“This is a yes or no question Rob Astorino. Do you agree with your friend Donnie McClurkin that gay New Yorkers like me are living in sin? Yes or no? You cannot duck the question on such obvious bigotry. Either apologize to our community and condemn Donnie McClurkin’s hate speech or admit to New Yorkers that you in fact share his values too so they can make the final judgement on election day.”
On Wednesday, June 25, a group of breakaway Democrats in the State Senate, called the Independent Democrats Conference, formed an alliance more mainline Democrats. As a result of this cooperation, which would begin after the November elections, IDC Senator Jeff Klein, if re-elected, would become a “co-leader” along with Senate Minority Leader Andrea-Stewart Cousins, and the IDC’s alliance with Senate Republicans would end. The IDC was formed in 2012.
The move, while cheered by Governor Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio, is being seen as potentially disastrous by the real estate industry since it’s expected to put Democrats back in control of the Senate. Additionally, Stewart-Cousins is a tenant-friendly Democrat. At the same time, it’s also being eyed with caution by TenantsPAC, which views Klein as a tool for landlords.
TenantsPAC has been actively campaigning to get Klein’s opponent in the primary, former City Council Member Oliver Koppell, elected instead.
The political action committee has even begun phone banking to get close to 700 registered democrats in The Bronx to support him.
“Tenants anywhere should care about this election,” TenantsPAC treasurer Mike McKee said.
TenantsPAC has also given $4,000 to the campaign, and hopes to give the candidate $2,500 more, which would bring the donation to the maximum allowed.
Of the new Senate Democratic coalition, McKee said, “It makes sense for the real Democrats to do this, but we’re raising a note of caution about a major issue which is coming up in the legislature next year.”
This statement was in reference to the law governing rent regulated housing that will be up for renewal, and Klein, noted McKee, has a history of shooting down pro-tenant legislation.
TenantsPAC actually supported Klein a decade ago, because, “his opponent was worse.” The opponent, Steven Kaufman, had said he would caucus with Republicans. And as for Klein, McKee said, “we didn’t know he would be this bad.”
Over the years since then, McKee has had three meetings with the senator, two in his district office and one in Albany, with constituents present, in an effort to get Klein to support a repeal of vacancy decontrol.
“He told us flat out he would vote on it if it comes up, but ‘I will do everything in my power to make sure it doesn’t get to the floor,’” said McKee. “And it never got to the floor. You have to give him some credit for being so honest and not stringing us along.”
A spokesperson for Klein didn’t respond to T&V’s request for comment.
State Senator Brad Hoylman, meanwhile, said the new cooperation should still make a big difference because, as McKee noted, Democrat legislation doesn’t currently tend to make it to the floor for consideration. This would be legislation on issues such as tenant protections, LGBT rights, the DREAM Act and de-criminalizing small amounts of marijuana.
“Everything has been stymied by Republican control of the Senate,” Hoylman said. “It’s at-will legislation, whatever they want. The leaders of the Senate have tremendous strength.”
For this reason, Hoylman said he wants to see more power given to committees.
“I’m hoping that this is the beginning of a new term in the Senate with new leadership that defies the dysfunctional label some have wanted to paint Democrats with,” he added.
This dysfunction was the reason for the formation of the IDC.Following its creation, out of 63 Senate members in New York, 24 are currently Democrat, five are IDC, 30 are Republican, although, noted Hoylman, “One of the Republicans is a Democrat.” That would be Simcha Felder of Brooklyn, who conferences with Republicans “even though he was elected as a Democrat.” Then there are two vacant seats formerly held by Republican Charles Fuschillo of Long Island, who resigned to work for a nonprofit, and Democrat Eric Adams, who’s now the Brooklyn borough president.
There are former Democrats John Sampson (who’s been charged with lying about a liquor store he’s a partner in) and Malcolm Smith (who’s been accused of being involved in a scheme to bribe Republicans) who were “kicked out and floating without a committee,” said Hoylman.
As for the shakeup in leadership, Hoylman called it “a good position for the Democrats to be in, but,” he warned, “it is not a done deal.”
There are after all primaries coming up and “tenants were bitterly disappointed the last time Democrats were in control,” said Hoylman.
This was in 2009, a year that was marred by a coup in which two Democrats, Pedro Espada Jr. and Hiram Monserrate, temporarily switched sides. (Both men have since been convicted of crimes, Monserrate of assaulting his girlfriend, and Espada of embezzling from a nonprofit he founded, and are no longer in office.)
As for this year, “Tenant advocates cannot sit on the sidelines,” said Hoylman. “They have to make sure their voices are heard. “This could hopefully do a lot for rent regulated apartments in my district, mainly Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village. This could make a big difference but it could also be a lost opportunity.”
Coinciding with the New York City Pride March, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on June 29 a three-pronged plan to reduce new HIV infections among New Yorkers and reduce the number of people living with HIV for the first time since the first report of AIDS occurred in 1981.
Titled “Bending the Curve,” Cuomo’s plan hopes to reduce the number of new HIV infections from this year’s expected 3,000 newly diagnosed HIV infections down to 750 a year by 2020 in three ways: identifying people with HIV who are undiagnosed and providing them health care; putting people already diagnosed on anti-HIV therapy; and thirdly, providing access to Pre-Exposure Prophylaxism, a pre-exposure drug in pill form, for individuals at high risk of contracting HIV.
“Thirty years ago, New York was the epicenter of the AIDS crisis — today I am proud to announce that we are in a position to be the first state in the nation committed to ending this epidemic,” Cuomo said. “New York state has reached an important milestone in controlling the AIDS epidemic, and through this comprehensive strategy, we are decreasing new HIV infections to the point where by 2020, the number of persons living with HIV in New York state will be reduced for the first time.”
The “AIDS epidemic” in New York will end when the total number of new HIV infections has fallen below the number of HIV-related deaths, the Governor’s Office noted.
According to Cuomo’s press release on the plan, the number of new cases of HIV have been reduced 40 percent, while the total figure for New Yorkers living with HIV/AIDS has increased because those diagnosed can now live a normal life span. The number of HIV/AIDS deaths is also decreasing.
The Governor’s Office did not offer a cost estimate, but reported that while the plan will result in increased HIV medication expenses in the short term, over time, the initiative will pay for itself. Each averted infection saves almost $400,000 in lifetime medical costs, and by 2020, the plan will save the state an additional $317 million and prevent more than 3,400 new cases of HIV, according to the announcement.
Also, the state Department of Health Medicaid Program negotiated supplemental rebates with the three pharmaceutical companies that produce 70 percent of HIV drugs – AbbVie, Bristol-Myers Squibb and Gilead – to further decrease costs to the state. Additional companies may join the agreement.
The press release said the plan draws upon key policies that have already been enacted this year, including the removal of the requirement for written consent for an HIV test, allowing data collected by the health department to be shared with health care providers to find HIV-positive people who have fallen out of care and a 30 percent cap of the proportion of an HIV patient’s income that can be spent on rent to keep them housed.
Sen. Brad Hoylman, D-Manhattan, commended the governor on the initiative, saying Cuomo put New York at the forefront of the fight against HIV and AIDS.
“Although there is still no cure, scientific advances and widespread health care coverage through New York State of Health [an online marketplace for health insurance plans] have put an end to the epidemic within our reach,” Hoylman said in a press release from the senator’s office. “I applaud Gov. Cuomo for recognizing the potential to end AIDS in New York state by 2020 and for committing the human and financial resources necessary to develop and execute a plan to do so.”
Housing Works said in a press release that Cuomo’s announcement reflects his understanding that the landscapes of HIV and health care have changed over time.
The group, which provides services to people living with and affected by HIV/AIDS, said that political commitment and leadership are the “necessary, final ingredients” to make ending AIDS in New York state possible.
“This step by Gov. Cuomo, setting a clear goal to end the AIDS crisis in New York state, is absolutely courageous,” Housing Works CEO Charles King said. “In doing this, the governor is reshaping the way we think about the AIDS epidemic and is setting a new standard for leaders of other jurisdiction in the United States and indeed, around the world.”
Jason Walker, HIV/AIDS community organizer of VOCAL NY, which advocates for low-income HIV patients, agreed with King.
“I’m amazed Cuomo took such leadership and initiative to [address] this epidemic,” said Walker, who added that, as someone who was diagnosed as HIV positive at the age of 21, Cuomo’s initiative means a lot to him. “It shows he sees the value of the lives of these people in this community.”
Though HIV advocacy groups are applauding Cuomo’s plan, not all reception to the plan so far has been as warm.
Green Party gubernatorial candidate Howie Hawkins said while he is supportive of the governor’s initiative, more funding and reforms are necessary, particularly when Cuomo’s previous budget cut proposals are taken into account.
Hawkins said in a recent press release that while Cuomo said he will increase funding for the AIDS Institute by $5 million next year, former budget cuts under his administration can’t be dismissed. Cuomo’s 2011 state budget cut aid to homeless youth shelters and his 2013 agenda reduced funding to the AIDS Institute, according to Hawkins’ campaign website.
“This is good, what Cuomo has done, but it is ironic that he is putting money back in because of last year’s [cuts]…The question is: Is there enough funding in the $5 million they are talking about the cover for the $12 million that was cut last year?” Hawkins asked. “This is another case where he is moving in the right direction, but it’s under what is needed and he doesn’t talk about how he went in the other direction before.”
Amidst the shocked reaction to the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby ruling –– which opens up the possibility of religious exemptions being used as corporate get out jail free cards regarding employee nondiscrimination protections –– there was a less-noticed bit of good news on the last day of the high court’s session.
On June 30, the court declined to review an August 2013 ruling from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals that upheld California’s pioneering law barring licensed mental health professionals from engaging in sexual orientation conversion therapy on patients who are minors.
The California law is the model for a measure introduced in the New York State Legislature that the Senate refused to take up this year.
Practitioners of so-called “sexual orientation change efforts” (SOCE) filed two lawsuits challenging the California law on First Amendment grounds, but the Ninth Circuit upheld the statute, distinguishing between the rights practitioners enjoy to advocate for the practice in public debate and the limitations on the therapeutic practices they can employ in their professional conduct governed by state licensing.
The Supreme Court’s June 30 action effectively ended the effort to overturn the law and signaled the lack of sufficient support on the court for reexamining the Ninth Circuit’s conclusions about its constitutionality.
New York’s SOCE measure, sponsored by State Senator Brad Hoylman and Assemblywoman Deborah Glick, both out LGBT Manhattan Democrats, won Assembly approval on June 16 in an 86 to 28 vote.
However, despite its backers’ confidence that it had majority support in the Senate, the leadership –– headed by Long Island Republican Dean Skelos and his governing partner, the Bronx’s Jeff Klein, of the Independent Democratic Conference (IDC) –– did not allow the measure to get a Senate vote.
Both Hoylman and the Empire State Pride Agenda (ESPA) said the SOCE ban had the votes for passage and pointed to Long Island Republican Senator Jack Martins’ decision to sign on as a co-sponsor in the final days of the session, which ended June 20. At least two other GOP senators signaled their support, and the Pride Agenda had assurances of support from all five members of Klein’s IDC –– all of which substantiates the claims by Hoylman and ESPA that the votes were there.
Hoylman used the occasion of the high court’s refusal to review the California law as an opportunity to underscore his frustration that he was denied the opportunity to have his bill heard on the Senate floor.
“The Supreme Court’s decision today to decline to hear a challenge to California’s law prohibiting so-called ‘gay conversion therapy’ for minors is a milestone in our fight to outlaw this harmful and widely-discredited practice by licensed mental health providers,” he said in a written statement. “The court’s decision is also a sad and embarrassing reminder how New York lags behind other states that are protecting LGBT kids. It’s shameful that we can’t get the same legislation to the floor of the State Senate because of obstructionism by the Republican leadership –– even though it had the votes (35) to pass.”
Republicans actually won a minority of the seats in the Senate in the 2012 election, but were able to get control due to the decision by the IDC’s five Democratic senators to defect from their party and enter into a power-sharing arrangement with the GOP. After the session ended, a deal under which the IDC would return to the Democratic fold was announced. That development followed a commitment Governor Andrew Cuomo made in late May to fight for Democratic control of the Senate in the November elections.
Advocates praised the efforts by two IDC members –– Tony Avella of Queens and Diane Savino of Staten Island –– in trying to push the SOCE measure forward, but Klein did not respond to press inquiries as to what steps he was taking. Klein faces a primary challenge in September from Democrat Oliver Koppel –– a former member of the City Council and State Assembly who 20 years ago served a brief stint as state attorney general –– fueled by anger at the obstacles he argues the IDC poses for progressive issues.
Advocates for the SOCE ban emphasize that leading professional groups — including the American Psychological Association, the American School Counselor Associations, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the National Association of Social Workers, and the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry — agree that treating homosexuality and gender nonconformity as mental illnesses in need of cure actually increases mental health risks for young people in terms of depression, substance abuse, and suicide.
According to one source familiar with the effort to pass the bill, despite the unambiguous limits on it, Senate Republican leaders pointed to concerns some religious communities voiced about their freedom to counsel young people unfettered by the state. No such group, however, made a public statement in opposition to the bill.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Sunday announced an initiative to bring new HIV/AIDS cases below epidemic levels in the state by 2020. The plan calls for more aggressive testing, treatment and tracking of the disease.
“The state of New York was ground zero of HIV/AIDs when the crisis hit 30 years ago,” Mr. Cuomo said in remarks before walking in New York City’s gay-pride parade. “It’s fitting that New York could be the state that is the most aggressive in eradicating the disease.”
The goal is to have the number of new HIV infections fall below the number of HIV-related deaths by 2020, at which point it will no longer be considered an epidemic in the state, according to the Cuomo administration.
Mr. Cuomo said the plan would involve implementing new testing protocols—including wider use of at-home HIV/AIDs tests—and working with drug companies to help infected people access and afford medication.
Mr. Cuomo said state health officials will reach out to communities where HIV/AIDS risk is high and provide pre-exposure medications that can help prevent the disease. “We’re not going to be happy until we end the epidemic and we believe we can,” he said.
