Letter to the editor, Oct. 31

Oct31 Toon Biden Only Choice

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Rudy will rise again

Re: “The Fall of Rudy,” Opinion, Assemblymember Steven Sanders, T&V, Oct. 17

Thank you for the elucidating column on Rudy Guliani’s supposed fall from grace. I am confident, given his political skill, that he can recover and regroup. After all, look at what Al Sharpton was able to accomplish in the wake of the Tawana Brawley scam. Unfortunately for Rudy, he does not have political correctness on his side. Nevertheless, he will always be credited with the monumental task of having cleaned up the city after it had slipped into gross decrepitude from the previous administration.

Jean Falzon
Stuyvesant Town

Police Watch: Men arrested for separate robberies at Albano Playground, Second Ave.

MAN ARRESTED FOR ROBBERY AT ALBANO PLAYGROUND
Police arrested 27-year-old Francis Kareem for an alleged robbery that took place in Albano Playground at East 29th Street and Second Avenue last month.
A man told police that he left a bar across the street from the playground on September 21 while he was extremely drunk. He said that he had no recollection of what happened after he walked out of the bar but he said that he woke up inside the playground with a bloody nose and realized later that he had been robbed sometime between 4 and 7 a.m., and his keys and wallet were missing.
Francis was arrested for the alleged robbery inside the 13th precinct on Thursday, October 24 at 9 a.m. and was also charged with grand larceny. Police had no further information about what connected Francis to this incident.

MAN NABBED FOR SECOND AVE. ROBBERY
Police arrested 35-year-old Douglas Coward for an alleged robbery in front of 489 Second Avenue on Friday, October 25 at 9:31 p.m. The victim told police that Coward walked up to him and punched him in the face, causing him to fall to the ground and hit his head. The victim said that after he fell, Coward went through his pockets and took his property without permission. Shortly after the incident, the victim searched the area with officers and Coward was arrested nearby.

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Opinion: Rethink the approach to help small businesses

By Carlina Rivera and Jennifer Sun

When Tamika Gabaroum decided she finally wanted to open her restaurant, Green Garden in the East Village, she understood it wouldn’t be an easy task. But Tamika, a former public health advocate with the Peace Corps who served in UN Peacekeeping Missions in the Democratic Republic of Congo, was used to a challenge. What she couldn’t expect was her landlord, Raphael Toledano, disappearing months after signing her lease, and a new landlord arriving with demands of higher rent. And she could have never guessed that Toledano had harassed the previous long-time tenants out of their stores as well.

The challenges facing Tamika and other small business owners in New York City are well known. Rising commercial rents, competition from corporate franchises, and the growth of online shopping have forced an alarming number of mom and pop stores to close their doors.

In many community districts, vacant storefronts have become a common sight, turning once-thriving retail corridors into ghost towns. When a small business closes, it is not only a loss for their neighborhood’s local economy, but also for its vibrancy and character.

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Nadler, Engel and Maloney

By former Assemblymember Steven Sanders

They sound like partners of a law firm… but in truth they are the firmament of law.

New York has taken center stage in the rapidly expanding impeachment inquiry of President Donald J. Trump.

Three of the key players in Congress are New Yorkers and one is our very own.

I am speaking of Manhattan Congressman Jerry Nadler who is chair of the House Judiciary Committee, Bronx Congressman Eliot Engel who chairs the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and our very own Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, who just last week assumed the post of interim chair of the House Committee on Oversight following the sudden passing of Elijah Cummings.

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M14 zooming across 14th

The MTA said that ridership has increased and speeds have decreased on the M14A/D-SBS. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

The MTA announced last Friday that the newly-implemented 14th Street busway has increased ridership on the M14A/D-SBS by 17% on weekdays and up to 37% on weekends and travel time on the route has decreased significantly.

“Our Fast Forward Plan promised improved service to bus riders and that’s exactly what we are delivering,” MTA NYC Transit President Andy Byford said. “The new bus priority measures and Select Bus Service on 14th Street are producing tangible benefits, and it’s great to see riders flocking back to the route.”

