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Jan 8

Yellow Bus Service Strike

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As you may know, there is a possibility of a yellow school bus driver strike in New York City. While we are hopeful that New York City students are unaffected, if the strike occurs, it is essential that all students currently using yellow bus service have alternative transportation to and from school. 

Below is information that we have received from the DOE about what to do in the event of a bus driver strike.  Please contact your local school, 311 or the Office of Pupil Transportation at (718) 392-8855 for more information. 

MetroCards

  • All students who currently receive yellow bus service may receive a MetroCard. These MetroCards are being made available at your local school and should be requested through each school’s general office. 
  • Parents of pre-school and school-age children with an Individual Education Plan (IEP) requiring transportation from their home directly to their school as well as parents of general education children in grades K-2 may also request a MetroCard for the parent or guardian to act as the child’s escort to school. 

Transportation Reimbursement

  • The DOE is offering reimbursement for actual transportation costs (subject to DOE guidelines) for students in grades K-6 who receive yellow bus service from home or a school bus stop and live in areas where public transportation is not readily available.
  • Parents who drive their children to school will be reimbursed are a rate of 55 cents per mile. 
  • Parents who use a taxi or car service to transport their child to school will be reimbursed for the trip upon completion of reimbursement forms that includes a receipt for provided services. 
  • Requests for reimbursements should be made weekly on forms that will be made available on the DOE website and in each school’s general office. 

Home School

  • In the unfortunate event that students cannot get to school, the DOE will be posting materials online for every grade and core subject so that students can continue their learning at home during the strike.

Again, for additional information about what to do in the event of a bus driver strike, please call your school, 311 or the Office of Pupil Transportation at (718) 392-8855. 

And if you have any other questions or concerns regarding your child’s education, please don’t hesitate to contact Nick Rolf in Speaker Quinn’s office.  He can be reached by telephone at (212) 442-5765 or by email at nrolf@council.nyc.gov.  

Oct 3

Reading Incy Wincy Spider to incy wincy kindergartners at PS 111 in Long Island City, Queens.  

Published this oped earlier today in the Huffington Post.  It’s time to take a stand against homelessness.

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Record homelessness calls for new approach

Imagine a child waking up each morning not knowing if he or she will have a place to sleep that night. Bouncing in and out of shelters, taking refuge in the crowded apartments of friends and relatives, staying on couches and floors. Imagine trying to keep up with schoolwork, or maintain any semblance of a stable life. For thousands of New York City’s most vulnerable children that nightmare is all too real.

Last week, the Coalition for the Homeless released its annual State of the Homeless report, and the results are shocking. Homelessness in New York City is the highest it’s been since the Great Depression, with over 43,000 New Yorkers sleeping in shelters each night, including 10,000 families and a record 17,000 children. This is simply unacceptable in the wealthiest city in the world, and we can and must do better. The New York City Council has proposed a fiscally responsible plan that would move many of these New Yorkers to permanent homes, and it must become a reality.

According to the City’s own data, overall homelessness increased 8 percent since last year and this is not an isolated event - the numbers have been consistently breaking records in each of the past several years. Over the past decade the homeless shelter population is up 39%, with an alarming 49% increase in family homelessness and a 32% increase in children in shelters. And now, when a family becomes homeless it takes longer for them to get back on their feet: The average family stays in shelter nearly one year, which is 27% longer than just a year ago.

Perhaps the most troubling part of this crisis is that it could have been avoided. While the recent economic downturn has played a part in this spike, the biggest factor contributing to the skyrocketing shelter population is that, for the first time in more than three decades, New York City has no long-term housing plan to help families and children escape homelessness.

Mayors Koch, Dinkins and Giuliani all shared a similar approach that allocated a modest share of federal public housing apartments and rental vouchers to help re-locate homeless families from the shelter system into the permanent, affordable housing they needed to get back on their feet. The Bloomberg administration continued this policy early on, but beginning in 2005, vacancies and vouchers once reserved for homeless families were given to others deemed more needy by City Hall.

