Weekly Update From The Mayor’s Office Of Community Affairs

“Weekend of Faith”


The First Lady’s mental health Weekend of Faith was a huge successFLONYC, Deputy Mayors Herminia Palacio and Richard Buery, and more than a dozen senior administration officials – including Lisette Camilo, Dr. Ram Raju, Steve Banks, Marco Carrion, Gregg Bishop, Pauline Toole, Sandy Rozza, Cecile Noel, Loree Sutton, Donna Corrado, Dr. Gary Belkin, Dr. Nichole Adams, Dr. Noel Manyindo, and Dr. Oxiris Barbot – fanned out across the city to have ThriveNYC conversations at houses of worship serving a quarter-million New Yorkers.


Weekly Overview 


The growing bipartisan coalition supporting an extension of the Mayor’s control of our schools now includes leading tech executives, business leaders, and immigrant advocates…the NYPD is bulldozingillegal motorbikes…the Mayor is taking slumlords to court…Brooklyn is getting more Citi Bikes…leadingclergy members and a broad coalition of progressivesare organizing to protect the progress made in the last two years…DCA has a new commissioner…we’re expanding pre-apprenticeships with Build it Back…and we got fresh looks at reform on Rikers IslandEquity and Excellence progress on Staten Island, Beacon Centers in Brooklyn and the Bronx, DOH taking on health disparities in Central Brooklyn, and DCA/MOIA efforts to protect immigrants.


The Details


Weekend of Faith – 1,000 houses of worship took part in New York City’s first-ever mental health Weekend of Faith. Led by the First Lady, the three-day effort included faith leaders across the five boroughs devoting services to the issue of mental health. The First Lady, City Commissioners and senior administration officials personally visited dozens of houses of worship to share information about ThriveNYC, New York City’s $850 million plan to improve mental health services and promote mental wellness.


DCA’s New Commissioner – Lorelei Salas has been named Commissioner of the Department of Consumer Affairs. Salas has previously been nominated by President Obama to be the Wage Hour Administrator at the U.S. Department of Labor and has long been an advocate for immigration, housing and employment services. In her new role as Commissioner, she will also oversee the Office of Labor Policy and Standards, a new division of DCA that will serve as the City’s primary research and policy development hub for issues affecting labor in the new economy.


City Suing Slumlords – The City has taken another step in its effort to clean up buildings with cluster homeless shelter units by instituting legal action against the owners of seven buildings that account for more than 700 code violations. As part of the Mayor’s 90-day review of homeless services, the City is phasing out the use of apartments as cluster shelter sites and making efforts to improve conditions and convert as many units as possible into affordable permanent housing for homeless families and those leaving shelter.


Healthy Start Brooklyn – Healthy Start Brooklyn is a health education program aimed at expectant and new parents in Central Brooklyn, where rates of infant death, premature birth, and illness are high.


Build it Back Pre-Apprenticeships – After successfully connecting 680 New Yorkers to high-quality employment, the Mayor has announced that the City’s Sandy Recovery Workforce1 initiative will be making additional pre-apprenticeship training opportunities available to low- and middle-income residents of Sandy-affected areas. Mayor de Blasio launched Sandy Workforce1 as part of his Sandy recovery overhaul in 2014.


Immigrant Fraud Hotline –MOIA, DCA, the Office of the Attorney General and the Hispanic Federation co-hosted a televised hotline on Telemundo 47 about immigration fraud. Callers who may have been victims of immigration fraud were asked to file complaints with the ONA New Americans Hotline and were able to make ActionNYC appointments for a free, safe immigration screening with an ActionNYC provider. More than 500 calls were fielded through the hotline.

Councilman Ulrich Votes to Protect New York’s Quality of Life

Ozone Park, NY – Councilman Eric Ulrich today voted against five bills that will severely diminish the quality of life all New Yorkers enjoy.  The bills, which are a part of a package supporters call the “Criminal Justice Reform Act,” decriminalize many quality of life crimes in New York City.
“Every New Yorker deserves a good quality of life. These bills will only diminish our ability to keep our city clean and safe,” said Councilman Eric Ulrich.  “Issuing summonses in lieu of enforcing the law is like giving a slap on the wrist to offenders and also a slap in the face to the taxpaying, law abiding citizens of the Big Apple.”
Councilman Ulrich also noted that it’s unlikely the city will even be able to collect the fines people will receive.
“We’re delusional if we think people will pay these fines,” he added.  “Many people don’t pay their parking tickets.  There’s no reason to believe more people will pay their tickets from littering, public urination, and other offenses.”

