Tag Archives: Catherine Nolan

Pol touts Ridgewood’s successes and the challenges ahead


| editorial@ridgewoodtimes.com

TIMES NEWSWEEKLY/Photo by Kelly Marie Mancuso

BY KELLY MARIE MANCUSO

Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan discussed the many assets and issues facing Ridgewood at Thursday night’s swearing-in ceremony of the Ridgewood Property Owners and Civic Association (RPOCA) officials and board of directors held at the Ridgewood Older Adult Center.

“We have something very special here,” Nolan said. “It’s kind of ironic—lately it seems like the whole world is just finding that out. That’s going to present a whole new set of challenges for Ridgewood.”

In her address to the group, Nolan focused on the many positive aspects and improvements made in Ridgewood over the years, including bus and transit hub upgrades, the efforts and achievements of the Myrtle Avenue Business Improvement District (BID), and advances in local healthcare.

Nolan also cited improvements in sanitation, such as Ridgewood’s successful composting program and high recycling rates, as a major asset within the community.

“Ridgewood is the cleanest neighborhood in the city because we made that a priority,” she said. “We thought of it as just keeping our homes clean, but now we see the environmental benefit as well.”

Ridgewood’s growth and development as an environmentally friendly, sustainable community was also celebrated. According to Nolan, the availability of mass transit, as well as the ability to walk to stores and venues within the community, lessened dependence on cars, reducing pollution and improving the local environment.

In addition to improvements, Nolan also addressed the many challenges facing Ridgewood, including mass transit, the loss of manufacturing and an increase in domestic violence, which she referred to as a “hidden problem” in the community. Nolan’s office and the 104th Precinct are trying to combat domestic violence through expanded outreach and communication in the wake of last week’s deadly attack on Grove Street.

An issue of particular concern was the challenges facing senior citizen tenants struggling to hold on to their apartments amid rent hikes in the area. Nolan and RPOCA President Charles Ober discussed introducing legislation that would expand the Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption (SCRIE) to three- and four-family homes. SCRIE is a property tax rebate offered to landlords with the incentive of reducing the rent of a senior tenant residing in their properties.

In 2014, funding to the SCRIE Program was increased from $29,000 to $50,000. Currently, the exemption is only available to dwellings with six or more units. Nolan vowed to form a council in Albany that would draft legislation expanding eligibility to three- and four-family homes.

“It’s long overdue and I think we could try,” Nolan said.

Nolan swore in the 2015 RPOCA officers, including President Charles Ober, First Vice President Joseph Segreti, Second Vice President John Maier, Third Vice President Domingo Santos, Recording Secretary Maryellen Borello, Financial Secretary Helen Kutch and Sergeant-At-Arms Carlos Ortiz.

The RPOCA board of directors sworn in included Henry Cross, Geoffrey Elkind, Gregory Haufe, John Hertling, Voytek Oktawiec, Jamie Taratoot, Simon Orr, Richard Wessley, Louis Rodriguez and Chairperson Patricia Grayson.

Pastor Thomas Goodhart from Trinity Reformed Church in Ridgewood offered a Benediction at the swearing-in ceremony.

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Op-ed: Hardworking New Yorkers deserve paid family leave


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

BY ASSEMBLYWOMAN CATHERINE NOLAN

At the most critical moments of our lives, far too many of us New Yorkers face an impossible decision: “Do I choose my family or do I choose my job?” There are times when our families as well as our jobs need us. We have a newborn, a child is seriously ill or an aging parent is hospitalized and we need to take time from work.

Yet only a small percentage of all private sector workers have paid family leave. The Federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) does offer some help, but its coverage is limited. Forty percent of the workforce is left out. Even those who do qualify for family leave under the FMLA often cannot afford to take it because it is unpaid.

Paid family leave is out of reach for too many in our city and our borough. The loss of income or a job can take a huge financial toll and puts families at risk. No one should have to choose between a family’s health and its ability to make ends meet.

