Legislation requires Department of Transportation to post information regarding resurfacing and capital improvement of city blocks.
Council will also vote to improve indoor air quality by limiting the emissions of certain harmful compounds from carpet materials.
New York, NY- Today, the City Council will vote to give New Yorkers greater information on the condition of city blocks. The bill, Transparency In Paving Streets (TIPS), will require the Department of Transportation (DOT) to post on its website the year city streets were last resurfaced or received capital improvement, and the current rating of city blocks (i.e., good, fair or poor) pursuant to DOT’s street assessment system.
The Council will also vote on legislation proposed by our Green Codes Task Force. This bill will improve indoor air quality in commercial buildings and residences by limiting the emissions of certain harmful compounds from carpets and carpet cushions. Emissions from these compounds can cause serious health problems.
Additionally, the Council will also vote on three resolutions related to gun control in a critical effort to stop the flow of illegal guns throughout the country and here in New York City.
Finally, the Council will vote on a modification to the FY 2012 budget – a necessary action to begin closing the budget gap.
TIPS: TRANSPARENCY IN PAVING STREETS
After the TIPS bill is signed into law, an interactive map will be available on DOT’s website. New Yorkers will be able to zoom in on the map to find information about their blocks such as how the DOT rates the street’s condition or the last time it was paved. The legislation requires a sortable function, with results displaying immediately after a user enters a specific city block, to be ready within one year.
By arming Community Boards and the public with facts about their neighborhood blocks, city residents will be able to better prioritize streets that need to be resurfaced or improved and advocate for their repair.
“With this bill, we’re not only giving New Yorkers greater information about their communities, we’re also empowering them to make changes in their communities,” said Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn. “A resource like this website is just one example of the way the Council is giving more power to the people – power to take information and use it to help shape the future of their neighborhoods, making them better places to live.”
Minority Leader James Oddo, the prime sponsor of the legislation, said, “This bill is about greater transparency in the delivery of City services. The end game is to make New Yorkers aware of their street rating and empower them to get action from City government. If you disagree with how your street is rated, you should reach out to the Mayor, Borough President, DOT, or your local Council Member to ask for action.”
“Every year, DOT reports that the condition of streets in our city is improving. Still, residents have no idea what their street rating is and whether the rating is realistic or removed from reality,” said Council Member James Vacca, Chair of the Transportation Committee. “Posting these ratings online will promote better street surface conditions as residents will be able to reach out to their elected officials and DOT to get their street repaired based upon its rating or contest the rating if it makes no sense.”
INDOOR AIR QUALITY BILL
Today, the Council will also vote on legislation to improve indoor air quality. This legislation prohibits the sale and installation of carpets that emit harmful chemicals in residences and workplaces. These dangerous Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) can cause eye, nose and throat irritation. They can also cause headaches, fatigue, loss of coordination, dizziness, nausea, and liver and kidney damage. What’s more, these emissions are a contributing factor of a condition called “sick building syndrome,” affecting between 30 and 70 million workers in the United States.
This bill recognizes the Green Label Plus program for carpets, which is based on the most recent scientific research as the appropriate standard for limiting carpet emissions. If a carpet has been Green Label Plus certified, it is compliant with the bill’s standards. While an overwhelming percentage of American carpet manufacturers already meet the Green Label standard, the majority of foreign manufactured carpets are not Green Label certified and may not meet the standards. It is estimated that these non-certified carpets make up 10% to 15% of the national market.
“Volatile Organic Compounds have been found to be extraordinarily harmful to one’s health. This is a common sense piece of legislation that will regulate and reduce the amount of these chemicals found in carpets. As the main sponsor of this bill, I believe we must take all necessary steps to ensure the health and safety of our residents and do our best to always improve the quality of life throughout our city,” said Council Member Domenic Recchia, lead sponsor of the bill.
“Volatile Organic Compounds, or VOCs, that are found in some carpets and carpet cushions are known to cause acute to chronic health effects, and some are also suspected or known to cause cancer,” said Council Member Erik Martin Dilan, Chair of the Committee on Housing and Buildings. “This bill establishes limits on the emissions of VOCs in carpet and carpet cushions, and prohibits the sale and installation of non-complaint carpet and carpet cushion. These limits will help prevent many New Yorkers from being exposed to potentially harmful VOCs and their adverse health effects.”
GUN CONTROL RESOLUTIONS
The Council remains committed to stopping the flow of illegal guns. To this end, the Council will vote on resolutions related to gun control. The tragic murder of Detective Peter Figoski serves as a devastating reminder of how vital it is that the federal government takes real action to curb the illegal flow and possession of firearms.
Therefore, the Council will vote on three resolutions:
The first resolution, sponsored by Council Member Peter Vallone, calls on Congress to pass, and the President to sign, legislation that would close the so-called “gun show loophole” by requiring that background checks be conducted prior to the sale of guns at gun shows. In addition, this resolution calls upon Congress to pass, and the President to sign, legislation that would require a background check for every gun sale, regardless of the seller or location.
The second resolution, introduced by Council Members Brewer, Rose, and Chin, urges the U.S. Senate and the President to oppose the “National Right to Carry Reciprocity Act of 2011” which would allow a person who is licensed by one state to lawfully carry a concealed handgun into a different state, regardless of the licensing eligibility standards of that state. The City has implemented certain eligibility standards in relation to concealed handgun permits in an effort to keep our city safe. However, these practices would cease to exist if this legislation were to pass.
The final resolution, sponsored by Council Member Inez Dickens, supports the “Gun Trafficking Prevention Act of 2012.” This legislation addresses the issue of corrupt gun dealers, straw purchasers, and organized gun traffickers by creating the crime of trafficking, or assisting in the trafficking, of firearms. This piece of legislation also grants the U.S. Attorney General with the authority to impose tough financial penalties and the power to suspend or revoke the license of corrupt gun dealers.
CITIZENS UNITED RESOLUTION
The Council will also vote on another resolution supporting members of Congress seeking to amend the Constitution in order to reverse the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision. In January 2010, the court’s decision held that independent spending on elections by corporations and other groups could not be limited by government regulations. In response, several members of Congress want to establish that corporations are, in fact, not entitled to the entirety of protections or rights of individual citizens. Thus, the expenditure of corporate money to influence the electoral process should not be a form of constitutionally protected speech.
This resolution is part of a growing movement in cities across the country. Most notably, the Los Angeles City Council adopted a similar resolution in December.
FY 2012 BUDGET MODIFICATION
Finally, the Council will vote on a modification to the FY 2012 budget. Such action is necessary to begin closing the FY 2013 budget gap. To that end, the budget modification includes nearly $400 million in savings this year.
The vast majority of savings will have little or no impact on service delivery. However, there were several proposed actions that the Council rejected, including:
• Cuts to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner which would have resulted in unacceptable delays in the processing of DNA tests – especially rape test kits – that are vital to successful criminal prosecutions.
• A cut of $1.5 million to HHC’s operating subsidy. At a time when HHC faces many challenges from Federal and State changes to health care, this is not the time to reduce needed funding as they work to enact programs to deliver quality care at a lower cost.
• Cuts to two programs that provide important after-school youth programming.