Gotham Gazette http://www.gothamgazette.com/component/tags/tag/1205 Thu, 14 Dec 2017 22:53:04 +0000 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb webmaster@gothamgazette.com (Webmaster) Long-Awaited, City's New Approach to Veterans Services Moves Ahead http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6613:long-awaited-city-s-new-approach-to-veterans-services-moves-ahead http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6613:long-awaited-city-s-new-approach-to-veterans-services-moves-ahead sutton buery veterans city hall

Commissioner Sutton, left, at a City Hall ceremony (photo: @RichardBuery)


With Veterans Day approaching, veterans advocates in New York say they want to see the long-term vision of the newly created city Department of Veterans’ Services and how its Commissioner plans to tackle the most significant, persistent issues affecting the city’s military veterans.

More than 210,000 veterans live in New York City, making it one of the largest veteran populations in the nation, more so than some entire states. The administration of Mayor Bill de Blasio, a Democrat, has committed additional resources and funding to address veterans’ concerns and challenges. The City Council has been actively pursuing veteran-friendly policy, including the legislation that elevated the Mayor’s Office of Veteran Affairs into the new Department of Veterans’ Services (after initial objections from de Blasio).

The Department of Veterans’ Services launched in April and has been operating with its expanded budget since the July start of the new fiscal year, boosting its staff and ramping up operations. The department is well on its way to full deployment in the next few months, said Commissioner Loree Sutton in an interview with Gotham Gazette at the agency’s main office at One Center Street, across from City Hall.

Sutton laid out her priorities and the “non-negotiable core services” that the department is focused on: housing and support services, an integrative healthcare program, and the E3 initiative (education, employment and entrepreneurship). “For the first time, we’ll finally have the capacity to not only establish a citywide presence but be able to engage in these three lines of action,” she said.

The department now has 24 employees, up from four in June of 2015, and will add another ten by the start of 2017. With an eye towards having a presence in all five boroughs, it now has a satellite office in Queens and will set up offices in all the boroughs within the next three months. “We have been very dedicated to the process of designing a new agency,” said Sutton, “And really taking the time that we needed not just to fill slots but really build a team. We’re also creating a culture, a culture that honors the aspirations and the dreams of so many veterans here in New York City from years and years.”

The department’s priorities align with what veteran advocates have long demanded, and they praise Sutton’s leadership for it. Recognizing that the department is young, advocates do say they would like to see a clear articulation of those priorities through outreach to the veteran community. “It takes time to build out so of course some of the veterans in the outer boroughs are wondering, ‘Where is it?’, but it’s growing,” said Joe Bello, a Navy veteran and member of the city’s Veterans Advisory Board, shortly after a recent hearing of the City Council’s Committee on Veterans.

“There needs to be something about what the city is actually offering vets,” he added, saying the department should consider creating a resource guide to its services in order to reach out to veterans and their families.

Kristen Rouse, an Army veteran and president and founding director of NYC Veterans Alliance, an advocacy group, said the new department needs to be “responsive” to veterans’ needs. “They have to not only build the plan and execute the plan, they have to build trust in the community,” she said. “This is a community that has been underserved for a very long time and so they have to be responsive, they have to build that word-of-mouth trust.”

Rouse acknowledges, as a former city employee, that government can work slowly, but she’s encouraged by the staff the Sutton has hired, many of whom are veterans themselves. “It’s going to take some weeks and months for them to really gel as a team and to craft a plan that says, ‘Here’s what we’re doing,’” Rouse said. She stressed that the department should not lose focus, however, of issues that go ignored, like affordable housing for student veterans and discrimination faced by veterans.

“There are so many other different programs that need to be fostered,” she said, “to promote community, promote good quality of living, a sense of purpose for veterans in New York City so ultimately we’re a city that attracts veterans in the same way we attract artists, entrepreneurs.”

Sutton, a retired Army brigadier general, explained that the department is already doing much along these lines through coordination with different city agencies and setting up a network of local service providers under its VetConnect NYC initiative, which will roll out next year. “The number one challenge that veterans and their families point to is difficulty navigating,” she said, “to find the right services, to ensure that they’re quality services, to make sure they qualify for them, that the services are even available. That’s what this network really is designed to do.”

After the October 28 City Council veterans committee hearing, Council Member Eric Ulrich, a Queens Republican who chairs the committee, told Gotham Gazette he was optimistic about the new department’s execution, but hasn’t yet seen a long-term plan for veterans from the de Blasio administration.

