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Grassroots Bulletin

August Newsletter

New York City Finalizes New Districts - Find Your Council Member 


Every decade, following the U.S. Census, City Council districts are redrawn to reflect demographic changes – and the way the lines are drawn can directly impact which candidates prevail at election time and what laws ultimately get passed. 

In November 2012, the city’s 15-member Redistricting Commission (“the Commission”) released a proposed plan to change City Council district lines based on public comments they received following release of the 2012 census results. 

The Mayor and Council leaders appoint the members of the Commission.  In July 2012, the Commission announced the first round of citywide public hearings to seek public input, and in September released a preliminary draft of the new City Council district map.  Following the release of the draft, another round of public hearings and meetings were held. 

In March 2013, the Commission submitted its final districting plan to the City Clerk for all 51 City Council districts.  The final maps included 35 districts in which protected racial and language minority groups represent an overall majority of the total population in the district. By comparison, the 2003 districting plan had a total of 30 such districts.  The U.S. Department of Justice gave final approval of the districting plan in May, ensuring that the new districts would be implemented in time for the 2013 citywide elections. 

Explore the new districts and demographics from the U.S. Census Bureau with CUNY’s The Graduate Center mapping feature here: http://www.urbanresearchmaps.org/citycouncildistricts/

Search your address and find out who your NYC representatives are here: http://www.mygovnyc.org/ 

Business Weighs In on Immigration Debate   


Earlier this summer, Con Edison joined Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s “March for Innovation,” which brings together industry, not for profit groups, technology leaders and other public officials in a call for comprehensive federal immigration reform. 

Bloomberg established the bipartisan coalition along with former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Newark, N.J. Mayor Cory Booker, former-California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and the activist groups Organizing for Action and Republicans for Immigration Reform.

Members of the coalition argue that an overhaul of immigration policy would improve the economy, increase jobs and lead to greater innovation. In May, the group mobilized millions of Americans through social media to conduct a virtual “march” urging Washington to act.  

Specifically, members of the March for Innovation support S.744, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act, which passed the Senate in June after months of negotiations.    If it becomes law, S.744 would be the most significant overhaul of the nation’s immigration laws since 1986 and create a path to citizenship for approximately 11 million undocumented immigrants. 

The bill would also appropriate $46 billion to secure the U.S.-Mexico border and provide additional employment visas with an eye toward increasing the number of highly-skilled foreign workers. 

For new hires, S.744 would require all employers to use the E-Verify system, which can cross-reference with the Social Security Administration and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) databases to confirm identity and employment eligibility. Many businesses, including Con Edison, already use the E-Verify system.

The Immigration Modernization Act passed the Senate in June but it's unclear if House Speaker John Boehner and his fellow Republicans will bring any immigration bill to the floor. So far, the House Judiciary Committee has approved four immigration-related bills and House debate has focused on the issues of robust border security, visa system changes, and designing a pathway to citizenship.

Depending on what members of Congress hear from constituents while in their districts during the August recess, the immigration debate may progress this fall or disappear in deliberations over the debt limit and federal budget cuts. 

Governor Cuomo Announces New Energy Storage Research Facility     

Governor Andrew Cuomo recently announced the location of a new $23 million battery and energy storage technology center in upstate New York through a public-private partnership led by the NY Battery and Energy Storage Technology Consortium (NY-BEST).  NY-BEST is made up of more than 125 manufacturers, universities, engineering firms and utilities, including Con Edison. 

DNV KEMA Energy & Sustainability, a global energy consultancy company specializing in energy testing of battery storage technology will partner with NY-BEST to relocate an existing energy storage laboratory from Pennsylvania to the Eastman Business Park in Rochester, NY.

“This collaboration will spur innovation in the development of critical energy storage technology, helping to improve reliability and resiliency in New York’s electric grid and creating good jobs in the [state],” Cuomo said.

The project will include an investment of up to $16 million by DNV KEMA and $6.9 million in State grant funds from NY-BEST for capital improvements and the purchase of advanced testing equipment. 
Con Edison uses batteries in a number of mission critical applications such as providing back-up power at substations.  Con Edison also has a number of on-going research efforts related to the advancement of batteries and other energy storage technologies. 

NY-BEST was created in 2010 with a $25 million grant from State government with the aim of positioning New York as a global leader in energy storage technology, including applications in grid storage and heavy-duty transportation.

A recent Economic Impact Study commissioned by NY-BEST estimated that the energy storage sector currently employs approximately 3,000 people in the state and is responsible for more than $600 million in annual global sales.  The study also found that the sector could grow more than 11,400 new jobs in New York by 2020 and 43,000 new jobs by 2030.

