Assemblywoman Millman
Assemblywoman
Joan L.
Millman
Reports to
the People
Winter 2007

Contact Assemblywoman Millman
DISTRICT OFFICE: 341 Smith Street, Brooklyn, New York 11231
(718) 246-4889 • fax: (718) 246-4895
E-Mail: millmaj@assembly.state.ny.us

Dear Neighbor,

As more and more people discover the wonderful neighborhoods of Downtown Brooklyn, issues of overdevelopment and overcrowding, the need for contextual zoning as well as the loss of many "mom and pop" stores have been the topics of much discussion. A recent meeting in Carroll Gardens was devoted to the question of possible landmark status (see article inside). Demands made on services- police, fire and sanitation, overcrowded subways and buses, lack of classroom and recreational space- will need creative solutions from all levels of government. Obviously, much needs to be done and the involvement of affected community members should be strongly encouraged.

Locally, my office conducted our annual flu shot program working with Long Island College Hospital. 200 people received a free flu shot and hopefully will experience a healthier winter. I also participated in the Resident for a Day program at the Hospital and was extremely impressed with the level of care and concern exhibited by the doctors, interns and other staff (see article inside).

Currently, we are working with District Attorney Charles (Joe) Hynes and the Family Justice Center to coordinate food donations for victims of domestic violence. Donations must be non-perishable and are being collected at my office. Suggested items include baby food, dried milk, pasta, and canned food. At this time of the year it is important to remember those less fortunate than ourselves. I wish you and your family a happy and healthy holiday season and peace and joy in the New Year.

Sincerely, signature Joan L. Millman
Member of Assembly



MTA Fare Increase

I joined my colleagues in the Legislature to urge the MTA to postpone a fare hike until after we are given the opportunity to increase state support. For over 10 years, the Pataki Administration refused to increase funding to match increased operating expenses. We need to change that if we want to encourage people to use public transportation. Our obligation as elected officials is to ensure public agencies are properly managed and funded. We simply are asking the MTA to give us time to do our job.

The MTA also has an obligation to be open and honest about its financial records. It is deeply disturbing that there have been so many reports of sloppy financial record-keeping and the existence of two separate financial record books- a public version that continuously shows the MTA in financial duress and a private version that provides a more accurate picture. In 2003, the State Comptroller’s office reported the MTA "hid more than half a billion dollars from the public when it was asking for a fare increase by keeping two sets of financial plans, one public and one secret." Hopefully the new administration will make our public transportation system a priority.

The MTA also clearly needs much better fiscal management skills. Last year the MTA gave away $50 million in holiday and weekend discounts to riders. The MTA opted for a short-term and fiscally-imprudent public relations scheme instead of saving that money to offset future budget shortfalls. That money came from a $1 billion surplus the MTA recorded last year. What happened to that surplus? In addition, the MTA recorded a similar surplus the year before. Where has all this money gone?

Unfortunately, the MTA’s financial mismanagement does not stop there. I am angered that the MTA sold Atlantic Yards for a price that was less than half of its own appraised value of $214 million. The MTA needs to be acting in the best interests of its constituents, not subsidizing developers.

Again, I ask the MTA to hold off on raising the fare.




Culver Viaduct Reconstruction

The MTA recently announced their plans for major rehabilitation to the Culver Viaduct. The project is scheduled to begin in March of 2009, and construction should be completed in 4 years. While this work is necessary, it will result in the closing of the Smith-Ninth Street Station for nine months, beginning in June of 2010. Once that stage is completed, G service will be restored in both directions and there will be limited F service at the Smith-Ninth Street Station for 18 months. The Fourth Avenue Station will also be completely renovated.

Shuttle bus service will serve the Carroll Street and Fourth Avenue stations to help alleviate the major inconvenience this project will cause. The MTA also will consider increasing bus service along the B61, 75 and 77 lines. In addition, I sent a letter to the MTA to consider creating a bus route from Red Hook, with service to the Smith-Ninth Station, into lower Manhattan through the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel.

Unfortunately, F train express service cannot become a reality until after 2012, when the work is completed.

There is some good news in all of this-the G train will be extended permanently to Church Avenue when construction begins. Although this project will cause a major inconvenience, the end result will be better service for local riders.




Budget Priorities
photo Recently, I had the opportunity to testify at a public hearing held by the New York State Division of the Budget and the Governor on priorities for the 2008-9 Budget. As always, defining our budget priorities is a challenge. It is critical that we address not only immediate issues, but also plan adequately for the future.