Today, it’s clear that policy shift has been a mistake. Despite record homelessness, , the City used federal housing aid to assist only 202 homeless families last year, down from thousands of families helped per year under previous administrations, Republican and Democratic alike

This is not the New York City that we know and love. Instead of helping to stabilize these children and giving them a chance to succeed, we’re shuttling them into a shelter system that has become an unforgiving dead end. If these kids are going to have a fighting chance, we need to get their families back on the path to stable housing.

In a first step towards reversing the disastrous rise in homelessness, the City Council has outlined a plan to provide our neighbors who are struggling with the basic housing assistance they need to leave the shelter system for good. That means returning to the proven strategy of setting aside a reasonable share of open slots in public housing and marshaling valuable federal housing vouchers for those trapped in the shelter system. In addition, a new rental assistance program, modeled on the successful federal voucher program, must be created.

If enacted, this plan would provide critical help to thousands of homeless children and families each year. This is without a doubt the morally right thing to do. But here is a rare case where the right thing is also the most fiscally responsible. Taxpayers are on the hook for a whopping $36,000 a year to shelter a homeless family; the average cost of a housing voucher for the same family is $10,000.

Enacting the City Council plan would, for the first time in nearly a decade, begin to give hope to our homeless neighbors. With a rising numbers of families and children immobilized in shelters, the future of our city depends on it.

Had a great time at the NYC Council Pride event!  For those of you who missed it, here is Whoopi Goldberg’s amazing speech.

The 2012 Puerto Rican Day Parade was exciting and it made me happy just to be there. It was great to see the enthusiasm and energy for a community that has added so much to the rich culture of New York City.
 
Viva Puerto Rico!

The 2012 Puerto Rican Day Parade was exciting and it made me happy just to be there. It was great to see the enthusiasm and energy for a community that has added so much to the rich culture of New York City.

 

Viva Puerto Rico!

Jun 4

Speaker Quinn and Council Members march in the 2012 Queens Pride Parade 

Photo Credit to William Alatriste, New York City Council

Gave Baruch College’s commencement speech this morning and I just wanted to take a minute to congratulate all of the 2012 graduates.  All of your hard work has finally paid off!
Here’s an excerpt from my speech:
"You’re going to leave here today, and some of you will go straight into the workforce.  Some of you will go on to get a master’s degree or a doctorate.  
And whatever your path, whatever you choose, you’re going to meet a lot of people—and God knows why, but these people are going to love to tell you all of the things they think you can’t do, and all of the reasons they think you can’t do them.  
Seven years ago, when I was running for Speaker, every day someone would approach me and tell me that I didn’t have a chance, that my colleagues would never vote for me.  
They said I couldn’t win because I was a woman.  Because I was a liberal.  I was from the west side of Manhattan.  I was a lesbian.  All things I was completely unaware of, by the way.
But I decided that I wasn’t going to listen to these naysayers.  Instead, I chose to let my colleagues speak for themselves, to let them decide if they would or would not vote for me.  And in the end, I was elected overwhelmingly.   
In your lives you’ll have many moments like that.  Moments when all the self-appointed experts are telling you you can’t win, you can’t succeed, you shouldn’t even try.  Don’t listen to them.  
Don’t waste one single minute of your time listening to them.  Instead let the people who matter speak for themselves.  
Let employers decide if you’re right for the job.  Let schools decide if they want you as a student.  Let customers decide if you have what it takes to run a successful business.
Don’t listen to those who love to say no.  Listen to the people in this room.  Your friends, your family, your mentors.  
All those who believed you could reach this point, and all of us who believe in your limitless potential to accomplish great things and help make our city even stronger.  Listen to those voices, have faith in yourselves, and never be afraid to try.”

Gave Baruch College’s commencement speech this morning and I just wanted to take a minute to congratulate all of the 2012 graduates.  All of your hard work has finally paid off!

