Legislation will make City operations more transparent, effective and accountable.
New York, NY- Today, the Council will vote on legislation to create an open data policy for the City of New York. Data generated by the government should be available to the people it governs to the greatest extent possible – without license or registration – in an online format that permits access and analysis while promoting transparency and accountability. To further these goals, the Council will also consider a bill to improve public notice for rulemaking hearings by amending the City Administrative Procedure Act (CAPA).
The Council will also vote today on a resolution supporting the Corporation Counsel’s decision to join an amicus brief on behalf of New York City in support of the Plaintiff-Appellee in the case of The United States of America vs. The State of Arizona, currently pending before the United States Supreme Court. A second resolution calls on the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to create a Haitian Family Reunification Parole Program that would allow Haitian beneficiaries of approved family-based immigrant petitions to wait in the United States, rather than in Haiti, for their visa priority dates to become current.
Finally, the Council will vote to co-name 32 streets throughout New York City.
OPEN DATA BILL
Today, the Council will vote on the Open Data Bill that will give New York City the strongest open data policy in the country. Government data available in a transparent format will allow the Council, advocates, research institutions and the public to analyze and interpret agency data, discover trends, reach conclusions and suggest new policies. For example, with freer access to complete inspection data, the Council can better determine if laws are being enforced consistently citywide and identify areas where procedures need to be improved. Trends will be more easily recognizable, paving the way for additional legislation, further outreach, improved education and targeted enforcement if appropriate. The bill will also generate economic opportunities for entrepreneurs to create applications and programs by using City data in innovative ways.
“The Open Data Bill embraces the beauty of a more transparent government, supplying tools to allow innovators to innovate, legislators to legislate, inventors to invent, advocates to advocate,” said Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn. “The bill will improve agency oversight and government functionality. Take for example how this legislation will help in the analysis of traffic accidents. Under a local law, the Department of Transportation is required to post certain accident data. While we can currently get this data, it is not in an open format. It cannot be sorted by community board, by frequency of accidents or by contributing factor. Being able to analyze this information will help us to better target safety efforts, utilize resources and save lives.”
“Intro 29, my Open Data Bill, represents two policies I have been advocating on for many years: smart technology and government transparency. This legislation will make thousands of city government databases available to the public, and give the public insight for the first time into the universe of data maintained by New York City government,” said Council Member Gale A. Brewer.
“I applaud Council Member Gale Brewer’s leadership on this bill,” said Technology Committee Chair Fernando Cabrera. “Passage of Intro 29 will mark an historic transition in the way our city is governed by making raw data available to the public. Having raw data accessible to anyone interested in analyzing it will capitalize on the resourcefulness of our city’s business and non-profit communities as they will surely use the data in innovative ways that will ultimately make our city better. There is no limit on the extent of versatile uses.”
MODERNIZING PUBLIC NOTICE REQUIREMENTS FOR PUBLIC HEARINGS ON PROPOSED RULES
The second piece of legislation the Council will consider calls for the modernization of public notice requirements for rulemaking hearings by amending the City Administrative Procedure Act (CAPA) in three ways. First, every City agency will be required to provide information about proposed rules and hearings in a prominent location on the agency’s website at least seven days prior to the date of the rulemaking hearing. Agencies will also be obligated to make available on its website a link to NYC Rules, the City’s “one-stop” point of access for information about rulemaking actions. Finally, agencies will be required, to the greatest extent feasible, to publicize upcoming rulemaking hearings via electronic means that are likely to reach interested members of the public, such as through social media networks and email blasts.
“This bill requires City government to get in line with the times,” said Council Member Margaret Chin, lead sponsor of the bill. “People are using an array of internet and social media forums to stay informed, and with this bill in place, notice requirements for public hearings will make use of this. Our goal is always a more transparent, more responsive government. I believe this bill will make it easier for New Yorkers to find out about the issues, and encourage more public participation in our hearings. I want to thank Speaker Quinn and Chair Brewer for their support on this legislation.”
