Hello everyone, I apologize for the long time it has been since I last posted; we at city government have had a great deal on our plates with the Hurricane Sandy and all that has followed in the way of recovery. I know that this devastating storm only brought minimal damage to northern Manhattan but I am extremely grateful for the efforts of residents in assisting our fellow New Yorkers who have a long road ahead to fully get back on their feet, and I know the city is grateful as well. Your efforts, whether through volunteering, donating goods and materials or donating funds, have gone a long way toward the recovery effort and are exemplary of what it means to be a New Yorker.
Through your efforts, particularly during the Uptown Cares telethon, we raised $165,000 to assist the victims of Hurricane Sandy on Staten Island and I know that many others have volunteered and donated in the Rockaways, Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn, to help those hit hardest by this catastrophic storm. I know these efforts will continue until our fellow citizens are fully recovered and re-gain a sense of normalcy.
The damage from Hurricane Sandy is unprecedented in New York City’s history. Still, many schools and major hospitals remain closed due to damage, with children and patients scattered across the city.
For this reason, on Tuesday, November 14th, under the leadership of Speaker Christine Quinn, I voted with my colleagues at the City Council to do the right thing and approve the $500 million allocated by Mayor Bloomberg to rebuild schools and hospitals following the hurricane. Thankfully, with the millions of dollars expected from State and Federal governments, rebuilding efforts for these vital institutions will seemingly be adequately funded.
We now find ourselves at a pivotal moment as we begin the rebuilding effort. In order to ensure neighborhoods and communities remain intact, opportunities for contracts must be provided to small and local businesses that not only know their communities best, but will provide a much needed boost to local economies.
With so many areas devastated by flooding, loss of power and tree and electrical damage, communities now find themselves in peril. Rejuvenating small and local businesses will be a crucial part of re-establishing neighborhoods and providing residents with a much-desired sense of normalcy as they recover.
These communities, such as the Rockaways, areas of Staten Island, Lower Manhattan and areas in Brooklyn are in immediate need of rebuilding, not only physically but also economically. Capable businesses in these areas must be given priority in rebuilding contracts if they are to thrive following Sandy.
Unemployment rates in New York City remain above the national average at 8.8%, with 1 in 5 New Yorkers living below the poverty line. We must realize this pivotal moment and rebuild not only our infrastructure but our economy as well — uplifting communities in the greatest need, rather than granting major contracts to companies outside of the New York area.
Additionally, as Minority and Women-owned Business Enterprises are an integral part of the economic fabric of the city, they should play a key role in the upcoming efforts.
I urge the Mayor’s office to consider these proposals seriously as they will determine the extent to which this city recovers. We cannot afford to falter in this moment and must take into careful consideration where this funding ends up, to not only mitigate waste but to encourage growth as well.
I believe that New Yorkers have shown in the past two weeks, an ability to do the right thing; and that we as their representatives must mirror their courage and initiative to get New York City to a better place than where it was before.