NYPD Officer Grants Teen’s Birthday Wish

By Jeffrey Williams-Maisonet

A young teen in Rockaway wanted to invite a police officer to her birthday party. However, the teen had a specific officer in mind for the celebration. That officer was P.O. Young from the 100th Precinct.

According to a number of sources, P.O Young has a great rapport with young residents in the community and takes part in a weekly basketball tournament in effort to bridge the divide between police and the community.

Much to the teen’s surprise, P.O. Young showed up with a cake and his partner! As an added bonus, the officers stayed to sing “Happy Birthday” and offered well-wishes for the future.

“The action taken by the officers and the NYPD was more than what I could’ve hoped for,” said the teen.

“I look forward to letting everyone know what the police did for me that day.”


Queens, NY (May 26, 2016): NYS Senator Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr. recently
voted to approve a wide-ranging package of Senate legislation aimed at
stemming increasing incidences of deadly heroin and opioid abuse and
otherwise helping to protect New Yorkers from the horrors of drug-related
deaths, illness and crime.

“Lives are being tragically and needlessly ruined and lost in New York and
across the nation from a frightening epidemic of heroin and opioid abuse,”
said Addabbo.  “Here in New York City, according to the Health Department,
deaths attributed to unintentional opioid overdoses rose by 56 percent
between 2010 and 2014, with 79 percent of all drug overdose deaths in 2014
involving some form of opioid, including heroin and powerful prescription
painkillers.  We are already taking action to address this epidemic, such
as making life-saving naloxone more readily available to reverse overdoses,
but much more needs to be done both here in the City and statewide.”

The package of legislation approved by the Senate with Addabbo’s support
includes greater penalties for illegal heroin or opioid sales, proposed
advances in treatment opportunities, stronger restrictions on access to
dangerous drugs, and enhanced public education about dangerous drugs, both
legal and not.

“The heroin and opioid epidemic touches individuals, families and our
entire society in different and terrible ways, and we need to fight it on
every front: using criminal, medical, educational and all other tools at
our disposal,” he said.  “There is no one solution, so we need to fight
this scourge by all means available.”

Bills to combat heroin and opioid abuse, and otherwise address drug-related
challenges in New York include:

S.6962, which would help to ensure that insurance coverage is made
available for pain management opioid medications that are manufactured in a
way designed to prevent their misuse or abuse, such as making them
difficult to crush or liquefy (and thereby inject or snort).

S.6623, which would impose greater restrictions on access to fentanyl and
derivatives of the drug – a pain medication said to be 100 times more
powerful than morphine and much deadlier than heroin – and also increase
penalties for its illegal sale, especially when it is sold combined with

S.6516, which would require the State Department of Health to track and
annually report on opioid overdoses and deaths, as well as the
administration of “antagonist” drugs used to revive overdose victims, on a
county-by-county basis to reveal where areas of particular abuse are

S.4177, which would redefine the state crime of operating as a major drug
trafficker to make it easier to prosecute and convict major dealers of
heroin and other deadly substances.

S.4163, which would enact “Laree’s Law” and make it possible to charge drug
dealers whose customers die from the use of heroin and other opioids with
homicide, instead of only the typical crime of criminal sale of a
controlled substance.

S.7365, which is designed to combat the over-prescription of powerful
opioid painkillers by enabling patients to request smaller quantities of
medication (to prevent the use and abuse of left-over pills by others),
ensuring that patients are advised by their physicians of the risks
associated with opioid-related addiction, and requiring that the reason for
the prescription be clearly documented in medical records.

S.7317, which would make it easier for physicians treating patients in
managed care programs to prescribe buprenorphine, a drug that is well
documented for its effectiveness in addressing opioid withdrawal symptoms
and overall addiction recovery.

S.7315, which would require the Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse
Services (OASAS) to create a card or pamphlet, to accompany each opioid
prescription, detailing the risks of taking opioids, the signs of
addiction,  and safe drug disposal methods, while also providing phone and
text number information for HOPELINE, New York’s primary addiction
assistance program.

