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Assemblyman
Herman D. Farrell, Jr.
Assembly District 71
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Chair, Ways and Means Committee
…and this month in Albany
November 25, 2014

Assemblyman Farrell Reports to Community Board 12

Opening the 124-Unit Sugar Hill Development

When I was a boy, I loved model airplanes but I never finished them, setting them aside after I finished the wings. My father used them to teach me a life lesson. He explained that only doing part of the job was not good enough, and stick-to-it-ive-ness was needed to see it through to the end. I believe that the people of our community have that ability, as is shown by a number of important affordable housing projects that have been years in the making which are now being finished or are breaking ground after many, many years of hard work and setbacks. One of these has been in the works for years, and is in our community.

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Assemblyman Farrell speaks during a ribbon-cutting ceremony opening the Sugar Hill Development on Friday, November 21, 2014. Photo courtesy DNAinfo.com.

Two years after construction began, I joined elected officials and members at the community for a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Friday afternoon at the Sugar Hill Development at West 155th Street and St. Nicholas Avenue. This much-needed 124-unit affordable housing project I have been honored to support was many years in the making and will help to ease the ongoing shortage of affordable housing in Northern Manhattan.

The Sugar Hill project brings together affordable housing, a preschool and an on-site museum. Though the effort to build it began only six years ago, it too required stick-to-it-ive-ness. As I noted during a speech about this project earlier this year, Broadway Housing Communities' work to make this large project happen is tremendously important for this community in an age of rising rents and many apartments being taken out of the rent-control system.

Mayor de Blasio went further in his description, calling the Sugar Hill Development a wonderful example of the rejuvenation, renewal, community involvement and community leadership that can be found here in Northern Manhattan. I wholeheartedly agree, and look forward to attending and taking part in Friday's event.

A New Home for the Boys' and Girls' Club of Harlem

On Thursday, November 14th I was given the honor of speaking at a ceremony regarding the upcoming relocation of the Boys' and Girls' Club of Harlem to the old PS 186 on 145th Street.

As you may know, this school closed in 1975 and the building has been dormant ever since. The Boys' and Girls' Club of Harlem purchased the building over 30 years ago, but until recently renovations never got off the ground. It is the people who have worked on these programs for decades that are making these things happen. This important project at last getting off the ground is another example of stick-to-it-ive-ness by people who refuse to take 'no' for an answer and get things done to benefit our community. I am happy to support this project.

The City's Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) and its' partner organizations will team up to take on this nearly $50 million project which will not only create a new home for the Boys' and Girls' Club of Harlem, but also 78 individuals and families who are in need of high-quality, affordable housing.

Breaking Ground on More New Affordable Housing in the Community

I also took part in other events during the last month that may help meet hardworking New Yorkers' need for affordable housing including another groundbreaking on November 5th for a Harlem Congregations for Community Improvement project at 260-266 West 153rd Street.

This new development will create 51 units of affordable housing. I also recently attended a ribbon-cutting event at Bethany Place's new 304 West 154th Street facility, which will offer 23 new housing units. None of these good things could have taken place if these wonderful people had taken 'no' for an answer.

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As I said, throughout this month other wonderful housing developments took place throughout Northern Manhattan. On November 12, I was given the honor of speaking at a ribbon-cutting ceremony opening Bethany Place at 304 West 154th Street and Frederick Douglass Boulevard, where 23 units of affordable housing have just been opened. (See photo above.)

Bethany Place also came to be because of the incredible stick-to-it-ive-ness of the people of Bethany Baptist Church, the elected officials who have represented our community over the years, and other people who saw a need and fought to fill that need. This fight took place over many, many years. Financing for the project was promised and then taken away, but the advocates who sought this project did not give up. At last, after what seemed like a lifetime of effort, their dream has been realized and it was a wonderful thing to see.

Supporting the Metropolitan Center's Black Male Initiative

I recently met with representatives of SUNY Empire State's College's Metropolitan Center, who are involved in an exiting five-year-old initiative called the Black Male Initiative which seeks to use peer support and other new approaches to encourage young men of color to remain in college and continue to pursue success and opportunity. (The program was initially names The African-American Male Initiative, but the name was changed to attract young men born in the Caribbean who may not identify as African American.)