There is a solution: common-sense legislation to provide paid family leave for New Yorkers. My bill (A. 3870) would implement paid family leave benefits that would allow individuals to cope with an injury or sickness, pregnancy or to care for a family member. Providing workers with paid time off to care for their families is not only good for their economic security but also benefits the overall economy and society as a whole.

My legislation will provide workers in New York State with up to 12 weeks of paid leave a year to care for a new child or a seriously ill family member. It will also help military families. Knowing paid family leave will be there if and when they need it will provide every worker with peace of mind. Moreover, it will bring greater financial stability to 50,000 to 77,000 New Yorkers each year as well as the families who rely on their earnings.

Family leave insurance will not burden small businesses. The program will build on New York’s existing Temporary Disability Insurance program to which both employers and employees contribute. In fact, eight out of 10 small business owners support expanding the state disability insurance program to provide paid family leave.

Times and attitudes have changed. It is time for workplaces to change too. All New Yorkers should have the ability to care for their families in times of need. We cannot afford to wait. My bill has just recently passed the New York State Assembly, and I would urge the Senate and the governor to support this vital legislation to help all hardworking New Yorkers balance work and family and maintain their economic security.

Let’s get New York moving again so it can help both workers and businesses succeed.

Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan represents the 37th Assembly District, which covers all or parts of Astoria, Long Island City, Maspeth, Ridgewood, Sunnyside and Woodside.

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Ridgewood pol to state: Stop shortchanging public schools


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo by Anthony Giudice

Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan of Ridgewood, along with fellow lawmakers, educators, parents and students, rallied on the steps of City Hall Thursday morning demanding that Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state lawmakers pay $2.5 billion owed to New York City public schools.

Of that $2.5 billion, according to the Campaign for Fiscal Equality (CFE), every state Senate and Assembly district is owed tens of millions of dollars in funding for their schools. State Sen. Joseph Addabbo’s district is owed nearly $137 million, the most of any Senate district.

Historically, advocates stated, NYC public schools have been woefully underfunded, as the NYS Court of Appeals determined in the CFE ruling. The CFE lawsuit was brought by parents in 1993 against the State of New York claiming that children were not getting an adequate education.

In 2006, the NYS Court of Appeals found that New York State violated students’ constitutional rights to a “sound and basic education” by underfunding public schools.

According to the Alliance for Quality Education (AQE), a 2015 longitudinal study done by the National Bureau of Economic Research found that when spending increases by 10 percent each year during low-income students’ tenure in school (K-12), those students earn 9.5 percent more as adults. Furthermore, graduation rates jump 4 percent, to 26 percent, and the likelihood of adult poverty is reduced.

“It’s very important that we’re here today to keep the focus on fulfilling the promise of CFE,” said Nolan, who chairs the Assembly Education Committee. “The court decision … said we have to provide our young people with a meaningful education that equips them for the future.”

“The economy has turned around, the funds are there. It’s time to keep our promises to the children and families of New York and for us, as state Legislatures, to continue to push for full funding for our wonderful young people,” Nolan added.

Currently, there is no proposed increase for school funding in Cuomo’s 2015-16 budget plan, unless the Legislature agrees to a series of new laws put forth by the governor.

The CFE launched a website which breaks down how much each public school is allegedly shortchanged, www.howmuchnysrobbed.nyc.

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Catherine Nolan says she wants to replace Sheldon Silver as Assembly speaker


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

File photo

Make that two men and a woman in a room.

The three-headed leadership of the New York State government, called “three men in a room,” could soon face a makeover now that Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan announced she wants to replace scandal-scarred Sheldon Silver, who stepped down as Assembly speaker this week.

If Nolan is elected by her fellow members of the Assembly next month, she’ll become the first woman to serve as speaker.

“I am formally announcing my candidacy for speaker of the New York State Assembly. In my 30-year Assembly career I have conducted myself with honesty and integrity. Serving the people of New York State has been my only job — whether it be my own constituents, schoolchildren or working men and women in our state. It will continue to be my only job,” Nolan said in a statement released today that aimed to separate herself from Silver, who has earned millions of dollars as a lawyer while serving as speaker.

