VETRANO FAMILY HOSTING MEMORIAL WALK

This Wednesday, August 2nd at 6:30 PM at the intersection of 165th Ave and 85th Street in Howard Beach, Phil and Cathie Vetrano, parents of Karina Vetrano, will be hosting the first-anniversary walk dedicated to Karina who was horrifically murdered last summer. Following the walk, there will be a memorial service at St. Helens.

WHEN:     WednesdayAugust 2nd, 6:30 PM

WHERE:       164th Ave and 85rd St, Howard Beach, NY

 

 

Council Member Richards to Chair Downtown Far Rockaway Neighborhood Rezoning Hearing

WHO: Council Member Donovan Richards (D-Far Rockaway); Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises

WHAT: The New York City Council Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises will hold a hearing on the Downtown Far Rockaway redevelopment plan. Council Member Richards is the chair of the subcommittee and the representative of the Far Rockaway community. His office led the Downtown Far Rockaway Working Group, a group of local stakeholders, which has been working with city agencies to shape this plan since 2015. The proposal has already received a $91 million commitment from Mayor de Blasio.

WHERE: Council Chambers, City Hall, New York, NY 10007

WHEN: Thursday, July 27, 2017 at 11 a.m.

SCHUMER REVEALS: CONGRESS STILL WAITING FOR FED OPIOID COMMISSION TO LAY OUT STRATEGY ON SAVING LIVES FROM ADDICTION

Despite Bipartisan Agreement On Need To Take Immediate Action To Address Opioid Epidemic, Fed Opioid Commission Enacted By White House Has Now Missed Its Second Deadline To Lay Out Plan To Combat Crisis; Schumer Asks ‘Why?’ & Makes The Case For Actions That Could Provide Faster Relief; Cites NYC & LI Drug Data
Schumer Releases Letter To White House Office Of Drug Control Policy Urging Action Before Overdose Numbers Keep Climbing
Schumer: Missing Deadlines & Gutting Existing Opioid Abuse Treatment & Prevention In Rotten Health Care Bills Is No Way To A Solution

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer, along with other Senators, called on the acting director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, expressing concern that the White House’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis is wasting valuable time by delaying steps that could provide immediate relief to those suffering from the opioid crisis, in favor of conducting more hearings and literature reviews. Already, the commission has missed its self-imposed deadline to outline an effective strategy to combat the opioid epidemic for a second time this year.

“More and more, we hear stories about young adults in New York City or Long Island dying from the drug abuse epidemic and we owe it to the American people to do everything we can to get this horrendous epidemic under control,” said U. S. Senator Charles Schumer. “Already, the White House’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis has missed two self-imposed deadlines to provide action and relief to those suffering from the opioid crisis. It’s time we sound the alarm on this epidemic, which now qualifies as a national emergency. I’m urging the federal opioid commission to take immediate action and finally lay out a comprehensive strategy to stop the opioid surge that has wreaked havoc across New York City, Long Island and elsewhere.”

On top of this, the commission has delayed the implementation of existing recommendations from health experts that could help save lives today, including those mentioned in the first ever Surgeon General’s report released in December 2016. Schumer is calling on this commission to immediately take action, particularly when it comes to already existing recommendations and prioritizing the successful implementation of bills passed by Congress that would ensure strong investments in opioid abuse research, recovery, and appropriate intervention measures.

In the letter, Schumer said that the commission must put forth the resources and staff necessary to carry out the 21st Century Cures and the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Acts (CARA), two important laws recently passed by Congress to help ensure strong investments in research, recovery and appropriate intervention measures. Schumer also said that Former Surgeon General (SG) Vivek Murthy outlined recommendations for providing multi-faceted treatment for Americans struggling with opioid use disorder in, “Facing Addiction in America.” This report, released in November 2016, was the first-ever Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health. However, Schumer explained that instead of acting on these recommendations, the commission is working on even more reports.