Preliminary data for the period after the busway was implemented found that a trip between Third and Eighth Avenues in either direction between 6 a.m. and 7 p.m. took 10.6 minutes, while the same trip on the M14 took an average of 15.1 minutes in September 2018.

Other performance data on the route has also improved, the MTA said, with improvements on how evenly buses are spaced. This measurement, called a “wait assessment,” improved from 71% in September 2018 to 86% in October 2019. On-time performance also increased from 45.6% in September 2018 to 68% after the busway was implemented.

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Mount Sinai criticized on lack of public notice, closure of maternity services at forum

Mount Sinai Chief of Ambulatory Care Kelly Cassano, VP and Chief of Strategy for Behavioral Health Sabina Lim and Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer of the Mount Sinai Health System Jeremy Boal addressed questions at the public hearing held at Baruch last Wednesday. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Residents and local elected officials at a sparsely attended public hearing on Mount Sinai Beth Israel’s downsizing plan last Wednesday slammed the hospital system for the lack of notice about public meetings on the project and the elimination of the maternity ward at the facility.

The $1 billion project from Mount Sinai includes a new hospital facility at East 14th Street and Second Avenue to replace the Beth Israel Hospital on First Avenue, which is expected to open in 2022.

While Mount Sinai Corporate Director of Community Affairs Brad Korn attributed the low attendance at the event to the soggy weather because a nor’easter was moving through the city in the midst of Wednesday’s evening commute, Epstein argued that it had more to do with lack of notice to residents in the neighborhood, or that even if attendance was affected by weather, the outreach was insufficient regardless.

Korn said that Mount Sinai publicized the most recent hearing, which was held at Baruch College, by sending the flyer out through the local community boards and the working group with the Borough President’s office, and Epstein argued that wasn’t enough.

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Week In Review: October 24

Andres Pazmino from Chelsea/Greenwich Village Chamber of Commerce, Anwar Khoder from Li-Lac Chocolates, State Senator Brad Hoylman, Assembly Member Deborah J. Glick and Christopher Taylor from Li-Lac Chocolates at the award ceremony over the weekend.

State Senator Brad Hoylman celebrated the opening of Li-Lac Chocolate’s sixth location at Greenwich Avenue and Seventh Avenue on Saturday. At a weekend ceremony, Hoylman presented Li-Lac Chocolates with the New York Senate Empire Award to honor this local small business. The Empire Award is the New York State Senate’s highest award for local businesses, honoring them for excellence and community involvement. Li-Lac Chocolates was given this award in recognition as Manhattan’s oldest chocolate house, and for making their community a sweeter place to live. At the award presentation on Saturday, October 19, Hoylman was joined by Assembly Member Deborah J. Glick; Erik Bottcher, Chief of Staff to City Council Speaker Corey Johnson; Anthony Cirone, Anwar Khoder and Christopher Taylor.

“Small businesses are the lifeblood of our neighborhoods,” Hoylman said. “At a time when multinational corporations and big landlords are making it difficult for small businesses to survive, it’s wonderful to see this local Greenwich Village small business thriving. I’m proud to present Li-Lac Chocolates with the New York Senate Empire Business Award to honor their years of success and sixth location. What could be sweeter than that?”

In response to the increased use of “smart key” systems in residential buildings throughout New York City, City Councilmember Mark Levine introduced legislation in the City Council last Thursday to prevent landlords from improperly using personal data collected by these systems to harass or evict tenants or to monitor their individual apartments. In recent years residential landlords in the city have increasingly been replacing traditional key locks with new keyless access to buildings – often referred to as “smart access systems.” These new entry systems replace physical keys with several new technological components like biometrics identifiers (i.e. fingerprints, eye scans, facial recognition technology), smartphone apps, and personalized key fobs. The ability of “smart access systems” to collect a broad range of personal data on tenants and their apartments has created serious concerns over where these systems can be used, what data can be collected, and who has access to that data.

