and YAI staff for their work providing service and support for the residents, and congratulated residents and former residents gathered for the event for their positive contributions to the Gramercy Park community.

Kavanagh Welcomes Bellevue Hospital Farmers Market

Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh joined City Councilmember Rosie Mendez, Bellevue Hospital Center Director of Community Affairs Ruth Hunt, Michelle Winfield and other members of the Bellevue Community Advisory Board, Maritza Owens of Harvest Home Farmers Market, Kristin Ellis of Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer's office, Dominga Lanzo of the 344 East 28th Street Tenant Association, Community Board 6, and other community representatives to help officially launch the Bellevue Harvest Home Farmers Market on July 23rd.

Located on the west side of First Avenue at East 27th Street, the market features fresh produce from regionally based farms and vendors. Additional services, including free health screenings and obesity prevention, are also provided. Participants in the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) nutrition program can redeem New York State Farmers Market Nutrition Program (FMNP) checks at the market to purchase produce. The market will operate every Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. through mid-November. For more information, contact the Harvest Home Farmers market at 212-828-3361.

P.S. 64 Fifth Grade Performance with Rosie's Broadway Kids

On June 11th, a representative from Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh's office attended the P.S. 64 fifth grade performance with Rosie's Broadway Kids. Kavanagh was unable to attend in person because the Assembly was in session in Albany.

Rosie's Broadway Kids is an arts education organization dedicated to enriching the lives of children through the arts. Using professional teaching artists, Rosie's Broadway Kids provides instruction in dance and music and a professional theater experience for children who might otherwise not have the opportunity. The fifth graders of P.S. 64 put on an amazing show, performing renditions of Footloose from the musical "Footloose," You Can't Stop the Beat from the musical "Hairspray," and Freak Flag from "Shrek the Musical." Congratulations to the fifth graders of P.S. 64 on a successful performance!

Kavanagh Sponsors Electronics Recycling

Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh sponsored an electronic waste recycling event with the Lower East Side Ecology Center, held July 18th just inside Stuyvesant Town at 14th Street and Avenue A. Staff and volunteers from the Ecology Center, led by co-founder and Executive Director Christine Datz-Romero, accepted a wide range of items, including computers, monitors, printers, scanners, keyboards, mice, cable televisions, VCRs, DVD players, phones, audio-visual equipment, and PDAs, dropped off by people who live and work in the community. Kavanagh brought an old printer to be recycled.

An additional recycling event will be held on July 31st at Smith Street between President and Union Streets in Brooklyn. For more information about the event or about electronic waste recycling, please contact the Lower East Side Ecology Center at 212-477-4022.

Kavanagh and Krueger Create Statewide Recycling Requirement for Rechargeable Batteries

In the final days of the 2010 regular legislative session, the Assembly took action on a proposal by Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh and Senator Liz Krueger to create a statewide recycling requirement for rechargeable batteries. The Assembly passed bill A6813D on June 30th; the Senate had passed Senator Krueger's bill on May 5th.

The bill would ban disposal of rechargeable batteries into the solid waste stream. Instead, manufacturers would be required to provide collection sites throughout the state at retail outlets in order to effectuate easy recycling of used rechargeable batteries by consumers. This is important because rechargeable batteries contain toxic substances such as cadmium and lead, and need to be kept out of landfills and incinerators.

The new statewide initiative would build on a similar, successful program in New York City. The Assembly also passed a companion bill, A11483, which would ensure that the City of New York would be permitted to enforce the provisions of the statewide program within the city limits. That bill, also sponsored by Senator Krueger, is still pending in the Senate.

Kavanagh and Savino Help Injured Workers Keep Their Benefits

On June 29th, the State Senate voted to pass legislation, sponsored by Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh and Senator Diane J. Savino (A00619/ S5108), amending the workers' compensation law. The bill, which the Assembly passed earlier in June, addresses instances in which injured workers currently can lose benefits simply by failing to respond promptly to seemingly routine paperwork sent by their insurer. The bill would change the law to make sure workers receive adequate notice of what is at stake and have a reasonable time period to respond. "Especially in these difficult times, we've got to make sure injured workers aren't denied benefits because of technicality or an inability to cut through red tape," said Kavanagh. "This legislation will push insurance companies to communicate with workers clearly, fairly, and fully - and should help minimize improper delays and disruptions of benefits."

Kavanagh and Savino's bill amends the workers' compensation law to now require advance notice of a potential disruption in benefits for failure to respond to an inquiry in a timely manner. Insurers often send injured workers written requests for information without providing a reasonable timeframe in which to respond or any indication that failure to respond could result in a delay or cancellation of benefits. With advance notice and clear deadlines, workers will be able to avoid any disruption or modification in their payments in these instances. The bill now goes to Governor David Paterson to be signed into law.

Elected Officials, Advocates, Families of Children Killed by Delivery Van Join to Urge Governor to Sign Bill Increasing Penalties for Careless Drivers

On July 7th, numerous elected officials, advocates, and two families who have suffered tragedies as a result of an accident involving careless driving came together to call upon Governor David Paterson to sign a bill recently passed by Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh and State Senator Daniel Squadron.

