Archive for the tag 'brad lander'

Source: katerha via flickr

Source: katerha via flickr

The first City Council hearing on a proposed mandatory fee for plastic bags at grocery stores and supermarkets took place yesterday, and it’s already proving to be one of the most divisive issues to come before the usually lockstep Council body.

Capital New York reports:

The bill, Intro. 209, is being championed by Council members Brad Lander of Brooklyn and Margaret Chin of Manhattan and would impose the fee on all plastic and paper bags issued by grocery stores, bodegas, liquor stores and the like in city limits. The intent is to cut back on the estimated 100,000 tons of plastic bags that find their way to the rivers, streets and trees in the city and encourage New Yorkers to use reusable shopping bags. Plastic bags constitute 2 percent of the city’s waste stream.

… Supporters maintained the 10 cents does not constitute a tax as no money would go to government coffers. Store owners would keep the 10 cents on each bag.

That, of course, hasn’t stopped opponents from describing it as a tax. One of the most vocal opponents so far has been Councilman David Greenfield.

The Daily News reports:

“Quite frankly, I’m ashamed to sit here today and talk about actually raising taxes on New Yorkers,” said Councilman David Greenfield (D-Brooklyn), who said he buys 30 bags of groceries for his family every Thursday night. “Now I’m going to have to pay three bucks extra a week.”

While proponents like Lander and Chin, who represent some of the city’s tonier districts, argue that such fees have successfully reduced the use of plastic bags in cities including Washington D.C., other elected officials say that it would unfairly hurt low-income families.

Councilman Chaim Deutsch is instead proposing a “recycling education campaign” to urge New York City residents to scale back on the roughly 9.37 billion disposable bags used in the five boroughs every year, most of which ends up in landfills.

“While our environmental goal should be to enhance programs which encourage recycling, the absolute wrong way to accomplish this worthwhile objective is by implementing a tax on plastic or paper bags,” said Deutsch in a statement. “I would rather support a recycling education campaign than support a tax, imposing an unfair financial burden on so many.”

Deutsch noted that though the bill’s provisions exempt food stamp recipients, not all of the city’s cash-strapped residents are on food stamps.

The de Blasio administration and Council speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito have not taken a position on the bill.

Update (November 24, 11am) : Councilman Mark Treyger also objected to the bill when he spoke to us on Friday, November 21.

“I do not believe that 10 cents is going to change a behavior. It’s just going to place another burden on working class families in New York,” he told us. “I believe we should look at alternative types of bags that are biodegradable.”

Source: katerha via flickr

Source: katerha via flickr

The City Council is planning to introduce legislation that would charge consumers 10 cents at grocery and retail stores for plastic bags if they don’t bring their own reusable bags to checkout lines. Politicker is reporting that the proposed legislation, which is aimed at reducing waste, will come to a vote on Thursday (Corrected: See below)

If customers don’t bring their own bags to stores, they will be hit with a dime surcharge that the stores will get to keep. Politicker noted that proponents of the bill have big numbers to back their insistence on the measure as well as the difference between this bill and a similar tax proposed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg that went unsupported by the Council:

According to the bill’s proponents, New Yorkers use approximately 5.2 billion plastic bags per year–the vast majority of which are not recycled. The city also spends an estimated $10 million a year to transport those 100,000 tons of plastic bags to landfills each year, they said.

Mayor Bloomberg had previously proposed a similar piece of legislation that would have imposed a 6 cent tax on retailers distributing plastic bags–a policy proposal that City Council Speaker Christine Quinn did not support. But Mr. [Brad] Lander made a clear distinction today between the two pieces of legislation.

“What the mayor was actually proposing was a tax,” he said. “There are some legal questions there about whether the city actually has the power to do that or whether that takes action in Albany.”

The new proposed piece of legislation would not require this oversight from the State Legislature, but would provide the same environmentally-positive impact, Mr. Lander explained.

