NY Times 6/12/19: How Jon Stewart Became Fierce Advocate for 9/11 Responders

How Jon Stewart Became a Fierce Advocate for 9/11 Responders

“You should be ashamed of yourselves,” the former “Daily Show” host told lawmakers on Capitol Hill for not funding health care for emergency personnel.

Jon Stewart, the comedian and former host of “The Daily Show,” became emotional on Tuesday while speaking on Capitol Hill about the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund. He called lawmakers who skipped the House hearing “an embarrassment to the country.”CreditCreditZach Gibson/Getty Images

Jon Stewart, speaking on Capitol Hill about the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, was not the cool, detached comedian that television viewers are accustomed to.

Instead, faced with empty seats as he spoke on Tuesday to a House Judiciary subcommittee about a bill to secure funding for ailing Sept. 11 victims, the former host of “The Daily Show” was outraged, at times pounding his fist on the table, shouting at lawmakers and choking up as he came close to tears.

“It’s an embarrassment to the country,” Mr. Stewart said, criticizing members of Congress for skipping the hearing.

“And you should be ashamed of yourselves,” he scolded.

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Newsweek 6/12/19: Why Won’t Congress Fund the 9/11 First Responder Bill?

Why Won’t Congress Fund the 9/11 First Responders Bill?

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Wednesday that he was unaware that there was legislation in play to permanently renew the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund and that he had dealt with the issue in a compassionate way in the past.

“Gosh, I hadn’t looked at that lately. I’ll have to. We’ve always dealt with that in the past in a compassionate way, and I assume we will again,” he told reporters.
But during the last renewal fight in 2015, McConnell was instrumental in voting down a permanent version of the fund and only agreed to a temporary, five-year renewal after facing months of pressure from comedian Jon Stewart, an activist for the fund.

“So far, he has been an enormous obstacle, unwilling to move the bill forward for purely political reasons,” Stewart said of McConnell at the time. “He’s not nice.”

Stewart slammed Congress yesterday for failing to prioritize a permanent renewal for the fund, which provides health care and aid to first responders and those around Ground Zero after the 2001 attacks.

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12/29/18: Court Dismisses Lawsuit of Claimant Attempting to Take Control of NYC Halloween Parade

On Dec. 29, 2018 a NY Court dismissed the claim of the plaintiff, Frank Copsidas Jr. against members of the Board of the NYC Halloween Parade.  The court held that the plaintiff did not have standing as he was not a board member, officer or major contributor to the parade.  A4J represented the defendants in this lawsuit.

Read the defendants’ Answer and Counterclaim here:

answer & counterclaim

Read the court’s decision here:

Order Motion to Dismiss Frank Copsidas Jr et al v Jeanne Fleming et al – Halloween Parade

A4J Challenges Closing of Beth Israel Hospital in Downtown NYC

A4J commenced a lawsuit on behalf of the Progressive Action of Lower Manhattan and two residents of downtown Manhattan challenging the closing of units of Mt. Sinai Beth Israel Hospital (“Beth Israel”).   The proceeding is brought pursuant to the State Environmental Quality Review Act (“SEQRA”) and Article 78 of the CPLR (alleging violations of the Certificate of Need process) to compel the N.Y. State Department of Health to reverse its decision to approve the partial closure of Beth Israel, to require the commencement of appropriate review under SEQRA and the N.Y. State Public Health Law, to enjoin Beth Israel from engaging in further action to close its hospital, and to compel the reopening of those portions of Beth Israel which have been closed.

Mount Sinai Medical Center merged with Continuum Health Partners in September of 2013, creating a large hospital network stretching across Manhattan. Through the merger, Beth Israel Medical Center (located at First Avenue and 16th Street in Lower Manhattan), Roosevelt Hospital on West 59th Street, St. Luke’s Hospital in Morningside Heights and the New York Eye and Ear Infirmary in the East Village all joined the Mount Sinai Health System. Mount Sinai officials touted the merger as having the potential to improve quality of care, but unions representing the hospital workers immediately voiced concerns about downsizing, closing or relocation of some services within the sprawling network.

Less than three years later, in May of 2016, the Mount Sinai system announced plans to close the 800-bed Mount Sinai Beth Israel (“MSBI”) Medical Center. Officials said the facility would be replaced with a new 70-bed Mount Sinai Downtown Beth Israel Hospital and emergency room and with a network of outpatient centers and doctors’ offices.  Mount Sinai officials insist that the new 70-bed hospital will be sufficient to serve the needs of Lower Manhattan residents. However, community residents and public officials representing them have voiced concerns. “The downsizing of Beth Israel hospital to a 70-bed medical/surgical center may be inadequate and will cause significant harm to health care services in Lower Manhattan,” the Village Independent Democrats stated in a resolution adopted in December 2017.

In the last decade, Lower Manhattan has witnessed a significant decrease in medical services, specifically hospital beds, specialty clinics and emergency centers attached to full service hospital. Residents had already been affected by the sudden closure of St. Vincent’s Hospital in 2010. Needs assessments performed after that closure demonstrated that residents of Lower Manhattan were relying on Beth Israel for a significant portion of their care. In fact, Beth Israel’s inpatient admissions increased 16 percent after the closure of St. Vincent’s and its emergency room visits increased 12 percent, with Beth Israel absorbing over half of St. Vincent’s emergency room patients.

