Joan L.
reports to
the people

Spring 2004

Assemblywoman 52nd District
Room 510 Capitol
Albany, New York 12248
(518) 455-5426
341 Smith Street
Brooklyn, New York 11231
(718) 246-4889
Legislative Commission
on Government Administration
Assembly Task Force
on Women’s Issues
Alcoholism & Drug Abuse
Libraries and Education Technology
Small Business

Dear Neighbor,

As I write this, our State budget is more than a month late and we have many unresolved issues which have serious financial consequences.

One of the most complicated issues facing us is the question of just how much state aid is necessary to fulfill the mandate of the Court of Appeals decision in the Campaign for Fiscal Equity (CFE) case. The Court ordered the State to produce a plan to address the question by July 30, 2004. Last September, the Governor appointed a commission on education reform. Chaired by Frank Zarb, a former Wall Street executive, a report was finally released in late March. The 71-page document suggested an increase in state aid ranging from $2.5 to $5.6 billion for high-needs districts. The Commission’s report included the Governor’s proposal to fund the necessary increase by placing Video Lottery Terminals (VLT’s) throughout New York City, not a sound plan in my opinion. The report also called for the creation of an Office of Educational Accountability, which would oversee district plans for improvement and the closing of schools not meeting their goals. In order for the Commission’s recommendations to be adopted, they must be passed by both the Assembly and the Senate and signed into law by the Governor before the Court deadline of July 30.

My Assembly colleagues and I see the CFE mandate as a unique opportunity to meet the needs of school districts across the state by providing the necessary resources to ensure that each and every child receives a sound, basic education. We are committed to including additional resources in the budget and believe it is time for this governor to make education a priority. Please be assured that I will continue to be a strong advocate for our New York City school children.

Celebrating Women’s History Month:

At her Second Annual Women’s History Month Essay Contest Awards Ceremony, Assemblywoman Millman presented students from PS 282, The Park Slope Elementary School, with certificates of merit.
For the Second Year in a row, I held an essay contest for students grades 3-8, in celebration of Women’s History Month. With over 250 participants, I hosted a packed crowd at the Brooklyn YWCA, to honor all of the children and specially recognize the contest winners. As Chair of the Assembly Task Force on Women’s Issues, I challenged students to write compositions about women who inspire hope and possibility.

I was thrilled by the number of students from all over my district that chose to submit essays. Participating schools included P.S. 8, P.S. 29, P.S. 38, P.S. 39, P.S. 58, P.S. 133, P.S. 261, P.S. 282, P.S. 321, New Horizons Middle School and The Upper Carroll School, St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Charles Borromeo.

I also selected a panel of community leaders to judge the contest including, Barbara Edwards Delsman, Executive Director of the Hope Program, Betty Feibush, Special Assistant to Region 8 Superintendent, Pearl Lau, Educator and President of the Friends of Carroll Park, Jo Anne Simon, Community Activist and Judith Zuk, President of The Brooklyn Botanic Gardens.

At her Second Annual Women’s History Month Essay Contest Awards Ceremony, Assemblywoman Millman presented students from St. Charles Borromeo, in Brooklyn Heights, with certificates of merit for their outstanding submissions.

Lighting Up Fifth Avenue:

I am very pleased that I was able to appropriate funds, along with Councilmember David Yassky, to install historic lighting on Fifth Avenue in Park Slope, Brooklyn - our latest burgeoning restaurant and merchant row. With the cooperation and help of Judi Pheiffer and the 5th Avenue Merchants’ Association, we secured funding for these antique lights, which accent Fifth Avenue’s unique charm for businesses and residents alike.

At the annual Prospect Park Alliance Volunteer Brunch, Assemblywoman Millman expressed her appreciation for all of the volunteers who contribute to the upkeep of Prospect Park.
Assemblywoman Millman, a strong supporter of the Park Slope Geriatric Day Center, recently joined Executive Director Marianne Nicolisi and other board members at their “Fiesta” fundraiser.

