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Assemblyman
Herman D. Farrell, Jr.
Assembly District 71
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Chair, Ways and Means Committee
January 16, 2015
Farrell, Frederick Douglass Academy Students Talk Education

On Friday, January 16 Assemblyman Farrell visited The Frederick Douglass Academy to meet with students and staff, as well as take part in a discussion and interview on the Academy's in-house student-run radio station, WFDA.

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Assemblyman Farrell, daughter Sophia Farrell and students and staff of The Frederick Douglass Academy took part in a discussion that was broadcast on WFDA.

Since 1991, The Frederick Douglass Academy has prepared students from the Harlem area to succeed at the college or university of their choice by offering opportunities for personal growth that include extracurricular activities, academic support for students and their families, and following a vigorous curriculum that prepares students for the rigors of higher education.

The interview will be posted at the school's Web site, www.fda1.org.

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Assemblyman Farrell meets with Superintendent Gale Reeves (in burgundy blazer), Principal Joseph D. Gates and assistant principals from throughout Community Board at 5 at The Frederick Douglass Academy. Also shown here are Frederick Douglass Academy officials and students including senior Elijah Dormeus (in gold sash).



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…and this month in Albany
January 15, 2015

Assemblyman Farrell Reports to Community Board 9

Paying Tribute to the Late Governor Mario Cuomo

Last week, we buried the great former Governor Mario Cuomo, who passed on the afternoon of January 1 shortly after his son, our current Governor, was sworn in for his second term. Some of you may know that my relationship with the Cuomo family goes back many years, including the 1982 campaign that first elected him to the highest office in our State, and the news, while not unexpected, was painful. You may not know, however, the extent to which Gov. Mario Cuomo was personally responsible for improving the quality of life in our community and our State.

In the late 1960s, the City came up with a plan to move Manhattan's sewage treatment plant from the West 60s to Northern Manhattan. To entice the Northern Manhattan community to agree to this change, we were promised that a public park would be placed on top of this plant to provide the community a benefit to offset the downside of placing a sewage treatment plant here. Then, in 1975, Governor Carey famously remarked that "the days of wine and roses are over," and the plan to build the park fell away. The idea remained dead until 1983 when, in one of his first official actions, Gov. Mario Cuomo committed $129 million in his first budget to build the park and made sure that it happened. Our community, and the people from all over our City who visit our community to use Riverbank State Park, are in his debt. In case you do not know, in my opinion the amenities at Riverbank are second to no other park in our City, and include wonderful indoor and outdoor swimming facilities, soccer and football fields, a newly improved ice skating rink and much more. Riverbank was one of many, many wonderful things he did for the people of this State and our community. He was a good friend to me and to all New Yorkers, and will be sorely missed. I was proud to stand up and cast my vote for a resolution honoring the life of Mario M. Cuomo on Tuesday, January 13.

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Assemblyman Farrell, Mario Cuomo and Andrew M. Cuomo during the 1982 Gubernatorial campaign.

Farrell and Assembly Colleagues Take Oath of Office for New Term

On January 7, my colleagues in the Assembly's Majority Conference gathered in Albany to take our oath of office on the floor of the Assembly chamber in the Capitol, as we are required by the State Constitution to do at the beginning of every term. It was nice to greet and welcome the new Assembly Members, of which there are an unusually high number this year, as a number of my colleagues have moved on to other things or chose to retire. We had been scheduled to hear Governor Cuomo deliver his fifth State of the State speech that afternoon, but the event was postponed because services were held for the late Governor Mario Cuomo on January 6. Governor Andrew M. Cuomo will deliver his State of the State speech and outline his Executive Budget for State Fiscal Year 2015-2016 on Wednesday, January 21. This will begin the process of debating and passing the budget, which we must complete by April 1. In the coming days, I will announce the schedule of public hearings on the Executive Budget which will begin, as is our tradition, with the testimony of the Mayor of New York, the Honorable Bill de Blasio.

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Farrell and Wright Working to Improve NY's Rent Laws

As I reported to you during the 2014 Legislative Session, last year I introduced a number of bills intended to strengthen the Rent Laws and give tenants more power to fight back against bad landlords, and also supported similar bills introduced by my colleagues in the Assembly's Majority Conference. Some of these bills did not pass the Senate, but we are not done fighting to get our bills passed and onto the Governor's desk where they can be signed into law.

