Archive for the tag 'state assembly'

Steven Cymbrowitz (l.) and Ben Akselrod (r.)

Conservative Democrat Ben Akselrod appears to be launching his second attempt to unseat incumbent Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz, recently filing papers with the state to form a campaign committee.

Akselrod mounted his first challenge to Cymbrowitz in 2012, rising from relative obscurity to a credible candidate with the assistance of his close friend Ari Kagan. Akselrod came close to defeating Cymbrowitz in the Democratic primary, coming less than 300 votes shy of victory. He continued on to the general election on the Independence line, making it a three-way race with Republican Russ Gallo. Cymbrowitz won the general with a wide margin.

Akselrod and his supporters led a hard-knuckled campaign, in which the incumbent was criticized for not opposing a mosque just outside of his district, voting for a bill that encouraged tolerance education in schools including tolerance of homosexuals, and, just days before the primary election, marrying a woman who is not Jewish.

The race brought citywide media attention after Akselrod’s campaign released a flier with a typo claiming that the assemblyman “allowed crime to go up over 50% in the negrohood,” a claim that was factually incorrect regardless of the typo.

Cymbrowitz stayed mum for most of the campaign, leading one outlet to say he was running a “gentleman’s campaign,” but eventually spoke out against “vicious” tactics two weeks after the primary.

Although it’s widely expected, it’s still not fully clear whether Akselrod will run this year. Because of illness, he did not attend last night’s meeting of the Bay Democrats, the club where he serves as president and where he is likely to announce.

District Leader Ari Kagan, a close friend and adviser to Akselrod, told Sheepshead Bites that the papers were simply the first steps to forming an “exploratory committee” to determine whether Akselrod will run.

“He told me it’s an exploratory committee. When he decides 100 percent, he’ll have a big kickoff. Like in May, when the weather is nice,” said Kagan.

Akselrod, however, sounded very much like a candidate in an interview yesterday with Politicker, which first reported on the campaign filings.

“I certainly hope to win. Look, the status quo can’t continue forever. I think I have more energy, more desire to do the job,” Akselrod told Politicker. “There are still many problems with Hurricane Sandy recovery … It’s a year and a half later and we’re still talking about things that should have been done 15 days after the storm hit.”

Akselrod did not return a request to comment in time for publication. We’ll update this post if we here back from him.

Source: Doug88888/Flickr

The following is a press release from the offices of Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz:

Despite the sharp rise in heroin abuse and the continuing scourge of prescription painkiller addiction among a broad demographic, New York State is not properly equipped to address the opiate addiction crisis, says Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz (D-Brooklyn), Chair of the Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Committee.

Assemblyman Cymbrowitz said the budget for the state Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) has remained “flat” for several years and, remarkably, there is no funding directly related to opiate abuse in the 2014-1015 executive budget. “Although there is reinvestment in this budget, there are little details how it will be distributed or what kind of services it will provide,” he said.

While New York State has made major strides in the battle against prescription drug abuse, a shift from prescription opioid to heroin abuse has resulted in a rise of treatment admissions across the state, Assemblyman Cymbrowitz said. The Committee on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse is asking for $5 million to expand access to and capacity for treatment of opiate abuse, another $5 million to expand school-based prevention programs, and $5 million to expand community-based detoxification services.

A bill sponsored by Assemblyman Cymbrowitz (A.8591) would establish the Community Chemical Dependency Services Expansion Program, which would take advantage of savings that the state realizes as behavioral health services transition into managed care and the utilization of medically managed detoxification services declines. The program would distribute these funds to community based providers.

Assemblyman Cymbrowitz also co-sponsored legislation (A.8637) to increase the availability of Naloxone, sometimes referred to as the drug overdose antidote. When administered in a timely fashion, Naloxone counteracts the life threatening depression of the central nervous system and respiratory system caused by an opioid or heroin overdose.

In 2005, the state authorized non-medical persons to administer Naloxone to an individual in order to prevent an opioid or heroin overdose from becoming fatal. Currently, parents and family members of addicts are being turned away from Naloxone training programs or are attending the programs and not receiving Naloxone due to the shortage of prescribers participating in such programs. “Due to the increase of opioid abuse, expanded access to Naloxone has become necessary priority to save lives,” Assemblyman Cymbrowitz said.

In Nassau County, EMTs administer Naloxone through their police department’s ambulance services and in Suffolk County the state provided first responders with Naloxone. “Expanding upon the success of existing programs, more lives could be saved if Naloxone were available to addicts, their families and other people likely to be in a position to assist a person at risk of an opioid related overdose,” he said.