“I don’t think it’s even on their radar right now,” he said. He did praise the city for ending chronic veteran homelessness and emphasized the need for connecting veterans with permanent affordable housing. But Ulrich said one area where the city is failing is in providing adequate employment for veterans, “and good paying jobs, not low paying menial jobs, but jobs that reflect their skills and abilities and their talents and the things that they’ve learned in the military,” he said.

What’s also important to consider, according to Ulrich, is the roughly 20,000 future veterans, soldiers currently in active service who will return to the city in the next five years. “I think the temptation is, on the part of the New York City government, to just supply a band-aid sometimes and treat how things are now, but we really have to come up with a long-term solution,” he said, “to make New York City a more veteran-friendly city.”

As Sutton tells it, that long-term vision is coming together, efforts that will be highlighted this week leading up to Friday’s Veterans Day and its annual parade. “We’re in the very early stages of what will absolutely continue to be a full-court press to improve the lives of our veterans and their families,” she said. “This is what I view as an essential municipal investment.”

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by Samar Khurshid, City government reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

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Long-Awaited, City's New Approach to Veterans Services Moves Ahead Sun, 06 Nov 2016 04:00:00 +0000
The Week Ahead in New York Politics, November 9 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=5975:the-week-ahead-in-new-york-politics-november-9 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=5975:the-week-ahead-in-new-york-politics-november-9 New York City Hall

New York City Hall


What to watch for this week in New York politics:

Wednesday is Veterans Day, with parades, resource fairs, and events to honor and aid veterans taking place before, on, and after the day itself. Mayor Bill de Blasio will hold a breakfast reception to honor the military veterans Wednesday morning. On Thursday, the City Council will hold a hearing on veteran homelessness, which the mayor vowed to end by the end of this year as part of a national pledge.

The mayor and the City Council agreed last week to create a new Department of Veterans Services, removing the agency from the Mayor's Office and making veterans affairs its own city department, which will give it more resources and Council oversight. There will be a celebratory rally outside of City Hall on Tuesday at 11 a.m., then the veterans affairs committee of the Council will vote through the department bill, followed by the full Council.

Could this be the week that First Lady Chirlane McCray unveils her much-anticipated "Mental Health Roadmap"? The week of Veterans Day would make sense considering the mental health challenges many veterans face. There's been no indication this is the week, but the 'roadmap' has been slated for release this fall. [Read our extensive preview of McCray's mental health roadmap]

According to Citizens Budget Commission (CBC), the City will release its first quarter modification to the FY2016 budget this week. "In advance of that release, CBC compares the Mayor's budget savings agenda, called the Citywide Savings Program, or CSP, with the Program to Eliminate the Gap (PEG) in fiscal years 2010 to 2015."

After a marathon Friday press conference at which de Blasio answered dozens of questions from assembled reporters on a wide variety of subjects, the mayor had a quiet weekend. De Blasio continues to be scrutinized for his approach to the media, his administration's transparency, and several policy areas in which he is having the most challenges, such as homelessness, policing, and education. We'll see what this week holds other than a focus on veterans and the budget. On Monday morning the mayor is set to meet with members of the city's congressional delegation and then hold a media availability - at which he'll take both on- and off-topic questions.

As always, there's a great deal happening all over the city, with many events to be aware of - read our day-by-day rundown below.

***Do you have events or topics for us to include in an upcoming Week Ahead in New York Politics?
E-mail Gotham Gazette editor Ben Max: bmax@gothamgazette.com***

The run of the week in detail:

MONDAY
At the City Council on Monday:

  • At 10:30 a.m. the Subcommittee on Planning, Dispositions and Concessions will convene to discuss several Land Use Applications in Brooklyn.
  • At 11 a.m. the Committee on Land Use will meet.

On Monday at 10 a.m., Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams "will honor Brooklyn's military heroes at his "Start Strong, Finish Strong" resource fair for veterans...Additional speakers will include Mayor's Office of Veterans Affairs Commissioner Loree K. Sutton, a retired Army brigadier general, and USAG Fort Hamilton Command Sergeant Kevin Fauntleroy. Borough President Adams will speak about Brooklyn's commitment to its veterans, including his efforts to restore the Brooklyn War Memorial and to address mental health challenges facing the community."

On Monday at 11 a.m., New York City Council Member Carlos Menchaca, along with Hetrick-Martin Institute CEO Thomas Krever and the LGBTQ Caucus of the City Council will unveil “HMI Goes Citywide For LGBTQ Youth,” a new initiative to address the challenges LGBTQ youth face in New York.