The state’s interim health commissioner, Howard Zucker, appeared with the governor for the announcement. Dr. Zucker said the state’s benchmarks for assessing the effectiveness of the plan include tracking the numbers of people using at-home HIV/AIDS tests and enrolling in health-care programs.
State Sen. Brad Hoylman, a Manhattan Democrat, praised the governor’s initiative. “Although there is still no cure, scientific advances and widespread health care coverage…have put an end to the epidemic within our reach,” he said.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio marched down Fifth Avenue for the Pride parade today. The annual event came on the heels of a Cuomo announcement to end the AIDS epidemic in New York State by 2020.
About 3,000 people are infected with HIV in the state every year – 22,000 don’t know they are HIV positive, according to health officials.
The Cuomo administration said it would dedicate $5 million to help identify those who are infected, and make HIV drugs more affordable.
The goal is to reduce the number of new HIV infections in the state to below epidemic levels.
Advocacy groups who worked with the Governor on the plan showed their support of the initiative at a press conference before the Pride parade.
“Hopefully this is the beginning of the end of AIDS,” said Daniel Tietz with the New York City Human Resources Administration.
“Eighty-percent of the HIV cases in New York State are in the five boroughs, so obviously it’s vitally important that we work together to end the epidemic.”
State Senator Brad Hoylman applauded the Governor’s effort.
“Science has shown that if people get into treatment, they’re less infectious and based on that we can actually solve the pandemic,” Hoylman said.
Activists said they want the Governor to assemble a task force to oversee the plan.
Some said the challenge will be getting people to volunteer to be tested.
“It’s like making an announcement that we’re going to the moon,” said Nigel Edwards who attended the Pride parade.
“It’s just phenomenal that he’s going out there are making these plans for ending HIV.”
As the scheduled legislative session came to a close, a bill banning conversion therapy to reverse the sexual orientation of teenagers, failed in the Senate.
Conversion therapy is the practice of changing one’s sexual orientation and is typically practiced on people who are attracted to the same sex. The form of therapy is highly controversial and laws banning it have been passed in New Jersey and California. On top of banning the practice of the therapy on minors, the bill before the New York state Legislature would create a fine of up to $10,000 and a possible censure or revocation of license if a licensed mental health professional were to use the therapy on a minor.
The bill passed the Assembly on June 16 with only 28 nay votes. The Senate sponsor, Brad Hoylman, D-Greenwich Village, released a statement blaming Senate leadership for the failure of the bill.
“It’s bitterly disappointing that the state Senate bowed to partisan politics and failed to protect our kids in New York from so-called ‘conversion therapy,’ which considers homosexuality a sickness that needs to be cured,” Hoylman said. He added that the bill had the votes to pass and was modeled after the two laws already in existance.
Hoylman said he will continue to try and “outlaw this practice” in New York. The senator noted that his bill can now be thrown in the “pile of failed progressive initiatives in the Senate” including the DREAM Act and the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act.
GENDA passed the Assembly for its seventh year in a row only to fail in the Senate again this year. The bill would have protected transgendered New Yorkers from discrimination in schools, at work, in public, in housing and more.
Deborah Glick, D-Manhattan, was a co-sponsor of GENDA and sponsored the conversion therapy ban as well. She showed her disapproval with the Senate failing to act.
“I am deeply disappointed that a bill that had strong bipartisan support in the Assembly was not even brought up for a vote in the Senate,” Glick said. “The issue of banning gay conversion therapy is a significant mental health imperative. Until it is banned it will continue to do damage to LGBT youngsters and defraud many parents who believe this can ally their anxiety.”
The Empire State Pride Agenda, a progressive LGBT advocacy organization, has been a big supporter for both pieces of legislation. Their Executive Director, Nathan Schaefer, expressed his disappointment with the state government.
“There is no reason why these two bills critically important to the lives of LGBT New Yorkers did not pass in the Senate this session,” Schaefer said. “Without GENDA, NewYork remains behind more than one third of the country that already provides protections for transgender individuals. By not passing the bill to protect LGBT youth from conversion efforts, our youth remain vulnerable to harm at the hands of quack therapists.”
The New York State Senate adjourned a slightly extended session late Friday night without taking votes on “life-saving” LGBT rights legislation, advocates said.
GOP Senate leaders blocked two bills — a transgender rights bill, the Gender Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA), and a bill that would establish a ban on licensed medical providers practicing sexual orientation and gender identity change efforts on minors — from going to the Senate floor for a full vote, where advocates said the measures would have passed.
“We had the votes,” said Nathan Schaefer, executive director of the Empire State Pride Agenda, in a statement. “… The failure of the Senate Leadership to bring these bills to the floor for a vote leaves thousands of transgender New Yorkers vulnerable to discrimination in their homes, on the job and on the streets of their own neighborhoods. And children are left susceptible to harm in the offices of so-called therapists licensed by the State of New York.”
Advocates and sponsoring lawmakers remained hopeful for victory on the gay conversion therapy ban as session was extended into Friday, following its June 16 passage in the State Assembly and the support of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, but that failed to sway GOP leaders in Senate, the bill’s sponsor in the chamber said.
“It’s bitterly disappointing that the State Senate bowed to partisan politics and failed to protect our kids in New York from so-called ‘conversion therapy,’ which considers homosexuality a sickness that needs to be cured,” said Sen. Brad Hoylman, a Manhattan Democrat and the chamber’s only out gay member, in a statement. “This bill had the votes to pass the Senate, virtually unanimous support from mental health professionals, and was modeled after legislation passed with bi-partisan support in California and New Jersey, where it was signed by Republican Gov. Chris Christie.”
The defeat was especially significant for Mathew Shurka, a 26-year-old New Yorker and survivor of gay conversion therapy efforts he was subject to from ages 16-21 in New York. Shurka came out as gay when he was 23 and today, he advocates against the practice, which has been discredited and criticized by major health organizations, such as the American Psychological Association.
“This bill was huge for me because New York is my home state and people are still going through conversion therapy here in New York City, but unfortunately, it didn’t pass,” Shurka said when reached by phone. “So I’m asking the Senate leaders, how many more minors or children will commit suicide because of conversion therapy by next year and are you OK with that?”
Shurka said New York should have taken a stand on banning conversion therapy in light of recent comments by Texas Gov. Rick Perry comparing being gay to being an alcoholic and the Texas Republican Party’s endorsement of the practice in its new party platform.
Looking ahead, Shurka said there’s a new level of awareness around the issue that will likely propel efforts to ban the practice in several states next year. “This is just the beginning of a lot more work moving forward,” he said.
As for GENDA, advocates were less optimistic as the clock ticked down on the end of the scheduled end of session Thursday night, with Sen. Daniel Squadron, the bill’s sponsor in the chamber, telling BuzzFeed he was “very disappointed” the bill, again, would not see a vote. The long-sought legislation would finally add protections against discrimination on the basis of gender identity or expression in the areas of employment, housing and public accommodations to existing state nondiscrimination law.
The State Assembly approved GENDA for the seventh time on June 10. Without GENDA, the Empire State Pride Agenda said New York falls behind 18 other states with transgender nondiscrimination protections — like Maryland, which approved a similar bill in late March.
And most people are surprised to learn that New York doesn’t already have such protections in place and that transgender people can be fired, or lose their homes, or get kicked out of a restaurant just for being who they are, Squadron added.
Despite the defeats and the end of session, advocates said they will continue to push for the legislation.
“We will not stop fighting for these bills until they pass,” said Allison Steinberg, communications director at Empire State Pride Agenda. “Even when the Legislature is not in session, we will work to educate and build support for these bills and we are looking to election season this Fall, which could end up impacting bills like ours in the next session.”
CHELSEA — Lawmakers in Albany passed a bill on Thursday that will exempt the middle-income Penn South co-op from paying property taxes for the next 50 years.
The law will renew the tax break to the 2,820-unit development — which spans from West 23rd to West 29th streets, between Eighth and Ninth avenues — allowing the complex to remain affordable.
The law, sponsored by Assemblyman Dick Gottfried and state Sen. Brad Hoylman, will allow the co-op to continue offering below-market-rate apartments in an area where real estate prices have skyrocketed.
“Penn South is a critical oasis of affordable housing in our rapidly changing Chelsea neighborhood, where stratospheric real estate prices have forced many longtime residents to relocate,” Hoylman said in a statement. “This legislation paves the way for Penn South to remain affordable for current and future generations of middle-class New Yorkers.”
Residents of the 15-tower complex, which opened in 1962, pay relatively low maintenance charges after they buy a share in the co-op, with some tenants paying as little at $350 a month for a studio. The wait for an apartment there can take years.
“This legislation will enable almost 3,000 households, including seniors on fixed incomes, to afford to stay in their homes, and contribute to the economic and cultural development of Chelsea,” Gottfried said.
The two lawmakers worked closely with the de Blasio administration to continue the tax exemption, which will now require City Council approval.
“The passage of this important legislation permits Penn South, a middle-income housing development, to continue its mission to provide affordable housing, as it has done successfully since 1962,” said Brendan Keany, Penn South’s general manager, in a statement. “We hope to continue to do so for decades to come.”
With just two days remaining until the State Legislature in Albany adjourns its 2014 session, the lead Senate sponsor of a bill that would ban mental health professionals from engaging in “sexual orientation change efforts” with minors remains hopeful that the measure could win approval.
“The bill is definitely moving in the right direction,” said State Senator Brad Hoylman, an out gay Manhattan Democrat.
The Empire State Pride Agenda’s communications director, Allison Steinberg, agreed with Hoylman’s assessment that the effort is advancing and voiced optimism that sufficient votes will be there to secure passage.
On June 16, the State Assembly, in an 86 to 28 vote, approved the bill, with the support of 10 Republicans.
On the Senate side, even with support of a majority of their colleagues, Hoylman and his fellow lead on the bill, Michael Gianaris of Queens, would have to persuade the leadership –– a coalition of Republicans and the five members of the Independent Democratic Conference –– to allow a vote.
One source familiar with the effort to enact the measure suggested that process is moving forward, saying that Senator Diane Savino, a Staten Island member of the IDC, “has been incredibly helpful.”
Savino’s office did not immediately respond to a query about her efforts on the bill or its prospects, but the Pride Agenda’s said that “all members of the IDC have been supportive” of the effort to enact the bill.
Hoylman pointed to the public and behind the scenes support Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office is lending to the effort.
“The governor issued a strong statement of support yesterday and I am in touch with the governor’s office,” he said.
In an email message, Richard Azzopardi, a Cuomo spokesman, said, “Gay conversion therapy is a discredited and outrageous practice that has no place in New York.”
In a release late in the evening of June 16, Nathan M. Schaefer, the Pride Agenda’s executive director, said, “This issue is nonpartisan; we’re all in agreement that harming LGBT youth is unacceptable and we must put an end to this damaging and discredited practice. We cannot let another day go by where our youngest New Yorkers are vulnerable to this avoidable harm.”
In a statement in which he praised Manhattan Democratic Assemblywoman Deborah Glick, the out lesbian sponsor of the SOCE legislation in that chamber, and Speaker Sheldon Silver, Hoylman sounded the same note as Schaefer.
“Banning conversion therapy is a nonpartisan issue that should receive full consideration by my colleagues in the Senate,” Hoylman said.
The Hoylman-Glick measure –– which is broader than its title suggests, also barring efforts to change a minor’s gender identity and expression –– is similar to legislation enacted in the past two years by California and New Jersey.
The California law, adopted first, faced two court challenges from SOCE practitioners on the grounds that it violated their free speech rights, but last August a federal appeals court upheld the statute, distinguishing between the rights practitioners enjoy to advocate for the practice in public debate and the limitations on the therapeutic practices they can employ in their professional conduct governed by state licensing.
Advocates emphasize that leading professional groups — including the American Psychological Association, the American School Counselor Associations, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the National Association of Social Workers, and the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry — agree that SOCE, in treating homosexuality and gender nonconformity as mental illnesses in need of cure, actually increases mental health risks for young people in terms of depression, substance abuse, and suicide.
In a June 17 action alert, the Pride Agenda launched a “Now is the Right Time to Do the Right Thing” campaign to push both the SOCE measure and the long-stalled Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA) over the top.
“Both of these bills have the potential to save lives,” Schaefer said in that release.
GENDA, which would extend comprehensive nondiscrimination protections to transgender and other gender-nonconforming New Yorkers, won approval in the Assembly on June 10 –– for the seventh time.
Advocates and the Senate’s lead sponsor on GENDA, Lower Manhattan-Downtown Brooklyn Democrat Daniel Squadron, continue to press for a floor vote, with the senator saying that the Assembly action sent “yet another message to the Senate leadership that it is time to bring this bill to the floor for a vote.” However, he also recently told Gay City News, “I wish I could be optimistic” about its prospects for getting a vote.
The Pride Agenda’s Schaefer would not say definitively that the votes are there to pass GENDA, but insisted, “The transgender community has been working on this for more than a decade. They deserve a vote.”
The New York State Assembly approved legislation Monday that would prohibit health care professionals in the state from practicing sexual orientation change efforts — or gay conversion therapy — on children under the age of 18.
Assembly lawmakers voted 86-28 to pass the bill, sending it to the State Senate for consideration with the clock ticking down on the legislative session ending Thursday.
Sen. Brad Hoylman, an out gay lawmaker and sponsor of the ban in the Senate applauded the Assembly’s vote, saying in a statement it brings New York one step closer to “protecting our kids from being subject to this dangerous practice and their parents from being victims of a proven scam.”
“Being an LGBT young person isn’t an illness that needs to be cured,” he said. “Banning conservation therapy is a nonpartisan issue that should receive full consideration by my colleagues in the Senate.”
The legislation would add to existing state law dealing with professional misconduct and would specifically prohibit licensed health professionals from performing sexual orientation change efforts on patients under the age of 18.
Proponents of the bill, such as LGBT advocates from Empire State Pride Agenda, said they were thrilled at the bill’s passage in the Assembly and are hopeful it will be signed into law this year.
