Assemblymember Crystal D. Peoples Assemblymember
Crystal D.

Reports to the People

Repeal of Rockefeller Drug Laws

After decades of excessive mandatory sentencing provisions, the legislature finally took action to resolve several issues with Rockefeller drug laws. The Assembly passed a plan to reform the drug laws, focusing on steering lower-level, non-violent offenders to compulsory drug treatment as a potential alternative to prison. Co-sponsored by Assemblymember Crystal D. Peoples, bill (A. 6663-A) could reduce prison costs, save New Yorkers about $123 million annually, crack down on violent offenders and treat the causes of drug-related crimes. The Rockefeller drug laws, first enacted in 1973, are notorious for their overly harsh and inflexible mandatory-minimum sentences. These laws have also been criticized for having a disproportionate impact on minority defendants.

This bill addresses an important loophole by providing firm measures to reduce drug-related crime and eliminate the substance abuse that often lies at the core of criminal behavior. This legislation would expand the use of drug courts in New York, establishing one in each county, and authorize drug courts to direct eligible defendants who suffer from substance abuse dependency to a Court Approved Drug Abuse Treatment (CADAT) program.

According to a Rand Corporation study, treatment is 15 times more effective than mandatory-minimum sentences in reducing serious crimes committed by drug offenders. Assemblymember Peoples, who is pleased with many of the changes, said, “By implementing sound alternatives to incarceration for street level drug offenders, we can save tens of millions of taxpayer dollars, invest in critical service programs, and direct offenders to treatment where they belong.”

For more information about this legislation, please search for Bill A. 6663 on the Assembly’s website,

parents and children
Parenting On Purpose
Integrating Learning Opportunities at Home

Please join us at the 3rd Annual Parent Power Conference and breakfast on September 15, 2007. The conference will take place at the Pratt Willard Community Center, located at 422 Pratt Street. The annual event, hosted by Assemblymember Peoples, is a great opportunity for parents, school administrators and elected officials to collaborate on the various resources available to support Buffalo’s children and reinforce the value of a quality education. This year’s conference, entitled “Parenting on Purpose: Integrating Learning in the Home” will encourage parents to reinforce the benefits of education and continue the learning process in the home.

As an outlet for community organizations to disseminate information, vendors are invited to share information on tutoring assistance, SAT preparation programs, financial aid and other pertinent resources with participating students and parents. Move your child one step forward towards academic success and a great future.

Come and learn how to incorporate learning into everyday activities with your child. Encourage other family and church members to make an active investment in the lives of our children by attending this conference. More details about this year’s conference to follow. For more information on guest speakers, event details and how to volunteer, please call the office at 716-897-9714.

Lead Poisoning is Preventable, Not Curable

Lead poisoning in children is preventable, but not curable. Yet each year, New York identifies more than 10,000 children with blood levels that are considered ‘elevated.’ In response to these disheartening statistics, Assemblymember Peoples introduced bill (A.06399) in an effort to improve the oversight and administration of the state’s lead poisoning program.

The bill would require the state Department of Health (NYSDOH) to oversee and implement intensive primary prevention plans in communities with the greatest number of cases of lead poisonings in the previous year. New York State has both the largest percentage and the largest absolute number of older housing units with lead paint in the nation and the second highest number of children with elevated blood lead levels.

All rental properties built before 1970 will be targeted and mandated to receive certification of their lead containment status. Designations of either “lead-free”, “lead contained” or “lead stabilized” will be given and be re-certified periodically. Additionally, various sections of the law, including Real Property, Tax, Multiple Dwelling, Social Services and Insurance laws, are affected and will be re-evaluated after this law is passed.

Assemblymember Peoples said, “The health of our children is the lifeline for our future. The state, landlords and property owners must work collectively to eradicate childhood lead poisoning because our children cannot be used as a litmus test for the detection of New York State’s lead hazards.”

A revolving loan program will be created by tax credits extended to property owners. The program will help them comply with the law and eliminate or reduce lead hazards through the use of low-cost or no-cost loans. More importantly, the bill will strengthen inspection and disclosure requirements for home sales and for rental property occupancy. Assemblymember Peoples stated, “Lead poisoning prevention has to be part of a collective effort between the state, public health and housing agencies and the community before we can begin to address this problem statewide.”

