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

June 2006

Dear Neighbors:

As our Legislature adjourns for the summer, I want to bring you up to date on what we have accomplished in Albany, as well as updates on local initiatives and activities.

In a broad bipartisan effort, I joined my colleagues in the State Legislature in overriding the Governor’s budget vetoes to protect New Yorkers’ access to health care and increase funding for city schools. To help improve the health care available to State residents, I have introduced a bill that would require insurance coverage of an important diabetes test, since diabetes rates continue to rise. And in May, I introduced three bills to help safeguard the health and well-being of children: one would require radon testing in school buildings; the second would extend legal protections against adult assaults on children under 14; and the third would help combat post-partum depression.

To help provide security to our most vulnerable populations, I have introduced legislation that would ensure that penalties imposed for noncompliance with domestic support orders are paid for the benefit of the children or spouse involved. And my Dignity for All Students Act, which the Assembly passed, would protect all public school students from discrimination and harassment, updated to include sexual orientation.

Spring is a time of renewal and I’m happy to announce that my support toward the rehabilitation and refurbishment of Riverside Park’s 119th Street Tennis Courts has paid off just in time for the summer months. Also, in April many local elementary school students completed my Annual Community Reading Challenge, which was held at each of our district’s New York Public Libraries. (See the next article for a complete list of those who participated.) And earlier this spring my legislative analyst, David Bredhoff, joined Simon Deng, a formerly enslaved Sudanese man, and numerous volunteers for a Sudan Freedom Walk from New York City to Washington DC on behalf of the people in southern and western Sudan. Finally, this summer I will host the first annual O’Donnell Community Health Service Days, which will offer community residents free health screenings and inform them about services available in our district. (Click here for dates and locations.)

With respect to housing, I have introduced legislation that would strengthen tenants’ and tenant associations’ ability to request and obtain thorough inspections of their buildings. For those tenants who have specific housing problems, my Community Office continues to host our free legal clinic one evening each month. You may call 212 866 3970 to schedule an appointment.

If you have any questions or concerns, please call or stop by my office, which is open on weekdays from 9:00 AM to 5:30 PM.


3rd Annual

After four months of reading, writing, drawing, and celebrating, Assembly Member O’Donnell’s Third Annual Community Reading Challenge has come to a close. He congratulates all participants on their reading and their critical role in the program’s success. The March and April Book Festivals at the Bloomingdale, George Bruce, and Morningside Heights branch libraries included professional storytelling, New York State Assembly certificates of completion, and the opportunity for Assembly Member O’Donnell and the readers to discuss books, reading, and education. He thanks and congratulates all participants, including:

Sadikur Ahmed, Saifur Ahmed, Soyma Ahmed, Amina Begum, Jillian Brigham, Daniel Chong, Joseph Chong, Malik Fung Chung, Christian Encarnacion, Renée Francis, Jeannette Galindo, Nelly Gomez, Angelica Gomez, Lakisha Gonslaves, Michael Gonzales, Manuel Gonzales, Femi Haynes, Charles Hilaireson, Steven Jean-Michel, Christina Jimenez, Frankie Johnson, Tito Johnson, Charlotte Johnston, Jessica Kantorwitz, Sooji Kim, Xavier Lawson McKenzie, Vanya Leitao, Erica Martinez, Wilson Martinez, David Wilson Martinez, Ariel Matos, Melvin Matos, Sharinée McCullough, Renée McCullough, Sonia Mehra, Vinay Mehra, Tyree Meredith, Tajshashu Mexil, Makeda Mulugata, Ariel Neatos, Abel Ngala, Wendy Ngala, Stephanie Panama, Jacqueline Panama, Dawn Parker, Nazeeraa Parker, Chelsea Primo, Marisa Rosario, Loraine Sackey, Khalil Salahuddin, Esther Senou, Magdally Sevillo, Boundi Siby, Imani Smiley Herring, Kim Sooji, Boris Stainoff, Kaitlynn Stamoulis, Kathrynn Stamoulis, Ema Taluy, Amy Taluy, Stephanie Taluy, Vanessa Velez, Brandon Venable, Celha Venable, Sharinée Voorhees, Loretta Walles, and Stephen Zhao at the Bloomingdale Branch Library; Sean Conway, Joey Cruz, Aaron Jordan Edwards, Abraham Garcia, Jeffrey Gomez, Tatiana Gonzales-Ramos, Oriana Gonzales-Ramos, Kevin Goshom, Dimani Guillory, Nahtique Guillory, Erick Hamer, Roland Hiller, Sophie Hiller, Chanel Jean-Michel, Shauntel Jones, Zane Larsen, Azalea Leon, Aqueem Lyon, Tennille Mack, Terrell Mack, Iananno Manning, Jr., Carmen Rose Mina, Tré Jordan Reed, Shonalee Roberts, J’Cree Sanders, Melissa Seales, Kristofer Snipes, and Luis Yurnet at the George Bruce Branch Library; and Alex Akidil, Ben Akidil, Rosa Biaggi, Hyoung Bin Park, Kai Canoll, Rosana Deleon, Nicholas Deligtisch, Alexandra Diodonet, Harrison Giovannelli, Maurine Goodwin, Sterling Hamilton, Hannah Heeger, Erick Holguin, Rina Hong, Inah Jung, Serena J. Penniman, Joshua Jacobson, Nygel Jones, Alex Juma, Juwan Landon, Hojung Lee, Hoyoung Lee, Terrell Mack, Toby Mar, Frank Martinez, Sapphire Rose Martinez, Leichaela Miller, Shreya Mishra, Thea Moerman, Michelle Naga, Robert Naga, Abel Ngala, Wendy Ngala, Hugo Patterson, Mercer Patterson, Noel Perez, Alexandra Pollak, Violet Rivers, Xavier Rivers, Shakira Samuels, Emma N. A. Sockeyfio, Shakira Thomas, Alexi Vizhnay, and Kevin Yu at the Morningside Heights Branch Library.

