Thursday, May 26, 2011
May 26, 2011
Contact: Aja Worthy-Davis at (212) 788-7081
Council Member Letitia James Addresses SAIC Dismissal of CityTime Manager for Corruption
Cites History of Problems with Citytime Contract; Calls for A Cancellation of Existing SAIC Contracts Pending Further Review
(New York, NY)— On May 25, 2011, New York City Comptroller John Liu released important information related to the Citytime payroll project, which was the focus of a federal indictment in December 2010 due to the $80M in City funds embezzled by project contractors.
The Comptroller’s office received communication written to the Executive Director of the Financial Information Services Agency (FISA) by Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), contractor of Citytime. FISA maintains various financial information systems for the City, such as its centralized accounting and budgeting system, payroll system, pension system, and personnel system. The communication stated SAIC’s notice of dismissal of Gerard Denault, the senior projects manager of Citytime.
The SAIC found that Mr. Denault violated company policies in relation to timekeeping practices within the project. For instance, he routinely billed hours to Citytime that he did not work.
“With the dismissal of Mr. Denault, we come to see that the greed that led to the 2010 Citytime fraud was not just the work of a handful of contractors, but the unfortunate result of a system that is poorly-managed and ill-supervised,” said Council Member James. “This project is a thief’s buffet. How much more evidence must we uncover before we put Citytime to rest, and take a long look at the way we handle private contracts throughout this City?”
Council Member James has been a longtime opponent of the Citytime project, spanning her tenure as Chair of the Council’s Contracts Committee, where she held two hearings on the project in 2008 and 2009. In 2010, she applauded Comptroller Liu on standing firm on his commitment to enact oversight to Citytime— giving SAIC a June 2011 deadline to complete long-delayed work, and ceasing further development of the project. Following the $80M embezzlement of City funds by Citytime contractors, Council Member James joined many of her colleagues in calling for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) to cancel their existing contracts with SAIC until further review of Citytime’s timekeeping practices, management errors resulting in erroneous overtime payments, and exuberant project funding requests.
In light of Mr. Denault’s dismissal, SAIC has committed to refund $2,470,522, the amount he billed to the City. Furthermore, Comptroller Liu has called on the Department of Investigation to conduct a comprehensive review of other possible violations by SAIC.
Official Testimony to DC37 on 05/26/2011
“I thank you for the opportunity to submit testimony regarding the NYC Health and Hospitals Corporation (HHC) Finance Committee Action on Contract with Consortium Sodexo, Unitex, and Nextra (“Sodexo”) to Operate Brooklyn Central Laundry.
I was dismayed to learn that the HHC’s Finance Committee voted on May 10, 2011 to recommend to the Board of Directors to vote to award a contract to Sodexo, a global food and facilities management corporation. This contract would result in the elimination of over 180 union-represented positions at the Brooklyn Central Laundry and in linen units in HHC facilities.
Today, I join many other elected officials, as well as District Council 37 (DC37), in urging the HHC Board of Directors to postpone this vote, and take the time to review DC37’s counter proposal.
My understanding is that Sodexo, based in France, has engaged in unfair labor practices in the past. In fact, the U.S. Marine Corps cancelled part of their catering contract with Sodexo in February 2011. The contract— originally worth $150M per year over an eight year period, totaling $1.2B— was cut after negative publicity from the U.S. Service Employees International Union (SEIU) in regards to union bashing and poor working conditions.
The Defense Contract Audit Agency (DCAA), which provides audits and financial advice regarding Defense Department contracts, generated over 80 audit reports for Sodexo's contracts, but the Marine Corps redacted virtually all useful information— including very basic information such as how much they paid to Sodexo each quarter to perform the contract.
It is questionable that the HHC would be so eager to contract with Sodexo considering a spotty record on contractual matters and workers-rights. Furthermore, it is my understanding that Sodexo plans to move many of these existing positions to Rochester, which would mean a loss of jobs for City employees.
For these reasons, I urge further review and consultation regarding this contracts, specifically in relation to the economic impact in Central Brooklyn due any potential loss of jobs."
