Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today updated New Yorkers on the state's vaccination program. As of 11AM today, New York's health care distribution sites have administered 93 percent of first doses. The week 10 allocation from the federal government has been delayed due to winter storms impacting much of the country - New York continues to monitor the situation and work with providers and federal partners to address these shipping issues. New York's health care distribution sites have administered 90 percent of doses so far delivered.
Saturday, February 20, 2021
The New York City Council voted on legislation to transfer the land, buildings and facilities of Rikers Island from the Department of Correction (DOC) to the Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS). This legislation comes ahead of the August 31, 2027 deadline that prohibits Rikers Island from being used for incarceration. The Council also voted on a bill to require a feasibility study to determine whether different types of renewable energy sources, combined with battery storage, are feasible on Rikers Island. Int 1592-2019
This local law would establish a process for the transferring of the land, buildings and facilities of Rikers Island from the Department of Correction to the Department of Citywide Administrative Services In biannual evaluations, any portion not in active use for the housing of persons, or providing of services for such persons, would be so transferred, with the entirety being transferred no later than August 31, 2027. Additionally, a Rikers Island Advisory Committee would be established, consisting of relevant commissioners, persons impacted by Rikers, and experts in environmental justice and sustainability. The advisory committee would evaluate and provide recommendations on potential uses of the island for sustainability and resiliency purposes. This local law would require that a feasibility study be conducted as an appendix to the long-term energy plan, to ascertain whether different types of renewable energy sources, combined with battery storage, are feasible on Rikers Island.
The Council also voted to create a pilot program to test sewage for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Wastewater samples are an underutilized early detection tool for this virus. Early detection of the virus early can help to track circulation or re-emergence in the community. This legislation will include a plan for increased testing at each City wastewater treatment plant if deemed appropriate and offers recommendations for making the program permanent. Int 1966-2020
This bill would require the Commissioner of Environmental Protection, in consultation with the Commissioner of Health and Mental Hygiene to create a pilot program to test the city’s wastewater treatment plants for the presence of SARS-CoV-2, the strain of coronavirus that causes COVID-19, and submit a report with the results of the program.
Additionally, the Council voted on legislation that disqualifies people who have been convicted of certain felonies that relate to public corruption and depriving the public of honest services from holding local elected office. The bill would apply to the offices of Mayor, Comptroller, Public Advocate, Borough President, and Council Member. Int 0374-2018
This bill would disqualify any person that has been convicted of certain felonies, in relation to public corruption and depriving the public of honest services, from holding the office of Mayor, Public Advocate, Comptroller, Borough President or Council Member.
DiNapoli: January Local Sales Tax Collections
Down 5.9 Percent
Suffer from Food Scarcity
New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez joined with Congresswoman Sylvia Garcia of Texas to volunteer at the Houston Food Bank. These Fierce Latina Leaders joined forces to motivate local Houston community leaders, elected officials, local business owners, citizens, and neighbors to step-up and take action to help during this still unraveling crisis. Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio- Cortez traveled across the country to volunteer alongside Houston Congresswoman Sylvia Garcia, both Latina members of Congress are dedicated to sticking together to uplift their communities and do the work that must be done to recover.
Tomorrow they invite everyone who can to give back to those still struggling to survive past this devastating event. A few photos are below.
Friday, February 19, 2021
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo has accumulated an outsized level of power that is no longer appropriate or necessary. In early March 2020, the Legislature voted to expand the Governor's powers under an emergency declaration right before a state of emergency was first declared. The COVID-19 health and economic crises have necessitated certain expedited directives by the Executive, but these powers have been overused and now threaten our co-equal branches of government
In the first 6 months of the Governor’s expanded powers, he issued 65 executive orders and suspended more than 250 laws. The number and nature of these directives demonstrate an overreach of power, and the lack of oversight of the Governor threatens the health of our representative democracy. There are three branches of government for a reason. The duty of law-making should belong to the Legislative branch as it continues to serve as the strongest connection to New Yorkers and our local communities. Yet many of the Governor’s directives have disregarded the legislative process all together and undermined the power of the Legislature – and the voices of the people.
