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Assemblyman
Herman D. Farrell, Jr.
Assembly District 71
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Chair, Ways and Means Committee
July 16, 2015
Farrell Responds to Transit Blog Criticism of Broadway Pedestrian Plan
A writer for the transit blog Streetsblog.org recently published an on-line article criticizing my comments during a July 9, 2015 Community Board 9 meeting on the Department of Transportation's plan to improve Broadway, making the thoroughfare safer for pedestrians. The letter below is my reply to the writer.


July 14, 2015

Stephen Miller
Streetsblog.org
148 Lafayette Street, 12
New York, NY 10013

Dear Mr. Miller,

I am writing in response to your July 10 article, "Will CB 9 Take Its Cues From a Denny Farrell Rant Against a Safer Broadway?" about a Community Board 9 meeting held Thursday, July 9.

First, I will concede that I may have been wrong or misspoken about the relative safety of Florida's roads and highways and their success in reducing pedestrian injuries and fatalities. I will admit that I have never taken the time to study Florida's safety statistics in any great detail. But I have been there, and seen how Florida traffic is routed to left- and right-turn lanes that allow traffic to flow while, apparently, protecting pedestrians.

However, in reading your article, it seems that you may have misheard my "rant" during the meeting, as I certainly do not recall making several of the statements you attributed to me.

And I must challenge your mocking tone in reporting my statement that bicycles are dangerous. Your article omitted my statements about bicycles being silent, and my complaints that bicycles should continually make a warning noise to alert pedestrians when a bicyclist is approaching.

In case you are not aware, less than four hours before July 9's CB9 meeting, a pedestrian was seriously injured by a bicyclist during an incident on First Avenue near West 87th Street.

This did not occur in my District, so I am not fully conversant in all the details, but according to the account published by DNAinfo.com, this senior citizen was crossing the bicycle lane (similar to my "ranting" description) on her way to her car when she was struck and knocked to the pavement by a bicyclist who fled the scene. According to DNAinfo, the pedestrian is in critical condition and the New York Police Department is asking for the public's help in identifying and locating the bicyclist.

As you may or may not know, I am a grandfather, and the father of a 10-year-old with whom I often walk the streets of New York, so I am concerned with her safety, my own, and the safety of everyone else whether they are traveling on foot or on wheels.

Yours truly,


Herman D. Farrell, Jr.
Member of Assembly

Öand this month in Albany
June 23, 2015

Assemblyman Farrell Reports to Community Board 12

Assembly Continuing to Fight for Stronger Rent Laws
Senate Offers Weak Housing Proposal That Could Help Bad Landlords

As you sit down to read this report, my colleagues in the Assembly Majority Conference and I remain in Albany fighting for the two million New Yorkers whose homes are part of the rent regulation system. The rent laws were allowed to temporarily expire because members of the Senate, who mostly come from Upstate and Long Island, refused to negotiate honestly and in good faith. When this report was written this afternoon (Tuesday, June 23) several options had been introduced but a final deal on renewing the rent laws had not been reached. You should know that leases are contracts that carry the full force of law and landlords cannot throw out your lease or raise your rent. Also, landlords must give notice before raising rents between leases.

Assembly, Senate Passed Five-Day Rent Law Extension; Full Renewal Sought

The Assembly, Senate and Governor Cuomo are continuing to negotiate in hopes of resolving the ongoing impasse with regard to the rent laws, an upstate property tax abatement program and other important issues that must be resolved before the Legislative Session may come to an end as it was scheduled to do on Wednesday, June 17. Our most recent actions were an agreement Thursday, June 18 between the Assembly and Senate to extend the rent laws until midnight tonight, Tuesday, June 23. Meanwhile, the Assembly on Friday, June 19 introduced new legislation to increase tenant protections and extend the strengthened rent laws for two years. The Assembly has not yet voted on the bill that was introduced Friday.

Senate Bill Would Weaken Rent Laws, Help Landlords

The Senate majority has introduced several rent law bills, and their leadership has bragged to the press that because their proposal would extend the rent laws for eight years it would somehow be the best option. This is false. Their proposals have a number of major problems. Most importantly, the Senate's proposals fail to end vacancy control, which is a primary reason that our City has and continues to bleed affordable housing at an alarming rate.

Their proposals also contain provisions that would make life harder for tenants, like forcing people who live in rent-regulated apartments to verify their income as if they are somehow "cheating" by living in an apartment that rents for less than the market rate. It almost sounds like they imagine that residents of Northern Manhattan, where most apartments are rent-regulated.

As Daily News columnist Juan Gonzalez pointed out in his excellent column Wednesday, June 17, the Senate bill would force the already-overburdened housing agencies to verify the income of millions of New Yorkers who live in rent-regulated apartments. This plan is a poison pill.

