Saturday, June 6, 2020

Poll by Data For Progress Shows Ruben Diaz Sr. in the Lead in the 15th Congressional District


 In the Consulting Company Data for Progress poll only 323 people with Text to web, and Web Panel responses were used. Data for Progress does not say that the survey was representative of the entire 15th Congressional District nor what parts of the district were surveyed, just that the sample was weighted to be representative of likely voters by age, gender, education, race, and voting history. In other words the poll is to be more Progressive, as is in the name Data for Progress. The reality is that Ruben Diaz Sr. was the State Senator in the majority part of the 15th congressional district for fourteen years, and no other current or former elected official represented as much of the 15th Congressional District as Ruben Diaz Sr. has. 

The Data for Progress poll only lists nine candidates when there are twelve candidates running and on the ballot. The Data for Progress poll has an unsure percentage of 34 %, which when Date for Progress asks which candidate are you leaning to Ruben Diaz Sr. received three times as many responses than Ritchie Torres. Thus the difference becomes much greater between Ruben Diaz Sr. and his nearest challenger. 

We saw Assemblyman Michael Blake the day after the poll came out, and asked him for his opinion of the Data for Progress survey. Blake was very candid in his answer saying reverse him and Ritchie Torres, because he Blake not Torres in second place to Ruben Diaz Sr. in the 15th Congressional race. Assemblyman Blake agreed with the rest of the poll saying that after Diaz Sr. and himself no other candidate has anywhere near ten percent of the vote.

The Data for Progress website was checked where on their blog is a story dated May 19, 2020 titled 'The Bronx is an Epicenter for Coronavirus and Environmental Injustice'. In the second sentence of the first paragraph is a link to a story on the 15th Congressional District titled 'The Bronx, long a symbol of American poverty, is now New York City's coronavirus capital'. The story was written on April 21, 2020 one month after petitions were handed into the Board of Elections declaring twelve candidates for the 15th Congressional District. In the article only Ritchie Torres is quoted out of the twelve candidates, several times at that, is said to be the councilman from the district, when Councilman Torres has only a small part of the 15th Congressional District, that includes Councilman Ruben Diaz Sr. who has a larger part of the Congressional District. City Council members Rafael Salamanca, Vanessa Gibson, and Diana Ayala also have parts of the 15th Congressional District.

Here is the Data for Progress poll 
The State of the Democratic Primary in NY-15

* A Data for Progress poll found that the contest for the 15th congressional district in the South Bronx is currently a two-way race between New York City Councilmen Ritchie Torres and Rubén Díaz Sr. 

Sean McElwee Executive Director, Data for Progress
Ethan Winter Analyst, Data for Progress
June 2020

Between May 21 and May 24, 2020, Data for Progress conducted a survey of 323 likely New York Democratic Primary voters in New York's 15th Congressional District using both text-toweb and web panel responses. The sample was weighted to be representative of likely voters by age, gender, education, race, and voting history. The survey was conducted in English and Spanish. 

In May 2020, Data for Progress used a text-toweb and web-panel survey of 323 likely voters in the Democratic primary of New York 15th Congressional Districting to gauge the state of the ongoing race. We found that it’s currently a two-way race. The plurality (34 percent) of likely primary voters are still not sure about who they’ll cast their ballot for. New York City Councilman Rubén Díaz Sr. currently leads the field at 22 percent of the vote, followed by New York City Councilman Ritchie Torres at 20 percent, with Assemblyman Michael Blake, Melissa MarkViverito and Councilman Ydanis Rodríguez at 6 percent. Samelys Lopez has two percent and Jonathan Ortiz, Julio Pabon and Tomas Ramos stand at 1 percent.

When Data for Progress re-asked those who responded that they weren’t sure who they were considering supporting. A majority (56 percent) reported that they aren’t yet leaning towards any of the candidates in particular. Twenty-percent reported that they were leaning towards Díaz Sr., with Torres picking up seven percent. 

Data for Progress also asked likely primary voters in the district if they think gay or lesbian relations are morally acceptable or morally wrong. 73 percent of voters think it’s morally acceptable while only 27 percent of voters think it’s morally unacceptable, with 0 percent undecided?

To see the numbers which City and State reported on the link is -

No. 202.37: Continuing Temporary Suspension and Modification of Laws Relating to the Disaster Emergency

No. 202.37

E X E C U T I V E  O R D E R

Continuing Temporary Suspension and Modification of Laws
Relating to the Disaster Emergency

WHEREAS, on March 7, 2020, I issued Executive Order Number 202, declaring a State disaster emergency for the entire State of New York; and
WHEREAS, both travel-related cases and community contact transmission of COVID-19 have been documented in New York State and are expected to continue;
NOW THEREFORE, I, Andrew M. Cuomo, Governor of the State of New York, by virtue of the authority vested in me by Section 29-a of Article 2-B of the Executive Law to issue any directive necessary to cope with the disaster emergency or if necessary to assist or aid in coping with such disaster, I hereby direct, for the period from the date of this Executive Order through July 5, 2020 the following:
Notwithstanding any prior Executive Order to the contrary, special education services and instruction required under Federal, state or local laws, rules, or regulations, may be provided in person for the summer term in school districts. Any district providing such services in person must follow State and Federal guidance.

G I V E N   under my hand and the Privy Seal of the State in the City of Albany this fifth day of June in the year two thousand twenty.

