Tuesday, August 20, 2013

CM James Urges NYS To Reject DOE Request to Waive Minimum Requirements

AUGUST 19, 2013

Contact: Barbara Sherman (212) 788-7081

Council Member Letitia James Urges New York State To Reject DOE Request to Waive Minimum Requirements
Renews Call for DOE to Meet New York State Standards Requiring Librarians In Public Schools

(New York, NY)— In May 2013, following a City Council Committee on Education hearing, Council Member Letitia James called on the New York City Department of Education (DOE) to reach compliance with New York State regarding the number of librarians in public schools. According to data provided by the DOE, there were only 306 librarians employed by the agency citywide at the time. The breakdown included 33 librarians placed in elementary schools, 95 in middle schools, and 178 librarians in public high schools.

Last week, the DOE asked for New York State to grant them a waiver so schools are no longer required to have librarians. Already, more than half of the City’s high schools are in violation of State regulations that requires a specific number of librarians in schools, and the quantity of librarians in our schools have been in a steady decline.

“We cannot lose our school librarians, who are so instrumental to our children’s education and their future success,” said Council Member Letitia James. “College-preparation and career-readiness will be more difficult for students who do not have access to school libraries that teach them invaluable research skills. In light of the DOE’s recent standardized test scores, it would seem the department would work harder to meet this basic standard for student achievement.”

For the Department of Education to be in compliance with State regulations, the DOE would have to hire approximately 280 librarians for placement in middle and high schools at a cost of $24 million. According to the administration’s FY14 Budget, library services for public schools remain flat, while charter school funding will increase by approximately $70 million for the fiscal year.


Monday, August 12, 2013

CM Letitia James: “Today’s ruling reflects the urgency many of us feel about reforming stop and frisk”

AUGUST 12, 2013

Contact: Aja Worthy-Davis (212) 788-7081

Council Member Letitia James: “Today’s ruling reflects the urgency many of us feel about reforming stop and frisk” 
Federal Judge Rules Stop and Frisk Violated Constitutional Rights of Thousands of New Yorkers

(New York, NY)— Today, Manhattan Federal District Court Judge Shira A. Scheindlin ruled in Floyd vs. the City of New York that the New York City Police Department (NYPD) stop-and-frisk policy violated the constitutional rights of tens of thousands of New Yorkers.

In the decision, Judge Scheindlin recognized that police officers have systematically stopped people without any objective reason to suspect them of criminal behavior, and thus violation individual’s Fourth Amendment rights.

In January 2013, Judge Scheindlin ruled that the NYPD’s policy of stopping individuals suspected of trespassing outside private buildings in the Bronx was also unconstitutional. This was a practice common in private residences participating in the Trespass Affidavit Program (TAP). Judge Scheindlin ruled in Ligon vs. the City of New York that reasonable suspicion of trespassing was necessary for such arrests, while acknowledging that the department must determine where to draw the line between justified and unjustified stops. The court ruled that the NYPD must create a formal policy ‘specifying the limited circumstances in which it is legally permissible to stop a person outside a TAP building on a suspicion of trespass’.

Similarly, in today’s ruling, Judge Scheindlin called for a federal monitor to oversee departmental reforms, and stated her intention to assign an independent attorney to monitor the NYPD’s compliance with the Constitution moving forward.

“Today’s ruling reflects the urgency many of us feel about reforming stop and frisk in New York, and preserving the liberties of Black and Latino youth throughout this City,” said Council Member Letitia James. “It is imperative that the administration and the police department move to make transparent the rationale for street stops, as well as define long-used terms such as ‘furtive movements’. I hope that following these federal rulings, the administration moves towards making the necessary changes to facilitate a healthier relationship with minority communities.”


New York Political Advisor Bill Lynch Passes

AUGUST 12, 2013

Contact: Aja Worthy-Davis (212) 788-7081

New York Political Advisor Bill Lynch Passes 
William Lynch Served As Deputy Mayor Under Dinkins Administration, Later Founded New York’s Premier African-American Owned Consulting Firm

(New York, NY)— “I am deeply saddened by the passing of Bill Lynch, one of New York City’s most active and well-regarded public affairs experts, and a brilliant political mind.”

“Throughout the 1990’s, Mr. Lynch was known as a tireless public servant. As Deputy Mayor of the City of New York, and later as a political advisor, he remained an influential figure and voice for multi-ethnic community and coalition-building. Since establishing his firm, Mr. Lynch served as an advisor to countless elected officials, building Bill Lynch Associates LLC into a respected and successful consulting firm.”

“Straight-forward and focused, Mr. Lynch was often called “the rumpled genius” for his unassuming manner and political expertise. I extend my condolences to his wife Mary, and two children, William Lynch III and Stacy.”


Tuesday, August 6, 2013

CM James Comments On Court Decision Regarding Council’s Prevailing Wage Bill

**For Immediate Release**
August 6, 2013

Contact: Aja Worthy-Davis (212) 788-7081

Council Member James Comments On Court Decision Regarding Council’s Prevailing Wage Bill
Manhattan Supreme Court Struck Down Bill Citing NYS Minimum Wage Conflict

(New York, NY)— On August 5, 2013, Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Geoffrey Wright struck down prevailing wage legislation passed in the New York City Council was, finding it to contradict New York State minimum wage laws.

The prevailing wage legislation, initially approved by the Council in April 2012, would require recipients of major city subsidies to pay building service workers a prevailing wage, which will be set by the New York City Comptroller.

Currently, prevailing wages are set by the Comptroller for work on public projects, though the wages differ by occupation and are meant to reflect current union rates.

“I renew my support for the prevailing wage legislation, and join my colleagues in the fight for higher union-level wages for workers in buildings where the City is the major leaseholder,” said Council Member Letitia James. “In his decision Justice Wright recognized that—contrary to arguments from the administration— this legislation is beneficial to many of the City’s service workers and good for our local economy.”

On May 15, 2012, the City Council voted to override Mayor Bloomberg’s veto of the prevailing wage legislation.