Wednesday, June 30, 2021



Summertime Brings Water Activities and Children’s Safety Must Be a Priority

Child Drownings Remain Leading Cause of Unintentional Death in Children 1-4 years old

DCP Offers Water Safety Tips to Help Prevent Drownings

 The New York State Division of Consumer Protection today reminded parents and guardians to make water safety a priority for young children as summertime water activities begin. A new U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission report revealed that child drownings remain the leading cause of unintentional death among children ages one to four years old. The report also indicated that from 2018 to 2020, 78 percent of all nonfatal drowning injuries occurred among children younger than five years old. There are basic safety tips New Yorkers can take to help prevent drowning in children.

“As families enjoy water activities, it is imperative to pay close attention to the safety of our children,” said New York State Secretary of State, Rossana Rosado. “The New York Division of Consumer Protection is providing safety tips so parents and guardians can best safeguard children when they are near the water. This knowledge saves lives, and I urge all New Yorkers to follow these basic tips to ensure this summertime is safe and fun for all.”

"In a matter of minutes, children can succumb to the dangers of drowning if left unsupervised or without the proper training necessary to become strong swimmers," said New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker. "I urge all New Yorkers to enjoy the water responsibly this summer and to remember to put the safety of our youngest swimmers first to ensure a happy recreational season for all."

Safety tips to help prevent drownings:

  • Adult Supervision. This is the number one way to prevent drowning. Never leave a child unattended in or near water, and always designate a Water Watcher. This person should not be reading, texting, using a smartphone, drinking alcoholic beverages, or otherwise distracted.
  • Swim Lessons.Multiple studies show swim lessons prevent drowning. Learn how to swim and teach your child how to swim.
  • Life Jackets.Put life jackets on kids anytime they are on a boat or participating in other open water recreational activities. Personal flotation devices should always be used for children that do not  know how to swim. NYS Law requires that children under 12 wear a Coast Guard-approved life vest on a boat or water vessel. For more information on proper life jackets, go to the United States Coast Guard site at:
  • Learn CPR.Every second counts and CPR can help in an emergency.
  • Put Up Barriers. Install appropriate safety barriers around in-home pools and spas. This includes fences, gates, door alarms and covers.
  • Pool Alarms. Install a pool alarm to detect and provide notification of unattended pool access.
  • Small Pools. Drain and put away smaller portable pools when not in use.
  • Cover Drains. Keep children away from pool drains, pipes and other openings to avoid them getting stuck. Also, ensure any pool and spa you use has drain covers that comply with federal safety standards, which include drain shape, drain cover size, and rate of water flow. Learn more here.

About the New York State Division of Consumer Protection

The New York State Division of Consumer Protection serves to educate, assist and empower the State’s consumers. Consumers can file a complaint with the Division of Consumer Protection at 

For more consumer protection information, call the DCP Helpline at 800-697-1220, Monday through Friday, 8:30am-4:30pm or visit the DCP website at The Division can also be reached via Twitter at @NYSConsumer or Facebook at



“Work it, NYC: A Guide to LGBTQI+ Workplace Inclusivity” will support NYC workforce providers and employers in implementing comprehensive, affirming best practices to serve LGBTQI+ clients 


On the final day of Pride Month, Mayor Bill de Blasio today announced the release of “Work It, NYC: A Guide to LGBTQI+ Workplace Inclusivity,” a new resource to help provider organizations deliver higher quality services to LGBTQI+ seekers of education and employment services. This manual, created through a partnership between the NYC Unity Project and the NYC Center for Youth Employment, addresses the distinct barriers to high quality employment opportunities that many LGBTQI+ people face. These obstacles often are a direct result of stigma, discrimination, and violence experienced in work and educational settings. With awareness, preparation, and strategic interventions targeted to LGBTQI+ peoples’ unique needs, workforce providers can deliver the resources and services needed to support LGBTQI+ people.  


“LGBTQI+ New Yorkers deserve to be treated with respect and dignity, period,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “The ‘Work It, NYC’ manual will give our providers and local organizations the tools to better serve LGBTQI+ jobseekers as we emerge from the pandemic and create an economy that works for everyone. I thank the Unity Project, the Center for Youth Employment and all our partners for their collaboration on this critical project. Visit to check it out today!”  


“People who identify as LGBTQI+ want what everyone wants when it comes to employment and education: a safe environment where they are valued and respected,” said First Lady Chirlane McCray. “The ‘Work it, NYC’ guide to workplace inclusivity further secures our city’s reputation as a welcoming place for the LGBTQI+ community. New York is the city where you are accepted, no matter who you love or how you identify. And for anyone unaware of the barriers to inclusivity, ‘Work it, NYC’ is a guide to knowledge and resources.” 