According to the NYC Department of Health, there were 1,374 unintentional drug overdose deaths in New York City in 2016, compared to 937 unintentional drug overdose deaths in 2015—an increase of 437. Approximately four fatal drug overdoses occurred each day in New York City last year. More than eight in ten overdose deaths involved an opioid and heroin was involved in 751 (55 percent) fatal overdoses in New York City last year. According to the New York State Department of Health, in 2015 there were 172 opioid overdose deaths in Nassau County and 213 opioid overdose deaths in Suffolk County. According to the New York Daily News, Nassau and Suffolk Counties reported 493 opioid overdoses in 2016. Overall, the number of fatalities could have been even worse, if not for the life-saving antidote, naloxone.

In addition to Schumer, the letter was signed by: Senators Patty Murray, Ron Wyden, Dianne Feinstein, Heidi Heitkamp, Bob Menendez, Jeanne Shaheen, Sherrod Brown, Elizabeth Warren, Richard Blumenthal, Debbie Stabenow, Jack Reed, Kamala Harris, Sheldon Whitehouse, Maggie Hassan, Tammy Baldwin, Amy Klobuchar, Cory Booker, Ed Markey, and Chris Van Hollen.

A copy of the letter appears below:

Dear Acting Director Baum:

As the office tasked with administrating the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis, we urge you to consider important initiatives that could help deliver faster relief to millions of Americans. As the Commission is taking steps to address drug addiction, we are concerned that essential components, such as action on already existing recommendations, are being delayed. As such, we urge you to include action steps that can be immediately implemented.

For far too long, opioids have ravaged communities nationwide. Fatal drug overdoses are now the leading cause of death for Americans under 50. Death rates from the drug and opioid epidemic now rival those of HIV/AIDS during the 1990s, with overdoses killing more than 50,000 people a year. In the last year alone, nearly 60,000 Americans died of drug overdoses – the largest annual increase in deaths ever recorded. At this point, it is clear that the epidemic has become a national public health emergency.

In spite of these tragic statistics, the Administration is choosing to offer more talk, and less action. We know that law enforcement alone cannot deter addiction. The fact of the matter is that addiction, like any other chronic condition, is a disease that requires multi-faceted treatment. Former Surgeon General (SG) Vivek Murthy outlined recommendations for providing such multi-faceted treatment for Americans struggling with opioid use disorder in, “Facing Addiction in America.” This report, released in November 2016, was the first-ever Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health, and was a milestone achievement to advance a broader, federal level effort to address the opioid epidemic.

Despite this landmark report, which helped establish the scientific evidence of the opioid epidemic, the Administration appears to be turning its back on these findings and continues to take steps that ignore the nation’s growing drug addiction and opioid problem. In supporting a health care policy that would strip health care from millions, the Administration will eliminate coverage for millions of Americans with substance use disorders (SUDs) who now have access to medication and treatment. This comes on the heels of the Administration’s recent budget proposal, which proposes cutting nearly $400 million in funding for drug and mental health programs under the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Finally, during his opioid epidemic “listening tour” across the nation, Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Tom Price, voiced skepticism about the value of medication-assisted treatment (MAT) in effectively managing opioid use disorders. Rather, he vouched for methods that would “cure” people of their opioid addiction. Such rhetoric is archaic and out of line with the well-accepted fact that opioid addiction may require life-long management as a chronic condition.

At the same time that the White House is pushing these devastating cuts, the Department of Justice has chosen to ignore the fact that addiction is a public health disease, choosing instead to treat it solely as a criminal justice issue. This approach fails to take into account the realities of addiction and the need to treat the disease rather than punish the individual. History teaches us that a punitive one-size fits all approach is ineffective. Instead of wasting limited resources on seeking punitive measures for low-level offenders, we should concentrate our efforts on the kingpins who are responsible for putting this poison out on the streets.