"On Monday, Mayor de Blasio will meet with members of the New York Congressional Delegation at City Hall to discuss a number‎ of issues impacting New York City. This meeting is closed press. After, [at 11:30 a.m.] the Mayor and members of the Congressional Delegation will hold a media availability on the Zadroga Act on the steps of City Hall," according to his public schedule.

At noon Monday, Crain’s New York Business will host its “Crain’s Business Hall of Fame Luncheon” to celebrate businesspeople who have transformed the city through their philanthropic and professional lives. The list of honorees include Ms. Pamela Brier, President and Chief Executive Officer, Maimonides Medical Center; Mr.Laurence Fink, Chairman and CEO, BlackRock; Ms. Shelly Lazarus, Chairman Emeritus, Ogilvy & Mather; Mr. Alan Patricof, Managing Director Greycroft; The Honorable Richard Ravitch, Former Lieutenant Governor, New York; Ms. Emily Rafferty, President Emeritus, The Metropolitan Museum of Art; and Mr. Steven Roth, Chairman and CEO, Vornado Realty Trust. EisnerAmper will sponsor the event.

At 12:30 p.m. on Monday, Public Advocate Letitia James will “announce measures to expand affordability of NYC child care.” Joined by parents, advocates and other stakeholders, James will hold a press conference about the costs and accessibility of child care in New York City, releasing a report and outlining five policies to help increase accessibility, capacity, and affordability.

At 1 p.m. Monday at City Hal, the correction officers union will hold a press conference "following the vicious attack on a correction officer by two Rikers inmates."

At 6 p.m. Monday, schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña will deliver remarks at a pre-K family forum at the Children's Museum of Manhattan.

At 7 p.m. Monday, Comptroller Scott Stringer and Assembly Member Linda Rosenthal will co-host a town hall meeting at the Lincoln Square Neighborhood Center on West 65th Street.

Also at 7 p.m. Monday, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer will speak at New York Historical Society’s “Debt of Honor” program.

TUESDAY
Tuesday is a “Fight for $15” day of action, with many events planned to bring attention to wage issues and push for a $15 per hour minimum wage. Unions, advocacy groups, elected officials, and others will participate. Worker strikes, rallies, and marches will take place throughout the day all over the city and the country.

At 6:30 a.m., Mayor de Blasio "will deliver remarks at a Fight for $15 rally to raise the minimum wage...Immediately following his remarks, the Mayor will appear in several one-on-one interviews with local television networks to discuss the need to raise the minimum wage." At 2:15 p.m., the Mayor will appear live on WBLS 107.5 and at 2:30 p.m., on NY1. "In the evening, the Mayor will attend the 70th Annual Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner."

State Senate Republicans will convene in Albany on Tuesday to discuss their 2016 agenda. (A week later Assembly Democrats will meet in the capital, according to Politico New York.)

On Tuesday at 8 a.m., Chancellor of the State University of of New York Nancy Zimpher will speak at the Citizens Budget Commission breakfast at the Harvard Club. Zimpher will discuss SUNY projects and priorities.

At 9 a.m. Tuesday the Board of Corrections will hold a meeting.

At 11 a.m. Tuesday at City Hall, Council Speaker Mark-Viverito, Council Member Eric Ulrich, who chairs the Council’s veterans affairs committee, military veterans, and advocates will celebrate the imminent creation of a new City Department of Veterans Services.

At the City Council on Tuesday, the City Council will convene for a full-body Stated Meeting, which, as always, will be prefaced by a press conference hosted by City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito at 12:30 p.m.

Gov. Cuomo will make an announcement Tuesday at 4:15 p.m. in Manhattan at Foley Square, likely at a Fight for $15 event.

At 6:30 p.m. the Committee on Drugs and Law of the New York City Bar Association will host a discussion on marijuana policy in New York. Panelists will include City Council Member Rafael Espinal, state Senator Jeff Klein, Vocal New York’s Alyssa Aguilera, and others.

At 7 p.m. Tuesday, “Trans-Pacific Partnership: Who Wins and Who Loses in This Secret Deal?”, a panel event presented by the Big Apple Coffee Party and moderated by Zephyr Teachout, Fordham law professor and CEO of Mayday PAC.

The only City Council Participatory Budgeting event of the week is on Tuesday: Council Member David Greenfield (District 44, Brooklyn), 6:30 p.m.

