Lawsuit aims to stop L-pocalypse

Apr5 14th St coalition Schwartz Prentiss

Attorney Arthur Schwartz (pictured with Edith Prentiss, a disabled rights activist) says disabled commuters aren’t being considered, nor are the neighborhoods that will be dealing with chaotic traffic. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

On Tuesday morning, a coalition of neighborhood groups sued in a Manhattan Federal Court in an attempt to stop the planned L train shutdown starting a year from now. The suit accuses the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the city Department of Transportation and the Federal Transportation Administration of ignoring the needs of disabled riders along the L line, and disregarding the communities who’ll be dealing with constant congestion from diesel-spewing buses.

According to the attorney representing the groups, dubbed “the 14th Street Coalition,” Arthur Schwartz, the FTA “has failed to enforce compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) even though the nearly $1 billion project is being federally funded.” The MTA and DOT meanwhile, he said have failed to prepare a required Environmental Impact Statement, which he said would have compelled the agencies to be more responsive to community input.

The suit aims to halt the work as well as its federal funding until the plans do something about the lack of elevators in each L station and about the expected environmental impacts from substituting the L train with significantly expanded above ground mass transit.

The plan calls for creating a 14th Street “busway” between Third and Eighth Avenues going west and from Ninth to Third Avenues going east. Car traffic will not be able to cross anywhere along the busway. Access-A-Ride will be included along with emergency vehicles. The plan is to enforce these rules during “peak” hours. A constant fleet of shuttle buses will be traveling from Brooklyn to Manhattan over the Williamsburg Bridge and there will also be a protected bike lane on East 13th Street.

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Letters to the Editor, Feb. 25

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Boy Scouts, it’s time to let girls in

The Boy Scouts of America is the greatest leadership training for our youth, and that is why the organization must allow girls to fully participate now! Fortunately, we have a Scout leader with a proven record and the courage to end discrimination. We applaud the efforts by Eagle Scout, Boy Scout President, former Secretary of Defense, Dr. Robert Gates, for his success in providing opportunities for women and in ending the “don’t ask, don’t tell,” policies for LGBT members of our United States armed forces. Dr. Gates’ legacy was further secured by his support to end the discriminatory ban against gay Scouts and adult leaders in the Boy Scouts.

Dr. Gates, there is still much more work that must be done to support our girls and young women in Scouting. In nearly all countries the programs are co-ed. Unfortunately, in the U.S., girls and young women are permitted into the Boy Scouts only in limited programs, and young women are completely forbidden to join Scout Troops. With membership in decline and girls and young women clamoring to join, we need to ensure that the Scouting in America serves all of our youth to grow into responsible leaders. As Scouts, we need to be the change that we want to see in the world.

As a female, it is unjust that I am barred from joining the Scout Troops in the US. The Boy Scouts is largely ignoring and discriminating against 50 percent of our youth in denying girls the opportunity to join and earn the Eagle rank, Scouting’s highest honor. Scouts, particularly Eagle Scouts, are highly sought after by colleges (58 percent of West Point Cadets were Boy Scouts and 16.3 percent are Eagles) and the most competitive employers. Without access to the training and Eagle rank, options for young women are limited.

We have co-authored and passed resolutions before the New York City Presbytery, the National Organization for Women and have support for inclusion from Scouts around the world, from Canada to South Africa.

I, Sydney, have joined the Canadian Scouts, Troop 80, out of London, Ontario, and have earned the highest award in my age group, the Chief Scout’s Award. I am so grateful to the Canadian Scouts and particularly my Scout Leader, Steve Lindsay, for working with me. We also appreciate the camaraderie of Troop 414 in Manhattan.

We now ask for your help to open up Scouting. Please go here and sign our petition asking the Scout leaders to end the discriminatory ban against young women and also post the petition on social media.

We are approaching nearly 5,000 supporters! We both hope young women (like me, Sydney) will be accepted as full members of the Scouts and eligible to earn the Eagle rank (like me, Bryan).

Contact us at: ScoutingLetMeIn@gmail.com

Yours in Scouting,

Sydney Ireland, ST
Chief’s Scout Recipient,
Venture Scout, Troop 80
London, Ontario, Canada

Bryan Ireland, ST
Eagle Scout, New York, New York

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Con Ed settles over accusations of sexual harassment, inequality

Con Edison building at 4 Irving Place

Con Edison building at 4 Irving Place

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Con Edison has agreed to a settlement with Attorney General Eric Schneiderman to resolve accusations of ongoing discrimination and sexual harassment against women working in field positions for the company.

The agreement requires that Con Ed reserve up to $3.8 million that will be distributed to over 300 female workers employed in field jobs through a claims process administered by the EEOC and the attorney general. A representative from Con Edison said that the utility had voluntarily entered into the settlement agreement to resolve the investigations that began in 2007 and the agreement resolves the investigation without findings of wrongdoing. However, complaints alleged that the company failed to take effective action to improve or prevent the discriminatory conditions. The women in field positions even reported that they faced retaliation when they complained to supervisors or to Con Edison’s Office of Diversity & Inclusion about their work conditions.

“I worked at Con Edison for thirteen years, primarily as an Inspector in the field,” Con Ed Inspector Kawana Howard said. “I loved my job, was good at what I did and took pride in the fact that I was helping to keep our city running. Yet over the years I faced gender-based discrimination from my some of my male supervisors and co-workers and was retaliated against when I complained, ultimately culminating in my recent termination.”

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Hoylman bill would help LGBT veterans who’ve been denied benefits

State Senator Brad Hoylman

State Senator Brad Hoylman

By Sabina Mollot

On Tuesday, State Senator Brad Hoylman released a report focusing on how LGBT veterans have been denied a multitude of benefits for decades and announced his plan to introduce legislation that would address this longstanding issue. The reason, he explained in the report, is that over 50 state benefits are contingent upon a veteran’s discharge status. This would make those who were discharged solely for their sexual orientation or gender identity potentially ineligible to receive those benefits, which include scholarships, job opportunities, health screenings, tax breaks and even reimbursement for burial costs.

On his “New York Restoration of Honor Act,” Hoylman said, “It’s appalling that there are generations of LGBT veterans right here in New York who continue to be discriminated against and denied important benefits by the very government they fought to defend. ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ thankfully is over (having ended in 2011), but my report shows that the holdover of the widespread injustice against LGBT service members remains.”

Around 114,000 U.S. service members have been discharged for their sexual orientation or gender identity since World War II.

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