New York CIty Council Member Ben Kallos

New York County Politics Manhattan COVID-19 News Roundup by Michael Rock

Manhattan COVID-19 News Roundup

Ayala, Kallos, Rosenthal, Rivera, Chin, Et. Al. Continue Fighting for Rent Relief

Council Member Diana Ayala

Council Member Diana Ayala

City Councilmembers Diana Ayala (D-East Harlem, Bronx), Ben Kallos (D-Yorkville, Lenox Hill), Helen Rosenthal (D-Central Park, Lincoln Square), Carlina Rivera (D-East Village, Gramercy Park) and Margaret Chin (D-Battery Park City, Chinatown) joined five other colleagues Wednesday in writing a letter to Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) and legislators statewide in passing a 90-day rent suspension bill, Patch reported.

The letter, whose signatories also include Councilmembers Stephen Levin (D-Brooklyn), Brad Lander (D-Brooklyn), Carlos Menchaca (D-Brooklyn) Costa Constantinides (D-Queens), and Mark Treyger (D-Brooklyn), insists that current policies to prevent renters at risk for eviction due to the COVID-19 emergency are not enough.

 “While the Governor has taken important steps to halt eviction proceedings for 90 days, without a full waiver of rent, struggling families and small businesses will continue to be at serious risk,” their letter read. “Any tenant who has fallen behind on payment over the coming three months due to business or job loss will still be burdened when the eviction moratorium is lifted.”

Maloney, Nadler, Espaillat, Velázquez Support Clarke’s Call for USPS Protections

U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney

Yesterday, U.S. Reps. Carolyn Maloney (D-Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens), Jerrold Nadler (D-Manhattan, Brooklyn), Adriano Espaillat (D-Washington Heights, Sugar Hill) and Nydia Velázquez (D-LES, Brooklyn, Queens) co-signed a letter from their colleague, U.S. Yvette Clarke (D-Brooklyn), to Postmaster General and CEO Megan Brennan to better provide for the health and safety of United States Postal Service employees, the New York Carib News reported Thursday. 

The letter comes amid a series of reports suggesting that post offices lack many of the key tools and tactics necessary to contain the coronavirus. “While it is critically important that we maintain essential postal services to keep society functioning, it is equally important that workers and post office visitors alike are given the tools and information needed to protect themselves from infection,” the letter read. “A recent series of troubling accounts throughout the five boroughs, including insufficient personal protective equipment (PPE) and crowded lines at post office locations, have given us strong cause for concern.”

The signatories, which  also included U.S. Reps. Hakeem Jeffries (D-Brooklyn), Grace Meng (D-Queens), Max Rose (D, Brooklyn, Staten Island), José Serrano (D-Bronx), and Thomas Suozzi (D-Queens, Nassau County), includes policy proposals such as greater provision of supplies and equipment, efforts to promote social distancing and cleanliness at post offices, protection of employees who may have been exposed to COVID-19, and promoting childcare needs for said employees.

Kallos Promotes Electronic Voter Registration

Council Member Ben Kallos

Council Member Ben Kallos

The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted more lawmakers to consider electronic voter registration as an option, Gothamist reported Tuesday.

As the piece explains, a current bill from State Senator Zellnor Myrie (D-Brooklyn) and Assemblymember Michael Blake (D-Bronx) grew out a push by City Councilmember Ben Kallos (D-Upper East Side, Yorkville, Lenox Hill, Carnegie Hill, Roosevelt Island, Midtown East, Sutton Place, East Harlem) to allow residents of the five boroughs to register to vote online. Despite the bill passing into law, the city’s Board of Elections would not honor online registrations because the city Campaign Finance Board created the system. 

“While we’re telling everyone to just stay home, it’s wrong to still require people to print out a voter registration form, fill it out by hand, get a postage stamp, go to a post office, expose themselves to mail it, when we could just as easily do it online,” Kallos told Gothamist. “And then, similarly, it’s a little bit crazy that we would require very low-wage workers at the Board of Elections, often making minimum wage, to go in at a time like this and literally transcribe what people hand write into a computer, when we could just skip the step…let people enter it from home and keep everybody safe during the process.” 

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