The Governor’s handling of nursing homes throughout the pandemic illustrates his dangerous overreach. In March 2020, the Executive issued guidance requiring nursing homes to re-admit COVID-19 positive patients. The Governor’s office further failed to provide nursing homes with the support they needed in the early days of the pandemic. According to a report issued by the Attorney General, this guidance may have put nursing home residents in harm's way. During the summer, the Legislature demanded that the Health Commissioner provide us with full and accurate data on COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes. But only after Attorney General Letitia James’ investigation reported that the Department of Health had undercounted as much as 50% of nursing home deaths, did the Governor’s office provide those details to the Legislature and the public.
The Administration's decision to withhold the accurate number of people who died of COVID-19 in nursing homes demonstrates their lack of transparency and unwillingness to hold themselves accountable. If this is how the Governor chooses to use his expanded powers, it is no longer in the public’s best interest to allow his emergency powers to remain unchecked.
This week I introduced legislation (S4888) to revoke Governor Cuomo’s expanded emergency powers. With the growing support to roll back the Governor’s expanded emergency powers, I am hopeful we will restore the Legislature's role in our democracy and deliver New Yorkers the relief they so desperately need.
State Senator Alessandra Biaggi
NYC PUBLIC ADVOCATE WILLIAMS LEADS RENEWED CALL FOR DOJ CIVIL RIGHTS INVESTIGATION OF STATE, CITY COVID-19 RESPONSE
Wednesday, new data revealed that life expectancy in the United States in the first half of 2020 dropped by a year overall, but by 2.7 years for Black Americans, driven by these inequities in COVID-19 impact.
OCASIO-CORTEZ CALLS FOR FULL INVESTIGATION OF CUOMO ADMINISTRATION’S HANDLING OF NURSING HOMES DURING COVID-19
Audrey Strauss, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Kathy A. Michalko, Special Agent in Charge of the New York Field Office of the United States Secret Service (“USSS”), and New York Police Department (“NYPD”) Commissioner Dermot Shea, announced the arrest today of TRACII SHOW-HUTSONA on wire fraud and identity theft charges. Specifically, SHOW-HUTSONA is charged with embezzling more than one million dollars as part of a confidence scheme. SHOW-HUTSONA used her position as a personal assistant to funnel money from her victim’s financial accounts, including the victim’s children’s college savings accounts, into her own spending account in order to fund a lavish lifestyle. SHOW HUTSONA was arrested on February 17, 2021, and was presented in federal court in the District of Arizona before United States Magistrate Judge Michelle H. Burns.
“Student loan debt holds too many struggling borrowers down and prevents them from achieving financial stability,” said Attorney General James. “Many fall behind on their payments or enter default, leading to a downward spiral of ruined credit and dashed dreams. Cancelling up to $50,000 in student loan debt will not only free these borrowers to move forward with their lives, but will simultaneously help close the racial wealth gap and move our economy to new heights. This is about creating equal footing among all students and giving every borrower the opportunity to succeed.”
In their letter, the coalition lays out how the existing repayment system for federal student loans provides insufficient opportunity for struggling borrowers to manage their debts. As many as one in five federal student loan borrowers are in default. Options for student borrowers to obtain relief have also proven to be inadequate. Only two-percent of borrowers who applied for loan discharges under the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program have been granted a discharge, and efforts by state attorneys general to obtain student loan discharges for students defrauded by for-profit schools have been stymied by the U.S. Department of Education under the Trump Administration.
Today’s letter specifically highlights misconduct by for-profit schools, and how the industry’s predatory practices have disproportionately harmed people of color. The attorneys general state that cancelling federal student loan debt can substantially increase Black and Latinx household wealth and help close the racial wealth gap.
Today’s letter is the latest action Attorney General James has taken to help student loan borrowers. In July, Attorney General James and a multistate coalition sued the Trump Administration’s U.S. Department of Education and former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to block their efforts to repeal critical protections for student-borrowers who have been misled or defrauded by predatory for-profit schools.
In June 2020, Attorney General James filed a multistate lawsuit to stop the Department of Education and former Education Secretary DeVos from repealing the “Gainful Employment” rule, which provides critical protections to students considering enrolling in for-profit colleges and vocational schools that promise students “gainful employment in a recognized occupation” after graduation.
