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The following is a press release from the offices of Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein:

Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein has been visiting schools to publicize the expansion of the Universal Pre-Kindergarten (UPK) program and the April 23rd enrollment deadline.

The Assemblywoman fought strongly for the expansion, with $300 million in the recently enacted 2014-15 State Budget potentially allowing for all NYC children turning 4 in 2014 with free Pre-K education if enrolled in time. Half day and full day programs will be available at Public schools and Community based organizations.

The Assemblywoman read to students enrolled in the UPK program at PS 197. The administration and teachers at the school voiced excitement about the expansion.

“Studies are showing how vital Pre-K education is for the healthy growth of a child as they head on to Kindergarten and primary school,” said PS 197 Principal Rosemarie Nicoletti. “The expansion of this program will help us reach so many more children and I thank Assemblywoman Weinstein for her continued commitment to serving the needs of her youngest constituents.”

“As successful as we were in Albany in securing this funding, the real success of this program will depend on how many children enroll,” said the Assemblywoman. “I urge parents of eligible children to apply before we hit the deadline on April 23rd.”

Parents can enroll online or by calling or visiting the Brooklyn enrollment center at 131 Livingston Street (718-935-4908). The office will be open from 8 am – 7 pm on the following dates: April 8 – 9, April 15 – 16, and April 22 – 23.

nypd-appreciation-1

Members of the community gathered to recognize the efforts of the officers of the NYPD’s Brooklyn Borough South, 60th Precinct, 61st Precinct and 62nd Precinct and the FDNY at the Be Proud Foundation’s annual appreciation luncheon on Friday.

“We’re so happy to share with you this celebration of those who keep us safe,” said Be Proud Foundation Executive Director Raisa Chernina, who noted that it’s also the 10th anniversary of the community booster organization. “I’m so happy to do this for you,” she said to the approximately 20 local officers attending the event.

It’s the eighth year of the event, and was held at the newly opened Signature Restaurant at 2007 Emmons Avenue. Officers were treated to lunch and a live musical performance by Nutsa, a well-known Georgian performer, as well as a barrage of praise from local elected officials.

“I’m so very thankful to see all our defenders, who we’re so grateful for keeping us safe every night,” said Assemblyman Alec Brook-Krasny, who emceed the luncheon. “We need to build upon the institution of the Community Affairs officers if we want to build a relationship between community and police.”

The event drew other elected officials, including Councilman-elect Chaim Deutsch, Comptroller John Liu, Assemblyman Alan Maisel and representatives for Councilman Lew Fidler, Congressman Michael Grimm, and Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein.

A member of the Be Proud Foundation’s board also offered a touching thank you, describing how a family member had fallen in with a bad crowd and became addicted to drugs. With the help of officers from the 60th Precinct’s Community Affairs Unit, the family member is now in rehabilitation and on the right path.

The officers in attendance said they were thankful for the show of support.

“We appreciate things like this,” said Inspector Schell, a former commander at the 60th Precinct who now works out of Brooklyn South. “It’s a sign that our work is beneficial and you like the cops. We’re here to serve you.”

View photos from the event.

Source: brooklynpubliclibrary.org

Source: brooklynpubliclibrary.org

Libraries play a huge role for Brooklyn residents, serving as both educational and cultural centers. Now they’re taking on an even larger role , as the Kings Highway library branch (2115 Ocean Avenue) has opened its expanded passport center, the second such center in the entire Brooklyn Public Library System.

While residents can still apply for passports at their local post office, the library passport center can avoid the long lines and get more personal service at the Kings Highway branch. It’s the first expansion of the passport program that began at the Central library on Eastern Parkway, which opened in May 2011 and has already processed 21,000 passport applications and 7,000 photos.

Linda Johnson, the president of the Brooklyn Public Library, hailed  opening of the passport application center at Kings Highway library as a vital addition to the immigrant community.

“With the opening of our new Passport Application Acceptance Facility at Kings Highway Library, it is easier than ever before for South[ern] Brooklynites and new immigrants to obtain passports. Since more than 37 percent of Brooklyn’s residents are foreign born, there is incredible demand for this service. We are proud to provide this important resource to the community and look forward to helping thousands of people begin their travels,” Johnson said in the release.

Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein pointed out that the addition of passport services at the Kings Highway library will be a boon for seniors.

“As a legislator representing a district with one of the largest concentrations of senior citizens, I want to thank the U.S. Department of State for recognizing the needs of both the elderly and people with disabilities. The choice of a site so central and convenient to the Southern Brooklyn community will save time and stress for the many, who before, had to endure great difficulty to secure this vital document. I thank the Department of State on behalf of my constituency,” Weinstein said.

The release broke down the hours of operation for the Passport Application Acceptance Facility and some of its key features:

Hours are temporarily set for 10 AM to 3 PM Monday through Friday and Sunday by appointment. Saturdays are currently closed until further notice. To make an appointment, call 718-230-2292 or 718-375-3037 ext. 128…

The new facility includes:

  • Five agents with room for two seated applicants
  • A paging system to allow those waiting to browse the Library
  • Passport pictures
  • Document copying
  • Accessibility for people with disabilities.

Protesters surrounded the office of Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein (3520 Nostrand Avenue), claiming she is an opponent of the rights of adult adoptees. According to Adoption Birth Mothers, an adoption-based blog, the protesters were arguing for the right to have access to their child birth certificates.

Under current New York law, birth records for adopted children are sealed from original parents, the adopting parents and the adoptees. Opponents of the law argue that being denied original birth certificate records constitutes a discriminatory practice by the government and violates their civil rights. The video below presents the position of Claudia Corrigan D’Arcy, an advocate for securing adoptee rights.

According to the protesters, Weinstein, chair of the Judiciary Committee, has long opposed the Adoptee Rights Bill, preventing it from reaching the Assembly floor for a vote. For more information on the history and cause of the proponents of the Adoptee Rights Bill, click here.

Source: assembly.state.ny.us

Source: assembly.state.ny.us

New York State Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein is hoping voters will approve a law that extends the required retirement ages of  judges past 70 years old. The Brooklyn Daily Eagle is reporting that Weinstein and other advocates believe that the current law is outdated and doesn’t account for advances made in health care.

The current law requires that appointed New York State judges must retire at 70 years old. They can apply for three two-year extensions that allow them to keep serving until 76 years old as long as they have no pressing mental or physical disabilities. Judges who are elected face no mandatory retirement age.

Brooklyn Supreme Court Judge Barry Kamins expressed his opinion that the law ought to be changed.

“The current requirement that certain judges must retire at 70 and others at 76 is an outdated rule that was created at a time when the life expectancy of the population was much lower than it is today,” Kamins told the Daily Eagle. “We have experienced and enthusiastic judges who are eager to remain on the bench and who could contribute so much to the court system. They should not be forced to retire because of a rule that has no relevancy in the 21st century.”

The Daily Eagle cited statistics that do indeed show that people are living longer and healthier lives:

With advancements in medical technology and an awareness of  diet and exercise, people are living longer lives. A report issued by the World Health Organization estimates that the life expectancy for individuals in high-income countries, such as the United States, is 80 years of age.  United States Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, who retired from the bench at the age of 90, mused to a Washington reporter that he “may have jumped the gun a little bit.”

This past January, Weinstein introduced an amendment called, “Increasing Age Until Which Certain State Judges Can Serve,” which would extend the required retirement age to 80-years-old for Court of Appeals judges. It would also allow state Supreme Court judges five two-year extensions past the age of 70.

Voters will have a chance in the November election to decide whether to extend the retirement age for state judges.

Congressional reps of Sandy-hit areas are looking to reform a law that prohibits FEMA from providing emergency relief to owners of condos and c0-ops. The New York Times is reporting that federal lawmakers are forging a bipartisan effort to bring help to condo and co-op owners swamped with bills as a result of Superstorm Sandy.

In June , we reported that Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein introduced a resolution that called on Congress to change the law which bars FEMA from helping condo and co-op owners.  Weinstein explained how the law in question, known as the StaffordAct, operates:

While nothing prohibits these co-ops from applying for aid, the Stafford Act, a Federal law last amended in 1988, considers co-op boards not-for-profit businesses. Therefore, aid cannot be applied to common spaces – like garages and laundry rooms – nor can it be applied to the walls and floors in apartments, because, according to bylaws, these spaces belong to and are the Coop’s responsibility.