Member of the City Council
MAY 26, 2011
Contact Amyre Loomis at (718) 260-9191, (646) 201-8183
THE VICTIM IS A VICTIM AGAIN: COUNCIL MEMBER JAMES IS OUTRAGED THAT TWO NYPD OFFICERS ARE ACQUITTED OF RAPING DRUNKEN WOMAN HELPED INSIDE APARTMENT BY OFFICERS WHILE ON PATROL; IT’S A BETRAYAL OF PUBLIC TRUST
The jury convicted both officers of official misconduct for entering the woman’s apartment, but found them not guilty of other charges including falsifying business records and burglary
“I am outraged that this victim is a victim again, and that a woman’s credibility is in question again. How could this happen? Two police officers are called to help a drunken woman get out of a taxi, and then the young woman is awakened by being raped in her apartment by one of the officers?
This victim behaved responsibly in many ways - while out celebrating her impending promotion she took a taxi home, and also accepted help from law enforcement into her apartment. The public trusts the NYPD, and believes they will always protect them. But, on this night a perverse abuse of power and police misconduct ensued. It is unconscionable that these two police officers, who had been called to help a defenseless woman, had instead left her violated and in her own vomit, as she tragically testified.
The victim’s testimony is compelling: according to newspaper reports, the woman heard police radios and Velcro before being penetrated as she lay face down unable to resist. Also, the officers were captured on surveillance cameras re-entering the woman’s East Village building three times, and have no explanation for it. (None of the additional visits to the apartment were reported to superiors.) The officers both admitted to violating their duties on that night, including Officer Moreno’s testimony that he held the drunken woman in her bed while she only wore a bra, which is a clear violation of his duties.
Also, in a recorded conversation with the woman, Officer Moreno told the woman that he had worn a condom. What more proof of rape is required I ask? A sober police officer having sexual relations with someone fading in and out of consciousness is clearly sexual predatory behavior. It’s reported that Officers Franklin Mata and Kenneth Moreno look stunned after hearing the verdict, and for good reason. The officers acknowledged a number of missteps including Moreno making a fake 911 call – obviously as an attempt to cover tracks.
Besides the rape acquittal, the officers were acquitted of falsifying business records and burglary, including three counts of second-degree burglary for taking the victim’s keys and returning to her apartment. Only the misdemeanor charges of official misconduct garnered a conviction. I ask, were these officers given a ‘pass’ because they work for the NYPD? Women and victim’s rights advocates across the City are coming together now to ensure justice prevails, for this victim and for all who have experienced sexual abuse and rape. Also, in light of the misconduct conviction, termination of these NYPD officers is necessary.”
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
"As you likely already know, the Brooklyn Public Library (BPL) faces a $25.2M reduction in City funding that would result in the closure of libraries, and a drastic reduction in hours of service across the borough. Similarly, the New York Public Library (NYPL) faces a $39.8M reduction— which puts at-risk an estimated 12 NYPL locations, would limit service to 4-days-per-week, eliminate 687 positions, and reduce by 14,200 various career-counseling classes.
Public libraries provide a vital community resource that offer many New Yorkers the only career and research services they readily have access to. As the City Council faces harsh budget cuts this fiscal year, it is imperative that we as a body advocate for the restoration of funds to our public libraries. The New York City Council has a record of support for public institutions, and I will continue to do my part to back the continued support of the Brooklyn Public Library and the New York Public Library."
Member of the City Council
CM James, Elected Officials Travel to Albany To Lobby Legislators on Strengthening, Extending Rent Laws
MAY 23, 2011
Contact Amyre Loomis at (718) 260-9191
Council Member James and Colleagues Travel to Albany Tuesday to Lobby Legislators on Strengthening and Extending Rent Laws: Tent Cities Also Setting Up Across New York to Show What NYC Will Be Like Without Stronger Rent Laws
Tenants Calling on Governor Cuomo and State Legislature to Take Action
(Brooklyn, NY) – “I stand with renters, housing advocates and colleagues in a unified front to protect rent stabilization laws; they must be preserved this year and each year…for the future of every resident in New York State,” said Council Member James as she and others prepare to visit Albany, as well as support tent cities planned for this week and next.
