The Villager: Dozens of Pols Join Coalition, Look to Burst Airbnb’s Balloon

By Zach Williams, September 18, 2014

Elected officials last week announced a new coalition to promote affordable housing and put Airbnb under increased scrutiny.

They said at a Sept. 12 City Hall steps press conference that Airbnb promotes illegal hotels and enables unscrupulous building owners to flout a 2010 law banning apartment sublets of less than 30 days. The new organization, Share Better, will also advertise extensively to counter Airbnb’s own recent ad blitz. The San Francisco-based “home-sharing” company meanwhile denied wrongdoing and dismissed the new organization as beholden to city hotel interests.

The new group did not specify how many affordable housing units have been lost due to Airbnb’s activities. Councilmember Corey Johnson said, though, that action must be taken to protect the city’s remaining rent-regulated units.

“We all are in favor of the share economy, but what about the fair economy?” he said. “It’s got to be fair to rent-stabilized tenants. Rent-stabilized tenants are becoming an endangered species and if we don’t step up as elected officials — as advocates — we are going to lose them.”

Assemblymember Dick Gottfried — who co-sponsored the 2010 law with state Senator Liz Krueger, who was also at the event — said Airbnb ads present an image far from the reality of its roughly 20,000 New York City listings.

NY Post: Lawmaker Targets Pharmacy That Fleeced 9/11 Responders

By Susan Edelman, September 14

A bill aimed at stopping an Upper East Side pharmacy from fleecing 9/11 responders by charging them $150 for a simple printout of records is in the works.

Assemblyman Richard Gottfried, chairman of the health committee, will introduce an amendment to “close a gap in state law” that requires medical facilities to provide copies of medical records at minimal copying cost, but does not mention pharmacies.

Gottfried announced a measure to include drugstores after The Post reported that Madison Avenue Pharmacy was demanding $150 for a couple of pages of prescription records.

“No one should have to pay anything like $150,”Gottfried said.

The pharmacy backed down, saying “Our policy going forward will be to process all Victim Compensation Fund claims free of charge.”

New York Observer: With Fast Food Strikes, Some See Momentum for Minimum Wage Hike

By Jillian Jorgensen, New York Observer, September 3, 2014

Eyes nationwide will be on fast food workers tomorrow as they strike in search of a $15-an-hour wage. But in the state’s capital, many are hoping that ongoing movement will translate into the city’s ability to set its own higher minimum wage — even if it’s not as much as $15 an hour.

“Momentum is building in New York and around the country. I think the fast food workers are really are a powerful example of the unconscionable low wages that many very hard-working New Yorkers are subject to,” Assemblyman Richard Gottfried told the Observer. “And people are coming to understand that this is not about teenagers getting jobs after school — these are adults who are in many cases supporting or trying to support families, and the employers are not the mom-and-pop candy stores, these are multi-billion dollar international corporations.”

Thoughts on the North Shore-LIJ / Cleveland Clinic Partnership

North Shore-LIJ and the Cleveland Clinic recently announced a partnership in cardiac care.  The networking of North Shore-L.I.J. and the Cleveland Clinic sounds like a good arrangement, and NS-L.I.J. is a quality network. But if employers or insurance companies play a hand in forming integrated provider networks, remember that they are legally obligated (as if they needed any encouragement) to maximize return to their shareholders; that’s why they exist.

Forming integrated networks with care coordinating is, I believe, necessary for advancing quality care in this era. But just as a bulldozer can build or destroy, a network can be a fine thing or can be a tool for restricting care to second-rate (or poorer) providers.

The history of large combinations of heavy-hitting economic powerhouses promoting the interests of consumers is not at all encouraging. If some big systems brag about having one or two big-name providers (“We have the Cleveland Clinic; what more could you ask for!”), there is the danger that it becomes a cover for a restricted network with a lot of low-grade providers. (I’m not suggesting that this is what North Shore-LIJ is doing here. I’m discussing a broader situation.)

What’s the answer? Yes, integrated systems should go forward. But to protect the public, there should be strong regulation. Perhaps more important: since the one who pays the piper calls the tune, we need a system in which the payer is accountable to the public, with rich and poor consumers in the same boat – single-payer health coverage, funded by broad-based revenue based on ability to pay. That’s not going to come from Washington. But New York and some other states that have more progressive politics can enact single-payer at the state level. My “New York Health” bill, A.5389-A, would do that.

