Assemblywoman Joan L. Millman
Assemblywoman
Joan L. Millman
Reports to the People
Summer/Fall 2011

Serving the neighborhoods of Boerum Hill, Brooklyn Heights, Carroll Gardens, Cobble Hill,
Columbia Waterfront, DUMBO, Fulton Ferry Landing, Gowanus, Park Slope and Vinegar Hill
Dear Neighbor,

The 2011 legislative session ended in June with several major accomplishments, including an on-time budget that closed a $10 billion dollar budget deficit. Our new governor made several campaign promises and delivered on his commitments. This year’s budget included no new taxes, strengthened rent regulations, capped property taxes at 2 percent while providing millions in mandate relief, legalized marriage equality to continue New York’s leadership on the civil rights’ front, toughened laws on driving while using handheld devices, passed legislation to further protect military funerals, worked to improve safety measures for people with developmental disabilities living in group homes and championed historic ethics reform. (Check inside for a description of some of the bills I authored and were signed by the Governor).

Next year, 2012, all elected officials excluding our city council members will run on new district lines created by gains and losses in population. Based on the most recent census I believe the 52nd A.D. gained population, so my assumption is the new 52nd A.D. will look very similar to the current district. I hope to continue representing all the wonderful neighborhoods currently in the district. There will be an opportunity for the residents of Brooklyn to comment on the issue of reapportionment. The date is Tuesday, September 20th at Brooklyn College. Call my office if you want additional information, including how to register to speak at the hearing.

Locally, Brooklyn Bridge Park has taken a giant step forward. At the August 1st meeting of the board of directors of Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation, an announcement was made that a brand new memo of understanding (MOU) had been signed by Deputy Mayor Robert Steel, Senator Squadron, and your Assemblywoman. As I stated in a press release this “guarantees that a long-term revenue stream is in place to pay for the park’s maintenance and allows the next phases of construction to move forward.” For decades Brooklyn residents have dreamed of a world-class park along the waterfront. This new agreement eliminates a circle of high-rise housing surrounding the park.

Our annual Senior Fair, held in June was a huge success, attracting close to 600 participants. Senator Squadron and I missed the event because we were both in Albany discussing and voting on important bills. (Maybe the Fair should be scheduled earlier in the year so we won’t miss it!)

I want to add my voice to those singing the praises of Dominick Stanzione, former interim President/Chief Restructuring Officer at Long Island College Hospital (LICH). Mr. Stanzione, working closely with community members, elected officials, the New York State Health Department, members of the SUNY Health Department, members of the SUNY Downstate family, especially their president Dr. John La Rosa, was instrumental in overseeing the merger between these two medical institutions. (Have you noticed the new ambulances driving through our downtown streets?) So many were involved and responsible, including the late Murray Adams who would be so pleased with the final results. I want to congratulate everyone on this wonderful outcome. We all want to wish Mr. Stanzione the very best in his new position at Maimonides Medical Center. As the saying goes, our loss is their gain.

After such a hot summer, I am looking forward to fall weather, our annual flu shot program (to be announced shortly), back-to-school events, and all the Halloween activities held in the 52nd Assembly District.

Sincerely,
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Joan L. Millman
Member of Assembly
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I joined Brooklyn’s 78th Precinct at Grand Army Plaza during their National Night Out celebration. National Night Out is an annual event held to bring together law enforcement and community members, increase awareness of crime prevention efforts, and send a strong message to deter potential criminals. That evening I presented Deputy Inspector John A. Argenziano of the 78th Precinct and Pauline Blake, President of the 78th Precinct’s Community Council, with an Assembly Certificate of Merit.



UPDATE FROM BROOKLYN BRIDGE PARK

As Brooklyn residents know Brooklyn Bridge Park has already become a natural urban oasis. Different sections of the park offer activities and events for people of all ages. Families and friends can enjoy a Thursday night movie, have a workout on the waterfront with the Dodge YMCA, or take in the stunning views of the East River and Manhattan skyline.