With the deadline to strengthen rent laws just three weeks away, tenants and advocates from across New York City are organizing a series of tent cities across New York to show what the City will be like if laws are not renewed and strengthened.
The tent cities are meant to clearly show what will happen if the Governor and Legislature fail to renew and strengthen these laws by repealing of vacancy destabilization. Tenants will be demonstrating how New York City could become “Cuomoville,” if the Governor does not make the strengthening of the rent laws a clear priority. Some 2.5 million tenants in New York City and the surrounding suburbs depend on these laws to prevent unfair rent increases and unlawful evictions. If laws are not renewed and strengthened, many tenants will be put out on the streets.
Tent City Schedule
Tuesday May 24, Brooklyn
Where: The plaza at Brooklyn Borough Hall (2, 3, 4, 5 to Borough Hall A, C, F, N, R to Jay St. – MetroTech)
When: Press conference at noon, vigil from 7 to 9 PM, and Tent City campout all night
For more info: firstname.lastname@example.org
Thursday May 26, Queens
Where: St. Mary Help of Christians Church, 70-31 48th Ave. (at 72nd St.), Woodside (E, F, M, R to Jackson)
When: Press conference 11 AM, 6-8 PM cultural events, Tent City vigil 8 PM
For more info: email@example.com
Tuesday May 31, Manhattan
Where: Holy Apostle Church, W. 28th St. & 9th Ave, Chelsea (1 to 28th St at 7th Ave.), (A, C, E to 34th St. at 8th Ave.)
When: Tent City gathering at 10 AM Tuesday, campout all night
For more info: firstname.lastname@example.org
Wednesday June 1, City Hall
Where: Gather at Broadway and E. 10th St., march to City Hall
When: March starts at 8pm, Tent City gathering to begin at 9 PM
For more info: www.blessednightout.org
Thursday June 2, Washington Heights
Where: Ft. Washington Collegiate Church, 181st St at Ft. Wash. Avenue (A to 181st Street)
When: Tent City gathering begins at 10 AM
For more info: email@example.com
For additional information please call: Mary Tek, Rent Regulation Organizer, Tenants & Neighbors, (212) 608-4320 x 316.
"The City is currently facing a $35.4M cut to Citywide Cultural Institution Groups (CIGs), which constitutes a 50% reduction in operating support, a loss of nearly 1,000 jobs, and cuts in services to school children.
CIGs are 33 cultural institutions located on City-owned property, which receive significant public capital and operating support to help meet basic security, maintenance, administration and energy costs. In return for this support, these institutions- which include zoos, museums, and historical societies throughout the five boroughs- operate as publicly-owned facilities whose mandate is to provide cultural services accessible to all New Yorker.
More than 9,000 CIG employees live and work in New York City. In 2010, CIGs contracted with more than 12,000 NYC vendors and contributed more than $500M to the local economy. CIGs like the American Museum of Natural History, the Brooklyn Academy of Music, the New York City Ballet, the Bronx Zoo, and New York City Center are vital cultural attractions that bring millions of dollars in tourist spending to New York City.
I am committed to advocating for the restoration of funds to all CIGs, which provide an important cultural service to the citizens and visitors of New York City."
Member of the City Council
Yesterday, the City law banning smoking within New York City’s parks, beaches, and pedestrian plazas goes into effect. Please be aware that smoking is now prohibited on Parks Department property.
Smoking will still be allowed on sidewalks outside parks, including the sidewalks that form the perimeter of parks, and in the parking lots of all Parks Department properties. The department expects that the new law will be enforced mostly by New Yorkers themselves, who will ask people to follow the law and stop smoking. However, those who violate the new law could receive a $50 ticket.
If you have any further questions, you are encouraged to contact the Parks Department at (212) 360-3484.
Monday, May 23, 2011
All you need to do is print out the card (or card code), and use at participating pharmacies!
