Monthly Archives

May 2015

News

New York Daily News: Garbage trucks to install safety side guards under new bill

May 27, 2015

By Dan Rivoli | May 27, 2015

Thousands of heavy-duty city and private garbage trucks will be required to get a safety overhaul under a bill the City Council is set to pass Wednesday.

Safety side guards to prevent people from getting caught underneath trucks would have to be installed on up to 8,400 city and private sanitation trucks by 2024.

“Side guards save lives,” said Councilman Corey Johnson. “You could be pulled between the vehicle’s wheels and it’s often fatal.”

Mayor de Blasio in February committed to retrofitting more than 250 city trucks for three agencies, at a cost of around $3,000 each, with the side guards.

News

Streetsblog NYC: City Council Poised to Require Side Guards on 10,000 Trucks by 2024

May 26, 2015

By Stephen Miller | May 26, 2015

The City Council transportation committee unanimously passed a bill this afternoon that would require side guards, which keep pedestrians and cyclists from being swept beneath a truck’s rear wheels, on approximately 10,000 New York City trucks by 2024. The legislation, likely to pass the full council tomorrow, mandates the add-ons not just for city-owned trucks but also for private trash haulers.

The bill would significantly expand a240-vehicle pilot announced earlier this year by the de Blasio administration. “While I applaud the administration for this first step, we need to go further, both within our city fleet and those private vehicles with the highest fatality rates,” said Council Member Corey Johnson, who sponsored the bill.

Johnson’s bill has two parts. First, it would mandate side guards on all vehicles in the city’s fleet weighing more than 10,000 pounds, with exemptions for street sweepers, fire engines, car carriers, and off-road construction vehicles. The city owns 4,734 vehicles, about half of them garbage trucks, that are candidates for side guards, according to a report produced for the city by U.S. DOT.

The average life of a DSNY garbage truck is eight years, so Johnson’s bill delays the side guard requirement until 2024, by which point the current fleet will be phased out. Equipping new vehicles with the guards costs less than the approximately $3,000 to install them on an existing vehicle, said Louis Cholden-Brown, Johnson’s director of legislative and budget affairs. “The goal is to get these pre-made into the contracts,” he said.

The second part of the bill expands the side guard mandate to trucks owned by private trash haulers regulated by the city’s Business Integrity Commission. If private haulers don’t add side guards by 2024, they could be fined or lose their license to operate in the city.

“We know it’s coming. The first words from the leadership were, ‘We’ve got to get behind it,’” said Steven Changaris, northeast regional manager for the National Waste and Recycling Association, which represents private haulers. “It’s about safety, so you know, we want to be safe.” Changaris said his group wants to work with the city during the rule-making process to make sure companies can meet the mandate for side guards, which are currently not standard equipment on most U.S. trucks.

Requiring side guards on private trash trucks is particularly important. Private haulers not only outnumber the Department of Sanitation’s collection fleet, they also drive more, traveling an estimated 12 miles per ton of waste collected, compared to just four miles per ton for the city-owned fleet, according to a 2012 report produced for DSNY.

Although professional truck drivers typically have safer records per mile than the general public, the size and constant presence of trucks pose an outsized risk to pedestrians and cyclists. Trucks comprise 3.6 percent of vehicles on New York City streets, but account for 12.3 percent of pedestrian fatalities and 32 percent of bicyclist fatalities, according to U.S. DOT.

Side guards have a proven track record of reducing fatalities. After the United Kingdom began to require side guards in 1986, the fatality rate for pedestrians hit by the side of a truck fell by 20 percent. The fatality rate for cyclists decreased 61 percent.

Other council members saw the action on truck side guards as inspiration for additional fixes. “I hope that the MTA is looking at what we are doing here today and that they will consider putting these safety measures on their buses as well,” said Council Member Antonio Reynoso, who has advocated for the equipment.