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Black Male Initiative representatives Dexter Mead, Jay Marshall, David A. Fullard, Ph.D., Keith Amparado and Lawrence Johnson recently met with Assemblyman Farrell to discuss their efforts to encourage young men of color to complete their higher educations.

This program began when Empire State College educators looked at their statistics and found that graduation rates for male of color at the Empire Center were only 37 percent, compared to 49 percent for female students of color and 50 percent of Hispanic male students. These leaders decided to tap the potential of the college's alumni and the college's expertise while encouraging students to meet monthly to talk about what is on their mind. It appears to be working.

As you know, people who complete college tend to have more opportunities available to them and earn more money over the course of their lifetime. In many cases, the alternative to education for young men of color is incarceration or dead-end work. The statistics are horrific. By one study, as of 2000, 65 percent of African-American male high school dropouts in their 20s were jobless, meaning they were unable to find work, not looking for it or incarcerated.

Even including high school graduates, the study showed the numbers are still dismal: half of all young, African-American men were jobless and at that time about 20 percent of these men had been to jail or prison. In some inner cities, the study found, half of these men quit high school. Having the mentors and alumni who are working to change these sad facts visit my District Office led to a wonderful conversation, and I am happy to give them my support.

Honoring NYPD Leaders in Northern Manhattan

On November 12, I had the pleasure of joining City Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez in a ceremony (shown below) honoring the newly-promoted Deputy Inspector Fausto Pichardo who during the last few years was a law enforcement leader in our community. Also honored during the event, which was held at the Triangle Building on 166th Street, were Deputy Inspector Barry Buzzetti, Detective Haydee Pabey, Detective Francisco Rijo and Sgt. Sharon Robinson-Hewitt.

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New Study Highlights Ongoing HIV/AIDS Problem in Our Community
Embracing Obamacare Could Improve Health in Northern Manhattan

You may have seen a recent report on NY1 outlining that fact that, though HIV infection rates are falling, the number of infections among African-American New Yorkers remain sadly high. According to their report, 115,000 New Yorkers have HIV/AIDS including over 3,000 who were infected during 2012, the last year for which statistics are available. And although nationally African-Americans make up just 13 percent of Americans, our community accounts for 47 percent of new HIV cases, according to NY1's report.

Many believe this is the case because many in our community do not have health care coverage or access to health care services, so they do not receive regular checkups and are not aware of their HIV status, leading them to unknowingly spread it. Of course, as we have heard over and over for many years, prevention is the single most important factor. Advances in treatment have made it possible for people who are infected with HIV/AIDS to live long, healthy lives. Preventing them from unknowingly spreading the disease to others is therefore a factor.

A lot of words have been said for and against Obamacare, but this problem is one of the things it can help solve. By providing people access to health care, as does every other developed nation, the United States government has done a tremendous favor to our community. Allowing people the opportunity to visit a doctor regularly, and cutting costs and other obstacles to receiving that care, could lead many more people to be tested for HIV, know their status and avoid spreading the virus. You must ask for this test to be performed in addition to regular bloodwork.

As of November 15 and until February 15, the second open enrollment period for Obamacare (also known as the Affordable Care Act) continues. This will allow new enrollees to sign up for coverage and existing enrollees to change their health plans. This open enrollment period is also the only time when you may apply for financial assistance to avoid a penalty for not having coverage.

While the first open enrollment period last year suffered from many computer problems, many thousands of Americans signed up for coverage. Many of them had never had health coverage before and were able to regularly visit a doctor for the first time. According to the White House in a matter of days after the second open enrollment period began, another 100,000 Americans signed up for health care coverage. This law is providing real help to people who need it.

For more information, feel free to visit the Federal resource at www.healthcare.gov or call (800) 318-2596. The TTY number is (855) 889-4325. Each of the states that have set up health care exchanges under the Federal program have their own programs. For information about New York's program, visit www.nystateofhealth.ny.gov or call (855) 355-5777. The TTY number for the New York program is (800) 662-1220.

If you wish to see more about these issues and my work in the community, please visit my Web site at www.assembly.state.ny.us.



