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17 Jul
0

Liz Takes on the Governor on Tenants’ Rights

As she’s always done in the past, Liz continues to fight for tenants’ rights.  While some leaders, including Governor Paterson and Senator Pedro Espada have proposed changes to legislation that they gift-wrap in tenant-friendly packaging, the reality is that these bills will actually hurt rent regulation laws. Tenants’ rights will always be at the forefront of Liz’s agenda.

Read more about the Governor’s proposed changes and Liz Krueger’s reaction.

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16 Jul
0

The Importance of Paper Ballots & Recounts in Elections

The following article was written by Bo Lipari, founder of New Yorkers for Verified Voting (NYVV), a grassroots citizens group working for secure, reliable, accessible, and verifiable standards for voting systems and elections.

PULLING THE LEVER FOR PAPER

The 2010 elections quietly marked a milestone in election technology history. For the first time in over a hundred years, this was the first national election in which mechanical lever machines were not used. Lever machines were at one time so ubiquitous in US culture that the phrase “pull the lever” is still the go-to phrase we use to mean “cast the vote”. Most states made the transition from levers years ago, beginning in the 1980s when the first optical scanners were employed. But in New York State, this election was the first one without levers in a very long time. Fortunately, the new technology the State chose to use is paper ballots and optical scanners,  not paperless electronic voting. And those paper ballots are proving their worth already in several disputed elections around the state.

Media reports of “problems with the new voting systems” really have it the wrong way around. Perhaps it’s because New York isn’t yet used to having an actual paper record of votes, so we don’t yet understand the value of a recount. When outcomes are uncertain or disputed, recounting paper ballots is the best way there is to find out who really won an election. New York’s new ability to count the paper is not a problem, it’s the solution.

Lever machines, and their electronic descendants, paperless touch-screen voting machines, don’t allow recounts. At the end of the day, all you have is a single number for each candidate representing their vote total. On a lever machine, that number is stored on a mechanical counter; on an electronic touch-screen machine, it’s usually stored on a memory card, with a print out of the totals made after poll closing. When levers or touch-screens fail to accurately record votes, and both types of machine do, the reported totals are suspect. However, there is no way to reconstruct the actual votes after the fact. The totals you have are all you’ll ever have, even if they appear almost certainly incorrect. On lever machines, mechanical counters would stick and fail to turn over, a problem which happened much more frequently than most New York voters realized. But when elections held on lever machines were disputed, there was nothing to count but absentee ballots. The totals reported on the lever machine counters were what they were, even when suspect.

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16 Jul
0

State Senate to Hold Subway Hearing

The State Senate will hold a hearing on Second Avenue Subway construction Nov. 30.

Bill Perkins, a Harlem state senator and chair of the committee with jurisdiction over the MTA, wants a forum for affected business owners and residents to voice their concerns about the construction.

“We don’t want to turn a blind eye to one of the most significant developments taking place in Manhattan,” Perkins said. “We just want due diligence in keeping it on track.”

State Sen. Liz Krueger said the “fact-finding” hearing will help prevent future problems as construction continues in the rest of the East Side.

“There are all kinds of things we’re going to be learning from the process in the northern end that hopefully we can come up with mitigation and solutions before we get further south,” Krueger said.

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16 Jul
0

Liz Leads Successful Fight to Allow No Fault Divorce in New York

Finally ending a flawed system which can force couples to place false blame on each other, The New York State Senate has passed No Fault Divorce.  Along with two other bills having to do with matrimonial law, No Fault Divorce was co-sponsored, and fiercely advocated for, by Liz.

Listen to Liz Krueger on The Brian Lehrer show explain No Fault Divorce and other bills included in the Matrimonial Laws Legislative Package.

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16 Jul
0

Paying Up: Why Landlords Get Away With Mounds of Housing Violations

By Richard Nieva

John Gillick is engaged to be married. When asked if he would stay at his apartment in the Flatbush Gardens complex in East Flatbush after the big July wedding, his initial response was a simple laugh.

“This is not the kind of place I’d want to raise a daughter,” he said.

Gillick comes home to his fifth floor apartment, at 1352 New York Ave., only occasionally nowadays. The 29-year-old patent lawyer spends most nights sleeping in his office in downtown Manhattan, relegating his Brooklyn apartment to the realm of storage space.

When he does come home, he enters the building with a magnetic key he must swipe several times before the door opens. The smell of marijuana smoke lingers in the hallway as he gets on the elevator. To get the elevator to work, he must pull the door shut from the inside using plastic ties attached to the window grate. The jutting sound of the elevator cart hitting the plastic ties can be heard as it travels to the fifth floor.

Gillick’s plight—which he insists is tame—is a common one for Brooklyn renters. On a recent watch list of the city’s worst landlords released by the office of the New York City Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, apartment buildings in the borough of Kings appeared 154 times, comprising over 40 percent of the entire list. Buildings owned by Gillick’s own landlord, David Bistricer, appeared 32 times alone.

….As loud as they may be, though, their complaints could be falling on deaf ears.

State Senator Liz Krueger believes the solution is changing the system: setting up administrative tribunals through the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development to issue and enforce fines, instead of requiring lengthy and often toothless housing proceedings….

