Morning Read: ‘New York Mayor’s de Blasphemy’

Today's Trentonion.

Today’s Trentonion.

New Jersey Headline of the Day: “Springsteen Sings Bridgegate Parody With Fallon, Ends Short-Lived Christie Friendship.”

Actual Headline of the Day: “NYC Auctioning Off Life Rafts In ‘Poor Condition.’”

The Texas woman arrested for allegedly steering illegal contributions to Congressman Michael Grimm has hired a lawyer who also contributed personally to Mr. Grimm’s campaign and “shares a New York FBI background with Grimm and who has ties to Staten Island.” The lawyer “declined to say whether Grimm had anything to do with Ms. Durand becoming his client.”

The lawyer also said the FBI is “going after this woman, a single mother, who was just tooling around minding her own business.” Echoing the remarks, Mr. Grimm’s attorney said, “We are saddened that the government took the extraordinary step of arresting a single mother on these allegations, and hope the matter will be resolved quickly,”

With Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito now in charge, Capital New York reports “longtime Council staffers are bracing themselves for what they call the ‘Valentine’s Day massacre,’ the day when former speakers fire dozens of employees loyal to their predecessors.” “They’ve asked that people not be retaliatorily fired,” said one Council source.

On Inside City Hall‘s “Wiseguys” segment last night, former mayoral candidate Bill Thompson weighed in on “forkgate.” “As mayor, scrutiny happens all the time. He ate it with a fork, big deal. I think he ate it with a fork partially and folded it partially, okay? He pleased everybody in doing that,” Mr. Thompson claimed.

New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd weighed in as well: “Far be it from me to defend what Jon Stewart has demolished. But I would like to speak up on behalf of the fledgling New York mayor’s de Blasphemy, now universally deemed his first mistake and possibly grounds for impeachment: daintily carving up his smoked-mozzarella-and-sausage pizza.”

Some lawmakers are calling on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to declare a special election to fill the 11 vacancies in the state legislature. “Most of the people who are being denied access to representation are black and Latino,” State Senator Kevin Parker told NY1, for instance. “The governor is going to want to provide representation for those folks.”

While LGBT celebrities, legislators, politicos and others are teaming up today to urge Mr. Cuomo to fund affordable housing protection for New Yorkers living with HIV/AIDS. “This should be a no-brainer for Governor Cuomo. It won’t cost anything and enables him to show leadership on a priority issue for the LGBT community,” said Dan Morris, “a gay Democratic operative working with VOCAL-NY and the coalition on press and strategy for the campaign.”

View their letter to Mr. Cuomo below:

January 15, 2014

The Honorable Andrew Cuomo
Governor of the State of New York
New York State Capitol
Albany, New York 12247

Dear Governor Cuomo:

We applaud your leadership promoting LGBT equality, tackling health disparities, and investing in affordable housing. We write to you with a concern that touches on all of these priority areas for your administration. Your leadership is needed now to change an anachronistic subsidy exclusion that discriminates against people living with HIV/AIDS.

As members and allies of the LGBT community, we are grateful for your tireless effort and tremendous success in passing same-sex marriage in New York. We are confident that you will also want to stand with us in putting a stop to the discrimination against people living with HIV/ AIDS in affordable housing – discrimination that disproportionately impacts low-income, LGBT people of color.

We ask you to implement the 30% rent cap for people living with HIV/AIDS, a cost-neutral affordable housing protection, through Article VII language in the 2014 – 2015 Executive Budget.

Background – People with AIDS Excluded from Affordable Housing Protection
The primary housing program for poor New Yorkers living with HIV/AIDS is tenant-based rental assistance. As with other state housing programs for disabled people, residents with income from disability benefits are expected to contribute a portion of those benefits toward their rent. All state disability housing programs – and all federally funded housing assistance – cap the tenant’s rent contribution at 30% of income. Except one. The HIV/AIDS rental assistance program put in place in the 1980s excluded an affordable housing protection.