Assemblymember Crystal D. Peoples:
One of the State’s “Women of Excellence”

On Friday, March 23, 2007, Assemblymember Crystal D. Peoples was honored by Lieutenant Governor David A. Paterson with the “Women of Excellence” award. The Fourth Annual New York State Women of Excellence Award Celebration was held in New York City at the New York Academy of Medicine. Symbolically held during Women’s History month, eight extraordinary women from across New York State were recognized for their outstanding character and significant contributions to communities throughout the state.

Established by Lt. Governor Paterson four years ago, this award acknowledged women who have made significant contributions in his Senate District. The award tradition has since evolved to recognize exceptional women from all over New York State. “It is my honor to acknowledge the admirable work of these extraordinary women,” said Lt. Governor David A. Paterson. “The honorees deserve tremendous praise for their commendable work in our communities, and it is my privilege to pay tribute to them during this year’s Women of Excellence Award Celebration.”

Since Congress expanded the commemoration of Women’s History Month in 1987, New Yorkers and all Americans have formally honored the achievements of women for the entire month of March. Through this celebration, we are reminded of the tremendous contributions women have made to our society, as well as our ultimate objective of full equality for all women.

“It is my honor to accept this award in the company of such distinguished and profound trailblazing women, who are making real differences in communities across New York State. I recognize and celebrate the diverse and historic accomplishments of my ancestors and all women, who have paved the way and made my contribution possible,” stated Assemblymember Peoples.

Igniting Ideas and Changing the Future
Peoples receives Distinguished UB award


For her tireless advocacy in support of economic development projects and commitment to the University at Buffalo, Assemblymember Peoples was honored with the ‘Igniting Ideas’ Award, on June 14, 2007. Celebrated as ‘UB Business Partners Day’ the university’s School of Engineering honored business and civic trailblazers who have demonstrated outstanding leadership in support of UB and Buffalo Niagara and who promote successful and productive partnerships.

Steve Holliday, CEO of National Grid, was the luncheon’s featured speaker and Lockheed Martin Enterprise Solutions was awarded the Vital Partner Award for its continuous philanthropy and partnership with the School of Engineering.

Highly regarded by President John B. Simpson, Assemblymember Peoples was noted for her valuable and effective collaboration with UB in its efforts to positively impact the Buffalo Niagara economy and community.

Her Assembly district is comprised of part of the university’s Main Street Campus and several of its satellite facilities. Assemblymember Peoples, a constant supporter of higher education, is a member of the newly created New York State Higher Education Commission.

Minority Women In Business Seminar
Giving Women the Competitive Edge in Today’s Business

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The New York State Association of Black and Puerto Rican Legislators held its 36th Annual Conference on the weekend of February 16th-18th in Albany. Widely attended by various groups including unions, public employees, religious groups and private industry representatives; seminars were held that focused on diverse issues such as: health care, crime, minority business, etc.

As part of her on-going efforts to propel women and minority business, Assemblymember Peoples hosted a “Women In Business” seminar. “Women in Business” exposed the career paths, trials, tribulations and success stories of four minority female executives. The panel discussion featured Sundra L. Ryce, President of SLR Contracting; Kathleen Doucette-Miller of Nationwide Insurance Agency; Cathy A. Bell, Managing Director and Co-Head of Eastern Region of Loop Capital Markets; and Delores G. Jordan, President and Founder of Sisters Connect, Inc.

The seminar commenced with a welcome address from Assemblymember Peoples who discussed her focus as Chair of the Subcommittee on the Oversight of Minority and Women-owned Business Enterprises within the New York State Assembly. Over 200 women and minorities were in attendance.

A question and answer segment followed the panel discussion, where over 30 women declared that they were inspired by the panelists. Many spoke of their renewed sense of hope because of Assemblymember Peoples’ commitment to the growth of MWBEs and the new leadership in state government.

