Saturday, June 20, 2020

Second Anniversary of Lesandro 'Junior' Guzman Feliz's Killing

  It was a warm sunny afternoon as family and friends of Lesandro 'Junior Guzman Feliz gathered by his grave site to remember him on the second anniversary of his killing, and the day after he was to have graduated from the Dr. Richard Izquierdo Health and Science Charter High School. Balloons were let go by the students to rise to the heavens where Junior now is. 

Prayers were said as more and more people came to remember Junior. A small police detail was on hand since Lesandro was in the Explorers program at his police precinct, and he had hopes of joining the police force as soon as he was old enough. 

Only five of the thirteen gang members involved in the killing of Lesandro have been tried and convicted, and there is another twist to this story. Former Army Sergeant John Perez has joined with City Councilman Fernando Cabrera to move the process to have the NYPD posthumously make Lesandro 'Junior' Guzman Feliz a police officer. This was his goal in life, and his life was cut short before he could become a police officer. That would also make it much harder for the five already convicted to make parole, and charges on the other eight defendants could be upgraded to murder of a police officer. 

Above - Sergeant John Perez stands with the immediate family in front of the grave of Lesandro 'Junior' Guzman Feliz.
Below - Prayers are said as more mourners arrive, including several officers from the NYPD in the background.

Sergeant John Perez is interviewed about the push to make Lesandro 'Junior' Guzman Feliz a police officer posthumously. 

Michael Blake - Families of Victims: Do Not Vote for Ritchie Torres

Several family members who have lost loved ones to police murder have courageously written an open letter with a simple message: “DO NOT VOTE FOR RITCHIE TORRES.”

I am humbled by the bravery of Iris Baez and the others who have signed this letter. I see your strength, your resilience, and your honesty.

They wrote: “At a time when the whole country is focused on police violence against Black and Latino communities, the last thing we need is to promote an elected official like Ritchie Torres who has lied to us as families and betrayed the anti-police brutality movement.”
They’re absolutely right.

I ask you, consider sharing this article on Facebook and on Twitter.

Ritchie Torres has proven that, when it really comes down to it, he will not do what is needed to protect our community. Ritchie Torres does what’s best for Ritchie Torres – and that leaves a whole lot of people out. That’s not representation. That’s not what we want for The Bronx in Congress.

Ritchie Torres made an effort to betray this moment, where we stand together, fists raised against police brutality. He gutted legislation that would increase police accountability and would help make our communities safer.

These families took the brave step to come forward, to let people know what is really going on. “We’ve been through too much to let lying and opportunistic politicians like Ritchie Torres betray us and then seek higher political office.”


A significant number of constituents have said they are still waiting to receive their absentee ballots for the June 23 Democratic Primary election despite having submitted an application weeks ago.

  Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, New York State temporarily authorized all eligible voters to apply for an absentee ballot for the June 23 primary and special elections based on “temporary illness” and instructed Boards of Election to automatically mail an absentee ballot application to all eligible voters. There have been numerous reports of voters saying they have not received their absentee ballots in the mail yet, even though they applied weeks ago. Only registered Democrats are eligible to vote in the June 23 primary for the 81st Assembly District because no other party is holding a primary election within this district.

Democrats are asked to choose candidates for President, Presidential Delegate, Congress, and New York State Assembly, as well as elect Male and Female District Leaders, Female State Committee member, and Civil Court Judge. Some Democrats in the 81st Assembly District will also be asked to choose candidates for New York State Senate (34th District only). 

There are three ways for registered Democrats in the 81st Assembly District to cast their vote in the June 23 primary election:
  1. Absentee – Ballots must be postmarked by June 23, 2020 in order to be considered valid. They can also be delivered to the Board of Elections in person. Absentee ballots can still be applied for in person at the Bronx Board of Elections until June 22.
  2. Early – In person early voting is available until Sunday, June 21, 2020. Voters are assigned to a specific early voting location based on their Election District, which is most likely different from their traditional local polling site. People should confirm their assigned early voting location before going to vote, which can be done online at
  3. Voters can cast their ballot in person on June 23 at their local poll site between 6am and 9pm. Some poll sites have changed based on building closures and public health guidance. People should confirm their assigned local voting location before going, which can be done online at

Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz also issued the following statement and recommendations for people concerned about their delayed absentee ballots:

“Every single person who is eligible to vote in the elections on June 23 deserves to have their vote counted, whether they vote early or absentee or at their local poll site. If people do not receive their ballot by Monday, June 22 then they should expect and plan to vote in person at their local poll site on Tuesday.