Weinstein’s resolution to urge Congress in this matter passed unanimously in the New York State Assembly. Perhaps as a result of Weinstein’s call to attention, members of Congress are now pushing to change the Stafford Act, calling it discriminatory against condo and co-op owners.

The Times further described what the problems facing condo and c0-op owners and what the passage of the bill would change:

Co-ops were most affected because of their unique form of ownership, in which tenants own shares in a building. While condo owners can get federal assistance to fix walls and floors in their individual units, owners of co-ops cannot, because their apartments’ walls and floors are usually the legal responsibility of the building.

The bill would make condos and residential cooperatives eligible for FEMA assistance by adding them to the Stafford Act. The bill would remove the $30,000 cap in aid for co-op and condo associations but does not impose a new one, stating that it would need “to be determined by the rule-making process.”

Backers of the proposed legislation include Democrat Steve Israel and Republican Peter King. Israel acknowledged that while changing the rule will be difficult, it is the fair thing to do.

“We have a lot of educating to do,” Israel told the Times. “There will be many members of Congress that would say, ‘I don’t have co-ops in my district; why should I support this?’ My response would be, I don’t have tornadoes, but I support your assistance.”

Source: assembly.state.ny.us

Source: assembly.state.ny.us

An amendment that would have lifted the state’s stringent statute of limitations on suing medical practitioners for malpractice failed to come to a vote before this year’s state legislative session ended. According to a New York Daily News report, the proposed amendment, sponsored by Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein, failed because it didn’t have the support of State Senate leader Dean Skelos.

The amendment was referred to as Lavern’s Law, named after Brooklyn mother Lavern Wilkinson who died after doctors at Kings County Hospital failed to tell her she had a treatable lung nodule that they had detected. She and her family were unable to sue for medical malpractice due to the state’s strict statute of limitations laws, which start counting days from when the negligence actually occurred, not when it was discovered.

While the bill had gained traction in the Assembly, Weinstein held it back from a vote. Weinstein claims that the amendment would never have a chance in the Senate due to intense lobbying from hospital and doctors groups who argued that malpractice insurance rates would drastically increase.

Weinstein, who has spent years trying to get this law passed, explained her withdrawal of the amendment to the Daily News.

“It seemed pretty obvious that the Senate wasn’t advancing the bill, and it was going to be a heated debate in our house with it looking like it had a chance to become law this year,” Weinstein said.

Advocates for the bill, including Wilkinson’s attorney, Judith Donnell, were incensed over the failure of the bill to gain traction in the state legislature.

“It’s a shame. Neither the Senate or the Assembly had the backbone to let it come to a vote. Hopefully it will pass in the new year. It’s not something that should just be buried,” Donnell said.

Weinstein also expressed hope that the proposed amendment will come to a vote next year.

“I am certainly capable of handling a contentious debate, but you want to save it for when there is a chance of becoming law,” Weinstein told the Daily News. “We got further than we ever have before, so I am hopeful for next year.”

According to the Daily News, Albany insiders blamed the failure of the bill on there being a lack of time to debate the measure. Skelos offered no comment.

The following is from our friends at the Bay Improvement Group (BIG):

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

Source: assembly.state.ny.us

Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein (Source: assembly.state.ny.us)

As it stands, co-ops devastated by Superstorm Sandy are not currently eligible for FEMA funding and Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein wants to change that. According to a press release, Weinstein believes that laws governing the treatment of co-ops are outdated and need to be amended.

Weinstein’s release explained why FEMA is currently not responsible for funding the repair of co-ops:

While nothing prohibits these co-ops from applying for aid, the Stafford Act, a Federal law last amended in 1988, considers co-op boards not-for-profit businesses. Therefore, aid cannot be applied to common spaces – like garages and laundry rooms – nor can it be applied to the walls and floors in apartments, because, according to bylaws, these spaces belong to and are the Coop’s responsibility.