You may know that the State's Rent Laws, which provide financial stability for millions of hardworking residents of New York City, are due to sunset (expire) in June of 2015. Along with our efforts to extend these basic protections years into the future by again passing the Rent Laws, my Assembly colleagues and I are working on new legislation to protect tenants. I will report to you further in the coming months on our efforts to protect New York City tenants.

In closing, I urge you to join the many New Yorkers who have signed up for Obamacare under the Affordable Care Act. The deadline to enroll is February 15, 2015. Current enrollees will also have the option of changing their plan until February 15, 2015. Finally, I am wishing you and yours a happy and healthy New Year.


Yours truly,
Herman "Denny" Farrell, Jr.



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…and this month in Albany
January 7, 2015

Assemblyman Farrell Reports to Community Board 10

Paying Tribute to the Late Governor Mario Cuomo

Yesterday, we buried the great former Governor Mario Cuomo who passed on the afternoon of January 1 shortly after his son, our current Governor, was sworn in for his second term. Some of you may know that my relationship with the Cuomo family goes back many years, including the 1982 campaign that first elected him to the highest office in our State, and the news, while not unexpected, was painful. You may not know, however, the extent to which Gov. Mario Cuomo was personally responsible for improving the quality of life in our community and our State.

In the late 1960s, the City came up with a plan to move Manhattan's sewage treatment plant from the West 60s to Northern Manhattan. To entice the Northern Manhattan community to agree to this change, we were promised that a public park would be placed on top of this plant to provide the community a benefit to offset the downside of having a sewage treatment plant here. Then, in 1975, Governor Carey famously remarked that "the days of wine and roses are over," and the plan to build the park fell away. The idea remained dead until 1983 when, in one of his first official actions, Gov. Mario Cuomo committed $129 million in his first budget to build the park and made sure that it happened. Our community, and the people from all over our City who visit our community to use Riverbank State Park, are in his debt. Riverbank was one of many, many wonderful things he did for the people of this State and our community. He was a good friend to me and to all New Yorkers, and will be sorely missed.

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Assemblyman Farrell, Mario Cuomo and Andrew M. Cuomo talk during the Gubernatorial 1982 campaign.

Farrell and Assembly Colleagues Take Oath of Office for New Term

Earlier today, my colleagues in the Assembly's Majority Conference gathered in Albany to take our oath of office on the floor of the Assembly chamber in the Capitol, as we are required to do at the beginning of every term by the State Constitution. It was nice to greet and welcome the new Assembly Members, of which there are an unusually high number this year, as a number of my colleagues have moved on to other things or chose to retire. We had been scheduled to hear Governor Cuomo deliver his fifth State of the State speech this afternoon, but the event has been postponed until January 21 because of the passing of former Governor Mario Cuomo. We must wait a bit longer to hear the sitting Governor outline his budget plans for State Fiscal Year 2015-2016, but I will report these details to you as soon as they have been received and interpreted by my Ways and Means Committee staff.

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Farrell and Wright Working to Improve NY's Rent Laws

As I reported to you during the 2014 Legislative Session, last year I introduced a number of bills intended to strengthen the Rent Laws and give tenants more power to fight back against bad landlords, and also supported similar bills introduced by my colleagues in the Assembly's Majority Conference. Some of these bills did not pass the Senate, but we are not done fighting to get our bills passed and onto the Governor's desk where they can be signed into law.

You may know that the State's Rent Laws, which provide financial stability for millions of hardworking residents of New York City, are due to sunset (expire) in June of 2015. Along with our efforts to extend these basic protections years into the future by again passing the Rent Laws, my Assembly colleagues and I are working on new legislation to protect tenants.

I will report to you further in the coming months on our efforts to protect New York City tenants.

In closing, I am wishing you and yours a happy and healthy New Year. To help guarantee your and your families' health in the New Year, I urge you to join the many New Yorkers who have signed up for Obamacare under the Affordable Care Act. The deadline to enroll is February 15, 2015. Current enrollees will also have the option of changing their plan until February 15, 2015.


Yours truly,
Herman "Denny" Farrell, Jr.



…and this month in Albany
November 25, 2014

Assemblyman Farrell Reports to Community Board 12

Opening the 124-Unit Sugar Hill Development

When I was a boy, I loved model airplanes but I never finished them, setting them aside after I finished the wings. My father used them to teach me a life lesson. He explained that only doing part of the job was not good enough, and stick-to-it-ive-ness was needed to see it through to the end. I believe that the people of our community have that ability, as is shown by a number of important affordable housing projects that have been years in the making which are now being finished or are breaking ground after many, many years of hard work and setbacks. One of these has been in the works for years, and is in our community.

