Gotham Gazette

The Place for New York Policy and politics

City Council Stated Meeting - February 16, 2005

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.

Quote of the Day:
"The reality is that if you suffer sudden cardiac arrest in New York City, you’re going to die." – Staten Island Councilmember James Oddo.

Meeting Summary:
On February 16, the New York City Council unanimously passed legislation (Intro 211-A) that requires defibrillators - devices that deliver an electric shock to counter irregular heartbeats - be available in many public places, including city-owned buildings, parks, stadiums, senior centers, nursing homes, and golf courses.

Proponents argue that better access to these devices will reduce the high fatality rate of those who suffer sudden cardiac arrests. In the case of cardiac arrest, the chance of a successful resuscitation falls by ten percent with each passing minute; the current rate of survival in New York is about one percent.

New York State already requires that schools have defibrillators on hand. The State Legislature has also passed legislation that requires that the devices be placed state-owned buildings and in health clubs with more than 500 members. Republican City Councilmember James Oddo has been an advocate of the devises for seven years, but funding for defibrillators has repeatedly been cut from the city budget.

The council also passed a bill (Intro 346-A) that will allow residents to sue business and individuals who defraud the city. Supporters say the measure will encourage New Yorkers with knowledge of fraud to come forward. The council estimates that the bill, modeled after federal legislation that has been in place since the mid-1800s, will add $30 million to the city’s coffers each year.

“We all know that the taxpayers do get ripped off by people who cheat the city, and we’re far from able to catch folks the way it is now,” said Brooklyn Councilmember David Yassky, the bill’s sponsor. “You need whistleblowers that are willing to come forward and make that case.”

The council also voted on two bills to help senior citizens. One measure (Intro 172-A) will create a citywide prescription drug discount program that would benefit an estimated 2.1 million city residents. The program will allow New Yorkers who join the program to purchase prescription drugs at participating pharmacies at a reduced price. Another bill (Intro 215-A) allows Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption recipients to receive rent reductions if their landlords don’t repair violations.

The City Council also approved a package of legislation regarding the rezoning of Manhattan’s West Side, which would give tax credits to developers who create affordable housing.

Brooklyn Councilmember Charles Barron voted against it, arguing that he wanted to be consistent in his opposition to bills regarding the proposed Hudson Yards project.

The council also swore in a new member, Maria del Carmen Arroyo, who will represent the 17th district in the Bronx. Arroyo won a special election in the South Bronx on February 15 to fill the seat left vacant after Jose M. Serrano was elected to the State Senate.

The next Stated Meeting is scheduled for March 9, 2005.

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