S.7200, which would make it a class B felony to sell controlled substances
within 1,000 feet of a drug or alcohol treatment center or methadone clinic
– a ploy pursued by dealers hoping to tempt addicts working towards

S.7012, which would help to ensure that criminal penalties associated with
heroin are updated and strengthened to reflect the light weight of the
substance in comparison to other drugs and its high potency and danger.

Having passed the State Senate, the bills are under consideration by
various standing committees addressing different issue areas in the State

Assemblyman Goldfeder Urges MTA to Keep Tabs on Access-A-Ride

In letter to MTA, Goldfeder supports recommendations by city Comptroller to install GPS tracking technology on Access-A-Ride contractor vehicles to improve service, hold providers accountable


Assemblyman cites “dozens” of calls to his office by Access-A-Ride customers frustrated by delayed or canceled rides and byzantine appeals process


Howard Beach, Queens – Following the release of an alarming new audit by New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer into the performance of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s (MTA) Access-A-Ride program, Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder (D – Howard Beach) is calling on the MTA to implement the Comptroller’s recommendations for reforming the paratransit service.


“Here in southern Queens and Rockaway we have severely limited access to transportation and one of the largest senior populations in the entire city,” said Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder. “Many of our seniors and persons with disabilities depend on this program that does not provide them with the adequate service they need and deserve. I applaud Comptroller Stringer for shedding light on the problems that plague Access-A-Ride and I urge the MTA to implement the recommendations of this new audit.”


In a letter to MTA Chair Thomas Prendergast, Assemblyman Goldfeder called on the transit agency to consider implementing recommendations made by Comptroller Stringer in a new audit showing widespread instances of driver no-shows and alleged false reporting of on-time performance by Access-A-Ride contractors. Specifically, Goldfeder urged the MTA to require the installation of GPS tracking systems in Access-A-Ride vehicles. Citing the Comptroller’s report, Goldfeder argued that the move would improve performance and prevent contractor billing for no-show rides.


According to Goldfeder, his office has received dozens of complaints from local residents about a host of issues with the Access-A-Ride program, including repeat late arrivals, no-shows and issues with the appeals process. In one particularly egregious case, a constituent of Goldfeder reported missing chemotherapy appointments due to late arrivals and rides lasting as long as four hours. In another, a handicapped rider reported frequent late arrivals that her Access-A-Ride drivers reportedly attributed to getting lost due to not having GPS services available in their vehicles.


These concerns were reflected in the audit by Comptroller Stringer, which uncovered more than 31,000 vehicle no-shows. This, the report noted, is more than double the rate allowed to providers in their contracts with the program, which the federal government mandates under the Americans with Disabilities Act. The MTA complies with the law by relying on private carriers to pick up passengers in lift-equipped vans or ramp-equipped vehicles that can be reserved by phone.


No-shows falsely reported by providers as missed trips can have devastating consequences for those with limited mobility. Under the program, the MTA can suspend riders for up to a week for showing a pattern of missed trips, with repeat violations resulting in longer suspensions. In addition to GPS tracking to prevent the no-shows, the Comptroller’s audit also recommends terminating providers that inaccurately report trip and vehicle data, as well as consider implementing “alternatives to the existing service model.”


“Missing a ride or losing your Access-A-Ride service can mean the difference between getting to a doctor’s appointment and not receiving the services you need. That’s why ensuring good service is key to providing every person with the tools they need to lead productive, independent lives,” concluded Goldfeder. 


Howard Beach, Queens – Following the release of an alarming new audit by New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer into the performance of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s (MTA) Access-A-Ride program, Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder (D – Howard Beach) is calling on the MTA to implement the Comptroller’s recommendations for reforming the paratransit service

Rockaway Desperately Needs a Book Store

Commentary by Jeffrey Williams-Maisonet (J-Man)

Okay, I have a confession to make. I never liked reading. Seriously, like…never! As much as I write, many may find that hard to believe. You couldn’t give me a book to read if my life depended on it. I’ve even lost friends because I refused to go to the library. I thought the library was a waste of time. Looking back, it’s kind of embarrassing to say that now.

Well, not reading was a bad decision. Not only did I lose friends, I lost when it came to taking state exams, too. Don’t get me wrong. I knew how to read, but did I ever put that power to good use, personally or scholastically? Of course not. Video games were more important. That all changed when my mother and I went to parent teacher conferences when I was in sixth grade. This was a significant turning point in my life. The teacher told my mother, “Your son is reading on a fourth grade level”. The look my mother gave me was a look I’d never seen before and will never forget.

