Brooklyn Boro

COVID-19 Update: Economy eval: Stringer calls for need-based budget relief to fight systemic inequality

May 7, 2020 Editorial Staff
NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer. Eagle photo by Mary Frost
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On the front lines of the war on COVID-19, there are many civilian heroes going out of their way, as volunteers and contributors. Also, many who are elected to serve are going the extra mile. In this column the Eagle hopes to give our readers an ongoing update on those fighting in the front lines.

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic’s devastating impact on New York City and the economy, New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer on Tuesday released an analysis of the City’s Fiscal Year 2021 Executive Budget and outlined the state of play for the city’s finances. Stringer renewed his call for the federal government to pass need-based budget relief for New York and other hard-pressed state and local governments. “This pandemic has laid bare the deep disparities that permeate our society,” said Stringer. “We’re learning the value of a dollar, and why our taxpayer money must be accounted for and directed toward fighting the systemic inequality that is contributing to worse health and economic outcomes for vulnerable communities.”

On Wednesday, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams released a video calling for the NYPD to stop enforcing social distancing, except in the most egregious circumstances, and allow community leaders to participate in a city-wide “re-culturing” to promote social distancing in a compassionate way. A video filmed on Saturday, May 3rd showed an NYPD officer punching a bystander while making a social distancing arrest. Since the incident, two more videos have surfaced of forceful social distancing arrests, both taking place in East New York. “The events of the past weekend, and the widespread frustration felt by many communities of color right now, make clear that we need to get the police out of the business of social distancing enforcement,” said Adams.

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Just two weeks ago, the Cobble Hill Health Center received the unfortunate distinction of having the highest death toll in a facility in NYC. The neighborhood rallied in their defense, and each evening, community members clap to support their local heroes. On Wednesday, which was National Nurses Day, local health charity Seeds in the Middle partnered with neighbors to give every Cobble Hill Health Center worker a bag of fresh fruit.

Essential frontline building service workers were joined on Wednesday morning by U.S. Rep. Nydia Velazquez, U.S. Rep. Donna Shalala and Sen. Ed Markey to demand that Congress include PPE, essential pay and layoff protections for frontline workers in the next federal relief package. The proposed protections included 1.5 times the regular rate of pay for frontline workers, to address extraordinary costs associated with additional transportation and childcare needs; layoff protection so that essential workers can maintain wages, healthcare to support their families and the economy when the crisis is over; and a mandated worker-industry sectoral bargaining structure to improve working conditions for transit hubs like airports receiving government assistance.

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