The new BEST Testing and Commercialization Center will work to bring emerging technologies to the commercial market where individual companies find difficulties in procuring testing and certification at a reasonable cost. 

In December 2011, Governor Cuomo announced $3.5 million in State funding for NY-BEST toward the creation of a battery and energy storage product commercialization center at Eastman Business Park. The funds were awarded by the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council as part of the Governor’s competitive regional economic development process. NY-BEST has received an additional $3.4 million in State grant funds for the Center from NYSERDA, bringing the total State funding for the project to $6.9 million.  

A Conversation with Congressman Hakeem Jeffries   

On November 6, 2012, Hakeem overwhelmingly won a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives in the newly redrawn Eighth Congressional District of New York. He succeeds a thirty-year incumbent in a district largely anchored in Brooklyn and parts of Southwest Queens.

Hakeem has recently been appointed to the Budget and Judiciary Committees. In the 113th Congress, he looks forward to promoting economic growth, reforming the criminal justice system, preventing gun violence and assisting neighborhoods in the district that were devastated by Superstorm Sandy.

Prior to his election to the Congress, Hakeem served for six years in the New York State Assembly. In that capacity, he authored laws that included protecting the civil liberties of law-abiding New Yorkers during police encounters, encouraging the transformation of vacant luxury condominiums into affordable homes for working families, and improving the quality of justice in the civil court system.

Hakeem Jeffries was born in Brooklyn Hospital and raised in Crown Heights. He is a product of New York City’s public school system, having graduated from Midwood High School, and currently lives in Prospect Heights with his family.

How Does Your Role on the Judiciary Committee Impact the District?

As a member of the esteemed Judiciary Committee, I am able to bridge the interests of my constituents, my passion for judicial reform and our national policies on a number of important issues, such as comprehensive immigration reform, civil rights, and innovation.  Over the last eight months of my first term in Congress, I have been able to tackle pressing concerns that relate to national security, intellectual property, and criminal justice reform.

Focusing on critical legislation in the Judiciary Committee that will advance America’s interests is of the utmost priority for me.  I am grateful for the opportunity to work with Chairman Goodlatte, Ranking Member Conyers and my distinguished colleagues from both sides of the isle to enact laws that seek to strengthen equity within our judicial code.

How Would Immigration Reform Affect New York City?
As the Representative of a district full of diversity and immigrants from all over the world, I have seen firsthand how their entrepreneurship, innovation, cultural offerings, and talent have helped to define the fabric of this country.  Our country has significantly benefited from the presence of immigrants from all corners of the world that came here in search of prosperity and the freedom to pursue their dreams.  From the very inception of this nation’s founding, the premise of welcoming everyone into this country has defined our values and respective policies. 

The last immigration overhaul occurred in 1986.  The current system does not provide businesses the workers they need and has resulted in a “shadow economy” of workers who contribute both economically and culturally to our economy but who do not have an adequate pathway towards citizenship.  

On June 27, 2013 by a vote of 68-32, the Senate passed historic legislation to reform our broken immigration system with strong bipartisan support.  The bill would provide an earned pathway to citizenship for millions of undocumented workers, further secure our borders, and reunite many families that have been unfairly separated due to our existing immigration laws.  I remain hopeful that the House will prioritize immigration reform legislation that repairs our system in a way that requires shared responsibility.  Reforming our immigration system will strengthen our economy and enable the U.S. to be an even stronger competitor in the global market.

What Efforts Should be Taken to Reinforce New York City’s Infrastructure For the Future?
Responding to the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy has been a major priority during my time in Congress.  Sandy had a devastating impact on communities, businesses and schools in a manner that paralyzed New York City.  It was one of the most costly storms in our nation’s history with over 300,000 housing units damaged or destroyed and more than 265,000 businesses affected.  Although there has been substantial progress towards full recovery in the ten months that have passed since the storm hit, there is still much more work to be done before our City fully recovers and is better prepared for future extreme weather events.  To that end, I introduced H.R. 1499, the Disaster-Affected Homeowners Notification Act of 2013 which, if enacted into law, would ensure that all owners devastated by a natural disaster are directly notified of the mortgage forbearance relief available. The objective of the bill is to get people back into their homes as expeditiously as possible.

One of the main reasons why New York City was so critically damaged is due to physical infrastructure that is no longer equipped to properly meet the needs of the city.  It is imperative that we not only focus rebuilding efforts on getting back to normal, but also reinforcing our critical infrastructure to better withstand future storm damage.  The very first vote I cast in the Congress was for the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act,  which secured over $50 billion in emergency disaster relief funding to help communities rebuild and to fortify our municipalities.  I am glad to see that Con Edison is investing in infrastructure to protect against the next big storm and applaud them for their tireless dedication to ensuring New Yorkers stay connected.  

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