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Assemblyman Farrell speaks during a ribbon-cutting ceremony opening the Sugar Hill Development on Friday, November 21, 2014. Photo courtesy DNAinfo.com.

Two years after construction began, I joined elected officials and members at the community for a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Friday afternoon at the Sugar Hill Development at West 155th Street and St. Nicholas Avenue. This much-needed 124-unit affordable housing project I have been honored to support was many years in the making and will help to ease the ongoing shortage of affordable housing in Northern Manhattan.

The Sugar Hill project brings together affordable housing, a preschool and an on-site museum. Though the effort to build it began only six years ago, it too required stick-to-it-ive-ness. As I noted during a speech about this project earlier this year, Broadway Housing Communities' work to make this large project happen is tremendously important for this community in an age of rising rents and many apartments being taken out of the rent-control system.

Mayor de Blasio went further in his description, calling the Sugar Hill Development a wonderful example of the rejuvenation, renewal, community involvement and community leadership that can be found here in Northern Manhattan. I wholeheartedly agree, and look forward to attending and taking part in Friday's event.

A New Home for the Boys' and Girls' Club of Harlem

On Thursday, November 14th I was given the honor of speaking at a ceremony regarding the upcoming relocation of the Boys' and Girls' Club of Harlem to the old PS 186 on 145th Street.

As you may know, this school closed in 1975 and the building has been dormant ever since. The Boys' and Girls' Club of Harlem purchased the building over 30 years ago, but until recently renovations never got off the ground. It is the people who have worked on these programs for decades that are making these things happen. This important project at last getting off the ground is another example of stick-to-it-ive-ness by people who refuse to take 'no' for an answer and get things done to benefit our community. I am happy to support this project.

The City's Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) and its' partner organizations will team up to take on this nearly $50 million project which will not only create a new home for the Boys' and Girls' Club of Harlem, but also 78 individuals and families who are in need of high-quality, affordable housing.

Breaking Ground on More New Affordable Housing in the Community

I also took part in other events during the last month that may help meet hardworking New Yorkers' need for affordable housing including another groundbreaking on November 5th for a Harlem Congregations for Community Improvement project at 260-266 West 153rd Street.

This new development will create 51 units of affordable housing. I also recently attended a ribbon-cutting event at Bethany Place's new 304 West 154th Street facility, which will offer 23 new housing units. None of these good things could have taken place if these wonderful people had taken 'no' for an answer.

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As I said, throughout this month other wonderful housing developments took place throughout Northern Manhattan. On November 12, I was given the honor of speaking at a ribbon-cutting ceremony opening Bethany Place at 304 West 154th Street and Frederick Douglass Boulevard, where 23 units of affordable housing have just been opened. (See photo above.)

Bethany Place also came to be because of the incredible stick-to-it-ive-ness of the people of Bethany Baptist Church, the elected officials who have represented our community over the years, and other people who saw a need and fought to fill that need. This fight took place over many, many years. Financing for the project was promised and then taken away, but the advocates who sought this project did not give up. At last, after what seemed like a lifetime of effort, their dream has been realized and it was a wonderful thing to see.

Supporting the Metropolitan Center's Black Male Initiative

I recently met with representatives of SUNY Empire State's College's Metropolitan Center, who are involved in an exiting five-year-old initiative called the Black Male Initiative which seeks to use peer support and other new approaches to encourage young men of color to remain in college and continue to pursue success and opportunity. (The program was initially names The African-American Male Initiative, but the name was changed to attract young men born in the Caribbean who may not identify as African American.)

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Black Male Initiative representatives Dexter Mead, Jay Marshall, David A. Fullard, Ph.D., Keith Amparado and Lawrence Johnson recently met with Assemblyman Farrell to discuss their efforts to encourage young men of color to complete their higher educations.

This program began when Empire State College educators looked at their statistics and found that graduation rates for male of color at the Empire Center were only 37 percent, compared to 49 percent for female students of color and 50 percent of Hispanic male students. These leaders decided to tap the potential of the college's alumni and the college's expertise while encouraging students to meet monthly to talk about what is on their mind. It appears to be working.