“With the rapid conversion to electronic access in residential buildings across New York City, we have to make sure tenants are safeguarded from landlords who may try to use the information collected by these systems to harass or evict tenants from their homes,” Levine said. “Most renters in the city are probably unaware that every time they use a keyless access system in their building or in their apartment that information is electronically logged and can be seen by their landlords. We need to have strong regulations in place to protect tenants from the misuse of this data by their landlords. Every tenant has the right to know what data is being collected by their landlords and should feel secure that that data cannot be used against them.”

The de Blasio Administration launched a campaign on Monday to educate tenants on their new rights under the Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act of 2019. The ads, designed by The Mayor’s Office to Protect Tenants, give New York City renters the information they need to hold their landlords accountable. The ads will run from October 21 to December 15 and will be displayed in subways, bus shelters, small businesses, Staten Island ferry terminals, community newspapers, Link kiosks and online. The city’s Public Engagement Unit will be going door to door to make sure tenants know about the new protections and how to advocate for themselves.

Tenants across New York City won new protections this summer due to new State legislation. The new laws make it harder for landlords to evict tenants and strengthened protections for New Yorkers living in rent regulated apartments. These laws are enforced by the State’s Division of Homes and Community Renewal (DHCR). These protections include protection from large security deposits, onerous application fees, limits on how rent can increase, and limits how much landlords can charge regulated tenants for building improvements. Anyone with questions about their rights or concerns that they are being illegally harassed can find more information at the Mayor’s Office to Protect Tenants’ new website or by calling 311.

“The State Legislature passed some of the most progressive rent reforms we’ve seen in decades, but if New Yorkers don’t know their rights, it will all be for nothing,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said. “This campaign will arm New Yorkers with the knowledge to fight harassment and stay in their homes.”

State Senator Brad Hoylman praised Governor Cuomo last Thursday for signing legislation to end the double jeopardy loophole and enable requesting Congressional committees to obtain a President’s state tax information. As President Trump continues his abuses of power and conflicts of interest, Senator Hoylman and the New York State Senate are taking action to protect our democracy and constitution against abuses by this and future presidential administrations. Hoylman’s TRUST Act, which allows New York State to share tax return information with Congressional investigations, was passed by the New York State Legislature and signed into law by Governor Cuomo earlier this year. Governor Cuomo signed additional legislation last Wednesday to close the ‘double jeopardy’ loophole and reduce Trump’s power to pardon his corrupt associates; this legislation was advanced by Attorney General Letitia James, sponsored by Senator Todd Kaminsky and co-sponsored by Senator Hoylman.

“Combined with our new law to require Trump hand over his state tax returns to Congress, the new law closing double jeopardy loophole is New York’s ‘one-two punch’ against the lawlessness perpetrated by Donald Trump,” Hoylman said. “While the Trump Administration tramples on the constitution and the rule of law, New York is acting responsibly to hold the president accountable. I’m grateful to Governor Cuomo for signing these important bills into law and to Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Senator Todd Kaminsky for passing this legislation.”

The City Council Subcommittee on Landmarks, Public Sitings and Dispositions and the Committee on Land Use voted last Wednesday to approve the plan to close the jails on Rikers Island and build four new borough-based facilities, and the plan passed at a full vote in City Council last Thursday, culminating a years-long effort propelled by the strong advocacy of the formerly incarcerated to shutter Rikers Island. The vote occurred as Mayor de Blasio, Speaker Johnson and Council leadership agree to a wide-range of investments tied to the closure of Rikers totaling $391 million dollars, including $126 million in previously planned investments and $265 million in new programming that will address the root causes of incarceration and help fundamentally reshape New York City’s criminal justice system going forward. These investments are being announced in detail for the first time today.

“Throughout this process I have stressed the importance of investing in communities most impacted by the criminal justice system,” said City Councilmember Keith Powers, chair of the Criminal Justice Committee. “These targeted, citywide investments further indicate that closing Rikers Island is not only a land-use action, but an urgent moment to overhaul the criminal justice system.”