Senator Squadron and I were also able to negotiate more community benefits for the residents of Brooklyn. These benefits include:

  • Recommitment of the $55 million originally pledged by the City for the park’s capital budget

  • Properties on John Street will be limited to a height of 130 feet, lower than the surrounding buildings and a reduction of 40,000 square feet (decreased from 17 to 12 stories.)

  • For every 100 square feet of property at the Watchtower site rezoned and sold as residential property, there will be a reduction of 30 square feet off of buildings on Pier 6, starting with the tallest building.

  • There will be a floating pool for 4 summers; a bubble on Pier 5 (for all year round activities); Community Space by Pier 2; and ice skating under the Brooklyn Bridge.

  • City agreed to cooperate and support relevant rezoning of buildings at the Watchtower site from commercial to residential, assuming the changes are consistent with zoning laws.

The terms of this MOU deadline as it pertains to buildings at the Watchtower site continue through December 31, 2013, which is the end of the current City administration.



LEGISLATIVE UPDATE
As I mentioned in my Dear Neighbor letter, below are some of the pieces of legislation that I introduced which were signed into law by the Governor:

A1446 – Convex Mirrors – Signed on July 18th
On May 9th, 2004, two preventable pedestrian deaths occurred in Gowanus, Brooklyn, when 11 year-old Victor Flores and ten year-old Juan Estrada were struck by a truck. It is for this reason I sponsored legislation to require trucks, having a maximum gross weight of 26,000 pounds or more, entering New York City to be equipped with convex mirrors. These low-cost mirrors allow truck drivers to see pedestrians crossing in front of their vehicles. This legislation will go a long way in preventing the 204 pedestrian deaths and 4,698 pedestrian injuries associated with truck accidents that occurred between 1994 and 2003.

A6973 – Renumbering of Election Law – Signed on July 15th
This bill prevents an individual who holds any elective office, or who is a candidate for any elected office, or a relative of a candidate, from being a poll clerk or election inspector. It also requires that election inspectors and poll clerks are registered voters and residents in the county they reside in, or that they reside in New York City. These loop holes will finally be closed and bring us closer to a more fair and balanced election system.

A7453 – Lock Voting Machines – Signed on July 20th
With the introduction of new electronic voting machines came a slew of questions about the safety and security of voting records. As the former Election Committee Chairperson I authored and worked towards the passage of legislation to secure removable memory cards so voting results will be preserved in a manner that allows for review and distribution by the State Board of Elections. It is my belief that with any new voting technology there must be a paper copy of results. This bill will ensure that voting records will be preserved just as they have been for the many years before electronic voting machines.

A7602 – Retention of Ballots – Signed on August 4th
Recently voting rules were reformed to allow more people to cast their vote by absentee ballot. With these voting reforms come new challenges as absentee ballot usage increases. Recognizing this issue I sponsored this bill, which prohibits the delivery of absentee ballots to polling places at the close of the polls. Inundating poll workers with additional ballots at the end of the day only adds to the amount of paper ballots needed to be counted. The passage of this legislation will insure that all absentee ballots are counted in an organized and efficient manner.

A7898 – MTA Board Extension – awaiting the Governor’s signature
As a state agency, the MTA board of directors is nominated by the Governor of New York and recommended by the Mayor of New York City and the county executives of the seven counties served by the MTA. But who represents the interests of commuters and laborers? Since 1994 the 17 member MTA board of directors has been made up of two non-voting members, one representing the interest of commuters and the other representing the interest of labor. My sponsorship of this bill will extend this law until 2016 and ensure that the voice of commuters and the labor community continues to be represented during tough budget negotiations.




ANNUAL SENIOR MOVIE IS A SUCCESS!

I welcomed 100 local senior citizens to a movie at the Cobble Hill Cinema on the morning of Wednesday, August 17th, 2011. Seniors from throughout the 52nd Assembly District attended the show, including seniors from area co-op buildings, the St. Charles Jubilee Senior Center, the Raices Times Plaza Senior Center, the New York Memory Center, and the Eileen Dugan Senior Center. The movie Midnight in Paris, directed by Woody Allen, follows a Hollywood screenwriter, who fantasizes about living in the 1920’s.