“All jobseekers and workers deserve to enter spaces where they will be treated with dignity and respect," said J. Phillip Thompson, Deputy Mayor for Strategic Policy Initiatives. "LGBTQI+ young adults in particular face acute pressures when they seek services from workforce programs that historically haven't always affirmed their identities. The resources in this manual will help providers and employers reevaluate and revise their policies and practices to be inclusive of this community. It stands alongside the historic legal protections this administration has put in place for LGBTQI+ workers, and the newly launched Unity Works program to provide customized and comprehensive program services for LGBTQI+ youth, as a symbol of our commitment to helping these young New Yorkers reach their full potential as their authentic selves.” 


“LGBTQI+ communities—particularly trans, non-binary, and gender non-conforming people of color—have been interpersonally and systemically excluded from accessing meaningful job opportunities for far too long,” said Ashe McGovern, Executive Director of the NYC Unity Project and Senior LGBTQ Policy Advisor in the Office of the Mayor. “This comprehensive guide describes the complex context of intersecting forms of injustice that our communities face and creates concrete, actionable guidance so that all workforce providers and employers can more easily create intentional and affirming work spaces for LGBTQI+ community members. This collaborative manual draws upon the expertise of so many and is one key piece of our larger efforts, including our recent launch of the NYC Unity Project, to ensure that our communities are free to show up in every single space, including at work, as their most full and authentic selves, without facing discrimination or mistreatment.” 


Too often, LGBTQI+ young adults entering education and workforce training programs find that those spaces, intentionally or not, are not culturally competent in using best practices to serve LGBTQI+ clients,” said David Fischer, Executive Director of the NYC Center for Youth Employment. “This manual will help providers and employers create safe and supportive spaces, programs, and worksites for LGBTQI+ young adults--both affirming our values of equity and inclusion as a City, and delivering better outcomes for those young adults as well as the employers who will hire them.” 


“Creating a supportive, respectful and inclusive work environment that addresses the needs of the LGBTQI+ community is imperative for the success of any organization and the New Yorkers they serve. DYCD values diversity and respect across our agency and funded programs, so I am thrilled that this new guide will give our providers even more tools to foster welcoming, safe and accepting spaces for our City’s LGBTQI+ community,” said DYCD Commissioner Bill Chong. 


“An inclusive workforce is a stronger workforce, and the ‘Work It, NYC’ guide will give provider organizations and partners a helpful toolkit for developing strategies and best practices that foster a more-welcoming workplace for the LGBTQI+ community,” said HRA Administrator Gary Jenkins. “Diversity and inclusion are core tenets of DSS-HRA’s workplace culture, and this comprehensive, culturally-responsive resource will ensure we continue to address barriers that have historically prevented the LGBTQI+ community from accessing employment - and ultimately lead to better career outcomes for even more LGBTQI+ New Yorkers.”   


The manual articulates the specific employment and training- related needs of the LGBTQI+ community for workforce professionals. It offers an in-depth overview of how workforce practitioners can create affirming services for LGBTQI+ people of various ages—and why it matters that they do so. Although the manual includes specific information about disparities that face LGBTQI+ youth, and targeted resources to support them, it is intended to support LGBTQI+ people of all ages. Highlights include: 

  • Key Concepts and Vocabulary. To serve the LGBTQI+ community well, it is imperative to understand different LGBTQI+ identities and be familiar with and appropriately use LGBTQI+ terminology and the most respectful language. 
  • Obligations Under the Law. A guide to the legal obligations that organizations and employers have to LGBTQI+ people, as well as resources available to LGBTQI+ individuals 
  • Building a Safe(r) Space. How to center the importance of maintaining a trauma-informed lens in work with LGBTQI+ communities, information for supporting transgender, gender nonconforming, and non-binary (TGNCNB) program participants, and tips on establishing an LGBTQI+-friendly environment within workforce programs. 
  • Making Affirming Placements and Referrals. How to get information from employers and other referral sites, which includes asking pointed questions about an employer's experiences with LGBTQI+ people and cultural competency training. 

This manual also can serve as a complement to in-person training sessions, and as a resource brought back to workforce programs by people who have undergone training, to digestibly summarize their training to those who were not able to attend. The manual can be accessed at  


“For centuries, people have flocked to New York City to create better lives for themselves and their families. A large portion of these dream-seekers have always been and will continue to be LGBTQI+, who have made our city’s economy prosper and more resilient,” said Daniele Baierlein and Jorge Luis Paniagua Valle, Co-Executive Directors of the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City. “This new manual will help build a workforce that is more inclusive and will make our city stronger than ever before.” 


“LGBTQI+ people deserve a supportive, inclusive and healthy working environment,” said Dr. Torian Easterling, First Deputy Commissioner and Chief Equity Officer of the Department of Health. “DOHMH is proud to have contributed to this manual, as we continue to advance anti-racist public health practice with an intersectional lens to address systemic inequities.” 


