Serving the neighborhoods of Boerum Hill, Brooklyn Heights, Carroll Gardens, Cobble Hill,
Columbia Waterfront, DUMBO, Fulton Ferry Landing, Gowanus, Park Slope, and Vinegar Hill
As you read this issue of my “Report to the People,” the year is drawing to a close. It will certainly
be remembered as a historic one. Next year, there will be a new administration in Washington,
one filled with hope and promise but facing the most difficult of challenges. In addition, leadership
changes in Albany will provide an opportunity to pursue new priorities.
Despite this year’s historic election, the overriding issue for all of us is the dramatic downturn in
our economy. Many economists believe the current economic picture is likely to develop into the
worst recession since the early 1980s. The questions facing Washington and state legislatures
across the country are whether to cut programs, increase taxes, or attempt to grow our way out
of these troubled economic times. In New York State, the two biggest areas of spending are
education and health care. I believe major cuts in those two areas may help us in the short term
but will have disastrous long-term effects. For too long the state has depended on New York City’s
financial, insurance and real estate sections (often referred to as FIRE) to help fund our economy.
Now that these areas have been the hardest hit, our state is in enormous financial difficulty. The
state, and certainly the city, should focus on developing new areas of growth. At a recent ceremony
celebrating the merger of New York University and Polytech, Governor Paterson spoke about the
importance of investing in higher education so we can develop ideas and technologies to foster the
growth of new industries in our state.
In the difficult months ahead we will all face tough choices. The dollars are simply not there to
continue the level of spending and support we have come to expect from government. But I have
great faith that we will find the solutions to our problems. With new leadership, the greatest nation
in the world can find these solutions. I am committed to working with my colleagues at all levels
of government to do just that.
So, as we gather with family and friends during this holiday season and welcome in the New Year,
let us not lose sight of our national can-do attitude. As someone recently said, “Yes, We Can.”
I wish you and your family happiness, health and hope in the New Year.
All the best,
Joan L. Millman
LONG ISLAND COLLEGE HOSPITAL UPDATE
I am very proud to report that the New York State Department of Health has listened to the
community and informed LICH that closing the obstetrics, neonatal and pediatric services “is
not acceptable at this time.” This is great news for Brooklyn. For 150 years, the communities
of Brooklyn Heights, Cobble Hill, Boerum Hill, Carroll Gardens, DUMBO and Downtown Brooklyn
have depended on LICH as their primary medical facility. To lose obstetrics, neonatal and
pediatrics services would have meant that scores of women and children would be without a
neighborhood medical facility and would be forced to travel to over-burdened hospitals elsewhere
in Brooklyn, or to hospitals or clinics in Manhattan. In addition, the Department of Health has
declined LICH’s application to close its school-based health clinics. To its credit, LICH has
maintained that it will not close these much-needed clinics until a suitable sponsor has been
found. Recognition must be given to Governor David Paterson for his leadership role in helping
to save LICH.
While this is an important first step, the bottom line is that LICH is in a very serious financial crisis.
There is much more work that needs to be done to nurse LICH back to sound fiscal health. Everyone
involved remains committed to do so. We need a healthy, full-service hospital and nothing less will suffice.
UPDATE ON THE
KINDERGARTEN APPLICATION PROCESS
In a rare about-face, the New York City Department of Education has decided to abandon
its plans to centralize the way families apply for spots in kindergarten, at least for the
upcoming school year. Perhaps because of widespread dissatisfaction with the pre-kindergarten
application process, which was centralized for the first time in 2008, the DOE has decided that
kindergarten applications will be handled by local schools. One positive step the DOE has taken
this year is the adoption of a uniform set of rules that will determine how spots are given to incoming
kindergartners, which I hope will help make the process fair. As for pre-K, the DOE still seems
determined to continue the centralized application process despite last year’s issues—but they
appear also to be trying to improve the process to smooth out the numerous glitches that surfaced
last year. Stay tuned!
Jay Street Subway Station
I joined Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz and Council Member David Yassky to
demand that the MTA take immediate and substantial action to improve the sorry state of the
station, which has been ranked as the fourth worst in the entire system. We also called on the
MTA to develop a plan to productively use the vacant office space at its 370 Jay Street location.
