More than just issues.
These are the challenges we face and how we can fix them, together.
Affordable housing is so important to Toba, it needed its own page (and plan!). Click to learn more.
Small businesses were already losing the battle to online shopping even before COVID arrived. The coronavirus and the resulting city shut-down only exacerbated an already existing problem.
Reopening and bringing back jobs must be priority number one for City Hall. One out of every three small businesses in New York have closed, and tens of thousands of jobs went with them.
I will remove the bureaucratic red tape that makes it harder to own and run a business. We will create a Small Business Advisory Task Force that will include the NYC Economic Development Corporation (NYC-EDC), tech companies, local Business Improvement Districts (BiDs), small business owners, landlords, and lenders. The task force will focus on neighborhoods and businesses, essentially developing a Community Business Plan (CBP) to boost neighborhood shopping appeal and elevate the in-store shopping experience that you cannot get online.
It’s been 30 years since the Americans with Disabilities Act became law, yet we still do not have a 100% accessible city for individuals with a disability. No one should look at a sidewalk curb or a school, office building, apartment, bathroom, or public transportation as a physical challenge. Accessibility equals inclusion. Accessibility is a right. The current schedule for curing this problem is unacceptable.
Let’s make integration our Goal.
Let’s get bicyclists off of sidewalks, especially electric bikes.
Let’s get the MTA to fast-track the installation of more elevators and reduce escalator repair times.
Let’s educate business owners on the benefits of hiring someone with a disability.
Let’s acknowledge the issue and begin to welcome those with disabilities into everyday life.
Brooklyn Heights Promenade
In 2018, city officials determined that in order to repair a 1.5 mile stretch of the BQE, the Brooklyn Heights Promenade and a portion of Columbia Heights needed to be demolished and temporarily replaced by a 6-lane highway. The demolition would be conducted during night-time hours when traffic was at a minimum. Jackhammers, large metal cutting saws, and other elements of mass destruction would be necessary between the hours of 8:00 pm – 5:00 am for two years, with no consideration to the residents in the neighborhood.
I teamed up with the Brooklyn Heights Association, A Better Way, and the Cobble Hill Association to fight the city’s plan. These community coalitions presented the Department of Transportation with several strategies to redirect BQE traffic away from our homes while adding new acres of parkland.
The BQE issue is still not resolved. We need to remain vigilant. Our next councilmember will need to take the lead on the project. Otherwise, there is the potential for sending thousands of trucks through our residential streets.
The three community coalitions merged into an organization called the BQET, of which I am a member. In my first 100 days in office, I will ensure that the Coalition for the BQE Transformation (BQET) will become an official advisory committee to the city. We will regularly meet with city agencies, organizations from connecting neighborhoods, and other elected officials whose communities are negatively affected by this aging highway.
Stop the Chop Coalition (and Loud Mufflers)
As I write this, there is a helicopter hovering not far outside my window. I cannot tell you how many I’ve heard today, but at times they are as frequent as every four minutes.
I support a ban on non-essential (tourist) helicopters over Brooklyn. It is intolerable for residents to put up with the noise disruption and excessive CO2 that pollutes our air. We deal with this issue all day, every day, as helicopters circle our homes, rattle our windows, disrupt the quiet, and interrupt everyday conversations.
As a “Stop the Chop NY/NJ” member, I applaud City Councilmember Paul Vallone’s efforts to ban non-essential (tourist) helicopters over New York City, and I urge all City Council members to join in this cause.
In 2019, I stood with Representatives Maloney, Nadler, and Velazquez on City Hall’s steps supporting their federal legislation calling for the end of non-essential (tourist) helicopters flying over New York City.
Emissions and Carbon Neutrality
As NYC begins its transformation to carbon neutrality, we cannot justify keeping these helicopters in the skies. Approximately 950 pounds of carbon dioxide per helicopter is produced simply for a joyride.
Quality of Life
From air quality to quality of life, these helicopters wreak havoc on our day-to-day lives. Long-term exposure to aircraft noise has been shown to lead to memory impairment, lower reading and speech comprehension, and reduced cognitive abilities in children and adults. Good quality of life is being taken away by an unnecessary mode of transportation.
Since 1980, there have been at least 30 helicopter crashes, many of which resulted in severe injuries and fatalities. With the expansion of Uber-Copter and Blade, this problem will only become more dangerous.
If helicopters weren’t enough, we’re now subjected to the new and growing trend of loud mufflers on cars and motorcycles. The City Council must stop this now and pass legislation banning loud mufflers.
Since the public killing of George Floyd in May 2020, the issue of institutional racism in police forces across our country has finally come to the fore. For me, George Floyd, Breona Taylor, Eric Garner become one with so many who have suffered at the hands of the police. I am speaking specifically of Akai Gurley, Michael Stewart, Amadou Diallo, Abner Louima, Larry Davis, Eleanor Bumpers, and those whose names we will never know.
The youth of America and Black Lives Matter has re-ignited the civil rights movement here and worldwide. We must not fail in our responsibility to provide equal justice to all under the law. Words are powerful, but actions must follow words.
