Saturday, October 15, 2016

Grace Belkin Way Dedication

  Grace Belkin was the District Manager of Community Board 8 from 1977 to 2006. Ms Belkin had to retire as district manager due to health problems, but in her last years as district manager working only part-time she did the work most full time DM's were doing. In June of 2013 Grace Belkin passed away. Community Board 8 has a policy of waiting for two years after a person has died before starting the process of naming a street after them. A date is then chosen by the family for the dedication and the community is invited to share in the street renaming. Over 100 people including family members, current and past local elected officials, current and former Community Board 8 members, and many who were friends or acquaintances of Grace Belkin. 

Above - Councilman Andrew Cohen speaks about the process of having a street renamed for someone, as he was the driving force in getting the City Council and mayor to sign legislation to rename the corner of West 246th Street and Henry Hudson Parkway West Grace Belkin Way. 
Below - Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz tells of working with CB 8 District Manager Grace Belkin on many many occasions, and tells that she knew just about where every garbage can, fire hydrant, fire call box, and other city instruments as well as each and every city agency. In the background you can see the street sign is covered up as this photo was taken before the sign Grace Belkin Way was revealed. 

Above - Son David Belkin thanks everyone who came for the street renaming and those who spoke about his mother. sitting is Mr. Ruppert Belkin who was married Grace Belkin and who still lives in Briar Oaks the building across the street from where the street sign 'Grace Belkin Way' now sits.
Below - The crowd gets ready for the cover to be pulled off of Grace Belkin Way.

Above - Councilman Cohen helps pull the cover off the new street sign.
Below - Grace Belkin Way at the corner of West 246th Street and Henry Hudson Parkway West. 

Afterward, a photo for remembrance of the Belkin family, elected officials, and community board members. 

Friday, October 14, 2016

Statement from Councilman Ulrich on Mayor de Blasio's Latest Backroom Deal

  "Instead of fulfilling his pledge to end the use of hotels to shelter people who have fallen on hard times, Mayor de Blasio quietly signed a deal to use Playland Motel in Rockaway Beach as a homeless facility. I am outraged. My constituents - and all New Yorkers - deserve better. 
"Mayor de Blasio's so-called progressive agenda has caused the homeless population to skyrocket.The time has come for this administration to put forth real and meaningful solutions that will actually help people find permanent housing and rebuild their lives. The Playland Motel is not the right answer."

Council Member Cohen Sounds Alarm on New List of 100 Worst Landlords in NYC

City’s Worst Landlord Owns Van Cortlandt Village Building
“I am very distressed to read the newest list of 100 Worst Landlords in NYC, released today by Public Advocate Letitia James.  I am even more concerned to learn that the worst NYC landlord identified in the report, Harry D. Silverstein, operates a building in my council district, 3971 Gouverneur Avenue in Van Cortlandt Village. The building has more than 280 open violations filed with Housing Preservation and Development, and 4 with Department of Buildings.  These include numerous complaints of unrepaired plumbing, as well as unsafe conditions such as defective smoke and CO2 alarms and missing window guards.”
“This type of irresponsible management of residential buildings is despicable and intolerable.  My district is home to a total of 9 buildings owned by 6 individuals on this infamous list.  I demand that Silverstein and the other building owners who made the list immediately fix their buildings, or sell them to someone who will.   We cannot look the other way, and tolerate the continued existence of unsafe and inhumane housing units in our neighborhoods.”
“My staff hears tenant concerns from throughout the district on a regular basis, and we attempt to reach out to landlords where possible, to get the concerns resolved.  When that does not resolve the issues, we encourage tenants to organize themselves, and seek legal representation.  I invite residents of 3971 Gouverneur Ave. and other buildings with unresolved HPD complaints, to visit my district office at 277 West 231st Street, or call 718.549.7300 to report concerns about their housing conditions.”


  Mayor Bill de Blasio today called for significant amendments to Section 50-a of the New York State Civil Rights Law to make disciplinary information about police officers and other uniformed personnel covered under this section of the law subject to disclosure.