Demolition of Towers and redevelopment of site will result in the creation of new jobs and tax revenues
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As a result of years of deliberation, Assemblymember Peoples with the support of the western New York delegation have secured $5 million in state funding to demolish Kensington Towers. For over 25 years, the Kensington Towers have stood as a symbol of urban blight on Buffalo’s East Side and an eyesore from the expressway. The Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority will receive $5 million from New York State to demolish the Kensington Towers’ six (6), seven-story towers. This marks a critical step in redeveloping the site and surrounding area into a Continuing Care Retirement Community and the continuation of the redevelopment of 120 acres, known as Heritage Heights, which includes the recent opening of a shared laundry services facility at 60 Grider Street near E. Ferry Street.

The Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority has an exclusive development agreement with Centerstone Development and HML Enterprises to demolish the towers and redevelop the property as a Continuing Care Retirement Community. It is anticipated that this development project, when completed, will create up to 700 new and permanent jobs and up to 800 new construction jobs over the three year period. Centerstone Development and HML Enterprises also calculate that the project will generate tax revenues to local governments and the school district of approximately $3.2 million annually. Many Buffalonians look forward to the revitalization of this site and expressed sincere gratitude to Assemblymember Peoples for her diligent efforts in seeing this become a reality.

“Speaker Silver has remained committed to my efforts in seeing those Towers come down. For that, I want to thank Speaker Silver and my Assembly colleagues for their enthusiastic support of this project,” Assemblymember Peoples said. “The demolition of these towers represents the continuing rebirth and revitalization of Buffalo’s eastside that, at one time, was vibrant and will be again.”

“The Time is Now for MWBEs”
Assemblymember Peoples and Senator Thompson host MWBE reception
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“The Time is Now” was the tagline for the Minority and Women-owned Business Enterprises (MWBE) networking reception envisioned by Assemblymember Peoples at the Buffalo Museum of Science. The reception held on Thursday, June 28, 2007 was a collaborative effort of Assemblymember Peoples, Senator Antoine M. Thompson, New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, LPCiminelli, Buffalo Niagara Partnership, Canisius College Women’s Business Center, and University at Buffalo School of Management Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership.

The reception was free and open to the public and targeted MWBEs, which are certified, eligible for certification, or currently undergoing the certification process. As the first event of its kind in Buffalo, the reception garnered support from several state and local elected officials, government offices, and agencies, signifying a unified shift in priority to sustaining MWBEs. Over 250 people gathered to establish professional relationships, and disseminate information.

The reception commenced with a press conference, followed by a presentation in the auditorium. Lt. Gov. Paterson discussed the state’s “new direction” for New York’s businesses. Additionally, he announced the creation of the Division of Minority and Women’s Business Development at Empire State Development Corporation and its new director, Michael Jones-Bey.

Michael Jones-Bey presented New York State’s executive plan for MWBE’s and discussed state contracting opportunities. Jones-Bey encouraged firms interested in expanding their businesses to meet with representatives from state agencies that have the largest state expenditures. According to Jones-Bey’s presentation, the state capitalized in over $13 billion in discretionary funding and the thirteen agencies in attendance garnered the largest control over state contracts.

As Chair of the Oversight Committee on MWBE’s in the NYS Assembly, Assemblymember Peoples stated, “MWBEs must take hold of the invaluable opportunities presented and meet with representatives from the DOT, SUNY Procurement Department, Empire State Development, and the Department of Correctional Services, who are the gatekeepers to some of the state bidding contracts.”

Community Center receives $100,000 to renovate Day Care


Assemblymember Crystal D. Peoples, a long time advocate of healthy, safe and productive children presented a $100,000 check to the Lt. Col. Matt Urban Human Services Center of Western New York on Friday, April 20, 2007. The funding, secured by the New York State Assembly, will prepare the center for a first floor day care center and outdoor community playground on Buffalo’s East Side.

This Community Capital Assistance Program (CCAP) funding will be used towards the purchase of playground equipment, windows, doors, fencing, and interior renovations needed to accommodate the day care center. The executive director of the center Marlies Wesolowski stated, “We are absolutely elated that Assemblymember Crystal Peoples worked so hard to secure this critical funding for our children. Once built, the children will have access to a state of the art facility that will forever etch beautiful memories of childhood play in their hearts and minds.”

