April Update from Helen
Spring (and allergies) are in the air. Several council members (including me) and staff are biking to work now. See you on the bike paths!
First Town Hall. My first town hall is around the corner! Save the date: it will be on Wednesday, April 30, 6pm-8pm in the theater at John Jay College. Submit your questions on my website, http://helenrosenthal.com/. We’ll kick off the night with the questions you’ve sent in, and we’ll have an open mic Q&A after in case you come up with more questions as the night goes on. Representatives from the Department of Sanitation, the MTA, the Department of Buildings, the Department of Transportation, the Department of Housing Preservation and Development, and New York State Homes and Community Renewal have all confirmed attendance. Stay tuned for a flyer, and spread the word!
March Madness. The City Council kind, that is. March is a busy time for all City Council Committees as we review the Mayor’s Preliminary Budget for the next fiscal year (FY15). In doing so I got to meet Agency Commissioners and ask about spending policies I have concerns about. Why does the Department of Human Services spend $3,600 a month for each adult couple in a single room? Was it really necessary that the Department of Housing Preservation and Development start “downsizing” elderly seniors out of their homes? Why did the NYC Housing Authority spend so much on temporary boilers that don’t work? Dean Fuleihan, the new budget Director, agreed with me that as Mayor de Blasio’s steward of the City’s finances, his mission is to ensure that the City’s budget reflects a public policy that seeks to lessen income inequality.
Beacon High School. Our public school parent community worked overtime to develop a clear blueprint for the soon to be empty Beacon school space. Both the D3 Community Education Council and Community Board 7 passed Resolutions requesting a portfolio based 6-12 District 3 priority public school. During the budget hearings with the Department of Education, I made it clear to DOE Deputy Chancellor Grimm and Schools Construction Authority Commissioner Grillo that we expect the City’s budget to reflect the necessary construction required to prepare Beacon for September 2015, including a gym, outdoor space for recess, an appropriately sized cafeteria, and an auditorium.
606 West 57th Street. The City Council is now reviewing the developer’s proposed plan which would bring over 1,200 new apartments into the neighborhood, including over 200 affordable housing units. This plan was certified by City Planning on March 17 and now comes to the City Council for a final vote. Please join us on April 1, starting at 9:30 in the City Hall Council Chambers if you would like to testify about this project.
Meeting with Non-Profit groups. Marisa Maack, my Chief of Staff, and I are meeting with many wonderful organizations that provide services to all New Yorkers. From after school programs to senior care to environmental sustainability, the City should find a way to fund these programs. Over the coming months, we will work with our colleagues in the City Council to identify funding. I was delighted to speak with the Hispanic Senior Action Council about their advocacy with the City Council.
Healthy food drive. We’re collecting healthy foods for our neighbors in need, and we could use your help! We’ve partnered with the West Side Campaign Against Hunger, and we’re collecting food at our district office at 87th & Columbus until Monday, April 7. Here’s the list of foods we can accept.
Website updates. Check out the new Legislation page on my website to learn about legislation I’ve proposed to the City Council. We also have a virtual Whiteboard, which will keep you up-to-date just as the whiteboards in our district office windows do.
New photos. I recently attended the St. Pat’s For All parade in Queens and the Universal Pre-Kindergarten (UPK) Rally in Albany. I was proud to participate in both events (and they were a lot of fun). See for yourself!
Sign up for Health Insurance by March 31st. If you still need health coverage for 2014, you need to sign up for healthcare right away! The deadline is Monday, March 31st — after that, you can still sign up, but you won’t get covered until 2015. Learn more at https://nystateofhealth.ny.gov/
Column in West Side Spirit. My next column, with thoughts about the SRO buildings in our District, will be in next week’s issue of the West Side Spirit. Keep a look out for it!