“We call on the New York State Senate to follow the example of their Assembly colleagues, as well as leaders in New Jersey and California, the medical community, and public opinion, by passing this bill now so we can put it on Governor Cuomo’s desk for a signature,” Empire State Pride Agenda Executive Director Nathan M. Schaefer said in a statement. “This issue is non-partisan; we’re all in agreement that harming LGBT youth is unacceptable and we must put an end to this damaging and discredited practice. We cannot let another day go by where our youngest New Yorkers are vulnerable to this avoidable harm.”
In recent years, therapy attempting to change a person’s sexual orientation has been condemned or criticized by leading psychological organizations such as the American Psychological Association, which concluded that “efforts to change sexual orientation are unlikely to be successful and involve some risk of harm.”
“The most important fact about these ‘therapies’ is that they are based on a view of homosexuality that has been rejected by all the major mental health professions,” the APA said.
Providers who violate the law could face censure, suspension or revocation of their license, and a possible civil penalty, according to Hoylman.
Similar conversion therapy bans have been approved in California and New Jersey, but a proposed ban was voted down by Illinois lawmakers in April.
A message was left in Gov. Cuomo’s press office seeking comment on the bill.
In response to an earlier request for comment on the ban, Cuomo spokesman Richard Azzopardi told BuzzFeed, “Gay conversion therapy is a discredited and outrageous practice that has no place in New York.”
Cuomo plans to sign the bill into law pending Senate approval, he said.
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have agreed to consult with the city and tenant groups before investing in a future deal for the purchase of Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village, according to officials familiar with the matter.
Jeffery Hayward, senior vice president and head of multifamily at Fannie Mae, said the firm isn’t currently evaluating a transaction involving Stuyvesant Town. But he said that “if we are asked to participate in such a transaction, we will work with the city and respect the interests of the Stuyvesant Town residents.”
The assurance by the mortgage giants could help the city push for a deal that would preserve affordable housing in the complex, as demanded by tenants and lawmakers.
“We want a commitment from them that they will not use their funds to support plans that destroy affordable housing in New York or anywhere,” said Daniel Garodnick, a City Council member and one of the authors of a letter sent this week and signed by 39 members of Congress, the New York state Legislature and City Council.
The letter, which was also signed by Rep. Carolyn Maloney, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and State Sen. Brad Hoylman, among others, urged the firms not to back the purchase of the Manhattan complex, home to about 11,200 residents, if it puts affordable housing at risk.
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were seized by the U.S. government in 2008 to prevent a wider collapse of the housing market, and they remain under government control. The letter is addressed to Housing and Urban Development Department Secretary Shaun Donovan, Freddie Mac Chief Executive Donald Layton, Federal Housing Finance Agency Director Melvin Watt and Timothy Mayopoulos, president and chief executive of Fannie Mae.
A spokeswoman for FHFA, which oversees the two firms, said, “We’ve received the letter and will respond.”
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac invested in the $3 billion mortgage tied to the complex, which was sold for $5.4 billion in 2006 to a venture led by Tishman Speyer andBlackRock Inc. The venture moved to renovate units and raise rents.
The partners defaulted on their total $4.4 billion in debt in 2010 and the property has been controlled since then by the senior creditors, represented by CWCapital Asset Management LLC. They are expected to move toward a sale of the property this year or next.
The de Blasio administration and Sen. Charles Schumer, a Democrat, both negotiated with the firms in recent weeks in an effort to gain more control over the fate of the complex.
Mr. Garodnick and other local leaders are exploring ways to help keep rents in the complex low, including using city affordable housing subsidies, tax incentives and legislation. The tenants also have put together a plan to purchase the complex.
The New York State Assembly is set to ban a medical practice that has been condemned for years by most in the medical community — therapy to “cure” homosexuality in minors.
New York State Sen. Brad Hoylman (D-Manhattan) is sponsoring the legislation, S04917B, alongside Assemblywoman Deborah Glick (D-66th District), who is sponsoring A06983B, the Assembly version. Hoylman is the only openly gay member of the New York Senate.
The bill has been referred to a third reading in the Assembly and is expected to be debated on the Assembly floor and voted on within a week. The Senate bill has been referred to the higher education committee and still must come to a floor debate and vote. In New York state, both houses must pass the bill and send it to the governor for signature before it becomes law.
“On one level it’s pretty nutty stuff,” Holyman said, “but it’s happening in New York by licensed therapists.”
The therapy has recently been banned in New Jersey and California and New York is now looking to join that list. The American Psychological Association has condemned the therapy, as has the Pan American Health Organization, which as far back as two years ago released this statement on the matter:
“Since homosexuality is not a disorder or a disease, it does not require a cure. There is no medical indication for changing sexual orientation,” said PAHO Director Dr. Mirta Roses Periago. “The practices known as ‘reparative therapy’ or ‘conversion therapy’ represent ‘a serious threat to the health and well-being — even the lives — of affected people.’ ”
The bill Hoylman and Glick are looking to push through states in part, “Being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender is not a disease, disorder, illness, deficiency, or shortcoming. The major professional associations of mental health practitioners and researchers in the United States have recognized this fact for nearly 40 years.”
The bill adds any mental health professionals that engage in sexual orientation change efforts will be subject to penalties.
PAHO’s push against the practice of therapy to “cure” homosexuality actually began back in May of 2012 as the organization put together a series of recommendations for governments, academic institutions, professional associations, the media, and civil society that included the following:
* “Conversion” or “reparative” therapies and the clinics offering them should be denounced and subject to adequate sanctions.
* Public institutions responsible for training health professionals should include courses on human sexuality and sexual health in their curricula, with a focus on respect for diversity and the elimination of attitudes of pathologization, rejection, and hate toward nonheterosexual persons.
* Professional associations should disseminate documents and resolutions by national and international institutions and agencies that call for the de-psychopathologization of sexual diversity and the prevention of interventions aimed at changing sexual orientation.
Sen. Brad Hoylman, D-Manhattan, released a report on the practice of trying to change the sexual orientation of gay and lesbian teens as he looks to ban the controversial practice in New York state with legislation this session.
The report follows a forum held in New York City on May 15 to discuss prohibiting mental health professionals from performing conversion therapy on minors. A bill banning the practice (S.4971-b/A.6983-b) is in the Senate and Assembly and was most recently referred to the Assembly Rules Committee on June 3.
On May 16, Hoylman said that it was New York’s responsibility to combat the practice of conversion therapy.
“So-called ‘conversion therapy’ is among the worst frauds in history. The state of New York has a responsibility to stop licensed mental health professionals from causing irreparable damage to LGBT youth and their families,” Hoylman said. “Twenty one percent of all LGBT youth have attempted suicide in the last year and are five times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual peers, and leading mental health organizations all agree that this practice increases feelings of depression and isolation in youth. At a time when the laws of this country are beginning to embrace the LGBT community, we must also do everything we can to nurture and protect our children as they discover their identities.”
Hoylman is the sponsor of the bill in the Senate, while Assemblywoman Deborah Glick, D-Manhattan, is the sponsor for the Assembly.
Hoylman’s report confirms that licensed mental health professionals are practicing conversion therapy in New York. At the forum, people subjected to this form of therapy spoke about the process, saying the “therapy” was degrading, ineffective and left them with suicidal thoughts and depression.
The report states that California and New Jersey are the only two states that have currently banned the practice of conversion therapy. Including New York, nine states and Washington D.C. are considering legislation that would outlaw this type of therapy.
Included in Hoylman’s findings are personal testimonies from those who went through the conversion therapy.
Dean Dafis described brutal treatment by a licensed mental health professional as he endured the therapy.
He recounted how his therapist attached electrodes to his hands and genitals, shocking him with electricity when he displayed physiological signs of arousal when shown homosexual pornography.
His therapist was a licensed psychotherapist affiliated with an Ivy League university, the report states.
Mathew Shurka experienced five years of the therapy beginning at age 16. The report states that Shurka was told “that there was no such thing as homosexuality, and that men experienced sexual attraction towards other men because of a ‘void in their masculinity,’ a condition that his licensed therapist claimed could be corrected.”
Shurka’s therapist told him to limit his interactions and conversations with his mother and sisters, which lead to him barely speaking to them for two years. He was given pornography and Viagra to push him into pursuing heterosexual encounters. Shurka saw four therapists over five years and is now 21 years old. He stopped receiving the therapy and came out as openly gay.
Shurka’s mother, Jane, attended the forum and discussed how she feels guilty for her role in her son’s conversion therapy. She thought that since a licensed mental health professional was offering conversion therapy that it was a respected practice. Shurka’s sister, Melanie, said that had her family known that the therapy was not credible they would not have let Mathew experience it.
Mordechai Levovitz was shamed by his therapist for crossing his legs, holding his wrist in a particular fashion and speaking with a lisp. In the Orthodox Jewish community, Levovitz became a social worker for LGBT youth where he saw that minors who went through conversion therapy were shown photographs of AIDS patients, forced to read descriptions of anal cancer aloud and told to take their clothes off and touch their genitals while being watched by their therapist.
The report states that president of the New York State Psychological Association Dinelia Rosa “pointed out that no major health professional organization endorses sexual orientation change efforts, and virtually all of them have adopted official policy statements against the practice.”
If passed, state Education Law would be changed to prohibit the use of conversion therapy by licensed mental health providers on minors. Those who violate the law would face a civil penalty of up to $10,000 along with a censure, suspension or having their license revoked.
To the Editor:
I am writing in response to Albano Republican Club President Frank Scala’s Letter to the Editor (5/22/14) inferring that elected Republican officials haven’t caused the continuing stagnation of pro-tenant legislation in Albany.
Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village’s state representatives, Senator Brad Hoylman and Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh, are vigorous proponents of MCI reform, repealing vacancy decontrol, restoring home rule to New York City, comprehensive campaign finance reform and the rest of the Real Rent Reform Campaign agenda.
In fact, on May 13, the Assembly once again passed a series of bills that will strengthen rent regulations and increase New Yorkers’ access to affordable housing. Senator Hoylman and the vast majority of his Democratic colleagues co-sponsor these bills but unless they are allowed to come to the floor for a vote by Republicans in the Senate Majority Coalition, they will again die as one-house bills.
As Senator Hoylman said at the May 10th ST-PCV Tenants Association meeting, for our own future, we need to participate in electing pro-tenant candidates from across New York State. He didn’t specify that those candidates be Democrats, but the parties’ records speak for themselves.
Senator Hoylman and Assemblyman Kavanagh continue to work on behalf of the interests of ST/PCV as well as tenants across New York City and New York State, regardless of their political beliefs or party registration.
Mark Thompson, ST
President, Samuel J. Tilden Democratic Club
The East Village has seen a steady influx of chain stores and high-end restaurants over the last decade-plus, making it increasingly difficult for small business owners to compete. The newcomers’ clientele comes prowling for upscale products and, notably, nightlife.
While the East Village in the ’60s attracted artists seeking affordable housing, today it is luring a different kind of “creative type,” and tourists — driven less by a desire to be on the road than to enjoy a swanky apartment, preferably, in a shiny tower of metal and undulating glass.
Not that all of this is news to longtime residents, who have been complaining for years to Community Board 3 about noise, out-of-scale development and landlord harassment of rent-regulated tenants. The board heard even more about the issue last month, at its Economic Development Committee meeting, where Columbia University student planners shared the results of a study conducted early this year focusing on Alphabet City.
Drawing from an array of data, they found that, between the years 2000 and 2012, there was a significant demographic and retail shift, greatly reducing the neighborhood’s retail diversity.
The number of white residents in Alphabet City (bounded by Avenues A and D, and 14th and Houston Sts.) grew by more than 4,000, to 41,381, making up 67 percent of the neighborhood’s residents. Meanwhile, the black and Hispanic populations each dipped by several hundred, to 4,199 (or 7 percent of the total population) and 10,917 (18 percent), respectively. The area’s Asian population rose by more than 2,200 to 9,405 (or 15 percent of Alphabet City residents).
Median household income in the study area soared, on average by nearly 45 percent. At the turn of the millennium, it was just under $37,000. In 2012, it approached $62,000, students told the committee meeting.
Despite the issue’s purported urgency, however, turnout was low at the meeting, which drew few local community members.
In some census tracts in the study area — where radicals once screamed, “Die yuppie scum!” — the median household income jumped 100 percent to $144,821.
Mirroring the citywide affordability crisis, rent in the entire Community District 3 area (which also includes the Lower East Side), with a population of more than 163,000 residents, soared by an average of 42 percent during the study period, according to the report.
More startling perhaps was what the data showed about full-service restaurants and watering holes. In 2004, there were 248 food-services and drinking places in Alphabet City. By 2012, that number had ballooned to 514, significantly outpacing any other kind of business and increasing these businesses’ area “market share” to 32 percent.
Yet, Alphabet City’s number of bars has actually fluctuated, from 24 in 2004, up to a high of 80 in 2008, and back down to 59 in 2012. Meanwhile, full-service restaurants have simply exploded, from 175 in 2004 to 380 in 2012.
From 2004 to 2012, the number of laundries (non-coin-operated) and dry cleaners in the study area also grew, from 25 to 41. During the same period, beer, wine and liquor stores more than doubled, from seven to 17. And the amount of beauty salons tripled over those eight years, from 23 to 69 in 2012.
The data also added some weight to claims that city planners under former Mayor Bloomberg targeted the East Village as a “destination neighborhood” for tourists. This is a view with which Stacey Sutton — a Columbia urban planning professor and mentor to the students who did the report — somewhat agrees. A 2012 report prepared for C.B. 3 by Mary de Stefano, the board’s former planning fellow, reached a similar conclusion about the former mayor’s intentions.
The area’s food-services and drinking places drew in a hefty $200 million in 2012, according to the report. These were also far and away the area’s chief employers among types of businesses studied, with more than 6,100 workers, up from more than 5,200 in 2006.