As a result of Weinstein’s actions, the New York State Assembly has unanimously passed a resolution that asks Congress to amend the Stafford Act so that co-ops are recognized as single-family homeowners which would require FEMA to assist in their repair.

Weinstein explained the importance of getting the law changed in Washington.

“Outdated laws like these are crippling neighborhoods and preventing communities from  returning to normal ways of life,” said Assemblywoman Weinstein. “This amendment would  allow co-op boards to make crucial repairs and provide to their shareholders and tenants the quality of life and safety to which they are entitled. I urge my colleagues in Congress to  immediately adopt this amendment.”

On the turf of former State Senator Carl Kruger and embattled State Senator John Sampson, U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch came before a group of concerned citizens with a message: don’t despair, not everyone is corrupt, be you must be active and involved to ensure the best from your elected leaders.

Madison Marine Homecrest Civic Association hosted the event on Thursday, May 16, inviting Lynch to the Carmine Carro Community Center in Marine Park to talk about the recent cases. Lynch’s appearance came amid scandalous headlines involving Sampson who’s at the center of a handful of federal probes, and less than two years after the arrest and resignation of Kruger. Both represented portions of Marine Park.

The entire 40-minute talk by Lynch, which included questions from the audience, is posted above. But, aside from Sheepshead Bites, a slew of other reporters were at the event. Here’s what some of them wrote:

From Newsday:

Don’t “succumb to cynicism and apathy. Don’t give up — stay committed,” said Lynch, who is the chief federal prosecutor for the Eastern District of New York in Brooklyn, which also includes, Queens, Staten Island and Long Island.

“Stay involved . . . Don’t give up.”

… When the audience was asked how many of them believed all politicians are corrupt, nearly everyone in attendance raised a hand.

Lynch told the audience, “We have to take back the system from the people who trampled on it. I don’t own it, you own it.”

From the Brooklyn Eagle:

Lynch took that message a step further when she said that not only should people not give up on the political process, but also that their participation is necessary.

… U.S. Attorney Lynch stated that apathy hurts the democratic process and that – along with wiretaps, undercover officers, and witnesses using recording devices – ordinary citizens who notice inconsistencies often play a big role in bringing corrupt politicians down.

“We are all enforcers,” Lynch said. “We all play a role. People need to get involved. ‘See something, say something’ is not just a slogan for the subway.”

Lynch also cautioned people to be patient in corruption cases and warned that just because somebody’s name is brought into the mix doesn’t necessarily mean they are corrupt.

“There can often be names that come out that should not have come out because, especially early on in an investigation, it’s impossible to determine their involvement and often it just tars their names,” she said.

Political reporters converged on Lynch after the event, asking her about recent allegations from minority lawmakers that the feds, including Lynch, were unfairly targeting elected officials of color. Lynch, herself an African-American who began her career working in civil rights, denied the charges.

From the Eagle:

When Lynch was questioned about whether black politicians are unfairly targeted, she replied, “Not stealing money is not a high standard. We look at the behavior of everyone. Our goal is to protect communities. You deserve integrity regardless of what your background is.”

And from Politicker:

When Lynch was questioned about whether black politicians are unfairly targeted, she replied, “Not stealing money is not a high standard. We look at the behavior of everyone. Our goal is to protect communities. You deserve integrity regardless of what your background is.”

… “No matter what type of case we prosecute, people who may feel targeted are concerned and make all kinds of statements about it,” Ms. Lynch said. “It’s part of the problem of public corruption that it really almost makes everyone look as if they’re involved, even if they’re not. And so you have people get very paranoid and very nervous and feel as if they’re under a microscope … We don’t go around targeting people other than those that we strongly have evidence [against], but I think what happens is, the atmosphere is very toxic, for lack of a better word, and it does affect people and that’s a byproduct of these cases,” she said.

A slew of local elected officials, including Councilman Lew Fidler and Assemblymembers Helene Weinstein and Alan Maisel, spoke before Lynch, and used it as an opportunity to remind attendees that the recent headlines reflect a few “bad apples.” They also touted anti-corruption legislation they’re working on, including disallowing lawmakers from using campaign funds on legal fees, and the ability to strip convicted legislators of their pension.

You can see their remarks here:

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