Community Newsletter

Assembly Member Daniel O’Donnell
Manhattan Valley Morningside Heights Upper West Side

April 2004


Dear Neighbors,

A new legislative year has begun, and there is a great deal of information to report to you, as the past few months have been extremely busy and eventful, both in Albany and here at home in the 69th Assembly District.

In this first Community Newsletter of 2004, I have tried to provide you with a brief update about the proposed Executive Budget and its potential impact on all New Yorkers, a briefing on the legislation that we have passed in Albany to date, as well as on the legislation that I have introduced in the Assembly. I have also included updates on the issues of particular importance on a local level in our neighborhood, and some reminders about upcoming activities and events in our community.

There is no doubt in my mind that the fiscal and legislative decisions that are made in the coming weeks will determine whether we will be able to meet the needs of New York families. We can and we need to do better than the choices that have been offered in the Executive Budget proposal, and I firmly believe that the Assembly stands ready to work with the governor to make the right choices and enact a better budget for New Yorkers this year.

Some of the legislation I have proposed deals with concerns that various constituents and organizations have brought to my attention, and reflects what I believe are necessary levels of accountability - both in government and in the business and consumer arenas.

I want to personally extend my gratitude to all of the people who live and work in our community, who have made the trip up to Albany to lobby legislators on both sides of the aisle to try and do better for the residents of our City and State. Every week I am honored to meet with familiar faces who drop by my Legislative Office to share their ideas and concerns with me, and to remind me that the New York State Legislature needs to do better. I have to tell you that meeting with all of you has made me love this job. Your participation invigorates me and my colleagues to continue our fight for what is fair, for what is progressive and for what is necessary. I thank you for your advocacy, your dedication and your perseverance!

Finally, as you know, my Community Office continues to provide advice and services to all constituents who call, write, visit, or email the office, as well as to continue to provide our extremely popular and successful free monthly walk-in legal clinics for tenants.

It is my sincere hope that each and every resident of our community understands how profoundly humbling it is to have the privilege of representing such an active, diverse and committed constituency. There is literally no issue where my constituents fail to have an opinion or where they fail to voice that opinion - usually in great numbers. We may not always be able to satisfy everyone on every issue, but I assure you that I will continue to work even harder to serve you better, and to always fight for your interests.

Please continue reading this newsletter for valuable information and updates, and if you have any questions or concerns, please call me at my Community Office at (212) 866-3970 or my Legislative Office, if you are in Albany, at (518) 455-5603.

I look forward to hearing from you soon!


The Assembly has stood ready to work with the governor to make the right choices and to enact a better budget for New Yorkers this year. It is extremely unfortunate that all of the people of New York must wait for another late State budget, but there is far too much at risk to just pass the original executive budget proposal. You elected Assembly Member O’Donnell to represent your needs, and the negotiations that are underway are vital to protecting children, working families and seniors, as well as to protecting our schools, hospitals, colleges and universities, nursing homes, libraries, and the myriad of other local institutions that serve all of the members of our community. Assembly Member O’Donnell will continue working throughout the budget negotiations to provide quality education, better access to health care and more good paying jobs for all New Yorkers.



Assembly Member Daniel O’Donnell helped pass a legislative package that makes New York eligible to receive federal funding to modernize the election process through the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002.

HAVA is designed to help states create a uniform, computerized voter registration list and assist states with establishing standardized, electronic voting machines. In order to receive federal funds, each state must design a plan, pass enabling legislation, and appropriate state funds. The process must also include citizen participation and public review.

The Assembly passed a package of legislation with Assembly Member O’Donnell’s support, which would ensure that elections are run consistently and polling places are adequately staffed with well-trained workers, and would create a computerized, centralized interactive statewide voter registration list with proper privacy protections. It also includes provisions to accurately record votes, prevent voter fraud and ban punch ballots. Additionally, this package also requires statewide adoption of a single type of electronic voting machine accessible to all citizens—including persons with disabilities and voters with limited English proficiency; provides for an administrative complaint procedure administered by the State Board of Elections; and establishes basic guidelines to ensure that the disabled community has access to polling sites.

