Local Infrastructure in City Council District 32 Needs Repair
By. Raimondo Graziano
The residents of City Council District 32 remember well the events that occurred almost ten years ago in New York City. The hurricane that struck the peninsula and the outlying areas brought great devastation and economic hardship to the district. Many people lost their homes, their jobs, and a sense of security in the places that they called home. In the time since, much work has been done to fortify the district and to give residents a greater sense of security. Much of this work can be credited to both State Senator Joseph Addabbo and Assemblywomen Stacy Pheffer-Amatto. There is no doubt much of their work has been successful in strengthening and fortifying these at risk communities. That being said – more must be done; without a shadow of a doubt there is much more work that needs to be done to make our community more resilient to the ever growing threat of more disruptive and destructive storms.
We saw last week the effects that Isaias had on the tri-state area. Especially the profound effects it had on communities in Queens. Many thousands of people went without power, downed lines throughout the borough as well as trees, shrubbery and all manner of debris strewn about. Not to mention the tragic cases where some folks lost their lives. This storm was not a massive one, it was small compared to the larger ones that have passed through. Yet, we can see from the effects that it had our infrastructure is woefully underfunded and in need or urgent repairs, and going further, reconstruction. We know that it is only matter of time before a larger storm takes aim at the peninsula. We need to be proactive for the good of our community, not reactive – we have to work as hard as we can to preempt these events.
The burden falls on our elected officials to get the work done, to lobby for the needed funds to accomplish these ends. We need to start moving our lines underground, we need to start expanding resiliency efforts, and increasing response times to these issues as they arise. Going further we need layers of accountability to any sort of governmental program aimed at building back our infrastructure. We need to ensure that the oversight is ironclad, so that we can avoid the bureaucratic issues that arose in regards to the program – Build it Back. There is much work that needs to be done for the residents of City Council District 32. We need to get it done, the NOAA is projecting an ‘extremely active’ storm season – time waits for no one, and it is only a matter of time before we find ourselves in a crisis that could have been prevented by proactive measures, and a vision for the days ahead.
It is imperative during these times of economic tumult that both the American family and the American worker be protected and that their security be secured and guaranteed by the government. We must provide security and build up the foundation of the American worker and ensure the prosperity of the American family. This country cannot afford to forget the American family.
1. After the Bailouts, Will Taxes Go Up? https://nyti.ms/2WB5jcE
• Mr. Fink predicted more bankruptcies and higher taxes on a call with clients of a wealth advisory firm. He sees the U.S. corporate tax rate going to as high as 29 percent next year, from 21 percent now, to help pay for government rescue efforts. (He expects the individual rate to rise as well.) He thinks many companies will reopen with only half of their staff at the office, which could
• Small businesses fear that their rescue loans might not be forgiven, The Times’s Alan Rappeport and Emily Flitter report. Borrowers took the money “assuming that it would be a grant, but it’s not,” said a banking lobbyist.
• The Federal Communications Commission fined Sinclair Broadcasting a record $48 million yesterday. The penalty stems from Sinclair’s thwarted attempt to buy Tribune Media, a rival local TV station operator.
• Sinclair bid $3.9 billion for Tribune in 2017 to create a local-TV colossus with 215 stations across the country. It would have given Sinclair, known for its conservative leanings, a way to challenge Fox News.
2. Bernie Sanders: The Foundations of American Society Are Failing Us https://nyti.ms/3bm6u5D
• wealth inequality, that reality means little to half of our people who live paycheck to paycheck, the 40 million living in poverty, the 87 million who are uninsured or underinsured, and the half million who are homeless.
• As tens of millions of Americans are losing their jobs and incomes as a result of the pandemic, many of them are also losing their health insurance.
3. A Wealth Tax Is the Logical Way to Support Coronavirus Relief https://nyti.ms/2yxqpjw
• Congress has already enacted three bipartisan relief packages, including the Cares Act, that collectively provide roughly $2 trillion in pandemic aid. Further assistance is hopefully on the way. These are necessary but enormous public expenses. To put them in perspective, the stimulus package enacted in the shadow of the Great Recession was $831 billion, while recent annual federal budget deficits average about $700 billion.