Secretary to the Governor

Governor Cuomo Lays Out 'Say Their Name' Reform Agenda Priorities Following Killing of George Floyd

Governor will Work with State Legislature to Get It Done Next Week

Reform 50-a; Ban Chokeholds; Prohibit Race-Based 911 Calls; Appoint Attorney General as Independent Prosecutor for Police Murders

Announces Lowest Number of Deaths and Hospitalizations Since Covid-19 Pandemic Began

Confirms 1,075 Additional Coronavirus Cases in New York State - Bringing Statewide Total to 376,208; New Cases in 44 Counties

Governor Cuomo: "Coronavirus was a medical issue, was a public health issue, was an economic issue, but more than anything it was a social issue. It was about how people behave, right. And to address coronavirus what we really had to do was change society. It was not a government operation. It was not something I could do governmentally. People had to do it. Government could provide leadership, and we had an operational component, but it was about people making the changes that had to be made. They had to accept it, they had to understand it, they had to change their behavior. That is a monumental undertaking, always."

Cuomo: "Mr. Floyd's murder was the breaking point of a long list of deaths that were unnecessary and which were abusive. That is a fact and people are saying, enough is enough. That is a fact. What people are saying is, we must change and we must stop the abuse - and that is a fact. And New York should be at the forefront of that. That has always been New York's legacy as the progressive capital. We are the ones who hold the standard of what is the right progressive reform and New York should pass next week what we call the "Say Their Name" Reform Agenda."

   Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced the "Say Their Name" reform agenda following the murder of George Floyd and an ongoing pattern of police brutality against minority communities across the nation. The Governor said he will work with the State Legislature to get these policies done next week.

The list of policy priorities builds on earlier proposals he called for in the immediate aftermath of the killing of George Floyd and prior executive actions he has taken including appointing the Attorney General as a special prosecutor in matters relating to the deaths of unarmed civilians caused by law enforcement.

The 'Say Their Name' Reform agenda includes:

  • Allow for transparency of prior disciplinary records of law enforcement officers by reforming 50-a of the civil rights law;
  • Banning chokeholds by law enforcement officers;
  • Prohibiting false race-based 911 reports and making them a crime; and
  • Designating the Attorney General as an independent prosecutor for matters relating to the deaths of unarmed civilians caused by law enforcement.  

Federal Court Enters Injunction Against Herbal Drug Manufacturer For Selling Misbranded And Unapproved Drugs In Violation Of The Federal Food, Drug, And Cosmetic Act

Defendants Had Claimed that “Tonics” and “Herbal Teas” Cured HIV, Cancer, Ebola and Other Serious Illnesses

  Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Stacy Amin, Chief Counsel for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”), announced today that the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York has entered an injunction against defendants RAHSAN A. HAKIM (“Hakim”) and ADONIIAH A. RAHSAN (“Rahsan”) (collectively, the “Defendants”) for repeated violations of the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.  HAKIM and RAHSAN do business as Sundial Herbal Products (“Sundial”). 

U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said:  “If you threaten the public health by selling unapproved or misbranded drugs, we will stop you.  There is no place for modern-day snake oil salesmen.”
FDA Chief Counsel Stacy Amin said:  “Americans expect and deserve medical treatments that have been scientifically proven to be safe and effective.  Making claims that unproven drugs can cure or prevent diseases places consumers’ health at risk.  We remain committed to pursuing and taking swift action against those who attempt to subvert the regulatory functions of the FDA by repeatedly disregarding the law and distributing unapproved products.” 
The Complaint
According to the Government’s complaint, Defendants manufactured and sold various herbal products – often referred to as “tonics” and “herbal teas” – that constitute unapproved new drugs.  Defendants claimed that these products cure, treat, and/or prevent numerous diseases and conditions, including HIV, cancer, syphilis, diabetes, high blood pressure, arthritis, asthma, and heart disease.  None of Defendants’ products had been tested or approved by the FDA for safety or effectiveness.  These products were also “misbranded” in that they failed to include instructions for their safe use.  Defendants’ sale of such products pose a threat to public health because the products’ disease treatment claims may cause consumers to delay appropriate medical care for these serious medical issues.  Sundial had been inspected by the FDA multiple times, including during the pendency of the lawsuit, and, despite repeated promises to do so, Defendants failed to correct their violations of the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (“FDCA”).
The United States filed this lawsuit seeking to enjoin Defendants from manufacturing and selling drugs in violation of the FDCA.
The District Court’s Findings
On May 26, 2020, the District Court found that Defendants have repeatedly violated the law by distributing unapproved new and misbranded drugs.  Among other things, the Court concluded that:
  • “The labels that the FDA collected . . . indisputably establish that Defendants claimed that their products were intended for use in diagnosing, curing, mitigating, treating, and/or preventing a wide variety of diseases.”
  • The drugs sold by Defendants were “unapproved new drugs” because, among other things, they are “not generally recognized as safe and effective” and have not been approved by the FDA.
  • Defendants’ drugs were “misbranded” because “the record shows that many of Defendants’ drugs are intended for treating serious diseases or conditions such as HIV, cancer, and Ebola, all of which require diagnosis and management by a physician . . . . As such, they are only safe for use under the supervision of a physician, which brings them within the definition of prescription drugs.”  Furthermore, “Defendants’ drugs are also misbranded because they lack adequate instructions for lay use.”
  • “Defendants’ past violations are also egregious, as they made claims that their products could cure cancer, HIV, and Ebola, among other serious diseases,” and “absent injunctive relief, nothing prevents Defendants from returning to their old ways.”
Permanent Injunction 
After finding that Defendants had committed “egregious” violations of the law, the Court entered a permanent injunction prohibiting Defendants from manufacturing or selling these products or any drug unless and until either: (1) a new drug application is approved for their drugs; or (2) they meet various requirements demonstrating compliance with the FDCA.  Such requirements include that Defendants must:
  • Remove all claims in labels, promotional material, websites, and social media pages that these herbal remedies diagnose, cure, mitigate, treat, or prevent disease.
  • Recall and destroy, at their own cost, under the FDA’s supervision, all drugs manufactured, packed, labeled, held, and distributed from 2014 through the present.
  • Retain, at their own cost, a qualified, trained, and experienced drug labeling expert to review and report to the FDA on Defendants’ compliance with the issued injunction and FDCA.
  • Arrange for annual audits by an independent third-party to confirm ongoing compliance.
Mr. Berman thanked the investigators and attorneys of the FDA for their valuable assistance on this matter.