Thursday, May 19, 2011
**FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE**
May 18, 2011
Contact Amyre Loomis at (718) 260-9191, (646) 201-8183
THIS SATURDAY: PLEASE JOIN RELATIVES; NEIGHBORS; FRIENDS; LOCAL LEADERS; BROOKLYN BOROUGH PRESIDENT MARTY MARKOWITZ; NYC COUNCIL MEMBER LETITIA JAMES; BROOKLYN STEPPERS MARCHING BAND; NOEL POINTER FOUNDATION(CHILDREN MUSICIANS); AND THE COMMUNITY TO HONOR GUS VLAHAVAS OWNER OF TOM’S RESTAURANT ON HIS RETIREMENT – MAY 21 AT 10:30AM - CORNER OF WASHINGTON AVENUE AND STERLING PLACE
Facts: Constantine (Gus) Vlahavas …is 72 years old, and married
to Nonie Vlahavas. The son of Stella and Tom, the family lives on Sterling Place adjacent to their business Tom’s Restaurant. Gus is a neighborhood legend (as is Tom’s Restaurant), as well as a dedicated member of two church choirs.
The Restaurant: Tom’s is located at 782 Washington Avenue on the corner of Sterling Place. It was started in 1936 as Lewnes, an ice cream parlor, and taken over by Vlahavas family during the 1940s. The restaurant soon evolved into a luncheonette and was renamed Tom’s in 1945 when Gus’ father,
Tom came home safely from Philippines in WWII.
he Feel and Décor:
The enue is quintessential Americana style with Coca Cola signs and stained -glass windows. Also, during the 1968 Crown Heights riots both black and white customers protected the restaurant from looters, who destroyed other businesses in their neighborhood. FYI - Tom’s restaurant is not the inspiration of Suzanne Vega’s “Tom’s Diner” song, but IS the inspiration for the Greek diner in Jeffrey Eugenides’ novel Middlesex. Also, Tom’s is known for Lime Rickey and Perfect Egg Cream, along with its Belgian Waffle Sundae.
Who: Fans and Friends of Gus Vlahavas
What: Celebration and ceremony for Gus’ retirement and move to Colorado
When: Saturday, May 21, beginning at 10:30am (ceremony at 11am, party until 1:30pm)
Where: 782 Washington Avenue (corner of Sterling Place) in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, (718) 636-9738; Transit - 2, 3, 4 trains to Eastern Parkway - Brooklyn Museum (0.2 mi S)
Thursday, May 12, 2011
SYEP is open to all youth residing in New York City ages 14 to 24.
The portal to complete the application process can be accessed here: https://application.nycsyep.com/, or through the Office of Council Member Letitia James (email firstname.lastname@example.org)
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
On May 9, 2011, Council Member Letitia James and Brooklyn Community Board 2 held a public forum on a proposed Lafayette Avenue Loading Zone, to facilitate unloading and loading by vendors at the Brooklyn Flea market, located behind Bishop Loughlin Memorial High School.
Our office is still collecting comments for this proposal. Please direct them to Alfred Chiodo at email@example.com or (718) 260-9191.
Metrotech Board Votes on Management Agreement with DBP; Bookkeeping Issues Outlined in Comptroller Audit Report
May 9, 2011
Contact Amyre Loomis at (718) 260-9191, (646) 201-8183
MetroTech Board Votes on Management Agreement with DBP - Despite City’s Uncovering of Bookkeeping Issues in recent Audit Report on Downtown Brooklyn Partnership’s Financial and Operating Practices
(Brooklyn, NY) - The text below is from an audit of the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership (DBP) that was posted today by the Office of the New York City Comptroller. This report is issued on the heels of Forest City Ratner having received the 51% Board support (last Friday) required to call a special session of the MetroTech Board, which is scheduled for tomorrow morning. The special session will consider adoption of the MetroTech BID budget for Fiscal Year 2012, as well as the MTBID entering into a management agreement with the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership, Inc.
