Letters to the editor, Feb. 7

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Useful info about Gillibrand

I was pleased to read Steve Sanders’ column in last week’s T&V regarding Kirsten Gillibrand (“Who is Kirsten Gillibrand?”). It was a useful look at and recap of her CV and made several points that may not be common knowledge if one is not a politics wonk. I count myself a wonk, but not yet a pundit.

It is a service to our general voting population to point out that her current Liberal affiliation is second only to Saint Paul’s conversion on the road to Damascus. It was nearly instantaneous when she found herself downstate after a term as a Representative from upstate complete with the A rating from the NRA.

I would like to make one other point that Sanders did not make mention of in this article. That is the immediate hue and cry she unleashed calling for Al Franken’s resignation from the Senate after allegations of sexual misconduct were discovered. Make no mistake, I found his behavior reprehensible and unacceptable. However, not every crime warrants the death penalty and her reaction to the story was extremely swift as well as loud. It is my opinion that Kirsten Gillibrand tends to stay fit by jumping onto bandwagons.

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L train service disrupted due to oppressive fumes

L train

By Sabina Mollot

As if the smells in the subway weren’t already oppressive enough, L train service was suspended on Tuesday afternoon at around 1 p.m. when a gas odor began wafting through the Graham Avenue station in Brooklyn earlier in the day.

The smells became so bad one person fainted at the Lorimer station, Gothamist reported, while according to the Daily News, another straphanger passed out as the train approached First Avenue.

By 3:30 p.m., L train service had resumed in both directions with delays, despite the fact that “lingering gas smells may be present at the stations in the area,” the MTA said in an announcement. Still, according to the MTA, the stations were determined to be safe.

MTA spokesman Maxwell Young told Town & Village that after hearing customers complain about the odor that morning, the agency initially thought this was due to leftover fumes from diesel work trains passing through the stations. The MTA expected to fumes to dissipate, explaining this is what usually happens, but when the smell lingered, the agency launched an investigation.

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Child Victims Act finally passes

State Senator Brad Hoylman during floor debate for the Child Victims Act (Photo by State Senate Media)

By Sabina Mollot

Amidst of a flurry of progressive bill passing and signing in the state capitol, the long-denied Child Victims Act, sponsored by State Brad Hoylman, has finally passed both houses. With Governor Andrew Cuomo having already declared his support — even getting some backlash from the Archdiocese for his newly leftist leanings — the signing of the bill seems just a formality at this point.

The legislation’s language was amended this week to make it clear that secular as well as religious institutions could be held accountable for past incidents of abuse.

Last year it was passed in the Assembly, as it was the year before, but went nowhere in what was then a GOP-led State Senate. This year, however, the bill passed unanimously in the Upper House and nearly unanimously in the Assembly. Opposition to the bill, which has been around at least 13 years, largely had to do with the one-year lookback window of opportunity for starting a claim of abuse in instances where the statute of limitations has expired. The bill will also allow survivors of child sex abuse to file a civil suit against their abusers or institutions that enabled abuse until the age of 55. Currently the age limit is 23. The lookback window will apply to survivors older than 55 as well. Additionally, those abused at a public institution will no longer be required to file a notice of claim as a condition to filing a lawsuit.

Following the bill’s passage, Hoylman admitted he was not expecting to get unanimous support from his colleagues, although he did think it would pass based on the fact that a number of freshman senators had made the CVA part of their platforms. He also credited the bill’s success to new Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins as well as the activism of sex abuse survivors.

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New NY Senate passes long-stalled LGBTQ protections, progressive bills

State Senator Brad Hoylman is congratulated by colleagues last week after two of his bills, GENDA and a ban on gay conversion therapy, are passed. (Photo courtesy of State Senator Brad Hoylman)

By Sabina Mollot

Last week, two LGBTQ rights bills that were long-championed by State Senator Brad Hoylman — and long ignored by what was a Republican majority until now — were finally passed. They included a ban on gay conversion therapy and GENDA (The Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act), which expands the laws on discrimination to include gender identity and expression.

Additionally, the Child Victims Act, which would lengthen the amount of time victims of sex crimes have to file suits, was included in the governor’s proposed budget. The bill has seen some opposition from religious institutions, including schools and the Boy Scouts of America, and a story in the Times Union recently noted a potential loophole that could exempt public schools.

In response, Hoylman said while he is confident there is no such loophole, the bill will be reworked before it is reintroduced this legislative session to prevent there being any questions about this.

GENDA, meanwhile, is expected to go into effect within 30 days of being signed by Cuomo, while the gay conversion therapy ban would go into effect immediately. Part of the GENDA bill would go into effect in November to give local law enforcement agencies time to catch up and also make paperwork changes.

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MTA says shutdown officially off despite lack of board vote

Straphangers waiting for the L at First Ave. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

Two days after the board members of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority held an emergency meeting on the alternative L train repair plan, albeit without holding a vote on a subject, the MTA announced that the shutdown was definitely not happening.