Attorney General James Acts to Protect Students from Sexual Harassment

  New York Attorney General Letitia James took action to ensure that millions of students across the country, including more than three million in New York, can retain longstanding protections against sexual harassment, including sexual assault, which impede their access to education. In a lawsuit filed against the U.S. Department of Education and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, Attorney General James seeks to stop a new Trump Administration rule that will hinder how schools investigate, address, and remedy sexual harassment in schools, colleges, and universities. The new rule will undo protections required by Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972, which has been a crucial tool for addressing and eradicating discrimination on the basis of sex for all students in federally funded education programs and activities for nearly 50 years, and has protected the most vulnerable populations in the school system, including women, students of color, LGBTQ+ students, and students with disabilities.

“The president has repeatedly shown that he doesn’t think sexual harassment is a serious matter, but his callousness now threatens our youngest and most vulnerable and could increase the likelihood of sexual harassment and abuse of students in schools,” said Attorney General James. “In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, Secretary DeVos and the Trump Administration are doing everything in their power to endanger and silence survivors of sexual harassment and assault. We are fighting this rule because survivors deserve to be believed, deserve to be respected, and deserve to have the opportunity to tell their stories.”
In 1972, Title IX of the Education Amendments Act was signed into law, stating that “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.” All educational institutions — including both public and private — that receive federal funds are required to follow the law, meaning that almost all public and private colleges and universities must abide by Title IX regulations.
Despite nearly five decades of established policy, in November 2018, the Department of Education issued a notice of proposed rulemaking under the auspices of providing greater protections for individuals accused of sexual harassment. Attorney General James attempted to engage with the Trump Administration by submitting a comment letter to Secretary DeVos, in January 2019, over the Department of Education’s efforts to roll back key protections of Title IX for survivors of sexual assault on college campuses, as did nearly 125,000 other institutions and actors in New York and across the United States.
Nevertheless, last month, in the midst of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, Secretary DeVos and the Department of Education issued the final rule that will, this August, limit the protections against sexual harassment for the more than 50 million students enrolled in kindergarten through 12th grade in the United States and the approximately 20 million students enrolled in colleges and universities across the nation. More than three million students who are enrolled in more than 5,000 K-12 schools and higher education institutions in New York State will be affected by this rule, which narrowly redefines sexual harassment to exclude many forms of harassment that deprive students and others from equal access to educational opportunities; drastically limits, and, in many instances, prohibits institutions from investigating and addressing harassment; guts Title IX’s longstanding protections for survivors of sexual harassment and assault; and abdicates the Department of Education’s central role in enforcing schools’ compliance with Title IX’s prohibitions against sexual harassment.
Additionally, the final rule prescribes — for the first time in Title IX’s history and in stark conflict with the central purpose of the law — an unduly burdensome grievance and adjudicatory process that schools must follow when they receive complaints of sexual harassment. Further, schools must implement these changes over the next two months — many costly — or risk losing billions in critical federal funds that they rely on to provide education to New York students.
The Trump Administration is also requiring schools to comply with the final rule despite conflicts with state and local laws — which may bar New York State and its educational institutions from enforcing their own policies that provide greater substantive and procedural protections to victims of sexual harassment and assault. This includes New York’s “Enough is Enough” law, which sets comprehensive and careful standards for colleges in addressing sexual assault, and which has served as a model for similar legislation across the country. 
Despite laws currently in place, the majority of students who experience sexual harassment, including sexual violence, do not report this conduct to law enforcement or to their schools. According to statistics by the U.S. Department of Justice, only 20 percent of female students aged 18 to 24 who experienced sexual violence ever reported this conduct, but the final rule will further exacerbate this reality, given its impermissibly restrictive definitions of sexual harassment and limitations on actionable sex discrimination.
The State University of New York (SUNY) is not only New York’s largest college and university system — overseeing more than 400,000 students across 64 colleges and universities statewide — but is one the largest public higher education systems in the country, receiving over $1 billion annually in federal funds. The Department of Education’s final rule would risk SUNY losing billions in critical federal funds that the system relies on to provide education to New York students.
“By disregarding decades of a balanced approach to Title IX under which institutions of education investigated and adjudicated allegations of sexual assault and harassment, the federal government is creating an imbalance of justice against victims across the country,” said Sandra Casey, general counsel in charge, SUNY. “We fear for the consequences of their decision, and believe it is our moral obligation to take this legal action.”
“This rule will result in fewer protections for students who experience sexual assault on campus and demonstrates a callous disregard for the pandemic conditions nationwide,” said Mary Haviland, executive director, New York City Alliance Against Sexual Assault. “Since 2015, when New York State passed one of the most comprehensive laws governing campus sexual and domestic violence in the country, we have witnessed the impressive strides colleges have made to improve their response to this violence. We wholeheartedly support the efforts of Attorney General James to halt the enactment of this rule, and to preserve our state law on campus sexual and domestic violence for the safety of college students in New York State.”
The suit asserts that the Trump Administration rule specifically exceeds the Department of Education’s statutory authority and is in violation of section 706(2)(C) of the Administration Procedure Act; is not in accordance with law and is arbitrary and capricious, both in violation of section 706(2)(A); and is without observance of procedure, required by law in violation of section 706(2)(D). 
Separately, Attorney General James has previously worked to protect all New Yorkers from sexual harassment, at school, in the workplace, and everywhere else. This past February, Attorney General James sent two comment letters to the Trump Administration opposing federal proposals that roll back critical anti-discrimination protections, including those for survivors of sexual harassment, for patients and students. In January, Attorney General James announced a settlement for 11 former employees who were sexually harassed and abused at the West Village restaurant The Spotted Pig. In June 2019, Attorney General James applauded the passage of legislation updating sexual harassment laws related to prevention policies and the claims process surrounding any lawsuits. In February 2019, Attorney General James announced legislation that would create penalties for discrimination or retaliation against immigrant employees into law, including those who have been sexually harassed, and in July 2019, Attorney General James applauded the signing of that legislation into law. 


