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The New York City Immigration Coalition may have its work cut out for itself this year: Its 10-point agenda is ambitious and will require action from Albany as well as cooperation from law enforcement.

The groups top policy priority is expanding access to college by passing New York State's version of the DREAM Act. The State's DREAM act which is backed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Council Speaker Christine Quinn would open up tuition assistance to students regardless of their immigration status.

Despite massive grassroots pressure, Gov. Andrew Cuomo did not make the DREAM legislation a part of his State of the State Speech in January. The Democratic-controlled Assembly has passed a version of the DREAM Act in the past and seems poised to do so again.

The Senate is a different story. The breakaway Independent Democratic Conference has indicated major support for the legislation but Senate Republicans have generally been opposed to the measure and have prevented floor votes. To add to the difficulty advocates face, it is unclear how many in the Democratic conference actually support the legislation.

Democratic Sen. Joe Addabbo said at a debate in October that he felt his constituents had a hard enough time finding money sending their children to college so he could not support the DREAM Act. His Republican opponent, Councilman Eric Ulrich, said at the time that he supported "some version" of the legislation.

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Mayor Michael Bloomberg wants to see the state adopt the city's ban on large sugary beverages, but that isn't Gov. Andrew Cuomo to-do list. 

During a press conference this afternoon, Cuomo bluntly responded to a quesiton about the drinks ban saying: "We're not considering it. I haven't really studied it ether." 

It seems a bit of a switch for Cuomo, who had positive things to say about the ban in June 2011. 

"Obesity is a major problem that we desperately need to address,” Cuomo said on former Gov. David Paterson's now-cancelled radio show in June 2011. “So I don’t see that this can do any harm.”

The soda industry wants to do its best to make sure the restriction on the sale of large sugary beverages does not move beyond New York City. 

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State Looks For Quick Action on Gun Laws 

Gov. Andrew Cuomo wants to toughen New York's gun laws and according to The Times Union Cuomo wants to do it as soon as next week. A source told the times union that a gubernatorial aide presented Senate Republicans with a draft of proposed gun legislation on Wednesday but Republicans turned it down. Republicans deny turning down any legislation. A myriad of Assemblyman have confirmed they were asked to stay in Albany on Wednesday in case a special session came to fruition this week but now all eyes or on Dec. 28. Cuomo has said he will address the issue of gun violence in his Jan. 9 State of the State Address but with the action in Albany it seems like something could happen much sooner. Cuomo has said he wants to eliminate loopholes in the state's assault weapons ban. Meanwhile, the Times Union reports that the same venue Cuomo will give his State of the State address in next year will also scheduled to host a gun show two weeks after the speech




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The call for more gun controls has been a familiar refrain following the Connecticut elementary school massacre, but a number of N.R.A. backed congressional Democrats and some Republicans have joined the chorus this time. Some opponents of the N.R.A. say this most recent tragedy could provide a true test of the powerful organization. Even conservative pundit Joe Scarborough has called for stricter rules and Wal-Mart removed a semiautomatic assault rifle similar to the one used in the incident from its Web site. In the wake of the shooting, Mayor Bloomberg unveiled a new campaign for stricter rules, and will send out 34 videos to each member of Congress, a number meant to symbolize how many gun victims are killed daily nationwide. Gov. Cuomo also called for stricter federal rules, although he said the state’s assault weapons ban should be tightened, too.

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Statement of Mayor’s Against Illegal Guns Co-Chair New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg:

With all the carnage from gun violence in our country, it’s still almost impossible to believe that a mass shooting in a kindergarten class could happen. It has come to that. Not even kindergarteners learning their A,B,Cs are safe. We heard after Columbine that it was too soon to talk about gun laws. We heard it after Virginia Tech. After Tucson and Aurora and Oak Creek. And now we are hearing it again. For every day we wait, 34 more people are murdered with guns. Today, many of them were five-year olds. President Obama rightly sent his heartfelt condolences to the families in Newtown. But the country needs him to send a bill to Congress to fix this problem. Calling for ‘meaningful action’ is not enough. We need immediate action. We have heard all the rhetoric before. What we have not seen is leadership – not from the White House and not from Congress. That must end today. This is a national tragedy and it demands a national response. My deepest sympathies are with the families of all those affected, and my determination to stop this madness is stronger than ever.