I have been in frequent contact with the Board of Elections and they continue to say that ballots have been mailed to eligible voters. I have been in contact with the United States Postal Service and they have said that they are not experiencing any backlogs of absentee ballots in their facilities. There will be time to figure out what went wrong after Tuesday, but the most important thing right now is to make sure eligible voters who wish to cast a ballot have created a specific plan to vote in the June 23 Democratic primary election.”


When candidates complained of getting late mail from the Board of Elections such as hearing notices after the hearings, The NYCBOE Law Department head clerk said that the BOE can't be held liable if the USPS can't deliver the mail on time. 

Governor Cuomo Announces New York City Cleared by Global Public Health Experts to Begin Phase Two of Reopening Monday

Governor Cuomo: "Today, we have done a full 180, from worst to first. We are controlling the virus better than any state in the country and any nation on the globe. Even more, by reducing the infection rate, we saved over 100,000 people from being hospitalized and possibly dying, just think about that. It is an unimaginable achievement. I'm so incredibly proud of what we all did together, and as a community. We reopened the economy and we saved lives. Because it was never a choice between one or the other, it was always right to do both."

Cuomo: "I ask myself and today I ask you: Why did it take a crisis to bring us together? Why does government usually appeal to the worst in us rather than the best? Why do our politics today play to our fears and weaknesses rather than appeal to our strengths? Why doesn't government challenge us to reach higher and speak to our better angels? Why can't it motivate us by love rather than hate? Why doesn't government urge us to realize we are members of the same community, the same family? That we all benefit when we work together. Isn't that what we really showed over the past 111 days? That working together works. That the only way forward is if I protect you and you protect me. I wear a mask for you and you wear a mask for me."

Cuomo: "If you care for me and I care for you, we showed that in the end love does win. Love does conquer all. That no matter how dark the day, love brings the light. That is what I will take from the past 111 days. It inspires me and energizes me and excites me. If we could accomplish together what we did here, this impossible task, of beating back this deadly virus then there is nothing we can't do. We will be better and we will be stronger for what we have gone through. It shows us how capable we are when we are at our best. It shows us that we have great potential to do even more and we will."

  Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced global public health experts have cleared New York City to enter Phase Two of reopening on Monday. Business guidance for Phase Two of the state's reopening plan is available here.

"I am so incredibly proud of what we all did together and as a community. We reopened the economy and saved lives, because it was never a choice between one or the other, it was always right to do both," Governor Cuomo said. "We showed that works in New York. We owe thanks to so many people, to our heroes, the healthcare and essential workers, to our legislature, our colleagues in New Jersey, Connecticut and neighboring states, local governments, the Army Corps of Engineers and most of all, to the great people of the state who rose to the occasion and did what they had to do."

Friday, June 19, 2020

Comptroller Stringer Analysis: City Unemployment Rate Rises to 18.3 Percent in May

Data reveals rising unemployment among communities of color and young people in New York City; Comptroller urges Washington to provide swift federal aid

Stringer: As our country and our city look toward reopening, we cannot leave behind the small businesses and workers that keep our economy running.
New York City’s unemployment rate rose from 15.8 percent in April to 18.3 percent in May, bucking indicators of a potential national economic rebound according to an analysis of the city’s employment situation released today by New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer.
Comptroller Stringer’s analysis found that New York City’s economy may have a long road ahead as over 900,000 fewer New Yorkers were working in May than in February, with 534,000 newly unemployed since then and more than 381,000 workers dropping out of the labor force altogether. The data also revealed that communities of color and young people under the age of 24 have been particularly hit hard by job losses.
“The latest data on the city’s unemployment situation are alarming and further underscores the urgent need for swift, robust federal support,” said Comptroller Stringer. “Communities of color and young people are bearing the brunt of our unemployment crisis; we need Washington to recognize the enormous scale of the losses we’ve suffered and get New York City the financial aid it needs. The federal government should extend the pandemic unemployment compensation benefit of $600 weekly while the COVID-19 continues to threaten lives and livelihoods. Here at home, there are a number of actions we can take to provide immediate relief. First, the City should restart our stalled capital program as a means of generating good-paying jobs, expanding the workforce, and meeting our growing infrastructure demands. We need to increase and streamline opportunities for minority and women-owned businesses who have suffered the most during the city’s slowdown, and restore the Summer Youth Employment Program so our children have viable pathways toward success. As our country and our city look toward reopening, we cannot leave behind the small businesses and workers that keep our economy running. We are the nation’s economic engine, and I urge Congress and City Hall to marshal our resources and stand up for New York City.”
The Comptroller’s analysis found the following:

Unemployment Continues to Rise 

The City’s overall unemployment rate increased from 3.5 percent in February to an unprecedented 18.3 percent in May according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) — with even higher rates among men, Asian-Americans, Latinos, and African-American New Yorkers. Roughly one out of every 4 workers of color are currently unemployed.
Change in NYC Employment, February 2020 to May 2020

February 2020 
May 2020 
+ Unemployed 
= Labor Force 
Unemployment Rate 
Civilian Non-Institutionalized Population 
Labor Force Participation Rate 
SOURCE: Office of the Comptroller from Bureau of Labor Statistics.
NOTE: Seasonally adjusted.
Data released by the Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey (CPS), which unlike the BLS data is not seasonally adjusted, shows a citywide unemployment rate of 19.9 percent. CPS data also indicated that the unemployment rate among men rose from 3.5 percent in February to 21.5 percent in May, while the rate for women rose slightly less sharply to 18.1 percent. Among Asian-American New Yorkers, the rate increased from 3.4 percent in February to 25.6 percent in May. The rates for Latinos rose to 25.1 percent and for African-American New Yorkers to 23.5 percent.
Change in Unemployment Rate, February to May, by Demographic Group

Young People Suffer the Highest Increase in Unemployment 

The unemployment rate among young people, ages 16 to 24, has skyrocketed — rising to a staggering 35.2 percent from its pre-pandemic rate of 6.6 percent. The unemployment rate among workers 55 and older rose from a pre-pandemic rate of 3.1 percent to 14.1 percent.
Change in Unemployment Rate, February to May, by Age Group

Immigrant Unemployment Rate Rises Sharply 

The City’s foreign-born population has experienced a rise in unemployment in May to 23.3 percent, an increase of 19.7 percent above pre-pandemic levels. A significant part of these workers are undocumented foreign-born workers who have been excluded from receiving unemployment benefits provided under the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act).
Asian-American immigrants experienced a sharp increase in unemployment, up from 4.6 percent in February to 26.3 percent in May. The sharpest increase was among Latinos, nearly a third of whom — 30.8 percent — were unemployed in May, a staggering figure up from just 3.3 percent in February. This stands in sharp contrast to just back in February when Latino immigrant New Yorkers had the lowest unemployment rate of all immigrant groups. Foreign-born Black New Yorkers had the lowest increase in unemployment among all foreign-born groups with an unemployment rate of 15.9 percent in May, up from 5.5 percent in February.
Change in Unemployment Rate, February to May, Foreign-Born Workers

Sharp Drop in Labor Force Participation 

The city’s lockdown dramatically increased the number of people not in the labor force — with the biggest change among those who report “other” reasons than retirement, disability, school, or home care responsibilities. The City’s labor force participation rate dropped an unprecedented 7.6 percentage points since February, from 61.5 percent to 53.8 percent. In contrast, U.S. labor force participation declined from 63.4 percent in February to 60.8 percent in May.
Labor force participation experienced significant drops among every demographic group including men (6.7 percent), women (8.5 percent), foreign-born workers (6.7 percent), African-Americans (12.6 percent), Asian-Americans (10.6 percent), Whites (7.1 percent) and Latinos (2.7 percent).
Change in Labor Force Participation Rate, February to May, by Demographic Group
Comptroller Stringer outlined the following recommendations:
At the federal level:
  • Extend the $600 weekly unemployment benefit under the Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program beyond its current expiration next month
  • Provide desperately-needed general fiscal relief to state and local governments, who continue to face the urgent service needs of their residents without adequate resources
At the local level:
  • Restore the Summer Youth Employment Program, which was cut by the de Blasio administration in April. This would provide income and job opportunities to 75,000 City youth and mitigate the extremely high unemployment rate among youth
  • Restart the stalled capital program as a means of generating good-paying jobs, expanding the workforce, and meeting our growing infrastructure demands
  • Increase and streamline opportunities for minority and women-owned businesses who have suffered the most during the city’s slowdown
To read Comptroller Stringer’s analysis of the city’s employment figures, click here.