Six-Month Investigation Found No Criminality in Tragic Death

  Bronx District Attorney Darcel D. Clark today announced that a six-month investigation by her Office into the death of Layleen Polanco in a Rikers Island jail cell nearly one year ago has concluded that no criminal charges will be sought in the death, and the report on the investigation has been made public. 

 District Attorney Clark said, “A 27-year-old woman died in custody in a city jail, and the circumstances of her death warranted a full and thorough investigation. Layleen Polanco died from an epileptic seizure. Her family and friends along with the public deserved to know whether anything else played a role in her death. It is an absolute tragedy that Ms. Polanco died so young.

  “The purview of this Office is not to determine whether it was a wrong decision to place Ms. Polanco into Punitive Segregation while she was suffering from a documented seizure disorder; the purview of this Office is to determine whether that decision rose to the level of criminal behavior. 

  “After an in-depth investigation by my Public Integrity Bureau, we have concluded that we would be unable to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that any individual committed any crime associated with Ms. Polanco’s demise. We will not be seeking any criminal charges related to this devastating event.

  “I want to thank Ms. Polanco’s family for their patience and cooperation throughout the entirety of the investigation.”

  Department of Investigation Commissioner Margaret Garnett said, “All New Yorkers’ lives have significance, including those incarcerated in the City’s jail system. We take investigations of any in-custody death very seriously, and our investigators, along with our partners at the Bronx District Attorney’s Office, closely examined all the facts about the tragic death of Layleen Polanco. Our investigation found no evidence of criminal wrongdoing, but DOI did find that City correction officers failed to follow the Department of Correction’s (DOC) directive that every inmate housed in Punitive Segregation shall be observed at least once every 15 minutes, at irregular intervals. In this case, they allowed 47 minutes to pass between tours of Ms. Polanco’s cell. This violation was referred to DOC for appropriate administrative action. DOI was pleased to work with the Bronx District Attorney’s Office on this meaningful investigation.”

  Layleen Polanco was a 27-year-old transgender person housed in punitive segregation at the Rose M. Singer Center on Rikers Island. On June 7, 2019, she was found unresponsive inside of her cell by Correction Officers and was later pronounced dead. An autopsy report issued by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner on August 2, 2019 concluded that Ms. Polanco’s manner of death was natural and that the cause of death was “sudden unexpected death in epilepsy (SUDEP) due to a mutation in the CACNA1H gene.”

  Over the course of six months the Public Integrity Bureau investigated not only the events of June 7, 2019, but the events leading up to that date. The Office issued subpoenas to numerous hospitals and health care providers, receiving more than a thousand pages of medical records. New York City Department of Correction records and Westchester County Department of Correction records were collected and analyzed. The Office also interviewed Correction Officers and incarcerated persons--both present and not present on June 7, 2019--as well as medical staff who responded on June 7, 2019.

   District Attorney Clark thanked Christina Fragola, Deputy Director of the Crime Victims Assistance Unit, and Jasmine Bailey, Advocate in the Crime Victims Assistance Unit, for their assistance.

Comptroller Stringer to Mayor de Blasio: Cut $1.1 Billion in NYPD Spending Over Four Years and Reinvest in Vulnerable Communities and Vital Services

Stringer lays out specific roadmap to reducing NYPD spending – cuts $265 million annually by reducing uniformed headcount through attrition, scaling back overtime and trimming Other Than Personnel Services (OTPS)

Letter calls on City to shift responsibilities and dollars away from the NYPD’s $5.9 billion budget and toward vulnerable communities most impacted by police violence and structural racism
  New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer sent a letter to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio calling on the City to cut $1.1 billion from the New York City Police Department (NYPD) over the next four fiscal years, shifting both responsibilities and dollars away from the NYPD and toward vulnerable communities most impacted by police violence and structural racism. Building on his prior calls for all agencies to identify savings of at least 4 percent, Comptroller Stringer unveiled a specific proposal to implement a 5 percent cut to the NYPD’s Fiscal Year 2021 (FY21) Executive Budget by reducing uniformed headcount through attrition, cutting overtime, and trimming Other Than Personnel Services (OTPS) — saving approximately $265 million annually. By doing so, the City could free up that funding to support critical frontline services, rebuild communities ravaged by COVID-19 and systemic community disinvestment, and dramatically reduce police interactions that too often end in unnecessary criminal legal system involvement. Comptroller Stringer’s call comes at a time when the mayor is proposing a mere 0.31 percent cut to the NYPD’s $5.9 billion budget, despite deep cuts already implemented by City Hall to vital services — including a total elimination of the City’s Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP).
Comptroller Stringer’s letter outlines strategies  to shift responsibilities away from the Police Department — and its armed officers — and toward social workers, counselors, community-based violence interrupters, and other trained professionals better equipped to handle calls related to individuals in mental health crisis, homelessness, and other non-criminal activities, as many other cities across the nation already do.
“The brutal, senseless murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmed Aubrey are the most recent reminders of the longstanding need for racial justice and reform in policing. We must call out racism in all its ugly forms to break this painful cycle. But it is not enough to condemn racism in words: our fight for justice must be backed up with accountability and concrete action,” said New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer. “Breaking down structural racism in New York City will require long-term, lasting change — and that must include reducing the NYPD’s budget. If our budget is a reflection of our values, it is unconscionable that services for Black and Brown New Yorkers are on the chopping block while the NYPD’s budget remains almost entirely untouched.  This is a bold and achievable roadmap to immediately cut millions and instead invest those critical dollars in underserved communities and the programs that will uplift those New Yorkers who need it most.”
A Plan to Reduce NYPD Spending by $1.1 Billion
Comptroller Stringer proposed achieving this more than $1 billion budget reduction in the following ways:

  • Reduce uniformed headcount through attrition:  The City should suspend hiring of new police classes in FY 2021.  Assuming a 3 percent attrition rate, that would bring expected uniformed headcount down to approximately 35,000 by end of FY 2021, or roughly the same average headcount that prevailed between 2011 and 2016, when crime continued its steady decline to historically low levels.  Savings would also accrue from associated fringe benefits savings.
  • Cut uniformed overtime by 5 percent:  Overtime spending for FY 2021 is budgeted at $519.6 million.  A 5 percent reduction in budgeted overtime for uniformed officers would yield a $26 million annual savings.
  • Trim Other than Personnel Services by 4 percent:  The City-funded OTPS budget for FY 2021 is $429 million. A 4 percent reduction in OTPS savings would yield $17 million in savings.  This could be achieved through reductions in the NYPD’s spending on computer services and other service contracts, as well as a lengthening of the replacement cycle for NYPD vehicles, among other possible actions.
Comptroller Stringer’s proposed cuts would save roughly $265 million annually, representing a reduction (or PEG) of 5.0 percent in FY 2021.  Over four years, the plan would net the city nearly $1.1 billion in accrued savings that could be redirected to other priorities, including helping the city to stave off cuts to other essential services.

Comptroller Stringer also urged the City to consider additional avenues for savings, including strategies for reducing legal claims filed against the NYPD. An analysis by the Comptroller’s office revealed that in FY 2018, the City paid out as much as $237.4 million in settlements related to allegations made against the NYPD for use of excessive force, civil rights violations, and personal injury and property damage. Since FY 2014, the total cost incurred to address the consequences of alleged police misconduct has amounted to some $1.3 billion dollars. Acting aggressively to identify and hold officers accountable for police misconduct will not only save dollars in future lawsuits, it will spare many New Yorkers the needless pain and suffering stemming from the unnecessary use of force or other violations of civil rights.
A Brief History of the NYPD Budget
The NYPD’s current uniformed headcount of 36,461 is higher than at any time since FY 2002 with the exception of FY 2018, when headcount topped out at 36,643. The Comptroller’s proposal would reduce headcount to 35,000, or roughly the same average level that prevailed between 2011 and 2016, when crime continued its steady decline. The data suggest, therefore, that there is an opportunity to scale back spending and headcount at the NYPD without impacting recent gains in reducing the City’s overall crime rate.

Comptroller Stringer’s letter to the City outlined soaring NYPD spending:
  • Between FY14 and FY19, the NYPD’s spending rose by 22 percent over the five year period to $5.977 billion — accounting for more than 6 percent of the City’s total budget.
  • The NYPD’s total headcount grew from 50,565 to 53,486 when civilian employees are counted. Of those 2,921 new hires, more than two-thirds (2,021) were uniformed officers.
  • Personnel costs account for about 89 percent of the agency’s budget, while other than personnel services (OTPS) make up about 11 percent of agency spending. Within that 11 percent are a range of costs, including police vehicles ($86.9 million in FY 2019) computer equipment and services ($120.6 million).
Transforming Approaches to Policing and Investing in Our Communities
Over the long-term, divesting from policing and limiting the NYPD’s outsized role in the provision of social services, including the City’s approaches to mental health and homelessness, must be the goal.

Comptroller Stringer’s letter outlined a vision of the city’s police force that would limit NYPD responsibilities to certain kinds of interventions that would be better handled by others who are trained in serving specific populations, among them individuals experiencing a mental health crisis and those experiencing homelessness, as well as certain low level calls for which a uniformed police officer is not needed or necessary.
Furthermore, redirecting funds toward trained social workers, counselors, and outreach staff to help them respond to challenges like homelessness and mental health disorders—which are circumstances rooted in poverty, trauma, and structural racism, not crimes in progress—would produce far more positive outcomes. There is strong evidence that alternatives to policing work well when properly funded, not only in mitigating harm but in building public safety and trust. Comptroller Stringer called onto the City to find inspiration in other jurisdictions across the nation that have dared to take new approaches to policing, highlighting existing models and approaches that have proven successful in Eugene and Springfield, Oregon; Tucson, Arizona and Camden, New Jersey.
To read Comptroller Stringer’s letter to the City, click here.