Civil Rights Law Section 50-a, in existence since 1976, treats as confidential all personnel records of law enforcement and other uniformed personnel that are used to evaluate performance toward continued employment or promotion. Under this section of law, personnel records of law enforcement and other uniformed personnel may only be disclosed pursuant to a court order or with the express written consent of the employee to whom the records pertain. Several appellate court decisions have held that personnel records, including summaries of disciplinary actions taken against law enforcement and other uniformed personnel, cannot be disclosed because of the confidentiality protections under Civil Rights Law Section 50-a.

The de Blasio Administration, just like every administration that has preceded it, is constrained to follow State law and binding appellate court rulings, and to apply the law evenly in all circumstances regardless of who the covered employees are. However, the Administration strongly believes that the public interest in transparency and accountability for those in positions of public trust is not well-served by the law as it currently exists and, therefore, it will seek amendments to Civil Rights Law Section 50-a in the upcoming 2017 state legislative session.

“This Administration is committed to bringing greater transparency to the disciplinary records of law enforcement and other uniformed personnel. The public interest is disserved by State Civil Rights Law Section 50-a in its current, flawed form," said Mayor Bill de Blasio. "Today we are announcing a set of guiding principles that must shape the necessary amendments required to legally disclose the disciplinary records of law enforcement and other uniformed personnel. Without significant changes to this statute, the City remains barred from providing New Yorkers with the transparency we deserve. We hope advocates for greater transparency will join us in the effort to reform this State law.”

“I believe in transparency. I also believe that making information about disciplinary proceedings public will help us build trust with the community,” said NYPD Commissioner James P. O’Neill. “It is my hope we can work with the State legislature and the Governor on the proposed 50-a amendment.”

Zachary W. Carter, Corporation Counsel, said, “This legislative proposal provides a legal framework for keeping the public informed about the disciplinary process for police officers, particularly concerning their encounters with civilians. To the extent that current law does not permit transparency into the disciplinary process, it should be changed.”

Maya Wiley, Chair of the Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB), said, “Now more than ever, we must aggressively build stronger police and community relationships. To get there, the public needs to know that police officers are accountable for their actions. Building trust in our system of Civilian oversight of police complaints requires demonstrating that action is taken when complaints have been substantiated. This proposal is critical at a time when our nation is witnessing too many disturbing videos of police involved shootings and targeting of police officers simply because they wear the badge.”

Working closely with partners in state government, labor leaders and unions, clergy, advocacy groups and other key stakeholders, the Administration will craft proposed legislative language to accomplish the transparency and fairness to which the public is entitled. The legislation should:

  • Remove confidentiality protections currently applicable to disciplinary records, including all cases prosecuted by the New York City Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB) in the trial room, thereby subjecting the full public record of the disciplinary proceeding and the results of such disciplinary proceeding to public disclosure. This would include final factual findings and disposition of any disciplinary measures imposed (or not imposed). 

  • In a litigation context, maintain current law restrictions on the use of covered personnel records in litigation which require a finding that records being disclosed are relevant to the specific case, but also adds that the judge must find that the records’ probative value outweigh the prejudicial harm of admitting them.

  • Continue to allow permitted access for other governmental agencies, such as district attorneys and corporation counsels, in furtherance of a governmental function

If enacted, the legislation would result in the following items to be posted on the NYPD website pertaining to each case disposed of:

  • Officer’s Name
  • Charges Made
  • Transcript and Exhibits of the Departmental Hearing
  • Summary of the Decision of the Trial Judge
  • Final Determination by the Police Commissioner

These cases would be posted online and no FOIL action would be required to access the above information. The cases posted would include both NYPD-initiated and CCRB prosecuted cases.

Bronx Chamber of Commerce and OATH invite you to join us for "How to Respond to Summonses & Notices of Violations"

The Bronx Chamber of Commerce and OATH (NYC Office of Administrative Trials & Hearings) invite you to attend How to Respond to Summonses & Notices of Violation, a free small business forum, Oct. 26, Hutch Metro Conference Center, 4-6pm.

This event is geared to help small businesses navigate the OATH court system and provide them with a fair and impartial hearing if they require one. It will also allow you and small businesses to ask city agencies one-on-one questions regarding enforcement or other related questions in the Q&A session immediately following in the Hutch Metro Café at 5:00 pm.