The transportation committee also unanimously advanced two other truck-related bills this afternoon. A billfrom Council Member Margaret Chin would require DOT to study pedestrian and bicycle safety along truck routes and the impact of tolling policy on encouraging truck traffic on surface streets. A bill from Council Member Paul Vallone would require DOT to study driver compliance with truck routes.

News, Uncategorized

STATEMENT BY COUNCIL MEMBER AND HEALTH COMMITTEE CHAIR COREY JOHNSON ON HHC’S TERMINATION OF AGREEMENT WITH BIG APPLE DIALYSIS

May 21, 2015

“I’m extremely gratified that the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation (HHC) is terminating its agreement with Big Apple Dialysis, a for-profit company that was contracted to replace dialysis services currently provided by HHC. After relentless advocacy over the past year, patients and science won the day. This was the right decision. HHC is the greatest public hospital system in the world, and outsourcing its dialysis services would not have been in the best interest of patients. I’m grateful ‎for New York State Nurses Association’s tireless efforts and for HHC President Dr. Ram Raju’s leadership.”

News

Council Member Corey Johnson Introduces Legislation to Prohibit Unauthorized DNA Database at the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner

May 14, 2015

May 14, 2015

Practice of Retaining Database Poses Unacceptable Dangers to New Yorkers’ Privacy

City Hall — NYC Council Health Committee Chair Corey Johnson today introduced legislation that would prohibit the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner (OCME) from retaining the DNA profiles of persons who have never been convicted of a crime.

Contrary to the civil rights law’s proscription and unlike the State DNA databank, OCME has created its own database that retains for the purpose of continuous searching the DNA profiles of individuals that the NYPD has identified as “suspects,” but who have never been convicted of a crime. This local database conducts DNA profile analyses that are prohibited by the civil rights law and upsets the carefully calibrated balance between individual rights and law enforcement struck by the state legislature. As a result of OCME’s policy, NYPD has the power to subject an individual to constant and permanent DNA profile analysis by designating that individual as a “suspect,” despite the fact that the state legislature concluded that such testing should be reserved for individuals convicted of certain crimes.

This raises potential privacy concerns for both individuals who were never suspects in a criminal investigation as well as for those who were at one time suspects but who were not convicted of crimes. Also of concern is the possibility that individuals are not given proper notice that the DNA profile generated from their biological samples can and may be retained indefinitely and used in future investigations.

Council Member Johnson’s legislation would prohibit the OCME from placing the DNA profiles of individuals who were never convicted of a crime into a database for the purpose of comparing their DNA profiles to DNA evidence gathered at crime scenes in the future.

The OCME would still be able to maintain an index of DNA profiles derived from evidence recovered from crime victims, crimes scenes or accident scenes, or upload such profiles to state or national databases. The OCME would still be able to maintain an index containing DNA profiles of missing persons or their family members, or of volunteers who have provided DNA samples for quality assurance purposes.

OCME’s “suspect” database is not only unauthorized, it is not necessary. OCME can eliminate its database and continue to maintain the local Forensic Index, which contains DNA profiles from crime scene evidence, and continue to test DNA found at crime scenes against DNA collected from victims, witnesses, or suspects in a particular case. According to OCME, when it analyzes the DNA profile of a victim or witness, it conducts the analysis and retains the information necessary to continue investigating the open case, but does not upload the individual’s DNA to the local database. OCME should not single out “suspects” for different treatment and subject their DNA to immediate, continuous, and indefinite DNA profile analysis.

Council Member Johnson’s legislation will prohibit OCME’s unauthorized database and bring the office into compliance with state law.

“As DNA technology continues to evolve and improve, it is more important than ever that our government respects privacy rights,” said Council Member Corey Johnson, Chair of the Council’s Health Committee. “Civil liberties are 100% compatible with law enforcement and forensics. I appreciate the excellent work that the OCME’s Forensic DNA Laboratory does, and want to work with OCME to ensure that it is performing its critical role in criminal investigations in a way that protects the privacy and rights of New Yorkers.”