Yours truly,
Herman "Denny" Farrell, Jr.



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…and this month in Albany
November 5, 2014

Assemblyman Farrell Reports to Community Board 10

People's March for Renters and Affordable Housing

On Saturday, October 25 I joined my fellow elected officials including Assembly Member Keith Wright, who chairs our Housing Committee, and other leaders in the community along with many others to take part in a march from 135th Street and Broadway in support of tenants and renters' rights. As you may know, 2015 has the potential to be a watershed year with respect to this critical issue. Many of the rent laws are scheduled to sunset in 2015 and many observers believe the final results of yesterday's elections and the reorganization of the Senate have the potential to fundamentally reshape the balance of rights shared by tenants and landlords.

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Assemblyman Farrell, Senator Adriano Espaillat and advocates from the community show their support for tenants during an October 2014 march on Broadway.

As you may recall, during our last Legislative Session in Albany I introduced several bills that, if they become law, may dramatically expand tenants' rights and use the force of law to further discourage bad landlords from abusing their tenants. I will continue to stand with my colleagues including Assembly Member Keith Wright to fight for tenants' rights and to help preserve high-quality, affordable housing in Northern Manhattan.

In two months, the Assembly and Senate will return to Albany for our 2015 Legislative Session. My colleagues in the Assembly Majority Conference and I await the results of the several hotly contested Senate races, which in the past have not been settled until many months after Election Day. Our 2015 Session is likely to be a very busy one, but could be a fruitful Session for renters.

Update on NYS' Universal Pre-K Program

My Ways and Means Committee staff recently updated me on the progress that has been made in getting the State's Universal Pre-Kindergarten program up and running. As you may recall, this dramatic expansion of our public education system is based on a deal that was made in the process of finishing the budget for State Fiscal Year 2014-2015. The State will allocate $1.5 billion over five years to pay for Pre-K programming, with an allocation of $340 million for 2014-2015. This funding is in addition to the Assembly's longstanding commitment of $385 million to universal Pre-K programs. As a result, approximately $750 million is allocated to this critical program. This year, new funding will pay for new, full-day slots and the expansion of existing half-day slots to full-day programs. Schools will receive $10,000 per student in classrooms led by certified teachers and $7,000 per student for classrooms led by non-certified teachers. Statewide, 84 public schools, not-for-profit organizations, charter schools, museums and libraries will have their Pre-K programs funded by the State. In New York City, $300 million of this year's $340 million statewide allocation will be awarded to 22 organizations providing universal Pre-K services to 30,000 young learners.

Negotiations Ongoing in Federal Medicaid Funding Shakeup

As you may recall, not long ago State officials got some difficult news about Federal Medicaid reimbursement funding as we worked to finish the State budget. The Federal Department of Health and Human Services, acting on a claim made by Congressman Darryl Issa of California, announced that New York State had been awarded too much money for its' Office for People With Developmental Disabilities for years, and the Federal government wanted that money back. This, of course, created a hole in the budget for OPWDD and other important human-services programs. In State Fiscal Year 2010-2011 alone, Federal officials claimed they had identified $1.3 billion in overpayments to OPWDD and related programs. State officials led by Governor Cuomo have negotiated with Federal officials in an effort to blunt this potential blow. Given that Federal reimbursements for State program expenses were immediately cut, State officials have asked that no further cuts are imposed until after a full scope of audits and review have been completed. On July 25, 2014 Federal auditors informed us that an audit of services provided by the State was underway and was expected to be complete within 60 days, a deadline that passed in late September without the State receiving any official finding. After a finding is issued, a second 60-day period will begin during which the State can contest the results of this audit. We should have the initial results shortly, and will issue our response at an appropriate time.

Farrell and Levine Working on "The People's Budget"

As you know, in recent years City government has taken part in a bold experiment called Participatory Budgeting. Under this program, each City Council Member is granted an allotment for their District and engages in a discussion with their constituents to decide how that money should be spent. On Saturday, October 25 I was invited by Council Member Mark Levine to take part in a discussion with our constituents, and bring the knowledge I have acquired as Ways and Means Chair during the last 20 years to help guide this discussion of next year's budget.