Under New York’s rules of government, most key decisions on legislation, budget and other matters of state have been negotiated by the governor, Assembly speaker and Senate majority leader — posts no woman has yet to hold, giving rise to the term “three men in a room.”

“Lost in the names that have been mentioned as potential candidates for speaker is that of a woman,” Nolan said. “A woman has never served as speaker of the Assembly. The press has written extensively and derisively about the sexual harassment cases that have occurred in the legislature over the last few years. It is past time for that ‘culture’ to end once and for all. I am committed to doing just that.”

Silver was a key player in the handling of sexual harassment charges against former Assemblyman Vito Lopez of Brooklyn. Silver had approved a $100,000 settlement with two former legislative aides to settle charges against Lopez in a deal that was kept secret.

Nolan’s name emerged as one of several possible successors to Silver just days after he was arrested by the FBI on federal corruption charges. She was among a small group of lawmakers who were picked by Democratic leaders to share the responsibilities of the speaker’s office under an interim deal.

Now that Silver has agreed to give up his leadership role, Nolan has emerged as one of the first members of the Assembly to officially toss her hat in the ring as a permanent successor to Silver.

Silver, under pressure from Assembly Democrats, stepped down from the speaker’s post on Monday night. He said he will remain a member of the Assembly, but will not “hinder” the efforts to replace him, which should come by Feb. 11.

Until the Assembly meets to vote on Silver’s successor, the day-to-day responsibilities of the speaker’s office will be managed by Assembly Majority Leader Joseph Morelle of Rochester, a close ally of both Silver and Gov. Cuomo.

Nolan, who represents Woodside, Astoria, Ridgewood, Maspeth, and Long Island City, has been a member of the Democratic leadership team in the Assembly, where she is chair of the Education Committee.

The Queens Democratic Party started pushing Nolan’s candidacy even before Silver announced he was relinquishing his role as speaker.

The speaker is elected by the majority conference in the Assembly. Democrats now hold 106 of the chamber’s 150 seats. Other members of the Assembly eyeing the post include Morelle of Rochester, Keith Wright of Manhattan, Joseph Lentol of Brooklyn and Carl Heastie of the Bronx.

“If elected speaker of the New York State Assembly, I will listen to the members of the Democratic Majority Conference with respect and dedication. I have the full support of my family and have been urged by many to step up to the challenges that face our great State of New York.

“It is time for this institution to return to the high standards that the people of our state rightfully demand and expect. I stand ready to work with my colleagues to do just that for the people of the State of New York. They deserve nothing less,” Nolan said.

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Op-ed: Local input needed before moving convention center to Sunnyside


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

BY ASSEMBLYWOMAN CATHERINE NOLAN

There is a proposal to move the Javits Convention Center to Queens, but it should not go forward without input from the thousands of residents who live in the neighborhoods nearby.

There have been proposals to develop this historic industrial space almost since it opened in 1910. The Sunnyside Yards have attracted attention by impractical dreamers, unscrupulous speculators and even some visionary city planners. Still, any serious plan must address the concerns of local residents and businesses before it can be supported by government.

Affordable housing is an important citywide goal, but the plan as pictured in the Daily News looks grossly overbuilt. Residents have a right to see density and scale addressed. Lots of open space must be part of any plan in a neighborhood of few existing parks.

Any plans to develop Sunnyside Yards need strong, local review. I would propose LaGuardia Community College play a lead role in a community-based needs assessment, shared and developed by local residents, students, businesses, community boards and elected officials.

• Any plan must include the effects of remediation. The Yards have been subjected to industrial runoff for so long, they probably warrant Superfund status. What will be the effect of a major cleanup on our community?

• Transportation is critical. The N, R, G and 7 lines are overcrowded and often shut down due to needed upgrades. Bus service is inadequate, and a multi-modal connector to the East Side Access Project must be addressed as well.

• Our community has few health facilities, an antiquated police precinct and inadequate fire and sanitation services. Extensive resources would have to be added before our community could absorb any large infusion of new residents.

• Long Island City has thousands of important jobs in the auto, transportation, food, film, cultural, tech and manufacturing industries. These need to be maintained, not pushed out.