“For far too long, OCME has unfairly violated the privacy rights of New Yorkers by retaining DNA profiles of those not convicted of crimes,” said Tina Luongo, Attorney-in-Charge of the Criminal Practice of The Legal Aid Society. “We applaud Council Member Johnson’s legislation to stop this practice for those not convicted of felonies and look forward to continuing to work with him on ways to end the practice completely.”

News

New York Daily News: NYC Council passes bill banning conversions of hotels into condos for two years

May 14, 2015

By Erin Durkin | May 14, 2015

The City Council passed a controversial bill Thursday to slap a two year ban on converting hotels into condos.

The bill, which passed by a vote of 42-8, is meant to stop job losses when hotels are shuttered and is backed by the powerful hotel workers union. But the hotel and real estate industries are up in arms about the measure and vowing to sue.

The original version of the bill, sponsored by Councilman Corey Johnson (D-Manhattan), would have permanently banned the conversions. In negotiations with the de Blasio administration, backers settled for a two year moratorium while the city does a study on the economic effect of conversions.

“The hotel industry provides many solid middle class jobs for hard working New Yorkers. And presently hotel jobs are at risk because of rapid conversions we’ve seen all over the city from hotel rooms to luxury condominiums,” said Johnson, who said more than 1,000 people have already lost jobs.

Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito added that the condos being created from ex-hotels are “super duper luxury housing” out of reach to most New Yorkers.

Real estate groups call the bill an illegal infringement on owners’ property rights.

“We think it’s illegal. We think it’s unconstitutional. And we cannot imagine that there will not be a lawsuit to strike it from being put into effect,” said Jamie McShane, spokesman for the Real Estate Board of New York.

The bill applies to hotels with at least 150 rooms. Owners would be able to apply to the Board of Standards and Appeals for an exception to the rules, if they could show financial hardship. Pictured is the Waldorf Astoria Hotel.
Joseph Spinnato, president of the Hotel Association of New York City, said the mandate “would have a negative impact on an industry that is a pillar of New York City’s economy.”

“In addition to raising serious concerns about infringement of private property rights, the measure would create a disincentive for new hotel development and job creation by placing undue restrictions on one of the city’s most robust sectors,” he said. “Any effort to stifle growth at a time when hotel sales and development have generated hundreds of millions in revenues for the city would be shortsighted and counterproductive.”

The bill applies to hotels with at least 150 rooms. Owners would be able to apply to the Board of Standards and Appeals for an exception to the rules, if they could show financial hardship.

Councilman David Greenfield (D-Brooklyn) was one of eight reps to vote against the bill.

“What we’re doing today is going a little too far,” he said. “What’s to stop supermarkets from asking for the same protection?…Many neighborhoods would prefer housing over a hotel.”

 

News

The Villager: Chelsea parks, Village library loo are big winners in participatory budgeting

May 14, 2015

BY ZACH WILLIAMS | May 14, 2015

 

In the end, slightly more than 500 votes was sufficient for local improvement projects to receive funding through the participatory budgeting process.

Councilmember Corey Johnson announced the results from the April 11-19 vote on Sat., May 9, at the inaugural West Side Summit, held at Civic Hall, at 156 Fifth Ave. at W. 20th St. The event featured an hour’s worth of remarks from local elected officials on issues pertaining to City Council District 3 — one of 24 Council districts that held participatory budgeting this year. A keynote address on the makings of an ideal neighborhood came from Margaret Newman, executive director of the Municipal Art Society of New York.

“There are certain buildings, parks, intersections that bring meaning to our neighborhoods that provide tangible and intangible benefits,” Newman said. “One working definition is that a successful place is one which attracts a diverse set of users, helps spark social, cultural and economic enterprise and contributes to a sense of community and global citizenship.”

About 2,500 residents of at least 14 years of age cast votes in the participatory budgeting process — about 10 percent of the turnout for the last City Council election. Nonetheless, Johnson stuck an upbeat tone as he announced the projects that will receive funding of about $1.1 million through his office’s discretionary budget upon approval of the city budget in early summer.

