End of Session Recap: Between the June CB3 Full Board meeting and the close of the Assembly’s 2009 session, Assemblymember Kavanagh succeeded in passing nine additional bills in the Assembly, bringing the total number of bills passed this session to eighteen.
Election Reform: A.4015A was part of an election reform package of Assembly bills that strives to include more voters in the democratic process. This bill would increase voter registration and reduce administrative difficulties at poll sites by providing that those who attempt to vote via affidavit ballot (but are not currently registered) would be enrolled for future elections.
Environmental Protection: A.561A would enable the DEC Commissioner to ensure that State agencies take the necessary steps to clean up their operations and impose penalties when necessary. As the number one polluter in New York is the State itself, there needs to be more teeth in statutes to ensure that State agencies comply with environmental requirements. This bill would strengthen current laws through public accountability and fines.
Personal Privacy: A.8156A would create a State commission on protecting personal privacy. Technological advancements continue to heighten the capacity to collect, aggregate, and distribute information, threatening our privacy. This commission would help fill a void since no Federal or State agency is currently responsible for reviewing what steps might be necessary to offer protection, or even understanding the broad range of personal privacy concerns.
Government Transparency: A.441A would require the Secretary of State to post local laws and codes on the Department of State website for the public to view. This legislation would expand access to these laws, increase transparency, and heighten awareness of the laws that apply in different parts of the State. The bill was supported by the New York State Association of Counties.
Tax-Delinquent Bidders: A.6061 would prevent State agencies and public authorities from awarding contracts to bidders that are delinquent in their State taxes. This would both make the contracting process fairer and increase tax collections as potential bidders would be forced to satisfy outstanding tax warrants in order to maintain their eligibility to bid on State contracts. Two earlier versions of this bill were passed in both the Assembly and the Senate, but vetoed by the Governor.
SOUND Housing Campaign to “Save Our Underfunded NYCHA Developments” Launched: Assemblymember Kavanagh, who represents 18,000 NYCHA residents on Manhattan’s East Side, and State Senator Daniel Squadron, along with dozens of Federal, State, and City government colleagues, tenant advocates, labor leaders, and public housing residents announced the formation of the Save Our Underfunded NYCHA Developments (SOUND) Housing Campaign. The Campaign will seek to ensure that the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) receives funding from the State and the City for State and City built developments, that NYCHA is not unfairly billed for police and sanitation services, and that weatherization funds from the Federal Stimulus package are allocated for public housing. The Campaign will also aim to ensure that NYCHA funds are appropriately allocated for maintenance, repairs, elevators, security cameras and other measures that protect the buildings’ and hallways’ safety and cleanliness.
Lower East Side People’s Mutual Housing Association Holds Annual Meeting: Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh briefly joined Executive Director Mary Spink and the members of the Lower East Side Peoples Mutual Housing Association (LESPMHA) at their annual meeting on July 10, 2009. The event took place in the garden of one of the Association’s properties on East 2nd Street. Many LESPMHA tenants attended with family members to cheer on outstanding employees who were honored for their dedication to LESPMHA and high school students who were awarded with college scholarships. Assemblymember Kavanagh awarded New York State Assembly Citations to five outstanding students whose families are LESPMHA members.
Kavanagh’s Public Housing Elevator Safety Bill Passes the Assembly: On June 18th, the Assembly voted to pass Assemblymember Kavanagh’s NYCHA elevator safety bill, A.8154. This legislation would mandate the installation of door zone restrictors, which prevent elevator doors from opening between floors. The bill would also regulate elevator inspections—prohibiting the Department of Buildings’ previous practice of delegating such inspections to NYCHA—and mandate interagency coordination and information sharing among city agencies in regard to elevator hazards and rescue missions by the Fire Department. It would further require the disclosure of all inspection data to the public, including a detailed explanation of how and why elevators receive the grades they are given. The bill builds upon the work of Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, addressing the concerns he raised in a September 2008 report on elevator safety. State Senator Jose Serrano introduced this bill in the Senate.
Investigation of Emergency Response Delay at Lower East Side Senior Center Continues: On July 2, 2009, Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh joined Grand Street Settlement’s Executive Director Margarita Rosa, Nick Teo of the Police Department’s 7th Precinct, Mayor Bloomberg’s representative Terry-Ann Davis, community advocates, and representatives of other Lower East Side elected officials to address the May 21st incident at Grand Street Senior Center when several calls to 911 for medical help were not properly answered. As reported by the Downtown Express, a 64-year-old member of Grand Street’s senior center suffered a medical emergency and it took three calls to 911 in a span of twenty minutes before rescue workers arrived on the scene. Assemblymember Kavanagh and State Senator Daniel Squadron organized the meeting to request an explanation from the City and to prevent similar lapses in the future. At Kavanagh’s request, the City agreed to provide a timeline of the May 21st calls and the steps taken to respond, as well as information regarding emergency services and response times on the Lower East Side and how these compares to those experienced in other neighborhoods. Assemblymember Kavanagh will continue to work with Senator Squadron, Borough President Stringer, and Councilmember Mendez on this issue that affects so many of their constituents.
Kavanagh Celebrates with Lower East Side II Residents at Family Day: On Saturday, July 18, 2009, Assemblymember Kavanagh was delighted to share delicious food, music, and conversation with the residents of the public housing development Lower East Side II, as they celebrated their annual Family Day. The event was organized by Tenant Association President Patricia Hill-Armstrong and the Association’s board. Assemblymember Kavanagh looks forward to participating in other scheduled family day events this summer and fall.
Kavanagh Stands with Stringer to Regulate Sidewalk ATMs: On Sunday, July 19th, Assemblymember Kavanagh joined Manhattan Borough President, Susan Stetzer, District Manager of Community Board 3, and Zella Jones, Chair of the Sidewalks, Public Facilities & Public Access Committee of Community Board 2, in urging the City to regulate ATM machines on sidewalks. At the event, the Borough President unveiled a study called Sidewalks Under Siege: Halting the Spread of Illegal Outdoor ATMs. The survey of commercial areas found 99 ATMs in the East Village. The report also found that 85 percent of the ATMs on sidewalks lacked visible surveillance cameras, while the fees for withdrawing funds were almost 8 percent higher than indoor ATM machines. Assemblymember Kavanagh said, “Some people may appreciate the convenience of finding an ATM wherever they go on the Lower East Side and in some other neighborhoods, but unregulated ATMs pose real risks of theft and fraud. And as with other items that we allow to be placed on sidewalks, we should also regulate the locations of the machines to ensure that they don’t interfere with pedestrians.”
Kavanagh on Board for “City of Water” Festival: On July 18th, Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh joined Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, State Senator Ruth Hassell-Thompson, Governors Island Alliance Executive Director Robert Pirani, Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance (MWA) President Roland Lewis, and many other guests to launch this year’s “City of Water” Festival on Governors Island. The MWA and the Governors Island Alliance presented the event, transporting many of the participants aboard the Clipper City, one of the nation’s largest sailing ships and a replica of a 19th Century tall ship, to Governors Island for a narrated tour and ribbon-cutting ceremony. Kavanagh was pleased to help kick off the festivities, which highlighted the potential of the City’s waterfront through kayak, canoe, and boat activities as well as harbor tours, live music, educational workshops, and an information fair.
Honoring Dominican Parade Organizers: On July 13th, Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh joined Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer to recognize Felipe Febles and Rosa Ayala and honor their twenty-year success organizing the annual Dominican Parade. Each year, the organization also awards scholarships to students of Dominican descent who are enrolled in college, maintain a good grade point average, and demonstrate an interest in public service.