“Ironically, the NYC Comptroller’s audit of DBP reveals that the Partnership has poor bookkeeping (including timekeeping and tracking of private contributions) and some procurement issues, which leads one to ask why would the MetroTech Board vote to give DBP more responsibility, if the organization already has problems (outlined below) managing the Court-Livingston and Fulton Mall BIDs? It is my hope that MetroTech Board members are fully aware of the NYC Comptroller’s audit findings before their meeting,” said Council Member James.
Audit Report: http://www.comptroller.nyc.gov/bureaus/audit/audits_2011/05-09-11_FN11-068A.shtm
Audit Findings and Conclusions:
Our review found that DBP lacks adequate controls to substantiate its payments to salaried employees. Specifically, our audit noted that DBP did not properly administer its employees’ work hours and leave records. Additionally, DBP does not have proper procedures and records to support the private contributions it receives. Without adequate procedures for the solicitation and collection of these funds, DBP cannot accurately determine its total amount of contributions. This ultimately affects the City’s ability to determine the appropriate amount of contract funds it awards to DBP. DBP also did not always comply with the procurement and reporting requirements of its City contract.
Based on our findings, we recommend that DBP:
§ Ensure the timekeeping system reflects employees’ work hours and time and attendance records to ensure effective tracking of employees’ absences.
§ Develop and maintain a list of private contributors and establish procedures to properly support and account for revenue from private contributions.
§ Adhere to the procurement requirements outlined in Section 6.02 of the contract.
§ Submit timely programmatic and financial reports to the Deputy Mayor’s Office in accordance with its contract with the City.
Thursday, May 5, 2011
Tuesday, May 10: Boys & Girls High School, 1700 Fulton Street
Thursday, May 26: Brooklyn High School of the Arts, 345 Dean Street
All sessions will take place from 6:00 – 8:00pm
If students or families have any specific questions, they can also talk to their school guidance counselors, call the Office of Student Enrollment at 718-935-2399, or visit the DOE website at http://schools.nyc.gov/ChoicesEnrollment/High/default.htm.
Wednesday, May 4, 2011
Teenage girls aged 12-17 are encouraged to apply. The application deadline is June 18, 2011. The application is available here: http://blackgirlsrockinc.com/live/sites/default/files/Summer%20Camp%20Application.pdf
For more information, you can contact the organization at 718-789-ROCK (7625).
The Department of Transportation will install "No Standing Anytime" signs at Schenectady Avenue and Lincoln Place in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, following a department analysis.
MAY 4, 2011
Contact Amyre Loomis at (718) 260-9191
COUNCIL MEMBER LETITIA JAMES CALLS ON HOME HEALTH AGENCIES TO IMMEDIATELY RESTORE SERVICES TO THE ELDERLY AND DISABLED
Many have lost home care due to arbitrary, illegal decisions and are currently at grave risk
(Brooklyn, NY) Last month, the way Certified Home Health Agencies (CHHAs) are reimbursed by Medicaid was changed. In response, CHHAs have illegally reduced the services they provide. In some cases they have stopped providing care altogether.
Regarding this sad situation, Council Member James stated, “Can you imagine being a 90-year old person, living alone, and having no one to care for you? People who had been receiving 24-hour care for years are suddenly receiving only 12 hours of care, or worse. I am appalled that this is happening in a country that prides itself on taking care of our own.”
James continued, “New York Legal Assistance Group filed a lawsuit recently, and I trust the courts will ultimately put an end to this terrible mistake. But until that happens, dozens of disabled and elderly people are in grave danger. I urge the CHHAs to immediately restore all services to those affected by their recent, arbitrary decisions. Our most vulnerable should not suffer because of greedy corporations trying to pinch pennies.”
NYLAG's press release is attached and includes stories of those actually affected by these changes, including a 90-year old holocaust survivor whose care was terminated with no notice, as well as an 87-year old with severe dementia whose care was cut in half, also without notice.
The Office of Council Member Letitia James is looking for summer interns. Please note this is an unpaid summer internship but applicants will have invaluable experience for future careers in social advocacy, political affairs, and community activism. Interns should be motivated and have a passion for public service. The ideal candidate must possess outstanding organizing skills, the ability to gather data, as well as communicate and listen to constituent needs.