Brooklyn’s Cultural Treasures:

A longtime supporter of Brooklyn’s great cultural institutions, Assemblywoman Millman joined Independence Community Bank President Alan Fishman and Department of Cultural Affairs Commissioner Kate Levin at the ribbon cutting of the brand new glass enclosed entrance to the Brooklyn Museum of Art.
It is an honor to be a supporter and a funder of some of Brooklyn and New York City’s greatest cultural treasures. I and other members of Brooklyn’s Assembly Delegation appropriate necessary State funding to help sustain the great cultural institutions of our community, including the Brooklyn Museum, the Brooklyn Public Library, the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens, and Brooklyn’s own Prospect Park.

I strongly encourage everyone to take advantage of these great resources right in the heart of our community. What makes accessing these sites even easier is the Heart of Brooklyn’s Trolley, operating on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays from Noon – 5:00 PM, free of charge. This loop takes visitors from and around all points of Prospect Park, as well as to the Brooklyn Public Library, the Brooklyn Museum, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden and the Brooklyn Children’s Museum. For schedules or more information, visit or call 718-638-7700. This is just one more way that we are working to make sure Brooklynites have access to what makes our borough so great and unique.

OEM Update:

I am very pleased to report that in response to the community’s unified voice in opposition to the siting of the Office of Emergency Management headquarters in Cadman Plaza Park, the agency has revamped its proposal. Now, the former Red Cross building will remain intact and house administrative offices for one of our city’s most critical agencies. The new commissioner of OEM, Joseph Bruno, will be talking to different community groups, informing residents of the agency’s detailed plans for the facility and for the park.

This was a true victory for our community. I joined neighbors and colleagues at the City, State and Federal level in expressing our collective concern about the proposal to house OEM’s bunker a few yards from the Brooklyn Bridge, the new Eastern Federal Courthouse (see next article), the transportation hub of downtown Brooklyn and thousands of residential units, several universities, and many businesses. I commend the new leadership at the Office of Emergency Management for rethinking its plan and look forward to working with Commissioner Bruno to ensure our City is the safest it can possibly be. I will continue to update my constituents on the latest developments.

Federal Courthouse Update:

A longtime supporter of Brooklyn’s great cultural institutions, Assemblywoman Millman joined Borough President Marty Markowitz, Brooklyn Museum of Art Board President Robert Rubin and Executive Director Arnold Lehman at the ribbon cutting for the Brooklyn Museum of Art’s brand new glass enclosed entrance.
After reports of pedestrian obstacles and safety concerns at the Federal Courthouse construction site, I joined Congressman Ed Towns to advocate for additional improvements to the construction area and increased scrutiny of this project.

At a meeting with Linda Peters, the Project Manager of the Brooklyn Court Project for the United States General Services Administration (GSA), we voiced the community’s concerns related to the project. Questions were raised regarding pedestrian accessibility at the intersection of Tillary and Adams Streets. During the winter months GSA did increase lighting at the site and also efficiently removed snow. I have urged GSA to continue its diligence as warmer weather brings increased pedestrian traffic and additional safety concerns to the construction area.

I also raised questions about the lights of the courthouse that are seemingly on 24 hours a day. After a follow up conversation, I was informed by GSA that some lights are needed because operating engineers are required to be in the building at all times, but I personally have noticed a decrease in the use of external lighting. The meeting also clarified the financial problems that have plagued the project and possible solutions that will create a speedy conclusion to this lengthy construction project. Please be assured that I will continue to monitor the construction of the Federal Courthouse.

Rezoning Downtown Brooklyn:

Throughout the process of Rezoning Downtown Brooklyn, I have continuously advocated for the residents of downtown Brooklyn. Most recently, I offered testimony to the City Planning Commission Hearing on Wednesday, March 24th, regarding the ULURP application for the Downtown Brooklyn Development Plan. I reiterated my support for the Downtown Brooklyn Coalition’s “Contract with the Community”, and am advocating for development that balances the needs of the surrounding residential communities with the needs of the business community, while preserving and supporting Brooklyn’s unique, historical character.