“The ‘Work It, NYC: A Guide To LGBTQI+ Workplace Inclusivity’ manual will help to support the evolution of a more inclusive workplace,” said Nathifa Forde, Deputy Executive Director of the NYC Young Men’s Initiative. “Everyone should feel affirmed and safe in the workplace. The Young Men’s Initiative understands the complexity of identity and its importance in creating and sustaining a diverse workforce and a just society at large. YMI supports and eagerly anticipates the utility of the manual to work towards eliminating the obstacles that LGBTQI+ individuals face within the workforce.”  


“LGBTQI+ people still face barriers in the job market. Resources to help understand and overcome these hurdles should be easy to find, access, and share,” said John Paul Farmer, Chief Technology Officer for the City of New York. “Our team is incredibly proud to partner with the NYC Unity Project to create a digital landing page for a comprehensive resource guide on LGBTQI+ workplace inclusion. This partnership underscores how modern digital services can amplify critical information -- such as this resource guide -- to better serve all New Yorkers.” 


“When LGBTQ+ New Yorkers are able to be 100% their true selves in the workforce, they are able to contribute 100% of themselves to their employers. This manual will allow for organizations and employers to support their employees and constituents allowing for a positive and productive work environment for all,” said Jayson Littman, Senior Advisor for LGBTQ Community Affairs in the Office of the Mayor. 

State Senator Gustavo Rivera - Statement: Opioid Settlement Fund Signed Into Law



State Senator Gustavo Rivera issued the following statement after Governor Cuomo signed the Opioid Settlement Fund bill into law (S.7194/A.6395B).

“For years, aggressive marketing and lobbying allowed dangerous pharmaceuticals to claim the lives of too many New Yorkers and devastate families in every corner of New York State. Creating an Opioid Settlement Fund honors those New Yorkers we’ve lost to the opioid crisis and provides hope and resources to those still struggling with substance use,” said State Senator Gustavo Rivera, Chair of the New York State Senate Health Committee and prime sponsor of the bill in the New York Senate. “There are $230 million coming to New York from a powerful lawsuit that New York Attorney General James led to hold opioid manufactures accountable for their role in this crisis. This fund will ensure the settlement goes directly to supporting substance use disorder prevention, treatment, recovery, and harm reduction services to help struggling New Yorkers. While this will not bring back those who we have lost to this devastating crisis, it will help us heal and recover.”
This past weekend, it was announced that New York had settled with Johnson & Johnson for $230 million for their role in fueling the opioid epidemic. As part of the settlement, an Opioid Settlement Fund needs to be established for New York to receive the settlement. Read more about New York State Attorney General James' historic settlement here. This law will ensure any settlement funds are only used for their intended purpose - funding substance use disorder prevention, treatment, recovery, and harm reduction services.



The Recovery Budget is a radical investment in working families that builds on strong reserves