Among the report’s findings: “There are an increasing number of bars and restaurants that cater to a nightlife not necessarily congruent with the lifestyle of nearby residents. … Increasingly, there are more establishments that cater to the young adult crowd and less for teenagers and young families.”
Retail areas with room for growth include supermarkets and groceries, confectioners, nut shops and meat markets, the study found — with parking lots and photo-finishing labs “among the top industries with room for development.”
Meanwhile, C.B. 3 and local politicians continue to focus on trying to save small stores and control the influx of chains. The Center for Urban Future found that, in 2012, C.B. 3 had 227 chain stores.
Brad Hoylman is a co-sponsor of state Senate Bill 1771, introduced by Kenneth LaValle, a Long Island Republican, that allows municipalities to restrict the growth of “formula retail,” a.k.a. chain stores. The legislation is stuck in committee.
On top of offering assistance to small businesses, de Stefano’s 2012 report recommended considering a special-purpose district, an overlay atop existing zoning, which would limit chain stores’ size and operating hours. This district would also target banks. In a similar vein, San Francisco, with some success, has restricted chain stores to specific neighborhoods to preserve retail diversity.
Sutton supports a special district, and is also advocating for caps on commercial rents. She said landlords should consider community impact before renting commercial space — even if that means accepting considerably less rent.
Despite the meeting’s low turnout, the urban planner is calling for more community empowerment. She said the community “should be able to stop” certain types of retail establishments if they feel these have reached a saturation point.
ALBANY—The New York State Senate unanimously passed a bill that would subject the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to open meetings and records laws, and the bill’s sponsors are hopeful that it will pass the Assembly and the New Jersey Legislature.
The effort, sponsored by senators Michael Ranzenhofer and Brad Hoylman, and Assemblywoman Amy Paulin, needs to be passed in both states to take effect.
“The Port Authority is funded almost entirely by public money and it’s been able to shield itself from public scrutiny since its inception,” Hoylman said, adding that most people did not know about the authority until the Bridgegate scandal late last year. “With $8.2 billion it has a larger budget than 11 states. This body is committed to passing legislation that would make sure this authority has the same public scrutiny as every other state authority and agency.”
Paulin’s bill is currently in the Assembly’s codes committee, and she said she hasn’t heard any objections to the bill.
If the bill passes in both states, Paulin said that more disclosure would prevail where the laws of the states conflict.
“I have very high hopes that it’s not only going to pass the Assembly, but pass the New Jersey Legislature as well,” she said.
New York State Senator Brad Hoylman, an ardent supporter of the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA) and a lead sponsor on the Child-Parent Security Act, delivers compelling keynote address at Empire State Pride Agenda’s annual Spring Dinner 2014.
On Tuesday, the Compassionate Care Act successfully traversed the New York State Senate Health Committee via a very close margin of 9-8.
Said bill skated through the committee with the help of one trendsetting Republican senator who goes by the name William Larkin. Senator Larkin joined eight Democrats in a “yes” vote, allowing the bill to progress further along the legislative gauntlet of scrutiny.
Senator Brad Hoylman, who voted in favor of the legislation, claims that the bill in question “is really about a simple concept, which is to alleviate suffering.”
With hopes of improving the bill’s chances of progressing, the legislation’s champion, Senator Diane Savino, restricted the list of qualifying conditions to a mere 20 ailments, including debilitating diseases such as AIDS, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, cancer and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Senator Savino claims that if her legislation is indeed triumphant, that it “would create the tightest, most-regulated program in the nation.”
Stay with The 420 Times for any updates on the advancement of New York’s Compassionate Care Act.
Some mental health professionals in New York engage in a practice that basically assumes that if you’re gay you’re broken but you can be fixed. The science behind that is being challenged now as state lawmakers want to ban the practice altogether.
Matthew Shurka says he spent 5 years in gay conversion therapy. He says he contemplated suicide and used food or drugs or anything to try to take himself away from what he needed to face: that he is gay and one can’t cure being gay. Targeted for the therapy when he was 16, Shurka testified before a panel of state legislators looking to ban the practice in New York State as it already is in New Jersey.
State Sen. Brad Hoylman says there’s no science behind the practice. He says the practice still exists because of misinformation about the power of therapy and that the idea that being gay is something that needs a cure. He says the state needs to protect kids from “quacks who try to change their sexual orientation.” He calls it a consumer protection issue and fraud issue.
Still, some mental health professionals don’t want the government dictating what goes on in their practice.
Supporters of the bill are hoping to get it on the Senate floor within the next few weeks. If they do find bipartisan support they hope to ban the practice altogether by midsummer.
When Mathew Shurka came out as gay at 16, his father thought he could be cured.
Shurka was sent to a sex orientation conversion therapist, who told him he would be straight in six weeks. The process involved cutting off contact with his mother and sisters to limit his interactions with women.
At a hearing Thursday, Shurka recounted the depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts he experienced after his long string of so-called therapy sessions with several licensed mental health professionals.
“Every time I slept with a woman, that was affirmation that the therapy was working,” said Shurka, 25. “But the anxiety I was experiencing was not sexy and not fun.”
Shurka was one of several victims of conversion therapy who spoke at the hearing convened by state Sen. Brad Hoylman (D-Manhattan), who is pushing to ban the practice on anyone under 18. California and New Jersey have already instituted such a ban.
If his legislation is enacted, mental health providers who perform the conversion therapy would be cited for unprofessional conduct and subject to licensing sanctions.
“This is an issue of abuse of kids as well as consumer fraud, where therapists are misleading parents into believing that they can ‘cure’ their kids,” said Hoylman, who is openly gay.
Mordechai Levovitz, 35, another witness who suffered through conversion therapy starting when he was 6, was ordered to play sports, speak in a lower tone of voice and never cross his legs. He said his parents became horrified when he began playing with Barbies and acting “too feminine.”
“Sending a minor to therapists who work on changing orientation is not right, it is not consensual, it is not an intervention,” said Levovitz. “It is simply using professional licensure to tell perfectly healthy youth that there is something wrong with them.”
Homosexuality was classified as a mental illness by the American Psychiatric Association until 1973.
Mental health providers and advocates of the proposed bill said that classification — though outdated and wrong — still contributes to the belief that conversion therapy can “fix” gay people.
“That has created stigma, prejudice, alienation,” said Dinelia Rosa, president of the New York State Psychological Association. “That’s why it’s so difficult for children and adolescents to accept their sexual orientation. There is nothing to treat or change.”
The bill, which has 16 co-sponsors so far, needs 32 votes in the Senate to pass. Currently, it has no Republican support.
Sen. Ruben Diaz (D-Bronx), an opponent of gay marriage, said politicians shouldn’t interfere with health professionals’ practices.
“It’s not for us politicians to dictate to a professional doctor what kind of medicine he should be using or what kind of treatment he should use,” Diaz said.
A Manhattan state senator has introduced a bill to ban the sale of powdered alcohol products in New York.
Under the bill introduced Monday by Sen. Brad Hoylman (D-Manhattan), first time offenders would faces fines of up to $5,000. Repeat offenders could be hit with a misdemeanor carrying a fine of up to $10,000 per offense.
The bill would also prohibit anyone under 21 from possessing the powdered alcohol, known as Palcohol.
The bill comes as US Sen. Charles Schumer on Sunday urged the Food and Drug Administration to probe the product, which is awaiting federal approval to hit shelves by the fall.
“Regardless of the federal government’s deliberation on this particular brand, we can and should act now in New York State to prohibit the sale of this and similar irresponsible products,” Hoylman wrote in a memo seeking bill co-sponsors.
Hoylman noted that the controversial product was originally billed as something that is easy to bring into sporting events or sprinkle on food. Some also promoted it by saying it can be snorted, thus allowing a person to get immediately drunk.
As Sunshine Week — a national initiative to promote open and transparent government — draws to a close, subpoenas are flying while federal prosecutors seek records from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey as part of the ever-expanding Bridgegate investigation. The recent flurry of activity from the U.S. Attorneys’ offices in New Jersey and New York and a joint committee of the New Jersey Legislature underlines the inherent struggle to obtain records from the Port Authority.
In short, the Port Authority, despite being run entirely on public money, has systematically shielded itself from public scrutiny over the decades. We pay for its operations with our tolls and fares, then watch as almost all of its decisions are made behind closed doors.
It wasn’t supposed to be that way. In fact, the founding 1921 compact between New York and New Jersey creating the authority stated that “secrecy in public affairs undermines the faith of the public in government and the public’s effectiveness in fulfilling its role in a democratic society.”
These words are surprising not only in light of recent events, but also because of the fact the Port Authority has always acted as a secretive city-state within the midst of the largest metropolitan area in the world. As Jameson W. Doig argues in “Empire on the Hudson,” his seminal history of the Port Authority, the intention of generations of its leaders was to insulate the agency from standard government accountability to give it the power to get things done.
Within that protective cloak, it did get a lot done: building and operating two public transit systems, three bus terminals, five airports, five marine terminals and six bridges and tunnels in the New York metropolitan area of over 17 million residents and commuters.
Still, for all of its far-reaching impact, most Americans would never have heard about the Port Authority had it not been for Bridgegate. Even those familiar with the Port Authority may be surprised to learn that at $8.2 billion, its annual budget is the same size as that of Rhode Island — and larger than those of 11 other states.
They may also be surprised to know that the Port Authority isn’t subject to the same freedom of information laws that apply to New York and New Jersey state and local governments, including New York City.
For decades, the public, press and lawmakers of New York and New Jersey have struggled to get timely and responsive information from the Port Authority, often without success. What’s made their efforts challenging, to say the least, is that the Port Authority alone decides what information to share with the public, without judicial or legislative oversight.
By serving as its own judge and jury, the Port Authority has unfettered power to stymie and block legitimate requests for government records from the press and public.
A group of legislators on both sides of the Hudson are trying to change that. We’ve introduced legislation in both legislatures that would subject the Port Authority to the public access requirements of New York’s Freedom of Information Law and New Jersey’s Open Public Records Act.
This legislation would address a gap in the law that is long overdue and ensure that the public has the same right to information from the Port Authority as it does from any other state agency or public authority.
No longer should it be possible for the Port Authority to ignore, postpone or deny inconvenient or politically sensitive requests for information, without a judicial remedy for the public or press.
Opening up the Port Authority’s records to the standards of public review required of all other levels of government is a logical and necessary first step towards restoring the public’s faith in this colossal agency. With it, we honor the founding principles of the Port Authority and perhaps prevent the next Bridgegate.
Hoylman is a New York state senator. Johnson is a New Jersey assemblyman. Paulin is a New York assemblywoman
On the seventh anniversary of the fatal shooting of two young auxiliary police officers on a South Village street, state Senator Brad Hoylman introduced legislation that would make the penalty for killing an auxiliary officer the same as that for killing a regular New York Police Department officer.
Nicholas Pekearo, 28, and Yevgeniy “Eugene” Marshalik, 19, were killed on March 14, 2007, while pursuing a crazed gunman who had just slain a pizza restaurant worker on W. Houston St. and was then fleeing on foot while firing wildly. Since the city’s auxiliary officers are unarmed, the two men were defenseless when the gunman, David Garvin, turned and shot them dead near the corner of Sullivan and Bleecker Sts. Garvin was killed minutes later in a shootout with N.Y.P.D. officers who’d rushed to the scene.
The deaths of Pekearo and Marshalik led to a landmark change in safety protocols for auxiliary police officers, who are all unpaid volunteers. Days after the tragic incident, former Mayor Mike Bloomberg and former Police Commissioner Ray Kelly asked the City Council to set aside money, for the first time, to provide funding to issue bulletproof vests to all auxiliaries. Before that, auxiliaries had to purchase their own protective vests.
However, from a legal standpoint, another key aspect of the fatal shooting went largely unnoticed for years. If Garvin had survived the incident and stood trial for killing Pekearo and Marshalik, he would not have been charged under New York State’s first-degree murder or manslaughter laws that apply to the killing of a police officer. Instead, the shooting of the auxiliary officers would have been treated the same as the shooting of a civilian.
“But auxiliary police officers deserve the same protections as police and peace officers, and their assailants should face the same penalties,” said Hoylman at a March 14 press conference outside the Sixth Precinct, on W. 10th St. “It’s crucial that we recognize these civic-minded individuals and the sacrifices they make, as well as the families who have suffered, and who are concerned about their well-being each day they’re out in the line of duty.”
Hoylman’s new bill, the Auxiliary Police Officers Yevgeniy Marshalik and Nicholas Pekearo Memorial Act, would finally bring the legal penalty for killing an auxiliary officer in line with the penalty for killing a regular officer.
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A Manhattan state senator wants all smartphones and tablets sold in New York to be equipped with a “kill switch” that makes them permanently inoperable if they are lost or stolen.
Sen. Brad Hoylman (D-Manhattan) has introduced a bill this week that dovetails with federal legislation to crack down on smartphone thefts. The federal effort is being pushed by a coalition led by state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.
Fearing partisan debate in Congress could kill the measure, Hoylman said that New York “should be a leader in protecting consumers” by enacting a state version.
As a candidate last summer, Bill de Blasio told Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg that New York City should stop financing the ambitious renovation of the Fifth Avenue flagship of the New York Public Library until someone figured out how much it was all going to cost.
Now that Mr. de Blasio is mayor, he holds that very power, and people on both sides of the question are weighing in on how he should wield it as the city budgeting process begins.
For the time being, Mr. de Blasio has let stand the $150 million in capital funds that the Bloomberg administration pledged to the renovation project. But the cost analysis that he called for last summer has yet to be completed, and his office has said its final funding decisions on the library and other capital projects will not be made until the spring.
In recent weeks, the Committee to Save the New York Public Library, which opposes the renovation, has forwarded about 3,000 email letters from supporters imploring the mayor to reconsider the plan. Several elected officials have also written letters to Mr. de Blasio urging him to direct the money elsewhere.