MTA New York City Transit announced last Thursday that more than 1,500 vehicles have been captured blocking bus lanes on the M15 Select Bus Service route since a new bus-mounted camera enforcement began on Oct. 7. The MTA’s newly implemented forward-facing mobile camera system is part of a multi-agency approach to keep bus lanes clear, speed up rides and prioritize transit on high-volume corridors throughout the city. NYC Transit is using an Automated Bus Lane Enforcement (ABLE) system on 51 buses that travel on the M15 Select Bus Service route, which uses dedicated bus lanes implemented by the New York City Department of Transportation. ABLE camera systems capture evidence such as license plate information, photos and videos, as well location and timestamp information, of vehicles obstructing bus lanes to document clear cases of bus lane violation. The system collects multiple pieces of evidence from multiples buses traveling in the bus lanes to ensure that vehicles making permitted turns from bus lanes are not ticketed. The package of evidence is transmitted to NYCDOT for review and processing, and the program is administered in partnership with NYCDOT and the NYC Department of Finance.

“Under Mayor de Blasio’s Better Buses Action Plan, we have committed to increase citywide bus speeds 25 percent by the end of 2020, and to get there, we will need to step up enforcement to keep vehicles out of the more than 100 miles of dedicated bus lanes we have built around the city,” Department of Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg said. “For years, we had overhead cameras along routes like the M15, but adding enforcement cameras to the buses themselves will help us further keep bus lanes clear, allowing tens of thousands of commuters to keep moving.  And we know that improvement in bus travel times consistently lead to increased ridership. We thank our state elected officials in Albany who successfully pushed for this change as well as NYCT President Andy Byford and the team at the MTA for their partnership as we strengthen this essential enforcement program, serving the New Yorkers who take more than 2 million daily bus trips.”

Halloween events in the neighborhood

Howl-O-Ween will take place in Madison Square Park this Saturday.

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Halloween is still a week away but many local businesses and organizations are already getting in the holiday spirit with events this month. Town & Village has compiled a list of some of the free and/or unique events available in the neighborhood.

Annual Halloween Fall Festival in Stuy Town

StuyTown Property Services is hosting an annual Halloween Fall Festival on Saturday, October 26 from 2 to 5 p.m. on the Oval. This year will include multiple bounce houses for all ages and live music from Ramblin’ Dan’s Freewheelin’ Band. There will also be seasonal crafts, including mini pumpkin painting and scarecrow making, as well as a hay maze and hay rides around the Oval. Popcorn, cotton candy, funnel cakes, and complimentary lemonade and cookies will be available. The rain date for this event is on Sunday, October 27.

Mad. Sq. Dogs: Howl-O-Ween

UPDATE: This event will be held on Saturday, October 26 from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. because of expected rain on Sunday.

The famous Tompkins Square Park dog parade and StuyTown’s costume Dog Days both occurred last weekend, but dog owners have one more chance for a festive Halloween night out in the neighborhood at Madison Square Park on Sunday, October 27 from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. for Howl-o-ween, a festive event for local dogs and their owners. Festivities include trick-or-treat giveaways, family portraits at the photobooth, hydration station and paws-on activities presented by local partners. The event will culminate with a costume paw-rade around the Oval Lawn.

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Garodnick advocates for Ranked Choice Voting

Christopher Marte of Arena, Julie Samuels of Tech NYC, former Councilmember Dan Garodnick and Common Cause executive director Susan Lerner advocated for Ranked Choice Voting earlier this month.

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Former City Councilmember and Peter Cooper resident Dan Garodnick joined nonprofit watchdog group Common Cause and other advocates earlier this month in front of the City Clerk’s Office to push New Yorkers to vote in favor of Ranked Choice Voting during this year’s election.

The current system in New York calls for a runoff election, or a second election, if no candidate received a majority in the first race. Ranked Choice Voting would eliminate the need for a second election, which advocates argued would save the city millions of dollars, especially because turnout is so low in runoff elections.

