Dear 141st District Family,
Greetings! It’s been another busy and productive Session! I fought in Albany and made tremendous strides to secure needed funding for the City of Buffalo; sponsored legislation to protect health care, children and the environment; and restored programs and funding for higher education, hospitals and community programs. As I write to you, I reflect on all of the progress of this year’s Session and look forward to an eventful summer filled with warm weather, the anticipation of summer festivals and more time to spend in the District.
As you know, I am always hard at work, tackling various issues and projects. I’ve been tirelessly striving to improve the quality of life for all of you in the 141st and have remained committed to uphold the "Promise, Progress and Pride for All People." Now, it is time to focus on District activities and continue to build upon our successes.
On a broader scope, I encourage each and every one of you to partake in the beauty that is summer. Embrace the free spirit of this time of year, while also getting involved in worthwhile projects that better the quality of life and experience for all who reside, work and visit the 141st. Remember to treasure time, live each moment of the summer to the fullest, and stop to smell the roses...
I close with enormous thanks to all of you for your support and commitment to the 141st. Best wishes for a safe, happy, and productive summer!
|35th Annual Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic & Asian Legislative Caucus Weekend|
The New York State Association of Black and Puerto Rican
Legislators held its 35th Annual Conference on the weekend
of February 17th through 19th in Albany. Attended by diverse
groups, unions, elected officials, public employees, private
industry representatives, and lay people from across the
state, the weekend was filled with a host of informative
and timely workshops.
In upholding this year’s theme, "Building the Future: Embrace Economic Development to Empower Our People," Assemblymember Peoples co-hosted a workshop with Senator Parker of Brooklyn’s 21st S.D. on minority business, entitled "Access to Minority and Women Owned Firms in New York State." The workshop was a dynamic success with a cross section of public and private firms and individuals in attendance. The workshop included the following expert panel of diverse speakers:
Among the great networking opportunities and information presented at the workshop was information on the Minority and Women Owned Business Enterprise (MWBE) Certification Program; compliance measures; unique economic advantages and disadvantages of minority and women-owned businesses; investment opportunities; access to state funding; and venture capital, just to name a few. "In addition to clearing up discrepancies in information and providing a forum and foundation for the discussion on leveling the playing field, those in attendance were able to build alliances and networks that will serve as a springboard for further business development," said Assemblymember Peoples.
"Ultimately, it is not just about the complexion, gender and size of companies, but, quite frankly, it is about the diversity needed to stimulate a better, prepared global economy. In order to spur more economic development throughout the state, we must focus on being globally competitive and inclusive. The survival and progression of the quality of life for all New Yorkers is contingent upon our diversity," stated Assemblymember Peoples.
|WESTERN NEW YORK DELEGATION SECURES FUNDING FOR SCHOOL NURSES|
On Friday, May 12, 2006 at 2:00 P.M., Assemblymember Crystal D. Peoples and the WNY Delegation presented a $5.3 million check to the Buffalo Public School District. This check is part of the state budget allocation for school nurses in every Buffalo Public School. The check presentation was held at the Harriet Ross Tubman Elementary School (P.S. #31), located at 212 Stanton Street in Buffalo, New York.
Assemblymember Crystal Peoples worked diligently, and in every opportunity (i.e. meeting, conference and discussion with her colleagues), maintained a consistent focal point: school nurses. "I have remained focused on the fight to restore the School Nurse Program in order protect the health and well being of our schoolchildren. Chronic illnesses and the level of medications among schoolchildren are on the rise, and research shows errors are widespread when unqualified personnel, rather than nurses, provide medical care for our children and administer medication. The result is missed doses, wrong doses, wrong medications, and inconsistent recordkeeping," said Assemblymember Peoples. "Accepting anything other than the right and best possible solution for schoolchildren is not an option. I am very pleased to celebrate this much needed funding for our school district."
The 2006-2007 allocation for the Buffalo Public School District represents a 100% increase in funding for district-wide school nurses.
