Health Chair Levine: City Should Ban Sale of Flavored E-Cigarettes

For Release: January 18, 2019
Contact: Jake Sporn // 917-842-5748 // jsporn@council.nyc.gov

City Hall, NY -- Today, City Council Health Chair Mark Levine announced he would be introducing legislation to ban the sale of flavored electronic cigarettes at the City Council Stated Meeting on Wednesday, January 24th.

As the number of high school students using e-cigarettes nationwide has skyrocketed to nearly 30% in the past year, both the FDA and Governor Cuomo’s administration have taken actions to curb teen use. Council Member Levine’s proposal seeks to build on those policies by banning the sale of flavored electronic cigarettes just as the City did with flavored tobacco products in 2009.

A report by the New York State Health Department showed vaping among high school students has skyrocketed 160 percent in four years–from 10.4 percent in 2014 to 27.4 percent in 2018, mostly driven by flavor sales.

Additionally, a report by issued by National Institute of Health warns, “teen years are critical for brain development, which continues into young adulthood. Young people who use nicotine products in any form, including e-cigarettes, are uniquely at risk for long-lasting effects.”

“Vaping has reached epidemic levels among teens, with life-long implications for young people who become addicted to nicotine,” said Council Member Levine. “One of the tools the industry has used to draw in teenagers is candy flavors like chocolate mint, blueberry, or cherry crush. These flavored smoking products disproportionally attract younger consumers, which is why New York City long-ago banned flavored tobacco. It’s time we did the same for e-cigarettes.”

Said Council Member Andrew Cohen, “The rise in the use of e-cigs amounts to a health crisis for young people. These products are harmful and can cause long term damage to the developing brains of teens. Research shows that flavored e-cigs particularly entice young people, who use these products without considering the long term risks involved.”

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Council Health Chair Levine: City Should Support Abuse Survivors by Amending Birth Certificates

**FOR RELEASE**

December 20, 2018

CONTACT: Jake Sporn // 917-842-5748 // jsporn@council.nyc.gov

City Hall, NY -- Today, New York City Council Member, and Health Committee Chair, Mark Levine introduced legislation that would require the City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s (DOHMH) Office of Vital Records to redact from birth certificates the name of physicians whose license has been suspended, surrendered or revoked by the New York State Office of Professional Medical Conduct (OPMC), which licenses and disciplines physicians.

Council Member Levine was moved to sponsor this legislation after hearing survivor advocate Marissa Hoechstetter’s story, as she unsuccessfully sought to have the name of the OB/GYN who sexually assaulted her while she was pregnant removed from her twin daughters’ birth certificates but was denied. Without a clear precedent for how to eliminate a physician’s name from the record, the Council Member’s office attempted to intercede on Ms. Hoechstetter’s behalf, but was told she would need an order from the State Supreme Court to have the doctor’s name stricken from her children’s birth certificates.

Robert A. Hadden, listed on the certificates as the “Name of Attendant at Delivery,” plead guilty to multiple criminal sex acts in 2016. After 19 women accused him of assault, he admitted guilt as part of a plea deal with the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office that included surrendering his medical license and registering as a sex offender. For Hoechstetter, the visible reminder of Hadden’s connection to her daughters’ birth proved traumatic. Eight other women who were Hadden’s patients have also since stepped forward anonymously to request this change.

“We cannot undo the damage done by abusers who exploit the vulnerability of women in an OB/GYN’s office,” said Council Health Chair Mark Levine. “The least we can do is not subject survivors--and their children--to the pain of seeing their abuser’s name on a document as foundational and meaningful as a birth certificate. This simple legislative fix is a small but important step towards justice for brave women like Marissa Hoechstetter.”

“This legislation is a concrete example of a lawmaker taking action to directly support survivors. I am grateful to Council Member Levine for taking the time to understand why having the name of a doctor who sexually assaulted me on my children’s birth certificates would be so difficult,” said Marissa Hoechstetter. “Access to my body and delivering my children was a privilege that Hadden abused. While I now live with the reminder of his actions, I refuse to leave my daughters with his name on the document that marks their entrance into this world. The impact of an assault is still felt long after the occurrence. With this legislation, I can now find comfort knowing that my daughters will not continue to carry my abuser’s name into their lives.“

“Sexual assault or other abusive behavior from one’s own doctor is a profound violation. Thanks to Council Member Levine’s legislation, survivors like Marissa Hoechstetter will no longer be forced to remember their abuser every time they look at their child’s birth certificate. I commend Council Member Levine for fighting for justice for survivors like Marissa,” said Council Member Helen Rosenthal, Chair of the Committee on Women.