• Our schools have long been among the most overcrowded in the city. Many students attend classes in trailers. Obviously, this has to be resolved for current residents who are now fighting for pre-K, elementary and middle school seats.

We need a plan that recognizes that thousands of us — from Sunnyside Gardens to Hunter’s Point, from Dutch Kills to Ravenswood — have already chosen western Queens for our homes, businesses, education and creative community. We are not going away just because the big boys in Manhattan have decided to tear down the Javits Center and develop luxury housing on the far West Side.

It is not NIMBY to say that our community will not support proposals if we have no say in their development. Those of us who decided to live, work and love our neighborhoods with the Sunnyside Yards as they currently exist must be included in any plans.

Catherine Nolan represents Sunnyside, Ridgewood, Astoria and Long Island City in the state Assembly.

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Investigate clean up of Newtown Creek


| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of Congressmember Carolyn Maloney

Indifference to filth and pollution for over a century has mutated Newtown Creek into more of a beast than a beauty.

Beginning in the mid-1800s, contaminants were spewed into Newtown Creek by more than 50 refineries that called the waterway home, including sawmills, lumber and coal yards, fertilizer and glue factories, petrochemical plants and oil refineries. The creek was also used by commercial vessels to transport oil, chemicals, fuel and other raw materials. During World War II, the channel was one of the busiest ports in the nation, and factories continue to operate on its banks to this day.

Congressmembers Carolyn Maloney and Nydia Velázquez, Borough President Helen Marshall and Assemblymember Catherine Nolan joined EPA Regional Administrator Judith Enck on a boat tour of the Newtown Creek cleanup project on October 11. During the tour, the Queens leaders were taken to the key areas of pollution in the creek.

“For far too long, Newtown Creek has been a disgrace: a toxic dumping ground since the mid-1800s, a blight on our waterways, and the scene of perhaps the largest oil spill of all time – three times the size of the Exxon Valdez,” said Maloney, referencing the Greenpoint oil spill.

In addition to the damage done by industrial pollution, the city began dumping raw sewage into the water in 1856.

As a result of its history, which includes multiple spills, Newtown Creek is among the most polluted waterways in America.

In the early 1990s, New York State declared that the channel was not meeting water quality standards under the Clean Water Act, and since that time, several government-sponsored cleanups have occurred.

Newtown Creek, whose waters wash the shores of both Queens and Brooklyn, was designated a Superfund site by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in September of last year.

The Superfund Program was established by Congress to locate, investigate and cleanup the most hazardous sites across the country. It also provides the EPA with the authority to coerce responsible parties to account for the damage they have done, either by cleaning up the site themselves or by reimbursing the government for all costs associated with the restoration.

This past July, following a year-long examination, the EPA entered into a consent order with six potentially responsible parties to conduct a remedial investigation and feasibility study of the creek’s cleanup. Field work for the investigation, which will determine the nature of the pollutants, evaluate any risks to human life or the environment and assess prospective cleanup methods, is scheduled to begin within the next month.

“Restoring the health of both sides of Newtown Creek will give residents of Queens and Brooklyn improved access to the waterfront and make our neighborhoods healthier places to live,” said Maloney.

The EPA will be holding a public information session at LaGuardia Community College, located at 31-10 Thomson Avenue in Long Island City, on Thursday, October 27 from 2 to 4 p.m. and from 7 to 9 p.m. to discuss the project.

The investigation could take as long seven years to complete, and the removal of contaminants from Newtown Creek could last an additional 10 years. A preliminary estimate by the EPA approximates the cleanup costs between $300 and $400 million.

The EPA has reported that potentially responsible parties include premier oil companies BP America, Exxon Mobil and Texaco, as well as the City of New York. These, as well as other responsible parties, will be paying for the remedial investigation and feasibility study for the near future.

During initial tests performed by the EPA, harmful contaminants such as pesticides, metals, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which easily evaporate into the air, and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) have been detected in Newtown Creek.

“The more we find out about this polluted waterway, which affects two boroughs, the more we see the need to move the feasibility study along and remediation, in the form of a massive cleanup, to begin,” said Marshall.