This check presentation during National Nurses Week expressed the Delegation’s support of the spirit and profession of nursing and the need for sufficient care for our most vulnerable population - the children.
|MEDICARE CONSUMER ALERT|
Please be aware that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has issued a warning, alerting seniors and people with disabilities of a phone scam that has the potential to rob citizens of their money. This scheme asks beneficiaries for money and checking account information to enroll in a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan. This scam is referred to as the "$299 Ring" for the amount of money that beneficiaries are asked to withdraw from their account in order to pay for a non-existent prescription drug plan.
Medicare drug plan representatives are NOT allowed to ask a person enrolled in Medicare for bank account or other personal information over the telephone. Also, be advised that Medicare drug plan companies will not ask for a payment over the telephone or via the Internet. Beneficiaries will instead receive a bill for the monthly premium. Those who receive these types of calls should contact the police department if they feel that the call is illegitimate or if they feel someone is trying to obtain personal information illegally.
Remember: No one is allowed in your residence uninvited or can ask for personal information during marketing activities. Be sure to keep your Medicare number safe as you would credit cards or bank account numbers.
Please report cases of illegal activity to: 1-877-7SAFERX (1-877-772-3379). If you have any questions regarding Medicare activity, please call: 1-800-MEDICARE.
|THE NEED FOR BLOOD NEVER TAKES A VACATION|
Bright sunshine, warm breezes, boats sailing on Lake Erie - we know summer is here by these signs. As you go about enjoying your summer, I ask that you keep one thing in mind; the need for blood never takes a vacation. Three hundred and sixty-five days a year someone, somewhere needs blood. That someone could be my neighbor or your loved one. It is only through the generosity of volunteer blood donors that blood is available for patients in need.
Although blood is needed year-round, summer is a particularly volatile time for the blood supply. Traditionally, our community blood supply drops by approximately 15% because high school and college blood drives are on hiatus and individual donors are on vacation. Due to this substantial drop in donations, the potential for a blood shortage often becomes a likely reality during our warmest months.
That’s why I am asking that this summer you take an active role in ensuring that our community has a strong and stable supply of blood. By taking just one hour of your time to make a blood donation, you can help our community reach and maintain a healthy blood inventory level. Your individual donation can help save the lives of up to three patients. That’s right, just one hour of your time can make a lifesaving difference.
To schedule your blood donation appointment or to find out about upcoming blood drives, contact the Red Cross at 800-GIVE LIFE (800-448-3543) or www.DonateBloodNow.org.
Assembly Passes Rockefeller Drug Law Reform
Assemblymember Crystal D. Peoples is pleased to announce that the Assembly passed a plan to continue reforming New York’s ineffective and outdated Rockefeller drug laws, steering non-violent offenders to compulsory drug treatment programs instead of prison. The Rockefeller drug laws - first enacted in 1973 - are infamous for their harsh and inflexible mandatory-minimum sentences. The law has also been criticized for having a disproportionate impact on minorities.
The plan could save New York about $123 million annually and reduce prison overcrowding while cracking down on violent offenders and treating the causes of drug-related crime. The reforms are also aimed at leveling increased sentences for certain offenders and creating new crimes for the possession of firearms related to drug sales.
"For far too long, New York State prisons have been overcrowded with drug-related offenders, who would be better served by proper drug intervention, treatment and addiction counseling, while many violent offenders and drug kingpins endure light penalties," Assemblymember Peoples said. "In order to fight drugs and drug crimes, we must tackle the problem at the root and deal with the debilitating impacts of addiction."
Recognizing the deadly connection between the drug trade and firearms, the new legislation establishes a five-year, minimum determinate sentence for anyone convicted of physically possessing a loaded firearm, machine gun or disguised gun while selling or attempting to sell drugs. The bill also increases the penalties for selling or attempting to sell drugs to minors and creates a new crime for using minors to aid in the sale of unlawful drugs.
"These comprehensive reforms are truly a new way of launching a war on drug-related crime," Assemblymember Peoples said.
CRITICAL FUNDING TO CONSTRUCT AND RENOVATE SCHOOLS
Assemblymember Crystal D. Peoples supported legislation that would provide critical funding to construct and renovate schools statewide by providing modern teaching facilities, reduce class sizes and give students a safer and healthy place to learn. The funding program, originated in the Assembly’s 2006-2007 budget proposal, was approved by the Senate and Governor.
