Council will also vote to ban term “alien” and “Illegal immigrant” from local laws and other city documents
City Hall – The New York City Council on Thursday will vote on legislation to require reporting on the City of New York’s contact tracing efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic. As the city plans for a phased reopening, there must be a robust regular testing system in place and a means to trace the spread of this deadly virus. Regular reporting will allow us to understand how we are managing the spread of the virus and tracing down infections. It will also allow us to understand how all New York City communities are being impacted by COVID and will allow us to better target our efforts to communities that are harder hit. This legislation is designed to provide transparency to the public of the status of these efforts and the spread of the virus.
The COVID-19 disease has had a significant impact on our city jail system. The Council is voting on legislation that will require reporting to better track this impact. Critical data on the severity of the virus within our city jail system is lacking. This data is also needed to plan for public health emergencies in the future. The proposed legislation would require the Department of Correction and Correctional Health Services to provide a weekly report related to the outbreak. Data would include numbers of individuals diagnosed, hospitalized and tested for COVID-19.
The Council will also vote to create a commission to oversee the early release of incarcerated persons, including those vulnerable to the impact of COVID-19, who have served a portion of their sentence. This comes on the heels of the Council’s push (along with the Board of Correction) for the depopulation of our city jails in a safe manner, an effective way to flatten the curve.
In addition to these crisis-related bills, the Council will vote on legislation to prohibit the use of the offensive terms “alien,” “illegal immigrant,” or “illegal migrant” from existing local laws, rules, order, documents and materials and replace it with the term “noncitizen.” These terms would be replaced by the word “noncitizen” where applicable. This would make New York City the first major U.S. city to remove the term “alien” from its laws.
Additionally, the Council will also vote on a resolution to call for parity in the pay scale of Emergency Medical Services (EMS) personnel. These are some of our most depended on front line workers connecting New Yorkers to medical services. At the height of this pandemic, EMS personnel responded to a volume of calls unseen since the September 11th attacks. We must ensure they are paid equitably for the work that they do.
Finally, the Council will vote on several land use and finance committee items.
Requires regular reporting on the City of New York’s contact tracing efforts
Preconsidered Int. No. 1961-A, proposed by Council Member Ritchie J. Torres, would require the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH), or another agency designated by the Mayor, to ensure a report providing details of the program is posted online and updated daily.
This report will include data on (i) the number of employees hired by the contact tracing program, disaggregated by languages spoken and zip code of residence, (ii) the number of persons identified to the program as having tested positive for currently having COVID-19, (ii) the number of persons identified by the program who may have had contact with a person who tested positive for currently having COVID-19, and (iv) the number of those individuals the program successfully contacted, disaggregated by zip code, race, ethnicity, gender, age range, COVID-19 symptoms present in the last 14 days, and whether such persons were referred to wraparound services.
The legislation also requires DOHMH, or another agency designated by the Mayor to ensure a report on co-morbidities and occupation is posted online and updated weekly. This report will include data on (i) the number of persons identified to the program who have tested positive for currently having COVID-19, and (ii) the number of individuals identified by the program who may have had contact with persons who tested positive for currently having COVID-19, disaggregated by occupational setting and comorbidity.
This legislation takes effect immediately, provided that: (i) the daily reports required by this law are due no earlier than June 22, 2020; and (ii) the requirement to update the required reporting on a daily or weekly basis expires one year after it takes effect.
“In order to better understand the coronavirus, the best methods for combating it, and how it has impacted our City we must have a full picture of the City’s contact tracing program and its work,” said Council Member Ritchie Torres. “This bill will ensure that we get all the details on the operations of the contact tracing program, individuals who have been identified by the program and tested positive for COVID-19, and the steps taken to refer COVID-19 positive individuals to necessary services. Contact tracing has proved successful in fighting the pandemic and now we will have a clearer understanding of its success and areas for improvement in our City.”