It is well past time we treat SUDs as a public health emergency. This means ending the attack on access to health care, providing necessary resources to initiatives, and grounding our efforts in hard evidence that will expand access to proven methods such as MAT. According to the report issued by SG Murthy, these treatments meet the highest standard of clinical evidence for safety and efficacy. It also means strengthening community-based prevention programs designed to stop drug use before it starts, and harm reduction programs, which are proven to reduce stigma and decrease the risks associated with SUDs. Furthermore, it includes supporting the resources and staff necessary to carry out the 21st Century Cures and the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Acts (CARA), two laws recently passed by Congress to help ensure strong investments in research, recovery and appropriate intervention measures. We urge the Commission to use these existing solutions as a starting point for taking immediate action to address the opioid crisis.

We must act now. For the millions of Americans currently suffering from addiction or abuse, another day could be a matter of life or death. They cannot afford to wait for the Commission to finish, yet another report, before action is taken. We stand ready to work with our Republican colleagues here in Congress on productive solutions that could provide immediate relief. The American people need coordinated action and investment in proven solutions now.

DE BLASIO ADMINISTRATION ANNOUNCES STUDY TO ADDRESS BASEMENT FLOODING IN SE QUEENS

NEW YORK—As part of City Hall in Your Borough, the de Blasio administration today announced a new feasibility study for a groundwater drainage project aimed at addressing basement flooding in southeast Queens. The groundwater table in southeast Queens has risen over the last two decades and there are a number of residential and commercial properties that report water rising up through their basement foundations. Many property owners have installed pumping systems that discharge the water into the sewer system, thereby reducing the capacity of the drainage system and exacerbating roadway flooding. The study will measure how high the groundwater table has risen, how much it must be lowered in order to mitigate the basement flooding, and the feasibility of a radial collection plan. It is anticipated that the study will be completed by the spring of 2018.

“Homeowners and businesses in southeast Queens – we’ve heard your concerns about basement flooding,” said Mayor de Blasio. “Basements that are constantly inundated by groundwater mean damaged property, mold and the constant concern over the next flood. This comprehensive study is the first step towards possible solutions.”

Prior to development, much of southeast Queens was composed of wetlands and streams that drained into Jamaica Bay and its tributaries. In order to construct John F. Kennedy Airport and the roadways and buildings that make up the neighborhood today, the wetlands and streams were bulldozed and filled with soil. Today those drainage corridors still exist, however now they run beneath streets and homes. Overlaying a map of reports of basement flooding with the location of these historical drainage corridors shows there is a significant correlation. If the study shows favorable conditions, DEP would like to construct a radial collection system, or perforated buried pipes, along these historical areas to drain the groundwater to a local waterbody. Any plan would require approval from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation prior to commencing work.

Mayor de Blasio has also committed $1.7 billion to address roadway flooding in southeast Queens. The bulk of the funding will go towards the construction of large trunk sewer spines along 150th Street, Guy Brewer Boulevard, Farmers Boulevard and Springfield Boulevard. This work will take place through at least 18 separate projects, the first breaking ground as early as later this year. Dozens of smaller local sewer projects will connect neighborhoods to the trunk sewer spines.

“The rising groundwater table and basement flooding in Jamaica is real, and it presents a significant quality of life issue for residents and businesses and a complex problem for engineers,” said DEP Acting Commissioner Vincent Sapienza. “We are pleased to be able to move forward with this study, which will tell us how high the groundwater table has risen, how far it must be lowered in order to reduce the basement flooding, and the feasibility of our plan for radial groundwater collection.”

“Flooding has persistently plagued Southeast Queens’ neighborhoods for decades, damaging properties, financially burdening homeowners and at times posing a significant threat to personal safety. This groundwater study and the Mayor’s additional investments today are critical steps for future infrastructure upgrades and longer-term solutions to improve the quality of life for Queens families,” said Queens Borough President Melinda Katz.

