Archive for the tag 'helene weinstein'

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 The Brooklyn Daily Eagle is reporting that Weinstein and other advocates believe that the current law is outdated and doesn’t account for advances made in health care.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“The current requirement that certain judges must retire at 70 and others at 76 is an outdated rule that was created at a time when the life expectancy of the population was much lower than it is today,” Kamins told the Daily Eagle.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:

The hanging of the Aldi sign begins. Photo by Max Bolotov

The new Aldi Food Market (3785 Nostrand Ave) is coming alive. Photographs reveal that the low-cost food market, a sister company to Trader Joe’s, has begun to hang up their storefront signs.

Last October Sheepshead Bites was first to report on the construction of the new Aldi Food Market being built on the same spot that once occupied a Pathmark. The new food market will only be half the size of the Pathmark at 18,000 square feet and is expected to employ less people, but it’s still another shopping option for those lamenting the loss of the supermarket.

“Now I can walk the neighborhood without people asking when and where we’ll have a new supermarket,” Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein told Sheepshead Bites last October.

Thanks to Erica Sherman, Bart E. and Max Bolotov for the latest photographs of the construction efforts at the Aldi spot.

Photo by Bart E.

A Peek Inside The Construction of Aldi’s Interior. Photo By Erica Sherman

A Look At Aldi’s Customer Parking Lot. Photo By Max Bolotov

A Coming Soon Sign Pasted In The Store Window. Photo By Erica Sherman

Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein

The New York State Assembly passed the Consumer Credit Fairness Act, a bill designed to protect low-income and elderly New Yorkers from aggressive debt collection practitioners.

According to a report by the Post Star News, the primary purpose of the Consumer Credit Fairness Act, introduced by Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein, is to curb abusive debt collection lawsuits by the following means:

  • Requiring notice of a pending consumer credit action to be mailed to the defendants by the clerk of the court;
  • Requiring court filings to include more information about the debt targeted in a lawsuit, such as identifying the debt or account and providing proof that the debt is owed to the plaintiff;
  • Lowering the statute of limitations for consumer credit transactions from six years to three years, and eliminating the right to collect the debt once the statute of limitations is expired; and
  • Terminating the ability of debt buyers to sue on expired debt.

Weinstein explained the importance of the legislation as well as its impact on domestic violence victims.

“Abusive debt collection lawsuits exploit gaps in our state’s laws. This bill takes important steps to close these loopholes to protect consumers and helps to address the long-term impact of economic abuse, including identity theft, which is often suffered by domestic violence victims at the hands of their abusers.”

Weinstein’s work on the bill received high praise from Claudia Wilner, an attorney at NEDAP (Neighborhood Economic Development Advocacy Project) who expressed hopes that it will be passed in the New York State Senate.

“We now call upon the Senate to pass the CCFA this legislative session to put an end to abusive debt collection practices. New Yorkers, particularly those who are low-income, elderly, disabled or domestic violence survivors, have been harassed by these unscrupulous debt collectors for far too long.”

Source: Andre R. Aragon / FEMA.gov

The Department of Sanitation (DSNY) stopped hauling away large debris and garbage resulting from Superstorm Sandy on March 18, roughly five months after the storm paralyzed the East Coast. Despite the extra months of work, valiant Sanitation workers put in by trucking away huge pieces of junk from people’s battered homes, residents in the area are still in need of their services, according to Brooklyn Daily.

So far, DSNY has carted away a staggering 430,000 tons of Sandy-related debris. According to Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein and Councilman Lew Fidler, residents are still in desperate need of pickups because they cannot afford expensive private garbage haulers to take away their debris as construction continues.

Sheepshead Bay resident Kathleen Flynn expressed her frustration at the situation.

“We don’t own anything anymore, only the garbage we’re trying to throw out, and now they’re telling us we have to pay to get rid of it.”

Michael Taylor, the founder of Gerritsen Beach Cares, spoke of the consequences of debris that doesn’t get collected.

“I have friends who have stuff in their basement that’s full of mold, and but [sic] he won’t get rid of because he doesn’t have the money to afford a dumpster [sic].”

Fidler promised residents that he and Weinstein will do everything they can to get the DSNY to initiate another round of debris pickups.

“My office and assemblywoman Weinstein’s office reached out to [Sanitation] to continue extra pick-up services. We do not view the rebuilding to be done, the demolition to be done, nor the crisis to be over,” Fidler told Brooklyn Daily.

Source: Weinstein’s office

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

For years now, Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein has been bringing MTA personnel and the MTA reduced-fare program to her District office at 3520 Nostrand Avenue on the 3rd Thursday of every month. During today’s visit, although MTA staff was on hand to process new and lost/damaged card applications, the reduced-fare program van broke down and those who came to refill cards or check balance were unable to do so.

In order to accommodate people who were inconvenienced, the MTA has arranged for the van to park in front of the Assemblywoman’s district office this Sunday, the 21st of April, from 11am to 2pm. In addition to being able to refill and check balances, those who missed today’s visit will also be able to file new card applications and register their cards lost or damaged.

For more info please call the Assemblywoman’s office at (718) 648-4700.

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