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Brooklyn Political Roundup, April 25: Felder says college isn’t for everyone

In Public Service, From The Political Staff Of The Brooklyn Daily Eagle

April 25, 2018 By Paula Katinas & John Alexander Brooklyn Daily Eagle
State Sen. Simcha Felder. Eagle file photo by Paula Katinas
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Felder: College isn’t for everyone

Charging that the city’s current education system doesn’t do enough for kids looking to bypass college in favor of careers as plumbers, electricians and carpenters, state Sen. Simcha Felder said a new law signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo should help even the playing field.

Cuomo signed a bill sponsored by Felder and Assemblymember Alicia Hyndman (D-Laurelton) to direct the New York City Schools chancellor to come up with recommendations for the expansion of career and technical high schools.

It would provide an alternative route for students who don’t want to go to college but want to get a foothold in a profession, according to Felder (D-Borough Park-Midwood).

“We have to stop this cookie cutter mentality. We cannot continue to force-feed every student a steady diet of testing for college readiness and nothing else,” Felder said. “The current education system neglects a large part of our diverse student population inclined toward other types of learning and career paths.”

Occupations like machinist, plumber, electrician, carpenter, industrial machinery mechanics, and heating/air conditioning maintenance-repair do not require a college degree, Felder noted.

By 2024, the number of jobs in the so-called skilled trade occupations is expected to grow by 17 percent in New York State, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. – PK

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City workers rally for parental leave

A group of politicians couldn’t pass up the opportunity to share the steps of City Hall with union leaders for a rally Tuesday to call on Mayor Bill de Blasio to expand the city’s paid parental leave policy to all city workers.

Under a policy de Blasio announced two years ago, city employees are eligible for take a paid leave to care for a newborn, but only if they work in managerial positions.

The United Federation of Teachers and other groups are pushing for the expansion to cover more workers. 

Federation President Michael Mulgrew said his members are often forced to tap into their sick days to give themselves time off after a baby is born. “Many of them come with stories of going into labor in their schools because they worked until the last possible minute or having to come back to work while their newborns are still in the hospital. New York City can do better than this,” he said. 

Several Councilmembers are on board with the idea. Mark Treyger, chairman of the Education Committee, spoke at the rally, along with fellow Brooklynites Justin Brannan, Laurie Cumbo, Rafael Espinal, Brad Lander and Antonio Reynoso. 

“We need a paid parental leave program for the hundreds of thousands of city workers who, as of now, are forced to choose between bonding with and caring for their new child and earning a paycheck,” Treyger said. 

A spokesperson for de Blasio said the mayor is concerned for the plight of new parents and is currently negotiating with the teachers union. – PK

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Young Dems endorse Gounardes

Democrat Andrew Gounardes, locked in a primary race against Ross Barkan for the right to run against Republican state Sen. Marty Golden in Bay Ridge, is boasting that he’s two-for-two in endorsements from political clubs. 

On the heels of winning the support of the Central Brooklyn Independent Democrats, Gounardes, a lawyer, has been endorsed by the Brooklyn Young Democrats (BYD), a club made up of politicos between the ages of 16 and 35. That’s a lot of shoe leather that could pound the pavement pulling out the vote for Gounardes on primary day, Sept. 13.

Club President John Wasserman said Gounardes could help Democrats regain control of the State Senate from Republicans. “We want to see the Senate returned to Democratic control. And we believe that Andrew has what it takes to make that a reality. He cares deeply about his community and is exactly the kind of leader Southern Brooklyn should have,” Wasserman said.

Gounardes, looking for any edge he can get over Barkan, a political journalist, is thrilled with the endorsement. 

“The Brooklyn Young Democrats are emerging community leaders and a positive force for change. They have proven in past elections how valuable their support is, and I’m beyond thrilled to have them in my corner,” he said. – PK

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High School students rally in Albany for the Young Voter Act

It’s all about change and young voices wanting to be heard and represented in upcoming elections. Eighty high school students from all across the state gathered in Albany on Tuesday to lobby in support of the Young Voter Act, a bill that would lower the legal voting age to 17 for state and local elections.

Aside from lowering the voting age by a year, the bill would also require all pupils in the ninth grade or higher to receive at least eight full class periods of civics education and mandate that every New York high school provide each student with a voter registration form the year they turn 17.  

Assemblymember Robert Carroll (D-Park Slope-Kensington) welcomed the high school students to Albany in support of the bill that he helped sponsor.

According to Carroll, on May 30, 2017, high school students came to Albany for the first-ever lobby day in support of the Young Voter Act.  This year, more than 80 students made the trip to lobby for change. Brooklyn schools participating were Urban Assembly School for Criminal Justice and Millennium Brooklyn.

“It’s clearer now than ever that young people feel it is vital they have a say in their future and the best way to have a say is for them to have the right to vote,” said Carroll.

Assistant Speaker Assemblymember Felix Ortiz (D-Kings), a co-sponsor on the bill added, “We should enable younger citizens to vote while they are still in high school. People who start voting at a young age are likely to vote throughout their lives. Young voters will also familiarize themselves with civic responsibility before college.  Lowering the voting age is a good policy.” – JA

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Charter Revision Commission announces public hearing schedule

New York City’s Charter Revision Commission will hold its public meetings and hearings throughout all five boroughs during the spring and summer months. The Commission will be soliciting input from New Yorkers on how best to improve the efficiency of local government. 

The commission is scheduled to hold five public hearings, one in each borough, in April and May 2018. The hearings are an opportunity for the public to identify priority issues for the commission that may warrant further study.  The public is encouraged to attend and offer testimony in front of the commission on any aspect of the charter. 

The first public hearing will be held on April 25 at 6:30 p.m. at McKee High School Auditorium, 290 St. Marks Place in Staten Island. Following meetings will take place on April 30 at 6 p.m. at Bronx Community College, 2155 University Ave.; Queens Library at Flushing, 41-17 Main St. in Queens; Brooklyn Botanic Garden, 990 Washington Ave.; and The New York Public Library, Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, 475 Fifth Ave. in Manhattan. 

Further meetings will take place from May through September, focusing on key issues identified during the initial May meeting. In August, the commission will hold two public meetings to finalize its report outlining its findings and any ballot proposals to amend the charter. Charter revision ballot proposals, if any, will be filed with the city clerk at the September meeting. – JA


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