“Due to the rising groundwater table, basement flooding has become a widespread problem for residents of Jamaica,” said Congressman Gregory W. Meeks. “This timely study will determine the various courses of action for the City’s proposal, and the businesses and residents of Jamaica deserve to know the impact of any course of action.”

State Senator James Sanders Jr. said: “The Southeast Queens community has suffered from persistent flooding issues for decades. The rising rainwater has caused damage to homes, particularly basements. I am optimistic that this feasibility study by DEP will help the agency find permanent solutions to the problem. I look forward to working with them in the future to help expedite any necessary steps that can alleviate the flooding.”

“This study is more than necessary because basement flooding is no stranger to our residents. We are pleased to hear that the city will be assessing these problems, so that we as Southeast Queens residents will not have to face groundwater table rising and basement flooding in the future. We have high hopes that this study will expose some of the flaws in our local infrastructure and focus on mitigation,” said Assemblyman Clyde Vanel.

“For decades, our community has suffered with severe groundwater intrusion affecting thousands of homeowners. Today we take a major step in providing relief for these hardworking residents,” said Assemblywoman Alicia Hyndman. “Thank you to the members of my water task force and our community partners for their dedication in addressing this issue. I look forward to the outcome of the study.”

“Like many other property owners of Southeast Queens, I have had to undertake expensive repairs to my basement due to flooding. I am pleased that the Department of Environmental Protection is finally taking these additional, but necessary steps to relieve homeowners of this problem,” said Councilman I. Daneek Miller. “This study will allow us to build on the progress we have already made with the city’s $1.7 billion investment in sewer infrastructure upgrades, and I am excited to one day witness the final product: dry basements in Southeast Queens.”

“The residents of Southeast Queens have had to accept basement flooding as a common occurrence for far too long,” said Council Member Donovan Richards. “Thankfully, we have a Mayor and DEP Commissioner who won’t accept this systemic problem and are making every effort to correct the flooding issues that have been ignored for decades. We look forward to seeing this study move forward quickly and anticipate a plan to finally tackle the groundwater issue.”

“A study to relieve the flooding conditions in so many homes in southeast Queens is long overdue. Understanding the topography on which much of this area of Queens has been developed ‘on top of’ goes a long way in explaining ‘why’ to so many affected homeowners. The ‘how’, or ‘fix’ after knowing ‘why’ allows homeowners to see what the city is proactively doing, and that there is a remedy that will occur in the near future. We applaud DEP for moving forward on this feasibility study and anxiously look forward to its results and the onset of remediation for our communities,” said Mark McMillan, District Manager of Queens Community Board 13.

“The residents of Addisleigh Park are extremely pleased to hear that the City has agreed to fund a feasibility study to reduce groundwater flooding in Southeast Queens. Our community has been plagued with flooded homes, businesses and institutions for decades. Residents have seen their homes made uninhabitable due to groundwater flooding and mold. We are hopeful that this study will lead to the city and state developing a permanent solution to this problem. We are grateful to Mayor de Blasio, Commissioner Sapienza and DEP for this initiative,” said Andrea Scarborough, President of Addisleigh Park Civic Organization.

“Flooding has been an issue in Southeast Queens for a number of years, and homeowners and businesses in the area have paid a great price. I am happy to know that at last this problem is being addressed. Kudos to Mayor de Blasio,” said Rev. Dr. Floyd H. Flake.

Alexis Smallwood Asks Mayor Who He Works For

By Ruschell Boone

Some people didn’t pull any punches as they made their way around the mayor’s resource fair on his second day in Queens. NY1’s Ruschell Boone filed the following report.

Alexis Smallwood says she is a fan of Mayor Bill de Blasio, but not of the way he’s handling the issue of affordable housing.

“It’s like, do you really work for me or do you work for the developers?” Smallwood said.

She didn’t pull any punches when talking to de Blasio administration officials regarding her concerns about gentrification and redevelopment of downtown Far Rockaway.