“I am deeply concerned about several of the proposed changes,” State Senator Brad Hoylman, Democrat of Manhattan, whose district includes the library, said in a letter to the mayor last month, and “ask that you consider redirecting the capital funds the Bloomberg administration allocated to this plan for more cost-effective projects that advance the N.Y.P.L.’s mission.”
Library officials similarly acknowledge that communicating with the new administration is an important step in ensuring the city’s continued support for the project, once known as the Central Library Plan. The renovation would largely entail locating a circulating library inside the 42nd Street main building by removing a good portion of the stacks.
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A month before their baby’s due date, Brad Hoylman and David Sigal got a call from the woman they had hired to have their child.
She was having contractions; come right away.
Mr. Sigal, a filmmaker, had the more flexible schedule. So after a sleepless night, he hopped on a plane to San Diego while Mr. Hoylman stayed in New York and frantically oversaw the dusty conversion of their TV room into a nursery.
The contractions turned out to be a false alarm, but Mr. Sigal stayed. And stayed, touching up his documentary in his hotel room, going to family outings — a picnic, a cheerleading event — with the surrogate and her daughters, and calling Mr. Hoylman “every 10 minutes” with updates.
Four weeks later, the baby was induced, and Mr. Hoylman flew in for the birth.
‘The timing was perfect,” Mr. Hoylman said. “I cut the cord and David —”
“Held her,” Mr. Sigal finished the sentence.
Such is the world of gestational surrogacy, in which a woman is paid to go through the pregnancy and birth of a child who is not genetically related to her and then promises to give that child away. To anyone who has had a baby, or known someone who has, the couple’s tireless zest for reciting their daughter’s birth story will bring a knowing smile, maybe a jaded shrug. But for Mr. Sigal and Mr. Hoylman, two gay men, the birth narrative carries with it an extra frisson of the illicit that seems to them more than a little archaic and unfair in the post-marriage-equality world.
They had their baby in California because if they had had her in New York, they would have been breaking a 1992 New York law that bars commercial surrogacy contracts and equates them with baby-selling — a legacy of the notorious Baby M case of the 1980s.
Now Mr. Hoylman, as a novice state senator, is in a position to do something about it. He is the co-sponsor of a proposed law that would overturn the current law and make compensated surrogacy legal in New York State.
ALBANY – In the wake of Gov. Christie’s Bridgegate scandal, a state lawmaker from Manhattan is looking to shed light on the inner workings of the Port Authority.
Sen. Brad Hoylman, a Democrat, plans to introduce legislation Tuesday that would make the Port Authority comply with the state’s Freedom of Information Law governing the release of internal documents.
“We might avoid future bridgegates if the public and the press had more leverage over confidential documents,” Hoylman told the Daily News.
Hoylman said the Port Authority is not subject to public disclosure laws of either New York or New Jersey. Instead, it has its own policy – known as the Freedom of Information Code – that is less binding and easier to circumvent.
Gov. Chris Christie’s Bridgegate scandal has spurred the bill.
Hoylman noted the code allowed officials to deny several recent media requests for emails and other documents related to the George Washington Bridge scandal.
“This would really close the loophole that has allowed the Port Authority to evade scrutiny from the public, the press and from the legislatures of both states,” Hoylman said.
On January 17, the first perspective buyers of 550 West 20th Street, the former site of the Bayview Correctional Facility, took advantage of the city’s invite for a walkthrough of the site. By mid-February, all proposals must be filed for the newest incarnation of the beloved institution. One thing is already certain: the facility will keep its historical façade and the community amenities for which it has long been known.
“I’m very happy that the Bayview site won’t be converted into another luxury condominium development,” State Senator Brad Hoylman told Chelsea Now. “I’m grateful to the Governor and his team at Empire State Development for bringing the local community to the table and responding positively to our ideas for the future of the prison building.”
When Hurricane Sandy blew through the New York Metro area in October 2012, the 153 female inmates of the medium-security prison were evacuated to three upstate facilities as flood waters washed through the prison. But the die was already cast on Bayview’s future.
In his 2013–14 Fiscal Year Budget, Governor Andrew Cuomo determined that the prison was too costly to run, with a total staff cost per inmate of $74,385, as compared to the state’s benchmark of about $34,000. Cuomo projected that the prison closure would save the state $18.7 million in 2013–14 and $62 million in 2014–15, if Bayview Correctional Facility was closed and sold.
The New York State Urban Development Corporation, the state’s chief economic development agency, doing business as the Empire State Development Corporation, took over Bayview, and is now accepting request for proposals (RFPs) for its purchase and adaptive re-use. The area is zoned for a mix of development, including offices, hotels, retail, entertainment and residential apartments.
According to Community Board 4 (CB4) Co-Chair of the Housing, Health and Human Services Committee, Joe Restuccia, 22 perspective applicants toured the site on January 17, including Steinway & Sons, who recently sold their historical building on West 57th Street for $46M. But no matter whose proposal wins the bid, one thing is certain: Bayview will not be torn down and replaced by luxury condominiums.
NO CONDOS OR CO-OPS IN BAYVIEW’S FUTURE
Thanks to the hard work of Sen. Hoylman and CB4 on July 24, 2013, Empire State Development came to the table with local residents to discuss the future of the site, and they agreed to preserve the integrity of the original design, as well as its long history of community use. Later that day, CB4 voted to send a letter to ESD outlining the preliminary recommendations for reuse of the site.
CB4 was pleased to see that when the ESD released the Bayview RFP on December 23, 2013, they noted in the introduction that, “Proposals for residential uses will not be considered,” adding that, “any Proposal featuring the full demolition of the Site will not be considered, and all Proposals should include some community facility component.”
“We’ve achieved an important goal by the state including that in the RFP,” said Restuccia. “Although the devil is in the details, the response makes it clear that the state also wants this building preserved.”
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Despite a concerted drive in recent weeks by advocates and elected officials, Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Executive Budget for the fiscal year beginning April 1 does not include appropriation of funds to ensure that New Yorkers living with AIDS and receiving government rental assistance will have the effective rent they pay capped at 30 percent of their monthly income.
In a public policy battle, dating back at least seven years, to close what State Senator Brad Holyman characterized as a loophole in New York law, AIDS advocates had hoped Cuomo would step up with funding of at least $5.8 million during his annual budget address in Albany on January 21.
Hoylman, an out gay Chelsea Democrat who sponsors legislation to impose such a cap on the rental assistance program run out of the city’s HIV/ AIDS Services Administration (HASA) and similar units statewide, wrote to the governor last week laying out an analysis that showed that the roughly $20 million in incremental costs required to fund the rent cap would be offset nearly exactly by savings to the state and city from either curing rental arrears by housing assistance clients or providing them with emergency housing if they lose their apartments. More than 12,000 people with AIDS statewide receive rental assistance.
Depending on the state/ city funding formula applied to a rent cap appropriation, Albany would pick up between $5.8 million and $10 million of the total $20 million upfront cost, with the city providing the remainder.
The rental assistance provided to people living with AIDS currently requires them to pay up to 70 percent of their disability income toward rent and leaves them with only about $375 each month –– or less than $13 a day –– for all other expenses, a situation that forces many to choose between paying their rent and having money for food, transportation, and drug co-pays.
Hoylman’s letter emphasized that every other federal and state low-income rental assistance program –– including Section 8 and NYCHA housing –– has a 30 percent cap.
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According to the New York State Department of Health, new diagnoses for HIV fell 37 percent, with diagnoses falling in all risk groups from 2002 to 2010. From 2003 to 2010, there was a 96 percent increase in the annual number of newly reported HIV infections in young men who have sex with men of color, the same report reads.
HIV is still an epidemic in neighborhoods in parts of the Bronx, including Tremont and parts of Claremont, Belmont and Crotona. And, says Daniel Tietz, executive director of AIDS Community Research Initiative of America [ACRIA,], which provides HIV/AIDS education and consulting and studies the needs of at-risk populations, “When only about 40 percent of New Yorkers with HIV are virally suppressed, meaning they are consistently engaged in care and on effective treatment, it is clear we’ve not solved this or ended the epidemic.”
The initiative is a combination of policies, some health-related and some focused on quality of life in general, such as better housing and primary care. It’s what Housing Works CEO Charles King calls a “thatch roof” of a plan because all of the parts are needed in order to strengthen its efficacy.
Housing Works, Treatment Action Group and ACRIA organized engagement with state senators, assembly members, state and city agencies and the governor’s office to gain funding for the AIDS Institute, which recently avoided $40 million in cuts, not to mention talk of closure.
An essential part of the plan is making sure young people of color get access to fourth-generation testing, which simultaneously detects both antigen and antibodies for HIV s and can alert newly infected people much faster.
“There is a big spike in virus in the blood soon after infection, but often before an HIV antibody test would pick-up an infection. This is when folks may pose the greatest risk to others, usually unknowingly,” Tietz says. “The typical mouth swab or home test kit is not testing for the virus itself, but rather the body’s antibody response, which may take six to eight weeks after infection to develop. If someone had unprotected sex a few days ago and decided to take an HIV, the current antibody testing couldn’t tell you whether you were infected.”
A “30 percent rent cap,” or a making sure that New York City residents with HIV/AIDS living in subsidized housing have their rent capped at 30 percent of their income, is also important to the initiative, and one Housing Works has long fought for. The 30 percent rent cap bill passed both houses but stopped at Governor David Paterson’s veto in 2010.
The plan would also improve access to nPEP (non-occupational Post-exposure Prophylaxis) and PrEP (Pre-exposure Prophylaxis). The former medication would prevent HIV inflection after exposure to the virus and the latter pills would reduce their risk of becoming infected. King says he would like to do fewer testing sessions in clubs and instead focus on getting men who have sex with men primary care where they can be regularly screened for HIV, which he says will enable physicians to catch infections earlier.
“A testing session in a club can’t provide someone with a script for PrEP, and few actually have the time or inclination to discuss PrEP or PEP with people who are negative,” he saus. “We are going to catch far more people early in their infection and they will already be linked to care.”
Tietz says that the 30 percent rent cap would be key to the initiative as it would prevent homelessness for thousands of low-income New Yorkers who are permanently disabled by HIV/AIDS and would permit 1,000 of them to move out of the shelter system.
“These folks could then focus on their HIV treatment and not live in constant worry and fear of losing everything. People face lots of other barriers and challenges that we need to address, such as continuing stigma and discrimination, and mental health and substance use issues,” Tietz says.
Several agencies involved
A lot of coordination is required across state and city health agencies to make the plan effective.
The initiative would require significant involvement from New York City health officials, and Tietz says that Mayor Bill de Blasio’s appointment of Lilliam Barrios-Paoli as deputy mayor of health and human services is an encouraging signal.
The mayor has also expressed support for the 30 percent rent cap, which he supported in the past as a public advocate and throughout his mayoral campaign. Although de Blasio’s platform did not outright acknowledge AIDS prevention, his interests and political affiliations suggest he is much more willing to work with stakeholders on the issue than Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who was often at odds with the HIV advocacy community.
Speaker of the Assembly Sheldon Silver and Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos did not return requests for comment on the initiative.
New York State Senator Brad Hoylman, a Democrat who represents District 27 in Manhattan, is supporting the initiative and says that although he is not blindly optimistic, he has seen strong signals in discussions with the governor’s team that they are interested in pushing the initiative forward. Hoylman argues that although the plan can be argued on the merits of its cost efficiency, his primary argument is a moral one.
“The issue is a tremendous one for low-income people, for the most vulnerable people in our society. One reason for the misunderstanding is that people think the crisis is over,” Hoylman said in a phone interview.
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ALBANY — A state senator wants to end moonlighting by legislators, making the Legislature a full-time job.
Sen. Brad Hoylman (D-Manhattan) has introduced a bill barring lawmakers from having outside employment, saying the idea would cut down on corruption by eliminating potential conflicts of interest. Though the job of state legislator carries an annual base salary of $79,500 — highest in the country after California — it is considered part-time.
Some lawmakers have outside employment that pays them far more than that, particularly the leaders. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver reported making up to $450,000 at his law firm, while Senate GOP leader Dean Skelos makes up to $250,000 from his.
Gov. Cuomo’s anti-corruption commission has sent out a slew of subpoenas aimed at finding out what, if anything, the lawmakers are doing for their outside pay.
In a recent report, the commission found that 89 of the 174 legislators who served in 2012 and returned in 2013 reported at least one source of outside income, with 73% earning at least $20,000.
The panel claimed having second jobs “is not inherently wrong” but can lead to conflicts of interest or the appearance of corruption. Several lawmakers in recent years were charged or went to prison for improperly mixing state and private business.
Hoylman said his bill would make the question moot by placing the same moonlighting ban on lawmakers as imposed on the governor, controller and attorney general.
“It would make New York a model for the rest of the country by taking us from being the poster child of bad behavior to being a model for ethical performance,” he said.
One argument against a full-time Legislature is the cost. Some say it would require hiking the base salaries of lawmakers who haven’t had a raise since 1999.
But Hoylman said lawmakers, particularly outside New York, already earn more than many of their constituents. Rather than mandate a higher salary, his bill would create a nine-member commission that would meet every four years to consider potential salary hikes.
The governor would appoint three members, the controller two, and the majority and minority leaders in each house one each.
“This is not about legislative pay, this is about legislative performance,” Hoylman countered. “I think the issue is making certain that legislators don’t have jobs on the side that run counter to their responsibilities to the public.”
State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli’s office will audit the state Division of Criminal Justice Services’ hate crimes reporting system in response to concerns aired in a report from one lawmaker that some hate crimes are being missed.
DiNapoli’s office announced the audit Friday, acknowledging the inquiry grew out of an August request by state Sen. Brad Hoylman, a Manhattan Democrat who took up the issue after a spate of anti-gay attacks — including one killing — in New York City.
Under a 2000 state law, crimes believed to have been motivated by race, color, national origin, ancestry, gender, religion, religious practice, age, disability or sexual orientation are classified as hate crimes and must be reported by police agencies to DCJS.
A spokesman for DiNapoli’s office, Mark Johnson, said the audit will look to identify any deficiencies in the way DCJS compiles that data — as well as training it offers departments for identifying and handling hate crimes.