As you know, people who complete college tend to have more opportunities available to them and earn more money over the course of their lifetime. In many cases, the alternative to education for young men of color is incarceration or dead-end work. The statistics are horrific. By one study, as of 2000, 65 percent of African-American male high school dropouts in their 20s were jobless, meaning they were unable to find work, not looking for it or incarcerated.

Even including high school graduates, the study showed the numbers are still dismal: half of all young, African-American men were jobless and at that time about 20 percent of these men had been to jail or prison. In some inner cities, the study found, half of these men quit high school. Having the mentors and alumni who are working to change these sad facts visit my District Office led to a wonderful conversation, and I am happy to give them my support.

Honoring NYPD Leaders in Northern Manhattan

On November 12, I had the pleasure of joining City Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez in a ceremony (shown below) honoring the newly-promoted Deputy Inspector Fausto Pichardo who during the last few years was a law enforcement leader in our community. Also honored during the event, which was held at the Triangle Building on 166th Street, were Deputy Inspector Barry Buzzetti, Detective Haydee Pabey, Detective Francisco Rijo and Sgt. Sharon Robinson-Hewitt.

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New Study Highlights Ongoing HIV/AIDS Problem in Our Community
Embracing Obamacare Could Improve Health in Northern Manhattan

You may have seen a recent report on NY1 outlining that fact that, though HIV infection rates are falling, the number of infections among African-American New Yorkers remain sadly high. According to their report, 115,000 New Yorkers have HIV/AIDS including over 3,000 who were infected during 2012, the last year for which statistics are available. And although nationally African-Americans make up just 13 percent of Americans, our community accounts for 47 percent of new HIV cases, according to NY1's report.

Many believe this is the case because many in our community do not have health care coverage or access to health care services, so they do not receive regular checkups and are not aware of their HIV status, leading them to unknowingly spread it. Of course, as we have heard over and over for many years, prevention is the single most important factor. Advances in treatment have made it possible for people who are infected with HIV/AIDS to live long, healthy lives. Preventing them from unknowingly spreading the disease to others is therefore a factor.

A lot of words have been said for and against Obamacare, but this problem is one of the things it can help solve. By providing people access to health care, as does every other developed nation, the United States government has done a tremendous favor to our community. Allowing people the opportunity to visit a doctor regularly, and cutting costs and other obstacles to receiving that care, could lead many more people to be tested for HIV, know their status and avoid spreading the virus. You must ask for this test to be performed in addition to regular bloodwork.

As of November 15 and until February 15, the second open enrollment period for Obamacare (also known as the Affordable Care Act) continues. This will allow new enrollees to sign up for coverage and existing enrollees to change their health plans. This open enrollment period is also the only time when you may apply for financial assistance to avoid a penalty for not having coverage.

While the first open enrollment period last year suffered from many computer problems, many thousands of Americans signed up for coverage. Many of them had never had health coverage before and were able to regularly visit a doctor for the first time. According to the White House in a matter of days after the second open enrollment period began, another 100,000 Americans signed up for health care coverage. This law is providing real help to people who need it.

For more information, feel free to visit the Federal resource at www.healthcare.gov or call (800) 318-2596. The TTY number is (855) 889-4325. Each of the states that have set up health care exchanges under the Federal program have their own programs. For information about New York's program, visit www.nystateofhealth.ny.gov or call (855) 355-5777. The TTY number for the New York program is (800) 662-1220.

If you wish to see more about these issues and my work in the community, please visit my Web site at www.assembly.state.ny.us.



Yours truly,
Herman "Denny" Farrell, Jr.



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…and this month in Albany
November 5, 2014

Assemblyman Farrell Reports to Community Board 10

People's March for Renters and Affordable Housing

On Saturday, October 25 I joined my fellow elected officials including Assembly Member Keith Wright, who chairs our Housing Committee, and other leaders in the community along with many others to take part in a march from 135th Street and Broadway in support of tenants and renters' rights. As you may know, 2015 has the potential to be a watershed year with respect to this critical issue. Many of the rent laws are scheduled to sunset in 2015 and many observers believe the final results of yesterday's elections and the reorganization of the Senate have the potential to fundamentally reshape the balance of rights shared by tenants and landlords.

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Assemblyman Farrell, Senator Adriano Espaillat and advocates from the community show their support for tenants during an October 2014 march on Broadway.