“The reality here is that so few people vote in these runoffs that they do little for democracy while adding huge unnecessary costs,” Garodnick said. “In 2009 when there was a runoff for both public advocate and city comptroller, New York City taxpayers paid $48.90 per vote, and the turnout was a mere 8% of eligible voters. In 2013, during the runoff election for public advocate, taxpayers were forced to spend an additional $10.4 million for an election with just 7% turnout. That is $51.20 per vote.”

With Ranked Choice Voting, instead of voting for just one candidate, voters will be able to rank their top five candidates in local primary and special elections, although voters will still also be able to vote for just one candidate if they wish.

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Maloney named interim chair of House Oversight and Reform Committee

Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, seen here celebrating the passage of the 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund earlier this year with US Senator Charles Schumer (left) and Congressman Jerrold Nadler (right), has been named interim chair of the House Oversight and Reform Committee. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Democrats have named Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney as the interim chair for the House Oversight and Reform Committee last Thursday following the death of Representative Elijah Cummings, who played an active role in the impeachment inquiry as the committee’s chair.

Maloney is a senior Democrat on the panel and the New York Times noted last week that her appointment as acting chairwoman is in line with House rules. A permanent leader of the committee is expected to be elected at a later time, a senior Democratic leadership aide said.

Local elected officials lauded the news of Maloney’s appointment while paying tribute to Cummings.

“While we all mourn the loss of Congressmember Cummings, I am reassured by Congressmember Maloney’s appointment as interim Chair,” Assemblymember Harvey Epstein said. “Congresswoman Maloney is dedicated to protecting our democracy and I am confident that she will carry out what is necessary to move forward with impeachment inquiries.”

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Girls wanted for East Village, Gramercy robberies

Robbery suspects

The New York City Police Department is asking the public’s assistance identifying two women wanted for questioning in connection to robberies that occurred in the East Village and Gramercy in August.

Police said that on Friday, August 16 around 9 p.m., a 24-year-old female victim was walking in front of 138 East 30th Street, when two girls approached her from behind, removing her cellphone from her hand and punching her face causing swelling and bruising on left eye. The victim started screaming and the suspects then fled on foot westbound on East 30th Street. The victim refused medical attention at the scene.

Around 10:15 p.m. on the same night, a 28-year-old woman told police that she was walking near Third Avenue and East 16th Street when two girls approached her from behind and pushed her on the ground and grabbed her cellphone from her hand. The suspects then fled on foot eastbound on East 16th Street towards Second Avenue. The victim refused medical attention at the scene.

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Police Watch: Man nabbed for assault, Men arrested for assault outside Target

MAN NABBED FOR ASSAULT
Police arrested 29-year-old Maurice Rodriguez for an alleged assault at the corner of Second Avenue and East 14th Street on Tuesday, October 15 at 1:33 a.m. Police said that Rodriguez got into a fight with two other people, punching both of the victims in the face and causing a bloody nose to one person and bruising on the face to the other.

MEN NABBED FOR ASSAULT IN FRONT OF TARGET
Police arrested 37-year-old Ernesto Martinez and 36-year-old Adrian Alvarado for an alleged assault in front of the Target at 512 Second Avenue on Tuesday, October 15 at 5:05 p.m. A victim approached officers in front of the store and told them that he had been assaulted earlier that day by Martinez and Alvarado, who were still in the area. Police searched the area and arrested the two men after they were caught nearby.

WOMAN GROPED AT NYU DORM
Police arrested a 19-year-old man for forcible touching inside the NYU dorm at 25 Union Square West on Sunday, October 20 at 7:52 p.m. The victim told police that the suspect went to her dorm room to discuss a relationship, after which they both went into the staircase and he reportedly groped her. The name of the suspect is being withheld to protect the identity of the victim.

MAN ARRESTED FOR DRUNK DRIVING OUTSIDE PETER COOPER
Police arrested 24-year-old Michael Biron for alleged drunk driving at the corner of East 23rd Street and the FDR on Saturday, October 19 at 2:59 a.m. Police said that Biron was driving north on the FDR service road when he was stopped at a vehicle safety checkpoint that was being conducted at East 23rd Street and the FDR. Once he was stopped, police found that he had a moderate odor of alcohol on his breath, watery eyes and unsteady balance. Biron was charged with intoxicated driving.

