Gotham Gazette

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New York City Council STATED MEETING - July 21, 2004

New York City Council Stated Meeting Report

Every two weeks the New York City Council meets for its Stated Meeting to introduce and pass legislation. As a regular feature, Searchlight covers these meetings and posts a summary of the bills passed.

STATED MEETING - July 21, 2004

Quote of the Day:
"Growing up as a kid in Bushwick, I never came so close to seeing a murder as I did that day in City Hall. James stays with me a lot in my thoughts." - Councilmember Eric Dilan, speaking on the one-year anniversary of the shooting of Councilmember James E. Davis.

Meeting Summary:
This week marks the one-year anniversary of the assassination of Brooklyn City Councilmember James E. Davis, who was shot and killed by a political rival in City Hall on July 23, 2003. (Read more about the shooting.)

To honor their slain colleague, New York City Council members eulogized Davis and dedicated a lounge in City Hall in his honor. The Davis family, including his mother Thelma, and brother Geoffrey, who unsuccessfully ran for his brother's seat last fall, attended the meeting. In Brooklyn, a post office and library were also renamed for Davis.

Davis, who was elected to Brooklyn's 35th district council seat in 2001, was a former police officer and founder of Stop the Violence, a non-profit organization that worked to end youth violence and police brutality. He was also known for his sense of humor, his love of the spotlight, and at times, his independence in voting against the party and council leadership.

"James fought the good fight, and we will continue to fight the good fight on his behalf," said Bronx Councilmember Joel Rivera.

Many council members spoke about Davis's passion for issues like affordable housing, raising the minimum wage, and ending predatory lending. Others told stories about trips they had taken with him to places like Israel, Zimbabwe, and Trinidad and Tobago and his ambition for higher office. Harlem Councilmember Bill Perkins said that Davis even left his mark on city elections by using huge photographs of himself as campaign posters.

"Now everyone running for office in New York City has to have a five-foot tall picture of themselves," said Perkins. (For more remembrances of Davis, see message board.)

The City Council also passed three bills at the meeting.

One measure (Intro 81-A) aims to reduce car alarm noise in the city.

In 1993, the city made it illegal to own a car alarm that is set off by vibrations or sounds for longer than three minutes. However, a loophole in the law allows both types of car alarms to be sold and installed in New York. The bill now makes it illegal to sell or install the car alarms and carries a penalty of $500 to $1,000 for a first time offense.

"This legislation will silence one of the most consistently irritating sources of noise pollution," said Councilmember James Gennaro, chair of the environmental protection committee.

The bill passed by a vote of 46 to 2, with Eric Dilan and Tony Avella voting "no." Dilan said he was against the measure because the bill is too difficult to enforce and the fines are too high. Avella said he voted against the measure because his district has some of the highest rates of car theft in the city.

"Until we address the car theft issue, I can't tell residents to not do whatever they can to protect their cars," said Avella.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg is expected to veto the legislation, arguing that it would effectively ban most alarms installed on cars after they leave the manufacturer. The City Council can override the mayor's veto with a two-thirds majority of votes.

The City Council also approved two tax rebates that were part of the city budget passed at the end of June. By law, the council had to pass its portion of the tax measures by July 30, even though the State Legislature has not passed a budget and Albany still has to approve them as well.

The council voted in support of the $400 tax rebate (Intro 412) for owners of homes, co-ops, and condos. And the council passed a new city version of the Earned Income Tax Credit (Intro 402). Under the plan aimed at helping low-income New Yorkers, a family of four making $28,200 will receive $68 from back from the city.

Both measures passed unanimously and tax rebates will be issued once legislators in Albany also agree to them.

The next Stated Meeting is scheduled for August 12, 2004.

For an archive of past meetings and council votes, visit Gotham Gazette's Searchlight.


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