“It’s going to price us out and we’re going to be like Harlem where at some point, because I’ve been to Harlem, and it’s basically Caucasian, and black people, people of color are disappearing,” Smallwood said.

After speaking with the heads of several city agencies, the tenant leader made some headway.

“We talked to HPD, and I talked to two of his staff members as to getting meetings with my residents in Arverne View as to how we can solve this issue of housing in equality,” Smallwood said.

Smallwood was among a few dozen people who took their gripes about housing, bike lanes, traffic and other problems directly to the mayor and his commissioners at a resource fair. Many also picked up information about different agencies.

It was all part of Queens Week, the latest in a series of weeklong visits by the mayor to each borough as he runs for re-election.

“I’ve stopped by the Office of the Children’s Services and I stopped by the Department of Health. I stopped by the Buildings Department, which gave me very informative information as a homeowner,” said Rosezetta Russell, a Cambria Heights resident.

There were some lighter moments as people joked about the mayor’s height and photo ops for the people who waited on line to speak with him.

The mayor spent about two hours talking to people. But did he really hear them? Residents NY1 spoke with say that depends on how he addresses the issues going forward.

Source and video

Pheffer Amato, Addabbo, Titus Meet with Chancellor Fariña Outline “Exciting Ideas to Bring Schools and Communities Together”

 

This past Monday, July 17th, Assemblywoman Stacey Pheffer Amato (D-Rockaway Beach), State Senator

Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr. (D-Ozone Park) and Assemblywoman Michelle Titus (D-Far Rockaway) met with NYC

Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña in Pheffer Amato’s office for a brisk, urgent exchange of ideas between the

City and its state legislative delegation on the future of education in South Queens. The meeting focused on

filling in gaps in information and access for thousands of schoolchildren.

“Chancellor Fariña has a deep commitment to public education and an entrepreneurial, creative spirit,” said

Assemblywoman Pheffer Amato. “She’s also clearly done her homework on the challenges affecting our

community. I think it’s fair to say all three of us were impressed by her proactive engagement and by the new

ideas she laid out to explore. There’s much work left to do. New York City’s schools need to become more

accountable to their local communities and more equitable across the board. But I left our meeting yesterday

understanding that Chancellor Fariña is an energetic and valuable ally in that fight. I’m even more hopeful

about our children’s futures, and I look forward to working with my fellow legislators and the Chancellor to

bring schools and communities closer together.”

“Being the Chancellor for the NYC school system plays an incredibly critical role in the future of a child’s life,”

said Senator Addabbo. “I commend Chancellor Carmen Fariña for professionally performing her duties and

for her personal, hands-on approach in addressing educational issues across all five boroughs.”

“The bar is raised when it comes to student achievement, and our children here in District 27 deserve the best

opportunities to achieve their goals,” said Assemblywoman Titus. “Chancellor Fariña is committed to our

children, and I look forward to working with her and with my colleagues to ensure all new initiatives succeed.”

Far Rockaway zoning plan has some fearing they’ll be left out of business boom

By Sarina Trangle

Some local merchants say they need more guidance on how to be part of a business boom the city seeks to spur in downtown Far Rockaway.
Under the city’s plan, larger residential buildings with retail spaces on the ground floors would rise where, today, a half-vacant shopping center and buildings with small businesses sit. To ensure that they can make it happen, the proposal includes a 13-acre urban renewal area, which allows the government to seize property and compensate occupants through a highly regulated process.

But if the City Council approves the plan, existing business owners said they are not sure where they will land amid the anticipated construction spree.
Lookran Jagdeo has run Far Rockaway Auto Glass Inc. in the targeted area for 21 years. Even if he is offered some sort of compensation to pack up, Jagdeo said he doubts he could find another nearby business location.
“We would like to discuss and see what’s going on,” said Jagdeo, who is in the middle of a 20-year lease. “Where will we move? … There’s nowhere here to rent — nowhere.”