“Under this legislation, one prescriber would be able to issue a non-patient specific order to numerous programs, allowing for increased access. This legislation will give the person who is likely to discover an overdose victim the ability to save their life, a life that could otherwise be lost if the victim has to wait for the EMT to arrive,” Assemblyman Cymbrowitz said.

In testimony by the NYS Association of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Providers during a recent budget hearing in Albany, executive director John Coppola noted that overdose deaths related to prescription painkillers increased 233% between 2000 and 2012, while heroin-related overdose deaths also increased 84% between 2010 and 2012 in NYC after four years on the decline, according to a NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene report.

“The number of overdose deaths in New York State now exceeds motor vehicle related deaths. This staggering loss of life demands bold leadership and action from New York’s elected officials,” Coppola said.

The 2012-2013 State Fiscal Year Enacted Budget established the prescription pain medication awareness program. Another major initiative to help New York protect its citizens from the consequences of prescription drug abuse is the Internet System for Tracking Overprescribing Act, known as I-STOP, enacted in 2012. “This seminal legislation tracks controlled substance prescribing, prevents doctor shopping and weeds out unscrupulous doctors. One unfortunate side effect of successfully restricting street access to these controlled substances is that addicts are turning to other drugs, such as heroin,” Assemblyman Cymbrowitz said.

“Without treatment readily available, the public health costs will be severe for New York State — and the human toll even more so,” he said.

Source: Senator Golden's offices

State Senator Marty Golden (Source: Senator Golden’s offices)

New York Times columnist Michael Powell took State Senator Marty Golden and Sheepshead Bay’s State Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz to task for sponsoring legislation that would have directed millions of dollars to the tobacco industry, and came, Powell writes, at the behest of a campaign contributor.

The legislation in question is a bill to reform the security tax stamp placed on cigarettes that proponents said would help combat cigarette bootlegging and raise $6 million for enforcement.

But in reality, Powell writes, it would have authorized an increase in payments for cigarette wholesalers who place the stamps, raising the take from two cents per pack to five cents per pack.

When Golden was questioned during a hearing on the bill by State Senator Liz Krueger about the increase, he chalked it up to rising costs.

Mr. Golden began to mutter of higher costs for wholesalers: Con Ed, health benefits, gasoline, rent, trucks, whatever. “That’s all increased much more than the dollars that we are asking for here,” he said, a touch plaintively.

This was not true, at least percentagewise. A 1996 dollar, adjusted for inflation, is worth $1.49 today. The bill backed by Mr. Golden and Mr. [Jeff] Klein, who intently watched this debate from his desk, would more than double the revenue of the wholesale firms.

Klein, leader of the Independent Democratic Conference, which shares power with the Republican party in the State Senate after forming an unusual alliance that shut Democrats out of leadership, co-authored the bill with Golden.

It was introduced in the State Assembly by Cymbrowitz.

According to the Times report, the bill was put forward at the behest of Leonard Schwartz, a Manhattan Beach resident and chairman of Global Wholesale Tobacco. Schwartz has been a generous contributor to the campaign coffers of Klein, Golden and, less so, Cymbrowitz.

Of course, none of this is illegal, and the bill eventually died. But Powell opines that it’s deeply symptomatic of the pay-to-play culture that pervades Albany, wherein politicians can legally except funds from corporate interests, and then push legislation that steers large sums of money into their pockets.

Neither Golden nor Cymbrowitz commented on the bill to the New York Times. But a Klein ally, Senator Diane Savino, who represents Coney Island, went on the attack when asked about it by Politicker yesterday:

“I think people should take a step back and stop pretending to be outraged because it’s absolute nonsense,” Ms. Savino told Politicker at a Hurricane Sandy press conference in Coney Island. “You can take any issue and you can find a way to twist it to make it seem like something nefarious. In every one of these articles you see is a caveat there: ‘There’s nothing illegal about this.’ Well if that’s the case, why are you writing it?”

It’s worth noting that Savino, too, has benefited from Schwartz’s largesse. He donated $500 to her campaign in 2012, according to state campaign filings.

Powell, though, responded by pointing out that it’s his duty as a reporter to point out transactions of questionable ethics, even if it’s not against the law – especially when the subjects are those who make the law.

“If all we wrote about was the illegality in Albany without looking at all the shades of moral and ethical murk that encompass it, we wouldn’t be doing our jobs as journalists,” Powell told Politicker. “If a politician does hack work, the politician can’t really complain.”

For the Republican senator, the news comes on the heels of another alleged pay-to-play scheme, in which Golden introduced legislation that would grant large tax breaks to five luxury developments in Manhattan, saving them tens of millions of dollars. The tax breaks were intended to spur residential construction and affordable housing, but the luxury properties were included under an exception proposed by Golden in the Senate, and Keith Wright in the Assembly.