Statement of Mayors Against Illegal Guns Co-Chair Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino:

As a parent and grandparent, I am overcome with both grief and outrage by the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut. This unspeakable act of violence will forever imprint this day in our hearts and minds. My heart goes out to the families impacted by this senseless tragedy and the many others we have recently witnessed across the United States. As a Mayor who has witnessed too many lives forever altered by gun violence, it is my responsibility to fight for action. Today’s tragedy reminds us that now is the time for action. Innocent children will now never attend a prom, never play in a big game, never step foot on a college campus. Now is the time for a national policy on guns that takes the loopholes out of the laws, the automatic weapons out of our neighborhoods and the tragedies like today out of our future.”

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New York officials are more than excited that the United States Supreme Court will hear a challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act. Here are some of their reactions: 

 

Statement of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg:


The rights of men and women should not be dependent upon who they love and who they chose to spend their lives with. The Supreme Court’s decision to review the constitutionality of DOMA is the right decision and one that brings us another step closer to full marriage equality. The history of our country is defined by the progress we have made expanding the definition of equality to all people, of all races and both sexes. The Supreme Court Justices have often played a central role in these debates, and now they will have a chance to do so again.

Statement of City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn:

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Mayor Michael Bloomberg said yesterday that the city would rethink evacuation zones, electrical infrastructure, telecommunications networks, hospitals and transportations systems after Superstorm Sandy caused billions of dollars in damage, paralyzed communities and killed dozens of people.

But Bloomberg said that his administration would not abandon the waterfront and dismissed the possibility of building sea walls to hold back the ocean. Instead, he said the city would look at "coastline protections" such as berms, dunes, jetties and levies.

"No matter how much we do to make homes and businesses more resilient, the fact of the matter is we live next to the ocean, and the ocean comes with risks that we just cannot eliminate," the mayor said.

Bloomberg outlined the post-Sandy plan, his first major address since the storm, at a Lower Manhattan event, where former Vice President Al Gore also made an appearance and praised the mayor's previous efforts to respond to the effects of climate change.

In the Press...

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Obama Expected to Ask For $50 Billion in Storm Aid


Preisdent Barack Obama is expected to ask Congress for about $45 to $50 billion in storm aid reports The New York Times. That figure is far below the $82 billion requested by New York, New Jersey at Connecticut â€śWhile $50 billion is a significant amount of money, it unfortunately does not meet all of New York and New Jersey’s substantial needs,” Senators Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten E. Gillibrand of New York and Frank R. Lautenberg and Robert Menendez of New Jersey, all Democrats, said in a joint statement. The storm aid may get tangled up in the battle between President Barack Obama and Republican legislators over debt and tax rates. 

 

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Faith leaders working with Occupy Sandy on Hurricane Sandy relief efforts plan to converge on the residence of Mayor Michael Bloomberg to demand that the city provide temporary housing for those displaced by the storm or those living in unsafe conditions.  

The rally in front of the mayor's office is expected to begin at 11 a.m. today.

As we reported Monday, elected officials say FEMA is considering renting empty apartments and housing those in need of safe refuge because of damage done to their homes by Sandy — especially in neighborhoods in the Rockaways.

Housing conditions are deteriorating in the communities on the peninsula as mold continues to grow unchecked in many homes, while still others remain without heat and power. 

Grassroots groups have been protesting the lack of temporary housing for weeks now and the movement seems to be growing.

