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By Maya Miller and Latima Stephens
As the budget dance enters its final steps, advocates still have some moves left for Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
At least 200 adult literacy advocates congregated at City Hall Park today to protest cuts to at least three education programs. Joined by Comptroller John Liu as well as Council members Gale Brewer, Sara Gonzalez and Matthieu Eugene, those in attendance said they are in it for the long haul.
“It’s a fight every year to get the City Council and the mayor to work together to put funding back in the budget,” said Sierra Stoneman-Bell, co-director of the Neighborhood Family Services Coalition.
The most recent budget put forth by the Bloomberg administration would cut approximately $7 million from the adult literacy programs. As a result, the cuts would eliminate 7,000 seats saved for helping New Yorkers learn English, which those at the protest said is vital to their and their families' livelihoods.
The City Council has once again delayed a vote on paid sick leave despite an earlier goal of a vote tomorrow.
After working to move the controversial bill to the Council floor for three years, Manhattan City Councilwoman Gale Brewer said yesterday that she hopes the bill will come to a vote in early May after negotiating the final language.
She added that only small, auxiliary verbs like "may" or "must."
"I think we'll be fine," Brewer said. "I still feel ecstatic."
Whatever language is eventually adopted into the bill is a result of weeks of negotiation between City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, labor advocates and the city's business leaders.
After three years of waiting and debating, Councilwoman Gale Brewer said the controversial paid sick days bill could go to a vote as early as next week.
"April 25 -- that's the goal," Brewer said this afternoon. She said the language was still being finalized, but was confident it would go to a vote sooner rather than later.
The bill, Intro 0097, would be introduced through the Committee on Civil Service and Labor, which will convene the day before the bill heads to the Council's floor. It already has several cosponsors, including Speaker Christine Quinn, who held back a vote on the measure since Brewer first introduced the bill in 2010.
Quinn came under pressure in recent months as supporters of paid sick leave -- including unions and fellow mayoral candidates, most notably Public Advocate Bill de Blasio and former Comptroller Bill Thompson -- demanded that the bill go to a vote. Quinn had long held that she didn't oppose the spirit of the bill, rather that the city's economy was too fragile to expect small business to offer paid sick leave to their employees.
However, despite initial opposition from chambers of commerce from all five boroughs and various business leaders, Quinn was able to draw up a compromise version of the bill that would not got into effect until next year, and only if it meets a minimum measure of a financial index released by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
The City Council is taking up the fight against illegal hotels with legislation that would set fines at $1,000 to $25,000.
At a news conference organized to announce yesterday's Council vote on the bill, Speaker Christine Quinn spoke about how resident Charles Seelig, 64, was having to deal with rude transients staying at his brownstone in the Village.
Seelig later told the Gazette that the building had people coming in and hout all hours of the night. "It was really strange," he said. "It gave you a lot of insecurity."
The primary sponsor of the bill, Councilwoman Gale Brewer (D-Manhattan), says the bill will help to end illegal hotel use in the city that displaces permanent residents, reduces affordable housing stock and can be a nuisance for neighbors.