I’m not going to discuss the details of what happened that night, but I definitely got my act together and started taking reading more seriously. I saw the impact it was having on me in high school, and I made a vow. I told myself that when I entered college I would not be embarrassed a second time. My mother played a crucial role in helping me turn things around. She made me read books that mattered. Encyclopedias, much like the ones pictured below, were always my first choice.


The encyclopedias were the gateway to my educational and psychological development. Going through them not only improved my reading, they changed how I thought and viewed life. One of my mentors told me, “Jeff, reading expands the brain. When you introduce your brain to new things, nothing in the world seems unusual.”

My mother also set strict guidelines. I couldn’t pick up the control for a Nintendo 64 or a PlayStation until I read about three sections of any book of my choice, and I thank my mother every day for kicking my butt and making me read. Why? Well, look how far it’s taken me.

Now, I know what some of you may be thinking. “What does this have to do with Rockaway?!”

See, here’s the thing. Having spent all of my life on the peninsula, I’ve come to realize there aren’t any bookstores! To be honest, it’s upsetting. We only have three libraries in our area, and they’ve struggled to survive or upgrade because they’ve been underfunded for years. Opening a privately-owned book store or two would do wonders for the community.

Furthermore, all of the surrounding schools and housing developments in the area would benefit from a book store. I say that with complete confidence. Many of you have posted comments on the Rockaway Primetime Facebook page stating Barnes and Noble would be a great choice. I disagree. In my view, companies like B&N are only interested in coming to an area if it will have a profoundly positive impact on their profit margins.

No. We don’t need anyone setting up shop for the sole purpose of making a buck off the good people of Rockaway. I prefer, no, I want someone from the community to open a book store. I want someone whose key objective is to service the community. Most importantly, I want someone who understands the community, its history and its people.

The libraries need help, and far too many schools in the area have outdated books. Our kids deserve better. Give them an opportunity to expand their minds. Provide them with a venue to escape the drama and negative elements they’re confronted with on a daily basis. The best way to do this…is to introduce them to the power and wonder of reading.

Weekly Update From Mayor’s Office Of Community Affairs

Rikers Island reform is working, NYCHA resiliency is happening, and city government is going digital. The Mayor is targeting crime in the Bronx, deer on Staten Island (with the SNL treatment), and mosquitos in city marshes. UPK received national praise, the First Lady drove the mental health conversation in our nation’s capital, and the Brooklyn Navy Yard will be home to local beer with a national name. The NYPD is prepping for terror, DCAS is making the city greener, DOT is making it safer for bikers, and DDC and DOITT are improving 911.


The Details


Rikers Reforms Decrease Violence – During testimony delivered to the City Council last week, DOC Commissioner Joseph Ponte outlined a series of reforms at Rikers Island that have helped drive down inmate injuries and assaults on staff. Commissioner Ponte also highlighted a steep decline in the use of punitive segregation – along with facility upgrades and training enhancements that have helped fuel progress at the jail.


Digital Playbook  – The Mayor joined Arianna Huffington at the tech hub Civic Hall to unveil the New York City Digital Playbook, a comprehensive new strategic blueprint outlining how the city will make it easier for residents to access services and use digital tools to strengthen communities.


Deer Population Management on Staten Island – The City has developed an integrated, non-lethal population management plan to combat a dangerously high deer population on Staten Island. The plan includes a three-year surgical sterilization study, a series of improved traffic safety measures, expanded public education, and upgraded natural resource protection infrastructure. Deer overpopulation is a threat to human health and safety through deer-vehicle collisions and tick-borne illnesses. White-tailed deer also pose a challenge to tree regeneration and the preservation of forest biodiversity.


New 911 Building – Located in the Bronx, PSAC II is a new emergency communications 911 call intake and dispatch center. The facility will serve as a parallel operation to PSAC I in downtown Brooklyn, adding critical redundancy and streamlined emergency call and dispatch services for all of the City’s first responders.


Mosquito Control – The Health Department has conducted its first aerial larvicide application of the year, targeting marshes and other non-residential areas of Staten Island, Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx. The Health Department periodically applies pesticides to the breeding grounds of mosquitoes that carry the West Nile virus and could carry the Zika virus. Due to the size and limited accessibility of targeted areas, this is often done using a low-flying helicopter.