The big winner was an effort to create a park at 136 W. 20th St. (between Sixth and Seventh Aves.), which received 1,342 votes — nearly 600 votes more than its closest competitor. The funds will pay for the demolition of a Department of Sanitation building there, as well as environmental cleanup of the site.

City records indicate that the city still owns the building: Sanitation vacated the property and relinquished it to the Department of Citywide Administrative Services in March 2013. But it will be difficult to predict just how much more money it will take to realize the community’s hope of establishing a public space there. It’s been a dream already five years in the making. According to Parks, additional funding hasn’t yet been identified for the project.

Creating a new park requires a three-part process: design, procurement and construction. A project becomes official when it has secured full funding and has a designer assigned, according to Parks.

Local resident Pamela Wolff was nonetheless pleased that the proposal prevailed in voting, even though the effort’s ultimate success remains to be determined. She noted that this current project is progressing faster than the three-decade-long effort to create another prominent local park.

“This is five years, which is not long given how long it took to get Chelsea Waterside Park to get off the ground,” she said.

An $85,000 idea to create an interactive garden for local children about ethnobotany and native fauna at Chelsea Waterside Park (at 11th Ave. between W. 22nd and W. 24th Sts.) received the second-highest vote tally, 748 votes.

The call of nature, however, was what ultimately determined the extent to which multiple projects could receive funding.

Bathrooms for Jefferson Market Library in the West Village (648 votes) and restroom improvements at the LAB School in Chelsea (594 votes) each had a $500,000 price tag. Johnson said before the voting that there was a chance that his office would fund projects beyond the intended $1 million allotted to each district for participatory budgeting. These two projects, however, came in at third and fourth place, making the top four projects require nearly $1.3 million in funding.

However, three more projects became eligible for funding through participatory budgeting after the city’s School Construction Authority agreed to pay for the new bathrooms at the LAB School, according to Johnson. The beneficiaries of that development were sidewalk repairs on W. 26th St. at the Chelsea-Elliot Houses ($50,000 — 578 votes), library modernization at P.S. 3 ($35,000 — 533 votes) and a pilot-project raised pedestrian crosswalk at W. 45th St. and Ninth Ave. ($250,000 — 532 votes).

A vote indicates that a proposal received at least one out of the five allowed preferences among the 17 items on the ballot.

Teenager Liam Buckley was one of the “delegates” who backed one of the competing proposals during the months of preparation before the voting. He said he put in roughly 25 hours of work toward the cause, including attending meetings with Johnson’s staff, as well as LAB School community members. The proposal to get money for a new public address system for the school fell short. But a concerted effort to rally support through the P.T.A. and among students “flushed out” the vote for the bathroom idea, though city funding will ultimately come through another channel.

Cooperation among residents and politicians, as demonstrated through the participatory budgeting process, gets to the heart of how the democratic process plays out on the West Side, according to state Senator Brad Hoylman.

“It’s back to the fundamentals of what makes us democrats, and I don’t mean capital ‘D’ Democrats but small ‘d’ democracy,” he said. “Because we have seen in our system of government where people want to make decisions without consulting the people who they are supposedly representing.”

Hoylman took a swipe at Republican legislators in Albany for inaction on climate change. City Comptroller Scott Stringer highlighted his support for a $15 minimum wage. Congressmember Jerrold Nadler, meanwhile, spoke about the need to overcome congressional opposition to ongoing negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program. The Trans-Pacific Partnership economic agreement must be stopped from getting “fast track” support, he added.

Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal took praising Johnson to a new level, following the three other elected officials, who already had given quite a few compliments to the freshman councilmember.

She praised Johnson for the full six minutes she spoke. Indeed, their cats are friends, she said.

 

Events, News

The Winning Participatory Budget Projects!

May 11, 2015

PB Logo

1. New Park for the Community, $200,000, 1342 votes

Transform the vacant lot on 20th Street into a new public park for the community. Project would go towards demolishing the former Department of Sanitation building and environmental clean up.