Information or to RSVP (by Friday, October 21, 2016):

President Obama Signs Engel Anti-Wildlife Trafficking Legislation Into Law

  President Barack Obama has signed into law H.R. 2494, The Eliminate, Neutralize, and Disrupt (END) Wildlife Trafficking Act of 2016, for which Congressman Eliot Engel was the lead Democratic sponsor. The law, which passed the House and Senate in late September with bipartisan support, will strengthen wildlife trafficking laws and bolster traffic enforcement efforts to further protect endangered species that have been targeted by poachers. 
“I want to thank President Obama, who has always been a great champion of wildlife conservation, for acting expeditiously to sign our END Wildlife Trafficking Act into law,” Congressman Engel said. “In working closely with my colleague Chairman Royce, and organizations like the Bronx-based Wildlife Conservation Society, we were able to pass this vital measure that will help address the poaching crisis that enriches illicit criminal networks and preserve some of our planet’s most iconic species, including elephants, rhinos and other endangered species.  Again, I want to thank Chairman Royce and our Senate colleagues for their work advancing this legislation through Congress.
“I have always prided myself on working hand-in-hand with my colleagues across the aisle in order to get things done. This bill’s success is further proof that by working together in a bipartisan way, we can accomplish many great things for our country and our planet.”
Said John Calvelli, Executive Vice President for Public Affairs for the Wildlife Conservation Society: “The END Wildlife Trafficking Act sends a clear message around the world that the United States is serious about fighting wildlife crime and illegal trade that is decimating our natural heritage across the planet.  With the passage of this legislation, elephants, gorillas, pangolins and other wildlife can breathe a little easier.  We commend Congressman Engel’s leadership for championing this bill and for President Obama for signing it into law.”


You should know that last week, Haiti was devastated by Hurricane Matthew, leaving a death toll of more than 900, destroying towns, villages, homes, schools, businesses, and leaving most of the island in disrepair.
You should also know that in 2010, Haiti was hit by an earthquake, practically destroying almost the whole island, leaving 200,000 people dead, and survivors devastated with famine and disease.
In 2010, after the earthquake, there was a national effort to help rebuild Haiti.  According to reports, $10 billion dollars was raised to rebuild it.
It is important for you to know that in 2010, even though $10 billion dollars was raised and the whole island could have been rebuilt, that was not done.
In a New York Post column titled “Al Nixed Haiti $$” Richard Johnson wrote:
“The Rev. Al Sharpton doesn’t want any money going to rebuild Haiti from the devastation of Hurricane Matthew until we find out what happened to the $10 billion that was meant to rebuild Haiti after the earthquake in 2010.”
Mr. Johnson continued: “What happened to the money that was given the last time? We need to look into it,” Sharpton told me. “I don’t know where the blame lies.”
Ladies and gentlemen, we all know how Haiti is one of the poorest islands in the hemisphere, and when natural disasters strike, suffering gets worse.
Sean Penn, along with other celebrities created organizations to raise money to help rebuild Haiti.
It is a shame that after six years, even before Hurricane Matthew hit, the people in Haiti continue to suffer devastation.
You should know that even though people are getting together once again to raise money for Haiti, I agree with Reverend Al Sharpton that money should not be given to Haiti until we know who is profiting from Haiti’s suffering.
We need to get together and press the authorities to find out where the $10 billion dollars went and why that money did not help the people in Haiti.
Can you imagine what we could do with $10 billion dollars? There are countries whose annual budgets are less than  $10 billion dollars.
Reverend Sharpton, I am with you. Where are the $10 billion dollars that was given to Haiti?
I am Senator Reverend Rubén Díaz, and this is what you should know.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Fifteen Charged In White Plains Federal Court With Using Front Music Company To Engage In Cocaine Trafficking


  Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, William F. Sweeney Jr., Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), George P. Beach II, the Superintendent of the New York State Police (“NYSP”), Adrian H. Anderson, Sheriff of Dutchess County, and Thomas Pape,