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Gov. Cuomo said Hurricane Sandy affected more people than Katrina in his plea for nearly $42 billion in federal aid. He noted many more died in Katrina, but that the economic toll of Sandy was higher, reaching almost $33 billion in clean up costs. The aid request from Cuomo grew from his previous plea for $30 billion.The aid would be used to cover damage and restoration, but $9 billion of it would be used to prepare for future storms. Mayor Bloomberg is making his own plea for nearly $10 billion in aid. State health officials are also asking for almost a half-billion dollars in special Medicaid funding for hospitals, nursing homes and clinics affected by the storm.

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Weeks after Hurricane Sandy hit, the stories of people unable to stay in their apartments because landlords have yet to make repairs are still commonplace.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg wants to put an end to that and is pushing landlords to act and wants to make sure they know the city is offering them the resources to make their apartments liveable again. 

As we reported last week, groups in the Rockaways are concerned about the number of displaced residents who may be at the mercy of the increasingly cold weather and say they are concerned about hypothermia and other conditions that are exacerbated by exposure.

“As the weather gets colder, we cannot stress enough the importance of making sure those who are living in homes or apartments without heat get to a warmer place,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley in a statement. “Prolonged exposure to cold is not just uncomfortable, it is dangerous, especially for infants, the elderly, and people with chronic diseases.”

The Bloomberg administraion reminds landlords they have two options to repair their properties: 

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Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced today an effort to provide Thanksgiving dinners to those impacted by Hurricane Sandy. 

As we continue to recover and rebuild from the devastating impact of Hurricane Sandy, our City will do everything we can to bring some of the comforts and traditions of Thanksgiving to families in our hardest hit communities,” said Bloomberg in a statement. “We are grateful for the many generous community and corporate partners for their commitment to helping our City get back on its feet during this holiday season.

 

Here is a list of places and times people can get meals this week:


NYC Food Distribution Sites

Through a partnership with the Red Cross and a contract the City entered into with Whitson’s Culinary Group earlier this month, prepared lunches and hot meals have been available in the hardest hit sections of Queens and Brooklyn. The expansion to providing on-site prepared foods, including hot dinners, consolidated the massive food distribution effort that had been in operation in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. To date, the City, working with FEMA, has distributed more than 2.7 million meals and close to 700,000 bottles of water to those impacted by Hurricane Sandy.

Over 17,500 Thanksgiving meals prepared by Whitson’s will be distributed at the following sites from 11 AM – 3 PM on Thursday:

Brooklyn
MCU Park (Coney Island) (Parking Lot): 1904 Surf Avenue (@ West 19th Street)
Fine Fare Supermarket (Coney Island) (Parking Lot): 2901 Mermaid Avenue (@W29th)
Searise Houses (Coney Island) (Courtyard): Neptune Avenue and 37th Streets

Queens (Rockaways):
Waldbaum’s (Parking Lot): 112-15 Beach Channel Drive (@ Beach 112 Street)
Thriftway Mall (Parking Lot): 20-52 Mott Street (btw. 20th & 21st Streets)
Key Food (Parking Lot): 87-15 Rockaway Beach Blvd. (btw. Beach 87th & 88th Streets)

Additional Holiday Dinners

The Mayor’s Office is working with community organizations in impacted areas to host Thanksgiving dinners, with support from the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City at the following locations:

Wednesday Dinners
Brooklyn – Miccio Community Center in Red Hook with a food donation from Fairway Market
Staten Island – The Vanderbilt at South Beach in partnership with Borough President James Molinaro and with support from the Stephen Siller Foundation and the Mannix Family of ShopRite
Staten Island – The Excelsior Grand in partnership with Borough President James Molinaro and with support from the Stephen Siller Foundation and the Mannix Family of ShopRite
Staten Island – The Grand Oaks Country Club in partnership with Borough President Molinaro and with support from the Stephen Siller Foundation and the Mannix Family of ShopRite

