Locals Decry ‘Total Madness’ of Delivery Truck Parking; Proposed City Council Bill May Help

By Joy Bergmann

Jeffrey and Sandra Smith are fed up. They say e-commerce grocery delivery trucks from Fresh Direct and Amazon Fresh monopolize commercial parking spaces, double-park, block turning lanes and obstruct bike lanes near their apartment at 89th and Amsterdam. “This is a takeover of the neighborhood in a very bad way,” says Jeffrey. “It’s total madness.”

It’s also – as the sage Yogi Berra once said – deja vu all over again.

Back in June 2016, Community Board 7’s Transportation Committee grilled Fresh Direct execs on their “depot” distribution model in which trucks occupy commercial parking spaces for long periods – up to 8 hours – while employees distribute groceries in a multi-block radius. Commercial parking regulations limit metered usage of such spots to two hours – depending on the exact location.

And yet, according to the Smiths, the trucks stay put, do not always feed the meter, rarely get multiple tickets in a given day and never seem to get towed. NYPD reps did not respond to WSR’s request for comment on the Smiths’ observations. But, according to one officer, NYPD Traffic Enforcement agents issued 63,995 parking summonses to commercial vehicles in the 24th Precinct in 2018. The Smiths wonder why enforcement hasn’t been more aggressive. 

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City workers filed 472 sexual harassment complaints last year

By Nolan Hicks and Rich Calder

City workers filed nearly 500 sexual harassment complaints last year — and just 8 percent were substantiated, new figures released by City Hall on Friday show.

Investigators only found “probable case” or “substantiated” 37 of 472 allegations of sexual misconduct that were reported between July 2017 and June 2018; while determining that 71 of the complaints lacked supporting evidence.

Only eight of those confirmed complaints resulted in a termination, retirement, demotion, transfer or suspension.

Councilman Mark Levine (D-Manhattan) said he was “troubled” by “such a low number of terminations and suspensions.”

“It’s an incredible tool to monitor the city’s progress in sexual harassment cases,” said Levine, who sponsored the bill that mandated City Hall release the data. “We’ve never had that kind of detailed information before.”

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Mayor Bill de Blasio signed 20 percent of laws passed by council in 2018

By Sarina Trangle

The pen has lost some of its might at City Hall, at least when it comes to legislating.

Last year, Mayor Bill de Blasio signed 20 percent of the laws added to the city's books. The bulk of measures — roughly 80 percent — matured into law 30 days after the City Council sent the bills to the administration because the mayor declined to sign or veto them. 

That is significantly less scrawling from a man who, in 2016, signed 97 percent of new laws and in 2017 put his pen to paper on 61 percent, according to amNewYork's analysis of the council's legislative database, Legistar. 

Both the mayor's office and Council Speaker Corey Johnson's staff have shrugged off de Blasio's relatively rested right hand, with de Blasio's team saying there is no correlation between his level of commitment to the matter at hand and his decision to schedule a bill signing. 

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Councilman to propose ban on flavored e-cigarettes

By Jillian Jorgensen

Some vaping flavors may soon go up in smoke.

City Councilman Mark Levine will introduce legislation to ban the sale of candy-flavored e-cigarettes, he told the Daily News, in an effort to curb its growing use by teens.

The ban would target nicotine liquids sold in flavors like mango and watermelon by popular companies like Juul, which markets them as “pods.” The amount of teenagers who vape has skyrocketed in the last year, according to reports.
“Use of e-cigarettes among teenagers is reaching epidemic proportions,” Levine, chair of the council’s health committee, said. “This has potentially lifelong health consequences— nicotine is highly addictive and a difficult habit to kick.”
Levine said flavored e-cigarettes were an easy entry point for young people.
“One of the tools that the industry has used to draw in young people is fruity and candyish flavors, like chocolate mint, blueberry, or cherry crush, that make it more enticing,” he said. “We have banned flavored tobacco in New York City precisely for this reason, and there’s no reason we shouldn’t ban the sale of flavored e-cigarettes.”
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Neighborhood Library to Close for 15 Months to Add ‘Teen Room’ and Make Structural Improvements

By Kimberly Spring

Dear Library Patron,

The New York Public Library’s Bloomingdale branch will close for approximately 15 months beginning on Saturday, February 16, 2019, to undergo an over $3 million improvement project. The branch is scheduled to reopen in 2020.

During this temporary closure, patrons are encouraged to use two nearby branches:

  • Morningside Heights Library (2900 Broadway, Manhattan)
  • St. Agnes Library (444 Amsterdam Avenue, Manhattan)

To further accommodate the community, Bloomingdale Library is partnering with community organizations to continue branch programming in the neighborhood throughout the temporary closure. Please check our website for updated information.