Acting Chief of City of Poughkeepsie Police Department, today announced the unsealing of an indictment and a complaint charging 15 defendants with allegedly engaging in the distribution of cocaine throughout southern and central New York.  Twelve defendants were taken into custody today, and will be presented in White Plains federal court this afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Paul E. Davison.  MALCOLM KINYON was previously arrested on the complaint, and DAVION McADAMS and ANTON MILLER remain at large.
U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said:  “The defendants charged today allegedly used a music company, ‘Outta They League,’ as a front to run their drug trafficking business.  These arrests take ‘Outta They League’ out of the business of drugs and violence.  We thank the FBI, the New York State Police, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of New York, and our many local law enforcement partners for their extraordinary partnership on this case.” 
FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge William F. Sweeney said:  “The average drug dealer can’t peddle his wares on the street anymore without someone seeing it, so they’ve found ways to hide their drugs and money using legitimate businesses.  The one thing this group of defendants allegedly didn’t take into consideration, bank accounts don’t lie.  The bad guys may think they’re being smarter than law enforcement, but our Hudson Valley Safe Streets Task Force is made up of investigators and detectives who are skilled at finding all methods of criminals hiding their crimes.”           
NYSP Superintendent George P. Beach II said:  “This investigation and the charges brought today against these 15 individuals are evidence of the commitment we share with our law enforcement partners in keeping  dangerous drugs off our streets. I commend the members of our Special Investigations Unit, the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for their outstanding efforts to shut down this dangerous drug trafficking operation.”
Dutchess County Sheriff Adrian H. Anderson said:  “Today was a great victory for law enforcement in Dutchess County and elsewhere by the taking of these allegedly dangerous individuals off of our streets. This country faces an ongoing drug epidemic, and being able to contribute towards ending that epidemic by helping remove some of those allegedly responsible is very gratifying. This is a perfect example of what can be achieved when Federal, State, and local law enforcement work together and I look forward to doing so again in the future.”
City of Poughkeepsie Acting Police Chief Thomas Pape said:  “We are grateful for the coordinated efforts of our partners in law enforcement in bringing a successful indictment against these individuals. Mr. Bharara has once again shown that criminal activity will not be tolerated and that he will successfully coordinate efforts between federal, State and local law enforcement agencies to arrest and prosecute those responsible for crimes committed in our communities.”           
As alleged in the Indictment and Complaint unsealed today in White Plains federal court[1]:
“Outta They League,” or “OTL,” is a registered corporation that has engaged in the production of music, but in recent years has served primarily as a front used by its owner, MALCOLM KINYON, a/k/a “M.A.,” to facilitate wholesale cocaine transactions, and help launder the proceeds of those drug sales. 
Those drug sales were made by KINYON and his associates, members of a criminal drug-trafficking organization that also called itself OTL.  Each month, OTL distributed multiple kilograms of cocaine in and around Poughkeepsie, New York, and to other locations in southern and central New York.  Individual OTL members and associates, including BRIAN BOWMAN, a/k/a “Pony,” AARON HARDY, ANDREW HARDY, NICHOLAS LEYVA, a/k/a “Stay High,” a/k/a “Stay,” DAVION McADAM, a/k/a “Goat,” DANTE McNAIR, a/k/a “Tay,” JAQUAN McNAIR, a/k/a “Quannie,” a/k/a “Drugs,” ANTON MILLER, a/k/a “Anton Singleton,” a/k/a “Nord,” DANIEL SPOTARDS, a/k/a “D,” VAUGHN STOKES, a/k/a “Qua,” and BRYAN WHITTLE, a/k/a “B,” a/k/a “Tall B,” obtained wholesale quantities of this cocaine typically on a consignment basis from OTL’s leader, KINYON.  These cocaine distributors would resell the cocaine they obtained from KINYON, and use the bulk of the proceeds from those sales to pay KINYON for the cocaine KINYON provided.  KINYON would then reinvest those proceeds in further supplies of cocaine, which he would again provide to the other OTL members and associates.
Despite the negligible amounts of income derived from music, a bank account maintained by OTL received in excess of one million dollars from between in or around June 2013 through in or around January 2016.  Most of the funds that passed through that account represented proceeds of narcotics transactions that were ultimately used to facilitate the purchase of additional quantities of cocaine for additional narcotics transactions.   Numerous OTL members and associates, including MALCOLM KINYON, a/k/a “M.A.,” ERIC ANTONMARCHI, a/k/a “Powerful,” a/k/a “P,” STAR BERMUDEZ, DERRICK ENSLEY, a/k/a “Dirk,” ANTON MILLER, a/k/a “Anton Singleton,” a/k/a “Nord,” and DANIEL SPOTARDS, a/k/a “D,” have made large cash deposits to the OTL Account.
In addition to trafficking narcotics, the OTL organization maintained discipline through the threatened use of violence.  OTL members and associates have been recorded discussing the use of violence, including the use of firearms and physical assaults, to ensure repayment for drug debts and to deter co-conspirators from providing information to law enforcement, among other purposes.  OTL’s leader, KINYON, is further charged with trafficking firearms purchased in Virginia and trafficked to New York for resale to OTL members and associates.
These arrests were coordinated with an investigation in the Northern District of New York, targeting Bloods gang members operating in and around Kingston, New York.  As a result of that investigation, 31 defendants were indicted for narcotics and other charges in five indictments also unsealed today in Albany federal court.  Many of these defendants were trafficking in cocaine and other drugs obtained from OTL.           
A chart containing the names of the defendants who were arrested today, and the charges and maximum penalties they face, is attached.
The statutory maximum sentences are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencings of the defendants will be determined by the Court.
Mr. Bharara praised the outstanding investigative work of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the New York State Police, the Dutchess County Sheriff’s Office, and the City of Poughkeepsie Police Department.  He further thanked the United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of New York, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Ulster Regional Gang Enforcement Narcotics Team for their cooperation and assistance in this investigation.
The prosecution is being handled by the Office’s White Plains Division.  Assistant U.S. Attorneys Benjamin Allee, Hagan Scotten, and Christopher Clore are in charge of the prosecution.
The charges contained in the Complaint and the Indictment are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