After reiterating that the agency had been presented with a plan for the damaged Canarsie tubes that would allow for less disruption for riders, it said in a press release last Thursday that “the total shutdown of both tunnels and all service scheduled for April 27 will not be necessary.”

The MTA added that the construction schedule and new contracts were expected to take several weeks to complete.

While no dollar figure was mentioned, the MTA also said the cost would not likely be higher than the original plan and that the repair time estimate remained at 15-20 months, as the governor had predicted.

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Hoylman bills get support in governor’s 2019 agenda

State Senator Hoylman is the sponsor of the Child Victim’s Act and GENDA. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Governor Andrew Cuomo highlighted a number of causes frequently championed by State Senator Brad Hoylman in his speech outlining his agenda for 2019 earlier last month, in addition to pushing for the legalization of recreational marijuana.

The governor specifically called for the passage of Hoylman’s legislation that would extend the statute of limitations for child sexual abuse crimes and the passage of the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act, which would add gender identity and expression to the state’s hate crime and human rights laws. The governor also called for bolstering gun control measures and passing Senator Hoylman’s bill banning bump-fire stock devices.

Hoylman said that he’s optimistic about the governor’s commitment to pass his legislation, especially because of the Democrats’ new majority. Of Hoylman’s bills that the governor mentioned in his address, the senator said that the Child Victims Act, which would increase the statute of limitations for victims of child sexual abuse, is one of the most crucial.

“New York is an outlier for protections for child sexual abuse and LGBT issues, which were two issues that the governor mentioned, so I’m really glad to see him supporting them,” Hoylman said. “And now we have a Senate to support them. No longer does the governor have to compromise, which unfortunately has been the case in the last decade.”

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Hoylman is appointed chair of State Senate judiciary committee

State Senator Brad Hoylman with new State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Counsins (Photo courtesy of Brad Hoylman)

By Sabina Mollot

Earlier this month, State Senator Brad Hoylman was named chair of the Judiciary Committee by Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins.

On the December 12 appointment, Hoylman said, “The issue of equal access to justice and judicial independence couldn’t be more important as Trump continues his all-out assault on our court system.”

Hoylman for some time has been pushing a bill that would make it easier for people sexually abused as children to seek justice many years later.

Asked if being on a committee that tackles crime issues would help push the Child Victims Act along, he responded, “It doesn’t hurt.” What also doesn’t hurt is that Democrats have the majority and the bill, while facing opposition from churches and other institutions, has plenty of partisan support.

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MSBI behavioral services building will soon be vacant

Mount Sinai Beth Israel on First Avenue, west of the Bernstein Pavilion (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Mount Sinai will be moving its behavioral health services from the Beth Israel Bernstein Pavilion facility west of First Avenue in Stuyvesant Square to a new space on Rivington Street as part of the hospital system’s downsizing plan.

Mount Sinai has signed a letter of intent to lease 45 Rivington Street and create a mental health facility that will include the services now housed at the Bernstein Pavilion and other facilities in the downtown area, leaving the building on Nathan D. Perlman Place across from Stuyvesant Square Park vacant. Mount Sinai is not yet discussing plans for the building once it’s empty.

The move will include the addition of new services at the Rivington location, such as intensive crisis and respite beds, primary care and ambulatory detoxification, to create a “one-stop” location for mental health, addictions, physical health and social service needs.

Although MSBI had intended to renovate the Bernstein Pavilion, the facility is more than 60 years old and that plan was ultimately not feasible, the hospital said.

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Opinion: Senator Hoylman arrives

By former Assemblymember Steven Sanders

He’s been in the trenches for over two decades. He was a community activist, chair of Community Board 2, and currently is our state senator. He is one of the most thoughtful and knowledgeable members of the state legislature. I am referring to Brad Hoylman. He won a Rhodes Scholarship and graduated from Harvard Law School. And now he is important.

For only the second time in over a half century, the Democratic Party has won control of the State Senate. And now entering his seventh year in that body Mr. Hoylman is poised to become one of its most impactful and influential legislators.

Several years ago, I had dinner with Senator Hoylman in Albany. I was impressed with his ideas and his energy. He is a progressive but he is also pragmatic. The very two characteristics that are necessary to advance vital legislation for our community and our state.

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Tenants talk strategy at town hall

Sheila Garcia of CASA and State Senator Brad Hoylman (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

With Democrats having taken the State Senate last month, local elected officials and tenant advocates held a town hall last week, essentially to rally the troops for what will still be a battle to pass tenant-friendly legislation next year.

More than 200 people attended the event hosted by State Senator Brad Hoylman last Thursday in the New York Public Library Schwarzman Building.

City Comptroller Scott Stringer, Aaron Carr of the Housing Rights Initiative (HRI), Delsenia Glover of Tenants and Neighbors and Sheila Garcia of Communities for Safe Apartments (CASA) joined Hoylman for the discussion on vacancy decontrol, the LLC loophole and the possibility of strengthening the rent laws now that the State Senate has gone blue.