“I’m happy to support Intro 698-A, sponsored by Council Member Chin, which was passed by my Committee, Governmental Operations. This bill will make changes that will enable agencies to reach a broader spectrum of the public, not just those few who carefully read The City Record. This will help encourage more public participation in the rulemaking process, providing greater transparency in government and, ultimately, better rules and regulations,” said Governmental Operations Chair Gale Brewer.
RESOLUTION ON PLAINTIFF AMICUS BRIEF IN UNITED STATES VS. ARIZONA
The Council will vote on a Resolution to back the Corporation Counsel’s decision to join an amicus brief on behalf of the City in support of the Plaintiff-Appellee in the case of The United States of America vs. The State of Arizona. The case is set to be heard by the United States Supreme Court.
This ongoing battle began on April 23, 2010 when Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed S.B. 1070 into law, requiring, among other things, immigrants to carry alien registration documents with them at all times and local law enforcement agents to question the immigration status of anyone suspected of being an undocumented immigrant. Following the enactment of S.B. 1070, the United States filed a lawsuit questioning its constitutionality, requesting a preliminary injunction to stop its implementation.
When the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit upheld a district court’s injunction of the law, the State of Arizona filed a petition asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review the decision and, this past December, the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case.
The City of New York, through its Corporation Counsel, is joining an amicus brief that will be signed by municipalities across the country in support of the United States. The brief will be filed with the Supreme Court in March 2012. By supporting the Corporation Counsel’s decision to join this amicus brief on behalf of the City, the Council is once again voicing its opposition to Arizona’s ill-conceived legislation.
RESOLUTION ON HAITIAN FAMILY REUNIFICATION PAROLE PROGRAM
The second Resolution the Council will consider calls on DHS to establish a Haitian Family Reunification Parole Program that would allow Haitian beneficiaries of approved family-based immigrant petitions to wait in the United States, rather than in Haiti, for their visa priority dates to become current.
The January 12, 2010 earthquake in Haiti caused devastating damage to the country’s capital and surrounding areas, leaving in its wake tragedy and despair. Although it has been two years since the disaster, Haiti is still recovering from its aftermath.
Many Haitians living in the United States that are legal permanent residents or citizens have submitted visa petitions for family members still living in Haiti. At the time of the earthquake, there were more than 54,000 Haitians with approved petitions to immigrate to the U.S., waiting for visas to become available.
If DHS were to establish a Haitian Family Reunification Parole Program, Haitians with approved petitions for visas would be permitted to live in this country while they wait for their visas. This program would expedite family reunification through safe, legal and orderly channels.
“At the present time, Haiti is facing many challenges resulting from the devastating earthquake of 2010. As the country recovers and rebuilds, we can take action to assist Haiti by granting those with family-based visas the chance to come to the United States and be reunited with their spouses, parents and other loved ones. This will help protect the well-being of thousands of Haitians and serve as a valuable humanitarian gesture,” said Council Member Mathieu Eugene.
STREET CO-NAMING LEGISLATION
Finally, the Council will vote to co-name 32 streets throughout New York City to celebrate the lives of many exemplary citizens. Some of the prominent street co-namings are:
• Officer Alain Schaberger, a police officer who died while responding to a domestic violence dispute.
• Officer Eric Hernandez, an off-duty police officer shot while subduing an assailant.
• Officer Glen Pettit, a police officer killed on September 11, 2001.
• Police Detective Kevin Czartoryski, a responder at Ground Zero who developed pulmonary fibrosis.
• Sargent Nicholas Aleman, a U.S. Marine who was killed in the line of duty.
• Raoul Wallenberg, a Swedish diplomat who risked his life to save Hungarian Jews during the Holocaust.
• Miriam Friedlander, a Council Member representing the East Village and Lower East Side from 1974 to 1991.
For the full list of proposed street co-names, please visit: www.council.nyc.gov