June/July 2013 – In this issue:
- Hearing on the Sale of Public Library Buildings in New York City
- My Bill to Outlaw “Secret Spy Apps”
- Standing Up for Children with Special Needs and Those Who Serve Them
- Fighting to Dump the Dump!
- My Bill to Cover Young New Yorkers with Hemophilia Passes the Legislature
- Victory! Cuts to NYS Office for People with Developmental Disabilities Restored
- My Bill to Aid New York‘s Research Libraries Passes the Legislature
- NYC Department of Education Urges Families to Take Advantage of Free Summer Meals for Children Ages 18 Years Old and Younger
- Support for People with Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia
- Free Monthly Legal Clinic for Tenants
- Stay Safe in the Summer Heat; Find a City Cooling Center Near You
- Support the Food Bank for New York City
Visit my website: www.MicahKellner.net
Hearing on the Sale of Public Library Buildings in New York City
As Chair of the New York State Assembly Committee on Libraries & Education Technology, I held the first government hearing ever conducted on the sale of public library buildings in New York Cityin June. A packed hearing room full of hundreds of New Yorkers heard testimony from members of the public on important issues involving the sale of public library buildings by the New York Public Library (NYPL) and the Brooklyn Public Library (BPL), and the hearing received prominent coverage in the New York Times. (You can view video of the hearing here.) Those testifying included the Presidents & CEOs of NYPL and BPL, Pulitzer-Prize winning author Edmund Morris, and dozens of New Yorkers, who voiced their opinions on NYPL’s controversial Central Library Plan (CLP), which envisions the demolition of the seven stories of stacks beneath the Rose Reading Room in the Main Public Library Building at 42nd Street and Fifth Avenue, the removal of many volumes now housed in the stacks to storage space in New Jersey, and the sale of the building housing the Mid-Manhattan Branch at 40th Street & Fifth Avenue; and on the possible sale by the Brooklyn Public Library of the buildings housing two local branches. At the hearing, NYPL President Anthony W. Marx announced that it was commissioning an independent audit of the Central Library Plan, and after the filing of a lawsuit by scholars and preservationists to halt the plan, the NYPL later announced that it was putting the CLP on hold.
My Bill to Outlaw “Secret Spy Apps”
I recently wrote to the Chief Executive Officers of Apple and Google to urge them to ban the availability of “secret spy apps” in their application marketplaces. The widely available apps can be secretly installed on mobile phones or tablets, allowing a person who temporarily gains access to another’s device to install the app surreptitiously and then review the unsuspecting phone owner’s emails, text messages and movements. Many advocates for victims of domestic violence have urged that these new smart phone apps be made illegal, because they can be used by abusers and stalkers to track their victims by spying on unsuspecting persons on whose mobile devices the apps have been secretly downloaded. Because the use of these secret spy apps is a 21st-century form of stalking, I introduced A. 6379, legislation to make it illegal to sell or provide a program that automatically forwards a person’s emails or texts without seeking permission or providing notification, providing for a fine of up to $1,000 per violation or $5,000 per violation for chronic offenders. Following my letters to Apple and Google – and the extensive print and electronic media coverage on my legislation earlier in July – both companies have promised to take action to remove these apps from their application marketplaces.
Standing Up for Children with Special Needs and Those Serving Them
In July, I joined with concerned parents, advocates from Resources for Children with Special Needs and other organizations, and school bus drivers and matrons belonging to the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1181 at a news conference to rally public support for my legislation to require comprehensive training for school bus drivers and school bus attendants who transport New York City school children with special needs or disabilities. My bill, A. 8060, would require updated and more comprehensive training standards for workers transporting special needs students, and require the City to include Employee Protection Provisions (EPPs) in municipal school busing contracts. Following a month-long strike earlier this year triggered by the City’s move to bid out 1,100 school bus route contracts that removed job protections for longtime workers, several bus companies laid off about 2,000 school bus drivers and matrons at the end of the school year in June, raising fears among families of special needs students that new contracts would employ workers with less training.
The City of New York must maintain the highest standards of safety and professionalism when it comes to transporting our most precious cargo – our school children. It’s outrageous that the City is essentially telling families with children with special needs that their children belong at the back of the bus when it comes to prioritizing their safety and well-being. We cannot and must not seek to cut corners when it comes to protecting students with special needs, some of the most vulnerable New Yorkers. I will urge my colleagues in both the Assembly and Senate to pass my bill in any special session of the Legislature that may be called later this year in order to ensure that only the trained and trusted are charged with transporting children with special needs.
Fighting to Dump the Dump!
I am continuing to lead the fight against the City’s proposed 10-story garbage station next to Asphalt Green at E. 91st Street – the only such facility the City plans to impose on such a densely populated residential neighborhood. In July, the judge hearing the case resulting from my federal lawsuit met with attorneys on both sides, and indicated that several of our points might support invalidation of actions taken in support on the project by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the City on the grounds that the record was inadequate to support their determinations. We’ve also succeeded in making the dump a major issue in this year’s mayoral election, and are continuing to press the fight on a wide variety of fronts.
In June, I debated the merits of the proposed garbage station on New York 1, and joined the Pledge2Protect grass-roots network to help focus citywide media attention on our fight to defend Asphalt Green and Yorkville from this threat to the health and safety of our community. I also succeeded in putting the spotlight on the contractor’s violation of its terms with the City when it was caught on camera removing debris resulting from the demolition of the old facility by truck instead of by barge, which City officials had told the community would be the only means of removal.
My Bill to Cover Young New Yorkers with Hemophilia Passes the Legislature
I am proud to report that my legislation to require New York State’s Child Health Plus insurance program to cover outpatient hemophilia treatment passed both the Assembly and the Senate and is heading to Governor Cuomo’s desk for his signature.