As you may recall, during our last Legislative Session in Albany I introduced several bills that, if they become law, may dramatically expand tenants' rights and use the force of law to further discourage bad landlords from abusing their tenants. I will continue to stand with my colleagues including Assembly Member Keith Wright to fight for tenants' rights and to help preserve high-quality, affordable housing in Northern Manhattan.

In two months, the Assembly and Senate will return to Albany for our 2015 Legislative Session. My colleagues in the Assembly Majority Conference and I await the results of the several hotly contested Senate races, which in the past have not been settled until many months after Election Day. Our 2015 Session is likely to be a very busy one, but could be a fruitful Session for renters.

Update on NYS' Universal Pre-K Program

My Ways and Means Committee staff recently updated me on the progress that has been made in getting the State's Universal Pre-Kindergarten program up and running. As you may recall, this dramatic expansion of our public education system is based on a deal that was made in the process of finishing the budget for State Fiscal Year 2014-2015. The State will allocate $1.5 billion over five years to pay for Pre-K programming, with an allocation of $340 million for 2014-2015. This funding is in addition to the Assembly's longstanding commitment of $385 million to universal Pre-K programs. As a result, approximately $750 million is allocated to this critical program. This year, new funding will pay for new, full-day slots and the expansion of existing half-day slots to full-day programs. Schools will receive $10,000 per student in classrooms led by certified teachers and $7,000 per student for classrooms led by non-certified teachers. Statewide, 84 public schools, not-for-profit organizations, charter schools, museums and libraries will have their Pre-K programs funded by the State. In New York City, $300 million of this year's $340 million statewide allocation will be awarded to 22 organizations providing universal Pre-K services to 30,000 young learners.

Negotiations Ongoing in Federal Medicaid Funding Shakeup

As you may recall, not long ago State officials got some difficult news about Federal Medicaid reimbursement funding as we worked to finish the State budget. The Federal Department of Health and Human Services, acting on a claim made by Congressman Darryl Issa of California, announced that New York State had been awarded too much money for its' Office for People With Developmental Disabilities for years, and the Federal government wanted that money back. This, of course, created a hole in the budget for OPWDD and other important human-services programs. In State Fiscal Year 2010-2011 alone, Federal officials claimed they had identified $1.3 billion in overpayments to OPWDD and related programs. State officials led by Governor Cuomo have negotiated with Federal officials in an effort to blunt this potential blow. Given that Federal reimbursements for State program expenses were immediately cut, State officials have asked that no further cuts are imposed until after a full scope of audits and review have been completed. On July 25, 2014 Federal auditors informed us that an audit of services provided by the State was underway and was expected to be complete within 60 days, a deadline that passed in late September without the State receiving any official finding. After a finding is issued, a second 60-day period will begin during which the State can contest the results of this audit. We should have the initial results shortly, and will issue our response at an appropriate time.

Farrell and Levine Working on "The People's Budget"

As you know, in recent years City government has taken part in a bold experiment called Participatory Budgeting. Under this program, each City Council Member is granted an allotment for their District and engages in a discussion with their constituents to decide how that money should be spent. On Saturday, October 25 I was invited by Council Member Mark Levine to take part in a discussion with our constituents, and bring the knowledge I have acquired as Ways and Means Chair during the last 20 years to help guide this discussion of next year's budget.

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Don't Forget to Get Your Flu Shot!

Every year, I always make a point of getting flu shots for myself and my family and often post pictures of the event on my Assembly Web site to encourage people to get the shot for themselves and their families. Though the weather has been unusually pleasant lately, winter is coming, and will bring with it the cold and flu season.

Though the Ebola virus is on everyone's mind, as is New York City's reaction to only one person here being treated for this disease, the fact is that before the flu shot was developed, the flu was a deadly serious problem. During the major flu pandemic of 1918, many thousands of New Yorkers became ill and tens of thousands died. The number of flu deaths was so high, in fact, that City officials charged with counting the dead were overwhelmed.

Today, some people still refuse to get their flu shot or believe it is unnecessary. The flu shot is absolutely necessary, and widely available at many pharmacies and health care facilities throughout Northern Manhattan and other parts of the City. The shot is also free of charge under many health care plans. Information on where to get a shot and other data is available at nyc.gov.

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Yours truly,
Herman "Denny" Farrell, Jr.



Video Clips:

March 25, 2014
Assemblyman Farrell rises to speak out against legislation which would allow New York to award its electoral votes to the presidential candidate who wins the national popular vote. A.4422-A




Photo Slide Show:



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