The developers had contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to leadership in both parties, including Golden.

When asked, Golden could not explain who added the giveaway to the legislation, or what justified it. The Moreland Commission, charged with investigating corruption in Albany, subpoenaed the developers in August.

The following is a message from the offices of Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz:

Photo by Erica Sherman

Photo by Erica Sherman

The only thing worse than having maxed-out charge cards and a mortgage in default is when your kids have them. Hard to believe, but the Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that no fewer than 8.6 million households had at least one member, age 12 or older, who became a victim of identity theft. Children are, in fact, 51 times more likely to have their identity stolen than adults.

As a member of the Assembly’s Codes Committee, I recently helped to pass legislation (A.7872-A), which would protects a students’ right to privacy. The bill gives parents of students – and students age 18 or older – the opportunity to opt out of the state Education Department’s disclosure of personal identifiable information to a third party. A child’s personal information should never be compromised.

Unfortunately, this growing trend of child identity theft has led to nightmare scenarios that are becoming increasingly problematic to correct. While a 12-year-old child cannot sign a mortgage agreement, child identity theft can occur when a child’s Social Security Number and other personal information is stolen and used by someone to assume that identity.

Because children rarely carry debt at such an early age, and they are essentially “blank slates,” they unfortunately also represent the perfect targets for unscrupulous identity thieves. These false identities can be used to acquire credit cards, set up bank accounts, obtain driver’s licenses and even take out loans for car and house purchases. Oftentimes, because children do not have credit reports, the identity theft is not discovered until significant financial damage has been done.

Parents must remain vigilant in protecting their children from identity theft. The following useful steps can be taken to avoid the devastating effects of child identity theft:

  • Keep an eye out for mail addressed to your child, especially credit card offers or debt collection materials;
  • Don’t share your child’s Social Security Number unless it’s necessary and ask what it’s needed for and how it will be protected;
  • Speak to your child about the importance of keeping their personal information safe;
  • Acquire a credit report with your child’s personal information by contacting the three credit agencies below or visitingwww.annualcreditreport.com. You are entitled to a free credit report once a year from each agency. If activity is discovered, immediately report findings with the three credit agencies and file an identity theft report with local police.

For more information regarding child identity theft or to file a complaint, contact the State’s Division of Consumer Protection at 518-474-8583 orwww.dos.ny.gov .

Please feel free to share your thoughts with me on this and any other matter. My district office can be reached at (718) 743-4078 and we’re located at 1800 Sheepshead Bay Road. We’re open Monday through Thursday from 9:30 a.m.to 5:30 p.m. and Fridays until 3 p.m. during the summer. Of course, you may always email me at cymbros@assembly.state.ny.us.

Yes, it’s last minute, but we’re passing it along anyway…

State Assembly Insurance Committee Chair Kevin A. Cahill will be holding a roundtable today at 2:00 p.m. at the Shorefront YM-YWHA of Brighton – Manhattan Beach (3300 Coney Island Avenue) to discuss the claims settlement practices of insurers related to Superstorm Sandy. He will be joined by Assemblymembers Steven Cymbrowitz, Helene Weinstein and Alec Brook-Krasny.

Cahill has been making the rounds to Sandy-afflicted areas to discuss the topic, and it may result in proposed legislative changes in the case of future disasters.

“The damage caused by Sandy left hundreds of thousands of homes and commercial properties without power and caused an extraordinary amount of property damage,” said Cahill. “This roundtable will help us determine if insurance companies adequately responded to claims from families and businesses that rely on their insurance policies to recover from such a disaster.”

The committee will also hear testimony from representatives of the Department of Financial Services, insurance agents and brokers, consumers, adjusters and major insurance companies.

The ad Gallo refers to.

Republican contender Russ Gallo, seeking to unseat Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz, blasted the incumbent in a press release this morning for advertising a job posting on Craigslist, which he said is “notorious for being used by criminals and those peddling immorality.”

According to Gallo, Cymbrowitz’s campaign used the website to advertise a recent job opening. That action, Gallo suggests, puts him in the company of drug dealers and prostitutes.

“Instead of reaching out directly to college students, activists or employment agencies, Steven Cymbrowitz chose a website notorious for being used by criminals and those peddling immorality,” wrote Gallo. “Steven Cymbrowitz is supposedly sensitive to issues of addiction, yet advertises to employ people on the same website where drug pushers freely sell addictive prescription drugs like Adderall.  He also proclaims to be ‘conservative’, yet advertises alongside drug dealers, prostitutes and people seeking ‘casual encounters’.  How can he justify this?” said Gallo.

