New York CIty Council Member Ben Kallos

New York County Politics Manhattan COVID-19 News Roundup, May 7, 2020 by Michael Rock

Manhattan COVID-19 News Roundup, May 7, 2020

Brewer, Espaillat, Levine Discuss Coronavirus Effect on Local Artists

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer (D), U.S. Rep. Adriano Espaillat (D-Harlem, Washington Heights, Inwood), and Councilmember Mark Levine (D-Morningside Heights, Hamilton Heights) spoke at a remote forum for Community Board 9’s Arts and Culture Committee Monday, the Columbia Daily Spectator reported. There, they discussed the impact of the pandemic on the city’s world-famous arts and culture scene.

“I know that artists in West Harlem, Hamilton Heights, Morningside Heights, independent contractors, and people in the creative industry are hurting really bad now,” Levine said. “It was not easy to be a gig worker before [the] coronavirus, but it’s been devastating now.”

Brewer agreed, asserting the need to support local artists.

“Between the Harlem Renaissance and the fact that [the city] has such great talent, we need to figure out as elected officials and others how we can fund the mediums so you get the opportunity to show your craft,” she said.

Meanwhile, Espaillat acknowledged the importance of artists to the district’s culture.

“Artists define and musicians define the personality and character of a neighborhood, and I want to preserve that,” Espaillat said. “I want to work to preserve the personality and character of all the neighborhoods in the 13th District.”

Gottfried Targets State Contractor for Coronavirus Response

Richard N. Gottfried

Assembly Member Richard N. Gottfried

Last week, Assembly Health Committee Chair Richard Gottfried (D-Midtown West, Chelsea) led three of his colleagues after going after Virgina-based state contractor Maximus, which provides call centers for New York’s health insurance marketplace, for inadequately protecting its employees from the coronavirus, the New York Post reported Wednesday. 

The four lawmakers urged Maximus to negotiate with a group of employees who made such complaints as obstacles to remote work and a lack of sanitary precautions. 

“This is not a candy store owner who isn’t providing masks to its employees,” said Gottfried. “Unless Maximus is really hearing from its workers and working with them on a basis of respect, it’s hard to see the company doing the right thing.”

Stringer, Kallos Join Call to Cut ThriveNYC

NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer

NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer

After Mayor Bill De Blasio (D) announced a plan to lay off numerous doctors, police officers, and teachers to balance the city budget Wednesday, numerous city officials rebuked him, the New York Post reported Wednesday.

Comptroller Scott Stringer (D) and Councilmember Ben Kallos (D-Upper East Side, Roosevelt Island, East Harlem) represented Manhattan in calling for the mayor to preserve these important jobs and instead cut ThriveNYC, a controversial $1 billion mental health program headed by De Blasio’s wife, Chirlane McCray.

“At a time when city workers are on the frontline of the pandemic, the mayor should not threaten their livelihoods in this way,” said Stringer. “From ballooning contracts to runaway spending without results, I have said repeatedly that agencies can find greater savings without harming our workers.”

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