Food and beverages for the Book Festivals were donated by the following community establishments: Citarella Fine Foods, Famous Famiglia Pizza, Gristedes, and Westside Market. Assembly Member O’Donnell thanks these businesses again for their generosity.

photo O’Donnell with Reading Challenge Participants
at Morningside Heights Branch

Legislative Updates

In May, Assembly Member O’Donnell introduced three bills that will help safeguard the health and well-being of children; A.11558 will help protect new mothers as well as their children.

A.11054, introduced on May 2, 2006, will require radon testing in all public and private school buildings with students in grades K-12. In January 2005, a Surgeon General’s Health Advisory stated that indoor radon is the second-leading cause of lung cancer in the United States. The EPA has estimated that radon causes about 21,000 lung cancer deaths per year, and both the EPA and the Surgeon General recommend testing all homes below the third floor for radon. The EPA recommends taking action to reduce indoor radon levels if the primary living areas of a home have radon concentrations above a certain level, and also recommends radon testing in schools. New York Law does not currently require radon testing in schools; by contrast, Virginia has required radon testing in public schools since 1994. Since children spend a substantial amount of their time in school, this bill would require radon testing in all public and private schools in the state. Radon testing is inexpensive; testing kits can be purchased from the Heath Department for less than ten dollars. This measure will, at relatively low cost, help protect the health of children throughout New York State.

A.11443, introduced in the Assembly on May 22, 2006, would bring children under the age of fourteen within the protections of the statute that establishes aggravated assault by an adult upon a child as a felony. Under current law, this crime is committed when the victim is under the age of eleven; this bill would change the victim’s age to thirteen and under. The bill also increases the number of crimes that can be considered as predicate crimes and increases the time period in which the predicate crimes can occur. Thus, if the statute is being used to prosecute child abuse, it would, as amended in this bill, be able to be used if the pattern of child abuse stretches back over a longer period, and if the child or children are older. The bill passed the State Senate on May 17, 2006, and is currently in the Assembly Codes committee.

A.11558/S.7913, introduced in the Assembly on May 25, 2006, would require the Commissioner of Health to develop policies and procedures to educate new mothers about, and screen them for, postpartum depression. The bill would also require education about postpartum depression for other family members, as well as new mothers. Educating families during prenatal and postnatal care will help new mothers and their families understand the nature and signs of postpartum depression, and to be aware of methods of coping with such depression and the availability of treatment resources. Screening mothers for postpartum depression will help ensure that the warning signs do not go unnoticed and that the mother gets the necessary treatment. The bill was introduced by Senator Morahan in the Senate, and is in the Health Committees in both houses.

Updates on Previously Introduced Bills

The Wireless Telephone Service Consumer Protection Act was favorably reported out of the Assembly Consumer Affairs and Protection Committee on June 6, 2006. Assembly Member O’Donnell’s bill A.8539 has now moved on to the Codes Committee. This legislation will give the Consumer Protection Board authority to regulate wireless telephone service providers and would also provide specific protections for consumers. A key provision is the right to cancel service without any termination fees within 15 days after the first wireless telephone bill has been issued to the customer, which would give a meaningful remedy to customers who receive bills that are significantly higher than expected, or advertised. Other protections include: requiring upfront disclosure of monthly fees, taxes, surcharges and additional charges for using the cell phone; a formal customer complaint process at the Consumer Protection Board; and disclosure of detailed coverage maps showing where cell phone service is and is not available, a significant issue for customers who buy cell phones for safety when driving.

The Dignity for All Students Act, A.9491, was passed by the Assembly on May 9, 2006. It will give all students in public schools an environment free of harassment and discrimination based on actual or perceived race, national origin, ethnic group, religion, disability, sexual orientation, gender or sex by prohibiting such discrimination and harassment in activities on school grounds and/or conducted by the school. The bill also requires school districts to adopt procedures and guidelines for training staff to achieve these goals.

A bill introduced by Assembly Member O’Donnell to strengthen the NYC Department of Buildings’ ability to protect NYC residents has been reported by the Assembly Standing Committee on Cities and may be voted on by the full Assembly. A.9488-A would require all violations found by a building inspector to be reported, even if the inspection was requested based on a different problem. The bill would require cooperation between the Department of Buildings and the Department of Housing Preservation and Development, and would give tenants and tenant associations in multiple dwellings the ability to request and obtain an inspection of the entire building.

photo AARP Press Conference in Support of
O’Donnell’s Cell Phone Bill of Rights

Fall Interns Needed
For The Community Office of
Assembly Member Daniel O’Donnell

To volunteer or intern please fax a cover letter and resume to:
(212) 864-1095

For more information, please contact Carrie at:
(212) 866-3970

First Annual O’Donnell Health Service Days

This summer, Assembly Member O’Donnell will kick off the first annual O’Donnell Community Health Service Days. The service days will take place at Grant Houses on August 19th and Frederick Douglass Houses on August 26th during their Family Days. The health service days will provide free health screenings to community residents and distribute educational material and pamphlets. Residents will have the opportunity to meet and ask questions of staff associated with local health organizations and learn what services are available to them in the district. There will also be recruiters at both Service Days for the Fire and Police Departments.

The first Health Service Day will take place on Saturday, August 19th at Grant Houses; Assembly Member O’Donnell will partner with Harlem Hospital and Grant Houses’ Tenant Association. The event will take place on La Salle Street, between Broadway and Amsterdam, which will be closed to traffic for the day. The second event will be on Saturday, August 26th, from 10am to 3pm, in front of 868 Amsterdam Avenue. O’Donnell will team up with St. Luke’s Roosevelt Hospital and the Douglass Houses Senior Center, as well as several local organizations.

At each service day, the hospitals and local organizations will provide screenings for blood pressure, cholesterol, HIV/AIDS and glucose levels as well as many other services, including a dental van and health coverage information. “I am extremely pleased to be able to coordinate these days for my constituents... their physical and mental well-being is critical to their quality of life. I believe knowledge and awareness of health issues is the first step in battling diseases that are prevalent in our community,” said O’Donnell.

119th Street Tennis Courts Reopen

The 119th Street Tennis Courts reopened on April 29, 2006 just in time for the warm weather. Repaired and resurfaced with the help of $50,000 in Community Capital Assistance Program funds secured by Assembly Member Daniel O’Donnell, the courts look brand new. The 119th Street courts are very popular among neighborhood residents. There are several tournaments and tennis clinics open to the public throughout the summer months. Columbia University and the United States Tennis Association also contributed toward the courts’ refurbishment.

“Thanks to the generosity of Danny O’Donnell and his enthusiastic support of our efforts, this season should be our best to date,” said Liz Westbrook Hydes, president of the 119th Street Tennis Association. The 119th Street Tennis Association is overseen by the Riverside Park Fund and is active in operating and maintaining the courts for the public’s use. The tennis courts’ surface repainting followed the US Open’s blue and green color scheme and the bright four-inch baselines provide a sharp contrast. “The colors are distinct and the lines so easy to see,” O’Donnell said after a recent game on the new courts. “It’s become a lot harder to argue whether a ball fell inside or outside the court.”

photo Newly Repaired Tennis Courts in Riverside Park

Staff Member Coordinates Historic Sudan Freedom Walk

David Bredhoff, a legislative analyst for Assembly Member Daniel O’Donnell and a recent graduate of Cornell University, joined former Sudanese slave, Simon Deng, and numerous volunteers in a 300-mile Freedom Walk for the people of southern and western Sudan. The walk began in New York City on March 15th and ended in Washington DC on April 5th.

