Simcha Felder's FREE Services

Simcha Felder's FREE Services

Saturday, January 14, 2017

STOPPING DE BLASIO’S BAG TAX: NEW YORK STATE STEPS IN

Senator Simcha Felder and Assemblyman Michael Cusick are working to prevent Mayor de Blasio’s upcoming Feb. 15th implementation of the bag tax. Felder, Cusick and their colleagues from both sides of the aisle and both houses are asking New Yorkers to contact their elected officials and community leaders to ask Mayor de Blasio not to force New Yorkers to pay a nickel for every bag.

“Many families have a hard time just getting by, paying for groceries, rent and heat, and now the Mayor wants to shake them down every time they shop just for the privilege of using a plastic bag,” said Senator Felder, who has fought the plastic bag tax since his days as a NY City Councilman. “Mayor de Blasio, please do not nickel and dime New Yorkers with another tax. You always talk about taxing the 1% and now you will be burdening everyone else, the other 99%. This will hurt lower- and middle-income families who already struggle. I'm asking New Yorkers to stand up and tell the Mayor that this bag tax has to go.”

Cusick declared, “As the Assembly Member who represents and helped to close the former Fresh Kills Landfill, I am all too familiar with the harm that improperly disposed plastic bags do to our environment and to the cleanliness of our communities. However, a charge for plastic and paper bags in the City of New York will not solve this problem; instead it is a misguided attempt that will only squeeze more money from the hardworking families of our City. I am proud to Sponsor this legislation to prohibit this tax on consumers from being enacted, and I urge my colleagues in State and City government to come together to develop sensible and honest solutions that will both benefit our environment and the budgets of the families we represent.”

When Felder and Cusick made an effort to stop the bag tax last legislative session, their bill saw broad bipartisan support and passed in the Senate but was tabled in the Assembly pending promised changes by the City Council. But nothing changed except the implementation date of the tax.

“The City Counsel and Mayor wanted to irritate New Yorkers with this bag tax. They’ve succeeded,” said Felder.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

TIME RUNNING OUT FOR HELP WITH HEATING COSTS

Senator Simcha Felder is advising residents not to miss out on the opportunity to get help with heating costs. This year’s Neighborhood Heating Fund—the HeartShare program—has already processed over 500 applications to provide assistance to eligible households who need help with the cost of heating their homes. If you have an open account with National Grid, you may be eligible for a $200 credit on your heating bill.

Eligible households can apply for HeartShare right at Senator Felder’s offices. The Senator’s office has already saved residents over $15,000 this year.

“This week, New Yorkers really felt the cold,” said Senator Felder. “We’re fortunate that there are programs available to help low-income families and seniors with their heating bills. HeartShare is an excellent resource for those on a fixed income and for working families struggling to make ends meet. Just call my office for an appointment to have your application filled out.”

Call 718-253-2015 (Flatbush office) or 718-484-3216 (Boro Park office).

Monday, December 26, 2016

Senators Felder and Golden Working on Plan to Revive Housing Program

This story appeared in Hamodia

BORO PARK - State Senators Simcha Felder and Martin Golden are working to re-instate a tax break for developers that they hope will open the door to expanded housing options for New Yorkers, especially in their south Brooklyn districts.
The abetment, known as 421-a, has offered generous tax breaks to developers in the city since the 1970s, originally as a means of correcting what was then a sluggish market of housing starts. As the New York real estate market regained its strength, the program’s focus has been to ensure that developers provide affordable housing and keep city neighborhoods open to different income levels.
Last year, Governor Andrew Cuomo tied 421-a to a push his administration was making to raise wages for construction workers. Negotiations with builders failed and, for the first time in decades, legislation renewing the program went unsigned, allowing it to lapse.
Following an announcement from the governor’s office last month that an agreement on wages had been reached, Senators Felder and Golden were tasked by Senate President John Flanagan to draw up plans to revive 421-a.
Sen. Felder told Hamodia that his goal is to design a plan that will translate into real housing options that could alleviate the housing crisis faced by so many in his constituency and others struggling with the city’s dearth of affordable housing.
“Everybody has their ideas of how to solve the housing crisis. I don’t think that any one plan is going to solve it, but at the same time, giving up is not something that is in our DNA and giving incentives to build is the most basic tool to work with,” he said.
Even before Governor Cuomo’s confrontation with contractors effectively canceled 421-a, the program had begun to face opposition. News reports showed that it had strayed from its stated goal and been used to cut costs of luxury condos in high-income neighborhoods. Reforming the abatement became a central message of Mayor Bill de Blasio during his 2014 campaign.
A round of negotiations between the state, city, the New York State Board of Real Estate, and other stakeholders yielded a compromise, but one that Sen. Felder said did little to help families in search of affordable housing.
“I wasn’t happy because the new proposal was okay for developers, but didn’t do a thing for most homeowners,” he said. “I’m not sure why we haven’t heard any advocacy from the mayor on this point.”
A key objection that Sen. Felder had to the changes made was a clause limiting the tax break only to buildings that were subdivided into six units or more. Previously, those split into four or more were covered. He hopes new proposals to re-instate the program will include larger living spaces designed for families.
“This is not really a new argument. We have been saying for a long time that the change from four to six makes 421-a into a program that only helps people looking for studios and small apartments, but does very little for families and certainly not for large ones,” he said.
Sen. Felder’s Boro Park constituency holds little open space available for new development, but he said the abatement could help push builders to consider options in the few areas that do exist and the scarcity is “even more reason” why 421-a could help the neighborhood.
The governor’s office did not respond to an inquiry from Hamodia on the matter. A member of Sen. Golden’s staff said that he was not available to comment.
The 421-a abatement has always had different standards in different parts of the city. However, the changes made in recent years severely limited its application to the outer boroughs, another issue that the senators hope to address.
“No one has seen the agreement that the governor struck, but some news reports say the only place it covers in Brooklyn is the waterfront. That’s not where the affordable housing issue exists,” Bob Farley, legislative adviser to Sen. Felder, told Hamodia. “This is an important program. We need to make sure that it’s re-instated and that it comes back in a way that it actually does something for families.”

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

SENATOR FELDER ATTACKED FOR SIDING WITH COMMUNITY OVER PARTY

As a result of his decision to once again caucus with the State Senate Republicans, NY State Senator Simcha Felder continues to be the target for some liberals angered by President-Elect Donald Trump’s victory over Hilary Clinton.

Last month, the State Democrats issued a statement attacking the Senator. “Any Democrat who joins with Donald Trump’s Republican Party enables his continuing assault on immigrants, women, people of color, people of different faiths and our shared American values,” said Mike Murphy, a spokesman for the Senate Democrats.

More recently, a group calling itself “SD17 Jews Against Trump” urged Senator Felder to change his mind and stand with the State Democrats. On Wednesday, December 21, the group showed up at the Senator’s office with a petition signed by about 65 individuals who said they live in the Senator’s district (Senate District 17). A spokesperson for the group said that her group is vehemently against the President Elect and the New York State GOP for a variety of reasons, and that the Senator should not stand with them.

A handful of the petitioners remained outside the Senator’s office on Avenue J where they held up their signs “Jews Against Trump.” This prompted others on the Avenue to admonish the protestors. “This is outrageous,” said one woman. “I’m a Jew who is for Trump, and what you’re doing is disgusting.”

“I have to do what’s best for my constituents,” explained Senator Felder. “While I appreciate that some of my constituents may feel differently, I have also found that the majority of those who have contacted me about who I caucus with are not disappointed by my decision.

“This has nothing to do with President-Elect Trump,” the Senator continued. “For the last four years, I’ve caucused with the Republicans because, irrespective of party affiliation, I never give up on trying to do what’s best for the people I represent. Parties are not a religion. I won’t be intimidated by those who feel differently.”

Friday, December 16, 2016

Diocese of Brooklyn Legislative Breakfast


Senator Felder was happy to attend the Diocese of Brooklyn Legislative Breakfast on December 16. 

The Senator is pictured (L to R) with  Brooklyn Democratic Leader Frank Seddio, Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio, NY State Senator Roxanne Persaud, and NY State Assembly Member Helene Weinstein.

Friday, December 2, 2016

No Right Turns on Ocean Parkway?

"It’s evident that residents in my District are confused and angry about a decision by the Department of Transportation to prohibit right turns on certain parts of Ocean Parkway," says Senator Felder. "We were unaware of these changes until very recently. Consequently, I have asked Governor Andrew Cuomo, Mayor Bill de Blasio, New York State Department of Transportation Commissioner Matthew Driscoll, and New York City Department of Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg to put these no-right-turn changes on hold until the local elected officials and community board chairs can meet to discuss these proposed changes, the reasons behind them, and their impact on the district."

Thursday, December 1, 2016

That’s Not Protesting. That’s a Riot.

by Senator Simcha Felder

The difference between an objection and an insurrection is at least a thousand miles wide. As Americans, it’s vital that we respect the first and have zero tolerance for its dreadful antithesis.

Unfortunately, following our presidential election, what we’ve seen on the streets of America, and right here in New York City, are quite the opposite of what the framers of our Constitution and Bill of Rights had in mind when they insisted that certain freedoms be guaranteed.

The First Amendment guarantees the right of the people to assemble peaceably. But the right to assemble is not absolute. To prevent chaos, government can impose restrictions on the time, place, and manner of that peaceful assembly. More, the First Amendment does not provide the right to conduct an assembly at which there is a clear and present danger of riot, disorder, or interference with traffic on public streets, or other immediate threat to public safety or order.

The assembly we’ve seen on the streets following the recent election is far from peaceful. What we’ve witnessed is neither a Martin Luther King Jr. nor Ghandi-esque attempt to bring peaceful and respectful attention to a matter that some feel needs redress.

What we’ve seen is chaos.

Like it or not, Donald Trump was elected and uncontested by American due process—a process that we hold sacrosanct in this land. Barring a violation of the law, this man will be president of these United States for the next four years. So if you live here, he is your President.

There have been the “Kill Trump” messages—a public call to assassinate the President-Elect—and, in a new low, unthinkable until it was actualized, signs that call for attacks on the first lady.

Yes, unthinkable. And, frankly, unforgivable.

But thugs will be thugs. The behavior we’ve seen has not been limited to mere words, but has also encompassed assaults and destruction of property; burnings of flags and lootings of stores. The very people who claim to fear that Donald Trump will destroy America seem eager to do that job themselves.

These rioters who are breaking the law must be condemned in the strongest terms, not emboldened by our elected officials. Further, our police must be empowered to protect the vast majority of our citizens. Because that vast majority of law-abiding citizens, regardless of who they voted for, also have rights. We have the right to Life, Liberty and the pursuit of happiness. And no one that I know is happy about having the streets blocked when they’re trying to get to work. No one is particularly thrilled about seeing our streets turn into carnivals of potential—and sometimes actual—violence because a mixed-message has somehow been received by these protestors; a message that allows them to believe what they are doing when they break the law is somehow appropriate because it is tolerated.

Mid-term elections are only two years away. The older I get, the better I realize how fast two years can go by. And the next presidential election is only two years after that. There’s plenty of time for voices to be heard, for peaceful assemblies, and for the many legal ways that people in this country have to address their grievances.

In the mean time, we need to uphold and enforce the laws of this land which, regardless of who is in power, really define what America is all about.

This article first appeared in The Jewish Press on Nov. 25, 2016