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15 Jul
0

Michael Bloomberg Endorses State Senator Liz Krueger for Re-election

Liz Krueger for State Senate
For Immediate Release: October 14, 2010
Contact: Patrick Madigan 631-495-4968

Calls her a principled independent voice who fights for New York City

New York – Today, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg endorsed Liz Krueger (D-Manhattan) for reelection to the State Senate. “Liz Krueger is the kind of independent, principled and smart legislator we need working in Albany for New York City,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “Liz has been a leader in the fight for more ethical government and more responsible fiscal policy, and as a constituent, I know how hard she works to address the concerns of residents of the East Side and Midtown Manhattan.”

Mayor Bloomberg stressed Senator Krueger’s independence as a key reason for his support. “Liz really stands out in Albany. She has demonstrated a willingness to put principle above politics and stand up to those she thinks are wrong, even when they are members of her own party,” said Mayor Bloomberg . “Of course we don’t always agree, either –but I know, first-hand, how hard she works to understand the issues we face as a City.

“With all the problems New Yorkers have with Albany, we really need Liz Krueger up there fighting for us. She is the kind of public servant we need more of, and I am proud that she is my State Senator.”

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15 Jul
0

Liz Teams Up with Assembly Member Micah Kellner to Fight for a Governor’s “Questions Hour”

Liz and Assembly Member Micah Z. Kellner have teamed up to push through legislation, which has already passed the Senate, to create a Governor’s Questions Hour, opening up debates over the direction of the State to public scrutiny.  The bill would require the Governor to stand before the Legislature for an hour each month during the legislative session to answer questions from Senators and Assembly Members, in a televised interaction similar to the British tradition of Prime Minister’s Questions.

A Governor’s Questions Hour would help break the logjam in Albany’s political process, giving New Yorkers direct access to the discussions which shape the State’s policies.  By pushing political debates out into the open, it will create a remedy to the backroom dealings and bickering for which New York’s State Government has become notorious.

Read more about the Governor’s Questions Hour legislation.

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14 Jul
0

Advocates to Paterson: Frack You

By Liz Benjamin

Sen. Liz Krueger was joined by fellow anti-hydrofracking advocates – including actor Mark Ruffalo – at a protest earlier today outside Gov. David Paterson’s Manhattan office at which they lamented his veto/executive order combo, saying it “creates an easily exploitable loophole.”

Krueger, an Upper East Side Democrat, said the moratorium bill that Paterson rejected was actually purposefully drafted in a broad manner to temporarily ban all fracking – even the kind that has been taking place since the 1970s and has generated no current complains (at least none that I know of).

“The fact is that this legislation was drafted in a very specific manner to ensure that we put a temporary hold on all drilling that could do irreparable harm to areas of the State of New York,” Krueger said.

“The Executive Order the Governor signed gives us some delay on some types of drilling, but it still leaves the State of New York vulnerable to overzealous gas companies who wish to make up for the ban on horizontal drilling by increasing the number of vertical drills.”

“It will now be up to incoming Governor Andrew Cuomo to see through the promises made in his ‘Cleaner, Greener NY’ environmental paper and keep New York’s drinking water and environment safe.”

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14 Jul
0

Co-Op/Condo Ombudsman Bill Making its Way Through State Senate

By Bill Morris, Habitat

Some years ago, the satirical group Chicago City Limits presented a sketch in which two tough-talking neo-Nazis forced a confession out of a frightened prisoner. The gag? He was a co-op applicant. The image of co-op boards hasn’t changed much since: power-hungry prima donnas, arbitrary and capricious, who give benefits to themselves that they don’t give to others.

In response to this perception, State Senator Liz Krueger (D-Manhattan) this past May offered up the latest version of a legislation that has been introduced regularly since 1988. Her bill, S7958, which is now before the finance committee, would create an “Office of the Cooperative and Condominium Ombudsman.”

That office would seek to educate co-op  / condo dwellers and professionals about their legal rights and responsibilities. It would also monitor board elections; mediate disputes; and conduct public hearings. The ombudsman could subpoena witnesses and question them under oath, and could also require any books or papers relevant to any dispute. The salaried position would be appointed by the state attorney general. The money for that and related office expenses would come from an annual $6 fee charged to every co-op and condo unit in the state.

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14 Jul
0

Turning Up the Heat

By Michael Howard Saul, WSJ

Elected officials plan this week to redouble efforts to toughen penalties on landlords who violate city heat laws, breaking the economic incentive for building owners to withhold heat and hot water from tenants.

Officials confirmed Tuesday that the measure—targeting repeat and long-time offenders—has the backing of Mayor Michael Bloomberg, giving the chances of passage a boost.

More than 114,000 New Yorkers filed complaints with the city about a lack of heat or hot water during the fiscal year that ended June 30. Such complaints have fluctuated between about 111,000 and 128,000 in recent years.

Those numbers, based on data provided by the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development, are conservative because the agency records complaints by building. Heat and hot-water complaint calls to 311, which logs every call as an individual complaint, are much higher, totaling upwards of 175,000 a year.

The complaints generally come from the poorer areas of New York City. This past year, for example, residents who live in the area represented by Bronx Community Board 7, covering the Fordham, Bedford Park and Norwood neighborhoods, filed 5,405 complaints, the most of any swath of the city.

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