The ad Gallo refers to was posted yesterday, and is seeking part-time staffers for his campaign. A second ad mentioned in Gallo’s e-mail was posted in July, advertising for interns to work on constituent issues in his office. It has since expired and been removed from the site.

To prove the point that Craigslist is more nefarious than an opium den, Gallo notes that the NYPD recently conducted a major sting, netting 21 arrests of those illegally selling prescription narcotics on the site. Selling illegal items is against Craigslist’s Terms of Service.

In the press release, Gallo describes Craigslist as “a website where users place advertisements for just about anything, including illegal and immoral wares.”

It also just happens to be the ninth most visited website in the United States, and claims 60 million individual users in the United States a month.

That’s a lot of prostitutes and drug dealers. We await Cymbrowitz’s justification for throwing his lot in with them.

Feinblum

Allan Feinblum, a 73-year-old progressive retired businessman, is asking voters to eschew the party candidates and write in his name to represent local Assembly District 45 in the upcoming elections.

“My platform, in a nutshell, is human rights,” said Feinblum to Sheepshead Bites in an interview.

If elected, Feinblum hopes to improve gay rights, help the mentally ill, and modify the criminal justice system.

Regarding the rights of gays, Feinblum feels this issue should not be discussed in relation to the law or political campaigns. He said that other politicians spend too much time, resources, and energy on an issue out of the realm of the state.

“Marriage is a lifetime commitment between two people who are in love,” he said. “It is a human right. Lets not bring up an issue which is not law.”

Feinblum himself has been married to a woman for 50 years, yet he believes individuals should have the right to determine who they want to live with, regardless of gender.

All three candidates carrying an established party line in the election – Cymbrowitz, Ben Akselrod and Russ Gallo – have expressed opposition to gay marriage.

Continue Reading »

Gallo joins members of the Cooperative Community Organization (Source: Gallo campaign)

Don’t be fooled into thinking the campaigns for the 45th Assembly District, currently occupied by Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz, are over. The September 13 primary that saw Cymbrowitz best Ben Akselrod was only the first round, and the incumbent now faces off against Republican Russ Gallo.

Gallo is ramping up his campaign and is now borrowing a play from Akselrod’s book, seizing on the mounting frustration of  some of the district’s co-op owners who find themselves swept up in divisive battles with their co-op boards’ alleged abuses. [UPDATED]

Continue Reading »

Members of the New York State Legislature doing what they do best. Get it? Source: Wikipedia

BETWEEN THE LINES: A show of hands, how many of you think our state legislators deserve a pay raise?

Not too many hands.

Now, if they were to get a raise, how many think that a 26 percent hike, the amount that has been reported, is too much, even though they haven’t had an increase since 1999?

That’s more like it. Almost all of you agree that’s too much. It’s like they’d be making up for lost time with an average of two percent a year for the last 13 years, which is when they got their last pay boost.

The current salary would jump from $79,500 to $100,000. But, in return, those noble lawmakers would sacrifice the $165 per diem they now receive when they’re in session. When you tally the numbers, legislators would give up just over $11,000 for a 67-day session — the standard annual legislative session — for a sizeable $20,500 raise.

Continue Reading »

Steven Cymbrowitz (l.) and Ben Akselrod (r.)

In the days before today’s face-off between incumbent Steven Cymbrowitz and challenger Ben Akselrod, it appears the campaign has taken a personal turn, with Akselrod supporters turning the assemblyman’s marriage to a non-Jewish woman into a political issue.

The Daily News reports:

Syrian Jews in the 45th district have been swamped with emails slamming Cymbrowitz for breaking Jewish law by marrying Vilma Huertas after his Jewish wife, Lena, died in August 2000 following a long battle with cancer.

“Cymbrowitz does not follow [RELIGIOUS]community values,” one email from BrooklynMessage said.

The supporters are likely tied to challenger Ben Akselrod’s campaign, multiple sources familiar with the race said.

“The campaign is not very conventional,” an Akselrod source said.

“It’s definitely organized,” a Brooklyn political pundit added. “It’s not the average Joe saying they feel very strongly about a particular viewpoint. They use fake email addresses and names to try to get the negative message out.”

The e-mails also point out that Cymbrowitz has not opposed the proposed mosque on Voorhies Avenue, which Akselrod has claimed is tied to a radical organization he incorrectly said was “outlawed” by the United States. Cymbrowitz has not taken a stand for or against the mosque; its location is outside of his district.

Akselrod declined to comment about the e-mails.

“There’s a lot of misinformation out there,” Cymbrowitz told the Daily News. “When a candidate doesn’t have a record to stand on the only thing he can do is be negative.”

Next »