Part of the legislation would also include fines for stores that don’t follow the new rules, and will provide distribution of the reusable bags to lower income neighborhoods:

The bill also specifies that grocery and retail stores will be precluded from charging the fee until people are given the chance to take advantage of the citywide bag giveaways.

“We’re going to target the giveaway in lower-income neighborhoods. I think we’d actually like to do a meaningful amount of that through the grocery stores,” Mr. Lander explained.

Restaurants would be exempt from the rule and stores that break the rules twice would be slapped with $250 fines.

The charging for bags practice is already in place right here in Southern Brooklyn at the new Aldi Foodmarket (3785 Nostrand Avenue). Politicker also pointed out that similar legislation is present in other cities, including San Francisco and Washington D.C.

The American Progressive Bag Alliance, which is a real lobbying group that represents bag manufacturers, unsurprisingly came out against the proposed legislation:

“New York City residents already pay among the highest taxes in the nation. A 10-cent per bag tax would be a detriment to hardworking families and businesses trying to make ends meet,” said the group’s chair, Mark Daniels. “The proponents of this bill are misinformed and largely rely on science that has been hijacked by environmental activists. A grocery bag tax pushes shoppers toward less sustainable options, like reusable bags, which cannot be recycled, are made from foreign oil and imported at a rate of 500 million annually.”

“If lawmakers are interested in protecting the environment, they should consider the facts and concentrate on meaningful legislation to boost proper reuse and disposal of grocery bags,” he said.

The question remains if the City Council bends to the will of America’s powerful bagging interests.

CORRECTION (8/22/13 10:42 a.m.): The previous version of this article suggested that there would be a vote today. The legislation is solely being introduced today and will have a hearing at a later date, possibly followed by a vote.

Around 24 members of the City Council proposed a bill on Wednesday that would produce an office of the inspector general to oversee the New York Police Department and “conduct independent reviews of the department’s policies, practices, programs and operations,”according to The New York Times.

The New York Times said that police departments of other large cities, like Los Angeles and Chicago, are monitored and inspected, as are the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Central Intelligence Agency. Likewise, the council members feel that there should be an increase in supervision of the activity of the New York Police Department. This program is meant to refine the New York Police’s use of stop-and-frisks, as well as their scrutiny of Muslims.

The bill has been sent to the Committee on Public Safety. Aside from Jumaane Williams, who helped author the bill, no councilmembers from Sheepshead Bites’ coverage area are among the 24 co-sponsors of the bill.

The amount of power that the inspector general would posses is still unknown. He would be chosen by the mayor and would have subpoena power, but that the office’s finances and workers will be decided by the City Council.

“This kind of independent oversight can act as an early-warning system for a very large agency,” said Richard M. Aborn, president of the Citizens Crime Commission, to the New York Times.

The New York Times believes that Mayor Michael Bloomberg, being that he has defended the actions of the NYPD in the past, will probably not support the institution of such a bill. Therefore, 34 votes in the City Council will most likely be needed for this proposal to actually become law. This bill has been sponsored by Councilmembers Jumaane Williams and Brad Lander.

The Police Department responded to the proposal, and said that this additional oversight of the police department is not necessary.

“The department is probably under more scrutiny than any other police agency, probably in the world,” said Paul J. Browne, the NYPD’s chief spokesman, to the New York Times. “It may sound good to the sponsors on paper, but it appears to the department to be just redundant.”

Browne said that the police department is already overseen by United States lawyers, five district attorneys, the Civilian Complaint Review Board and the Commission to Combat Police Corruption. He feels that additional oversight would be a waste of resources.

Do you think residents would benefit by an additional layer of oversight for the NYPD?

 

City Hall (Source: council.nyc.gov)

With just about all of the roads finally clear, outrage at the city’s bungled response to the December 26 blizzard is now spreading beyond the Mayor’s office and the Sanitation Department. Flatbush Scoop, a blog owned by Yeshiva World News, is laying into our local City Council representatives for being MIA as residents struggled to cope.

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