MAYOR DE BLASIO on Protests and COVID-19 - June 5, 2020

  Mayor Bill de Blasio: Good morning, everybody. Yesterday afternoon, my wife Chirlane and I went to a very moving memorial. As the funeral of George Floyd was beginning. People gathered in Brooklyn to honor George Floyd, to honor his life, his memory, to not let him have died in vain. His brother Terrance was at the Memorial, and we could see the deep pain he was feeling. That whole family is feeling. We have to hold them in our thoughts and prayers. And I could see the raw pain and anger in the crowd gathered. I felt it, I heard it. People who've seen injustice before our very eyes, and can't live with it. And I said, even though the crowd was angry and hurt and unquestionably doubting, whether there could or would be change I said it is incumbent upon me and everyone in leadership to not just say words about change, but to produce change, and show people that we can have a better and more just society. It begins with all of us who you have chosen to lead to actually create that new reality. It cannot just be rhetoric. Rhetoric will be seen through quickly. It should not be just words. It should be actions. So, I said yesterday, and I say it again today, you will see change in this city. You will see change in the NYPD. We simply have not gone far enough. This status quo is still broken. It must change. I'm not going to forget all the progress that has been made. And it is in so many ways important and evident, but it's not enough. And people will know in their hearts when things have been made right. That's the moment I have to get us to more and more every single day. They will know when there is more justice. They will know when there is more fairness. They will know when people in this city, can walk down the street and feel they are safe from crime, but they also are not going to be disrespected, because of who they are. We are not there yet and we have to get there. So, this will be the work for the next year and a half of this administration to make more change, to make it urgently, to make it powerfully, to make it clear. And that work will proceed immediately. And you will see those results. And you'll judge for yourself as all New Yorkers do. But even though we say that phrase, words matter, and words do matter, actions matter more, and that's what we have to achieve.

So, let's talk about yesterday, last night, and also what we have to do. There were protests in our city during the day, they were overwhelmingly peaceful. Some proceeded into the night, also overwhelmingly peaceful. There are things we need to address. There are things we need to fix in the NYPD, but the overall restraint levels were clear. And I always express my appreciation to the men and women of the NYPD for the work that they do. And we need that restraint. We expect that restraint. That is the instruction that all officers have been given. There were those overwhelmingly peaceful protests. There were few or no attacks on property. There were however, some attempts at violence. And this is the point I always want to make to people. We've got a very few mingled in among the peaceful protesters who aim to do violence. Their methods are systematic. I have asked the NYPD to keep providing the information, what we're seeing here, what we're seeing around the country about that very systematic attempt to foster violence. We will not accept that. Every single time we'll intervene to stop that. We also saw in the midst of what was undoubtedly overwhelmingly, what we want to see, an overwhelmingly peaceful night, peaceful protest, little or no property damage, efforts and violence sorted. These are all very good and important things. We saw some things that weren't so good, and I want to make sure those are addressed. First of all, there is no circumstance in which a member of the news media should ever be arrested by the NYPD or any other police organization. If you said to me, well, what if that person overtly went out and committed a crime, obviously then they're committing a crime, they're not doing their job as a member of the news media. That is a different matter. What I'm concerned about is when news media is out there doing their job, reporting, looking at the truth, whether it's convenient or inconvenient truth, their right to do their job must be protected at all times. That is as clear as a bell in our constitution. So, I don't know why we've seen here, and in other parts of the country instances where members of the media that were arrested, that is unacceptable and that needs to stop. And it's clear that that is one of the underpinnings of a free society. Also, want to make clear, this curfew was brought together very quickly in an emergency situation. The message from the beginning was essential workers doing their job in the middle of doing their work are exempted from the curfew. And I want to make that clear to people. The curfew is only going on for a few more nights, but essential workers are essential workers. Any essential worker doing their job is exempted from the curfew. And we are making that abundantly clear to everyone, to the essential workers themselves, and to the NYPD.

Each night, we see a lot of good work. Each night, we see some progress towards our goal of getting back to a fully peaceful circumstance so we can move forward. Because, phase one, the restart of our city begins Monday. That's where we're supremely focused to start moving us forward. But each night we see certainly several situations that raise real questions. Individual instances, where our officers take an action that raises a valid concern. In each and every case, there must be a full investigation, and where discipline is warranted, it needs to be speedy. I've had this conversation with Commissioner Shea. We are working together to ensure that the past history where internal discipline of the NYPD was slow. We're not doing that anymore, we have to move past that. Commissioner Shea spoke passionately yesterday about his desire to heal, to bring police and community together, to continue that progress. And to make clear to people, there are consequences when something has done wrong. The vast, vast majority of officers do their job, do it right, but when someone does something wrong, as in all of our society, there must be consequences. Commissioner Shea made clear yesterday, disciplinary actions are about to be announced. Some will include suspensions of officers. There's a lot going on, but one thing that has to happen is people need to see. The people of this city need to see that when an officer does something wrong, it is investigated. If it is found to be true that something wrong was done, there must be consequences, and they must be swift. That is one of the ways to restore trust and begin the process of moving us forward. And that is what we will do.

I want us to get to the day where no one wonders if they're being treated differently because of the color of their skin. We are not there to say the least, we have to get there. But again, it's not about words. People will know it. If they start to experience something differently, young men came up to me over the years, and told me how different it was to not be stopped all the time. Stop and frisk was a horrible stain on this city. Hundreds of thousands of young people in a given year treated like criminals, even though they hadn't done anything. Devalued young men of color, the future of this city, devalued. Treated with disrespect. That was broken. We fixed that. And I've heard from those who used to experience that disrespect, how much better it feels to just be able to walk down the street, go to school, go to work, be treated with dignity and decency. We've got a lot more to do. That should be every encounter that a citizen of this city has with the NYPD. That's what we strive for. But in the meantime, we've got huge inequities we have to address. Not just in policing, in our economy, in our health care system, everything laid bare by the coronavirus epidemic. And right now, we must address those disparities. We must keep our city safe in this moment of this pandemic. We have to restart our economy. Wherever I go, people talk about how fearful they are for their health, for their family's health, but also, because they're running out of money or they already have run out of money. How are they going to pay the rent? How are they going to pay for food? How are they going to pay for medications? We have to fight back this disease more. We cannot take our eye off the ball.