 Mayor Bill de Blasio, City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, Council Finance Chair Daniel Dromm and members of the City Council today announced an agreement on the Recovery Budget, an on-time balanced City budget for Fiscal Year 2022 (FY22). The foundation for the $98.7 billion Recovery Budget is the strategic investment of stimulus funds that will drive New York City’s economic comeback and build a recovery for all of us.
"The Recovery Budget is a radical investment in working families. It will drive economic growth in every neighborhood, all while building on strong reserves and investing stimulus funds aggressively to put the pandemic behind us, once and for all,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “This budget is a historic investment in New York City and it’s exactly how we will achieve a recovery for all of us.”
The Recovery Budget meets five core goals: finishing the fight against COVID-19, building on strong reserves, boosting economic growth in every neighborhood, delivering an academic and emotional recovery for every student, and keeping all communities safe.
Finishing the COVID Fight
A recovery for all of us begins with fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. The City has spent more than $8 billion in the fight against COVID-19, administering over 9.2 million vaccination doses. The City’s aggressive and equity-driven grassroots vaccination campaign has driven down COVID cases, hospitalizations, and deaths to the lowest levels since the pandemic began. The Recovery Budget includes funding to finish the fight against COVID and strengthen the City’s public health infrastructure in the long-term.
In this Recovery Budget, the administration promoted public health by expanding the grassroots vaccination campaign and making investments to establish New York City as the public health capital of the world. That mission includes support for LifeSci NYC, a billion-dollar commitment over the next decade to create an estimated 40,000 jobs in this fast-growing sector.  
Building on Strong Reserves
Before New York City became the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak, the City had maintained record levels of budget reserves that were needed in the midst of the pandemic induced financial crisis to help balance the budget, prevent layoffs, and avoid disastrous cuts to critical programs and services. In Adoption the administration partnered with the City Council to add $500 million to the City’s first-ever Rainy Day Fund, which now holds nearly $1 billion. With $2.8 billion in reserves added since June, total reserves in FY22 are now $5.1 billion, with $3.8 billion in the Retiree Health Benefits Trust, $993 million in the Rainy Day Fund, and $300 million in the General Reserve. At their highest, NYC reserves totaled $6.1 billion at the peak of the economic cycle in Fiscal Year 2020.
The de Blasio administration has remained focused on strong fiscal management and savings, even when revenues were strong. The Adopted Budget achieves $4.0 billion in savings over Fiscal Years 2021 (FY21) and 2022 since last June – the second largest two-year savings total at Budget Adoption of this administration.  
Tax revenues exceeded expectations in FY21 by $2.1 billion, driven by personal income tax and corporate tax receipts. The tax revenue forecast for FY22 remains unchanged from the Executive Budget.  
Boosting Economic Growth
The Recovery Budget drives an economic recovery for all of us, boosting growth in every neighborhood.  The previously announced Executive Budget made a $30 million investment – the largest in city history – to promote tourism. It also offered direct support for small businesses, including grants, low-interest loans and commercial lease legal assistance. The New Deal-inspired City Cleanup Corps (CCC) is on pace to hire 10,000 New Yorkers this summer to clean and beautify our city. All of these investments are already driving economic growth.  
The Adopted Budget deepens these investments in economic growth by committing $11 million to NYC Business Quick Start, a program that will help slash red tape and help guide small businesses through City regulations.  
The Recovery Budget also includes the Juneteenth Economic Justice Plan to build generational wealth and tackle the racial wealth gap by:
  • Expanding NYC Kids Rise with Universal NYC Baby Bonds, a program that gives every kindergartner a college savings account with at least $100 this September ($15M in FY22)
  • Establishing four-year CUNY Scholarships at full scale for Black and low-income students ($4M in FY22)
  • Providing paid internships in science, business, public health, and the green economy for students at Medgar Evers College to pair academic pursuits with an opportunity to make change and help our city recover ($500,000 in FY22)  
Lastly, As New York City recovers from the COVID recession and grapples with an evolving economy, the Recovery Budget will help hundreds of CUNY students and graduates advance toward career success--while boosting the short- and long-term outlook of our City’s economy:
  • CUNY Career Initiative: The Department of Small Business Services will work with CUNY and a set of industry partners to deliver short-term training in high-demand fields leading to job placement for approximately 1,000 New Yorkers ($6.5M in FY22)
  • Advanced Manufacturing Career Collective (AMCC): AMCC will create a pipeline of skilled, diverse talent into advanced manufacturing careers through educational and work-based learning experiences. The effort will engage and train an estimated 400 students in year one, scaling up to support over 1,000 New Yorkers annually. AMCC will also strengthen the overall ecosystem of MWBEs focused on advanced manufacturing ($4M in FY22)
Driving Academic Recovery 

This Recovery Budget makes crucial investments in New York City’s public schools to support students’ academic and social emotional needs as they recover from the impacts of the pandemic.  

This year, the administration established a path to universal free 3-K for All by fall 2023, expanded early childhood special education and Restorative Justice for Social Emotional Learning in middle and high schools, and strengthened special education services.

To support students and families over the summer, the administration launched Summer Rising – the first-ever summer program for all New York students in grades K-12 who wish to participate. This program will lay the groundwork for a full reopening this fall, providing students with a comprehensive summer experience that includes rigorous academics, social emotional supports, and fun enrichment programming. 

Also, the administration is launching the Universal Academic Recovery Plan, a bold, rigorous framework that will guide school communities and support student achievement during the 2021-22 school year and beyond.    

Building Recovery through Public Safety

Since last June, the administration has added more than $44 million to expand Cure Violence and the Crisis Management System. The NYPD has re-deployed an additional 200 officers performing administrative functions to the field full time, specifically assigned to high violence commands.  

In the Adopted Budget, the administration has made targeted investments to break the cycle of incarceration and reduce gun violence. This budget uses housing and employment as an anti-violence measure. That effort includes:
  • Creating the Precision Employment Initiative to hire 1,000 people this summer in Mott Haven, Brownsville and South Jamaica who are most at-risk– violence prevention via employment and support services. ($24M in FY22)
  • Providing reentry housing with healthcare and employment counseling for justice involved New Yorkers returning to the community ($57M in FY22)
  • Expanding “Jails to Jobs” to provide more formerly incarcerated individuals, including those on State parole, with transitional employment ($6.6M in FY22)
  • Providing peer mentorship for incarcerated individuals and those who are reentering with Crisis Management System Credible Messengers ($5M in FY22)
  • Expanding the CMS-based Hospital Violence Intervention Program into new hospital locations to support victims of violence and their family and networks ($6M in FY22)
  • Expanding CMS Services in the 40th and 44th Precincts in the Bronx and providing additional CMS supports ($6M in FY22)
This is in addition to mental health and public safety investments from the Executive Budget including: expanding mental health crisis response citywide, expanding mobile treatment teams, community-based hate crime prevention and investments in the Advanced Peace program.  