• But borrowing will in the end burden the young, who — already worse off than their parents’ generation — are now suffering their second economic calamity in a decade. Instead, the relief effort should be funded through a one-time wealth tax imposed on the richest Americans, whose wealth has exploded alongside rising inequality.
• The wealthiest 5 percent of American families now hold $57 trillion, or two-thirds of all household wealth in the country (up from about half in 1960). An exemption for the first $2.5 million of household wealth would exclude the bottom 95 percent from paying any tax at all and leave the top 5 percent with total taxable wealth of roughly $40 trillion. A 5 percent tax on the richest 5 percent of households could thus raise up to $2 trillion.
• The initial stock-market bump triggered by the Cares Act’s passage added more than $4 trillion to the value of equities in the United States, and the richest 10 percent of households, holding 84 percent of American-owned stocks, benefited from this bump to the tune of roughly $2 trillion.
• The Sanders and Warren programs hold appeal, especially for progressives, but they also face challenges. The focus on extreme wealth reduces the tax base and therefore the revenue raised — while the top 5 percent hold two-thirds of the wealth, the top 0.1 percent hold roughly one-sixth.
4. We Need Amazon During the Coronavirus. That’s a Problem. https://nyti.ms/2Jv0Wtu
• During the pandemic, reliable delivery of essentials like milk, eggs, toilet paper and cleaning supplies has been a lifeline for those who are reluctant or unable to venture outside their homes — Amazon-branded trucks have remained a familiar sight in residential neighborhoods. The competitive advantages of Amazon’s meticulously constructed worldwide logistics network, built to shuttle nearly every imaginable item to customers in as little as an hour, are especially evident in this crisis.
• At Amazon, white-collar employees were sent home while the company’s army of pickers and packers have had to brave outbreaks in at least 21 facilities. Some 1,500 Amazon employees signed a petition this month seeking workplace improvements in the face of Covid-19. And attorneys general in 14 states and the District of Columbia sent a letter to Amazon’s chief executive, Jeff Bezos, urging him to loosen its sick leave policy.A few workers at a Staten Island Amazon warehouse walked off the job Monday in protest, after one employee tested positive for coronavirus, prompting Amazon to fire one of the organizers. New York State’s attorney general said Monday she was investigating the dismissal. Others were planning to skip work at the company’s Whole Foods grocery stores Tuesday over its sick leave policies.
• Consumers may be at a disadvantage, too. Because Amazon relies on smaller sellers for the majority of sales, price gouging remains a problem. And while prioritizing storage and delivery of products it deems “essential” during the pandemic — such as “household staples, medical supplies, and other high-demand products” — Amazon has also appeared to include its own branded devices in the “essential” category.
• Even in less frantic times, Amazon has been criticized for its workplace culture and its heavy-handed tactics with sellers. Last year, The Wall Street Journal contended that Amazon may be losing control of its own marketplace, allowing dangerous counterfeits to appear on its virtual shelves that would never pass muster at traditional retailers. Both Walmart and Amazon have quashed unionization efforts.
The current crisis that has the United States and many nations around the world in a state of standstill has crippled the economic productivity of many communities. More importantly, the workers of the country are hurting in what may be one of the worst economic downturns in history. During this all, an old political rivalry between the President and the… Post Office?
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1. House Democrats Close In on New Stimulus Proposal https://www.wsj.com/articles/house-democrats-close-in-on-new-stimulus-proposal-11588851736
• The bill being drafted by Democratic leadership is expected to include more than $750 billion in aid to state and local governments, as well as another round of direct support to Americans, according to interviews with lawmakers and aides. Leaders also say they are interested in extending enhanced unemployment benefits, but haven’t provided specifics.
• Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) has taken a wait-and-see approach on new funding, after Congress passed more than $3 trillion in aid in a matter of months, responding to deep layoffs across the economy. He has called liability protections for businesses his central demand in new talks. Meanwhile, Mr. Trump is seeking payroll-tax cuts and other tax relief, an idea panned by members of both parties in Congress.
• She is calling for guaranteeing workers’ wages for three months, up to an annual salary of $100,000 a worker.
2. Claims Data Point to Record Wave of Unemployment https://www.wsj.com/articles/unemployment-benefits-weekly-jobless-claims-coronavirus-05-07-2020-11588813872
• WASHINGTON—U.S. workers have filed nearly 33.5 million applications for unemployment benefits in the seven weeks since closures were put in place to combat the coronavirus pandemic, showing a wave of layoffs that likely pushed April job losses to record levels.
• Recent layoffs are expected to cause nonfarm payrolls to fall by 21.5 million and the unemployment rate to climb to 16% in the April jobs report
• Thursday’s unemployment benefits data raise the possibility that the worst of virus-related layoffs are in the past, and that job losses will ease in May. Benefits applications filed for the week ended May 2 were less than half the peak of 6.9 million touched in late March. Before March, fewer than 700,000 claims were filed weekly in records back to 1967.
3. The Daily Shot: Nearly a Decade Worth of Job Gains Wiped Out in a Month https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-daily-shot-nearly-a-decade-worth-of-job-gains-wiped-out-in-a-month-01588844292
• According to the ADP private payrolls report, nearly a decade worth of job gains have been wiped out in a month.
• As we saw last week (#6 here), the US fiscal response to the pandemic has been much larger and faster than it was after the financial crisis.
4. North Carolina Businessman Tapped to Head the Postal Service https://www.wsj.com/articles/north-carolina-businessman-tapped-to-head-the-postal-service-11588818025
• The U.S. Postal Service’s governance board tapped a North Carolina businessman and Republican donor to be the next postmaster general, as President Trump seeks to push the organization to raise rates for package delivery.
• The coronavirus outbreak has resulted in plummeting mail volumes and the Postal Service recently predicted that the pandemic will add $22 billion to the agency’s continuing operating losses over the next 18 months.
• stimulus package authorizes the Postal Service to borrow up to $10 billion from the Treasury Department to fund operating expenses, and the group is currently in discussions with the administration over the terms of the loan.
• Mr. Trump has said he doesn’t want to authorize any lending to the Postal Service unless it charges more to deliver packages. The president has long complained that the Postal Service isn’t charging Amazon.com Inc. enough to deliver the products it sells to people all over the country. He has proposed that the Postal Service quadruple its delivery charges.
5. Unemployment Numbers: 3.2 Million New Claims as Layoffs Persist During Pandemic https://nyti.ms/3dmPk8L
• Economists expect the monthly jobs report from the Labor Department, due Friday, to show that the unemployment rate in April was 15 percent or higher — a Depression-era level. The figure will almost certainly understate the damage.
• Many businesses, particularly small ones, may not survive, while others are likely to operate with reduced hours and staff. The job search site Indeed reports that postings are down nearly 40 percent from a year ago.
• Most Americans remain uneasy about reopening, with 67 percent saying they would be uncomfortable going into a store and 78 percent saying they would be uncomfortable eating at a restaurant, according to a survey that The Washington Post and the University of Maryland released Tuesday.
• So far, only 43 percent of the more than one million Floridians filing verified claims have begun to receive benefits.
6. Trump Says His Administration Is Talking to Republican Senators About Work Visa Issue https://nyti.ms/2yA9TzG
• Four Republican senators sent a letter earlier in the day urging Trump to suspend all new guest worker visas for 60 days and certain categories of new guest work visas for at least a year, until unemployment returns to normal levels.
1. US Consumer Borrowing Fell for First Time Since 2011 https://nyti.ms/2SMU1AK
• U.S. consumer borrowing fell in March for the first time in more than eight years, with the category covering credit cards dropping by the largest amount in over three decades, the Federal Reserve reported Thursday.