So, Monday is the restart, and that will be something that allow us to get people back their livelihoods, but we'll also come— with challenges of fighting back this disease. What does it come down to? If we're going to fight this disease, it is once again about that word you've heard so many times testing, testing, testing, testing. That is a way forward, then tracing following up on everyone who was in contact with someone who tested positive so much to do, to make sure we keep people safe, but this is our focus right now. Last week, we had a day where 33,000 people got tested in one day in New York City, the highest we've had since the beginning of this crisis, we intend to keep building that number up to at least 50,000 a day.

Now, the message is I want every New Yorker to get tested and more and more testing capacity is out there in your community. Go take advantage of it, it will help us to move forward. Today we announced something really important that will be mobile testing in New York City— mobile diagnostic testing. So, you can literally stay in your neighborhood, and the testing trucks come to you. We're starting in two neighborhoods next week, Soundview in the Bronx and Kew Gardens in Queens, and they'll be moving around in neighborhoods all over the City. This is an idea that came out of the work within this city government, our task force on racial equity and inclusion, our center for community and faith partnerships, our leaders in this administration talking to community members saying, what do you need? What would help? And people said, mobile testing. We need it in neighborhoods hit hard, we need it so that people can more easily connect with testing. We need to remind people, it is always free, it's easy, it's fast, and it's coming to you. Two trucks next week, we're going to ramp up to 10 trucks in the next few weeks. They can do 80 tests per day, excuse me, 80 tests per day per truck. So, 800 more tests per day because of the trucks. And again, whether it's one of the trucks or one of the hundred and 80 centers that we now are putting up or have up, you can get a free test by going to or calling 3-1-1.

Final point on this, if you have been at one of these protests, I want to strongly urge you to get tested. It has been a real concern that people have gathered in close proximity. I understood, and I understand still this painful, real moment in history, but I want to keep reminding people. It is dangerous to be close together and people must keep social distance, and we got to get back to that clear understanding. We're going have to hold that clear understanding social distancing, face coverings, we got to get back to that discipline. So, if you have been in a protest, I strongly urge you to get tested.

Now, fighting disparity means focusing on the hardest hit neighborhoods, fighting disparity means providing more to those neighborhoods all the time. These neighborhoods are filled with people who have done the work that built the city over generations, but have never reaped the rewards of their labors. We have so much more to do to create fairness and redistribute the wealth of this city, to the places that actually built that wealth, but weren't rewarded. So, one of the ways we do that is through a strong public health care system, 11 hospitals, 70 clinics that serve the people of city, regardless of ability to pay. We've got to strengthen that system, we invested in it years ago to save it. That became a crucial element of how we were able to save many lives at the height of this crisis and help push back this disease, now we need to go on the offensive and deepen our investments in communities. Once again, our taskforce on racial equity and inclusion, push this notion hard that we need tangible impacts now to address disparity, not in the future now. And so, the task force insisted that we look at how to speed up all of our plans and make sure that real investments happen in communities right now that will help people get more health care. There's a specific new initiative called Centers of Excellence, and this will mean that three new ambulatory care facilities will be built in neighborhoods that need it in New York City. In Elmhurst Queens, I don't think I have to say anything more, after what we saw happen at Elmhurst Hospital, Tremont the Bronx, Bushwick and Brooklyn. Centers of Excellence, they were supposed to be something in the future, now they will be open this September. The task force made the point, this is why I named the task force speed intensity, redistribution, focus on impact now in communities that are hurting. these centers of excellence will provide a wide range of health care, they'll focus on COVID, fighting COVID, they'll focus on making sure that respiratory diseases are addressed. they'll make sure that people not only get physical health care, but mental health care as well. Tens of thousands of people per year will benefit, construction is beginning immediately. And I want to thank, of course, the Racial Equity and Inclusion Task Force, I want to thank Health and Hospitals. I want to thank our Department of Design and Construction, that's doing amazing work, extraordinarily fast work. These three centers will be opened this September and many, many people will benefit, and it will help us fight back this disease, but it will also help us fight back that deeper health care disparities.

Now, getting people back to their livelihood, that's what phase one is about. Getting New York City back on its path, to being strong again, to our economy being strong to our people, having what they need. Three days from now, phase one begins, one of the big pieces of phase one is construction, 32,000 construction sites will reopen. Some magnitude is a reminder, as recently as February, how vibrant the economy of this city was and how vibrant it will be again, 32,000 construction sites will come back. That means a lot of New Yorkers will come back to work, but it has to be safe, has to be healthy, that is the bottom line. Every site has to be ready and we're going to make sure it's ready, the guidelines are clear. You go to, every single company can see and working people can see what those standards of healthy, safe work would be, and we are going to protect every single worker. Department of Buildings will be out inspecting the sites constantly, every single one, making sure their social distancing, proper hygiene rules, hand sanitizer, face coverings, you name it. For the first 30 days, I want this to be very clear to all the owners and managers of the companies involved in these construction sites. For the first 30 days, we will educate, we will constantly monitor, we will help you to ensure what you're doing is safe. Our department of buildings will be there to help, not to fine to help, but if after 30 days of nonstop engagement, you are not doing what you need to do, then the fines begin. I don't want to give a single fine, I don't want to take money from anyone unless you are ignoring the health and safety needs of your workers.