Among those gathered at the event at City Hall in Manhattan were Squadron, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, City Councilmember Margaret Chin, Transportation Alternatives, May Ng, mother of Hayley Ng, and Wana Wu, mother of Diego Martinez. The bill was introduced after the tragic deaths of 4-year-old Hayley and 3-year-old Diego, who were killed last year in Chinatown when a delivery van climbed the curb and hit the children. The driver, who had gotten out of the van while the motor was running and still in gear, was not charged with any infraction resulting from the children's deaths.

"It's never easy to get people to change bad habits, but this law will help make drivers throughout the state more conscious of their obligation to drive safely. And it will finally bring a measure of justice when their failure to do so has tragic consequences," said Kavanagh. "Our legislation offers a significant, practical tool to make streets safer for millions of New Yorkers, and I urge Governor Paterson to sign it into law."

Kavanagh Bill Would Deny State Deposits to Banks that Fail to Satisfy Community Reinvestment Act

The Assembly joined the State Senate in passing a bill proposed by Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh that would direct the State Comptroller to disapprove for State deposits any bank that fails to achieve satisfactory compliance with the Community Reinvestment Act of 1977. The Assembly passed the bill on June 30th, two days after the Senate passed a companion bill sponsored by Senator Kevin Parker.

In recognition of the fact that many banks historically engaged in the unfair practice of disinvesting in certain low- and moderate-income neighborhoods, diminishing economic opportunity and equality, the Community Reinvestment Act was enacted to encourage banks to reinvest some of their depository funds in the communities from which they originated. Today, banks are rated on how well they comply with the terms of CRA, and the great majority maintain satisfactory ratings. However, there are still financial institutions that fail to achieve satisfactory compliance with the very modest requirements of CRA. This bill would enact a policy of avoiding such bad actors when the State chooses where to deposit its funds.

Assembly Approves Kavanagh Bill Requiring Attorneys' Fees in Bad Faith Non-Primary Residence Challenges

On June 16th, the Assembly passed a bill introduced by Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh that would bring a measure of fairness to tenants whose landlords try to evict them from their homes based on accusations made in bad faith. Often with little or no valid reason to believe that a tenant is occupying an apartment as a non-primary residence, landlords bring court actions in an effort to eliminate tenants' rent-stabilization protections and evict them - sometimes even ignoring proof verifying primary residence. Assembly bill A00473B would allow a judge to determine when landlords have challenged tenants in bad faith by making false claims. Upon a finding of such bad faith, the judge could order landlords to reimburse court costs, attorneys' fees, and the greater of three times the monthly rent or actual damages suffered by the tenant. The bill is sponsored in the Senate by Senator Liz Krueger.

Kavanagh Bill Would Ban Monitoring of Tenants with Key Cards

On June 14th, the Assembly passed bill A00514, introduced by Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh, which would prohibit landlords from using electronic key card systems to record and store personal data about their tenants, such as the times tenants, family members, and guests come and go from their homes. Landlords in various housing complexes - including Stuyvesant Town, Peter Cooper Village, and Waterside Plaza, all of which Kavanagh represents - have implemented these systems in a manner that would permit them to gather data on their tenants that would serve no legitimate interest of the landlord, and in some cases to restrict tenants from choosing who may visit their homes. The bill is sponsored in the Senate by Senator Tom Duane.

Assembly Passes Kavanagh's Bill To Create Online Library of Public Reports

On June 24th, the Assembly passed a bill introduced by Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh, A00650, which would create an online library of public reports produced by State agencies, thereby reducing printing and distribution costs and making information about government operations more easily accessible to the general public. The bill had previously passed the State Senate on June 22nd, sponsored by Senator Daniel Squadron. It will now be sent to the Governor, who hopefully will sign it into law. Good government groups have expressed support for the legislation.

Squadron/Kavanagh Bill Would Require Adequate Space at MTA Public Hearings

Both the State Senate (June 29th) and the Assembly (June 30th) passed a bill sponsored by Senator Daniel Squadron and Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh that would require the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) to hold an additional hearing in the event that a substantial number of attendees are unable to enter a hearing required by law. Whenever seventy-five or more people are excluded from such a hearing because of insufficient capacity of the hearing site, a second hearing would be required.

Hearings of the MTA are required to solicit public input on issues that profoundly affect riders and all New Yorkers. In order to effectively and adequately consider public opinion, hearings must be truly open to the public. There have been MTA hearings at which a significant number of people wishing to testify have been unable to do so because of the size of the venue. These hearings do not fully meet the requirements for public input and should trigger an additional hearing-with the ultimate goal of encouraging the MTA to adequately plan to accommodate all attendees in the first place.

Assembly Passes Kavanagh Bill on Pedestrian Safety at Garage Exits

On July 1st, the Assembly passed a bill introduced by Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh that would promote pedestrian safety in places where cars exit parking garages over sidewalks. The bill, A10968, would require warnings of approaching cars for pedestrians on sidewalks and signage notifying drivers that they must yield the right of way to pedestrians. The bill is sponsored in the State Senate by Senator Liz Krueger.