United States Attorney Announces Charges Against Narcotics Trafficker Connected To Heroin Overdose Death

  Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, William F. Sweeney Jr., the Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), and Robert M. Noble, Chief the Yorktown Police Department, announced the arrest and filing of charges against ANTHONY DELOSANGLES, a/k/a “Taco,” age 20, for narcotics dealing that resulted in death.
On September 19, 2016, the United States Attorney’s Office secured an indictment against DELOSANGLES, charging DELOSANGELES with conspiracy to distribute heroin.  The indictment alleges that heroin distributed by DELOSANGELES resulted in the death of Thomas Cippollaro, age 25, of White Plains, New York, on November 9, 2015.  DELOSANGELES is currently detained serving a prison sentence on related state narcotics charges. 
DELOSANGELES was presented in federal court in White Plains before U.S. Magistrate Judge Paul E. Davison on October 11, 2016, and detained without bail.  The case has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Kenneth M. Karas.  DELOSANGELES faces a mandatory minimum term of 20 years in prison. 
U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara stated:  “The epidemic of opioid abuse is devastating our communities.  Charges like those announced today strike at the heart of the problem – dealers who fuel the cycle of addiction and overdose.  Anthony Delosangeles allegedly dealt in heroin, including the heroin that killed Thomas Cippollaro, a 25 year-old White Plains man.  We thank the FBI and our local law enforcement partners for their extraordinary efforts that led to the charges today.”  
FBI Assistant Director William F. Sweeney Jr. stated:  “When dealers are out hawking their drugs, they rarely think beyond the easy money.  Many times buyers end up in a morgue, and the dealers are on to the next sale.  The cavalier attitude is obvious in this case when the defendant allegedly named some of his product ‘ice cream.’  The goal of the FBI and our law enforcement partners is to stop the drug traffickers who hope their clientele will think something named ‘ice cream’ won’t kill them.”
Yorktown Police Chief Robert M. Noble stated:  “The Yorktown Police Department is proud to have played an integral role in the arrest of Anthony Delosangeles.  This arrest would not have been possible without the assistance of the Westchester County Department of Public Safety, Putnam County Sheriff’s Office, F.B.I. and the United States Attorney’s Office.  When agencies combine efforts, and work without agendas, excellence in law enforcement is possible.  The residents of Yorktown and Westchester County are all a bit safer today, as an alleged heroin dealer is behind bars.  We hope that this arrest will bring a small bit of solace to the family of Thomas Cipollaro.”
As alleged in the Indictment against DELOSANGLES[1]:
From at least in or about May 2015 up to and including in or about February 2016, in the Southern District of New York and elsewhere, ANTHONY DELOSANGELES, a/k/a “Taco,” and others conspired to sell heroin.  The use of controlled substances distributed by DELOSANGELES resulted in the death of Thomas Cipollaro on or about November 9, 2015.
DELOSANGELES is charged with one count of narcotics conspiracy, which carries a maximum of life in prison and a mandatory term of 20 years in prison.  The statutory maximum sentences are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant would be determined by the judge.
The charges contained in the Indictment against DELOSANGELES are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
This matter is being handled by the Office’s White Plains Division.  Assistant United States Attorneys Jennifer Burns and Maurene Comey are in charge of the prosecution.
Mr. Bharara praised the outstanding investigative work of the FBI, the DEA, the Yorktown Police Department, and the Westchester County District Attorney’s Office.