Let's now talk about our thresholds and in general, the news is good, but this is going to be something we will be talking about for days and weeks ahead. And we're going to watch when we see something that isn't as good and make sure it does not turn into a larger trend. So, indicator number one, daily number of people admitted to hospitals for a suspected COVID-19. That was only 48 yesterday, today we saw a jump I don't like that, It's 84 today. Now 84 is still well within our 200-person threshold, but that's a meaningful movement in one day, we're going to keep a close eye on that. We need to stay under 200 to keep sustaining phase one and to move on to phase two. Daily number of people in our Health and Hospitals ICUs is under threshold today, 344 against the threshold of 375. Percentage of people tested positive for COVID citywide, well within under our threshold of 15 percent, that number today is four percent, that's a very good number. So overwhelmingly good results based on all of your hard work, but we got to hold the line, we cannot loosen up because these numbers start to move in the wrong direction, we're going to talk about it. If ever to move in the wrong direction, we're going to talk about it, they move too much in the wrong direction, we then can't keep moving forward on our plan for reopening. So, we have to be clear about holding the line.

Friday, June 5, 2020

Phase One Reopening: Safely Restarting Construction Activity in NYC

DOB will inspect every work site across the city for social distancing compliance, proper hygiene, and to make sure construction safety requirements are met

  The New York City Department of Buildings released new COVID-19 safety guidelines for property owners and contractors as 33,556 non-essential construction sites get back to work as part of New York City’s entrance into Phase One of New York State’s reopening plan, currently scheduled for Monday, June 8th, 2020. These new required safety measures for construction sites were developed in partnership with the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) and are being implemented to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus to workers and the public during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Read the guidelines.

“The pandemic is slowly receding because New Yorkers did what we do best – we came together and made the necessary sacrifices to protect our families and neighbors,” said Department of Buildings Commissioner Melanie E. La Rocca. “As we restart the economic engine that is our construction industry, there is no excuse to abandon the social distancing and health measures that we know save lives. Our health and safety guidelines are crystal clear, and we will be out in force, sweeping every work site in the city, to ensure compliance.”

“As we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic and rebuild as a city, we need all New Yorkers to continue taking public health measures to protect each other’s health,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot. “The precautions are in place to keep workers safe, and the health of our city depends on them being followed.”

The newly released guidelines will apply to all construction activity in New York City during the ongoing COVID-19 public health emergency, until the State rescinds or amends its Executive Order and related guidance. Stop Work Orders previously issued by the Department for noncompliance with the State’s non-essential construction ban will be lifted. The Department will not be lifting Stop Work Orders at sites that illegally continued work even after they were issued a Stop Work Order for violating the ban, and have outstanding civil penalties.

In addition to following our guidelines, employers are also required to develop a site-specific health plan that is prominently visible on the worksite. They will also be required to submit and display an affirmation to the State that they have read and understood the additional reopening requirements as required in the NYS Interim Guidelines.

To ensure compliance with these new health requirements, DOB inspectors will be conducting a safety inspection sweep of every permitted construction site in New York City, and following up with additional periodic checks of active work sites. Members of the public can also call 311 to report a work site where proper COVID-19 safety measures are not being followed. During these sweeps, our inspectors will be looking for the following:

  • Compliance with social distancing protocols. Six feet of distance should be observed between all personnel, unless safety or work functions require shorter distance.

  • Anyone on site, including workers, other construction professionals, and approved visitors, who are less than six feet apart must wear face coverings. Maintaining this practice at all times is highly encouraged.

  • Readily available hygiene and hand washing stations.

  • COVID-19 safety measures signage visible to workers, reminding everyone to adhere to all safety protocols while on site, including proper hand hygiene, physical distancing rules, appropriate use of personal protective equipment, and cleaning and disinfecting protocols.

  • Tightly confined spaces (e.g., elevators, hoists) occupied by only one individual at a time, unless all occupants are wearing a face covering and the space is kept under 50% maximum capacity.
    • For elevators and hoists, 50% capacity signage must be posted within the cab and at each landing.

  • A site safety monitor must be designated. The role’s responsibilities include continuous compliance with all aspects of the site safety plan.

  • Safety plan(s) are conspicuously posted on site and include a copy of the submitted State affirmation.

  • Properly completed and updated cleaning and disinfection logs.

  • A communication plan for employees, visitors, and clients is on site.

  • Correctly completed and updated logs of every person who may have had close contact with others on site to ensure effective contact tracing.
During the first 30 days after construction activity resumes on Monday, June 8th, the Department will focus on educating and helping the industry learn how to implement these new procedures, while providing on-site guidance on best practices to contractors and site safety professionals. Initial DOB violations for noncompliance with these regulations, issued during these first 30 days, will carry no financial penalty. Following this 30-day period, subsequent violations will result in financial penalties, and continued noncompliance may result in Stop Worker Orders and additional summonses with accompanying civil penalties of up to $5,000 for each offense.

These COVID-19 guidelines are the minimum requirements for construction work sites to operate safely in New York City. Owners and contractors are welcome to implement enhanced safety measures as they see fit to protect their workers. To protect our teams out in the field, all DOB personnel will continue to wear gloves and masks while in public and our offices will be reconfigured to promote social distancing.

To keep workers, the public and our employees safe and informed during the COVID-19 pandemic, DOB enforced the Governor’s order banning nonessential construction and proactively transitioned many of our customer service transactions to be available online. These steps included:

  • Greatly expanding the number of filings that can be submitted through our online portals DOB NOW and eFiling.

  • Launching a daily updated online map identifying the location of essential work sites around the city.

  • Offering online training and license renewal options for construction professionals.

Additionally during the citywide halt to non-essential construction, the agency’s frontline teams regularly conducted multiple inspections of work sites citywide to ensure only approved essential construction activity was allowed to proceed. Non-essential work sites that were halted due to the Governor’s Executive Order were checked to make sure they were properly secured and maintained at all times in order to safeguard the public throughout the duration of the ban. During this time, calls from New Yorkers concerning potentially illegal construction in their neighborhood were responded to within 24 hours, and often on the same day.

Customers who want to learn more about our expanded virtual services can find more information here.