I am urging the City to make serious investments in improving and upgrading downtown Brooklyn. It is not enough to merely mitigate the negative impact this proposal will have on the residential communities, but we must strive to both enhance and improve the quality of life downtown in conjunction with the expansion of our business community. During these difficult economic times, I support the City’s plan to create sustainable economic development in Brooklyn, but I would encourage the City to go much further by truly investing in Brooklyn’s infrastructure.

It is imperative that we create a comprehensive traffic mitigation and mass transit improvement proposal, promote open space and historical preservation, as well as encourage the development of affordable housing and opportunities for minority and women owned businesses.

I want to reiterate my support for the redevelopment of Downtown Brooklyn. If done properly and with the consent and participation of the community, the Downtown Brooklyn Development Plan will set the stage for continued economic growth and development. It is imperative that we account for the social effects of our economic plans and develop appropriate solutions. I continue to emphasize it is unacceptable to develop just for development’s sake - we must engage in truly responsible development efforts that account for the needs of all Brooklynites.

Fighting to Re-open Engine Company 204:

Many of you continue to join me in the campaign to reopen Engine Company 204. Together, we must continue to apply the pressure and turn up the heat in order to get the results we deserve and demand. On March 4th, I joined my colleagues in holding an Assembly Hearing in New York City to evaluate the effects of the closings in the six different communities. In response to this hearing, I again joined my colleagues and neighborhood residents at a press conference on Sunday, March 21st, to release alarming new findings on response times in areas with closed firehouses.

Before the closings, the Fire Department assured us that the increase in response times due to these closings would be negligible. The new findings released at the March 24th press conference showed an overall citywide increase of response times by 13 seconds, for both structural fire and non-structural fires, and medical emergencies. Our firehouse, Engine Company 204, had the highest increase in response times to medical emergencies. I cannot tell my constituents to hold out for an extra 51 seconds for a fire engine to arrive while they are having a heart attack or a stroke. I will not tell my constituents not to breathe for an extra 29 seconds when their homes are engulfed in flames. The difference in response times can mean the difference between the loss of life and or property.

This new data proves that both the Mayor and the Fire Commissioner were incorrect in their predictions. When Mayor Bloomberg visited Albany, I specifically asked him about increased response times, and he said that he did not believe they “went up.” However, this new data, released by the State Assembly, proves that both the Mayor and Fire Commissioner Scopetta were incorrect in their predictions. I again stood with City Council Speaker Gifford Miller as he announced that the City Council would include the funds to reopen the firehouses in its budget. The Assembly stands firm in its support to reopen the firehouses, as does the New York City Council. It is now time for the Mayor to admit that he made a mistake and is compromising the life and safety of our city.

I urge everyone to keep calling 311 and keep writing to Mayor Bloomberg demanding he open all of the shuttered firehouses throughout New York City.

Mobile Mammogram Van:

On Thursday, April 29th, I sponsored a free mammography van, provided by the Circle of Hope Foundation and Saint Vincent Medical Center, for women of the 52nd Assembly District.

More than twenty women came to my district office, located at 341 Smith Street between Carroll and First Place, to receive free mammograms. The American Cancer Society recommends that women aged 40 and older should have a mammogram every year.

I encouraged my constituents to take advantage of these free screenings. Breast cancer is a disease that affects too many women in the prime of their lives and early detection and screening are the keys to defeating this deadly disease. Besides sponsoring the free mammograms, I also supported legislation that would require individual health insurance providers to cover mammograms for all women over 40, instead of over 50. It is important that all health insurance policies provide adequate mammography coverage because chances of survival are greater with early detection.

Eckerd’s Grand Opening:

Many residents have noticed that a brand new Eckerd’s drug store opened on Smith Street, two blocks away from my office. I attended the grand opening on Thursday, May 6th, and joined Borough President Marty Markowitz, Department of Small Business Services Commissioner Robert Walsh, Councilmember Bill de Blasio, Bette Stoltz of the South Brooklyn Local Development Corporation and several other community residents who worked with Eckerd’s company to ensure community participation in the building process.