[1] As the introductory phrase signifies, the entirety of the text of the Indictment and the description of the Indictment set forth herein constitute only allegations, and every fact described should be treated as an allegation.

New Investigation Finds Employment Agencies Scamming Low-Wage Workers

Legislators & advocates demand Justice for Job Seekers and call on Governor Cuomo to sign protections into law

New YorkSenators Jeff Klein and Diane Savino, Democratic Senate Nominee Marisol Alcantara, and Assemblyman Francisco Moya called on Governor Andrew Cuomo to sign protections into law for job seekers as they released a new investigation, “Demanding Justice for Job Seekers,” on Thursday.

The investigative report illustrated deceptive and illegal tactics employment agencies use to prey on minimum-wage work seeking applicants. Employment agencies, licensed by the state or in New York City the Department of Consumer Affairs, cannot guarantee employment to a job seeker and must refund advance fees if employment is not secured.

Unscrupulous agencies across New York City, for years, have fleeced low-wage and immigrant workers out of high fees when they apply for and never land A or A1 class work, which includes jobs like busboys, wait staff, household staff, manual laborers and other unskilled work.

Current state law allows an agency to charge a fee for these jobs in advance, unlike professional jobs where fees only come after applicants nail down a job.

“It’s unconscionable that unscrupulous employment agencies scam job seekers looking for minimum wage work and that’s why we need Governor Cuomo to sign into law protections for this vulnerable class of workers. Many times immigrants seeking the American Dream wind up getting the American Nightmare at these agencies after being fleeced while on the hunt for work. This needs to end,” said Senator Klein.

Several years ago, after hearing from my constituents whose desperation to find work was exploited by unscrupulous employment agencies, I fought to draft legislation that would protect workers from being taken advantage of. I’ve seen firsthand how fraudulent agencies charge fees in the hundreds, sending out hopeful job seekers on a wild goose hunt before changing their address and resuming their scheme elsewhere. Even when the agency is legitimate, agencies illegitimately charge upfront fees on the promise of a better job. But that promise is false, and that fee is nonrefundable. The solution that I have fought to achieve is simple: No more fees in advance. If the agency is worth what it charges, their client will have found the means with which to pay their cost. I urge Governor Cuomo to sign the Justice for Job Seekers bill into law so that New Yorkers seeking better opportunities for their family are protected from this pervasive exploitation,” said Assemblyman Moya.

“Employment agency scams impact job seekers who can least afford to lose money. We must crackdown on these bad actors, who time and time again, we find prey on low-wage and immigrant workers in our city who simply want to find a decent job. We need Governor Cuomo to sign the Justice for Job Seekers bill to better protect our workers,” said Senator Savino.

“Picking the pockets of an American Dream seekers is deplorable. When someone in the community comes to an employment agency to find a job, that person should never be robbed of their opportunity to succeed and wind up scammed out of their money. We need Governor Cuomo to sign this legislation into law to protect our job seekers from this type of fraud,” said Democratic Senate Nominee Marisol Alcantara.