In addressing the Department of Health’s Certificate of Need (CON) review requirements, Mount Sinai officials have packaged the closing of hospital services at the existing Beth Israel facility into multiple narrowly-framed applications that have been deemed to meet the current CON qualifications for what is called “limited review” by DOH staff. This is instead of “full review,” which would be conducted at public meetings.  Mount Sinai has filed, received approval for and completed six separate limited review applications to decertify or close services at Beth Israel or to add services at its satellite locations.

See the plaintiffs’ Verified Amended Petition and Memorandum of Law below.

1st Amended verified petition-c

Memo of Law in Support of Amended Petition

Citizens for the Extension of the James Zadroga Act 2/26/2019: Statement on Proposed Legislation to Extend VCF Funding

Citizens for the Extension of the James Zadroga Act

Statement from Citizens for the Extension of the James Zadroga Act on the introduction of “Never Forget the Heroes: Permanent Authorization of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund Act” which will reverse Cuts to VCF awards and keep the Fund Open

Today’s introduction of the bipartisan “Never Forget the Heroes: Permanent Authorization of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund Act,” is good news for the 9/11 community and everyone who thinks that “remembering 9/11” should be more than a bumper sticker.

The legislation would fully fund the VCF, reverse just announced cuts in awards of 50% for pending cases and 70% for future cases, and keep the VCF open to deal with those that have yet to be impacted by the toxins at Ground Zero.

Citizens for the Extension applauds the work of Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Cory Gardner (R-CO), Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, and Representatives Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), and Peter King (R-NY).

But while this is a good start, more work needs to be done.

Read more…

Williamsburg Patch 9/4/18: Cuomo Wins Endorsement of Grand Rebbe by Promising Not to Interfere with Schools

Gov Wins Endorsement By Promising To Leave Yeshivas Alone: Report

BROOKLYN, NEW YORK — Governor Andrew Cuomo earned the endorsement of a powerful Hasidic community leader last week after he promised not to interfere with Yeshiva schools that are currently at the center of a controversial city investigation, according to multiple reports.

Gov. Cuomo assured Satmar grand rebbe Zalman Teitelbaum that “he would not interfere in Yeshiva education” when the pair met in Brooklyn on Thursday night, Yeshiva World and Hebrew-language blog BeChadrei Chareidim first reported.

The governor’s reported promise came about two weeks after the New York City schools chancellor said city investigators had failed to gain entry into 15 of 30 Orthodox schools to look into accusations, levied by the Young Advocates For A Fair Education, that secular subjects such as English and math were not being taught.

The meeting with Tietelbaum, leader of two large Hasidic congregations in Williamsburg and Queens, also came two weeks before the gubernatorial primary, in which Cuomo is slated to face off against challenger Cynthia Nixon.

Gothamist noted that the endorsement was a win for Cuomo, as Brooklyn’s Hasidic communities tend to vote as a bloc and wield strong political power in New York.

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Strong East Ramapo 9/23/16: Additional Insurance Cost Will Further Burden ER

Actions of the ERCSD school board have resulted in millions of dollars lost to the children’s education, which has harmed the children and resulted in extra expense to taxpayers, who are having to pay for services to East Ramapo.  On this topic, Strong East Ramapo reported:

“In 2011, the School District entered into an energy performance contract with Johnson Controls, Inc. to install numerous energy efficient controls and devices throughout the School District’s buildings. It seems that no actual contract was signed and approved by both parties. The School District was unable to secure financing for the project and was unaware that work had commenced. Johnson Controls claims to have done close to $1.9 million of work. The School District believed it should not be required to pay Johnson Controls the required amount as funding was not secured prior to Johnson commencing work done. This matter proceeded to mediation. The mediation session took place on Monday, September 12, 2016. There is now a Board approved agreement between the School District and Johnson Controls to pay $1 million over a five-year period starting in fiscal year 2017-18. The School District’s 2017-18 proposed budget will include the first payment of $200,000.”

In 2015, the East Ramapo School Board sued its insurer, New York Schools Insurance Reciprocal (NYSIR), to cover $2.23 million in legal fees the district owed its defense teams, the New York State Supreme Court ruled last year that the district was overcharged by $2 million, saying “a reasonable fee for the legal services provided is $187,500.

“In April 2016 New York State Insurance Reciprocal (NYSIR) made a decision to drop coverage for East Ramapo Central School District. This decision negatively impacted the School District as it had to seek new insurance coverage in a very short time notice. There was no single insurer that offered to commit in insuring our School District. The insurance costs increased by over $900,000 on annual basis. The School District will continue working to identify efficiencies to accommodate this additional cost for the fiscal year 2017-18 and beyond.”


NY Daily News 9/11/16: Cuomo Announces Memorial for 9/11 Responders

9/11 first responders to be honored with their own memorial

A new memorial will honor 9/11 first responders — those who died at the Twin Towers, and those who died from illnesses stemming from their collapse.

The heroes who rushed to the World Trade Center on 9/11 as everyone else ran for their lives the other way are finally getting a memorial of their own.

Gov. Cuomo will announce on Sunday plans for a new memorial to honor 9/11 first responders — those killed in the desperate attempt to save others, those who died from 9/11 related illnesses and others who continue to suffer the devastating effects of the terror attack.

Cuomo said it’s necessary to have a memorial separate from the National 9/11 Memorial in lower Manhattan to honor the valor of these men and women.

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NY Daily News 5/24/16: VCF Has Paid Out over $1 Billion

Victims of 9/11 attacks, their families have received over $1 billion in federal aid in last five years

WASHINGTON — The federal government has officially paid out more than $1 billion to victims of the 9/11 attacks and their families since the Victims Compensation Fund reopened in 2011, a benchmark for the program.

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