Assembly Member O’Donnell believes that the goal of adopting a system that works for the voters, increases voter turnout and empowers all New Yorkers with a voting process that is reliable and user-friendly is achieved through this legislation. He understands that elections are the lifeblood of our democracy, but they are meaningless without public trust. The Assembly’s package, if passed by the Senate and signed by the governor will help ensure voter confidence in New York elections.


Assembly Member Daniel O’Donnell recently supported the measure that would increase the state’s minimum wage to $7.10 an hour, which was passed by the Assembly. This legislation reflects Assembly Member O’Donnell’s strong belief that hardworking New Yorkers should be fairly rewarded for their labor.

The legislation would increase the state minimum wage to $6.00 per hour on October 1, 2004; $6.75 an hour on July 1, 2005; and $7.10 on January 1, 2006. Currently, food service workers receiving tips have a minimum wage of $3.30 per hour. That would rise to $3.90 an hour on October 1, 2004; $4.40 per hour on July 1, 2005; and $4.65 an hour on January 1, 2006.

Other provisions of the bill allow an employee advocate to bring a wage and hour complaint, and establish the state labor commissioner’s access to wage and hour records in investigating alleged violations.

Assembly Member O’Donnell believes that families need an increased minimum wage to help make ends meet. He has urged the Senate and the governor to join the Assembly in improving the lives of hard-working New Yorkers.


Assembly Member O’Donnell Submits Testimony To The NYS Division of Housing & Community Renewal

On behalf of all of the residents of Manhattan Valley, Morningside Heights and the Upper West Side of Manhattan, Assembly Member Daniel O’Donnell seized the opportunity to submit testimony on an issue of critical importance, “The Preliminary Standard Adjustment Factor Report for the 2004/2005 Maximum Base Rent (MBR) Cycle for Rent Controlled Housing Units in New York City”. This report proposes a 17.24% increase over the next two years for rent-controlled tenants, and would dramatically affect the housing situation of thousands of New Yorkers, many of whom live in the 69th Assembly District.

Assembly Member O’Donnell opposed the 10.5% increase of 2002-2003, and he remains adamantly opposed to yet another increase over the next two years which will amount to 17.24% in 2004-2005. These increases will cause a major hardship for thousands of New Yorkers who are already struggling to make ends meet. He understands that these are difficult economic times for everyone, and he believes that imposing this increase on rent controlled tenants, the vast majority of whom are seniors, will inevitably force them out of their homes and the communities that they have built over a period of decades.

Rent control covers “approximately 50,000 apartments occupied largely by an elderly, low income population who have been in occupancy since July 1, 1971 or by their lawful successors”. More than half of these apartments are located in Manhattan, and Assembly Member O’Donnell received dozens of email messages, letters and telephone calls from constituents, urging him to publicly oppose this increase, which, coupled with increases in fuel charges and the previous MCI and MBR increases, could literally force tenants to choose between paying their rent and being able to afford food or medication.

The current proposal - which is based on a formula that Assembly Member O’Donnell and many affordable housing advocates deem outdated—as a permanent allowable increase over the next two years would be a real travesty for some of our City’s most vulnerable, and would represent a very serious problem for many in our neighborhood.

Assembly Member O’Donnell requested that the New York State Division of Housing and Community Renewal objectively review this proposal and recognize the legitimate issues that have been presented by dozens of affordable housing advocates, individual rent controlled tenants and their local elected officials on this very important matter, and that they attempt to work with tenants, as well as with building owners, in trying to find an alternative to these dramatic increases.

Assembly Member O’Donnell Facilitates Agreement to Ensure the Return of the West Side Super Market

Community Board 9 has voted to approve variances that ensured the return of the West Side Super Market and the preservation of the “Terra Cotta Building” on Broadway at West 110th Street. After weeks of negotiations between developers and a local advisory group comprised of representatives from affected buildings, preservationist groups and block associations, which were facilitated by Assembly Member O’Donnell, a proposal was put forth which addressed a variety of the most pressing community concerns.