My bill, A.962A, will require that Child Health Plus cover treatments and services necessary for individuals with hemophilia and other clotting protein deficiencies, including blood clotting factor concentrates – and it will help provide readier access for young New Yorkers with hemophilia to world-class facilities like the Regional Comprehensive Hemophilia Diagnostic & Treatment Centerat Weill Cornell Medical Center of NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital.
Victory! Cuts to NYS Office for People with Development Disabilities Restored
I reported this spring about the fight to avert devastating cuts that had been proposed for the New York State Office for People with Developmental Disabilities, which works with nonprofit organizations to serve some of the most vulnerable New Yorkers. Near the end of the legislative session, the Assembly passed a bill to restore $90 million in spending cuts, which, when coupled with an equivalent cut in matching federal funds, would result in an overall $180 million spending cut to this vital State agency. I will continue to fight to ensure that New Yorkers with developmental disabilities are not forced to bear the brunt of New York State’s budget woes.
My Bill to Aid New York’s Research Libraries Passes the Legislature
Working with local libraries and library systems around the state as Chair of the Assembly Committee on Libraries and Education Technology, I helped research libraries notch a victory during this past session of the Legislature. I wrote and introduced A. 4664, a bill to help streamline and modernize the conservation and preservation programs of New York’s “Big Eleven” research libraries. I’m proud to report that my bill passed both the Assembly and the Senate in July, and has been sent to Governor Cuomo for his signature for enactment into State law.
NYC Department of Education Encourages Families to Take Advantage of Free Summer Meals for Children 18 Years Old and Younger
The New York City Department of Education (DOE) is encouraging eligible families to take advantage of a free breakfast and lunch program for youngsters as part of the City’s annual summer meals program. Summer meals are provided from June 27 through August 30 in more than 1,000 locations throughout the five boroughs, including schools, pools, parks, libraries, public housing sites and soup kitchens. To find a location nearby, parents can call 311, log onto the DOE or “NYC Food” websites, or text “nycmeals” to 877877.
Support for People with Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia
Lenox Hill Neighborhood House (LHNH) is expanding the hours of “CARE,” its social day program for older adults with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. The CARE program has been enriching the lives of older adults with dementia for many years. The CARE program’s person-centered approach supports participants with tailored therapeutic activities that are stimulating and enjoyable and promote their engagement with others, with the focus of its programming on music and art. Other activities provided by CARE include exercise, pet therapy, storytelling and writing, group discussions, poetry, cooking and more.
The CARE program will continue to be available from 8:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Starting this month, it will also be extended through the afternoon from 3:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. LHNH will continue to offer round trip, wheelchair-accessible transportation and fresh and delicious meals (breakfast, lunch & dinner). If you believe the CARE program could be of interest to your friends or family, you can leave a message on the voice mail box of the CARE program office at212-744-5022, ext.1301 or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also visit LHNH directly to inquire about the CARE program at its offices at 343 East 70th Street(between 1st and 2nd Avenues).
Free Monthly Legal Clinic for Tenants
My office continues to work with Eviction Intervention Services to offer a free monthly legal clinic for tenants. If the owner of your building is harassing you, threatening you with eviction, or refusing to make necessary repairs, and you can not afford to hire a lawyer, please come for a consultation with one of our volunteer attorneys. The clinic is held every month at 1233 Second Avenue (between East 64th and 65th Streets). There will be a clinic on Monday, August 5th from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. The clinic is by appointment only. Please call (212) 860-4906 to schedule an appointment.
Stay Safe in the Summer Heat; Find A City Cooling Center Near You
With hot summer weather upon us, please don’t forget to follow these tips to stay cool and healthy as the temperature rises:
1. Consume enough liquids and cool foods with high water content to increase your ability to deal with hot weather.
2. Friends and family members should check in on elderly neighbors, especially those who live in apartments without air-conditioning.
3. Pay attention to signs of heat stroke or sickness including: temperature over 103 degrees, red skin, throbbing headache, rapid pulse, nausea and confusion.
4. To help kids cool off and enjoy some outdoor fun at the same time, take advantage of some of the sprinklers in the area, including at the Carl Schurz Park playground near 84th Street and East End Avenue; at John Jay Park off FDR Drive between E. 76th & E. 78th Streets, where there’s also a 145-foot outdoor pool; and at the Marx Brothers Playground on 2nd Avenue between E. 96th & E. 97th Streets.
For more tips about avoiding heat exhaustion, visit AARP’s website. To find a City-operated cooling center to get out of the heat, please call 311; locally, the Stanley Isaacs Neighborhood Senior Center at 415 E. 93rd Street off First Avenue offers a cooling center Mondays through Fridays from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Support the Food Bank For New York City
With more than 2.6 million New Yorkers experiencing difficulty affording enough food to feed themselves or their families, the vital mission of the Food Bank for New York City is more important than ever. The Food Bank is dedicated to ending hunger in the five boroughs by organizing food, information and support for community survival and dignity. As the city’s hub for integrated food poverty assistance, the Food Bank tackles the hunger issue on three fronts: food distribution, income support, and nutrition education. Toyota North America, Inc., is partnering with the Food Bank by donating more than a million meals to New Yorkers in need. Every time a person clicks views the documentary on-line,Toyota will make a donation to the Food Bank for New York City for another meal for a hungry New Yorker. Please support this effort today!
Contact My Office:
District Office of Assembly Member Micah Z. Kellner
1365 First Avenue New York, NY 10021
T: (212) 860-4906 F: (917) 432-2983
Hours: M-F 9:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Email me: KellnerM@assembly.state.ny.us
Visit my website: www.MicahKellner.net