“Sen. Hoylman had requested this in light of his report, and we believe it was good idea, so we’re pursuing it,” Johnson said. “But we don’t have any preconceived notions about what we will or won’t find.”
Hate crimes come with heightened punishments. And while testimony at a public hearing held by Hoylman did not question the reporting requirement, it cited the lack of an enforcement mechanism and urged DiNapoli to audit state and local law enforcement agencies to ensure they were reporting the crimes as required.
In addition, Hoylman’s report calls for hate crime training for cops to become mandatory and for the hate crimes law to be expanded to included gender expression.
Last month, DCJS reported a total of 720 hate crimes statewide in 2012 — a spike of 30 percent over 2011 fueled by reported increases in New York City and Suffolk County on Long Island. The increase in New York City was close to 55 percent.
Most of the crimes statewide involved criminal mischief, and the largest class of reported victims — about 26 percent — were targeted based on their sexual orientation, followed closely — 25 percent — by those targeted because they were black, DCJS said.
In a Nov. 20 letter to DCJS Executive Deputy Commissioner Michael Green, DiNapoli said the audit would begin next week.
In a statement, DCJS spokeswoman Janine Kava said her agency planned to meet with DiNapoli’s auditors on Dec. 11 and “will cooperate with the Comptroller’s Office as it moves forward with this audit.”
“We are confident that we have accurately reported information as it has been reported to us,” Kava said, adding that the agency had also taken steps beyond what the law required to improve data collection. The audit is expected to take at least several months.
SantaCon organizers are trying to get off the naughty list this year.
For the first time, the route for the annual pub crawl, where revelers dress like Santa Claus and his Mrs. and heartily toast the season, will be shared with the NYPD and elected officials ahead of the Dec. 14 event, organizers and a state senator said.
SantaCon organizers confirmed that they also plan to have 80 helper elves along the route to coordinate traffic and make sure their Santas stay respectful to residents and local businesses.
Critics said the proof will be in the figgy pudding.
“I’m reserving judgment until we see how the event unfolds,” said state Sen. Brad Hoylman (D-Manhattan), who hammered out the concessions in a phone call with SantaCon organizers and other elected officials on Tuesday. “We are grateful that volunteers have stepped forward to take responsibility, but (the event) is loosely organized and has a revolving leadership.”
Sources said this year’s SantaCon will kick off around Tompkins Square Park and wend its way through the East Village and the Lower East Side before jumping over to Brooklyn.
Hell’s Kitchen residents said last year’s SantaCon turned their neighborhood into the nightmare before Christmas, with smashed Santas throwing up in the street and fighting with each other.
To make sure this doesn’t happen again, Lt. John Cocchi of the Midtown North Precinct sent out a letter to neighborhood bars and clubs last month encouraging them not to participate in SantaCon.
Yet Cocchi didn’t speak for the entire department: Outgoing NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly is a fan of the pub crawl.
“This is an event we are supporting,” Kelly said in a press conference last month. “It’s what makes New York New York.”
Its days as the go-to place for stamp-dispensing vending machines are long gone — but Old Chelsea Station is here to stay.
After nearly a year of community forums, petitions, electronic missives and snail mail outreach, the United Stated Postal Service (USPS) recently told elected officials that a proposal to sell its 217 West 18th Street post office has been abandoned.
Built in 1937, the two-story, Colonial Revival-style red brick structure (on the National Register of Historic Places, but not landmarked by the city) is among just a handful of Depression-era post offices left throughout the five boroughs.
Early last week, a joint statement issued by Congressman Jerrold Nadler, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn, Borough President Scott Stringer, State Senator Brad Hoylman and Assemblymembers Richard Gottfried and Deborah Glick praised the USPS’s decision to keep Old Chelsea Station’s doors open. But they also acknowledged possible changes to the 41,865-square-foot facility, noting that the USPS is currently exploring options “such as re-purposing underutilized space in the building.”
That loaded phrase references various ideas floated during the public vetting process. The doomsday option of closing Old Chelsea Station, it was suggested, might be avoided by vertical expansion or the transfer of air rights. A more realistic scenario, and one of great concern to preservationists, involved leasing space in a manner that would impact the building’s lobby (distinguished by a marble floor as well as deer and bear cast stone bas-relief panels carved by Paul Fiene).
“We will continue to monitor USPS’s future actions regarding the Old Chelsea Post Office,” promised the electeds, who noted that upon first learning of its possible closure, they partnered with the community to advocate “strongly for the continuation of services and for increased transparency and a robust public process before USPS took any further action.”
Council of Chelsea Block Associations president Bill Borock cited “the involvement of the community, working together with elected officials,” as a decisive factor in Old Chelsea Station’s survival. Borock’s assessment was echoed by a source close to ongoing discussions with the USPS — who told this newspaper that the West 18th Street facility was saved by a combination of economic reality (relocating in Chelsea wasn’t cost-effective) and the acknowledgement by USPS officials that, “Everybody who protested was right. It was made very clear that this was an important community resource, and they had to keep it open.”
In a December 3 email to Chelsea Now, Hoylman was similarly blunt in asserting linkage between activism and results. “The USPS realized what elected officials and community members have been saying all along: that selling Old Chelsea Station and leasing new space elsewhere in the neighborhood simply doesn’t make sense.” Although he did not comment on maintaining unfettered public access to the lobby (or its aesthetic integrity), Hoylman promised further collaboration with his colleagues in government, to “ensure vital mail services remain in our neighborhood’s treasured facility.”
MIDTOWN — Stop the vomit!
That’s the message from a coalition of Manhattanpoliticians who want this year’s SantaCon bar crawl to commit to a safer, more respectful event.
State Sen. Brad Hoylman; Assemblymembers Richard Gottfried, Deborah Glick and Brian Kavanagh; and Councilmembers Dan Garodnick, Rosie Mendez and Margaret Chin said in a statement Tuesday that they are looking to “rein in the annual scourge known as SantaCon.”
The also called on the annual costumed bar crawl to abide by three core principles next month: “make public and follow define routes; ensure respectful participants; and implement a comprehensive safety plan.”
In past years, the SantaCon route was not announced until the day before the event.
“During this massive pub crawl, thousands of participants dressed as Santa Claus overwhelm neighborhoods, violating numerous laws and regulations and creating major hazards in public safety along the way,” the letter to SantaCon organizers said.
“SantaCon may be a short-term boon to a select group of local businesses, but it imparts many adverse impacts, such as vomiting in the streets, public urination, vandalism and littering.”
SantaCon organizers did not immediately return a request for comment regarding the letter.
The request comes amid a flurry of media attention, after DNAinfo.com New York reported last week that an NYPD lieutenant had asked about 30 Midtown bars to not welcome SantaCon participants this year.
State Senator Brad Hoylman, along with other East Side elected officials, has been petitioning the state’s new storm recovery program, which has been focusing its efforts on restoring and protecting Lower Manhattan from future Sandy-like disasters, to include areas further north — in particular Stuyvesant Town, Peter Cooper Village, Waterside Plaza and the hospitals along Bedpan Alley.
Through the program, New York Rising, which was launched by Governor Cuomo, Lower Manhattan was awarded $25 million to implement community-input-driven strategies to rebuild downtown and strengthen the area against future extreme weather.
However, as Hoylman noted in testimony he gave to the Lower Manhattan Community Planning Committee on October 30, areas as far north as the mid-30s on the East Side and the high 20s on the West Side also saw serious damage as a result of the superstorm. Just a few examples include the flooding and months-long shutdowns at hospitals including NYU Langone, Bellevue and the VA Medical Center, loss of numerous services for months in 15 buildings in Peter Cooper Village and two in Stuyvesant Town, as well as the destruction of the management office there, and on the West Side, the flooding of half a dozen residential buildings that required evacuations, including one Chelsea building housing 50 people with HIV/AIDS.
In mid-October, the planning committee for NY Rising agreed to extend the borders of its catchment area from Canal Street west of Essex Street up to Delancey Street east of Essex up to all of Manhattan south of 14th Street, so Hoylman said he hoped the committee would also consider expanding the area further north to include Bedpan Alley.
The ongoing effort by NY Rising is “laudable,” said Hoylman, “but it excludes major swaths of Manhattan that were damaged by Sandy including Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village, and especially the hospitals, which serve the whole city. I think our community above 14th Street is a natural fit for this conversation.”
Hoylman’s senatorial district includes ST/PCV, Waterside, Chelsea and Greenwich Village, areas that saw some of Manhattan’s heaviest damage last October.
Especially important in planning for the future of those areas, noted Hoylman, is the protection of the elderly population.
“The seniors in Peter Cooper and Stuy Town were essentially cut off from civilization,” he said.
Congresswomen Carolyn Maloney and Nydia Vasquez, Assembly Members Brian Kavanagh and Richard Gottfried, State Senator Liz Krueger and Council Members Dan Garodnick, Margaret Chin and Rosie Mendez have also been in support of the area north of 14th Street’s inclusion in the planning and on October 22, all signed onto a letter, as did Hoylman, that was sent to Seth Diamond, the director of the Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery. At this time, Hoylman said they’ve yet to receive a response.
The president of the American Bar Association, who was set to be the keynote speaker at a daylong New York conference on November 18 about investing in Russia, has withdrawn from the event. After pressure and entreaties from gay leaders, an ABA spokesperson said that James Silkenat will not be speaking at the forum.
The spokesperson issued the following statement from Silkenat late on November 7: “I remain committed to engaging with those in Russia who are working to put an end to human rights abuses in their country, and I will look for effective ways to oppose Russia’s policies and practices that oppress the LGBT community.”
Silkenat’s pullout comes during a week of increasingly dire reports of the persecution of gay people in Russia and a general crackdown on dissent, especially in Sochi, the site of the Winter Olympics in February.
American Bar Association’s James Silkenat underscored his opposition to anti-LGBT laws
The November 18 forum is similar to the one held by a group called Russian Center of New York at the Princeton Club on October 28 that was picketed by Queer Nation, whose members inside the event asked why anyone would want to invest in Russia given new laws that forbid public expression of being gay or even open discussion about homosexuality. One forum participant responded to the Queer Nation members by shouting, “Gays will be the death of Russia!” The anti-gay attendee was allowed to stay, the gay questioners removed.
The City of New York also recently asked that it not be listed online as one of the three co-sponsors of the November 18 forum, but a letter of welcome to the attendees from Mayor Michael Bloomberg — listed as a “testimonial” ––remained on the Russia Forum website (russiaforumny.com) as of November 8.
Bloomberg’s office has ignored repeated requests for comment on what role the city is prepared to play in combating the anti-gay crisis in Russia.
Gay activist Bert Leatherman, who successfully lobbied the mayor’s counsel, Michael Best, to get Bloomberg to pull the city’s endorsement, also pressed Silkenat and started a change.org petition to get him to pull out of the forum. Leatherman is also calling on Goodwin Procter New York, the law firm hosting the forum, to pull out. In an email message to Goodwin, he wrote, “Your promotion of investment in Russia seems analogous to advocating investment in Germany in the 1930s or South Africa in the 1980s.”
Queer Nation plans a protest outside the November 18 forum at 9 a.m. at the New York Times building, where Goodwin’s offices are located. Responding to Silkenat’s decision to withdraw, Queer Nation’s Ken Kidd wrote in an email, “LGBT activists have once again successfully shamed the Russian government and its representatives in front of the people with whom it had hoped to do business. In the future, we expect our allies to speak out against Russia’s anti-gay legislation directly to Vladimir Putin’s representatives rather than merely declining to be associated with them publicly.”
Leatherman, who is studying in Brazil, explained he was inspired to get involved by online video of Queer Nation’s confrontation with the Russia Forum at the Princeton Club. In an email, he wrote that he was “gratified” that Silkenat is “taking a principled stand” now, but chastised Goodwin for “collaborating with Russia Day 2013” at the New York Stock Exchange, calling the firm’s actions “hurtful to me as a young gay law school grad, but the pain I feel is nothing compared to the physical and psychological violence LGBT teens in Russia feel when they are abducted and tortured by neo-fascist gangs operating with impunity thanks to a wink and a nod from President Putin.”
It was never clear why Silkenat was asked to keynote the address, though his international business is a big part of his work as a corporate lawyer at Sullivan & Worcester. But the forum’s listing him in his capacity as president of the ABA made him a target of protest.
State Senator Brad Hoylman, an out gay West Side Democrat, spoke with Silkenat on November 5 and said at that time that the ABA president was going ahead with his keynote. “He believes he can make more of a difference speaking out at the conference in opposition to the anti-LGBT statutes,” Hoylman said. “I told him I strongly disagreed and that it was morally and strategically wrong to do so and that he should not do so as president of the ABA, which has a sterling record of support for LGBT causes in recent years.” The ABA authored an amicus brief in support of Edie Windsor’s successful challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act at the Supreme Court.
“I told him that if he withdrew in his capacity as president of ABA it would send message to the Russian Federation that there are big repercussions in the international investment community as a result of the anti-LGBT laws,” Hoylman said. “It is as it was during the apartheid years. Companies that professed constructive engagement made a healthy profit when they should have joined international boycotts. History has proven that Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan were wrong” in their opposition to divestment from apartheid South Africa.
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UPPER WEST SIDE — Animal advocates are asking Gov. Andrew Cuomo to put his paws to a bill that would move the state closer to abolishing the “puppy mills” they say are breeding dogs in inhumane conditions.
The bill, sponsored by Upper West Side Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal, would hand back local control of regulating pet stores and breeding facilities to cities and towns.
“Backyard breeding has exploded,” and state health inspectors can’t keep up, said Bill Ketzer, the senior state legislative director for the ASPCA, at a City Hall press conference Friday. He could not provide specifics on the number of puppy mills his group has dealt with.
With home rule, if the state approves the measure, the City Council could pass legislation that Rosenthal hopes would ban the sale of puppies from disreputable sellers.
The assemblywoman said she has received interest from local councilmembers in sponsoring anti-puppy mill legislation if Cuomo signs her bill into law and reverts animal-welfare regulation back to municipalities.