WEDNESDAY
Wednesday is Veterans Day. At 8 a.m. Mayor de Blasio will hold a breakfast reception to honor and remember military veterans.

On Wednesday evening, many New York politicos, policy wonks, and others will gather to celebrate the 25th anniversary of City Journal, the Manhattan Institute policy publication.

THURSDAY
On Thursday at 8 a.m. Association for Better New York will host a breakfast with Congressional Rep. Carolyn Maloney, who will speak about the  projects, as well as her other priorities.

The next public meeting of the New York City Campaign Finance Board will be Thursday at 10 a.m.

At 10:30 a.m. Thursday, Queens Borough President Melinda Katz will hold a Public Land Use Hearing.

At 12:30 p.m. Thursday, Politico New York hosts New York Playbook Lunch, a discussion with Rep. Hakeem Jeffries and Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, hosted by playbook writers Azi Paybarah, Jimmy Vielkind, and Mike Allen.

At the City Council on Thursday:

  • At 10 a.m. the Committee on Transportation will meet for an oversight hearing on transportation deserts. The Committee will hear two bills: one to mandate a DOT study looking at the feasibility of a light rail system; another to mandate a study on transportation deserts. It will also look at resolutions calling on the MTA to allow commuters to pay the metrocard fare on commuter rails and to conduct a study on unused railroad rights.
  • At 10 a.m. the Committee on Parks and Recreation will meet to hear CM Mark Levine’s bill that would create a taskforce to study the effects of building shadows on parks.
  • At 10 a.m. the Committee on Aging will meet for oversight on DFTA’s home care program.
  • At 10 a.m. the Committee on Housing and Buildings will meet to discuss a bill that would require residential buildings to have photoelectric smoke detectors.
  • At 1 p.m. the Committee on Environmental Protection will meet to discuss two bills aimed at reducing noise by sightseeing helicopters.
  • At 1 p.m. the Committee on Sanitation and Solid Waste Management will convene for oversight of DSNY’s 2016 snow plan, and the introduction of two bills that would identify pedestrian bridges and create plans for de-snowing and de-icing them and make exemptions for senior citizens and persons with disabilities from being penalized for failing to remove snow from on sidewalks.
  • At 1:30 p.m. the Committee on Veterans, jointly with the Committee on General Welfare will meet for oversight of the City’s efforts to end homelessness among military veterans.

Thursday at 5:30 p.m. at New York Law School: Law and the Lives of Young Black Men, "featuring Richard Buery, Deputy Mayor for Strategic Policy Initiatives; Alphonso B. David, Counsel to the Governor; and Nicholas Turner, President and Director, Vera Institute of Justice. Moderated by Professor Mercer Givhan, New York Law School."

Thursday evening, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries is holding a campaign fundraiser, a reception with Gov. Andrew Cuomo as the honorary guest.

At 6 p.m. Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. and the Bronx Borough Board will host a public hearing regarding the Zoning for Quality and Affordability and the Mandatory Inclusionary Housing proposals of Mayor de Blasio through the City Planning department and toward his housing plan.

Mayor de Blasio will host a town hall meeting focused on education in Jackson Heights, Queens, Thursday evening. Council Member Daniel Dromm, who chairs the City Council education committee, will welcome de Blasio and his team to the district.

At 7:30 p.m. Thursday, the New York City Department of Records and Information Services and WomensActivism.NYC will host the celebration of the 200th o birthday of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and the Women's Suffrage Centennial. Sponsored by the City of New York, the Mayor’s Fund to Advance NYC, The Cooper Union, and Lebenthal Asset Management, the event is expected to be attended by elected officials including Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer.

FRIDAY
On Friday at 8:15 a.m. Vicki Been, the Commissioner for Housing Preservation and Development, will speak at the latest New York City Law School CityLaw breakfast event.

On Saturday: "Newly appointed New York State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia will give her first public address in New York City on Nov. 14 at the Council of School Supervisors & Administrators' (CSA) 48th Educational Leadership Conference...Elia will deliver the keynote at CSA's Professional Development Plenary."

***
Have events or topics for us to include in an upcoming Week Ahead in New York Politics? E-mail Gotham Gazette executive editor Ben Max any time: bmax@gothamgazette.com (please use "For Week Ahead" as email subject).

***
by Colin O'Connor, Konstantine Beridze, and Ben Max
@GothamGazette

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The Week Ahead in New York Politics, November 9 Sun, 08 Nov 2015 05:00:00 +0000