During an undercover investigation, staff visited 76 employment agencies in New York City that were both licensed and unlicensed. Only 37 were accessible. Many had closed, illustrating the fly-by-night nature of many unlicensed employment agencies.

Of the 37 agencies visited, 76% asked for an advance fee and nearly half said they would not refund money if a job seeker did not find employment, which is against current state law.
Agency representatives cannot guarantee an applicant work, of the agencies charging fees that could be as high as $200, but averaged $85, for a $9 per hour worker, 40% promising jobs did not refund money and 36% guaranteeing work never mentioned a refund was possible.

In an undercover video clip, an agent at an employment agency not only guaranteed employment, but went as far as to compare an illegal nonrefundable fee to clothing return policies.

This year, Senator Klein and Assemblyman Moya passed in their respective houses the Justice for Job Seekers bill, which would strengthen protections for job seekers and crackdown on unscrupulous agencies with stiffer penalties.

Highlights of the bill include:

  • Eliminating advance fees for A and A1 workers.
  • Requires agencies to display their license number on all advertisements and public documents.
  • Imposes civil fines ranging from $1,000 to $5,000, a change from the flat $500 fine.
  • Imposes criminal fines ranging from $2,500, up from the current $1,000.

“The Justice for Job Seekers campaign was born from the experiences of NICE members who suffered at the hands of predatory and fraudulent employment agencies that charge hundreds of dollars for job placements that never come through” said Manuel Castro, executive director of New Immigrant Community Empowerment. “When signed into law, this bill will provide fair and meaningful protections to low-wage immigrant workers across the state of New York. The findings of this report, a product of mystery shopping done by NICE members and allies, shows once again the urgency for these protections. We thank Senator Klein, Senator Savino, and Assemblyman Moya for their relentless commitment to our communities and to this bill.”


  Mayor also calls on federal government to clear citizenship application backlog to ensure America’s newest voters are able to register for November 8 election

“Conducting free and fair elections is a sacred duty of government, yet in New York State, the way we hold elections is outdated, underfunded and seems designed to discourage participation. We’re here to say that in New York City we’re fighting for every voice to be heard. While we push to register as many New Yorkers as possible before tomorrow’s voter registration deadline, we need to make our call loud and clear: our system needs to be fairer and more open if we want our democracy to be a representative one,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. 

Mayor Bill de Blasio met with New Yorkers in Brooklyn to talk about voting reforms that could make New York’s electoral system fairer and more open, and to help register students and community residents ahead of Friday’s voter registration deadline. The Mayor was joined by volunteers from the Mayor’s Community Affairs Unit as part of City Hall’s outreach efforts to help sign up eligible voters who have yet to register before Friday’s deadline. There are currently two million eligible but unregistered voters in New York.

The Mayor also called for the federal government to clear the citizenship application backlog of more than 57,000 pending applications in the New York and Queens USCIS service centers, and more than half a million nationwide, in order for those residents to register and vote in the November 8 election.

This year, the City has increased accessibility to voter registration for citizens with limited English proficiency by providing translated versions of the voter registration form in 11 new languages at In addition to the four translations that were already available – Spanish, Chinese, Korean, and Bengali – the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, the Mayor’s Office of Operations, and the Campaign Finance Board have now provided translations in Russian, Haitian Creole, Arabic, French, Urdu, Albanian, Greek, Tagalog, Yiddish, Polish, and Italian. These efforts ensure that over 90 percent of limited English proficient eligible voters in New York City are able to register to vote on a form in their language.


The Mayor called for the passage of a slate of reforms at the state level that would make New York’s voting process fairer and more open. By removing barriers to absentee and early voting, cutting down lines at the polls, making registration and voting easier and more streamlined, we can ensure that every New Yorkers’ vote counts and stop preventing voters from casting their ballot due to unavoidable employment, health care or family responsibilities.

These reforms include:

Allow Same-Day Voter Registration
  • This legislation would remove the requirement in the State Constitution that requires voter registration no later than 10 days before Election Day.
  • This reform would allow eligible voters to register on the day of Election Day, ensuring more voices are heard at the polls.
  • Thirteen states and the District of Colombia have same-day voter registration.