Thursday Dinners
Brooklyn – El Caribe in Mill Basin on Thursday evening in partnership with Councilman Dominic Recchia. Transportation will be provided from the MCU parking lot in Coney Island.
Brooklyn – Miccio Community Center in Red Hook with a food donation from Feeding NYC
Queens – Beach 41st Street Community Center with a food donation from Fairway Market
Queens – IS 53 in Far Rockaway in partnership with Councilman James Sanders
Queens – St. Francis de Sales Parish in Belle Harbor with support from the Stiller Foundation

The City is also providing assistance and support for additional Thanksgiving dinners at the following locations:

Wednesday Evening
Queens – Hammel Houses in Rockaway Beach

Thursday Evening
Queens – St. Francis de Sales Parish in Belle Harbor
Queens – St. Helen’s Church in Howard Beach
Queens – Ocean Bay Community Center in Far Rockaway
Queens – Redfern Community Center in Far Rockaway
Staten Island – New Dorp High School
Staten Island – Pepper Jack Grill for Evacuees at the Mt. Manresa shelter
Staten Island – Baily Seaton Hospital Shelter

Over 2,400 turkeys and over 3,000 Thanksgiving sides sponsored by the Mayor’s Fund, Gristedes and Fresh Direct, were distributed to elected officials and religious and community organizations including the Alive Ministries, the Beth Abraham Nursing Home, the Calvary Baptist Church, the Coney Island Gospel Assembly, Congregation White Shul, the Cooper Square Committee, the Hamilton Madison House, the Miccio Community Center, and the Visitation Rectory. In addition, through a partnership with the Department of Homeless Services and the Department of Housing, Preservation and Development, the Red Cross is providing targeted food assistance to families that evacuated through the City’s emergency shelter system and have been placed in hotels in every borough.

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Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced that the city would begin rationing gas for the first time since the 1970s, in response to fuel shortages caused by Hurricane Sandy. Drivers with cars with license plates ending in odd numbers or that end in a letter or other character will be able to fill up on odd-numbered days. Cars with plates ending in even numbers get their turn on even-numbered days. The odd-even rationing system begins today, Nov. 9, with odd-numbered plates. "Drivers are still facing long lines. Frustrations are only growing," Bloomberg said at a news conference at City Hall yesterday

More stories:

Sandy Troubles Won't Stop Con Ed From Seeking Rate Hike (Associated Press)

Gov Says Sandy Could Cost NY $33 Billion (Associated Press)

Coney Island Group Launches With Focus On Sandy Cleanup (NY Post)

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Calls to Reform Election Board


After an election day marred by failing voting machines, ballot shortages, packed polling places, confusion over where to vote and officials turning away voters a number of city officials are calling for a major revamp of the City Board of Election. The process would not be simple as the current system is part of state law. Currently the City BOE is run by both political parties. Changing that would likely require action from Albany and possibly a constitutional amendment. â€śI think the real answer here is: We should reform this system,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg told the New York Times. “It should not be two parties and county leaders picking their buddies to supervise the basis of our citizenship. We don’t have a system for the 21st century. It’s just a disgrace.” Who should actually control the BOE is subject of much debate. 




In the Press...

More Students Return to Classrooms (NY Times)

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Mayor Michael Bloomberg has announced that the New York City Marathon is cancelled The move follows mounting backlash to holding the Marathon while recovery efforts from Hurricane Sandy are still underway. Here is his statement:

The Marathon has been an integral part of New York City’s life for 40 years and is an event tens of thousands of New Yorkers participate in and millions more watch. While holding the race would not require diverting resources from the recovery effort, it is clear that it has become the source of controversy and division. The marathon has always brought our city together and inspired us with stories of courage and determination. We would not want a cloud to hang over the race or its participants, and so we have decided to cancel it. We cannot allow a controversy over an athletic event – even one as meaningful as this – to distract attention away from all the critically important work that is being done to recover from the storm and get our city back on track. The New York Road Runners will have additional information in the days ahead for participants.”