Governor Cuomo Directs State Agencies to Prepare Emergency Assets as Strong Thunderstorms Are Expected to Impact New York State


Damaging Winds, Heavy Rain and Lightning Forecast to Impact Several Areas Across the State Today

Temperatures Will Cool Down but Threat of More Thunderstorms Will Persist on Thursday

 Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today directed State agencies to prepare emergency response assets as strong thunderstorms are forecast to move across the state Wednesday afternoon, bringing with them the potential for damaging winds, difficult travel conditions, localized flooding, and isolated power outages. Heavy rain and frequent lightning are also possible with these storms. Temperatures will continue to push into the 90s on Wednesday as the storms move across the state. Governor Cuomo urged New Yorkers to prepare for potentially hazardous weather and stay tuned to local forecasts for updated conditions.

"With high heat and humidity continuing to impact the entire state, we are also facing the threat of severe storms Wednesday that could bring heavy rain and high winds," Governor Cuomo said. "State agencies are on alert and ready to assist local partners if needed, and I'm encouraging New Yorkers to take the time to monitor local forecasts and help ensure loved ones are prepared as well."

Humid weather is expected Wednesday with scattered thunderstorms, mainly during the afternoon, which could produce damaging winds and heavy rainfall.  Ponding of water on roadways and standing water in low lying and poor drainage areas is possible.  Before the storms develop, temperatures are expected to reach highs in the lower 90s, and heat indexes will reach the mid-90s up to 100 in some areas.  Cooler weather is expected Thursday into the weekend with potential isolated thunderstorms and showers each day as a cold front will stall just south of the state.  Several heat advisories remain in effect for much of the state and additional advisories may be issued today before cooler temperatures arrive Thursday.

New Yorkers can view weather alerts in their area by visiting the National Weather Service website here.

186 Days and Counting - 'Happy Pride Everyone'


I am at Destination Tomorrow on East 149th Street in the Bronx presenting the founder and executive director Sean Coleman with a Proclamation. As the mayor of New York City with 186 days to go I have Proclaimed June 29, 2021 as Destination Tomorrow Day. 

The entertainment put on here was regal, and I'm just going to be floating on air while I am here, Let's hope there are no shooting here in the Bronx today, so I can make it out alive. I wanted to take Wednesday off, but those pesky reporters aren't going to let me. 

49th Precinct Council June Meeting


Presumptive Democratic Primary and November general election winner Marjorie Velazquez, 49th Pct. Council President Joe Thompson, Deputy Inspector Andrew Natiw, Detective Jay Sturdivant, 49th Pct. New Vice-President Hazel Mura, and Secretary Grace Lovag.

The 49th Precinct Council June meeting was one of the best attended meetings in years. this was a live in person meeting held at the Pines on Bronxdale Avenue. Tables and chairs were set up for about fifty people, but extra chair had to be brought in for the almost double that amount of attendees. 

The meeting opened with President Joe Thompson going over the agenda, and asking for prayers for longtime member, and former Vice-President Silvio Mazzella who could not attend the meeting. The Cop of the Month Award went to Police Officer Juan Sanchez, and Deputy Inspector Andrew Natiw, gave a not so nice report on rising crime in the precinct, but still lower than the Bronx or entire city. Elections for three vacant seats and other non-contested races were held, with Hazel Mura becoming the new Vice-President Elio Morales the new treasurer, and Andrea Siegal retaining her seat.

When the speakers list, followed by community reports were given there were an above average number of complaints for fireworks, loud music, other quality of life issues, and a question as to why the 49th Precinct was not attending Community Board 11 District Service Cabinet meetings, and full CB 11 monthly meetings. DI Natiw answered by saying he does not get invited to the Community board meeting by the District Manager. National Night Out Tuesday August 3rd was mentioned by President Thompson. 

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Governor Cuomo Updates New Yorkers on State's Progress Combating COVID-19


Statewide 7-Day Average Positivity is 0.39%

42,477 Vaccine Doses Administered Over Last 24 Hours

362 Patient Hospitalizations Statewide

3 COVID-19 Deaths Statewide Yesterday

 Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today updated New Yorkers on the state's progress combating COVID-19.