“Puppy mills are large-scale commercial breeders who operate outside of the law,” said Rosenthal, describing their “filthy, cramped conditions.”
At the mills, dogs are “forced to give birth to litter after litter,” and there’s rampant inbreeding, she added.
The mass production and poor conditions lead to medical problems, added Dr. Andy Kaplan, an Upper West Side vet.
“[Local pet stores] hide the diseases and behavior problems behind cute faces,” he said.
After new owners get their puppies home, they often realize that they have genetic problems from inbreeding or diseases like ringworm or mange from living in bad conditions, Kaplan said.
Unable to handle the medical costs associated with a sick dog or one with genetic issues, owners then send the dogs to shelters where they may be euthanized, he said.
“What’s in the window may not always be what happens downstairs or upstate,” said State Sen. Brad Hoylman, who supports the bill. The measure has already been approved by the Senate.
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As T&V recently reported, I had the honor of giving the keynote address at the Eighth Annual West Side Tenants’ Conference. The event may have had “West Side” in its name, but my remarks were just as applicable to tenants from the East Side, or anywhere else in the city for that matter.
I spoke broadly about the challenges tenants and their advocates face in Albany, where Republican State Senators from far flung parts of the state, with weak housing markets and no need for emergency tenant protections, have control over housing legislation. I noted that most members of the Senate Majority Coalition do not have any rent-regulated tenants in their districts, and yet their campaign committees cash big checks from the real estate industry. That’s why the only way to put tenants on a level playing field and get our priority bills – from vacancy control to MCI reform to restoring home rule over our city’s housing laws – through the Senate is to make Campaign Finance Reform the first bill on the tenants’ agenda.
Taking the money out of politics is absolutely critical, but so is changing the prevailing narrative around rent regulations. We need to fight back against landlords’ domination of the conversation and go on the offensive with the facts.
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BY ANDY HUMM | NYC and Company, the quasi-governmental agency that promotes tourism to the city from all over the world, is closing its office in Moscow in large part due to the anti-gay laws in Russia that have sparked violence against LGBT people and those perceived to be gay.
Chris Heywood, senior vice-president for communications for NYC and Company, told Gay City News that the anti-gay laws and rising anti-gay violence “prevented us from sending our tourism sales staff into the [Russian] market. We do have LGBT staff.”
He added that other factors were at play in the decision as well.
The announcement of the closing of the Moscow office for NYC and Company, one of 18 around the world, was made by the group’s CEO, George Fertitta, at a Crain’s New York Business forum on tourism on September 25 at John Jay College. According to a source who was present, Fertitta explained that the main reason he was taking the action was because of the anti-gay laws, but the story was not picked up or announced in a press release.
Heywood set up a phone interview for Gay City News with Fertitta for October 7, but later e-mailed that Fertitta had to cancel because of a meeting he had at City Hall. “His schedule is not good for the rest of the week either,” Heywood wrote.
Heywood explained there were multiple reasons why NYC and Company was closing its Russian office, which he said was not a “bricks and mortar” location but a relationship with AVIAREPS, an international tourism representation firm with an office in Moscow. He said the relationship would end on January 1, but the Moscow listing is already gone from the NYC and Company website’s listing of foreign offices.
State Senator Brad Hoylman, a gay Democrat from the West Side, said of the closing of the Russian outlet, “I think that’s a prudent move by NYC and Company given the hostile climate.” He has joined Assemblyman Daniel O’Donnell, another gay West Side Democrat, in urging State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli to divest New York’s Common Retirement Fund of its assets in companies incorporated in the Russian Federation to protest the country’s new anti-gay laws that essentially make it a crime against children to be open about being gay. Russia has also banned adoption by those from countries that recognize same-sex marriages and is moving on legislation to take children away from Russian parents who are gay or lesbian.
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Lawmakers joined labor and business leaders Tuesday to protest against a rezoning plan that would affect a broad area around Grand Central Terminal.
As 1010 WINS’ Stan Brooks reported, the Department of City Planning proposed the rezoning of the 73-block area, with the idea in mind of ensuring “the area’s future as a world-class business district and major job generator for New York City.”
The plan includes incentives to promote the instruction of “a handful of new, state-of-the-art commercial buildings” in the years to come, and claims the existing buildings – which are an average of more than 70 years old – do not meet the needs of corporate tenants.
But state Sens. Brad Hoylman (D-Manhattan) and Liz Krueger (D-Manhattan) said the city needs to slow down and get it right. They joined union leaders, advocacy experts, and representatives from Manhattan community boards 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8 to protest the current plan.
BY LINCOLN ANDERSON | SOB’s stands for Sounds of Brazil. But last Thurs., Sept. 12, the sound of gunfire broke out inside the well-known Hudson Square music club, at Varick and Houston Sts. Four people were wounded in the incident, which sparked a chaotic, mad rush for the exit by frightened clubgoers, during which some were trampled and left with cuts.
The shots, reportedly from a single gunman, broke out around 12:15 a.m. right before the rapper Fat Trel was set to take the stage to perform cuts from his new mixtape, “SDMG” (Sex, Drugs, Money, Guns).
According to police, four people suffered nonfatal bullet wounds. The Daily News reported that two individuals were taken by ambulance to Beth Israel Medical Center, both with leg wounds, and that two others suffered graze wounds.
Witnesses told the News the shooting occurred near the bar. The gunman reportedly fled the scene in a black car.
No arrests had been made as of this past Tuesday evening.
In the wake of the shooting, Robin and Larry Gold, the club’s owners, released a statement, which was posted on Complex, a style, music and sneakers Web site.
“For 32 years, we here at SOB’s have prided ourselves on creating a safe and fun environment for visitors to enjoy good food and some of the best live music in New York and the world over. “The SOB’s family, along with its internationally acclaimed artists and devoted fans, has peacefully and gratefully celebrated diverse cultures and the music that unites us through its transcendent language for many years. This incident was unprecedented in the long history of SOB’s. We are assisting the police in every way possible to bring this person to justice. Nothing is more important to SOB’s than the safety and well being of our customers. This is a home of peace, respect and positive vibes and we here at SOB’s vow to keep it that way.”
State Senator Brad Hoylman condemned the gun violence inside the Hudson Square club and said the incident demonstrates the need for state microstamping legislation.
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Forty-eight states still allow mental health professionals to inflict cruel and unusual punishment on homosexual minors through gay conversion therapy.
Only California and New Jersey have taken steps to protect gay and lesbian youths — populations hard-pressed to protect themselves — from such “therapy.
A federal court in San Francisco ruled in late August that a California law prohibiting gay conversion therapy for minors doesn’t violate the First Amendment rights of parents or mental health professionals.
The opinion came little more than a week after New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie signed a similar law, banning state-licensed counselors, therapists and social workers from the practice. The statutes don’t extend to unlicensed individuals such as religious leaders, allowing them to continue such programs.
Therapists opposing the laws argue that they trample on First Amendment rights. And supportive parents charge that government shouldn’t infringe on their ability to choose the best treatment for their children.
But calling something as absurd as gay conversion therapy “treatment” isn’t just bending the truth, it’s a ludicrous fallacy. The American Psychological Association has found “sexual orientation change efforts” to be ineffective. More troubling is the long list of possible adverse effects: helplessness, self-hatred, loss of faith, substance abuse, high-risk sexual behavior and suicide, among others. Parents who refuse to accept a child’s sexuality effectively force these dangers on to gay and lesbian kids who are already at a higher-than-average risk of anxiety and depression.
Many people, myself included, find it easy to laugh at folks who believe homosexuality can be “cured” through counseling or prayer. But we shouldn’t. Some parents force children into “therapy” simply because they are who they are. Teenagers have enough insecurities already. Trying to brainwash them that a foundational piece of their identity is sick and twisted arguably amounts to psychological child abuse.
That may not sound as ugly as a physical beating, for example, but depression is a chronic disorder — unlike homosexuality. And it can haunt someone for life.
New York State Sen. Brad Hoylman (D-Manhattan) introduced a bill in April that would prevent mental health professionals from trying to change minors’ sexual orientations.
It also includes specific provisions separating potentially harmful conversion therapy from therapies aiming to support children in accepting their own identity. That’s crucial. Lawmakers should pass the legislation upon their return to Albany. This has nothing to do with politics; it’s a question of right and wrong.
If you’re a gay or lesbian adult and want to try to magically turn straight, knock yourself out. But bigoted parents need to ask themselves how they would respond to being forced into therapy for being straight. I, for one, would fight like hell against “treatment” aiming to turn me gay. I don’t loathe the idea of being a homosexual, but I do loathe the idea of not being myself.
ALBANY – Three New York lawmakers are using the controversy over a New Jersey law banning teen anti-gay therapy to push similar legislation in New York.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie made national news this week when he signed a bill abolishing the therapy that attempts to turn gay teens straight.
Now, State Sens. Brad Hoylman (D-Manhattan), Michael Gianaris (D-Queens) and Assemblywoman Deborah Glick say New York pols should swiftly pass a similar bill they introduced earlier this year that stalled in Albany.
“Conversion therapy is among the worst frauds in history and has been discredited by the American Psychological Association and other … leading mental health organizations,” said Hoylman, the state’s only openly gay senator.
The New York bill would bar mental health providers from trying to change the sexual orientation of anyone under the age of 18.
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A report from Sen. Brad Hoylman released today on the state’s anti-hate crimes legislation that calls for the comptroller to audit law enforcement to ensure proper reporting and training is being made available.
Hoylman, an openly gay member of the Senate who replaced the now-retired Sen. Tom Duane this year, started an investigation of the strength of the law after a spate of crimes committed that may have been motivated by the victims being LGBT.
The report calls on Comptroller Tom DiNapoli’s office to oversee how police agenices are reporting hate crimes and whether they are effectively training officers to identify and respond to crimes inspired by bias.
Despite its modest size, the Lever House, a slim, blue-green glass tower that seems to hover over Park Avenue, created a sensation when it opened in 1952 as a modernist symbol of corporate America.
Six decades later, the 21-story office building, which commands some of the highest rents in Manhattan, is a potential windfall beneficiary of the Bloomberg administration’s plan to allow bigger, taller new skyscrapers in the area surrounding Grand Central Terminal.
The fate of Lever House and the city’s proposal, which has generated support from many in the real estate industry and criticism from community groups as it moves through the approval process, illustrate how arcane zoning changes can not only reshape the city’s skyline but enrich lucky property owners.
In the administration’s latest proposal, historic landmarks like Lever House, as well as St. Patrick’s Cathedral and St. Bartholomew’s Church, would be able to sell and transfer their unused development rights to an expanded swath of development sites so that other builders can erect taller towers than would otherwise be allowed. The reason given is that the extra money would allow the owners of landmarks, which cannot be demolished, to pay for the preservation of the aging structures. But unlike St. Patrick’s or St. Bart’s, the estimated $75 million in proceeds from the sale of development rights from Lever House would not go back into the building.
The money instead would go to the private landowner, the Korein family, whose portfolio of valuable properties stretches across Manhattan, from 120 Broadway downtown to the Delmonico Hotel on Park Avenue at 59th Street.
The Korein family, the Archdiocese of New York and the Real Estate Board of New York were thrilled that the Bloomberg administration included the landmarks in their plan. But critics like State Senator Brad Hoylman contend the situation at Lever House is an example of “the slapdash nature of the proposal.”
“This exception undermines the intention of the air rights transfers for historic properties,” Mr. Hoylman said. “The beneficiaries in this case don’t have an obligation to invest the proceeds in the preservation of the landmark.”
A jubilant Brad Hoylman entered his fundraiser with his face flushed and pep in his step. Though suits were everywhere, the freshman state senator arrived with his shirt open and casually dressed in khakis, his daughter and husband in tow, looking completely at home, confident he was among friends.
He had come from the June 26 rally at the Stonewall bar celebrating the US Supreme Court decision driving a stake into the Defense of Marriage Act, the law prohibiting the federal government from recognizing married gay couples or offering the associated benefits to them.
Clearly the rally was the high point of his day but he hugged his daughter, introduced his “partner, oops” he said shaking his head, “my husband.” Like his predecessor, Tom Duane, Hoylman brings a much needed confidently gay perspective to the State Senate. The Supreme Court decision was personal — it brought justice to both his community and his family. His husband, David Sigal, was equally elated, and they had brought their young daughter, Silvia Hoylman-Sigal, to both the rally and to the fundraiser. The personal and the political intertwine in their lives.
Having just completed his first session in the State Senate, the West Side Democrat appears to have the makings of an influential legislator. Clearly he has a broad vision of the public interest. He acted promptly to stop the spread of meningitis among gay men, shepherding legislation permitting pharmacists to offer meningitis vaccinations, a bill strongly supported by Dr. Thomas A. Farley, the city’s health commissioner, and Chelsea’s Dick Gottfried, the long-time chair of the Assembly Health Committee. This legislation improves health care access for sexually active gay and bisexual men who are at highest risk for contracting meningitis.
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Amtrak’s Ethan Allen services will begin accommodating bicycles on board in a demonstration program later this month, U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer said Tuesday. But an Amtrak spokesman cautioned that the program was only a pilot and is not yet available to the general public.
The demonstration project follows a push by state Sens. Betty Little and Brad Hoylman, as well as Schumer, to allow passengers to take their bicycles with them to destinations throughout the Hudson Valley, Adirondacks and Vermont.
Amtrak already has a “Bring Your Bicycle On Board” program on trains serving Maine, North Carolina and California. Amtrak will use specially fitted cafe cars that can carry the bicycles and their riders on the Ethan Allen.
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CHELSEA — Enraged Fulton Houses residents and elected officials demanded a developer scrap plans that would bulldoze two children’s play areas and turn the area into a parking lot.
At a raucous Wednesday night meeting at the Fulton Houses’ Community Center, more than 100 people railed against representatives of developer Artimus Construction, demanding they withdraw the proposal from the City Planning Department’s rezoning process.