Artie’s Collision owner Kevin Gilligan said he received mailings describing the plan, but has not seen more details.

“It’s only going to put businesses that survive on a day-to-day basis with foot traffic out of business,” Gilligan said, noting that several other redevelopment proposals have failed in downtown Far Rockaway. “I doubt it’s going to happen in my lifetime.”
The area’s city councilman, Donovan Richards, and the city’s Economic Development Corporation both sent staffers door-to-door to inform businesses about the proposal.
Richards said some merchants may have written off this plan because similar attempts have sputtered over the years.

He said the city is not eager to seize property classified for urban renewal, but said it may prove prudent, if the private market does not develop as planned.
Under the city’s plan, 16 businesses would likely be relocated from the urban renewal area, at least temporarily. Another dozen stores may be displaced if the real estate market proceeds as planned, city paperwork shows.
However, some shops in the urban renewal area have already struck deals to remain in the community long-term, Richards said. And the city’s Economic Development Corporation said it would help any merchant seeking advice.

Over time, the city believes its plan will build up the area’s business corridors by bringing long-needed investment as well as more residents and potential customers to the area.

David Martir, the manager of The Thriftway Drugs, was confident his store would continue operating in the community, even though it sits in the middle of the proposed urban renewal area.

“If they create jobs and open up more stores, it would be great,” he said. “This could be the time.”

http://www.amny.com/real-estate/far-rockaway-zoning-plan-has-some-fearing-they-ll-be-left-out-of-business-boom-1.13797592

 

Politico: NYCHA announces plan for unfunded apartments

POLITICO NY – Brendan Cheney

The New York City Housing Authority is announcing a plan to transition 4,200 public housing units to Section 8, securing federal funding for the remaining unfunded city and state-built public housing units. The plan would seek a developer to partner with NYCHA to manage the units.

There were roughly 20,000 public housing apartments that were built in New York City by the city or the state but managed by NYCHA, the city housing authority. These units did not qualify for funding under the federal funding formula and the state stopped paying operating costs on the units they built in 1998. The city stopped paying in 2003.

Since the early 2000s these units have essentially been funded by a broader pot of money that was designed to cover the more than 150,000 federally-built units — funding that was insufficient even to cover the federal units. Covering those additional city and state units that do not receive federal dollars has cost NYCHA $23 million a year.

The transition to Section 8 funding gives these city and state units a dedicated funding source and means the existing funding can be dedicated to the intended units.

The new funding arrangement also means a different management structure.

NYCHA will seek a developer partner that will manage the properties, and seek private financing and make repairs. NYCHA says they will maintain control by owning the land and having a ground lease with the developer.

And NYCHA will create a new private entity in partnership with the developer. They said they will maintain a significant stake in the new ownership structure and will oversee major decisions.

The eight developments included in the plan require $640 million in capital repairs including roof replacements and façade repairs, new kitchens and bathrooms, new security features and improvements to outdoor areas. By switching to the different funding source, they can also seek private financing to help make repairs.

NYCHA Chair and CEO Shola Olatoye said in a statement, “Developments will receive extensive repairs and renovations, residents will retain strong tenant rights and permanent affordability will be protected.”

An earlier plan to transition those units required either tenants to volunteer to switch to Section 8 or NYCHA could switch the units after one of the units was vacated. However, not enough tenants volunteered to switch their units and attrition was slow. Only about 4,000 units were switched in this way.

Another roughly 12,000 now receive federal support after qualifying for the switch to public housing funding under a provision in the 2009 Recovery and Resiliency Act.

NYCHA has received preliminary approval to implement the new plan at Baychester and Murphy developments. They said they will hold meetings with residents at these two developments this summer, release a request seeking developers in the fall and select a developer in the winter.