The movie was a success! We all enjoyed it, and after the credits rolled, everyone had time to get back to their respective senior centers for lunch. I would like to thank the staff at each of the senior centers for their cooperation and the Cobble Hill Cinema for accommodating us.

This year I also sponsored a special second senior movie on Wednesday, September 7th, 2011. Fair Game was shown at the Brooklyn Heights Cinema. Based on a true story, the movie depicts the events surrounding a former CIA intelligence analyst outed by the Bush Administration when her husband criticized the President.

When the owner of Brooklyn Heights Cinema approached me about doing a senior movie day at his cinema, I thought it would be a great opportunity to offer more senior citizens an opportunity to go to the movies. Another 100 senior citizens showed up for the popular senior movie day. I would like to thank Kenn Lowy and his staff at Brooklyn Heights Cinema and the staff at each of the senior centers, for their cooperation.




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As part of Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month, I attended the Brooklyn Multicultural Festival along Prospect Park West where I was joined by Michael Caril and Brian Kenny of LAMBDA. The festival is put on by Brooklyn Pride, Inc. in commemoration and celebration of the Stonewall Riots. This year’s pride month had special meaning because the New York State legislature passed legislation allowing same-sex couples to marry in New York State. I voted in favor of marriage equality and was thrilled to see it signed into law.

NEW COMMITTEE CHAIR APPOINTMENT
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In August I met with the directors of senior centers and advocacy groups from throughout the city. On the far right I am pictured with José Ortiz Ortiz, the Executive Director of the Spanish Speaking Elderly Council – RAICES and next to him is Judy Willig, the Executive Director of the Heights and Hill Community Council.
I am very pleased to report that I have been appointed to chair the Assembly’s Standing Committee on Aging. The Committee has jurisdiction over legislation affecting the quality of life for New York’s senior population. Our state’s senior population is a growing group that is ethnically, culturally, and economically diverse. The so called Baby Boomer generation is reaching retirement age and Boomers were raised to believe they did not have to accept existing solutions to existing problems. These are only a few of the many challenges facing us as we attempt to meet the needs of the elderly.

My first initiative will be a round table conversation on the issue of elder abuse. Experts and practitioners from both governmental and private agencies will meet at Brooklyn Borough Hall on Tuesday, October 25th for a wide-ranging discussion on this ever-growing problem. (Call my office if you would like more information.) I look forward to working with everyone who seeks to improve the quality of life for older New Yorkers.


SPOTLIGHT ON A COMMUNITY ORGANIZATION: BRIC

In this issue I am spotlighting BRIC Arts | Media | Bklyn, an organization founded in 1979 which presents contemporary art, performing arts, and community media programs that reflect Brooklyn’s creativity and diversity. BRIC also provides resources for the community to express their voices through media by offering free and low cost programs to people of all ages. Each year more than a million people in Brooklyn and citywide are served by BRIC. Summer 2011 marked BRIC’s 33rd free season of presenting emerging and established artists in music, film and dance at the Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival at the Prospect Park Bandshell. In July I attended the Celebrate Brooklyn! annual Ezra Jack Keats Family Concert, which this year featured Dan Zanes with the Brooklyn Youth Orchestra & Bed Stuy Veterans. In May, Celebrate Brooklyn! debuted in Brooklyn Bridge Park to large crowds from all over the borough for free dance parties and dance lessons featuring funk, salsa and bhangra.

As the community access television organization for the borough, BRIC coordinates the BCAT TV Network and community media center, and the Brooklyn Center for Media Education. BRIC invites district residents to voice their ideas, issues and aspirations to their community: residents can provide their own produced programs or take a low-cost media training course and learn how to make a television show to air on the BCAT TV Network. BRIC’s Community Media Center is home to state-of-the art media production facilities, a training classroom and more. Visit the center at its interim location in the Old American Can Factory at 242 Third Street in Gowanus.