I was recently invited by MTA officials to tour the Jay Street Station and was impressed with the
scope of the planned reconstruction. While it will not be completed until 2011, plans include a
free transfer connection to the Lawrence Street Station and both stations will be fully accessible.
ASSEMBLYWOMAN JOAN MILLMAN AND
STATE SENATOR VELMANETTE MONTGOMERY
INVITE YOU TO A
COMMUNITY WORKSHOP ON
ENERGY CONSERVATION &
GREEN BUILDING STRATEGIES
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 11, 2008
6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
401 Atlantic Avenue (at Bond Street)
Learn about programs to help reduce your energy costs and promote green businesses
P.S. 58 Library Ribbon Cutting
I joined Council Member Bill de Blasio, P.S. 58 Principle Giselle McGee and Assistant
Principle Jayme Perlman and staff, students and parents to officially open the newly
renovated P.S. 58 library. The renovation was funded in part through a New York Assembly
capital grant that I secured. A beautiful soundtrack was provided by P.S. 58’s own orchestra.
ENHANCED NEW YORK STATE DRIVERS LICENSE
As a result of new federal guidelines, the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV)
has recently introduced the Enhanced Drivers License (EDL) and non-driver photo identification
card that can be used for land and sea travel between the U.S. and Canada, Mexico, the
Caribbean and Bermuda. (Remember, though, that a valid passport is still needed for all international
air travel between the U.S. and any other countries.) This new license is a federally approved identification
document that will be scanned by border agents to streamline crossings at certain locations.
The EDL is valid for up to eight years. The license will display a U.S. flag and the word “Enhanced” on
the front of the card. New York State residents who are U.S. Citizens can apply for the EDL at their
local DMV office. Proof of identity is required. For a complete list of accepted documents, please visit
OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE—HEALTH ROUNDTABLE
On November 6th, my Assembly colleague Richard N. Gottfried and I hosted a roundtable discussion
to assess measures taken to solve the plagued New York State Department of Health’s (DOH) prior
approval process for reimbursing Medicaid beneficiaries for durable medical equipment. This equipment
includes such items as power wheelchairs with customized lap trays, foot pedals and head rests. Also
participating in the forum were Assemblymember Micah Kellner, advocates for the disabled community,
representatives of durable medical equipment companies and representatives from the DOH. The forum
was also an invaluable opportunity for the DOH to hear feedback from clinicians and vendors.
Under the prior approval process, many Medicaid beneficiaries have suffered, sometimes waiting for up
to two years for DOH approval of certain medical devices. The prior approval process requires a beneficiary
to visit with a physician to get a letter of medical justification for a device, then a therapist or vendor to get
fitted for the device. The vendor then submits the request to DOH, waits for DOH approval for funding and,
finally, delivers the device to the beneficiary upon approval. The DOH currently estimates this process takes
seven months on average, which shows progress has been made from earlier reports. However, each
additional day spent waiting for a customized device greatly limits the ability of an applicant to effectively
function in his or her everyday life.
The goal of this forum was to take stock of reforms to this system and identify any further problems. As
Chair of the Assembly’s Oversight, Analysis and Investigation Committee, I requested the Department of
Health to report back to the committee within sixty days with revised procedures. While this represents
a small amount of money in comparison to the state’s entire Medicaid budget, I am concerned that New
Yorkers with disabilities often face lengthy delays getting the tools they need to live as independently as
I pitched in alongside volunteers from the Park Slope Civic Council (PSCC) in its Fall Clean Sweep.
The PSCC coordinates this effort each fall and spring to paint over graffiti, mulch tree pits, plant bulbs
and clean fliers from lampposts. I helped bag and distribute free daffodil bulbs to neighborhood residents
who were encouraged to plant them in a public area.
TKTS IS OPEN ON SATURDAYS!
While it took 10 years to get TKTS to return to Brooklyn, it only took me a few weeks to get the
TKTS Discount Ticket Booth in Downtown Brooklyn to open on Saturdays! With these new hours,
we will be able to purchase discount Broadway, Off-Broadway, music, dance and Brooklyn performing
arts tickets for Saturday evening and Sunday matinee performances.
