Assembly poised to act on New York City housing

The Assembly appears ready to weigh in on the scandal plagued New York City’s public housing agency.

Late Friday night, Speaker Carl Heastie introduced legislation that  would authorize NYCHA to use design-build procurement processes to quickly respond to its critical infrastructure needs.

“Currently, there are a large number of tenants living in New York City Housing Authority developments requiring a significant amount of work. Given the substantial scope of repairs needed to NYCHA’s heating systems and other critical facilities, a new, more efficient approach needs to be taken by NYCHA to address its capital needs; otherwise, tenants will continue experiencing disruptions,” reads the bill memorandum.

The bill also requires NYCHA to provide annual reports on their response to lead paint health risks. The goal of the requirement, according to the memorandum, is to empower residents and ensure compliance with inspection laws. Continue reading “Assembly poised to act on New York City housing”

Seeing Through New York

The expectation in New York that public information should be available online is only a recent development in the online era.

Ten years ago the landscape was radically different (and not just because Netflix dealt solely in DVDs), which is why the creation of See Through New York was a game changer.

In its first year, the site published payroll information for New York City and the state’s largest authorities, shared legislative expenditure data and unveiled a tool to analyze local tax data. Since then, See Through New York has launched new applications and continued to grow its database of public information. Continue reading “Seeing Through New York”

Armed officers for NYC schools

At the end of last year’s legislative session the state senate approved a bill directing the New York City Police Department to put an officer in every public and private school under their jurisdiction.

The proposal from Sen. Simcha Felder, which passed 51-11, was adopted with very little fanfare, but could resurface in some form in the wake of the Florida school shooting. This week Assemblyman Ron Castorina introduces the bill in the Assembly (where it has no chance of passing in its current form).

It’s interesting to note the senate debate around the bill last year. There was no discussion during the committee process (it only went through Rules) and Sen. Liz Krueger was the lone dissenting voice on the floor.

She noted that there were nearly 2,000 schools in New York City and questioned whether the law would divert police officers from their regular duties. “This doesn’t increase funds for New York City to hire 2,000 more police officers,” she said of the proposal.

The bill memorandum doesn’t account for additional expenses, stating there are no costs to the state or localities.

Krueger also argued that parents were concerned about having officers with guns in schools. “We are concerned about changing the culture of schools,” she said.

The lone Republican vote in opposition came from Mike Ranzenhofer, who represents the Buffalo area.

Here is the argument for the bill from its memorandum’s justification: “Requiring an NYPD officer to be at every school in New York City during the instructional day, as well as before and after classes are in session, will ensure that students are more protected in the event that a threat or the need for law enforcement intervention arises in New York City schools.”

The Loan behind the Lawsuit

If you ever stumbled across a late night television advertisement promising cash – maybe with a catchy jingle – then you might have unwittingly heard the sales pitch from a lawsuit lender.

Lawsuit lenders can act as third-party financiers of lawsuits with a simple pitch: Need cash while you wait for the resolution of a lawsuit? Then call an 800-number that probably ends in CASH.

Continue reading “The Loan behind the Lawsuit”

Guardians of New York

For thousands of New Yorkers who find themselves unable to make critical life decisions, the state’s guardianship laws are designed to serve as a safety net of last resort to meet their needs.

Reformed in 1992, the state’s overhaul of the Mental Hygiene Law was an attempt to move away from its benign paternalistic approach to guardianship. In theory the law promotes a flexible system aimed at crafting tailored and limited solutions that meet a persons need for assistance , but in reality it has been plagued by a lack of resources, incomplete data and a shortage of guardians.

Jean Callahan, of the Legal Aid Society, joined Poozer Politics to talk about the evolution of the state’s guardian laws and explain the situation facing thousands of incapacitated New Yorkers today.  The conversation also explored the need to promote alternatives to guardians and possible reforms to the system. Continue reading “Guardians of New York”