A letter from NYC Council Speaker Christine Quinn about City Services to Veterans

Posted on Thursday, May 23rd, 2013

Council Votes to Increase Access to City Services for Veterans

Legislation formalizes and enhances the City’s veteran coordinator program

The Council votes to crack down on operators of gaming cafes and arcades – known as “internet sweepstakes cafes” – that offer cash prizes.

Today, the City Council and I voted to improve the delivery of services available to veterans by formalizing and enhancing the veteran coordinator program at all City agencies.

The Council and I also voted to crack down on operators of certain gaming cafes and arcades – known as “internet sweepstakes cafes” – that offer cash prizes. This practice is illegal under City and State law.

As the intercity bus business has grown exponentially in the past several years and accidents involving these buses are far too common, the Council and I voted on a bill to allow greater access to bus safety information.

Additionally, the Council and I voted to enhance reporting requirements for youth in Administration of Children’s Services (ACS) non-secure and limited secure placement facilities.

Establishing Veteran Liaisons at City Agencies
A 2008 Executive Order requires each agency to designate a coordinator to work with the Mayor’s Office of Veteran’s Affairs (MOVA) to provide information on the agency’s available services for veterans and its personnel policies that apply to veterans. However, subsequent Administrations are not required to follow Executive Orders, and the informal program has become largely ineffective.

Today, the Council and I voted on a bill (Intro 480-A) to require each City agency to appoint a liaison responsible for connecting veterans to the benefits and services it offers. Appointees would also be required to assist the 7,875 veterans and more than 1,000 reservists employed by the City with personnel matters related to their veteran status. This initiative would ensure that veterans’ needs are addressed regardless of whether they contact MOVA or an agency directly.

This Memorial Day, as we honor those heroes who have fallen in the line of duty, we also have an obligation to honor the heroes who are still with us. We hope this legislation will help to alleviate any burdens veterans have faced in the past when navigating City government and allow them to seamlessly access the services they need and deserve.

Resolution Calling on the New York State Legislature to Enact the NYCHA Real Property Public Review Act
The New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) recently announced that it intends to lease property for private development in certain locations. These plans were formed without resident or stakeholder input, and NYCHA has been reluctant to meaningfully engage these stakeholders.

The Council and I support the NYCHA Real Property Public Review Act, which would require the agency to comply with the City’s Uniform Land Use Review Procedure before selling or leasing its property. This would ensure that any such plans go through a transparent review process in which residents and community stakeholders have the opportunity to meaningfully impact proposed plans and ultimately shape their own neighborhoods.

State Education Resolutions
The Council and I voted on a Resolution calling on the New York State Department of Education to immediately stop all stand-alone field testing for students.

Each year, the State assigns schools to administer stand-alone field tests to students, of which the sole purpose is for the testing company to try out questions for future tests.

These tests are not designed to measure students’ learning, do not count toward students’ grades and parents and students never see the results.

The Council and I also voted on a Resolution calling upon the State Legislature to pass a bill amending the New York State Education Law to afford houses of worship equal access to school property.

Internet Sweepstakes Cafes and Arcades
The city has recently seen a proliferation of internet sweepstakes cafes, particularly in low-income neighborhoods, which blatantly advertise the chance to win money. While it is currently at the discretion of the DCA Commissioner to revoke licenses of gaming cafes or arcades illegally offering cash rewards, this bill (Intro1035-A) will now require the DCA to revoke the license of any gaming cafe or arcade operator who does so.

Several states have taken steps to stem the spread of internet sweepstakes cafes, most recently Florida and Ohio. New York City already has a licensing structure in place for gaming cafes and arcades, but this much-needed bill will strengthen it by facilitating stricter enforcement by the DCA.

Intercity Bus Bill
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) maintains a website that provides information about the safety of intercity bus companies. However, the information is difficult to access. Today, the Council and I voted to require DOT’s website to link to FMCSA’s website.

Specifically, the bill (Intro 591-A) would require a listing of federal passenger carrier safety ratings, a link to an explanation of these ratings and a link to the FMCSA’s Safety and Fitness Electronic Records System.

ACS Juvenile Facilities Reporting Bill
Last year, Governor Cuomo enacted the “Close to Home” initiative which allows ACS to operate non-secure and limited secure placement facilities for adjudicated juveniles in New York City so that they may be placed in facilities closer to their families and communities. Today, the Council and I voted on a bill (Intro 981-A) to require ACS to report demographic and safety data for youth in the new facilities pursuant to Close to Home.

Additionally, the legislation requires the reporting of two very important metrics. Currently, ACS does not collect data when youth are targeted because of their LGBT status. This bill requires the agency to report such information if it is voluntarily reported by a child. This data will allow ACS to identify any patterns of maltreatment and to explore ways to better serve this at-risk population. The bill would also require ACS to publish data on the number of youth who transfer between facilities. There is little information about transfers between juvenile facilities, and this data could be useful for policymakers to examine in order to improve services for youth under ACS care.