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Don't Forget to Get Your Flu Shot!

Every year, I always make a point of getting flu shots for myself and my family and often post pictures of the event on my Assembly Web site to encourage people to get the shot for themselves and their families. Though the weather has been unusually pleasant lately, winter is coming, and will bring with it the cold and flu season.

Though the Ebola virus is on everyone's mind, as is New York City's reaction to only one person here being treated for this disease, the fact is that before the flu shot was developed, the flu was a deadly serious problem. During the major flu pandemic of 1918, many thousands of New Yorkers became ill and tens of thousands died. The number of flu deaths was so high, in fact, that City officials charged with counting the dead were overwhelmed.

Today, some people still refuse to get their flu shot or believe it is unnecessary. The flu shot is absolutely necessary, and widely available at many pharmacies and health care facilities throughout Northern Manhattan and other parts of the City. The shot is also free of charge under many health care plans. Information on where to get a shot and other data is available at nyc.gov.

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Yours truly,
Herman "Denny" Farrell, Jr.



…and this month in Albany
October 16, 2014

Assemblyman Farrell Reports to Community Board 9

Expanding Healthy Food Resources in West Harlem

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of attending the opening of the Community Healthy Food Hub, a project of West Harlem Group Assistance and the Local Initiative Support Corporation. As you know, access to healthy foods and the health issues related to poor eating habits have long been a problem, and it was wonderful to see these valuable new services offered to people in need. The Food Hub is located at 625 Lenox Avenue between 141st and 142nd and will provide access to fresh food of the client's choice, cooking and nutrition classes and access to SNAP services.

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Donald Notice, Executive Director at West Harlem Group Assistance, Helene Caloir, Director of Policy at the Local Initiative Support Corporation, and Assemblyman Farrell.

Seeking Help From the Community to Seize Illegal Motorcycles

I have been working with the New York Police Department precinct commanders in the District to reduce illegal motorcycle use in the streets. Because of the danger a fleeing, unlicensed cyclist can present to pedestrians and police, the police usually choose not to chase these riders. Instead, they have been working with members of the community to find where motorcycles are hidden when they are not in use. Some illegal riders go as far as to hide their bikes in rental trucks that are parked on the street. In the photo below, I am discussing these issues and the progress that has been made with Deputy Inspector Michael Davidson of the 32nd Precinct.

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Albany Hearings Address Social Services, Child Safety

As you know, though the Legislature is typically only in Session from January to June, it is the normal course of business for my work to continue year-round. As chair of the Ways and Means Committee, I meet with my staff regularly to be sure that expenditures are in line with our budget plans, revenue receipts are in line with the projections we make when we pass our on-time budget by April 1 every year, and other budget-related issues remain in balance.

Assembly hearings held in Albany during the summer months have addressed issues that are of critical importance to New York City and other communities throughout the State. Recent reports have brought to light tragic events in New York City and Erie County where children have died in cases in which Child Protective Services (CPS) had been previously involved.

Oversight and Reform Proposals Discussed

During these important oversight hearings, proposals for new legislation were sought from representatives of dozens of local social services agencies with a goal of improving the Statewide Central Register, which collects reports from local CPS agencies, and govern how CPS agencies deal with information that is collected in these reports to ensure the safety of youth in the system. Additional hearings are scheduled to take place in October and November to further examine these proposals, as well as possible new legislative remedies to these serious concerns.

State Government Efficiency Programs Have Saved $33.1 Million

Three years ago State government officials began an important effort to maximize resources and make the best use of taxpayer dollars that are used to fund day-to-day operations. One of these programs, which was nicknamed "restacking," involved finding more efficient use of office space used by State employees. I recently attended a meeting on this program.

We initially anticipated saving $26 million by using less leased space for State operations, but the actual savings were over $52 million, minus $18 million for one-time moving expenses. This was a net savings of $33 million between Fiscal Years 2011-2012, 2012-2013 and 2013-2014.

As part of this audit, State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli recommended developing a method to track how much money is saved by consolidating State office space and other expenses, a plan which I support. While a savings of $33 million may not seem like much in the context of a State budget of nearly $138 billion, the fact is that managing these details are a crucial part of our work to manage public funds and provide taxpayers the due diligence to which they are entitled.