136 W. 20th St. (Chelsea)

 

2. Revitalization of Chelsea Waterside Park, $85,000, 758 votes

Chelsea has very limited green park space. The project would bring residents into this underused park by creating an interactive garden for local children, focusing on ethnobotany and native plants.

11th Ave. b/w W.22nd & W.24th (Chelsea)

3. Renovations for Jefferson Market Library, $500,000, 648 votes

Jefferson Market Library is one of the busiest libraries in Manhattan with up to 1,000 people visiting each week. Funding would go towards building a new bathroom in the lobby which is ADA-complaint.

425 Avenue of the Americas (West Village)

4. Bathroom Renovations for LAB School, $500,000, 594 votes

Students avoid current bathroom issues by waiting until after school and utilizing local restaurants. Project would renovate 2 student bathrooms on each floor and bathrooms adjacent to the cafeteria.

*The NYC School Construction Authority has agreed to provide funding to implement this project.

333 W. 17th St. (Chelsea)

5. Sidewalk Repair on West 26thStreet at Elliot-Chelsea Houses, $50,000, 578 votes

The sidewalk on West 26th Street between 9th and 10th Avenues is in desperate need of repair. It has become difficult to walk, push carriages and wheelchairs on the sidewalk.

Chelsea-Elliot Houses (Chelsea)

6. PS3 Library Renovations, $35,000, 533 votes

The library has not been renovated in over a decade. With the technological advances of the last decade, modernizing the library is important in meeting the educational needs of today’s students.

490 Hudson St. (West Village)

7. Raised Pedestrian Crosswalk in Hell’s Kitchen, $250,000, 532 votes

Help prevent further crashes, death and injuries for pedestrians by installing a speed table at a notoriously dangerous crosswalk at West 45th Street and 9th

West 45th St. and 9th Ave. (Hell’s Kitchen)

News, Uncategorized

LOCAL ELECTED OFFICIALS JOIN THE NYC ANTI-VIOLENCE PROJECT OUTSIDE ‘DALLAS BBQ’ IN CHELSEA TO RAISE AWARENESS ABOUT ANTI-LGBT VIOLENCE

May 8, 2015

 

May 8, 2015

Today, State Senator Brad Hoylman, Council Member Corey Johnson, the NYC Anti-Violence Project, the offices of Congressman Jerry Nadler and Assembly Member Richard Gottfried and community leaders will meet on the corner of West 23rd Street and Eighth Avenue in Chelsea where they will hand out flyers to raise awareness about anti-LGBT violence, demonstrate public support for survivors of violence and advise New Yorkers about available resources if they have experienced or witnessed violence.

WHO:
Council Member Corey Johnson
State Senator Brad Hoylman
Office of Congressman Jerry Nadler
Office of Assembly Member Richard Gottfried
Office of Assembly Member Deborah Glick
New York City Anti-Violence Project
Other Elected Officials and Community Leaders
WHAT:
Distributing flyers to raise awareness about anti-LGBT violence, demonstrate public support for survivors of violence and advise New Yorkers about available resources if they have experienced or witnessed violence.

WHEN:
Friday, May 8 at 5:00 PM

WHERE:
Corner of West 23rd Street and Eighth Avenue (outside Dallas BBQ restaurant)

News, Uncategorized

STATEMENT BY COUNCIL MEMBER COREY JOHNSON ON HATE CRIME IN CHELSEA

May 6, 2015

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

“I am appalled and angered by the senseless act of anti-LGBT hate violence that was perpetrated last night at a restaurant in my district. The fact that this attack took place in the neighborhood of Chelsea, a place known around the world for its acceptance of all people, is particularly outrageous. There must be zero tolerance of hate crimes, the most insidious of crimes as they target entire communities of people.  I urge the perpetrators of this act to turn themselves in immediately. My office is in communication with the New York Police Department and the NYC Anti Violence Project. I urge anyone with information about this case to contact Crime Stoppers at 646-610-6806”.

Contact: Erik Bottcher, / o: 212-564-7757 / c: 646-612-0257 / ebottcher@council.nyc.gov