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Council Member Levine Introduces Rent Transparency Bill to Protect Tenants

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 28, 2018

CONTACT: Jake Sporn // 917-842-5748 // jsporn@council.nyc.gov

City Hall, New York -- Today, Council Member Mark Levine introduced legislation, Intro 1274, that would require landlords of rent stabilized units to provide tenants with four years of rental history as recorded by the State Department of Housing and Community Renewal.

The legislation aims to increase transparency for tenants while ensuring they are not being overcharged for their homes. It would also help prevent landlords from illegally removing units from stabilization, and could make it easier for the City to enforce existing laws that protect and preserve stabilized units. 

“In the last year alone, my office has worked countless constituents who needed help getting their rent history from the State. It’s a complicated, time consuming process that tenants shouldn’t be burdened with,” said Council Member Mark Levine. “Requiring landlords to disclose a unit’s rent history would break down a significant barrier, making it easier to hold unscrupulous landlords accountable if a tenant’s rent goes up dramatically overnight. More than that, giving tenants insight in to a unit’s rent history means making it easier to predict how much their rent will increase in the future, helping them become more financially secure in the long run.”

The legislation is part a package of bills being introduced today in the Council to protect tenants.

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Council to Pass Levine Bill Studying Taxi Medallion Debt Solutions

**RELEASE** November 28, 2018

CONTACT: Jake Sporn // 917-842-5748 // jsporn@council.nyc.gov

City Hall, NY – Today the New York City Council is expected to pass legislation, Intro 1069, sponsored by Council Member Mark Levine, requiring the TLC to study the prevailing issue of medallion owners with excessive debt.

The legislation is aimed at helping City policymakers and industry stakeholders better understand the depths of this crisis in addition to analyzing potential ways to ease the financial hardship facing thousands of hardworking, overwhelmingly immigrant drivers.

“Independent owner-drivers who played by the rules set by the City are now enduring extraordinary financial hardships through absolutely no fault of their own,” said Council Member Levine. “After having bought an asset because they had a guarantee from the City about its underlying value, our city has failed these small business owners. Both the financial and human toll brought on by this crisis cannot be overstated. As I’ve stated before, it is the app-based taxi corporations should be the ones to shoulder the financial burden of providing financial relief to the independent medallion owner-drivers who are suffering. The study called for in this legislation will provide valuable insight in to how we can help these drivers.”

Earlier this year the TLC agreed to Council Member Levine’s proposal to waive the required annual medallion renewal and inspection fees, which force payments two years in advance and cost up to $1,650 per medallion. His office is currently working on legislation that would codify the fee waiver into City law.

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Following Release of FBI Hate Crimes Data, CM Levine Calls for Dedicated Office for Hate Crime Prevention

**FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE**

November 13, 2018

CONTACT: Jake Sporn // 917-842-5748 // jsporn@council.nyc.gov

City Hall, NY -- In response to the alarming rise in hate crimes in New York City, Council Members Mark Levine and Donovan Richards are introducing legislation that would create a City Office for the Prevention of Hate Crimes.

Over the past several years, hate crimes have been on the rise in America’s largest cities. This is especially true in New York, where hate crimes are up over 40% since 2011, with a noticeable spike having occurred in 2016 during the last presidential election.

Per a report released earlier this year from the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism; California State University, San Bernardino, “Hate crimes in [New York City] rose 12.4 percent in 2016; much more than the 4.6 percent national rise, propelled by a massive spike in the weeks following the presidential election.”

“The epidemic of hate crimes sweeping across the country is a national crisis,” said Council Member Mark Levine. “As we’ve seen in recent weeks, this is a battle being fought on our New York City streets every day. When hate crimes and threats occur, they are not just an attack on innocent victims, but on the values we share as New Yorkers. We have an obligation to guarantee the safety and security of every community that calls New York home. We must do everything we can to help protect the diverse communities that define our city. An Office for the Prevention of Hate Crimes--the first of its kind in the nation--would coordinate the efforts of City agencies to promote awareness and prevention, ensure proper investigation and prosecution of hate crimes, and monitor the impact of these heinous acts on our neighborhoods.”