“This constructive, unprecedented dialogue between community and developer demonstrates that when process leads to progress, our local residents benefit,” Assembly Member Daniel O’Donnell said. “I genuinely believe that this compromise modifies the original proposal in the ways that local residents were most concerned about, and despite the necessary inconvenience that any construction imposes upon all of us, ultimately, the community will be better served by the current proposal.”

The newly proposed specifications of the building represent significant compromises in favor of the local residents. Specifically, concerns over the proposed height of the building, the amount of space between the proposed building and the adjacent building’s north side at 535 West110th Street, as well as the fate of the West Side Super Market in the building’s retail space and that of the “Terra Cotta” building were all articulated in the discussions.

The compromise proposal includes a 5’-7’ reduction in the overall height of the building. In comparison to buildings on the eastern and northern sides of West 110th Street, this proposed structure will be contextually appropriate in terms of the surrounding buildings in the neighborhood. Specifically, in terms of the overall height of the building, the proposed structure is only five feet taller than the building located directly across the street, and it is actually shorter than 535 West 110th Street ~ which is 195’ tall and adjacent to the building on the North Side of 110th Street. Finally, it is also shorter than the building across the street to the north by 20’. Also, one of the major problems with the original proposal, was that it would require that the tenants residing at 535 West 110th Street would lose all northern exposures for light and air, as that side of the building would have been permanently sealed off. After considering the arguments made at the working group meetings, the developers agreed to modify their proposal and to shift the wall of the building 8’ in the western direction, thus preserving access to light and fresh air for the affected tenants.

A great deal of community concern, perhaps more than with any other single aspect of this project, included the need for an assurance that the West Side Super Market would return. There was a tremendous outpouring of public support for this concern, and Assembly Member O’Donnell received letters, calls and emails urging him to fight for the return of this important establishment in our neighborhood. The developer has guaranteed that the Super Market will return at the completion of construction.

Assembly Member O’Donnell speaking at Community Board 9 meeting.
Finally, the idea that only the façade of the Terra Cotta building would be preserved was simply irresponsible. Although not designated as a landmark, many local preservationists effectively made the case that the entire building is worth protecting. It has stood as “the gateway” to Morningside Heights for over ninety years, and has added to this neighborhood a handsome and distinct quality that is not replicated by any site in the area. If the Board of Standards and Appeals eventually approves the 50’ setback that was approved by Community Board 9, the entire building will be preserved and the structure will be able to retain its individuality in our neighborhood. “Despite the progress up until this point, this process is far from over,” Assembly Member O’Donnell concluded. “ I will continue to make my office available, and to act as a mediator between developers and community leaders in addressing the vast array of concerns that will inevitably arise as this project moves forward.”

To address issues that affect his constituents, Assmbly Member O’Donnell
has introduced the following bills:

A10027 - Public Hearings. This bill will increase the transparency and accountability in New York State government by requiring all New York State agencies, including public authorities and public benefit corporations, to post advanced notice of public hearings and public meetings on a single website. This will require the committee on open government to establish and maintain a website, which shall contain information pertaining to the time, location and purpose of each meeting, as well as the minutes of the meeting after it is held; and establishes timely notice provisions from the state agencies to the committee on open government, to ensure that the open meetings website is kept up-to-date.

A10101 - Tenant Rights. This bill will enhance tenants’ health and safety by broadening the definition of illegal hazards to their health. It is designed to help protect tenants from prolonged exposure to carcinogens, and enhances legal protections and remedies for tenants, in special proceedings brought in New York City, Westchester, Rockland, Nassau, and Suffolk counties, who are alleging conditions dangerous to life, safety or health against property owners.

A10028 - Corporate Tax Reform. This bill represents a solution for closing existing loopholes in the New York State tax law that benefit corporations. It relates to allocation of entire net income of corporations which are classified as part of a unitary business; institutes combined reporting to tax the total amount of income of a corporation in New York State; and provides an allocation formula to enact a combined reporting regime that would apply to New York State corporations. Under a combined reporting regime, a corporation is viewed in light of its role within a larger unitary business, and that unitary business may or may not exist solely within the borders of New York State. Once all the members of a unitary business are identified, New York State assesses the expenses and revenues of the total unitary business, and taxes the New York State corporation on a fair apportionment of the unitary business‘ income.