Requires regular reporting related to the outbreak of COVID-19 in New York City jails
Preconsidered Int. No. 1954-A, proposed by Council Member Keith Powers, would require the Department and Correctional Health Services to submit to the speaker of the Council, and make publicly available on the Department’s website, a weekly report related to the outbreak of COVID-19 in city jails. The report would include numbers of individuals diagnosed, hospitalized, and tested for COVID-19. The bill would also require Correctional Health Services to provide regular updates to persons in custody about the public health emergency and to publish a timeline of significant events.
Establishes a local conditional release commission
Preconsidered Int. No. 1956-A, proposed by Council Member Keith Powers, would create a local conditional release commission. This commission would have the authority to release certain sentenced individuals once they had served a portion of their sentence. Eligible persons would need community ties, and convictions for certain offenses such as domestic violence are not eligible. The Mayor would appoint at least 5 commissioners, with the advice and consent of the council, and each member would need a college degree and 5 years relevant experience.
“COVID-19 created a hot spot of infection in city jails, demonstrating a lack of basic systems and protections within facilities,” said Criminal Justice Chair Council Member Keith Powers. “Requiring greater transparency in real time and creating a mechanism to safely release individuals from detention will help manage this crisis while preparing our city jails for the future. Having these systems in place better positions the city to respond to public health crises in our jails. Thank you to the Speaker and my colleagues for their support.”
Calls for parity in the pay scale of Emergency Medical Service personnel
Resolution No. 1062, proposed by Council Member I. Daneek Miller, would call for EMS personnel to be equally compensated and have their salaries be comparable to New York City firefighters and police officers.
“Pay disparities in our municipal workforce block the upward mobility of the city’s women and five million New Yorkers of color, and nowhere are they more strongly represented than FDNY EMS,” said Committee on Civil Service and Labor Chair, Council Member I. Daneek Miller. “These dedicated first responders provide life-saving medical care to over 8 million New Yorkers, commuters, tourists, and other visitors, but for only a fraction of what their overwhelmingly white, male firefighting counterparts earn. Their poise, bravery, and dedication to excellence despite numerous threats has never been more apparent than during this crisis. I thank Speaker Johnson and my colleagues for their support of this resolution. The time is now for all of us to show our gratitude for the service and sacrifice of FDNY EMS by giving them the equal pay and benefits they rightly deserve.”
Prohibits the use of the terms “alien,” “illegal immigrant,” or “illegal migrant,” and removes such words in local laws, rules, and other documents and materials
Proposed Introduction No. 1836-A, sponsored by Council Member Francisco P. Moya, would prohibit the use of the terms “alien,” “illegal immigrant,” or “illegal migrant” to refer to an individual who is not a citizen of the United States, in any laws, rules, documents or materials produced by the city. These terms would be replaced with noncitizen, where applicable.
“The word terms ‘illegal immigrant’ and ‘alien’ have no place in our city’s guiding documents or social discourse today,” said Council Member Francisco Moya. “These words are outdated and loaded words used to dehumanize the people they describe. It’s time to retire them. My bill, Intro 1836 would replace the term ‘alien’ with ‘noncitizen’ wherever it refers to noncitizens in the City Charter and Administrative Code and would bar the City from using the terms ‘alien,’ ‘illegal alien,’ or ‘illegal immigrant’ in laws, documents, or materials unless referencing a federal law or program. Words matter. The language we choose to use has power and consequences. It’s time we as a city use our language to acknowledge people as people rather than to dehumanize them and divide us.”
Land Use Items:
311-313 Pleasant Avenue Cluster
The Council will vote to approve an Article XI tax exemption and disposition of city-owned land to facilitate the preservation of 3 partially occupied residential buildings with 64 units. This project is located in Council Member’s Kallos, Ayala, and Perkins’s district.
993-995 Union Avenue Cluster
The Council will vote to approve an Article XI tax exemption and disposition of city-owned land to facilitate the preservation of 4 partially occupied residential buildings with 71 units. This project is located in Council Member Rafael Salamanca’s district.
266 West 96th Street
The Council will vote to approval the disposition of City-owned property at 266 West 96th Street. This action will facilitate the development of a new 23 story mixed-income housing development in Council Member Helen Rosenthal’s district.