This fall, BRIC celebrates 30 years of presenting contemporary art in Brooklyn through exhibitions, public programs and special events. 30: A Brooklyn Salon, the first exhibition of the 2011-2012 season (September 15 – October 29, 2011 at BRIC Rotunda Gallery on 33 Clinton Street in Brooklyn Heights), features work by 50 Brooklyn-affiliated artists, and offers a look back at the wealth of artists (nearly 1,500) who shaped the character of BRIC’s exhibition program over the last three decades. BRIC Rotunda Gallery is the oldest contemporary art space in Brooklyn and “is home” or “plays home” to free exhibitions, as well as public programs for artists, teachers, young people and their parents.

All of this exciting programming takes place while renovations are underway at BRIC Arts|Media House, a multidisciplinary arts and media center that will expand BRIC’s support for artists in contemporary and performing arts, facilities for community television producers and local media, and offerings to audiences and the public. The project entails a top-to-bottom renovation of BRIC’s current facilities at 647 Fulton Street in Downtown Brooklyn.

For up to date information on BRIC programming and to join their social media sites, interested residents can visit their website.

SUMMER READING CHALLENGE

What some constituents might not know about me is that before I became the Assemblywoman from the 52nd district, I worked for many years as a teacher and librarian in Brooklyn public schools. To help encourage children to keep reading over the summer, each year I sponsor the New York State Assembly Summer Reading Challenge. Children read for at least 40 days over the summer and keep a log with the number of days – when they send their log back to my office they receive a New York State certificate. Cultivating a love of reading and preventing the “summer slide,” are two important concerns for all schools. If a school has a large number of kids who will be receiving certificates I go to the school in person to present them to the students. Last year I was delighted to receive a letter from a parent of a second grader who so enjoyed completing the Summer Reading Challenge that he then started a book club with his friends!


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Engine Company 205 in Brooklyn Heights was slated to be closed by the city to save money. I spoke at two rallies and as I stated, I was ready to be arrested once again to save our firehouses. This engine company serves neighborhoods that have seen enormous growth over the last 10 years. Losing Engine Company 205 would have resulted in longer response times potentially putting thousands of lives at risk. The final version of the city’s 2012 budget included funding to keep all of the firehouses open. Our Engine Company was saved because of the determination of community activists who came forward to stand with me and rally against this closure.

INFORMATION SESSION WITH THE NYC HOUSING AUTHORITY

I will be sponsoring an information session with the New York City Housing Authority to discuss the community service requirement that is in place for some residents of public housing. The event starts at 6:00pm in the Community Room at the Gowanus Houses. NYCHA residents are required to perform eight hours of community service each month as a condition of their tenancy. This regulation is in accordance with the Housing Act of 1998 passed by the U.S. Congress and mandated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The requirement can be satisfied by volunteering with NYCHA, other government agencies, with community organizations, or by participating in NYCHA’s Resident Employment Service programs.

Most residents are exempt from the Community Service requirement. At the session there will be a discussion on all of the exemptions and how to ensure that NYCHA files these exemptions, In general residents who are under 18, age 60 and over, employed, on public assistance or receiving disability insurance are exempt from the requirements.

The purpose of this information session is to give residents an opportunity to speak directly with NYCHA officials and find out if they are required to perform community service and what options are available to them.

Please contact my office at 718-246-4889 for the date of the event.


CELL PHONE DONATION FOR DOMESTIC VIOLENCE VICTIMS

My office is a collection center for Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes’ Cell Phone Program. The DA collects cell phones which are then distributed to domestic violence victims. The phones are free and are programmed to call 911 in case of an emergency. The phones will help those women who are trying to break the cycle of violence in their lives. I encourage everyone to drop off an unused cell phone at my district office at 341 Smith Street.


HOW TO CONTACT ASSEMBLYWOMAN JOAN L. MILLMAN

DISTRICT OFFICE: 341 Smith Street, Brooklyn, NY 11231
718-246-4889, Fax: 718-246-4895,
ALBANY OFFICE: 748 LOB, Albany, NY 12248
518-455-5426, Fax: 518-455-4787
Email: millmaj@assembly.state.ny.us
Facebook: www.facebook.com/AssemblywomanJoanMillman

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