The Bloomingdale improvement project—funded by Mayor Bill de Blasio, The New York City Council, New York City Council Member Mark Levine, and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer—includes a new dedicated teen room that will allow teens to talk, engage in group study, use computers, or work independently without disturbing other patrons. The project also provides much-needed upgrades to the second floor restrooms and adds new drinking fountains.

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City Council, Skeptics Spar Over New Round of Housing Bills

By Sadef Ali Kully

The city’s housing agency, the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD), was confronted by Councilmembers on Monday during a City Council hearing that examined six pieces of legislation aimed at issues from the housing lottery system to apartments for the homeless.

The hearing comes before HPD launches a modernized version of its online affordable-housing lottery system, which will also include a partnership with the Mitchell-Lama housing lottery system. The main focus of the hearing was that lottery process.

Councilmember Mark Treyger’s bill would force HPD to report on housing lottery outcomes, while a measure by Councilmember Jumaane Williams would mandate reports on the waiting lists of Mitchell-Lama housing developments.

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Casualties of the shutdown

By Douglas Feiden

At least four former presidents historically and inextricably linked to New York have been officially dissed.

The culprit: The record-shattering federal government shutdown that’s largely the handiwork of the current president.

“Grant’s Tomb is closed!” lamented City Council Member Mark Levine. “And the trash has been overflowing.”

West Siders don’t typically enter the mausoleum at 122nd Street to visit the sarcophagus where the 18th president and his wife are entombed.

But General Ulysses S. Grant’s permanent perch on Riverside Drive has been a worldwide magnet for tourists since it was dedicated in 1897.

Or at least it was. Then last month the National Park Service was forced to shutter the site due to the abrupt cutoff in federal funding.

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Refuerzan guerra contra el azúcar en la ciudad de Nueva York

Por Pedro F. Frisneda

Por muchos años, las autoridades de Salud neoyorquinas y los funcionarios electos de la Gran Manzana, han estado a la vanguardia nacional, cuando se trata de impulsar leyes y crear campañas para cambiar los hábitos alimenticios de los residentes de esta ciudad con el fin de hacerlos más saludables.

A las innovadoras iniciativas como la prohibición de las grasas ‘trans’ en toda la ciudad y la leyes que obligan a los restaurantes y establecimientos de comida a publicar la cantidad calorías, sodio y sal que contienen los alimentos de sus menús, se suma una nueva propuesta que busca advertir a los neoyorquinos sobre los peligros para la salud de ingerir alimentos muy azucarados.

Un proyecto de ley presentado la semana pasada por el concejal Mark Levine requeriría que las cadenas de restaurantes publiquen avisos de advertencia junto a cada alimento que contenga más de 12 gramos de azúcar agregada.

“Ninguna ciudad ha hecho esto todavía, pero Nueva York está retrocediendo en la lucha contra la obesidad y la diabetes, y ayudar a las personas a mejorar su dieta es clave para que esas tendencias avancen en la dirección correcta”, dijo Levine (D-Manhattan), quien preside del Comité de Salud del Concejo Municipal.

Lea el artículo completo aquí.

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NYC menus could get high sugar warnings

By Luke Funk

New York City chain restaurants are already required to indicate high salt levels. Soon they could be required to warn customers about high sugar content in menu items.

A bill introduced on Wednesday would require warning notices next to menu items and on signs for items that contain over 12 grams of added sugar.

Council Member Mark Levine is behind the legislation.  He says that the city's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene would be required to craft an added sugar icon and a warning statement on the consequences of consuming added sugars.  The symbol would then be added to restaurant menus and signs.

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NYC aims to lead in fight against sugar with new restaurant-menu restrictions

By Kirsten Cole

NEW YORK — From higher rates of obesity to heart disease, sugar can cause a slew of problems, and now New York City is looking to be the first in the nation to combat the issue by offering consumers information directly on restaurant menus.

NYC first took aim at trans fats, banned for 12 years now. Then calorie counts came to menus, and today, salty foods get a warning label in all five boroughs. Sugar seems to be next.

On Wednesday, City Council Mark Levine proposed a citywide law that aims to call out sugar on chain restaurant menus by labelling anything that has more than 12 grams.

A "shockingly high number" of foods have unhealthy amounts of sugar, according to Levine.

"Most people have no idea the huge amount of sugar fast-food restaurants add to all kinds of food. From oatmeal to baked beans to salads. We need clear menu labeling to empower New Yorkers to take control of their diet and fight rising rates of obesity and diabetes," Levine tweeted.

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