Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Erica Vladimer - We're Building Momentum


Let's hope Ms. Vladimer cab do to Mark Levine what she did to Jeff Klein. I would not be alone with Ms. Vladimer if I was you Mark.

I’m Erica, Team Levine’s Director of Communications, and a Manhattanite who supported Mark for Borough President long before officially joining his campaign.

Every day, I am blown away by Mark and our incredible campaign team. We’re working hard to not only imagine a better Manhattan, but to make a stronger, more just and equitable borough a reality. 

We’re imagining a greener Manhattan by taking loading zones off the streets and into parking garages. We’re imagining a more arts-supportive Manhattan by allowing grants to be used for operating expenses, so long as those organizations meet expectations regarding performer pay and our values of equity, diversity, and inclusion. We’re imagining a more pet-friendly Manhattan, calling for homeless shelters and affordable housing to be pet-accessible

And we aren’t alone: to date, we’ve reached out to almost 200,000 Manhattanites, thousands of whom have already joined Team Levine, including nursesunions, and elected officials

We’ve got 63 days left until the June 22nd Democratic primary (but who’s counting?!). 

Will you help us get Mark elected by joining Team Levine?

See you out there!

In strength and determination,

NYS OASAS Announces More Than $200,000 to Expand Mobile Addiction Treatment on Long Island


$208,554  Award to Central Nassau Guidance and Counseling Services for New  Mobile Addiction Treatment Van to Serve Long Island Region
 The New York State Office of Addiction Services and Supports (OASAS) today announced the award of $208,554 to Central Nassau Guidance and Counseling Services for a new mobile addiction treatment van. The funding is being administered by OASAS and was awarded to New York State through the federal State Opioid Response grant. The “Hope Rides Here” mobile treatment unit is a renovated 144-square foot box truck which contains an onboard exam table, medical refrigeration, workstation, restroom, and waiting area.

“During this extremely challenging and unprecedented time with the pandemic, many individuals and families on Long Island are experiencing increased stress and anxiety, and some are struggling with addiction,” said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, co-chair of the New York State Heroin and Opioid Task Force. “It's more important than ever to make sure that lifesaving resources and services are available to anyone struggling with addiction on Long Island. This funding to expand mobile addiction treatment will further boost prevention and recovery care, and reinforces New York’s commitment to ending the opioid epidemic once and for all.”

“Mobile treatment services have become an important aspect of the continuum of addiction care here in New York State over the past several years,” OASAS Commissioner Arlene González-Sánchez said. “This new mobile treatment unit will help further expand our treatment capacity here on Long Island, and reach more people with the critical help that they need to support their recovery.”

The vehicle will be staffed by CN Guidance and Counseling Services workers to provide clinical assessment and treatment, including telehealth capability to medication prescribers, as well as outreach and education to communities affected by the addiction epidemic. The new treatment vehicle joins a large RV operated by CN Guidance which provides similar services, and two minivans used to transport people to treatment and recovery programs.

This new mobile unit is part of the ongoing work by OASAS to expand the availability and access to addiction treatment services in underserved regions of the state. Over the past several years, New York has greatly expanded its mobile treatment capability. In 2017, the State established the Centers of Treatment Innovation (COTIs) to serve high-need counties throughout the state. The COTIs are focused on establishing connections with people affected by addiction, who have not been connected to care previously or have been unable to sustain their recovery through traditional treatment approaches. COTI services, including mobile treatment, have helped engage more than 13,000 New Yorkers in treatment through non-traditional means, and has helped providers expand their outreach in previously underserved areas.

New Yorkers struggling with an addiction, or whose loved ones are struggling, can find help and hope by calling the state’s toll-free, 24-hour, 7-day-a-week HOPEline at 1-877-8-HOPENY (1-877-846-7369) or by texting HOPENY (Short Code 467369). 

Available addiction treatment including crisis/detox, inpatient, community residence, or outpatient care can be found using the NYS OASAS Treatment Availability Dashboard at or through the NYS OASAS website.

If you, or a loved one, have experienced insurance obstacles related to treatment or need help filing an appeal for a denied claim, contact the CHAMP helpline by phone at 888-614-5400 or email at


East Bronx here we come.

Attorney General James Urges Congress to Rescind Rule Allowing Predatory Lenders to Take Advantage of Consumers


AG James Previously Led Lawsuit to Invalidate True Lender Rule

 New York Attorney General Letitia James today continued her efforts to block federal regulatory overreach that takes advantage of New York’s most vulnerable consumers. As part of a bipartisan coalition of 25 attorneys general, Attorney General James sent a letter to Congress, urging the nation’s federal leaders to use the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to rescind the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency’s (OCC) true lender rule. Today’s letter follows a similar letter Attorney General James led another coalition of attorneys general in sending to congressional leaders in February, also asking them to rescind the rule. The true lender rule undermines New York’s efforts to prevent predatory lenders from charging high interest rates on loans and bypasses state interest rate caps — or usury laws — already in place. The Trump-era rule enables predatory lenders to circumvent these caps through “rent-a-bank” schemes — arrangements in which heavily regulated national banks act as lenders in name only for the express purposed of enabling non-bank, payday lenders and other non-bank lenders to evade state consumer protection laws and charge consumers rates that far exceed those permissible under federal usury laws. 

