Espaillat Introduces Federal Death Penalty Abolition Act
Last Friday, U.S. Rep. Adriano Espaillat (D-Manhattan, Bronx) released comprehensive legislation to abolish the death penalty nationwide.
The Federal Death Penalty Abolition Act of 2021 has already received endorsements from over 200 organizations, including the NAACP and the ACLU.
“The death penalty is a cruel relic of the past, and should have no place in our society,” said Espaillat. “A government should not have the power to take the life of another person, and the death penalty is a deeply flawed and inherently unjust system.
“Human life is invaluable, and every human life is sacred. Yet, the death penalty forgets a core tenet of humanity – human beings change. Humans have an immense capacity to learn, to heal, and to grow. Executing someone denies this principle and gives no course for a person to grow. A person is not defined by the worst choice they made, but the death penalty only views someone’s life through this narrow lens. And what’s more, it undermines the core vision upon which this nation was founded. I am proud to introduce this legislation, and believe it is a critical step towards a more righteous, equitable, and just society for all Americans,”
Brewer Blasts City’s Bumpy Vaccine Rollout
Last week, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer (D) wrote a letter to Mayor Bill de Blasio (D), expressing deep concerns about his administration’s vaccine distribution efforts.
In the letter, Brewer criticized de Blasio for not appointing a vaccine czar, employing a confusing vaccination appointment system that’s difficult to navigate, and not opening enough vaccine sites, among other things. At the end of the letter, Brewer wrote that she’s putting together a Manhattan Task Force to address the aforementioned issues.
“We have had 8 months’ notice to prepare for this moment, and I am sad to say that we are failing,” said Brewer. “Operation Warp Speed was announced to the nation on May 15, 2020 with the goal of 300 million doses by January 2021. The city’s Department of Health has experience with mass vaccine distribution as recently as 2009, when they opened 58 points of dispensing (PODs) to provide H1N1 vaccines to 50,000 New Yorkers across 5 boroughs, opening up to seven sites each day. As recently as 2019, New York officials were rehearsing for mass vaccinations in tabletop exercises with the federal government called—rather unfortunately—Crimson Contagion, depicting a novel influenza virus originating from China.
“There’s no reason for us to not be more ready than we are and we need to implement the common-sense recommendations I am calling for.”
Maloney, Markey Condemn Trump for Attempting to Freeze Gun Violence Prevention Funding
Last Friday, U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens) and U.S. Senator Edward J. Markey (D-MA) released a joint statement after the Trump Administration announced a proposal to rescind almost all of the money appropriated for Firearm Injury and Mortality Prevention Research at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The proposed rule would rescind $12.3 million of the $12.5 million appropriated for that program.
“This is one last, desperate attempt by Donald Trump, in service to his gun lobby cronies, to claw back vital funding for gun violence prevention that Congress already passed,” they said. “Thankfully, this craven move will go nowhere, and we will soon begin working with the Biden Administration to ensure this funding stays in place. With gun violence deaths on the rise during the pandemic, now more than ever, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention needs funding for gun violence prevention research. We will continue to push for an increase in this funding and will be re-introducing the Gun Violence Prevention Act this Congress to make gun violence research funding permanent for the next five years. With a committed Biden Administration we can make passing comprehensive gun safety reform a priority this Congress.”
Stringer: The Vaccine Rollout is Faltering, But Here’s How to Change That
Last Friday, City Comptroller Scott Stringer (D) wrote an op-ed for Fortune on how to achieve an efficient, equitable vaccine distribution.
Among his recommendations were launching a single online platform for vaccination appointments, creating a centralized database to help hospitals track demand, and educating the public on vaccine eligibility and how to register.
“New York City built a nationally recognized COVID-19 testing system—and we must apply the same energy to vaccine deployment,” wrote Stringer. “Every moment we delay prolongs the physical and economic pain that we have already endured for too long. We cannot afford to waste any more time—or doses.”
Last Friday, State Senator Brad Hoylman (D-Chelsea, Midtown) announced the launch of his Vaccine Registration User Survey on Twitter.
The survey is aimed at New Yorkers who scheduled a COVID-19 vaccination appointment. It asks them how they made their appointment, how much time it took, and how they would describe the experience as a whole.
“The signup process for COVID-19 vaccines is slow & frustrating,” Hoylman said in a tweet. “It’s unacceptable & leaves far too many New Yorkers confused.”
Velázquez Pays Respects to Community Leader Michael Steel
Last Friday, U.S. Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D-LES, Brooklyn, Queens) released the following statement on the passing of Lower East Side Community Leader Michael Steel:
“Michael served as President of the Rutgers Housing, a New York City Housing Development (NYCHA) on the Lower East Side for 12 years. He was a dedicated, lifelong advocate for social justice and decent, safe, and affordable public housing. Michael gave voice to the needs of the diverse Rutgers Houses community. Whether it was demanding repairs, holding monthly meetings to hear tenants concerns, or building a coalition of volunteers to help tenants impacted by Hurricane Sandy, Michael’s life experience during the civil rights movement had a deep effect on his life and instilled his quest for social justice for all. He was a member of numerous boards including the National Low-Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC).
“As many gather this weekend to honor a champion for civil rights, Dr. Martin Luther King, let us also remember the unsung heroes in our community like Michael Steel.”