Hoylman said that in addition to vacancy decontrol, another policy that the State Senate should focus on is the LLC loophole.

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Democratic lead too big for attempts at power grabs: Hoylman

State Senator Brad Hoylman with new Senate majority leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins (Photo by Avery Cohen)

By Sabina Mollot

Nearly a decade ago, Democrats won the State Senate, but their victory was short-lived, thanks to a coup orchestrated by a pair of renegades. When the party next regained power in numbers, this too was brief thanks to a power-sharing arrangement that was brokered between eight breakaway Democrats and Republicans.

But this time it will be different, State Senator Brad Hoylman is saying, due to some unexpected wins last Tuesday that gave Democrats too large of a lead to even try to play behind-the-scenes games with.

“We now have a 16-seat majority,” said Hoylman, “which is extraordinary and provides Democrats with a level of comfort going into vote. A 16-seat majority is a safeguard against Albany’s funny stuff. While there might be some disagreement in our conference, we are a united conference.”

The results of the election paved way for 16 new senators. Six of those senators had defeated candidates during the primary who were formerly members of the breakaway Democrat group known as the Independent Democratic Conference. The new crop of elected officials is also a more diverse bunch: the capitol now has its first Taiwanese-American lawmaker, its first Salvadorian-American, its first Indian-American, its first Colombian-American and its largest number yet of Latinos and women to serve. The Senate’s new majority leader, Andrea Stewart-Cousins, is the first woman to hold the position, effectively ending the three-men-in-a-room tradition of lawmaking.

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Editorial: Re-elect Maloney and Epstein

Today is Election Day, and along with the race for governor, United States senator and attorney general, locally, in the 74th Assembly District, voters will have the opportunity to choose their Assembly member and Congress member.

During the primaries, Town & Village endorsed the incumbents, Harvey Epstein and Carolyn Maloney, for these positions. (State Senator Brad Hoylman ran uncontested during the primary and will again face no opponent on November 6.)

As for the general election, we are sticking with the aforementioned candidates for their records of accomplishment and for platforms that are in line with the concerns and values of the vast majority of their constituents.

Eliot Rabin, an Upper East Side boutique owner and Republican, and Scott Hutchins, a homeless activist in the Green Party, both hope to unseat Maloney.

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MTA takes a tour of L hell

New lighting and air quality monitors installed, pols also hope for improvements on noise, parking

Council Member Keith Powers was one of a few local elected officials who recently went on a walkthrough of the L train construction zone on East 14th Street with Andy Byford, president of NYC Transit. (Photo courtesy of Council Member Keith Powers)

By Sabina Mollot

With the L train shutdown now six months away, constant noise and debris have already been a part of life for residents of East 14th Street on Avenue A and east for months due to the preliminary work.

Neighbors have been vocal all along of their displeasure about the work to build the Avenue A entrance to the First Avenue subway stop and an Avenue B substation, and local elected officials have managed to win a few concessions from the MTA on their behalf. But the biggest problems, like late night construction noise and the loss of 60 parking spots, have remained.

On October 15, Council Member Keith Powers hosted a walkthrough of the 14th Street worksite and surrounding areas with NYC Transit President Byford and Council Member Carlina Rivera, State Senator Brad Hoylman and Assembly Member Harvey Epstein.

It was following that scenic tour that Powers said the MTA agreed to make some changes and consider others.

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Upcoming L train work announced, bigger ferries coming before shutdown

Part of the L train construction site on 14th Street at Avenue A (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

From constant noise to the chaotic construction scene that has effectively hidden a number of local storefronts, the ongoing L train preliminary construction work to the upcoming shutdown has been the primary concern for many fed up residents of Stuyvesant Town.

The issue was among several brought up at a meeting held by the Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association on Saturday afternoon at Mount Sinai Beth Israel.

At the meeting, attended by local elected officials and around 125 tenants, State Senator Brad Hoylman brought up a few updates to the work schedule that were only shared with his office a day earlier.

“They absolutely have to do a better job of communicating with us,” he told the crowd about the memo. “There needs to be an individual in charge and they need to have an email address on the construction site.”

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L train, noise and MCIs will be addressed at Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village TA meeting

L train construction and other train related issues will be discussed on Saturday. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

As was announced earlier this month, the Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association will be holding a meeting a number of issues on Saturday, September 29 at 2 p.m.

Tenants Association President Susan Steinberg says those who attend can expect to learn more about the following topics:

One will be the L train, specifically residents’ concerns surrounding construction, and, once the shutdown begins, transportation.

“The MTA and the DOT are being awfully vague about what their plans are,” Steinberg said. “As you reported about the L train, they talk about mitigation steps but they don’t say what they are. And I love how they said they’re not really going to be 24/7, but if they need to be, they will.”

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