“This cruel and heartless rule opens the floodgates for predatory lenders to take advantage of the American people, but Congress can stop it from exacting any further harm on the country,” said Attorney General James. “Rent-a-bank schemes make a mockery of federal law and, simply, prolong the tide of exploitative and predatory loans that trap vulnerable consumers in cycles of debt. This is why I led a lawsuit to invalidate this rule earlier this year, but Congress can act now and reject this rule to stop consumers’ suffering now.”

In January 2021, Attorney General James led a coalition of attorneys general in filing a lawsuit to invalidate the OCC’s true lender rule. The suit came after Attorney General James previously led multiple coalitions, in July and August of last year, in filing lawsuits against the OCC and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation regarding rules that would allow banks to sell any high interest loan to a nonbank, predatory lender in an effort to evade interest rate protections. Those lawsuits remain pending.

Despite the lawsuit Attorney General James led in January, Congress can immediately resolve this issue by repealing the rule under the CRA. In today’s letter, the coalition urges Congress to pass pending House and Senate resolutions — introduced on March 26, 2021 — that use the CRA to repeal the true lender rule. If Congress does not use the CRA to rescind this rule, the state litigation to invalidate the true lender will continue, but could possibly take several months, or even years, to be resolved. While that litigation is pending, predatory small-dollar lenders may attempt to utilize rent-a-bank models to evade state usury caps and harm consumers.  

Under the federal National Bank Act, national banks that are licensed and regulated by the OCC are permitted to charge interest on loans at the maximum rate permitted by their “home” state, even in states where that interest rate would violate state usury laws. The ability to preempt state usury laws in this way is a privilege granted to national banks — and only to national banks — because they are subject to extensive federal oversight and supervision.

For years, however, non-bank entities — such as payday, auto title, and installment lenders — have attempted to partner with national banks to take advantage of banks’ exemptions to state interest caps in order to offer ultra-high rates on loans in states where such loans are forbidden. Much to the dismay of non-bank lenders and their national bank partners, courts in New York and elsewhere have examined these lending relationships with exacting scrutiny and concluded that — because the national bank is not the “true lender” of the loan — state usury caps apply to the non-bank lenders.  

But, the OCC’s true lender rule would prevent courts from intervening if a national bank is either named as the lender on loan documents or if the bank initially “funds” the loan. Further, the rule would allow the bank to instantly sell the loan and never take any meaningful risk on it. This rigid, formalist approach will provide an advantage to only banks and predatory lenders, and will do so at the expense of hardworking and unsuspecting consumers. Moreover, the Trump-era rule represents a stark departure from decades of OCC policy admonishing national banks from entering into these sham rent-a-bank arrangements.  

Joining Attorney General James in sending this letter to Congress are the attorneys general of Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, Virginia, Wisconsin, and the District of Columbia.



City will identify project sites this year and pursue legislation to deploy geothermal district demonstration projects and bring service to scale

  To accelerate the transition from fossil fuel energy sources to a city that runs on clean energy technologies, Mayor Bill de Blasio today announced several critical steps the City will take to advance the implementation and integration of district geothermal systems. Geothermal heating and cooling is a highly efficient and clean technology that has been available for decades but remains largely underutilized in New York City. These systems can help replace fuel oil and natural gas to transform how the city heats and cools its one million buildings. 


“We can and must leave fossil fuels behind and choose to run the places where we live, work and go to school on clean technologies,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “These are the solutions that we will continue to double down on to deliver on our climate goals and our promise of a healthy, clean, inclusive and safe New York City.”


“It's time to end the furnace as we know it,” said Ben Furnas, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Climate & Sustainability. “The future of heating and cooling is coming, and not a moment too soon. Geothermal technologies will play a key role in providing clean, affordable, and comfortable homes and workplaces while accelerating our transition away from fossil fuels."


“Geothermal systems such as the one DDC recently installed at the Bronx River House in Starlight Park typically provide a 20 percent energy savings versus conventional heating and cooling systems, and are completely carbon neutral” said DDC Commissioner Jamie Torres-Springer. “This is an important opportunity to bring these critical technologies to scale and expand those energy impacts citywide."


Geothermal, or ground-source, heat pumps rely on the constant temperature beneath the earth’s surface to provide carbon-free, efficient heating and cooling, and use less electricity than other types of heat pumps. New York City has already built building level geothermal projects throughout the city, including at FDNY Rescue Co. 2 in Brooklyn and PS 62 on Staten Island. By pursuing a geothermal district demonstration project, the City can illustrate the carbon and energy impact for multiple buildings relying on this shared infrastructure and maximize the environmental benefit. The City can play a unique role in unlocking these geothermal district systems and accelerate decarbonization with a focus on environmental justice impacts.