Both the developer and the Department of Housing Preservation and Development, which is funding the project, refused to do so.
“The notion that a playground would be demolished for a parking lot is so appalling it defies credibility,” state Sen. Brad Hoylman said to a loud applause.
“The fact that it was even an idea is such an insult to all these good people here.”
Let’s be frank: Tenants in New York are getting a raw deal. Despite the continuing toll of the recent economic recession on average New Yorkers and clear evidence that landlord profits continue to surge, the New York City Rent Guidelines Board (RGB) voted on June 20 to approve rent increases of 4 percent for one year lease renewals and 7.75 percent for two year lease renewals for rent stabilized apartments.
These increases are not easy to absorb for most of our city’s 1.3 million rent regulated tenants. According to data in the RGB’s own “2013 Income and Affordability Study,” the median income of rent-controlled households was $28,000 and the median income of households in rent-stabilized units was $37,000. Moreover, housing costs constitute a huge percentage of these tenants’ income. Housing is considered “affordable” for a household when it constitutes no more than 30 percent of its total income. The same RGB study found that slightly more than one-third of renter households in the City paid 50 percent or more of their household income for gross rent in 2011, the highest ratio in the history of the study. This means a third of New York’s renters were already cutting back in other areas of their lives, like healthcare, food and other necessities, to meet the rent. More than 68 percent of New Yorkers rent their apartments, and we, as a city, are slowly slipping behind on our ability to afford our own homes. Rent increases are simply outpacing New Yorkers’ ability to pay them.
The State Legislature has passed a bill permitting pharmacists to give meningitis vaccinations, a measure aimed at a deadly outbreak among gay and bisexual men in New York City.
The bill, which lawmakers approved Thursday, would add the meningitis vaccination to a short list of vaccinations that pharmacists in the state may administer. Others include vaccinations for the flu, pneumonia and acute herpes zoster.
A new strain of bacterial meningitis has been infecting gay and bisexual men in recent years. Its fatality rate — one in three people, compared with the one in five who succumb to other strains — has alarmed health officials and led to a higher than usual demand for vaccinations.
The city health commissioner, Dr. Thomas A. Farley, was among those pushing for the legislation.
State Senator Brad Hoylman, a Democrat who represents Chelsea, Greenwich Village and Clinton, which have significant numbers of gay residents, said he had introduced the bill after hearing of gay men who had not been able to easily get the vaccine.
“Doctors don’t routinely stock the meningitis vaccine,” Mr. Hoylman said Friday.
Demetrios Papanakios, a staff pharmacist at New London Pharmacy in Chelsea, said about three or four gay men a day were coming in with prescriptions for the vaccine and taking it back to their doctors to be administered.
“Before that we got one every 10 months,” Mr. Papanakios said.
Without insurance, the cost of the vaccine, $165, can be prohibitive, Mr. Papanakios said. After some men reported difficulty getting vaccinations covered by insurance, the state superintendent of financial services, Benjamin M. Lawsky, sent out a letter in April telling health providers that under New York law, “health insurance plans must cover such immunizations.”
Mr. Hoylman, who is gay, said he also was trying to reach men who did not have regular medical providers or who did not want to tell their doctors that they were gay. Black men in Brooklyn who frequent gay clubs, parties and online meeting sites but who are not openly gay have been most affected by the outbreak, according to the city health department.
There have been 22 known cases of bacterial meningitis among gay men in New York City since 2010, seven of them fatal, and the rate of infection seemed to rise last fall and early this year, according to department data.
There have been no new confirmed cases since February. But city health officials are worried that there could be a further outbreak during the annual Gay Pride celebration in New York City over three days starting Friday, which as many as one million people are expected to attend.
Still, if signed by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, the law will take effect 90 days later, too late for Gay Pride this year. As of June 17, an estimated 13,574 people had been vaccinated as a result of the current outbreak, according to the health department.
The bacteria are carried in the nose and mouth and can be spread through close contact like kissing and sharing a glass. People have mistaken the symptoms for the flu and died without seeking medical care.
Rash of anti-gay violence in the City prompts senate hearing to assess efficacy of hate crimes law and rehabilitative options
Former senator Tom Duane sat before elected officials and members of the community at a senate forum and talked about the time in 1983 when he was brutally beaten outside a bar because of his sexual orientation.
“It was a matter of life or death,” said Duane. “A few weeks later I called the [District Attorney] and the police department which took the report and asked when the trial was and they told me it had been adjudicated—classified as a misdemeanor.”
“I had no chance to even see the perpetrators in the light of day,” said Duane. “There was no interaction with law enforcement, there was no organization in that area. It was as if it never happened.”
Despite successes for the LGBT community in recent years, bias-motivated acts targeting members of this community have not declined. While many members of the larger community may like to believe these incidents are isolated acts of vitriol, Duane sat before State Senator Brad Hoylman and his colleagues and told them that’s simply not the case. The real problem is a lack of education, he said, and it extends everywhere, from a faulty educational system to ignorance in the State Senate itself.
There have been some drastic social and legal changes since Duane was attacked in 1983, but much—including public attitudes and failures in data collection—remains the same, as a recent spate of hate crimes in the City this year has demonstrated.
“I had no chance to even see the perpetrators in the light of day,” said Duane. “There was no interaction with law enforcement, there was no organization in that area. It was as if it never happened.”
Despite successes for the LGBT community in recent years, bias-motivated acts targeting members of this community have not declined. While many members of the larger community may like to believe these incidents are isolated acts of vitriol, Duane sat before State Senator Brad Hoylman and his colleagues and told them that’s simply not the case. The real problem is a lack of education, he said, and it extends everywhere, from a faulty educational system to ignorance in the State Senate itself.
There have been some drastic social and legal changes since Duane was attacked in 1983, but much—including public attitudes and failures in data collection—remains the same, as a recent spate of hate crimes in the City this year has demonstrated.
Hoylman convened the senate hearing with a number of witnesses from relevant organizations to address what he and others feel is a very serious issue.
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“We are appalled by the account in the Washington Post of Anthony Weiner’s unacceptable response to a prospective voter’s homophobic, misogynistic slur in reference to Christine Quinn.
“According to the reporter, Weiner at first ignored the slur. Then, after noticing the reporter, Weiner told the voter she ‘really shouldn’t talk that way about people.’ Finally, after the voter apologized, Weiner said, ‘It’s okay. It’s not your fault.’
“Weiner’s response to this blatant display of homophobia is completely inappropriate and extremely alarming. There is nothing ‘okay’ about homophobia and it’s never ‘okay’ to condone bias-based slurs or hate speech of any kind.
RENSSELAER, N.Y. — New York lawmakers are pushing Amtrak to add baggage cars to its passenger trains that would be capable of carrying bicycles.
U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer and state Sens. Betty Little of Warren County and Brad Hoylman of Manhattan say such a move would get more visitors and tourism dollars into New York state.
They’re holding a news conference Monday morning at Amtrak’s Albany-Rensselaer (rehn-suh-LEER’) to discuss their plan.
The lawmakers want Amtrak to add baggage cars that could carry bicycles on the Adirondack and Ethan Allen trains, which run from Penn Station in Manhattan to the Albany area, Saratoga and destinations in New York’s North Country and Vermont.
Amtrak has a bike program on its Boston-to-Maine and New York-to-North Carolina lines. In California, the program is so popular that Amtrak requires reservations.
Here’s the full version of my story that ran in today’s paper:
In the wake of a recent spate of attacks on gays in Manhattan, a state senator plans to hold a public forum on the effectiveness of the state’s 13-year-old hate crimes law.
Sen. Brad Hoylman, (D-Manhattan) plans the forum for June 14 in the city.
Hoylman, the ranking minority member on the Senate Investigations Committee, is the chamber’s only openly gay legislator.
“I believe it’s time to put the law under the microscope and see how effective it’s been,” Hoylman told the Daily News. “Certainly the rash of anti-(Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered) violence in the last month is the impetus.”
Sen. Brad Hoylman, who like his predecessor Tom Duane is the only openly gay lawmaker in the chamber, says the governing body of the Boy Scouts of America needs to go beyond lifting its blanket ban on gay Scouts and scrap its continued ban on gay or lesbian adult Scout leaders.
Hoylman, a Manhattan Democrat, has introduced a bill that would deny tax-exempt status “to any organization that discriminates against any person, group, organization or other entity based on sexual orientation or gender identity or expression.”
Before you ask: Because of the use of the standard phrase “notwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary,” the bill would not affect religious organizations.
Here’s Hoylman’s statement:
“Yesterday, the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) formally revised its membership standards, ending the organization’s ban on gay youths, but maintaining its exclusion of gay and lesbian adult leaders.
“As the only openly-gay New York State Senator, a parent and a former Eagle Scout (Troop 70, Lewisburg, WV), I am outraged that the BSA has maintained its ban on gay adult leaders. This policy represents rank discrimination by the organization against LGBT people and is extremely painful to families like mine.
It’s inconceivable that an organization that aims to prepare the next generation of leaders would allow gay youth to join their program, but deny them the opportunity to lead scout troops once adults.
Moreover, this stigma is hurtful to young people, reinforcing and legitimizing the bullying and alienation of our children that has led to tragic consequences, including violence against members of the LGBT community.
I strongly believe that the BSA is obliged by the Constitution of the United States, longstanding state and local anti-discrimination laws and the Scout Law itself to categorically end its policy of bigotry toward gays and lesbians.
To that end, I have introduced legislation (S.5170) that would deny tax-exempt status to all youth groups that discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or other defining characteristics. It has been more than ten years since New York State enacted the Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act (SONDA), and it’s long past time for the BSA to comply and remove all barriers to participation based on sexual orientation.”
This weekend, an openly gay man was shot to death after a confrontation in Greenwich Village Friday in what police commissioner Ray Kelly is calling a hate crime. According to New York state Senator Brad Hoylman of Manhattan, whose district includes Greenwich Village, the incident was at least the fifth instance of anti-gay violence in Manhattan this month.
Pickus: You’ve tracked this spate of what you see as discriminatory crime in recent weeks, and I’m wondering what you’re doing in your role as senator to combat that.
Hoylman: Well, let me just say I want to thank the hate crime task force of the NYPD and the entire police force for acting decisively and swiftly and apprehending the suspects and investigating the crimes. What we are doing today is holding a march in Manhattan starting at 5:30 outside the LGBT center in Greenwich Village and concluding with a rally at 6. Part of the issue, Ian, is to raise awareness among our straight allies, but also among people who might have been victims; that they need to speak out, they need to let the hate crimes task force and the NYPD know that they’ve been assaulted or targeted as a victim of a hate crime.
Pickus: You know, I think people were kind of shocked; many pointing out that the site of this crime was only a few blocks from Stonewall, and with the state having passed same-sex marriage a couple years back, it seemed like maybe we were past this. I wonder, as the state’s only openly gay senator, have you ever faced anything like this in these neighborhoods?
Hoylman: I’ve never faced anything like what occurred over the last few weeks in Manhattan. Certainly, my husband and I, over the years we have had our own share of incidents when we’ve held hands but, you know, it happens. But, you can’t be complacent about it. And I do worry that our community might not be as vigilant as we should be. We still don’t have a human rights law for transgendered New Yorkers in New York state. We still have a rising problem of homeless LGBT youth in Manhattan and across the state, and social services have been cut dramatically, which is hurting our ability to help those young people. So, it’s really incumbent upon all of us in the community to stay vigilant, to continue to fight for our rights, and to make certain that these kinds of crime get the attention they deserve from the public.
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It’s not yet legal in New York, but it could be soon — and professional cage fighting, or Mixed Martial Arts, is already big business across the country. In 2011, the sport’s leading promoter, Ultimate Fighting Championship, signed an estimated $700 million contract with Fox to broadcast MMA matches.
Using numbers like this one — and the immense popularity of the sport among those who would pay a pretty penny to see it in person — industry advocates claim that MMA events would generate at least $100 million across the state, providing a boost to the five boroughs, not to mention struggling upstate economies.
So, the argument goes: Why not just go ahead and legalize professional MMA?
There are many serious concerns about cage fighting, including its glorification of violence, that are beyond economic analysis. But one problem that can be quantified is also among the least discussed: the long-term health impact of MMA on pro fighters.
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Discrimination against transgender people is costing New York millions, according to a new report.
The study, released yesterday by the UCLA’s Williams Institute, says that housing and employment discrimination cost the state millions of dollars as people lean on public assistance instead.
According to the study, workplace discrimination could cost the state about $7 million each year.
The report estimates about 58,000 New Yorkers are transgender and said 59 percent are covered under local anti-discrimination statutes.
But that leaves about 23,800 people unprotected, according to the study.
“It shocks the conscience that nearly 24,000 New Yorkers can be fired from their jobs or be evicted from their homes merely because of their gender identity or expression,” state senator Brad Hoylman said today.
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Manhattan legislators want to make the Housing Authority dramatically increase public input into its plan to lease land for luxury housing. The officials filed a bill requiring NYCHA — which they charge has been secretive in pushing the proposal — to face the same tough scrutiny ordinary developers endure, the Daily News has learned.
NYCHA has been aggressively pushing its plan to lease land in eight Manhattan developments to build 4,300 apartments, most of them market rate.
The plan would raise $46 million annually.
But critics question why public land should be leased for private developments that include 80% market rate and 20% affordable apartments at a time when the city needs cheaper housing.
NYCHA, a public authority run by mayoral appointees, is not currently subject to the strict scrutiny other city agencies and ordinary developers face.
On Friday, Sen. Brad Hoylman and Assemblymen Brian Kavanagh and Keith Wright filed a bill that would make NYCHA obtain more public comment from tenants and surrounding communities.
Under the bill, NYCHA would also need city Planning Commission and City Council approval for its plan.
Hoylman said increased scrutiny is crucial because of NYCHA’s secretiveness: “They’ve been confusing and dismissive.”
Wright, chairman of the Housing Committee, said NYCHA appears to be “trying to ram [the plan] through in the remaining days of the Bloomberg administration.”
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