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Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer and Julie Menin who is expected to run for Manhattan Borough President in 2013 have both joined the chorus of voices decrying Mayor Michael Bloomberg's decison to hold the New York City Marathon despite the fact that a great number of city residents are still without, power, food, water and the ability to get to work.

Bloomberg has defended the decision saying that police and other city workers will be available because there will be no work-week traffic to contend with. â€śThis city is a city where we have to go on,” he said.

Here is Stringer's statement: 

First of all, I want to thank Mayor Bloomberg and Governor Cuomo for their strong leadership in helping our City recover from a devastating storm. And I certainly understand and respect the mayor’s desire to show that we are a resilient City.

But New York has experienced a tragedy of historic proportions. New Yorkers in Staten Island, the Rockaways, Coney Island and Lower Manhattan are struggling to keep body and soul together, deprived of basic essentials as temperatures drop.

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In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, the issue of climate change was the major deciding factor in Mayor Michael Bloomberg's endorsement of President Barack Obama today. After detailing in an op-ed for Bloomberg View what the city has done to battle the climate change that he says is responsible for harasher weather patterns, Bloomberg wrote:

We need leadership from the White House -- and over the past four years, President Barack Obama has taken major steps to reduce our carbon consumption, including setting higher fuel-efficiency standards for cars and trucks. His administration also has adopted tighter controls on mercury emissions, which will help to close the dirtiest coal power plants (an effort I have supported through my philanthropy), which are estimated to kill 13,000 Americans a year.

Bloomberg, an independent who has funneled millions of dollars to Republicans in New York State, laid out his reasoning for losing faith in Republican nominee Mitt Romney.

I believe Mitt Romney is a good and decent man, and he would bring valuable business experience to the Oval Office. He understands that America was built on the promise of equal opportunity, not equal results. In the past he has also taken sensible positions on immigration, illegal guns, abortion rights and health care. But he has reversed course on all of them, and is even running against the health-care model he signed into law in Massachusetts.

If the 1994 or 2003 version of Mitt Romney were running for president, I may well have voted for him because, like so many other independents, I have found the past four years to be, in a word, disappointing.

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Today's Lead Stories...

Partial Transit Restored, Free Rides


Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared a traffic emergency for today and Friday making mass transit free for those using the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's busses and trains. "The service in many cases is limited, the service in many cases will be crowded," Cuomo said at a late night press conference in the city. The move came afterimmense gridlock Wednesday. City busses were jammed with commuters and gas lines stretched for over half a mile. Commuters who wish to drive into the city will have to car pool. The entire transportation infrastructure has yet to be restored with flooding still impeding some routes but partial service has been restored. Check out the MTA's post-storm stubway map




In the Press...

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Mayor Bloomberg yesterday announced his plans to spend between $10 million and $15 million through a "super PAC" he will spearhead. It's named Independence USA PAC and has a goal of supporting candidates across party lines who pledge to work in a bipartisan fashion. It will spend money on highly competitive state, local and Congressional races this year and back candidates who support legalizing same-sex marriage, enacting tougher gun laws, and education reform.

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It took just 40 years to get it done, but now the city has a new park, dedicated to no less than President Franklin D. Roosevelt. 

Mayor Michael Bloomberg joined former President Bill Clinton and Gov. Andrew Cuomo at today's dedication of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park, which looks out at the United Nations from the East River.

Bloomberg said the state park, designed by American architect Louis I. Kahn, "will stand forever as a monument to the man who brought us through the Great Depression and brought us victory over great evil."

Roosevelt famously delivered a speech on Jan. 6, 1941, as the country was on the precipice of entering World War II, envisioning a world based on four freedoms: freedom of speech and expression; freedom of worship; freedom from want; and freedom of fear.

The park at Roosevelt Island was announced in 1973, but the project languished for years following the city's financial meltdown. It was picked up 30 years later by former Ambassador to the United Nations William vanden Heuvel and the Four Freedoms Park Conservancy.

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