NY Post: Pharmacy Charges 9/11 Responders $150 for Medication Records

Ordinarily if medical records are needed for a medical purpose, doctors provide them as a courtesy for no cost, although technically they may charge.  It is especially inexcusable in this case, where all the pharmacy has to do is print out computer data.  Seeing this case, I’m planning to introduce a bill to broaden the definition of health facilities to cover pharmacies.  I would hope that common decency and public attention would get this pharmacy to provide these records for free.

By Susan Edelman, New York Post, August 24

A pharmacy near Mount Sinai Hospital is gouging sick 9/11 responders by charging $150 for a simple printout of the medications they take, advocates told The Post.

Real Affordability for All: New Yorkers March for Good Jobs & Affordable Housing

I joined hundreds of New Yorkers at the Real Affordability for All March for good jobs and affordable housing in Manhattan.  A new coalition of affordable housing activists and labor organizations is urging the City to require more affordable housing to be built with union labor, with unions agreeing to accept wages 40% below union pay.  I marched and spoke at the rally organized by organizations like the Metropolitan Council on Housing, the Building & Construction Trades Council of Greater New York, New York Communities for Change, VOCAL-NY, and Local 46 of the Metallic Lathers & Ironworkers to support the movement for more affordable housing now.

At the Real Affordability for All March for good jobs and affordable housing now.

At the Real Affordability for All March for good jobs and affordable housing now.

With New York City Council Members Vanessa Gibson, Mark Levine, and Rosie Mendez.

With New York City Council Members Vanessa Gibson, Mark Levine, and Rosie Mendez.

With Jarod Bejamin of the Metropolitan Council on Housing I joined hundreds of New Yorkers at the Real Affordability for All March for good jobs and affordable housing in Manhattan. A new coalition of affordable housing activists and labor organizations is urging the City to require more affordable housing to be built with union labor, with unions agreeing to accept wages 40% below union pay. I marched and spoke at the rally organized by organizations like the Metropolitan Council on Housing, the Building & Construction Trades Council of Greater New York, New York Communities for Change, VOCAL-NY, and Local 46 of the Metallic Lathers & Ironworkers to support the movement for more affordable housing now.

With Jaron Benjamin of the Metropolitan Council on Housing

With john Skinner, President of Metal Lathers and Reinforcing Ironworkers Local 46, at the rally before the Real Affordability for All March for good jobs and affordable housing now.

With John Skinner, President of Metal Lathers and Reinforcing Ironworkers Local 46

Interview with WNYC Radio before the rally for the Real Affordability for All March for good jobs and affordable housing now.

Interview with WNYC Radio before the rally

Interview with Alyssa Katz of the New York Daily News editorial board before the Real Affordability for All March for good jobs and affordable housing now.

Interview with Alyssa Katz of the New York Daily News editorial board

With Bertha Lewis, President & Founder of The Black Institute

With Bertha Lewis, President & Founder of The Black Institute

With tenant activist Michael Mckee I joined hundreds of New Yorkers at the Real Affordability for All March for good jobs and affordable housing in Manhattan. A new coalition of affordable housing activists and labor organizations is urging the City to require more affordable housing to be built with union labor, with unions agreeing to accept wages 40% below union pay. I marched and spoke at the rally organized by organizations like the Metropolitan Council on Housing, the Building & Construction Trades Council of Greater New York, New York Communities for Change, VOCAL-NY, and Local 46 of the Metallic Lathers & Ironworkers to support the movement for more affordable housing now.

With tenant activist Michael Mckee

With Gary LaBarbera, President of the Building & Construction Trades Council of Greater New York, at the rally before the Real Affordability for All March for good jobs and affordable housing now.

With Gary LaBarbera, President of the Building & Construction Trades Council of Greater New York

 

I spoke at the rally after the Real Affordability for All March for good jobs and affordable housing now.