Assembly Member O’Donnell serves on the Arts & Tourism, Codes, Environmental Conservation, Judiciary, and Local Governments Committees.

Assembly Member Daniel O’Donnell Celebrates
“First Annual Winter Book Festival”
With Kids at The New York Public Library

Assembly Member Daniel O’Donnell honored students who completed the Community Reading Challenge that he sponsored in conjunction with the New York Public Library at the Bloomingdale, George Bruce and Morningside branches in January. Each participant who completed the challenge was invited to celebrate his or her achievement at a “Winter Book Festival” at their local library. The festivals featured children’s authors Pat Cummings and Chris Raschka, who shared personal experiences about being an author and read them stories. Kids and their families enjoyed free pizza donated by the West Side’s Famiglia Pizza, as well as refreshments from West Side Super Market and Apple Tree Super Market.

Each participant was presented with a New York State Assembly Certificate of Merit by Assembly Member O’Donnell. “I think it is important to provide children in our community with experiences that demonstrate that reading is a fun activity,” said Assembly Member O’Donnell. “It was great to see the enthusiasm the kids showed when they talked about the books they have read.”

In an effort to keep the children interested in the reading experience, Assembly Member O’Donnell has posted all of the book reviews and drawings that each child submitted on his Assembly web page under the link to “O’Donnell’s Kids”. Each page features the original artwork and text submitted by every child, so that parents, classmates and neighbors will all have a chance to view their contributions.

This spring, Assembly Member O’Donnell will introduce the names of each child in an official Legislative Resolution he is sponsoring in Albany, which will also be published on his website. Please visit “O’Donnell’s Kids” at!

A very special thank you to the New York Public Library and to the staff members at each local branch for all of their help in making the first Community Reading Challenge a success!

Assembly Member Daniel O’Donnell surrounded by Community Reading Challenge participants at the George Bruce Branch of the New York City Public Library.


James Aaronson, Rachel Aaronson, Oksana Bryan
Jacob Caycho, Jesus Dominguez
Gazhir Dominguez, Kevin Espino, Momin Fariha
Emani Foddrell, Eva Frohnhofer, Isabel Frohnhofer
Alfonso García, David García, Jayne Godette
Gabriela González, Melissa González
Andre Holmes, Andrea Holmes
Juanella Holmes, Sisi Huang, William Huang
Angelique Iglesisas, Kalisha Jones
Patty Lewis, Zija Lubin-West, Eugenia Martinez
Mario Martinez, Axel McFarland, Hamayan Mich
Matt Rourdriges, Daniela Reyes, Erik Reyes
Joshua Roman, Jonathan Joel Rosario
Momin Sasha, Dorjana Saunders
Adiel Schmidt, Amior Schmidt, Devante Scott
Brenda Teutle, Madeline Tibaldi, Fatoumata Toure
Ramata Toure, Paul Trevon, Sharinee Voorhees
Bobby Williams, Clea Woodbury
Shelly Zhao & Stephan Zhao



Assembly Member O’Donnell was proud to partner with New York Cares in their annual winter coat drive. Residents of the 69th Assembly District showed up in droves to Assembly Member O’Donnell’s Community Office to donate winter coats in a display of true generosity.

“I was humbled by the show of support in our community for our City’s neediest,” Assembly Member O’Donnell said. “The level of participation in this vital program by my constituents helped keep dozens of New Yorkers, who would have otherwise been at severe risk over this exceptionally cold winter, to stay warmer and healthier.”

More than fifty coats were donated through the Community Office to New York Cares and to the Community Cares Program at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. Assembly Member O’Donnell expresses special thanks to Cathedral Community Cares for accepting coats from his office and distributing them in our local community after the New York Cares program ended for this winter season.

If you wish to donate a coat to a needy person in the coming months, you can contact:

Cathedral at St. John the Divine
Cathedral Community Cares
212-316-7581 or 212-316-7584


Assembly Member Daniel O’Donnell was proud to nominate Altagracia Hiraldo, founder and president of Dominican Sunday in Manhattan Valley, for the 2003 Emigrant Savings Bank Awards Program, in recognition of her outstanding contributions and service to our community.