NYC’s Auto Fleet Getting Safer & Greener – The Mayor and DCAS Commissioner Lisette Camilo have announced new steps to improve the City’s safety and sustainability using the 28,000-automobile municipal fleet. The measures include the installation of life-saving truck side guards, a new prohibition on hands-free cell phone use, the first of several electric car orders, and an expansion in the fleet’s use of diesel alternatives.

Senator Sanders debates Senate Bill S.1963


Senate Bill S.1963

Introduced by Sen. ROBACH — read twice and ordered printed, and when printed to be committed to the Committee on Crime Victims, Crime and Correction AN ACT to amend the correction law, in relation to eligibility for limited credit time allowances for inmates serving indeterminate or determinate sentences imposed for specified offenses THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM- BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS: 1 Section 1. Subparagraph (ii) of paragraph (b) of subdivision 1 of 2 section 803-b of the correction law is amended by adding a new clause 3 (D) to read as follows: 4 (D) AN INMATE SHALL NOT BE ELIGIBLE FOR THE CREDIT DEFINED HEREIN 5 BEFORE HAVING COMPLETED EIGHTY PERCENT OF HIS OR HER ORIGINAL SENTENCE. 6 S 2. This act shall take effect immediately and shall apply to all 7 sentences imposed on and after such effective date.




Howard Beach, NY (May 19, 2016) During a ceremony at the New York State Capital this week, Senator Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr. presented an award to Broad Channel resident Barbara Toborg in honor of the work she has done to improve her community.


Addabbo carefully selected Mrs. Toborg to be one of the award recipients for the Senate’s annual “Women of Distinction” ceremony, during which each Senator chooses a woman from their district who has impacted her community and had a positive influence on the people who live there. Mrs. Toborg was honored by Addabbo and his Senate colleagues this week during a ceremony held in Albany.


“Barbara Toborg represents what every resident should be about – helping the people around us,” said Addabbo. “Not only has she been involved in environmental causes such as the American Littoral Society and the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, but she has dedicated more than 15 years of her life to serving students, teachers and parents as a member of multiple educational organizations and committees. Barbara has touched countless lives over the years and has without a doubt left a lasting impact on the past, present and future of Broad Channel.”


In addition to her work to benefit the environment, Mrs. Toborg has also served as a member of Community School Board 24 in Queens, as vice president of the United Parents Association, as president of the Parents Association at PS 102 and as president of the Presidents Panel of Community School District 24.


“This is not the first award Barbara has received for her service to the community, and I know it certainly won’t be the last,” said Addabbo. “Broad Channel is especially lucky to have someone who cares so much about her neighborhood and the people who call it home, and I am thrilled to have been able to present Barbara with this much-deserved Women of Distinction award.”


Howard Beach, NY (May 19, 2016) In an effort to provide Far Rockaway residents with more affordable transportation options on weekends, while also increasing tourism and other economic activity in the peninsula’s beach communities, Senator Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr. is co-sponsoring a bill (S.6741) that would include Far Rockaway in the reduced fare CityTicket program operated by the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR).


“The Long Island Rail Road provides reduced fares between midnight on Saturdays and midnight on Sundays for trips within New York City, but visits to and from Far Rockaway have been excluded because the train passes outside of the City into Nassau County for part of the trip,” said Addabbo. “Since passengers begin and end their trips within the confines of the City, this policy doesn’t make sense and robs Far Rockaway residents of the chance to travel on weekends at reduced fares enjoyed by people in other areas. This needs to change.”


Addabbo noted that including the Far Rockaway station in the program would occur at no cost to the state and would benefit the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), the agency that operates the LIRR, with increased ridership during the reduced-fare  hours. It would also encourage more people to visit local beaches and contribute to the area economy.


“Making trips to and from Far Rockaway more affordable will benefit a community that is already struggling with very limited transportation options while providing a boost for local businesses and our beaches,” said Addabbo. “If the station is included in CityTicket, the weekend fare of $8.25 would be reduced to $4.25 for single direction trips to and from Far Rockaway, Queens. That’s cutting the cost of trips almost in half. As our communities continue to rebuild and recover from Hurricane Sandy, we should do everything we can to aid local residents and support our stores, restaurants and other economic partners in moving forward.”


The legislation was recently approved by the Senate Transportation Committee and is under review by the Senate Finance Committee. In the Assembly, the proposal is being considered by the Committee on Corporations, Authorities and Commissions.