Speaking at the rally

Chelsea Now: Tenants’ Rights Trashed Amidst Market-Rate Conversion

By Winnie McCroy, August 14

In a case of landlord harassment that State Senator Brad Hoylman called “egregious,” the longtime tenants of 222-224 W. 21st St. are allegedly being illegally evicted so that Slate Property Group can construct high-end rentals in place of their subsidized housing.

Only seven of the original 23 tenants remain, and these holdouts say they are subjected to drilling and jackhammering from 7 a.m. until midnight, random cuts to utilities (including water, cable and Internet), unsafe living conditions, and a campaign of harassment intended to make them leave their home of nearly 20 years.

The Villager: Speed on Houston St. Bowery, Sixth Ave. will be slowed to 25 m.p.h.

By Lincoln Anderson, August 7.

In the coming months, 14 more corridors — including Houston St., the Bowery and Sixth Ave. — will be added to the city’s growing number of so-called “arterial slow zones.”

The Department of Transportation announced the second batch of new arterial slow zones on Fri., Aug. 1.

The city’s first two arterial slow zones were launched in May, when it was also announced that Canal St. would also become one — Downtown Manhattan’s first slow zone — by June.

Photos: Night Out Against Crime in Chelsea & Hell’s Kitchen

In August I participated in the Night Out Against Crime events at Fulton Houses in Chelsea and in Hell’s Kitchen Park, where neighbors, community groups and people in law enforcement gather to support crime prevention efforts and celebrate the strength and diversity of neighborhoods.

In Chelsea, I talked with volunteers with the Fulton Houses Tenants Association, the local Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), and other neighborhood organizations, and greeted the new Commanding Officer of the 10th Precinct, Deputy Inspector Michele Irizarry. I’m glad she is continuing the Precinct’s “Cop of the Month” program.

In Hell’s Kitchen, I caught up with volunteers for community-based organizations like the Ryan Chelsea/Clinton Health Center, thanked officers with the Midtown North Precinct for working to keep our neighborhoods safe, and spoke with officials from the Midtown Community Court about its important work, which has become a model for similar institutions around the nation and even the world.

I was particularly gratified to learn that the Court often uses a law I recently wrote. If a person is convicted of prostitution, and had been forced into prostitution by human trafficking, the law allows the person to have his or her criminal record erased. It enables the human trafficking victim to move ahead in life without the burden of a criminal prostitution record. It’s an important tool for our Midtown Community Court.

With the Ryan Community Health Network table at the Night Out Against Crime event in Hell's Kitchen Park on August 5, 2014.

With the Ryan Community Health Network table at the Night Out Against Crime event in Hell’s Kitchen Park on August 5, 2014.

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With Miguel Acevedo, President of the Fulton Houses Tenants Association

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With Miguel Acevedo, President of Fulton Houses Tenants Association, and Deputy Inspector Michele Arizzary, the new Commanding Officer of the 10th Precinct

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With Deputy Inspector Michele Arizzary, the new Commanding Officer of the 10th Precinct

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At the Night Out Against Crime event at Fulton Houses in Chelsea on August 5, 2014.

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At the Night Out Against Crime event at Fulton Houses in Chelsea on August 5, 2014.

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At the Night Out Against Crime event at Fulton Houses in Chelsea on August 5, 2014.

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Greeting a leader of Chelsea’s CERT team

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With Jeff Hobbs and Dipal Shah of the Midtown Community Court

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Greeting officers of the Midtown South Precinct

With 10th Precinct Community Affairs officers at the Night Out Against Crime event at Fulton Houses in Chelsea on August 5, 2014.

With 10th Precinct Community Affairs officers

At the Night Out Against Crime event at Fulton Houses in Chelsea on August 5, 2014.

At the Night Out Against Crime event at Fulton Houses on August 5, 2014.

Donate to Preserve Hopper Gibbons Underground Railroad Site

Earlier this week I co-hosted a benefit with Friends of the Hopper Gibbons Underground Railroad Site and Lamartine Place Historic District to preserve the historic integrity of the only documented underground railroad site in Manhattan.

We’ve won twice in court to get the building’s illegal top floor removed, but the developer is appealing the court’s decision and we need your help for legal costs.

For more information and to make a donation, check out the Historic DIstricts Council website:  http://hdc.org/friends-of-hg-lamartine-pl-fundraiser Here are a couple of background articles on the issue: