Assemlymember O'Donnell Community Newsletter
Manhattan Valley box Morningside Heights
Upper West Side box West Harlem
April 2007

Dear Neighbor,

We are at the halfway point of our legislative session and I would like to bring you up to date on my work in Albany and the district. The budget is done and I believe the final budget begins to address the much needed reform of our health care system and provides adequate funding for education in New York. Not only does the budget make a historic investment in the state’s education system, it expands coverage for New York’s 400,000 uninsured children. The budget also provides $600 million for stem cell research, full funding for the Summer Youth Employment Program and funds universal pre-K for all 4-year-olds in the state.

I will also highlight some of the legislation I am working on regarding issues ranging from protecting tenants’ rights to assisting mothers with post-partum depression. I am happy to say that the Wireless Telephone Service Protection Act continues to move forward in the Assembly and the Senate. This bill will provide groundbreaking consumer protections for cell phone users.

In the district, the race to protect the Upper West Side from overdevelopment continues, but we have made progress in landmark designations and a rezoning package. With new development comes construction, which can severely impact the quality of life for surrounding residents. My staff and I are working vigorously to protect surrounding residents from unsafe conditions, noise, fumes and dust. We are in constant communications with tenant associations and state and city agencies calling for inspections and violations at several sites. That is why the rezoning package is so important; it will allow development that better reflects the contextual nature of this community.

After many years of advocating, I was very happy to learn that the Landmarks Preservation Commission is finally calendaring Morningside Park for landmark status. This park deserves the same recognition of any other city park and has become a magnet for residents old and new. As the summer approaches, there are many great city and state programs for kids to keep them busy during the summer months. Please read the back page and contact my office if you would like to learn about any additional programs available, and for older kids the Summer Youth Employment Program is currently accepting applications. Go to to apply now.

Please note that my Community Office is located at 245 West 104th Street, just off Broadway. My staff and I are available to assist you. I encourage you to call, write, or visit us, Monday through Friday from 9:00 am to 5:30 pm. For those who have specific housing problems to discuss, we offer a free Tenant Clinic one evening a month to assist you.

If you have any questions or concerns, please call my office at 212 866 3970.


Join Assembly Member O’Donnell with City and State Agencies at our
The Children’s Aid Society (Frederick Douglass Center)
885 Columbus Avenue at 104th Street

From 6:30pm - 8:00pm

Invited Agencies: NYPD, NYCHA, Dept. of Transportation, Dept. of Buildings, Dept. of Health, Dept. of Sanitation, Dept. of Homeless Services, MTA

Please call our community office if you have any questions.

photo Assembly Member O’Donnell with students advocating for the Youth Summer Employment Program


The budget negotiations are over and although it is not perfect we have made great strides to improve education and health care for all New Yorkers. This historic investment will provide an additional $1.7 billion in our educational system. By requiring a reduction in class size within the next five years in New York City schools and expanding universal pre-K, we have made educating our kids a priority. There are also significant increases in operating aid for SUNY/CUNY without increases in tuition and continued funding of the Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) and higher education opportunity programs.

In regards to health care, this year’s budget took on a system in need of reform to improve overall health care and focus on expanding and improving patient care. By expanding coverage to New York’s 400,000 uninsured children and adding resources to ensure that Medicaid dollars go to Medicaid recipients instead of fraudulent claims, this budget is an impressive start in expanding coverage and reducing spending. And after a long and sometimes bitter battle, an additional $355.7 million was restored to the cuts for hospitals, nursing homes and pharmacies.


As the legislative session progresses, I would like to highlight a few bills I have introduced in the new session. Some were previously introduced, while others are newly drafted or picked up from the Senate. I believe this is a great opportunity to share with you some of the legislative work I do in Albany and how I strive to introduce legislation that benefits all constituencies, especially those most vulnerable.

Protecting Tenants and Affordable Housing

A.483 would ensure that tenants do not have their apartments decontrolled due to paperwork errors or inadvertent failure to respond to decontrol notices or income information requests. The bill requires hearings by the Division of Housing and Community Renewal and gives tenants the opportunity to contest decontrol of their apartments at such hearings. This bill is referred to the Housing Committee.

A.528 addresses buyouts of Mitchell-Lama projects, and the impact of those buyouts on affordable housing, by requiring that revenues from such buyouts be deposited into a fund dedicated to affordable housing. This bill is referred to the Housing Committee.

A.580 requires cooperation between the Departments of Housing Preservation and Development and the Department of Buildings, and strengthens code enforcement by the NYC Department of Buildings. Inspectors will be required to record all violations found at a site, even if that violation is not the basis for the visit. If inspectors find hazardous conditions that are not within the Department’s jurisdiction, they must report conditions to the agency that does have jurisdiction. The bill also gives tenant organizations, and groups of tenants in the same building, the ability to have the Department inspect the entire building. This bill is referred to the Cities Committee.

A.3499 would make it unlawful for landlords to consider a tenant’s history in court cases that arise from landlord-tenant disputes, unless that tenant was evicted. This would ensure that an appearance in court would not prevent a tenant from obtaining new housing, and would protect tenants from incomplete or inaccurate tenant screening reports. This bill is referred to the Judiciary Committee.

A.6510 protects access to affordable housing by preventing owners from adding the cost of major capital improvements (MCI’s) to base legal regulated rents. Instead, MCI’s will be calculated as a rent surcharge that ceases when the cost of the improvement has been recovered. This bill is currently awaiting action by the full Assembly.

Protecting Women and Children

A.7099 would protect victims of domestic violence who live in rent regulated housing against eviction. The bill states that if a tenant is a victim of domestic violence and has been forced to leave a rent-regulated apartment because of such violence, and intends to return, the apartment will continue to be regarded as his or her primary residence. This bill was recently introduced.

A.611 brings eleven-, twelve- and thirteen-year-olds within the protection of the law that imposes enhanced penalties on an adult who assaults a child, by changing the age of the victim from "less than eleven years of age" to "less than fourteen years of age." The original statute was intended to assist prosecutors in child abuse cases; this bill would strengthen existing law. This bill is referred to the Codes Committee.

A.3722 will protect children from the harmful effects of radon by requiring that schools test for radon. Indoor radon gas is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recommends radon testing in schools, but New York law does not currently require such testing. This bill is referred to the Education Committee.

A.3726 will help protect infants and new mothers by helping to ensure that families are educated about post-partum depression during pre-natal and post-natal care. Such education will help new mothers and their families understand the nature and signs of postpartum depression, and to be aware of methods of coping 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. This bill is referred to the Health Committee.

photo AARP Press Conference in support of the Wireless Consumer Protection Act with Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer.
Fighting Discrimination

A.3496 Dignity for All Students Act. This bill will afford 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. The bill prohibits such discrimination and harassment in any activity occurring on school grounds and any activity conducted by the school. The bill also requires the State Education Department to develop model policies and requires school districts to adopt procedures and guidelines for training staff to achieve these goals. This bill passed the Assembly on 4/16/07.

A.3612 Jury charge regarding non-discrimination. This bill would require judges to instruct jurors that any preconceptions or biases they might have, consciously or unconsciously, with respect to certain categories of people, should not enter into their deliberations. For example, jurors should not believe or disbelieve a victim, defendant or witness simply because he or she is of a particular ethnic, religious, or racial background, or either male or female. Such an instruction would require jurors to consciously examine their own thought processes to ensure fair and impartial deliberations. This bill is expected to pass with the gun legislative package.

Park West Village Update

Assembly Member O’Donnell continues advocating for the residents of Park West Village as excavation and construction proceed. For over a year, he has urged the developers to open up communication with members of the community, recently encouraging the formation of a monthly "construction committee" for local residents to air grievances and develop mutually beneficial solutions. He also has pressed the developers to issue rent abatements or provide temporary relocation for residents of the adjacent properties who are experiencing high levels of dust, fumes, and noise due to construction. And he continues to express his objections to the developers renting the commercial spaces to unaffordable and high-end businesses that do not provide essential services this community needs.

In response to a constituent complaint, O’Donnell contacted the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) who visited the site last month. While inspecting for fumes, DEC issued summonses for materials in the street. The agency warned the contractors about idling and will now be monitoring the area and conducting periodic site visits to ensure compliance. O’Donnell’s community office has also repeatedly contacted New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and Department of Buildings, resulting in multiple inspections. Like DEC, DEP has advised the site’s construction managers against allowing trucks and other heavy machinery to idle; residents are reminded that if they smell strong fumes or experience dust, noise, or other quality-of-life issues, they should call 311 and then contact O’Donnell’s office with the reference number. His staff will follow-up with the complaint to ensure that inspections occur.

Park West Village Acquisitions recently applied for a permit to extend underground vaults underneath the sidewalks of the new development for increased retail space. They were required to appear before Community Board 7 as part of the application and approval process, and the community seized upon this opportunity to review the plans and ask questions about the proposed development. Although Assembly Member O’Donnell was glad that the community had this opportunity to voice concerns and ask questions, he remains critical of the developers for not doing this earlier in the process.

April is National Donate Life Month

According to the US Department of Health and Human Services,

  • More than 95,000 people are in need of an organ for transplant.

  • Each day, approximately 77 people receive organ transplants that save their lives, at the same time 17 to 19 die while waiting for a transplant.

  • More than half the people on the waiting list for a donated organ are racial or ethnic minorities. Chances of getting a transplant increase if donor and recipient share the same racial/ethnic background.

Ten percent of people on the waiting list to receive organs are residents of New York State, according to NYS Department of Health. Each year in New York State, more than 1,500 kidneys, livers and hearts are transplanted, thanks to hundreds of donors. However, with more than 8,000 New Yorkers still on waiting lists, the need for organ and tissue donations far exceeds the supply.

One way of helping is to enroll in the NYS Organ and Tissue Donor Registry, which occurs automatically if you check the donor box on the application for your NYS Driver’s License or Non-driver ID. If you have not already enrolled, you can go to to register.

For more information, please call 800-GIFT-4-NY (800-443-8469), or contact the New York State Organ and Tissue Donor Registry at 866-NYDONOR (866-693-6667).

Preservation and Rezoning Update

Assembly Member O’Donnell commends the recent protection and preservation actions taken by New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) and the City Planning Commission (CPC). In the past few months, both agencies have taken several important steps to protect and recognize the areas north of 96th Street, which have not received sufficient attention in the past. For years, O’Donnell has advocated strongly for protecting the area’s architectural, recreational, and cultural treasures.

  • On April 10th, Assembly Member O’Donnell submitted testimony that unequivocally supported the designation of the Morningside Park Scenic District. On January 30th, LPC’s member voted to calendar this site, signifying that the process towards landmark status had officially begun. For years, O’Donnell has urged LPC to calendar the designation of this important community and city resource. Morningside Park is currently the only Frederick Law Olmstead-designed park not protected with this designation, and, if confirmed, will be LPC’s first scenic landmark designation in close to two decades. Olmstead also designed Central, Riverside, and Prospect Parks, all of which currently enjoy the protection and recognition conferred by landmark status.

  • On March 13th, LPC held a public hearing on the proposed designation of the Manhattan Avenue Historic District, which includes 40 buildings on or adjacent to Manhattan Avenue from 104th to 106th Street. Assembly Member O’Donnell submitted testimony strongly in favor of this designation, which would protect this unique cluster of early 19th century row houses from being torn down to make room for large-scale developments.

  • The Horn & Hardart Automat, 2710 Broadway at 104th Street, was recently granted landmark status. At the LPC public hearing, O’Donnell submitted testimony strongly in favor of this designation, which members of the community had been committed to for years. The landmark, built in 1938, is rich with terracotta detailing and was a destination for city residents, as well as visitors, for decades.

  • The City Planning Commission (CPC) is in the final stages of approving a thorough rezoning proposal for West 97th to West 110th Street. The new zoning package will create separate zones on the avenues and mid-blocks, preventing the transfer of air rights between the two, and will impose contextual height limits on new construction; both elements will protect the neighborhood from overdevelopment. After CPC releases the proposal, it will need to be approved by the Manhattan Borough President, Community Board 7 and the New York City Council. O’Donnell fully supports the community’s push to secure a comprehensive rezoning package for this area and an expedited approval process.

Book Drive at O’Donnell’s Community Office

Assembly Member O’Donnell is sponsoring a Children’s Book Drive at his community office from April 1st through May 31st. All books will be donated to Project Cicero, a non-profit organization that distributes the books to New York Public School teachers and classrooms. This program accepts new and gently used hardcover and paperback books for children and young adults, including picture books, early readers, reference books, fiction, nonfiction and biographies.

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. To meet with one of our volunteer attorneys call (212) 866-3970 and ask to speak to Joyce Goodman to make an appointment.

APRIL 26thbox MAY 31stbox JUNE 28th

NYC Department of Parks and Recreation Junior Park Ranger Day Camp
July 2-August 17, 2007

Junior Rangers, aged 8 to 11, participate in fun and educational activities and games in a natural setting. As a Junior Ranger, your child will canoe, fish, learn to use a map and compass, observe wildlife, and even camp out in the park. This low-cost program runs from July 2nd through August 17th and is accepting applications now.

Please call (212) 360-2774, or go to, for an application. You can also visit O’Donnell’s community office to receive an application.

NYS Department of Environmental Conservation Summer Camps

There are still spots open for 12 to 17-year-olds interested in spending time this summer learning about conservation and participating in fun activities and games that teach the wise use of natural resources.

For more information, or to request an application by mail, please call or write to:

625 Broadway; 2nd Floor
Albany, NY 12233-4500 • (518) 402-8014

NYC Summer Internship

The City of New York offers dozens of internship opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students. For more information about internship opportunities with NYC Agencies, please call (212) 669-7000 or write to:

NYC Internship / Fellowship Programs
Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS)
Division of Citywide Personnel Services
1 Centre Street, 24th Floor
New York, NY 10007.


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


Step Out NYC

This free walking program for people of all ages will start in the spring and go through the end of summer at several sites throughout New York City. Sites and weekly times are still being finalized, so please call 311, or visit for more information.

Community Reading Challenge

This year’s Challenge continues through the end of April, culminating in Spring Book Festivals at our local libraries. Children already registered for the Community Reading Challenge will receive their invitation in the mail. Please put the following dates on your calendar:

  • Friday, April 27th, Morningside Heights Branch Library, 4 p.m. (Children who registered at Bloomingdale Library will receive an invitation to this event. Bloomingdale Branch Library will not be hosting this year due to renovations.)

  • Friday, May 4th, George Bruce Branch Library, 4 p.m.

    If you would like to register your child for the Community Reading Challenge, please contact Carrie at (212) 866-3970. He or she will then receive an invitation to a Spring Book Festival for storytelling, snacks, and fun!

Assemblymember O'Donnell


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