"New York State is getting closer to defeating the COVID-19 pandemic for good every single day, but vaccinations remain key to our success and we need New Yorkers to step up and take the shot," Governor Cuomo said. "We're continuing to offer exciting incentives to people who take the vaccine across the state, and I encourage New Yorkers to take advantage of those opportunities. Getting vaccinated protects your friends, family and community, so everyone who hasn't taken the shot yet should do so today."
Today's data is summarized briefly below:

  • Test Results Reported - 54,196
  • Total Positive - 275
  • Percent Positive - 0.51%
  • 7-Day Average Percent Positive - 0.39%
  • Patient Hospitalization - 362 (+16)
  • Patients Newly Admitted - 53
  • Patients in ICU - 91 (+2)
  • Patients in ICU with Intubation - 42 (+0)
  • Total Discharges - 184,783 (+38)
  • Deaths - 3
  • Total Deaths - 42,967
  • Total vaccine doses administered - 21,088,810
  • Total vaccine doses administered over past 24 hours - 42,477
  • Total vaccine doses administered over past 7 days - 438,518
  • Percent of New Yorkers ages 18 and older with at least one vaccine dose - 69.3%
  • Percent of New Yorkers ages 18 and older with completed vaccine series - 63.7%
  • Percent of New Yorkers ages 18 and older with at least one vaccine dose (CDC) - 71.9%
  • Percent of New Yorkers ages 18 and older with completed vaccine series (CDC) - 65.1%
  • Percent of all New Yorkers with at least one vaccine dose - 57.5%
  • Percent of all New Yorkers with completed vaccine series - 52.6%
  • Percent of all New Yorkers with at least one vaccine dose (CDC) - 59.7%
  • Percent of all New Yorkers with completed vaccine series (CDC) - 53.7%

State Senator Gustavo Rivera - Marijuana in NY: Preparing for Licensing



Dear Neighbor,

Last night, I hosted the first event in my virtual workshop series, Marijuana in New York. This was the Preparing for Licensing edition, featuring Drug Policy Alliance and Women Grow. If you want to watch the recording you can head to my Facebook page or watch it on Youtube.

Attorney General James’ Statement at Commencement of Trial Against Various Opioid Manufacturers and Distributors


 New York Attorney General Letitia James today released the following statement at the commencement of the trial against multiple opioid manufacturers and distributors in Suffolk County State Supreme Court:

“The eyes of the world are on New York today as we prepare to lay bare the callous and deadly pattern of misconduct these companies perpetrated as they dealt dangerous and addictive opioids across our state. Thousands of New Yorkers have died and hundreds of thousands more have been ensnared by addiction, leaving a trail of destruction in tragedy through countless families and communities in every corner of New York. For more than two decades, the opioid epidemic has wreaked havoc on New Yorkers and Americans across the nation, but, today, the dangerous and deadly actions that led us here will no longer be kept quiet. As we fight to put an end to these companies’ unlawful conduct and hold them accountable for the consequences, we recognize no amount of money will ever compensate for the pain and destruction we have collectively experienced, but we hope to push every dollar possible into preventing any future devastation — by investing in prevention, education, and treatment programs. As always, our goal remains getting funds into communities devastated by opioids as quickly as possible.”

In March 2019, Attorney General James filed the nation’s most extensive lawsuit to hold accountable the various manufacturers and distributors responsible for the opioid epidemic. The defendants in the suit included Purdue Pharma, its affiliates, and the Sackler family; Janssen Pharmaceuticals and its affiliates (including its parent company Johnson & Johnson); Mallinckrodt LLC and its affiliates; Endo Health Solutions and its affiliates; Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, Inc. and its affiliates; and Allergan Finance, LLC and its affiliates. The distributors named in the complaint are McKesson Corporation, Cardinal Health Inc., Amerisource Bergen Drug Corporation, and Rochester Drug Cooperative Inc.

The cases against Purdue Pharma (and subsequently the Sackler family), Mallinckrodt, and Rochester Drug Cooperative are all now moving separately through U.S. Bankruptcy Court.

Owner And Principal Of Investment Firm Found Guilty Of Insider Trading And Investment Fraud Scheme


 Audrey Strauss, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced today that, following a two-week trial presided over by U.S. District Judge Edgardo Ramos, and approximately one hour of deliberations, DONALD BLAKSTAD, the owner and principal of a California-based investment firm, was found guilty on all counts for committing insider trading and a securities offering fraud scheme.  BLAKSTAD’s offenses yielded more than $7 million in criminal profits. 

U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said:  “As a unanimous jury found, Donald Blakstad used his connections to a company insider to gather inside information that he and his associates then traded on, raking in more than $6 million in illegal profits.  In addition, Blakstad defrauded investor clients out of more $1 million, funds he purported would be invested but he instead misappropriated, in some cases for personal expenses.  Now Donald Blakstad awaits sentencing for his crimes.”

According to the allegations contained in the Indictment and the evidence presented at trial:

BLAKSTAD was a stock trader and the owner and principal of an investment fund known as Midcontinental Petroleum Inc. (“Midcontinental Petroleum”), which purported to be in the business of soliciting investments in the energy industry.  Martha Bustos was a former certified public accountant who worked in the finance department at Illumina, Inc. (“Illumina”), a San Diego-based biotechnology company whose securities trade on NASDAQ.  By virtue of her employment at Illumina, Bustos had access to material nonpublic information about Illumina’s financial condition, including its earnings. 