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Opinion: The Fall of Rudy

By former Assemblymember Steven Sanders

“Men at some time are masters of their fates; the fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars but in ourselves.” The precipitous fall of Rudolph Giuliani is like something from a Shakespearean drama.

For a moment not so long ago, Rudy Giuliani was viewed as “America’s Mayor.” That title was given in the days and weeks following the attack against the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. During that horrible time, Giuliani used his considerable skills to rally a city wracked with grief and anger. His resolute leadership inspired the nation. It was a defining moment for Rudy. It was short-lived.

It is worth remembering that before the attack, Mayor Giuliani had fallen out of favor with most New Yorkers who had tired of his combative and snarling personality. He could not run for re-election because of term limits but if he could have, the odds were that he would have lost.

So off he went to the world of lobbying, forming his own firm working closely with his business associate the former NYC Police Commissioner Bernie Kerick until Kerick was convicted of corruption and sent to prison. That was an omen of things to come.

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Week in Review: Oct. 17

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and Council Member Carlina Rivera last week announced the publication of the final report on the East Side Coastal Resiliency Project (ESCR) by independent consultant Deltares, hired for the review of the project last month. In her Uniform Land Use Review Process (ULURP) recommendation, Brewer requested an independent environmental expert to review the ESCR Project and prepare comments regarding the City’s Preferred Alternative 4 proposal and the other three alternative designs. The independent review by Deltares was led by Dr. Hans Gehrels.

Among the findings in the report, which studied resiliency in the Alternative 3 and Alternative 4 designs, are: the need for improving transparency and stakeholder engagement; ongoing monitoring for air quality impacts to be made available publicly; release of city documents that provide evidence for the analysis underlying the Final Environmental Impact Statement; further investigation of Interim Flood Protection Measures (IFPM) during the construction period; phased construction for continued use of of portions of the park with additional open space mitigation; and additional clean fill for future flood protection against sea-level rise. The full report can be viewed online.

Parents at PS 116 expressed concern on Monday about the school at 210 East 33rd Street being opened as a voting site by the Board of Elections for early voting for 10 days starting at the end of this month. Parents said that there was no warning about the school being chosen, since the mayor’s office initially proposed high schools and universities but PS 116, an elementary school, was not included on the initial lists. One parent noted that identification is usually required to enter the school building but while it is open for early voting, an unknown number of people will be allowed to enter the school without being checked. 

PS 116 will be the early voting site for Peter Cooper Village residents, where early voting will be available starting on Saturday, October 26 through Sunday, November 3. Early voting for Stuy Town residents will be at the Clinton School for Writers and Artists at 10 East 15th Street.

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New workplace sexual harassment protections now in effect

By Maria Rocha-Buschel 

Governor Andrew Cuomo announced last Friday that new workplace anti-discrimination and sexual harassment protections have gone into effect. Provisions of the new law, which was signed in August, eliminate the restriction that sexual harassment be “severe or pervasive” for it to be legally actionable and prohibit confidentiality agreements in employment discrimination cases. 

The provisions officially went into effect last Friday and make it clear that workplace harassment, including sexual harassment, need not be pervasive or severe for workers to file suit against an employer. The law also expands protections to include all forms of workplace discrimination for domestic workers and all contractors, subcontractors, consultants, vendors or others offering services in the workplace. 

“The ongoing culture of sexual harassment in the workplace is unacceptable and has held employees back for far too long,” Cuomo said. “This critical measure finally ends the absurd legal standard for victims to prove sexual harassment in the workplace and makes it easier for those who have been subjected to this disgusting behavior to bring claims forward. Now it’s time for employers across the state to step up and review their internal policies to ensure their employees are protected from harassment or discrimination and abusers who violate these standards are held accountable.”

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