The capital construction program called "Expanding our Children’s Education and Learning (EXCEL)" provides $31.5 million for Buffalo Public schools, and an additional $48.5 million in funding for lower educational programs, including $1 million allocated for universal pre-K expansion.
"We have remained vigilant in protecting the education of our children by funding school construction efforts," Assemblymember Peoples said. "In doing so, we raise aspirations and focus our energy towards solving a much-needed, long-term problem like the need for modern and safe facilities. As a result, both teachers and children can participate in scholarly endeavor in an environment that projects the promise of educational opportunity."
The EXCEL program is one of several comprehensive measures in the Legislature’s budget, which is designed to enhance and expand education for New York State’s students. Modern schools are needed to prepare children for a modern economy. By constructing and renovating Buffalo Public Schools, we put the children first and give them the tools necessary to exceed beyond expectation.
|ASSEMBLYMEMBER PEOPLES CALLS ON NEW YORKERS TO KEEP AN EYE ON THE PUMPS|
With the new gas tax cap set to take effect June 1 for the
state sales tax, Assemblymember Crystal D. Peoples is asking
drivers to keep watch at the pumps.
"With this new law that caps the state sales tax on gas, service station owners must also pass along the savings to consumers," Assemblymember Peoples said. "While I believe that most owners will comply with this new law, I am urging people to call my office if they observe a station that is not complying."
Assemblymember Peoples noted that the law will cap sales taxes on gas at 8 cents per gallon, which locks in the tax at the $2 per gallon rate. For example, with gas prices at $3 per gallon, the cap will reduce the tax on gas by 4 cents per gallon. If gas prices should dip below $2 per gallon, the 8-cent cap would be reduced proportionately.
"Gas stations can be fined up to $5,000 per incident, per day, if they neglect to pass savings on to consumers," Assemblymember Peoples said. "This law was enacted to protect the people from burdensome sales taxes on gas and must be followed. Otherwise, those with the least resources are the ones that suffer the most."
Residents can call 716.897.9714 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org to voice their concerns.
|TAX CUTS THAT GIVE BACK|
The Legislature approved a state budget that cuts taxes $1.6 billion this year and $2.5 billion next year, and rejects nearly $1 billion in tax increases the governor wanted to impose. The Legislature ensured a spending plan that returns surplus tax dollars back to the families who paid them.
The budget targets tax relief for those who need it most, namely hard-working families, homeowners, seniors, and job-creating businesses.
The budget alleviates the burden of high property taxes and soaring housing costs; provides $756 million in property tax rebates to homeowners across the state; institutes a cost of living adjustment to Enhanced STAR, which will save eligible seniors an additional $72 million; eliminates the regressive 4 percent state sales tax on clothing - saving shoppers approximately $600 million a year; implements the child tax credit with a maximum benefit of $330 for children between ages 4 and 17; reduces the marriage penalty tax, which will save married couples $41 million annually when fully phased in; and increases the Vendor Credit for sales taxes, eventually saving small business $54 million.
The budget provides real tax relief to real New Yorkers.
|EDUCATION IS POWER!|
Rousing Success Of The 1st "Parent Power" Conference Lays Foundation For Upcoming Conference Planned In August 2006
Assemblymember Crystal D. Peoples (141st District) and - former Senator (60th District), now - Mayor Byron W. Brown sponsored the first "Parent Power" Conference on August 20, 2005 at the Metro-Community Delavan/Grider Center. The conference focus, subtitled "Taking Control of Your Child’s Educational Future," emphasized the need for parents to take an active role in their children’s education.
Various workshops were presented on homework assistance, communicating with children and their teachers, the importance of parental involvement and preparing for college. More than 40 parents and their children were joined by concerned teachers of the Buffalo Public School System, all of whom stated that they were pleased with the workshop presentations.
The conference was successful thanks to sponsorship by Univera Healthcare, Wegman’s Supermarket, WNED ThinkBright TV, YO! Buffalo, BETC, The Princeton Review, Adelphia, and WBLK 93.7 FM Radio.