On several occasions, from 2016 through 2018, BLAKSTAD obtained inside information about Illumina’s financial condition from Bustos before Illumina publicly announced its earnings and financial results.  As BLAKSTAD knew, Bustos owed a duty to keep inside information about Illumina confidential. 

BLAKSTAD, aware of Bustos’s breach of duty to Illumina, used this inside information to make profitable trades in Illumina securities shortly before Illumina’s earnings announcements.  At times, BLAKSTAD tipped his associates so that they could trade Illumina stock and options based on the inside information.  At other times, in order to avoid detection, BLAKSTAD arranged for his associates to purchase Illumina securities for BLAKSTAD’s benefit in accounts controlled by his associates. 

Following the public announcement of Illumina’s earnings, BLAKSTAD and his associates sold the Illumina securities at a significant profit, sometimes exceeding more than 2,000 percent.  In total, BLAKSTAD and his associates made more than $6 million in profits from purchasing and selling Illumina securities. 

In addition, from at least in or about 2015 through at least in or about 2019, BLAKSTAD devised and operated a securities offering fraud to fraudulently obtain more than a $1 million from a number of investors.  BLAKSTAD fraudulently induced victim investors to make up-front, lump-sum investments for securities issued by Midcontinental Petroleum, which funds BLAKSTAD then misappropriated, in substantial part. 

To facilitate the scheme, BLAKSTAD made false and misleading representations to investor victims regarding how their investment funds would be utilized.  During the scheme, at BLAKSTAD’s direction, victims transmitted their funds, including by wire transfer, into bank accounts that were controlled by BLAKSTAD.  Once he obtained these investor funds, BLAKSTAD did not use them for the purposes he had represented to investors.  Instead, BLAKSTAD diverted a substantial portion of victims’ funds to himself and to co-conspirators.  For example, BLAKSTAD used the funds to pay for a variety of personal expenses and for purposes that were unrelated to the business of Midcontinental Petroleum. 

BLAKSTAD also made a series of false and misleading statements to victims designed to avoid detection, perpetuate the scheme, and keep the victim funds he received as a result of the fraud.   

BLAKSTAD, 62, of San Diego, California, was convicted on all counts of the Indictment.  He was convicted of one count of conspiracy to commit securities fraud, two counts of securities fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and one count of wire fraud for his participation in the insider trading scheme.  He was also convicted of one count of conspiracy to commit securities fraud and wire fraud and one count of wire fraud for his participation in the securities offering fraud scheme.  The securities fraud counts and the conspiracy to commit wire fraud count each carry a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.  The conspiracy to commit securities fraud and the conspiracy to commit securities fraud and wire fraud counts each carry a maximum term of five years in prison.  The maximum potential sentences in this case are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant would be determined by the Court.

BLAKSTAD is scheduled to be sentenced before Judge Ramos, who presided over the trial, on October 28, 2021, at 11:00 a.m. 

Bustos pled guilty in June 2019 for her participation in the insider trading scheme.  Bustos, who is cooperating with the Government, has yet to be sentenced.

Ms. Strauss praised the outstanding investigative work of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.  Ms. Strauss also thanked the Securities and Exchange Commission, which brought a separate civil action. 

Representative Adriano Espaillat Announces Nearly $2 Million Funding to Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone (UMEZ)


Funding to Help Support Continued Small Business Recovery in the District

 Representative Adriano Espaillat announced  a combined $2.48 million to the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone - UMEZ ($1.826 million) and Business Resource & Investment Service Center ($658k) through the New York Public Library allocated through the U.S. Treasury CDFI Fund. 

UMEZ received the maximum award amount under the Rapid Response program, which was part of a $1.25 billion award to more than 800 CDFIs. These funds will help provide flexible support to small businesses in throughout New York’s 13th congressional district to assist with ongoing recovery efforts following the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Over the course of the pandemic, my office worked with hundreds of small businesses from my district, helping owners apply and access funding allocated through federal legislation to help keep businesses open during this time of great need,” said Rep. Adriano Espaillat. “The Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone (UMEZ) is a true partner to small businesses in New York City and has been instrumental in the community as a whole helping businesses run and thrive and this funding will help provide a critical investment in the program to continue its efforts to help businesses re-build better and stronger from this pandemic. I am delighted that UMEZ has been recognized as such a valuable community partner and look forward to working with President and CEO Duncan and the entire UMEZ team to continue to support small businesses in the district and help them recover.”