MTA Board Approves $32 Billion, Five-Year Capital Plan; Albany Approval Required

Earlier today, a meeting was held to discuss the few details that are presently known of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's upcoming $32 billion, five-year capital plan, which MTA officials voted to approve on September 24, 2014.

From the little we presently know, the new capital plan will fund important projects like improving infrastructure, replacing old train and subway cars, expanding rail service and other plans. This plan will not include financing for the replacement Tappan Zee Bridge, which is a Thruway Authority project. What we do not know in detail is how MTA plans to raise all of the funds necessary to pay for their plans.

It has been speculated that this cost may be covered by higher tolls, or by diverting funds collected through the MTA payroll tax, or other means In the near future, the MTA's plan will come to Albany for approval, where the Legislature will review the plan and make recommendations. I will provide details in future letters.

Update on NYS' Universal Pre-K Program

I recently participated in a meeting on the progress that has been made in getting the State's Universal Pre-Kindergarten program up and running. As you may recall, this dramatic expansion of our public education system is based on a deal that was made in the process of finishing the budget for State Fiscal Year 2014-2015, when it was agreed that $1.5 billion would be allocated over five years to pay for Pre-K programming in New York City and statewide, with an allocation of $340 million for 2014-2015. This funding is in addition to the Assembly's longstanding commitment of $385 million to universal Pre-K programs. As a result, approximately $750 million is allocated to this critical program.

This year, new funding of $340 million will pay for new, full-day slots and the expansion of existing half-day slots to full-day programs. Schools will receive $10,000 per student in classrooms led by certified teachers and $7,000 per student for classrooms led by non-certified teachers. Statewide, 84 entities including public schools, not-for-profit organizations, charter schools, museums and libraries will have their Pre-K programs funded by the State. In New York City, $300 million of this year's $340 million statewide allocation will be awarded to 22 organizations providing universal Pre-K services to 30,000 young learners.

Negotiations Ongoing in Federal Medicaid Funding Shakeup

As you may recall, not long ago State officials got some difficult news about Federal Medicaid reimbursement funding as we worked to finish the State budget. The Federal Department of Health and Human Services, acting on a claim made by Congressman Darryl Issa of California, announced that New York State had been awarded too much money for its' Office for People With Developmental Disabilities for years, and the Federal government wanted that money back.

This, of course, created a hole in the budget for OPWDD and other important human-services programs. In State Fiscal Year 2010-2011 alone, Federal officials claimed they had identified $1.3 billion in overpayments to OPWDD and related programs. Without that funding, many important services for New Yorkers with disabilities faced deep cuts or could end altogether.

In the wake of that announcement, State officials led by Governor Cuomo have engaged in negotiations with Federal officials in an effort to blunt this potential blow. Given that Federal reimbursements for State program expenses were immediately cut, State officials have asked that no further cuts are imposed until after a full scope of audits and review have been completed.

On July 25, 2014 Federal auditors informed us that an audit of services provided by the State was underway and was expected to be complete within 60 days, a deadline that passed in late September without the State receiving any official finding. After a finding is issued, a second 60-day period will begin during which the State can contest the results of this audit. We should have the initial results shortly, and will issue our response at an appropriate time.



Yours truly,
Herman "Denny" Farrell, Jr.



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…and this month in Albany
October 1, 2014

Assemblyman Farrell Reports to Community Board 10

Over a Decade in the Making, Robert Clinkscales Park Opens
Community Park and Playground Located on 146th Between Seventh, Eighth Ave.

It is my great pleasure to announce that the long-awaited opening of the Robert L. Clinkscales Park and Community Garden, which took place on Monday, September 29, was a great success.

As you may remember, it has been my great honor to support Mr. Clinkscales' family and friends as they diligently and tirelessly worked toward the goal of honoring this outstanding member of our community by bringing this great dream to fruition. It has been over five years since I joined former City Council Member Robert Jackson, who obtained most of the financing for the half-acre park, 146th Street Block Association President Frederick Wilson, and generations of the Clinkscales family in pushing the City to make this project happen.