Cuomo and Legislative Leaders Announce Framework of Deal on Rent, Tax Credits

Just before 2 p.m. today, June 23, Governor Cuomo, Speaker Carl E. Heastie and Senate Majority Leader John J. Flanagan appeared jointly for a televised press conference to lay out what the Governor called the "framework" of a deal involving renewal of the rent laws and other major items of unfinished business. The Governor said that the Leaders agreed to take part in this event before discussing their agreement with their respective Conferences to accommodate a personal commitment the Governor had made, and the leaders agreed. As you read this, we may still be discussing details of this proposed deal, which we have not yet seen or voted upon.

Rent Laws Would Extend by Four Years, With More Protection for Tenants

According to the Governor, the agreement is robust and comprehensive, including education reform, tax reform and "unprecedented" support for tenants including the two million New Yorkers who live in the one million apartments that are part of the rent regulation system.

Under this arrangement, the Governor said, the rent laws would be extended for four years and, as was the case in 2011 when the rent laws were strengthened, would reverse a long trend toward weakening the rent laws. The Governor declined to explain details of the agreement, but said that while vacancy decontrol would not end completely as the Assembly Majority Conference and tenant advocates had wanted, the vacancy decontrol threshold would not only be raised but also indexed to the rising cost of living. This could mean that the loss of affordable housing, including the large number of rent-regulated apartments in Northern Manhattan, would slow.

Upstate Tax Reform Part of End-Of-Session Deal

The Leaders' agreement also includes $1.3 billion in property tax relief for homeowners Upstate, which was a top priority of the Senate's Majority Conference. Like the rent law extension, this program would be up for renewal in four years, but would not be the permanent upstate property tax cap that the Senate Majority wanted. The agreement, if this is accepted by the members, also includes a four-year extension of the 421-a tax relief program, which was established decades ago to encourage the construction of affordable housing in some parts of New York City but has been used more recently by developers to ease the burden of building less-than affordable housing in some areas. A major part of the 421-a discussion involved whether construction workers employed by these developers should be paid the prevailing wage for their trade.

Under the terms of the deal, 421-a would be extended for six months. During that time, the Governor said, representatives of labor and the real estate industry would discuss and draw up an agreement on the prevailing wage issue. If, at the end of six months, an agreement had been reached then 421-a would be extended for the full four years. But if no agreement was reached within six months, 421-a would expire, the Governor said.

Mayoral Control to be Extended by One Year

The Leaders' agreement also calls for a one-year extension of Mayoral control of New York City public schools, half of the extension the Assembly Majority Conference had fought for and far less than the seven-year extension given to former Mayor Bloomberg. Other education-related reforms are also included in the Leaders' agreement. The State's statutory cap on charter schools would be modified to allow 50 new charter schools Downstate and up to 130 more Upstate, the Governor said, and these schools would be administered either by the State University or the State Department of Education.

Executive Action Pending on 'Raise the Age'

Finally, Governor Cuomo announced that in lieu of Legislative action on a bill to forbid 16- and 17-year-old offenders from being sentenced to State prison, the Governor would take Executive action to place these people in other, more suitable facilities outside the State prison system.

Assembly Continuing to Fight to Protect Public School Funding

As you may know, members of the Assembly's Majority Conference have serious doubts about Governor Cuomo's plan to change the law to allow donors to private and parochial school to receive a State tax credit for their donations to non-public schools. This would have the effect of using your tax dollars to subsidize non-public schools, which our members take issue with.

Some say that the push away from public schools and toward charter and other non-public schools is being funded by big-money donors tied to Wall Street hedge fund concerns seeking to damage or destroy teachers' unions and public schools because there may be money to be made from putting students in charter schools.

This complex and difficult issue is tied in with another ongoing education problem still being worked on in Albany. There was a recent controversy, which was highlighted by a mailing sent to homes in some parts of the State including Northern Manhattan, about a bill that was meant to help teachers but could have had a negative effect on teachers in some school districts Upstate. One of those mailings claimed, through a misunderstanding, that I supported this harmful bill.

To make myself perfectly clear, I would never do anything that would hurt public schools, having spent my entire legislative career fighting for students and educational opportunity. No bill I have ever supported or sponsored would help billionaires.

photo
Assemblyman Farrell joined New York State United Teachers President Michael Mulgrew (left) and United Federation of Teachers Manhattan Borough Representative Dwayne Clark (right) during UFT's annual spring conference on May 30, 2015.

Please look to my Web site at assembly.state.ny.us for the latest on these and other important issues.


Yours truly,
Herman "Denny" Farrell, Jr.



(Back to Top)
Öand this month in Albany
June 18, 2015

Assemblyman Farrell Reports to Community Board 9

Assembly Continuing to Fight for Stronger Rent Laws
Gov. Cuomo, AG Schneiderman Oppose Senate's Weak Housing Proposal
As you sit down to read this report, it is possible that my colleagues in the Assembly Majority Conference and I remain in Albany fighting for the 2 million New Yorkers whose homes are part of the rent regulation system which was allowed to expire because members of the Senate, who mostly come from Upstate and Long Island, refused to negotiate honestly and in good faith.