“These federal economic relief funds, a combined $2.48 million—UMEZ $1,826,265 and BRISC $658,000—from the U.S. Treasury’s CDFI Rapid Response Program, will enable UMEZ and BRISC to continue to develop the types of programs that further strengthen small businesses in our Upper Manhattan communities,” said Blair M. Duncan, president and CEO of UMEZ. “We thank Congressman Espaillat and his team for quickly assisting us to navigate the U.S. General Services Administration’s registration process, so UMEZ and BRISC could apply for these federal funds designed for communities like ours. His office’s responsiveness enabled us to submit under a tight deadline.”

UMEZ works to sustain the economic revitalization of all communities in Upper Manhattan through job creation, corporate alliances, strategic investments, and small business assistance. Through its programs, UMEZ has facilitated economic support and development in the neighborhoods of Central, West, and East Harlem; Washington Heights; and Inwood.

Governor Cuomo Announces $11.2 Million for Supportive Housing Projects and Emergency Shelter Repairs across the State


Homeless Housing and Assistance Program Funding to Create 127 Units of Supportive Housing

Funding Will Also Help Three Homeless Shelters to Perform Necessary Repairs

 Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that $11.2 million in state funding has been awarded to six projects that will provide supportive housing or emergency shelter to New Yorkers experiencing homelessness. Supported through New York State's Homeless Housing and Assistance Program, these projects will create 127 units of permanent supportive housing and assist three emergency shelters in performing needed repairs.

"As we build back our state better than it was before, we must focus on helping our most vulnerable New Yorkers who have suffered so much during this pandemic," Governor Cuomo said. "These projects, like many others supported by this critical program, will provide New Yorkers experiencing homelessness or housing instability with the safe shelter, supportive services and stable housing they need, furthering our efforts to create a stronger, more inclusive New York."

Administered by the state Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, the Homeless Housing and Assistance Program will provide $6.9 million to the Bridge, Inc. to construct Bishop House Apartments, a nine-story 88-unit building in Central Harlem that will offer 71 units of supportive housing to serve individuals with severe mental illness or who are reentering the community after incarceration. The Bridge will provide case management, daily living skill and vocational training, substance use treatment, and physical and mental health care services.

The program will provide $4 million to construct Jericho House, a 56-unit supportive housing development in New York City serving adults with substance use disorder who are experiencing homelessness. Services provided by the Jericho Project include case management, crisis intervention, relapse prevention, career counseling, job readiness and substance use treatment.

In addition, the approved funding will provide a total of $255,000 to four emergency shelters to conduct repairs. These shelters include Caring for the Hungry & Homeless in the Westchester County town of Peekskill; St. Catherine's Center for Children's Marillac Family Shelter in the city of Albany; and two awards to the Soul Savings Station for Every Nation's Mother Anderson, one for their family shelter, and one for single individuals, both in the city of Saratoga Springs.

OTDA Commissioner Mike Hein said, "Emergency shelters and permanent supportive housing both play a critical role in helping New Yorkers who experience homelessness on the path to achieving lasting stability. Likewise, these projects each play an important role in ensuring their respective communities have the necessary resources to provide safe shelter to individuals experiencing homelessness as they address the root causes of their housing instability. I commend Governor Cuomo for redoubling the support for this program and our efforts to end homelessness in New York once and for all."

The Homeless Housing and Assistance Program made available $128 million in capital funding for projects proposing to build supportive housing units or to repair emergency shelters. Already during this funding cycle, the program has allocated nearly $12 million to six projects that will add 127 units of supportive housing and repair emergency shelters throughout the state. Last year, the program provided funding to 30 projects that will add 881 units of supportive housing and repair emergency shelters.

The awards reflect Governor Cuomo's continued efforts to provide all New Yorkers with access to safe, affordable housing, which is reflected in the state's unprecedented $20 billion housing plan. So far, the plan has helped to build or preserve 7,000 units of supportive housing across the state, putting the state well on the way to achieving the goal of 15,000 created or preserved over 15 years.

Building on his commitment, the Governor's 2021 state budget increased the available capital for the Homeless Housing and Assistance Program from $64 million to $128 million - a funding level that was maintained in the enacted 2022 budget. This funding includes $5 million earmarked for supportive housing for homeless veterans; $5 million for supportive housing for individuals with AIDS who are experiencing homelessness; and $1 million for necessary repairs to emergency shelters.

The Homeless Housing Assistance Program provides capital grants and loans to not-for-profit corporations, charitable and religious organizations, and municipalities to acquire, construct, or rehabilitate housing for persons who are unable to secure adequate housing without special assistance. The grants are awarded through a competitive process by the New York State Homeless Housing and Assistance Corporation, a public benefit corporation staffed by OTDA.

Through this program, New York State has appropriated more than $1.2 billion toward the development of supportive housing. In total, the program has created more than 22,000 units of housing to support individuals and families experiencing homelessness.