They will begin talking to the residents at the other six developments (344 East 28th Street, Independence, Williams Plaza, Wise Towers, Boulevard and Linden) once HUD has approved those transitions, which they expect between 2017 and 2019.

Residents have been wary of changes like this in the past, including NYCHA’s efforts under the federal Rental Assistance Demonstration program. Tenants worry that the housing is being privatized and are worried about losing some of their current rights and protections.

But NYCHA has said tenants will retain their protections, including all of the Section 8 protections and additional protections consistent with NYCHA’s guidelines under similar conversions.

Councilman Ritchie Torres, the chair of the City Council’s Public Housing Committee, is supportive of the change. “These may be the most important conversions that NYCHA has ever undertaken since federalization,” he told POLITICO New York in an interview.

He said he is satisfied that the affordability protections will remain in place because they are merely changing funding streams, and while he noted that some say the housing isn’t permanently affordable in the same way under the new arrangement, these units aren’t really permanent if they have no funding to sustain them.

“Permanent affordability without funding is a house of cards, destined to collapse,” he said.

Source

http://mailchi.mp/3044375fadad/read-nycha-chairs-budget-hearing-testimony-here-1023177

Pheffer Amato Hosts Kickoff of Org for Special Needs Families

This past Saturday, July 15th, Assemblywoman Stacey Pheffer Amato (D-Rockaway Beach) hosted a community workshop for families with special-needs children. The workshop was run by a new community organization, Perfect Piece of the Puzzle, founded by Rockaway resident Trishia Bermudez. Bermudez is being assisted by a grant from the Citizens’ Committee of New York City. Her goal is to help fellow parents of special-needs children navigate the minimal, often poorly-advertised services available to help with the often-intense issues they face.

“I just can’t say enough good about what Trisha is doing,” said Pheffer Amato, “and I think it exemplifies the spirit of the Rockaway Peninsula. We often aren’t given the resources we need, but that doesn’t stop us from going out, organizing, and fixing the situation ourselves. I’ve gotten dozens of calls from parents of special-needs children in my office. From transportation to maintenance of city streets and education funding, it’s clear that our City and State bureaucracies fail to give basic accommodations to special needs families. We were able to make real headway identifying issues with transportation, recreation and more – it was a fantastic workshop. Now that we’ve identified issues, I’m excited to work with Trishia and all the other great families of PPoP to do everything we can to turn those needs into action.”

“We really appreciate Assemblywoman Pheffer Amato for hosting this crucial conversation,” said Trisha Bermudez, Founder and CEO of Perfect Piece of the Puzzle, Inc. “My son, Matthew, has a rare chromosome deletion. He started receiving services from the time he was a month old. But even with early intervention, I found it difficult to navigate the system. Getting basic supports was never an easy task. Matthew is now four years old, and as he grows, there are always new challenges. Too often, information and services seem to be nonexistent, or you need to really know someone to find out. I don’t want other parents to have to go through what I went through, which is why I founded PPoP. With such a great turnout at our first workshop, we’re confident the need is there and that our work will eventually lead to real change to our families. We’re very gratified to Stacey and all the attendees for starting that process.”

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1st Annual International Brown Bag Lunch at Trump Tower Community Garden.

By Jeffrey Williams-Maisonet

Lunch at Trump Tower? Did you know there’s a community Garden in Trump Tower?

Yeah, we had no idea either.

Who: Rev. Billy would like you to join their Stop Shopping community.

When: Tuesday, July 25 at 12 noon, for an impromptu mid day meal.

What: Come and break bread with fellow New Yorkers from all over the planet. Bring a meal representative of your own ethnic background, be it a bagel or an empanada, kibbeh or yak butter tea. The world awaits!

Where: We will be eating on the 5th floor of Trump Tower, 5th Ave & 56th St.

The Community Garden on the Fifth floor of Trump Tower is a privately owned public space and is open to all. Enter on 5th avenue and be prepared to go through a security check. Slice your Spam sandwich in advance!

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