• You will be assigned to a specific project developing from areas such as Housing Development, Homeless Issues, Environmental Issues, Public Health, Education and After-School Programs as well as other needs.
• You will be required to work outside of out of the office at least three days per week.
All interested parties should email cover letter and resume to Ms. G. Davis-Elliott, Chief of Staff at firstname.lastname@example.org
Tuesday, May 3, 2011
Let’s Talk Lien Selling:
A lien sale is when the City sells debt to a private collector (known as a lien holder) who assumes the right to collect the debt, and move to foreclosure if owner remains in arrears. In a lien, the lienholder assumes the debt, not property. The lien sale is the City’s primary enforcement tool to collect delinquent debt owed by property owners
Property Tax Debt:
You are at risk if you own— a 1-3 unit residence, a condo/co-op, a small business with 1-2 residences, or vacant land zoned for residential use
-any of the above categories with minimum $1,000 in property taxes for 3+ years
You are at risk if you own— a 4+ units
-the above category with minimum $1,000 in property taxes for 1+ years
You are at risk if you own— a Tax Class 1 property other than a single-family residence
-the above category with minimum $2,000 in debt for 1+ years
You are at risk if you own— a Tax Class 2 multi-family home, a commercial property
-the above categories with minimum $1,000 in debt for 1+ years
Emergency Repair/ Alternative Enforcement Program:
You are at risk if you own— any property other than a 1-3 family residence
-the above category with minimum $1,000 in debt for 1+ years
All 1-3 unit properties will be excluded from the lien sale with the exception of non-owner-occupied 3-unit buildings in the Alternative Enforcement Program.
Property tax liens will NOT be sold on 1-3 family homes with the Veteran or Active Military Personnel Exemption; Senior Citizen Homeowner Exemption; Disabled Homeowner Exemption; or the Real Property Circuit Breaker Personal Income Tax Credit (PIT) for 2010.
Stats on At-Risk Properties:
-Total Eligible CityWide- 25, 937 (Brooklyn- 11,375)
May 2- 90-Day Publication
May 3- 90-Day Mailing
June 1- 60-Day Mailing
July 1- 30-Day Mailing
July 22- 10-Day Publication & Mailing
August 1- Last Day to Pay
Customers can call 311 for questions related to the lien sale.
To be removed from the lien sale list, customers must either pay in full or enter into a payment agreement.
Department of Finance- for property and ERP/AEP debt
For general lien sale inquiries:
Department of Environmental Protection- for water and sewer debt
For general lien sale inquiries:
Housing Preservation and Development- for ERP/AEP debt
For general lien sale inquiries:
Outreach sessions will be held in each borough from 5PM- 7PM.
Brooklyn’s session is—
July 28, 2011
Brooklyn Finance Business Center
210 Joralemon Street, 1st Floor
Please call Finance's Outreach Unit at 212-669-8745 for more information.
Monday, May 2, 2011
The National Guard Bureau, in alliance with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New York District, is complying with all Federal regulations pertaining to the transfer of the Admiral's Row section of the former Brooklyn Navy Yard. Located in the Fort Greene/ Greenpoint section of Brooklyn, New York, Admiral's Row will be transferred from the Federal Government's ownership to the City of New York as per Public Law 100-202.
The Environmental Assessment (EA) provides detailed analysis of two proposed alternatives for transferring the 6.07 acre property from Army ownership and control. The EA will be available for public review and comment from April 24, 2011 to May 10, 2011 both electronically and at select Brooklyn Public library locations.
The electronic version may be viewed here: http://www.nan.usace.army.mil/business/buslinks/admiral/pdf/DraftEA21Apr11.pdf
Additionally, the National Guard Bureau will host a public review and comment meeting on May 4, 2011 at—
Brooklyn Borough Hall
209 Joralemon Street
Brooklyn, NY 11209
5:00PM- 8:00 PM
Please contact the Office of Council Member Letitia James for more information at 212-788-7081.