• Consumer borrowing declined by $12 billion in March, the first time overall debt has fallen since August 2011, according to the central bank. The decline in percentage terms was 3.4%.
• Borrowing in the category that covers credit cards dropped by $28.2 billion or 30.9%, the biggest percentage decline since January 1989.Borrowing in the category that covers auto loans and student loans was up $16.1 billion or 6.2%.
7. US G.D.P. Declined in First Quarter, With Worse Economy to Come https://nyti.ms/3aPRXhM
• U.S. gross domestic product, the broadest measure of goods and services output, fell at a 4.8 percent annual rate in the first quarter of the year, the Commerce Department said Wednesday. That is the first decline since 2014, and the worst quarterly contraction since 2008, when the country was in a deep recession.
• Widespread layoffs and business closings didn’t hit until late March in most of the country. Economists expect figures from the current quarter, which will capture the shutdown’s impact more fully, to show that G.D.P. contracted at an annual rate of 30 percent or more, a scale not seen since the Great Depression.
• The Congressional Budget Office last week released projections indicating that the economy will begin growing again in the second half of the year but that the G.D.P. won’t return to its pre-pandemic level until 2022 at the earliest.
• With each month of unpaid bills and rock-bottom sales, more businesses will go bankrupt or decide not to reopen. More workers will drift away from their employers, turning temporary layoffs into permanent job losses. More loans will lapse into delinquency, endangering banks and the broader financial system.
• Those consequences have led President Trump and other elected officials — particularly Republican governors in states with relatively few coronavirus cases — to push to reopen the economy as quickly as possible. Several states have started to do so, and others, including large ones like Texas and Florida, will begin to at the end of the month.
• But economists and epidemiologists say moving too quickly threatens both public health and economic growth.
Affordable Housing in New York By. Raimondo Graziano
Affordable and New York City are four words you’d be surprised to find here in the state and city of New York. Over the last ten to twenty years this city specifically has become less and less affordable for the working-class families that struggle to make ends meet day to day. While the state has never seen such a great economic boom and infrastructure expansion, the benefits that ought to trickle down to the average New Yorker just haven’t been nearly close enough to what they should be. In a city and state of such wealth and promise this is an atrocious truth, one that our elected officials have been slow to rectify.
While daily expenses – bills, utilities, provisions, childcare and healthcare and the such are already expensive as ever, housing has become a luxury. The average rent for an apartment, and a small one at that, in New York has gone up to between $2500.00 to $3100.00. This is outrageous when the vast majority of New Yorkers don’t make nearly enough to be able to afford this on a month to month basis. On top of taxes, bridge tolls, and all other means of squeezing the working family – the situation of affordability, and security in ones ability to achieve a good life for themselves has reached crisis levels.
You would be remiss to mention the staggering fact that there are upwards of 60,000 people homeless in New York. More than at their height during the 1930’s. This is outrageous. On any given night in New York, near 4,000-5,000 people are homeless on the streets, and with the frigid winds of Winter lashing the state – this could be classified as a humanitarian disaster. For the wealthiest city and one of the wealthiest states in the union to be leading on this issue is a travesty of the highest order.
This just shouldn’t be. To house an individual in a shelter costs far more than it would if the government would simply guarantee housing to every single New Yorker. This is cost effective to the tax payer, its humane and it’s our obligation as defenders of the wellbeing of the people of this state to enact reforms now to fix this gross inequity. So while Mayor DeBlasio talks about ending street homelessness, he is doing no better than Mayor Giuliani – simply sweeping the issue under the rug so that the “good people” (i.e wealthy, tourists and those campaign contributors of his running the hotels acting as shelters) of New York dont have to worry about seeing the problems that exist as a foundational issue of this state and city. We need action now; otherwise what kind of a people are we who don’t provide for the most basic wellbeing of the people of the state and city of New York?