Early Voting Measures
  • Thirty-seven states and the District of Columbia provide for in-person early voting or mail-in voting. New York State does not.
  • Legislation should be passed to allow New York to employ methods of early voting including vote by mail, “no-excuse” absentee voting and early in-person voting.

“No Excuse” Absentee Voting
  • Currently, in order to vote absentee in New York State, a voter must have one of several permissible reasons, such as being out of New York City on Election Day, temporary illness or disability.
  • This proposal would remove all of the conditions precedent for absentee ballots and allow voters to request an absentee ballot as an alternative to in-person voting.

Electronic Poll Books
  • This legislation would authorize the use of electronic poll books to ease the voting process and mitigate the issue of long waits at voting sites.
  • Thirty-two states and the District of Columbia already use electronic poll books.

Consolidation of Primary Elections
  • This legislation would consolidate all of the primary elections into one day, making it easier and more streamlined for New York residents to vote in primary elections.
  • This legislation would amend the Federal Military Overseas Voter Empowerment (MOVE) Act, which currently requires the State to conduct two primary elections, or three in presidential years. This is very costly to local boards of election as well as confusing and burdensome to voters

Ballot Usability
  • Reformatting the way ballots are laid out – including font size, placement of instructions, placement of candidate names – can make them more legible and user-friendly for voters.
  • This legislation would make it easier to read a ballot and reduce errors in voting.

Pre-registration of 16- and 17-year-olds
  • This proposal would allow 16- and 17-year olds the opportunity to pre-register to vote, including in schools at the time that students register for class selection each year. The preregistration would be optional.
  • Once registered, the local board at elections shall maintain registration on file and registration shall automatically become active when the registrant turns 18 years of age.


The Mayor called for the federal government to clear the large backlog of pending naturalization applications.

  • There are currently more than 57,000 pending applications in the New York and Queens USCIS service centers, and more than half a million nationwide. Many immigrants who applied for citizenship months ago will be unable to register to vote without swift federal action.
  • The de Blasio Administration calls on the federal government to process pending applications as quickly as possible to ensure that immigrant New Yorkers are able to vote.

Two week extension for recent citizens
  • Immigrants who naturalize after the October 14 voter registration deadline can still register to vote in the November 8 election. These new citizens must register in person at their borough’s Board of Elections office no later than October 29.


There are currently 2 million eligible but unregistered voters in New York State. The de Blasio Administration is fighting to ensure every vote counts this Election Day by streamlining the process, engaging voters and making it simpler for voters of all languages to register. Below are a few of the de Blasio Administration’s wide reaching efforts to increase voter participation.

Voter registration forms in more languages
  • New Yorkers can now access registration forms in a total of 16 languages at
  • In addition to the four translations that were already available – Spanish, Chinese, Korean, and Bangla – the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, the Mayor’s Office of Operations, and the Campaign Finance Board have now provided translations in Russian, Haitian Creole, Arabic, French, Urdu, Albanian, Greek, Tagalog, Yiddish, Polish, and Italian.
  • Voters can access the forms at
  • These efforts ensure that over 90 percent of limited English proficient eligible voters in New York City are able to register to vote on a form in their language.
Voter registration during civil service exams
DCAS provides direct electronic access to voter registration for all who sign up for civil service exams and the City is in process of adding additional agencies.
The Campaign Finance Board launched “” to provide easy access to all voting related services.

  • City Hall’s #NoshTheVote campaign, inspired by the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce’s “GuacTheVote” voter registration drive, stationed volunteers at 12 food trucks across the five boroughs on Tuesday, October 11 to help register more New Yorkers and raise awareness that there is still time to register to vote in the November 8 election.
  • Volunteers distributed hundreds of forms to New Yorkers, and raised awareness across the five boroughs.
  • Voter drive efforts continue across the city through our agencies and partner organizations.
LinkNYC is helping to get out the vote by making registering to vote on Links easier than ever for New Yorkers on the go. LinkNYC launched a redesigned tablet homepage, which links directly to the New York State DMV’s Electronic Voter Registration Application page.