One of my major concerns is bringing our public transportation system up to speed with current and proposed development. For too long, the state has under-funded the MTA with an unfair apportionment of our tax dollars subsidizing the commuter rail lines. While years of inadequate funding have starved public transportation, I am encouraged that we have the opportunity to reverse the course.

I believe that before any traffic reduction plan is implemented, our regional transportation system must be upgraded to handle the additional demands that will be placed on it. Most subway lines and commuter railways are already at full capacity and some are dangerously overcrowded. If we are going to increase the number of riders, we must properly fund mass transit. Furthermore, it is unacceptable that only 58 out of 488 subway stations are even partially accessible to people with disabilities. For example, the plan to rehabilitate the Smith-Ninth Street Station, the highest in the system, does not include construction of a single elevator.

Additionally, I support reintroducing the commuter tax. While raising taxes is never a pleasant option, funding is necessary to provide clean and safe streets, good public schools, efficient public transportation and strong economic growth. The commuter tax is a practical option in achieving these objectives.

The public hearings allowed the public a rare and wonderful occasion to express their priorities for the upcoming budget, and I thank the Governor and the NYS Division of the Budget for holding them.




Outstanding Community Organization - Winter 2007
The Micro Museum

The Micro Museum is a unique cultural institution located in my district on Smith Street. Opened in 1986 by interdisciplinary artists William and Kathleen Laziza, who hoped to develop a vital art community, it quickly became a focal point for new forms of cultural expression that embrace performance, media technology, visual and electronic arts. Micro Museum is a 21st century blend of digital art archives, interactive kinetic displays, classic fine arts, photography, and a lively mix of dance, music, and video presentations. In addition, a group of diverse professionals provide classes including belly dance, martial arts, Caribbean dance, children’s music/dance programs, music lessons, sign language classes and more.

The Micro Museum has over 600 annual members and over 2,000 visitors monthly. There are ongoing national open calls for visual and media artists with rotating deadlines and themed programming. The museum highlights over 100 visual artists on exhibition throughout the year. Micro Museum is a member of the Brooklyn Cultural Circuit, Puppeteers of America and the North Easter Solar Energy Coalition. It receives funding from the NYS Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historical Preservation and many private art supporters who value the contribution of independent enterprising artists and training in downtown Brooklyn.

2008 will be an exciting year at the Micro Museum, with plans to bring together artists for themed exhibitions every two months with "Micro Museum’s BIG IDEAS," in which each event will feature some of NYC’s most talented musicians, choreographers and media artists alongside selected visual artists. There are continuous opportunities to volunteer for special events as well as educational internships available for resourceful students who want direct hands-on professional experiences in the art industry. If you would like to explore art with the guidance of dedicated artists don’t hesitate to give the Micro Museum a visit.

The Micro Museum is located at 123 Smith Street, Brooklyn, NY 11201 and can be reached at (718) 797-3116. Their Web site is www.micromuseum.com and provides a full listing of programs and a history of the museum. The museum is open to the public on Saturdays from 12pm - 7pm and for monthly special events.




Resident for a Day Program at Long Island College Hospital
photo Assemblywoman Millman attended the 76th Precinct Appreciation Day and presented Certificates of Merit to the Detective, Cop, Auxiliary Supervisor, Auxiliary Police Officer and Civilian of the Year. Pictured are Assistant Chief Joseph Fox, of Patrol Borough Brooklyn South, Captain Michael Kemper and two award recipients from the 76th Precinct.
This fall, I participated in the Resident for a Day program at Long Island College Hospital (LICH). LICH is the major teaching affiliate for the State University of New York Health Center at Brooklyn (SUNY-Downstate Medical Center). I learned that the hospital was the first medical school nationwide to include bedside teaching as a standard part of its curriculum, a method later adopted by medical schools across the country. In addition, the hospital introduced the use of both the stethoscope and anesthesia. Currently, there are training programs for resident physicians in more than 20 specialties.

In addition to making rounds with residents, I met with staff at the hospital. One current challenge facing residents at LICH is the lack of opportunity to experience the duties of general practitioners. As a result, staff at the hospital is working to find general practitioners who would allow a resident rotation in their offices.

I am thankful for the opportunity to learn first-hand of the issues currently facing residents in our hospitals. When I return to Albany, I will be able to share my experiences from the Resident for a Day Program with my colleagues.




Protecting Your Identity

We all have concerns that one day we may be the victim of identity theft. Someone fraudulently could obtain our personal information and use it to open new accounts or take out loans. Effective November 1, 2006, the New York State Security Freeze Law empowers us as New York consumers and gives us the ability to take control of our financial and personal information.