On Buffalo’s eastside, the physical boundaries of children are decreasing due to a number of factors, including crime and parents fear for their children’s safety. Many children are no longer free to explore their neighborhoods or even their own yards. The days of outside play are gone and more and more children are forced to play indoors. As a result, there is little opportunity for direct and spontaneous contact with nature, which can give children a heightened sensitivity towards the environment, their community and mankind.

The renovation of the day care center and playground are underway with a scheduled opening during the summer 2007. “I am pleased that the Matt Urban Center has devised a plan to address this very important issue. Our community needs a comprehensive family support center,” said Assemblymember Peoples, “. . . one that includes quality child care services, recreational opportunities, and a comfortable environment for parents and children to engage in productive activities.”

Assemblymember Crystal D. Peoples Selected for Higher Education Commission

Commission to Promote Quality Higher Education in New York

Governor Eliot Spitzer signed an Executive Order creating a state Higher Education Commission and appointed Assemblymember Peoples to serve on that commission. The Higher Education Commission is charged with identifying ways of improving the quality of higher education in New York.

“Excellence in higher education is a key to our state’s future,” said Governor Spitzer. “The state’s network of outstanding public and private colleges and universities are essential to producing the highly skilled work force that will be a major driver of New York’s Upstate economy. This new commission will help identify innovative, cutting edge ideas and necessary improvements that will help improve the quality of education we deliver and make New York’s higher education system a world class institution.”

The Commission on Higher Education will be chaired by Professor Hunter Rawlings, President Emeritus of both Cornell University and the University of Iowa. Under the Executive Order, the Commission will study the current higher education system, make recommendations about improving access to the SUNY system, expand its degree programs to reflect state and regional economic development objectives, enhance the capacity of the state’s university research center to compete with others across the state and provide high value employment, just to name a few. The Commission will also make recommendations that address flexibility on the system’s individual campuses to attract the best and brightest students and faculty and enlist them in the service of the economic, humanitarian and civic needs of their communities.

“It is truly an honor to be appointed to the Commission on Higher Education for New York State,” said Assemblymember Crystal D. Peoples. “New York’s colleges and universities are vital to our state’s economic future. I am looking forward to working with this distinguished team of experts to develop an effective strategy that will help propel New York’s institutions of higher learning and increase access to educational opportunities for all,” stated Assemblymember Peoples.

“Reading is the Key”

Over 1,000 books were given away during the Annual Juneteenth Festival Parade as part of Assemblymember Peoples commitment to the NYS Assembly’s Summer Reading Challenge. Her quote, “Reading is the Key to lifelong learning” was displayed across the bright gold shirts of volunteers as they distributed books of all reading levels to parade attendees.

The NYS Assembly and Assemblymember Peoples agree that reading is a great way to spend your free time. The Assembly encourages New York State residents to take the initiative to expand their vocabulary, reading and writing skills by reading more often as part of the Summer Reading Challenge. “Reading should be integrated into your everyday activities. You can read on the bus, on the way to work or school, when you are relaxing at the park or during vacation. You would be amazed at the benefits of reading,” Assemblymember Peoples exclaimed.

The annual Summer Reading Challenge helps parents and their children adopt the habit of reading. Furthermore, an Assembly Summer Reading Certificate is granted to children who have read with a parent for at least 15 minutes a day, for at least 40 days during the months of July and August. Assemblymember Peoples said the initiative is part of the Assembly’s commitment to focusing on the importance of a quality education for our children. Peoples cites that children will enjoy reading more as a result of this program, which can greatly contribute to their overall reading achievement. Additionally, when children are encouraged to read, they are more likely to join, visit and use the library and explore books that cover a vast range of topics and interests. As a result, the doors of communication will open as more children share their reading with others and talk about books.

The recently passed state budget makes a historic investment in New York’s education system, providing an unprecedented $1.7 billion increase to help students gain valuable knowledge and succeed in an ever-changing global economy.

For more information on Assemblymember Peoples’ Summer Reading Challenge, please contact the office at (716) 897-9714.