Here’s an excerpt from my speech:

"You’re going to leave here today, and some of you will go straight into the workforce.  Some of you will go on to get a master’s degree or a doctorate. 

And whatever your path, whatever you choose, you’re going to meet a lot of people—and God knows why, but these people are going to love to tell you all of the things they think you can’t do, and all of the reasons they think you can’t do them. 

Seven years ago, when I was running for Speaker, every day someone would approach me and tell me that I didn’t have a chance, that my colleagues would never vote for me. 

They said I couldn’t win because I was a woman.  Because I was a liberal.  I was from the west side of Manhattan.  I was a lesbian.  All things I was completely unaware of, by the way.

But I decided that I wasn’t going to listen to these naysayers.  Instead, I chose to let my colleagues speak for themselves, to let them decide if they would or would not vote for me.  And in the end, I was elected overwhelmingly.  

In your lives you’ll have many moments like that.  Moments when all the self-appointed experts are telling you you can’t win, you can’t succeed, you shouldn’t even try.  Don’t listen to them. 

Don’t waste one single minute of your time listening to them.  Instead let the people who matter speak for themselves. 

Let employers decide if you’re right for the job.  Let schools decide if they want you as a student.  Let customers decide if you have what it takes to run a successful business.

Don’t listen to those who love to say no.  Listen to the people in this room.  Your friends, your family, your mentors. 

All those who believed you could reach this point, and all of us who believe in your limitless potential to accomplish great things and help make our city even stronger.  Listen to those voices, have faith in yourselves, and never be afraid to try.”

Thanks to everyone for the well wishes on our special day.  Your support means the world to us.

Thanks to everyone for the well wishes on our special day.  Your support means the world to us.

New Stop and Risk Reforms Implemented by Commissioner Kelly
In response to my letter and calls from others seeking reforms to stop and frisk procedures, Commissioner Kelly announced today that changes will be made to ensure increased officer transparency, supervision, and accountability. These improvements will reduce the number of stops and bridge the gap between the NYPD and the communities they serve.    
Specifically, the new reforms include holding Executive Officers of each precinct personally responsible for monitoring stop and frisk practices, and maintaining accountability of the Precinct Commander at weekly Comstat meetings.  The NYPD will also develop an early warning system to identify officers who have received public complaints and are in in need of additional training.  Furthermore, the Department will reform its training and republish the order that prohibits racial profiling
These changes will help improve public safety and strengthen communities’ relationship with the NYPD.
The following link includes Commissioner Kelly’s letter regarding the reforms of stop and frisk.   
http://council.nyc.gov/html/releases/pdfs/stfletter.pdf

New Stop and Risk Reforms Implemented by Commissioner Kelly

In response to my letter and calls from others seeking reforms to stop and frisk procedures, Commissioner Kelly announced today that changes will be made to ensure increased officer transparency, supervision, and accountability. These improvements will reduce the number of stops and bridge the gap between the NYPD and the communities they serve.   

Specifically, the new reforms include holding Executive Officers of each precinct personally responsible for monitoring stop and frisk practices, and maintaining accountability of the Precinct Commander at weekly Comstat meetings.  The NYPD will also develop an early warning system to identify officers who have received public complaints and are in in need of additional training.  Furthermore, the Department will reform its training and republish the order that prohibits racial profiling

These changes will help improve public safety and strengthen communities’ relationship with the NYPD.

The following link includes Commissioner Kelly’s letter regarding the reforms of stop and frisk.   

http://council.nyc.gov/html/releases/pdfs/stfletter.pdf

Stop and frisk is not working

There has been a lot of media attention surrrounding the stop and frisk procedure and unfortunately, the current practice is not working and needs significant reform.  The current rate of stops is unacceptable.  If we do not overhaul this procedure, we will further expand the divide between the NYPD and the communities they serve.

We need immediate changes to monitoring, supervision and accountability of this practice.  If we make these reforms we can reduce the number of stops and keep New York the safest big city in America.