The Security Freeze Law allows New York State residents to block access to their credit histories, which lenders typically review before issuing new debt. The Security Freeze will block an identity thief from opening a new account or borrowing money using your personal and financial information.

With a security freeze in place, you will not be able to borrow money or get new credit without temporarily lifting or permanently removing the security freeze. The same is true when applying for new insurance coverage and for background checks that may be required by a new employer.

To request a security freeze on your credit file, you must send a separate letter, by certified mail or overnight courier, to each of the three major credit reporting agencies: TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax. The letters must contain the personal information required by each credit reporting agency, so the credit reporting agencies can verify your identity and process your request. Each company has different identification requirements. You can find sample letters that show the basic information required on the New York State’s Consumer Protection Board Web site www.consumer.state.ny.us.

The three credit reporting agencies must place a security freeze on your credit file within five business days of receiving your request. Within ten days of placing the security freeze on your credit files, each bureau must mail you a letter confirming that a security freeze is now in place. These letters will also contain a password or a PIN should you want to temporarily lift or permanently remove your security freeze. The first request to place a security freeze on your credit file is FREE; however, the credit reporting agencies may charge up to $5 each to place, temporarily lift or permanently remove a security freeze.




DUMBO and Carroll Gardens

This fall, two neighborhoods in the 52nd Assembly District have shown an interest in creating Historic Landmark Districts. I have been following developments in both DUMBO and Carroll Gardens, and offering my support. While residents of Carroll Gardens are researching the possibility of creating a landmark district, residents of DUMBO already have submitted an application to the Landmarks Preservation Committee.

On October 30th, I gave testimony to the Landmarks Preservation Commission in support of creating a Historic District in DUMBO. Establishing the DUMBO Historic District will preserve the unique character of the neighborhood and provide additional protection for its historic structures. The area’s industrial buildings already have been recognized by the National and State Registers of Historic Places in recognition of their contribution to industrial design in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

In Carroll Gardens, I attended a community forum on November 19th, that covered the basics of the landmarking process and allowed residents the opportunity to ask questions and voice their opinions and concerns. The panel included members of the New York City Landmarks Preservation Committee, the Historic Districts Council, Community Board 6, the Cobble Hill Association, the Brownstone Revival Committee and several architects. With the many changes occurring in Carroll Gardens, I am pleased to see residents working together to learn more about possible measures that would preserve the quality of life in this community.

Each neighborhood I represent has its own distinctive needs and I am glad to be of assistance in whatever capacity possible. Please feel free to stop by my office at 341 Smith Street, call at 718-246-4889 or e-mail me at .




Supporting the YMCA
photo This October, I was pleased to present the Prospect Park YMCA with $50,000 in state funding. I was joined by Prospect Park YMCA Executive Director Sean Andrews and students from P.S. 10 who have benefited from swimming lessons at the facility. The funding is allocated for the construction of a new aquatics center, which is part of an ongoing effort to increase the amount of active recreation options for the residents of Brooklyn.



Summer Reading
photo The 2007 Summer Reading Challenge was a great success! Dozens of children from schools around my district completed the challenge by reading every day over the summer. All children who participated in the Summer Reading Challenge received New York State Assembly Certificates of Merit. I had the privilege of presenting many of them in person at schools where a significant number of children participated, including P.S. 8, P.S. 29, P.S. 58 and P.S. 261. As a former librarian, it’s terrific to see kids reading and it was wonderful to meet the children and thank them, their parents, and the schools for their hard work.



Update on Legislation Controlling Fliers

I am sure many of you are aware of the law that limits the distribution of restaurant menus and fliers at private residences. As a sponsor of this legislation, signed into law by the Governor over the summer, I would like to provide an update on its progress.

At this time, a city agency needs to be appointed to administer and enforce this new law. The law allows residents of New York City to post a sign stating that the placement of circulars on their property is prohibited and that penalties can be imposed for violating the ban. I am hopeful that the city will choose the proper agency soon and we can put an end to the placement of unwanted fliers and menus on our stoops and doorways.




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Did You Know Alternate Side Parking Regulations Were Suspended For 35 Days During 2007?

If you would like to receive a copy of the 2008 New York City Parking Calendar, fill out this coupon and send it to Assemblywoman Millman’s office at 341 Smith Street, Brooklyn, NY 11231 or call (718)246-4889, or e-mail .


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