Bredhoff volunteered to be the national director for the Sudan Freedom Walk, which spanned five states with stops in 19 cities that included Princeton, Trenton, Philadelphia, Wilmington, Baltimore and the District of Columbia. The Freedom Walk began its journey at the United Nations on the afternoon of March 15th, with a speech from former NBA star Manute Bol. The walk ended three weeks later with a rally in front of the U.S. Capitol, attended by several prominent members of Congress, including Senators Hillary Clinton and Sam Brownback, and Representatives Nancy Pelosi, Barbara Lee, Michael Capuano, Betty McCollum, Chris Van Hollen and Joseph Crowley. Later that day, the House of Representatives passed the Darfur Peace and Accountability Act, which increases the pressure that the United States can place on the Government of Sudan to stop the killings in its Darfur region.

“Organizing a 300-mile walk, with presentations, candlelight vigils and rallies along the way, is no small feat,” says Keith Roderick, head of the Sudan Campaign, an umbrella organization sponsoring the walk. “David planned every detail and organized hundreds of participating volunteers.”

Bredhoff says he has been interested in human rights for many years. Since 2003, the United Nations reports that the ongoing genocide in Darfur has resulted in the slaughter of at least 200,000 people and perhaps as many as 450,000. If you would like to donate, please contact the humanitarian organization of your choice. Due to funding shortages food, rations for the displaced people of Darfur are being drastically reduced.

Free Legal Clinic For Tenants

REMINDER: On the last Thursday of every month, Assembly Member O’Donnell’s community office hosts free legal clinics for tenants who reside in the 69th Assembly District. Constituents can call to make an appointment to see one of our volunteer attorneys at 212-866-3970 and ask to speak to Joyce Goodman.

June 29th • July 27th • August 31st
September 28th • October 26th • November 30th

Lifeguards Wanted!

This is one of the best jobs in New York City and a guaranteed way to be in top physical condition while helping to keep millions of New Yorkers safe.

Parks’ beaches are open from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day, and the pools are open from June 29th through Labor Day. Lifeguards work 48 hours each week and first-year lifeguards will earn a minimum of $10.71 an hour.

Fill out our Online Lifeguard Information Request Form at or download the form (PDF) and mail to:

Lifeguard Information Request
The Arsenal
830 Fifth Avenue, Rm. 308
New York, NY 10021

To request a form by mail: call 311

Volunteer with the Rangers

The Urban Park Ranger Volunteer Program is conducted in all five boroughs and is based out of the City Parks Department’s ten citywide Nature Centers. Volunteers serve as much-needed supplements to their surprisingly small staff numbers, aiding Rangers and Nature Center Coordinators in their many duties. In turn, volunteers gain the opportunity to positively contribute to the development of their community while learning new skills and knowledge in beautiful parkland environments

In order to volunteer you must meet the following requirements:

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Have a valid picture ID
  • Attend one Volunteer Orientation session
  • Be able to give 2-3 checkable references

To receive an invitation to the next volunteer orientation, either call or stop in to your local Nature Center.

Belvedere Castle Visitor Center - 212-628-2345
Open Tuesday - Sunday from 10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Located in Central Park at W. 81st St and the West Drive
Dana Discovery Center - 212- 860-1370
Open Tuesday - Sunday from 10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Located in Central Park near 110th St. & Lenox Ave

Upper West Side Street Fairs

6/25/2006 Mitchell-Lama Residents Coalition and the Westside Crime Prevention Program Columbus Ave. W. 86 St. W. 96th St.
7/8/2006 to 9/18/2006 Farmers Market (Saturdays) Harlem 115th Street Lenox Ave.
7/26/2006 W 75th St Block Assoc West 75th St. West End Ave. Riverside Dr.
7/26/2006 Grosvenor House YMCA West 105th St. Columbus Ave. Amsterdam Ave.
8/06/2006 Lincoln Square Neighborhood Center Columbus Ave. W. 66th St. W. 72nd St.
8/19/2006 Grace United Methodist Church West 104th St. Columbus Ave. Amsterdam Ave.
9/16/2006 West 100th St Block Association West 100th St. West End Ave. Riverside Dr.
9/16/2006 West 104th St Block Association West 104th St. West End Ave. Riverside Dr.
9/17/2006 West Side Chamber of Commerce Columbus Ave. W. 66th St. W. 86th St.
10/8/2006 Concerned Citizens for Community Action and St. Matthew’s & St. Timothy’s Neighborhood Center Amsterdam Ave. W. 76th St. W. 86th St.
10/15/2006 Symphony Space and Roy Wilkins Center N.A.A.C.P. Broadway (west side) W. 86th St. W. 96th St.
10/22/2006 Bloomingdale Area Coalition and One Stop Senior Services Broadway (west side) W. 96th St. W. 110th St.

Assembly Member Daniel O’Donnell COMMUNITY OFFICE INFORMATION:
245 West 104th Street, New York, New York 10025
Open Monday through Friday
9:30 AM - 5:30 PM
(212) 866-3970