The #defund movement has been co-opted by the media, and its meaning and purpose have become homogenized. My approach is more holistic. I support Remove, Reform, Rebuild. We start at the top by removing the top brass at One Police Plaza and re-evaluate our precinct police commanders. We introduce policing reforms and close loopholes in the law that protect those police officers who repeatedly break the law. Then and only then can we begin to rebuild the relationship between the NYPD and the Black and Brown and Latinx communities.
I believe in reparative justice. I will be advocating for a reparations package for the BIPOC and Latinx communities to correct more than a century of failures in fair housing, education (pre-k through college), economic opportunities, equal justice, and the environment.
The Atlantic Avenue Detention Center redevelopment was a rush job with little or no real community input. Now that COVID has rewritten the rules on incarceration and NY State has passed the no cash bail initiative, we can rethink the Atlantic Avenue Detention Center project.
If this past year has taught us anything, it is that we are stronger together. We have much more that unites us than divides us. However, the fight for equality is far from over. We must continue to ensure safe places for our LGBTQ+ youth and trans individuals still afraid to walk our streets.
While it is illegal to discriminate against anyone for gender identity, expression, or sexual orientation, many still face this in their workplace, housing, and everyday life. We will continue to stand by those most vulnerable in our community. As a City Councilmember, I want to ensure the rights of everyone are upheld and protected. We need to be the example, not only here at home but around the world, for LGTBQ+ and human rights.
COVID-19 has added additional dangers for our union workers. No one should be worried about losing their income, healthcare, or life during a pandemic. We need to create a new protocol for our labor unions and associations to ensure the safest working conditions.
- We need to create new guidelines for city workers in the COVID-19 era to ensure that no one has to choose between supporting their family and staying healthy.
- Wherever possible, workers should be allowed to work from home and whenever it is not possible, essential workers must get significant hazard pay.
- Increase the number of available union jobs throughout the city.
Our future is not promised. We need to protect it. As Climate Change is the biggest threat facing our world, we need drastic steps to help stop its progress. At Cadman Towers, I instituted regular energy audits to keep up-to-date on cleaner forms of energy for multi-family residential units. Each year brings new technology and new, exciting opportunities to reduce our carbon footprint and fight climate change. Our mission is to reduce carbon emissions while investing in cleaner, more renewable energy sources. We can be the leader in cleaner, greener energy sources.
My Plan for a Greener Future:
G rowth – Let’s create pilot programs that combine wind, solar, tidal and hydrogen fuel cells.
R enewable – Investment in the development of more renewable energy sources.
E fficiency – Create X-Project programs that focus on increased efficiency.
E mpower – Empower small businesses and residents to make better, more sustainable choices.
N eutrality – Implement smart and cost-effective strategies to meet NYC’s goal to carbon neutrality.
Investment in education should be a top priority. For too many years we have neglected our youth during the most crucial years of their lives. We need to provide more opportunities for our youth to succeed. The one way to remove guns as an option for those in the black and brown communities is to level the playing field in housing, education, and opportunity. This new organization is dedicated to that purpose. In addition:
- Investment in scholarship programs for lower income children
- Increase teacher salaries, especially those in low income areas
- Work with community leaders to end the school to prison pipeline
Before COVID, the annual budget for NYC Parks was lower than it was twenty-five years ago. Then in Fiscal Year 2020, City Hall cut Parks Budget by $70 million. This is simply unacceptable.
From the Brooklyn Bridge to Coney Island, Brooklyn has over 800 parks. Parks are the great equalizer. It doesn’t matter your faith, ethnicity, country of origin, or financial status, everyone is welcome in New York City Parks. But like much of the city, bureaucracy and red tape cause project overruns and wasteful spending of our tax dollars. For example: $1.5 million to renovate a bathroom, $6.2 million to replace 3 water fountains.
In 2010 I co-founded Cadman Park Conservancy. The conservancy works with NYC Parks on the care and maintenance of Cadman Plaza Park, Walt Whitman Park, and the Korean War Veterans Plaza. In our 10-years, we’ve successfully advocated for over $12 million in necessary park capital repairs, but because the system is so broken, the timeline for these projects to begin is estimated to be 5-years or “unknown.”
Many know of a senior that has been mistreated or forgotten, especially during this pandemic. We must not forget those that have given us so much throughout their lives. Our loved ones, family members, friends deserve better than what they have gotten. I say, enough is enough…
- Increased support for obtaining Social Security benefits for all recipients
- Expand and train the home aide care workforce we need to provide support for our growing senior population.
- Expand NORCs and re-open our senior centers
- Guarantee home and community based long-term care services for all New Yorkers
- Create city-wide protocols for “aging in place”
Our elderly are more vulnerable these days to internet and cell phone scammers. We need to strengthen our laws to protect our seniors from those who target them. We need to be at the forefront of this issue, providing filtering software for computers and cellphones that detect online and cell phone scammers.
New York City has only just begun to realize that our animal companions need better protection. They have complex brains and can feel emotion and pain, just as we do. We need to expand education in schools and to the greater public. This is where we can start:
- Create a City Council Animal Rights Committee
- Increase and enforce penalties for animal abusers.
- Ban pet shops from buying dogs from puppy mills.
- Tax credit for those who adopt a pet from shelters.
- Permit animal companions in homeless shelters
- Ban the sale of fur in New York City
- Ban horses in Central Park
- Ban live animal markets in New York City