The new hours of TKTS Downtown Brooklyn, located at One MetroTech Center, will be Tuesday through
Saturday from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. The TKTS program is run by the Theatre Development Fund, a
non-profit organization dedicating to ensuring that millions of New Yorkers and tourists who may not
otherwise be able to afford tickets to a live performance can do so. For more information about TKTS
Brooklyn and the Theatre Development Fund, please visit www.tdf.org.
NYSERDA EVENT AT THE EILEEN C. DUGAN CENTER
As winter approaches, we all worry about the cost of heating our homes in addition to our usual
monthly utility bills. This fall, I invited Heartshare Human Services and their EmPower New York
Workshop to the Eileen C. Dugan Senior Center. The audience of over 100 senior citizens learned
ways to lower their energy costs. For example, your refrigerator often uses more energy than any
other electric appliance in your kitchen. Replacing an old refrigerator can save you money on your
electric bill since an old refrigerator can use over three times as much energy as today’s models.
Also, use an accurate thermometer inside your refrigerator to ensure you aren’t wasting energy by
keeping your refrigerator and freezer too cold. The temperature in your refrigerator should be between
36 to 38 degrees Fahrenheit and your freezer should be between 5 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit.
The EmPower New York Workshop is funded through the New York State Energy Research and
Development Authority (NYSERDA) thanks to legislation supported by the New York State Assembly
and Senate. For tips on how you can save money on your electricity bill and information about assistance
available to low income households, please visit www.nyserda.org.
Department of Consumer Affairs’
6th Annual Business Education Day
This year, the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs’ (DCA) Sixth Annual Business
Education Day provided business owners with useful information about New York City Consumer
Protection Laws, such as licensing requirements and the mediation process for resolving consumer
complaints. I accompanied DCA Assistant Commissioner for Litigation and Mediation Susan Kassapian
on door-to-door visits to Park Slope businesses to share this important information. For more information
about New York City’s Consumer Protection Laws, consumers and business owners can visit
Spotlight on a Community Organization:
Christian Help in Park Slope
Since its inception in 1971 as a small shelter for homeless people, Christian Help in Park Slope (CHIPS)
has expanded its scope of services by adding many programs. For example, the Frances Residency
Program serves young, homeless, single mothers and their children by providing hot nutritious meals
and shelter in a safe and secure location. The Frances Residency is looking for volunteers for Fridays
between 2:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. and for weekend evening and night shifts. Both volunteer positions
could be weekly or monthly.
CHIPS also accepts and distributes seasonal clothing and emergency food items. Additionally, CHIPS
facilitates individual and group meetings for mothers and their children to provide information about health
and nutrition concerns, as well as housing opportunities. In order to provide all these wonderful services,
CHIPS depends on donations as well as volunteer help. Volunteers are especially needed to help serve,
prepare and cook meals for poor and hungry individuals that rely on CHIPS.
CHIPS is located at 200 4th Avenue in Park Slope, Brooklyn. For more information, you may call
718-237-2962 between 8:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. for an appointment or interview or 718-855-8861 for
information and volunteer opportunities.
EARLY VOTING LEGISLATION
This year’s general election saw record numbers of voters and extraordinary lines in many polling sites
throughout the district and the country. While I was pleased to see so many citizens exercising their
right to vote, I believe many more would have been able to vote in New York State if early voting was
available. Early voting affords more people an opportunity to participate in elections by providing
alternative days, times, places and manners in which to vote before Election Day. It also reduces
confusion and congestion at the polls and less disenfranchisement on Election Day. Currently,
thirty-two states allow no-excuse pre-Election Day voting, either in-person, via voting machine or
by mail. It is estimated that this year alone over one-third of the voters in the country took advantage
of early voting.
Unfortunately, it is not an easy process to implement early voting in New York State. While the
U.S. Constitution established the day for holding federal elections, it deferred the “time, place and
manner of those elections” to the states. Article 2 of the New York State Constitution authorized
the codification of those procedures. Section 2 of this Article authorizes only qualified voters who
will be absent from their county or city of residence or who will be unable to personally appear on
Election Day because of an illness or physical disability to utilize absentee voting. It will require an
amendment to the state constitution and passage of an early voting bill in two consecutive sessions
of the New York State Legislature. With that in mind, I have introduced legislation to amend the New
York State Constitution to permit early voting. If all goes well, we could have early voting implemented
in time for 2012 Presidential Election.