The Park, which is located between Frederick Douglass and Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Boulevards (Seventh and Eighth Avenues) includes not only a brand-new, modern playground for children with and without disabilities who live in this neighborhood but also 20 garden plots for members of our community to use. Until its redevelopment as a park, the site was part of the Bradhurst Urban Renewal Area, and had long awaited a productive new purpose.

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Clinkscales Park opens on a wonderful, sunny September day.

In 1997, Mr. Clinkscales was brought into this project by Mr. Wilson and the 146th Street Tenants' Association. The park they sought to build was intended to provide children in this neighborhood with a safe, clean place to play, and also to provide seniors with a beautiful place to relax and enjoy peaceful times. Mr. Clinkscales taught Mr. Wilson how to work on public works projects and build support, working with Councilman Jackson and others to make their vision come to life. Sadly, Mr. Clinkscales passed on before this occurred, but his name will live on for many years in this community.

Albany Hearings Address Social Services, Child Safety

As you know, though the Legislature is typically only in Session from January to June, it is the normal course of business for our work to continue year-round. As chair of the Ways and Means Committee, I meet with my staff regularly to be sure that expenditures are in line with our budget plans, revenue receipts are in line with the projections we make when we pass our on-time budget by April 1 every year, and other budget-related issues remain in balance.

Assembly hearings held in Albany during the summer months have addressed issues that are of critical importance to New York City and other communities throughout the State. Recent reports have brought to light tragic events in New York City and Erie County where children have died in cases in which Child Protective Services (CPS) had been previously involved.

Oversight and Reform Proposals Discussed

During these important oversight hearings, proposals for new legislation were sought from representatives of dozens of local social services agencies with a goal of improving the Statewide Central Register, which collects reports from local CPS agencies, and govern how CPS agencies deal with information that is collected in these reports to ensure the safety of youth in the system. Additional roundtable hearings are scheduled to take place in October and November to further examine these proposals, as well as possible new legislative remedies to these serious concerns.

State Government Efficiency Programs Have Saved $33.1 Million

Three years ago State government officials began an important effort to maximize resources and make the best use of taxpayer dollars that are used to fund day-to-day operations. One of these programs, which was nicknamed "restacking," involved finding more efficient use of office space used by State employees. I recently held a meeting on this program.

We initially anticipated saving $26 million by using less leased space for State operations, but the actual savings were over $52 million, minus $18 million for one-time moving expenses. This was a net savings of $33 million between Fiscal Years 2011-2012, 2012-2013 and 2013-2014.

As part of this audit, State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli recommended developing a method to track how much money is saved by consolidating State office space and other expenses, a plan which I support. While a savings of $33 million may not seem like much in the context of a State budget of nearly $138 billion, the fact is that managing these details are a crucial part of our work to manage public funds and provide taxpayers the due diligence to which they are entitled.

MTA Board Approves $32 Billion, Five-Year Capital Plan; Albany Approval Required

Earlier today, a meeting was held to discuss the few details that are presently known of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's upcoming $32 billion, five-year capital plan, which MTA officials voted to approve on September 24, 2014. From the little we presently know, the new capital plan will fund important projects like improving infrastructure, replacing old train and subway cars, expanding rail service and other plans. This plan will not include financing for the replacement Tappan Zee Bridge, which is a Thruway Authority project. What we do not know in detail is how MTA plans to raise all of the funds necessary to pay for their plans. It has been speculated that this cost may be covered by higher tolls, or by diverting funds collected through the MTA payroll tax, or other means In the near future, the MTA's plan will come to Albany for approval, where the Legislature will review the plan and make recommendations. I will provide details in future letters.



Yours truly,
Herman "Denny" Farrell, Jr.



Video Clips:

March 25, 2014
Assemblyman Farrell rises to speak out against legislation which would allow New York to award its electoral votes to the presidential candidate who wins the national popular vote. A.4422-A




Photo Slide Show:



Contact Information:

District Office
2541-55 Adam Clayton
Powell Jr. Blvd.
New York, NY 10039
212-234-1430
District Office Directions
Albany Office
LOB 923
Albany, NY 12248
518-455-5491
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