“In the pursuit of stopping the spread of hate across our nation, New York City must become more proactive in our approach to hate crimes,” said Council Member Donovan Richards, chair of the Committee on Public Safety. “The City should be organizing all city agencies and community leaders to create a holistic plan to address this troubling rise in hate, ignorance and fear. The creation of the Office for the Prevention of Hate Crimes will be the driving force in that conversation by ensuring that our city progresses away from the reactive approach to violent hate crimes and continues to strengthen the diverse groups in our communities that make our City so strong.”

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Health Chair Levine Statement on Upper Manhattan Legionnaires’ Cluster

**RELEASE** November 9, 2018

CONTACT: Jake Sporn // 917-842-5748 // jsporn@council.nyc.gov

City Hall, NY – Council Member Mark Levine has issued the following statement:

"From the moment we learned of a second legionnaires cluster at the same location in upper Manhattan, I began asking pressing questions: are there defects in cooling tower equipment which make them vulnerable to repeat contamination? How long does intense monitoring last after a tower is found to be contaminated once?

Five weeks--and one oversight hearing--after Lower Washington Heights was hit with a second deadly cluster, we still don’t have adequate answers to these questions. DOHMH needs to move immediately to put in place better protocols to prevent this kind of repeat contamination."

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Council Member Levine Statement on Waived Licensing Fees for Struggling Taxi Drivers

**RELEASE** October 29, 2018

CONTACT: Jake Sporn // 516-946-5253 // jsporn@council.nyc.gov

 

City Hall, NY – Ahead of the October 31st Taxi Licensing Fee payment deadline, City Council Member Mark Levine has issued the following statement:

“Independent owner-drivers who played by the rules set by the City are now enduring extraordinary financial hardships through absolutely no fault of their own. After having bought an asset because they had a guarantee from the City about its underlying value, our city has failed these small business owners.Both the financial and human toll brought on by this crisis cannot be overstated.

For us to better understand the depths of this crisis and ways to address it, I have introduced legislation, Int. 1069, which will require the TLC to study ways to ease the financial hardship of these hardworking, overwhelmingly immigrant drivers.

As I have stated before, the app-based taxi corporations should be the ones to shoulder the financial burden of providing financial relief to the independent medallion owner-drivers who are suffering.  

While the legislative process moves forward—and as the Council continues to look for lasting solutions to help New York’s taxi community—I’m thrilled the TLC has answered my call to waive the required annual medallion renewal and inspection fees, which force payments two years in advance and cost up to $1,650 per medallion. For many, that is the difference between paying the rent and putting food on the table.”

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Council Member Levine Introduces Legislation to Address Impact of Supertalls on Parkland

**DRAFT RELEASE** October 16, 2018

CONTACT: Jake Sporn // 917-842-5748 // jsporn@council.nyc.gov

City Hall, NY – As a new generation of super-tall skyscrapers emerges throughout the city, Council Member Mark Levine is introducing legislation that would require the creation of an inter-agency task force to study the effect of shadows cast by tall buildings over City parkland.

The loss of sunlight is detrimental to City parks. This is especially true in Manhattan, where the narrow street grid means many blocks only have direct sunlight for a few hours per day. Depending on the season, buildings over 1000 feet cast shadows that can extend as far as twenty blocks.

From a tower built in 2015 on the southern edge of Madison Square Park that casts a shadow over most of the park’s six acres, to small parks in neighborhoods like the Lower East Side surrounded by lots with unused development, there are parks across the City in danger of being overshadowed. Even Most strikingly, new developments on “Billionaires Row” are putting Central Park at risk.

In the past few years alone, no fewer than seven towers have been completed or began construction on Manhattan’s 57th Street corridor, six of which measure over 1,000 feet in height.  One, the so-called Nordstrom Tower, will top out at a staggering 1,775 feet--just a few inches shorter than 1 World Trade Center. At least five other mega-towers are in some stage of planning or financing, which, if realized, would bring the total number in the 57th Street vicinity to twelve.