Additionally, Attorney General James obtained multistate agreements to provide more than $7.5 million in debt relief to nearly 900 former ITT Tech students in New York after investigations found that ITT Tech, Student CU Connect CUSO, and PEAKS Trust preyed on students by deceiving them into taking out student loans.
Joining Attorney General James in co-leading today’s letter is Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey. The two are joined by the attorneys general of Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, and the District of Columbia.
"The federal government previously informed New York that the winter storms impacting much of the country have delayed nearly all shipments of the COVID-19 vaccine, and since then we have been in constant contact with our federal partners to track any incoming shipments and make the necessary adjustments to our operations.
"The Federal government has informed New York that nearly all COVID-19 vaccine doses allocated for Week 10 — which were scheduled to be delivered between February 12th and February 21st — are delayed due to the winter storms continuing to impact much of the country. Every dose that should have shipped on Monday was held back, and only a limited number of Pfizer vaccines left shipping facilities on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Thursday, February 18, 2021
Loyalty Programs Can Offer Benefits, But Are Not Always What You Bargain For Consumers Can Always Opt Out of Loyalty Programs
The Division of Consumer Protection reminds consumers of their rights when engaging in the many loyalty programs available in the marketplace. When consumers sign up for loyalty programs, their information is captured and used by the company to contact the consumer – how and when the company wants. Consumers should know they have options to limit or stop any unwanted emails, texts and phone calls.
“Consumers complain about phone calls from companies and sometimes these calls are legal – because the consumer ‘signed up’ when they started a loyalty program,” said Secretary of State Rossana Rosado, who oversees the Division of Consumer Protection’s Do Not Call program. “Consumers need to know the law empowers them to stop these unwanted communications.”
Loyalty programs come in a variety of packages, including points (credit cards), rewards for purchases (clothing and other retail stores), tiered based on use (airlines), paid program (Amazon Prime and other subscription memberships), value-based (marketing), and partner programs (fly with us and get deals with other companies). Businesses across the marketplace use loyalty programs to market their products. Benefits include “free” products, services and sometimes cash, but the programs are not without cost. Companies gain your permission to reach out with email, social media, texts and phone calls, whenever and however they want. This is true, for example, even if your phone number is registered on the National Do Not Call Registry.
Below are key tips consumers should keep in mind when signing up for loyalty programs:
- Phone calls. Before starting a loyalty program, ask about automatic phone opt-out. If you are already a member, search the company website or your loyalty card for the loyalty program phone number. Call them and say you no longer want to receive calls and/or text messages. Under NYS law, once you opt-out of receiving calls from that provider, the calls need to stop immediately, regardless if you registered your phone number with the National Do Not Call registry.
- Any company marketing emails require opt-out options, under the federal CAN-SPAM Act. Find the link and click through the opt-out and unsubscribe options. If you are a business, please check out FTC’s recommendations here: https://www.ftc.gov/tips-
advice/business-center/ guidance/can-spam-act- compliance-guide-business.
- Text messages. Company text messages also have opt-out requirements under the federal Telecommunication Consumer Protection Act. Scammers also send text messages that mimic legitimate companies. When opting out of text messages, make sure the text is a legitimate text from the company’s loyalty program, as claimed. If you are unsure, delete the message, rather than responding to text opt-out option and go to the company’s website directly to opt-out of text messages.
- Privacy Warning. Did you join a loyalty program years ago that you no longer use? Loyalty programs are often managed by third party companies and the information stored in their systems is not protected the same way the company might protect other information. Consumers and businesses lose billions of dollars a year due to loyalty program security breaches. Consumers should close out old loyalty programs they are no longer using and request the company remove their personal information.
If a consumer has opted out of communications and continues to receive unwanted communication from a company, they are encouraged to file a complaint with the Division of Consumer Protection.
The New York State Division of Consumer Protection enforces Do Not Call violations and provides voluntary mediation between a consumer and a business. The Consumer Assistance Helpline 1-800-697-1220 is available Monday to Friday from 8:30am to 4:30pm, excluding State Holidays, and consumer complaints can be filed at any time at www.dos.ny.gov/