What this means today is that disabled New Yorkers with an AIDS diagnosis who receive rental assistance are required to pay upwards of 70% or more of their federal disability income (SSI, SSDI or Veterans’ benefits) towards their rent. This forces people to choose between paying their rent and other essential needs like food, transportation and co-pays for life-saving medical care. For those evicted, the risks are even greater. Without stable housing, it is difficult for people living with HIV/AIDS to remain connected to medical care, adhere to treatment and practice HIV prevention. The consequences include high rates of housing loss, homelessness, and premature death among a vulnerable population.

The Cost Savings
This policy will pay for itself by preventing unnecessary costs associated with housing loss and homelessness. An analysis by Shubert Botein Policy Associates (SBPA) estimates that annual reductions in crisis and emergency housing costs for the 10,000 people currently at risk of homelessness who are living with HIV/AIDS will more than offset the estimated cost of implementing this policy. These reductions in emergency housing costs make this affordable housing protection cost-neutral or even a cost savings for City and State agencies responsible for the rental assistance program. Moreover, by reducing avoidable crisis healthcare costs and the risk of ongoing HIV transmission, SBPA estimates the policy will result in significant additional Medicaid savings.

Legislative History
Legislation addressing this issue passed the Assembly and the Senate in 2010, with only one Senator voting against it. Former Senator Thomas K. Duane spoke passionately about it on the Senate floor, convincing his colleagues — Democrats and Republicans — to pass the bill in the final hours of session. When advocates met with then-Governor Paterson, the Governor indicated that he was likely going to sign it into law. Only after a conversation with Mayor Bloomberg did the Governor veto it. Governor Paterson included this powerful statement in his veto message: “This is my most difficult veto. I recognize, sadly, the history of the inadequacy of services government has brought to bear for those with HIV/AIDS.”

An affordable housing protection for homeless and at-risk people living with HIV/AIDS has strong bi-partisan support in the legislature. Senator Brad Hoylman and Assembly Member Robert Rodriguez are the current sponsors of the legislation (S3022/A7782). New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio also backs the legislation and pledged his support during his campaign to work with you on this common-sense fix to an existing housing subsidy.

Current Opportunity
HIV remains a severe crisis in both the LGBT community and communities of color. In NYC, a majority of new HIV diagnoses are among gay and bisexual men, with Black and Latino youth at highest risk. While HIV has touched every population and age group in New York, 79% of people living with HIV/AIDS in our state are people of color. Promoting stable and affordable housing is the foundation for effective HIV prevention, treatment and care — and is therefore essential to ending the epidemic and addressing these disparities.

We encourage you to seize this opportunity to end the unfair double standard that forces low-income and disabled people living with HIV/AIDS to pay more in New York’s housing assistance programs.

Sincerely,

Elected Officials

New York State Senator Brad Hoylman

New York State Assembly Member Daniel O’Donnell

New York State Assembly Member Robert Rodriguez

New York City Council Member Daniel Dromm

New York City Council Member Corey Johnson

New York City Council Member Carlos Menchaca

New York City Council Member Ritchie Torres

Activists and Allies

Richard Anderman

Stuart Appelbaum, RWDSU

Andy Cohen

Chris Collins
Vice President and Director, Public Policy amFAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research

Alan Cumming

Michael Czaczkes
Co-President, Lambda Independent Democrats of Brooklyn

Marjorie Dove Kent
Executive Director, Jews for Racial Economic Justice

Erin Drinkwater
Executive Director, Brooklyn Community Pride Center

Kevin Finnegan
Political Director, 1199/SEIU

Jennifer Flynn
Managing Director, Health GAP

Jason Franklin
Executive Director, Bolder Giving

Tracie Gardner
Director of State Policy, The Legal Action Center

Howard Gertler
Film Producer & Production Manager

Cynthia Greenberg
President, Kolot Chayeinu/Voices of Our Lives

Mark Harrington
Executive Director, Treatment Action Group

Anne Hess

Hugh Hogan
Executive Director, North Star Fund

Craig Kaplan

Charles King
CEO, Housing Works

Tom Kirdahy

Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum
Senior Rabbi, Congregation Beit Simchat Torah

Sally Kohn
Television commentator and columnist

Leah Hunt-Hendrix
Sister Fund

M. Dru Levasseur
Attorney

Rabbi Ellen Lippmann
Rabbi, Kolot Chayeinu/Voices of Our Lives

Jim Lister
VOCAL-NY Action Fund

Kelsey Louie
Chief Operating Officer, Harlem United Community AIDS Center, Inc.

Seth M. Marnin
Attorney

Michael Mallon
President, Lesbian and Gay Democratic Club of Queens

Christine Marinoni

Matthew McMorrow
Co-President, Lambda Independent Democrats of Brooklyn

Terrence McNally

Cynthia Nixon

Pauline Park
President of the Board of Directors & Acting Executive Director, Queens Pride House

Ai-jen Poo
Director, National Domestic Workers Alliance

Billy Porter

Regina Quattrochi
CEO of Bailey House

Allen Roskoff
President Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club,
Co-Author Nation’s First a Gay Rights Bill

Nathan Schaefer
Executive Director, Empire State Pride Agenda

Melissa Sklarz
President, Stonewall Democrats NYC

Jessie Spector
Executive Director, Resource Generation

Peter Staley
AIDS Activist

Sean Strub
Executive Director, Sero Project

Glennda Testone
Executive Director Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center

Urvashi Vaid

Dan W. Tietz
Executive Director, AIDS Community Research Initiative of America

Jason L. Walker
HIV/AIDS Housing Advocacy Network Coordinator VOCAL-NY
(Formerly the NYC AIDS Housing Network – NYCAHN)

Randi Weingarten
President, American Federation of Teachers

Maggie Williams
Member, Resource Generation
Board Member, North Star Fund

Billy Wimsatt
President, Gamechanger Networks

Sarah Abbot
National Organizer, Resource Generation

Bela August-Walker
Associate Professor of Law, Roger Williams University School of Law

Ilana Berger
Director of Capacity Buiding, Center for Popular Democracy

Sarah Jenny Bleviss

Naomi Braine
Associate Professor, Sociology Dept, Brooklyn College

Amy Cohen
Community Organizer

Rachel Cohen

T. Richard Corcoran
President of Alouette, Inc.
Board member, Health Global Access Project (Health GAP)

BC Craig

Amanda Devecka-Rinear
National Campaigns Director, National People’s Action

Ejeris Dixon
Community Organizer, Communities United for Police Reform

Jesse Ehrensaft-Hawley
Co-Director, Global Action Project

Kenyon Farrow
US and Global Health Policy Director, Treatment Action Group

Harvey Fierstein

Emmaia Gelman
NYU American Studies Department

Elspeth Gilmore
Former Executive Director, Resource Generation

Imani Keith Henry
Activist, Writer, Performer
Peoples Power Assembly

Bob Lederer
Co-producer/co-host, Health Action, WBAI Radio

Matthew Lesieur
Director of Public Policy, Village Care

Carl Lipscombe
Attorney, The Bronx Defenders

Sharonann Lynch

Dirk McCall
Board member, Stonewall Democratic Club

Nikki Morse
Director of Development, Jews for Racial and Economic Justice

Megan Mulholland

Ann Northrop
Co-host, Gay USA

Cori Parish
Deputy Directory, North Star Fund

Peter Rider

John Riley
Co-producer/co-host, Out-FM, WBAI Radio

Mariana Ruiz Firmat
Campaign Director

James Schaffer
Member, Resource Generation
Member, Jews for Racial and Economic Justice

Lee Schere
Member, Jews for Racial and Economic Justice

Sarah Shulman
Writer

Michael Tikili

Sherry Wolf
Author, Sexuality and Socialism: History, Politics and Theory of LGBT Liberation