When this report was written at 3 p.m. on Thursday, June 18, several options had been introduced and a final deal on renewing the rent laws had not been reached. First, you should know that leases are contracts that carry the full force of law and landlords cannot throw out your lease or raise your rent. Second, landlords must give notice before raising rents between leases.

Wright Bill Would Extend Rent Law, Allow More Negotiation
On Tuesday morning, my colleague Assembly Member Keith Wright, who chairs our Housing Committee, introduced a bill that would extend the rent laws for eight months to. Speaker Heastie has said, and I agree, that our priority should and must be strengthening the rent laws to protect tenants be ending vacancy decontrol and other loopholes used by bad landlords to kick out tenants and charge higher rents for those apartments. Our goal of helping tenants is supported by Governor Cuomo and Attorney General Schneiderman.

Senate Bill Would Weaken Rent Laws, Help Landlords
Earlier this week, the Senate majority introduced a rent law bill, and their leadership has bragged to the press that because their proposal would extend the rent laws for eight years it is somehow be the best option. This is false. Their bill has a number of major problems. Most importantly, it fails to end vacancy control, which is a primary reason that our City has and continues to bleed affordable housing at an alarming rate.

Their bill also contains provisions that would make life harder for tenants, like forcing people who live in rent-regulated apartments to verify their income as if they are somehow "cheating" by living in an apartment that rents for less than market rate. It almost sounds like they imagine that residents of Northern Manhattan, where most apartments are rent-regulated, live here during the week and spend their weekends in second homes in the Hamptons. This is absurd.

As Daily News columnist Juan Gonzalez pointed out in his excellent column Wednesday, June 17, the Senate bill would force the already-overburdened housing agencies to verify the income of millions of New Yorkers who live in Rent-regulated apartments. This plan is a poison pill.

Assembly Continuing to Fight to Protect Public School Funding
As you may know, members of the Assembly's Majority Conference have serious doubts about Governor Cuomo's plan to change the law to allow donors to private and parochial school to receive a State tax credit for their donations to non-public schools. This would have the effect of using your tax dollars to subsidize non-public schools, which our members take issue with.

Some say that the push away from public schools and toward charter and other non-public schools is being funded by big-money donors tied to Wall Street hedge fund concerns seeking to damage or destroy teachers' unions and public schools because there may be money to be made from putting students in charter schools.

This complex and difficult issue is tied in with another ongoing education problem still being worked on in Albany. There was a recent controversy, which was highlighted by a mailing sent to homes in some parts of the State including Northern Manhattan, about a bill that was meant to help teachers but could have had a negative effect on teachers in some school districts Upstate. One of those mailings claimed, through a misunderstanding, that I supported this harmful bill.

To make myself perfectly clear, I would never do anything that would hurt public schools, having spent my entire legislative career fighting for students and educational opportunity.

photo
Assemblyman Farrell joined New York State United Teachers President Michael Mulgrew (left) and United Federation of Teachers Manhattan Borough Representative Dwayne Clark (right) during UFT's annual spring conference on May 30, 2015.

Please look to my Web site at assembly.state.ny.us for the latest on these and other important issues.

Yours truly,
Herman "Denny" Farrell, Jr.



(Back to Top)
June 8, 2015
Assemblyman Farrell's Testimony to the Rent Guidelines Board
June 8, 2015

Hello. My name is Earnestine Bell-Temple. I am a District Leader in the 71st Assembly District, which includes Harlem, Washington Heights and Inwood, and I am speaking before you today on behalf of Assemblyman Denny Farrell. He is required to be in Albany for the Legislative Session today, but has asked me to read the following on behalf of his constituents, who are urgently in need of the assistance and justice that you may provide.

Please allow me to say, clearly and immediately: no rent increase this year. As a matter of fact, you must reduce the rents. People are struggling and suffering. You can, and must, help them.

Costs go up. That is what they do. It is a part of life, and we all accept that. But, in some cases, costs go down. This is what has been happening in the recent past.

Years ago, the cost of doing business as a landlord rose steadily. The cost of heating and maintaining a building climbed steadily. But of late, these costs have gone down, sharply in some cases. Heating oil, for instance, costs far less today than it did just a few years ago.

And yet, the landlords cry out for your help. They complain that their costs are exceeded by the revenues they collect as rent. This position runs contrary to the evidence, and to common sense.

Think of the tenants. Last week (Friday, June 5), the federal government reported that wages have gone upÖby an average of three-tenths of one percent. That is 0.003. A third of a penny for each dollar in earnings. And this increase is remarkable in its strength compared to the recent past.

Now, compare that to the growth in rents. The disconnect is shocking.

This is not justice.

As I have said to you in the past...

The landlords don't need your help to make more money.

Please, think of the tenants. People are suffering. You have it within your power to help them

Again, please lower the rents. Thank you.



Video Clips:

March 12, 2015
Ways and Means Committee Chairman Farrell addresses questions relating to changes in the Gap Elimination in the Assembly Budget Proposal. E.203





Photo Slide Show:



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