For the past four years, Emigrant Savings Bank has recognized and honored the achievements of immigrants who have dedicated their lives to helping others assimilate to the culture and life of New York City. On December 10, the Emigrant Awards Foundation made a $5,000 donation to Dominican Sunday in honor of Ms. Hiraldo’s work at a special ceremony at New York City Hall.

Ms. Hiraldo was selected from an outstanding field of candidates, based on her dedication to helping the Dominican residents of the Upper West Side, Manhattan Valley and Morningside Heights, without concern for personal accolades or compensation. For the past decade, Ms. Hiraldo has been a leading voice in bringing diverse groups together in our community. Her record of achievement exemplifies a real commitment to improving the quality of life of all Dominican immigrants.

Assembly Member O’Donnell expressed his gratitude for the opportunity to nominate Altagracia Hiraldo for this prestigious award, and was extremely pleased that Emigrant Savings Bank made this significant contribution to Dominican Sunday and honored Altagracia Hiraldo for her accomplishments.



Strycker’s Bay Neighborhood Council (SBNC) has announced the availability of two AmeriCorps*VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) positions. Each volunteer is required to commit to one year of service to a nonprofit organization that works to combat poverty, in exchange for a living allowance, relocation allowance, health insurance, childcare if eligible, training and the choice of a $1,200 cash stipend or $4,275 grant for past or future educational expenses upon completion of service.

For more information, contact SBNC VISTA Danielle Spratt at (212) 874-7272 or or apply online at


A recruitment effort is under way by the New York City Police Department for New York City residents to take the NYC Police Department Police Officer Entrance Exam. The filing period for the upcoming exam will commence on February 4, 2004 and conclude on April 16, 2004.

For this examination, candidates will have the opportunity to choose from one of the following test dates: Friday, June 11; Saturday, June 12; Thursday, June 17; and Sunday, June 20.

The NYC Police Department’s City Resident Recruitment and Retention Unit will provide free tutorial sessions to all candidates throughout the five boroughs.

For further information, candidates can call 212-RECRUIT or visit the NYC Police Department website at Candidates may also apply for the exam online at the same website.


The City of New York Parks and Recreation Department has officially begun to recruit lifeguard candidates for the 2004 summer season. New York City residents can receive free lifeguard training in Brooklyn, Manhattan, Bronx and Queens.

The Parks Department is seeking qualified, mature and dependable candidates to participate in free lifeguard training courses, who will staff the 53 outdoor pools all over New York City and the 14 miles of beach property situated on the Atlantic Ocean and Long Island Sound.

Applicants must be 16 years of age, have eyesight no worse than 20/30 in one eye and 20/40 in the other eye, and be able to swim 50 yards in 35 seconds. Call 311 today for further lifeguard recruitment information!

New York Cares Spring Clean-Up Day!!!
Saturday, May 1, 2004
9:00 AM – 3:00 PM

Join thousands of volunteers to revitalize parks, community gardens, shelters, and public spaces across New York City in one amazing day ~ full of planting, raking, clearing debris, painting, and cleaning up miles of shoreline to bring out the best in our City!

To join Assembly Member Daniel O’Donnell’s Team for the 10th Annual New York Cares Spring Clean-Up Day in the 69th Assembly District, please call (212) 866-3970, for more details!



Please call (212)866-3970 to make an appointment to see one of our volunteer attorneys about tenant issues at our free monthly legal clinic, or call-in on these dates between 6:00-9:00 PM to speak with a Constituent Liaison at our Community Office!

April 29th May 27th June 24th

Assembly Member O’Donnell has organized this important event for seniors featuring information presented by the Medicare Rights Center on the new

Medicare Drug Discount Card
2006 Medicare Plan D
Full Drug Benefit Program

Thursday, May 6, 2004

10:30 AM

Morningside Retirement Health Services
100 LaSalle Street


245 West 104th Street, New York, New York 10025
(Between Broadway & West End Avenue)
Open Monday through Friday
9:30 AM - 5:30 PM
(212) 866-3970