Get ready for the 2nd Annual Parent Power Conference, scheduled for August 2006. This year’s workshop will focus on helping parents to build and strengthen the pipeline between secondary and postsecondary education and provide essential information on graduation requirements and other important information to help students and parents plan for academic success.
Contact the District Office at (716) 897-9714 for further information.
RESOURCES FOR HIGHER EDUCATION OFFER PROMISE
The state budget makes significant investments in New York’s higher education system, rejects the governor’s harmful cuts, and blocks his shortsighted vetoes. The budget will help strengthen New York’s higher education system and ensure that all students have access to an affordable college education by adding an additional $239.31 million in state support to SUNY, CUNY and community colleges.
A major accomplishment of this year’s budget is a $131.33 million increase in operating aid that blocked the governor’s proposed tuition hikes of $500 for State University of New York students. The budget also creates a new TAP program to help part-time students at all SUNY, CUNY and independent 4-year colleges and universities; increases overall SUNY/ CUNY operating aid - allowing SUNY and CUNY to add more faculty; and keeps eligibility for fulltime TAP at 12 credits.
Other highlights of the plan include:
"I am glad that we were able to deliver a fair, on-time budget that provides our students with the educational opportunities they need to succeed," said Assemblymember Peoples.
Celebrating the Life and Legacy of
This Assembled Body is moved this day to record the passing of Sister Karen Klimczak, a Roman Catholic nun, distinguished citizen and devoted member of our community.
In honor of our beloved Sister Karen Klimczak, a distinguished citizen and devoted member of the community, we take a moment to pay tribute to her momentous lifework and civic endeavor, which served to enhance the quality of life for the "least and the lost" in our community. Sister Karen, as she was affectionately called, will be remembered as an unwavering activist of the people and for a life dedicated to peace and helping others. No matter the socio-economic background, nationality or race, she was an absolute indomitable force in serving mankind.
Sister Karen believed in the power of love and worked assiduously to provide opportunities for the most distressed and troubled members of society. Her benevolence was all encompassing and included her relentless service to the prison ministry, which she began in the mid-1980’s. Sister Karen’s mission was to encourage former criminal offenders toward productive futures. She founded Hope House in 1985 as a residence for former prison inmates, serving in several capacities, as bookkeeper, chief fundraiser, counselor, spiritual adviser, and overseer. She also established Hope Hospitality House to help connect families with their loved ones in prison.
Sister Karen’s notable work as one of the most visible peace activists in Buffalo impacted an entire community, as she fostered and was at the forefront of the peace movement, developing and disseminating yard signage and living true to her creed, "Nonviolence begins with me."
She gave generously of her time to numerous community organizations, led prayer vigils at murder scenes, and conducted anti-violence programs at schools.
Sister Karen believed in the power of the human spirit and forgiveness, and will be remembered as a spiritual agent of goodness and one of the strongest ambassadors of God’s love on earth.
"She was truly an angel," said Assemblymember Peoples, "and a treasure whose presence will forever be missed."
BUFFALO’S DIVISION OF CITIZEN SERVICES
Mayor Byron W. Brown’s Division of Citizen Services is headed by Oswaldo Mestre. The Division was created within the Executive Department to serve the residents of the City of Buffalo. Every year, the Mayor’s "Call and Resolution Center" - formerly the Mayor’s Complaint Hotline - receives 60,000 calls from citizens about various issues, ranging from garbage pickup to tree trimming. Each call is assigned a service number, and the callers are sent an acknowledgement letter with updates or a resolution about their complaints. In addition, the Division of Citizen Services has various programs to improve the quality of services for residents, such as Weed and Seed, Save Our Streets, and Office of Support Services.
The Division also coordinates and oversees the Office of Citizen Participation and Information and the City of Buffalo’s Fair Housing Office.
This year, the Division is launching a new program called "Block Clubs." The purpose of this program is to provide the citizens of Buffalo with information about how to improve their communities, access city services and prevent crime in their neighborhoods.
"It is vital service. Residents need to have access and channels to voice their concerns about city services. This Call and Resolution Center is a great way to address resident issues," said Assemblymember Crystal D. Peoples.
For more information or to launch a complaint, call Mayor Brown’s "Call and Resolution Center" at 716.851.4890.