“Parks and greenspaces are essential pieces of our City’s infrastructure and parks need sunlight to thrive,” said Council Member Mark Levine, former chair of the Council’s Parks Committee.

“We want to tackle this problem before the next boom on super-tall towers attacks Central Park. They cast shadows that can be a mile or longer in the park. If it was just one, you would wait for it to pass, but there are potentially seven more and that’s going to affect the ecosystem of Central Park alone.

“Currently, there is no process in the zoning resolution to assess, let alone mitigate, the impact of buildings on parks and open space,” said  Layla Law-Gisiko, Chair of the Central Park Sunshine Task Force in Manhattan Community Board Five. “As a result, we have seen numerous parks throughout the city plunged into shadows with no ability to protect the public's access to sunlight.  We need to urgently equip ourselves with better zoning tools.  A task force will help identify the best mitigating solutions to protect our parks from shadow encroachment.”

Models of the shadows they will cast show that vast stretches of the park will be covered in shade during much of the day and through much of the year. These new shadows will be so long that they will reach as far as the Great Lawn and 72nd Street on the East Side, affecting the Heckscher Playground, the Central Park Zoo, and many of the park’s ball fields.

Said Council Member Levine, “Other cities--including Boston, Fort Lauderdale and San Francisco--have already enacted zoning ordinances that afford a measure of protection for green space. One common measure is to apply a ‘shadow budget’ to development around parks, to shape development in ways that minimize shadow impact. With the number of out-of-proportion developments increasing throughout the city, it’s well past time New York takes action to protect our parks.”

New York City enacted ground-breaking zoning rules in 1916 and 1961 in no small part as a reaction to the loss of sunlight caused by the rapidly increasing height and bulk of buildings in those eras. But in recent years a combination of transferable development rights, zoning lot mergers, and new building technologies have enabled super-tall structures that would have been inconceivable a half century ago--effectively rendering previous zoning laws impotent.  

While shadow assessments are required as part of the City’s environmental quality review process for projects that need discretionary approvals or permits from a City agency, or have received City funding, no such assessments are required for the type of as-of-right development now occurring around 57th Street.

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Council Member Levine Renews Call for West Harlem Ferry

**FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE** October 15, 2018

CONTACT: Jake Sporn // 917-842-5748 // jsporn@council.nyc.gov  

City Hall, NY – As the New York City Economic Development Corporation (EDC) finalizes its 2018 NYC Ferry feasibility study, Council Member Mark Levine wrote a letter calling for the establishment of ferry service at the West 125th Street Piers and across the Hudson River to New Jersey.

“A ferry network with stops on the west side of Manhattan and uptown would help reduce crowding on the increasingly over-packed 1 and A trains, stimulate economic activity, and remove countless fume-spewing vehicles from our streets” said Council Member Mark Levine. “As residential and commercial growth continues up and down the west side, and with key infrastructure already in place at West 125th Street, investing in ferry service now is a sensible step to address the need for an additional transportation hub. As New York City embarks on a new phase of ferry expansion through the five boroughs, Northern Manhattan shouldn’t be ignored again.”

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Council Member Levine to Host Transportation Town Hall Featuring NYC DOT Commissioner, Transit Advocates

**FOR PLANNING PURPOSES ONLY**

MEDIA ADVISORY FOR: October, 15th, 2018 at 6:30 pm

Contact: Jake Sporn 917-842-5748 // jsporn@council.nyc.gov

Harlem, NY -- Council Member Mark Levine will be joined by NYC DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg and transportation advocates from Rider’s Alliance, TransitCenter, and Transportation Alternatives for a Town Hall meeting at the Manhattan School of Music.

Topics to be discussed include the City’s new program reserving street parking for car sharing services, the failing bus system, Council Member Levine’s renewed push to bring ferry service to West 125th Street in Harlem, the proposed Amsterdam Avenue redesign, and more. After a discussion led by Council Member Levine, community members will be invited to ask questions of the panel.

This event is open press, however due to space concerns, please RSVP to Jake Sporn by 4pm.

Where: Manhattan School of Music, 132 Claremont Avenue

When: Monday, October, 15th, 2018 at 6:30 pm

Who: City Council Member Mark Levine, NYC DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg, Advocates from Rider’s Alliance, TransitCenter, and Transportation Alternatives.

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