To advance this work, the City will initiate a feasibility study to select a potential demonstration project site or set of sites by the end of 2021, with a focus on places that are technically viable, have the most impact on reducing gas usage, will provide an affordable option, and where the most benefits to environmental justice communities can be achieved. In tandem with the feasibility study, the administration will pursue legislation in the coming weeks to give the City the authority to build and operate one or more geothermal district demonstration projects that will include private buildings as well as provide the foundation for the City to build and operate these systems citywide in the future.  


“We applaud Mayor Bill de Blasio’s leadership in developing renewable energy resources to serve the needs of New York City,” said Sonal Jessel, M.P.H., Director of Policy at WE ACT for Environmental Justice. “Geothermal heat pumps, powered by renewable energy, are an intriguing possibility for New York City worth exploring, especially with a focus on environmental justice. Given our growing work in decarbonization and electrification, and our success in training a renewable energy workforce, we would welcome the opportunity to partner with the City on a geothermal district demonstration project in Northern Manhattan.”


“Urban Green applauds this leading, bold move to tap the Earth’s carbon-free energy. It’s an innovative step to help decarbonize the 40% of NYC’s emissions coming from heat and hot water,” said John Mandyck, Urban Green Council CEO.


"Geothermal heat pumps are widely recognized as the most efficient way to heat and cool buildings.  As such, they offer the lowest operating costs of any alternative to fossil fuels.   NY-GEO, our statewide trade organization, applauds Mayor DeBlasio’s vision and his efforts to make this climate saving technology available to more New Yorkers," said Bill Nowak, 

Executive Director, NY-GEO.


"Earth Day 2021 has fresh energy for big, important climate actions.  We applaud Mayor de Blasio’s exciting initiative to create geothermal districts, providing the resources and the data to prove-out the enormous potential of this critical clean energy technology, in diverse communities throughout the city," said Richard Yancey, FAIA, Executive Director of the Building Energy Exchange.  "Just like the Mayor’s Open Streets has transformed underutilized public space for the health and enjoyment of all citizens, geothermal energy districts promise to provide local clean power sources to make healthy, low carbon buildings the norm for everyone everywhere.  We look forward to continuing our collaboration with communities, the Mayor, and city agencies to accelerate our city’s clean and healthy energy transition."


“Long underutilized in NYC, geothermal systems can offer an energy-efficient option for buildings, old and new, as we seek to dramatically reduce our city’s carbon footprint. The geothermal system that heats and cools the Center for Architecture, AIA New York’s home in the heart of Greenwich Village, was installed almost 20 years ago as the first geothermal system in a building in NYC. It has served us well and we support further studies into how such systems can be optimized for our city’s needs,” said Ben Prosky, Assoc. AIA, Executive Director, American Institute of Architects New York.

Assemblymember Nathalia Fernandez - April COVID-19 PCR Testing



A gentle reminder that we will be providing Free PCR COVID-19 Testing today in partnership with Junior Chambers International- Queens, to our community at our office, 2018
Williamsbridge Road, Bronx, New York, 10461

The testing is Free For The Uninsured and Zero Copay For The Insured.

Walk-ins are available, but we do encourage scheduling an appointment in advance for quicker services.

We encourage you to invite your families, friends, and neighbors as we continue to practice COVID-19 Safety Guidelines and do our parts to keep the community safe through this pandemic. 

Best Regards,

New York State Assemblywoman Nathalia Fernandez

Senator Luis Sepulveda - Upcoming Webinar: Taxes on Unemployment and Stimulus Checks


Dear Neighbor, 

Please join me and the Legal Aid Society on Thursday, April 29th at 3PM, where I will be hosting a Tax Webinar on unemployment insurance benefits and stimulus checks to provide important tax updates before the IRS filing deadline on May 17th. Questions you can expect to be answered:

- What does the federal exclusion of up to $10,200 of unemployment compensation mean for me?
- Will my 2020 stimulus checks be considered taxable income?  
- And much more!

Please RSVP to the Zoom webinar here: Spanish interpretation will also be provided on Zoom.

If you are unable to attend through Zoom, this webinar will also be available in English through my Facebook page at

For legal assistance on immigration, please call the Legal Aid Society's  Immigration Law Unit Helpline at (844) 955-3425. For any tax questions, please call the Low Income Taxpayers Clinic at (212) 426-3013

256 Days and Counting


I want to thank all New Yorkers for having the sense to protest peacefully last night after the Guilty, Guilty, Guilty verdicts. That may have come about since Donald Trump is no longer President. 

It has taken me almost eight years as Mayor to learn how to police NYC, but we still need to do more. Accountability needs to be seen, but not for me.