Over the past few years, we worked with local architects, neighborhood residents, and the management of Eckerd’s (formerly Genovese) to design the store to fit into our unique brownstone neighborhood. Collectively, we worked to ensure the developers provided housing, that the façade of the building was contextually appropriate, and we encouraged the storeowners to hire locally. What was once an empty parking lot is now a new store, with an open plaza, soon to be lined with trees.

In conjunction with the United States Postal Service, Assemblywoman Millman promoted a canned food drive in her district, and encouraged members of the Eileen Dugan Senior Center to donate to those in need.
Assemblywoman Millman joined Brooklyn Parks Commissioner Julius Spiegel and children from P.S. 58 to plant flowers in celebration of Arbor Day in Carroll Park.


Many of my constituents have expressed to me concern that, as we grow more dependent upon technology to conduct our personal business, it is becoming increasingly difficult to safeguard our personal information, and becoming increasingly easier for thieves to steal it. When an imposter co-opts your name, your Social Security Number, your credit card number, or some other piece of your personal information for their use – when someone appropriates your personal information without your knowledge – it’s a crime, pure and simple.

Suggestions on How to Protect Yourself from Identity Theft:

Guard Your Social Security Number (SSN). Your Social Security Number provides access to your credit report, bank accounts, and all other personal information that criminals target in identity theft. Do not carry your card with you, or print it on checks.

Shred all old bank and credit card offers before you throw them out.

Reduce the number of pre-approved credit card offers you receive by contacting the credit reporting bureaus directly and requesting to remove your name from their marketing lists (see list of credit bureaus).

Never give your credit card number or other personal information over the phone unless you have initiated the call and trust that business.

Cancel unused credit cards and bank accounts. Not only are open counts susceptible to fraud, they may also negatively affect your credit score.

Be sure that any Internet sites you use to make purchases or conduct personal business use secure browsers (indicated by a small yellow lock in the corner of the web page). If an information box comes up warning that a browser is insecure and that shared information will not be protected, you may want to avoid the site for further purchases and business.

Update your computer’s anti-virus program regularly. This will help to prevent new viruses and programs designed to take your information via the Internet.

Resist the temptation to click on Internet pop-up ads. It is possible that clicking on an ad will cause your computer to be searched for credit and other personal information. Simply close these ads immediately and do so only by using the “x” in the top right corner of the box.

What to do if Your Identity is Stolen…

If you have discovered that your identity has been stolen, you should act quickly to inform the proper authorities. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recommends you take three actions immediately:

Contact the frauds departments of each of the three credit bureaus (contact info below). Instruct them to flag your file with a fraud alert and to include a statement that creditors should get your permission before opening any new accounts in your name. Also, every few months, ask the bureaus for a free copy of your credit report in order to check it for inaccuracies.

Contact the creditors for any accounts that have been tampered with or opened fraudulently. Ask to speak to someone in the security or fraud department and follow up in writing in order to resolve any errors on credit billing statements, including charges that you have not made.

File a report with your local police or the police where you suspect the theft to have taken place. Keep a copy of the report in case your creditors request proof of the crime.

You can also call the FTC’s fraud hotline at (877) FTC-HELP (382-4357) for more information.

Thanks to the recent passage of the U.S. Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act, that became law last December, everyone is entitled to a free credit report once a year from all of the three major credit bureaus. This new measure is being rolled out over a period of time across the country. New York residents will be able to begin requesting reports on September 1, 2005.

Credit Bureaus:
Contact information for the three major credit bureaus is listed below:
Equifax, Inc.
P.O. Box 740123-0123
Atlanta, GA 30374-0123
P.O. Box 97328
Jackson, MS 39288-7328
701 Experian Parkway
Allen, TX 75013

Assemblywoman Joan L. Millman

341 Smith Street
Brooklyn, New York 11231
(718) 246-4889

Room 510 Capitol
Albany, New York 12248
(518) 455-5426