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ICYMI: This newsletter was originally sent Thursday, 12/22—but I thought those of you who missed it then might welcome the chance to read it this weekend.


It’s Thursday, December 22, 2022, the first full day of Winter (and we’re about to have very... seasonal weather). Happy Holidays! 

Not a moment too soon, Mayor Adams donned a face mask again this week and encouraged New Yorkers to do the same. (The Philadelphia public schools are reinstituting a mask mandate, for two weeks when students return from the holiday break.)

The Biden administration is restarting the federal program that provides four free COVID tests to US households; it had paused in September to prevent a winter shortage. To order, go to

Katelyn Jetelina, in her Science Update Round 4 edition of her fantastic newsletter, “Your Local Epidemiologist,” says there are now nine lab studies and a real world study showing the fall bivalent boosters provide greater protection, broader protection, and longer protection. 

A new study shows Coronavirus boosters cut hospitalization risk by at least 50% but only 14% of all Americans have received the latest booster (although 65+ lead, with 35.7% vaccinated). 

Manhattan typically outperforms those national averages, but if you haven’t gotten around to it yet, please go get a booster! Use this pre-built search (at for new booster availability in the 6th Council District. 

(We still have plenty of free test kits and masks available for pickup during business hours at my district office: 563 Columbus Ave. at 87th St., from 10 am – 5:30 pm. We’ve run very low on N95 masks, not surprisingly—we’re working on getting more—but have lots of the blue surgical style.)

Councilmember Brewer joined the W. 108th Street "Trash Police" this past weekend and helped clean up the block between Broadway and Amsterdam.

I joined the W. 108th Street "Trash Police" this past weekend. Every Saturday morning, these neighbors gather together (and start ‘em young!) to clean the sidewalk and stoops of their block between Broadway and Amsterdam. They use their brooms and trash bags in the citywide war against trash and rats—one block at a time. They’re the embodiment of DSNY Commissioner Jessica Tisch’s declaration, “the rats don’t run our city, we do!”

News & information.

An arbitrator’s non-binding report (12/15) has recommended that New York City switch over 250,000 retired city workers and their dependents to a privatized health insurance plan known as Medicare Advantage. 

I have been an early supporter of the city retirees who are concerned about maintaining their current health providers and not having insurance companies be gatekeepers. Medicare Advantage plans give private insurance companies the power to overrule primary care physicians—and say which procedures will be allowed/permitted. Many retirees have health care issues and work very hard to stay healthy. Keeping their current insurance plan—called Senior Care—is critical in retaining access to their doctors and ensuring continuity of care. 

The City administration and the municipal union leadership—the Municipal Labor Committee (“MLC”) and especially the UFT and DC37—are concerned about the $600 million per year that the current plan is costing the City. They feel that this expense is not sustainable in the future, and want to tap federal funds via a switch to the privately-administered Medicare Advantage plan. To force retirees into Medicare Advantage, the City and the MLC have been pushing the City Council to change the law that guarantees municipal employees, retirees, and their dependents health insurance. Up to this point, no one on the City Council has introduced a bill to change the code's section 12-126. I’ve urged the two sides to meet, as there are compromises that are a win-win for everyone. 

The NYC Organization of Public Service Retirees won a Manhattan Supreme Court ruling finding that the City’s attempt to force retirees to pay a $191 per month fee to keep their Senior Care plan was illegal. An Appellate Court unanimously sustained the retirees’ victory and said that Administrative code 12-126 requires that the City pay for employees’ and retirees’ health insurance up to a defined dollar cap. That cap is currently about $800 per person per month; and the Senior Care plan costs only $191 per person per month.  

The unions and the City want the City Council to change the administrative code to eliminate the cap—just for seniors. That would force retirees into a Medicare Advantage plan that would cost the City nothing. The arbitrator’s recommendation further suggested that if the City Council didn’t change Administrative Code 12-126 within 25 days, the City would simply kill Senior Care. Either course would have the same impact on retirees: they would no longer get Senior Care from the City, would no longer be guaranteed access to their doctors, and would have to endure dangerous prior authorization protocols imposed by a private insurance company. (There are no such prior authorization hurdles under traditional Medicare or Senior Care.) 

The City and the MLC are currently negotiating with Aetna—the private insurance plan—to create a new Medicare Advantage plan for municipal retirees. (The City has offered various Medicare Advantage plans for years, but few retirees choose them because they are demonstrably worse than Senior Care.) Perhaps a better Medicare Advantage plan from Aetna would attract more retirees. But one thing is clear: if the City tries to force retirees into Medicare Advantage by killing Senior Care, the NYC Organization of Public Service Retirees will go back to court. And it is very likely they will win again. The retirees were promised Senior Care, and a promise is a promise. 

No one is against finding healthcare savings. The retirees have pinpointed more than $300 million in annual recurring savings, and have identified a way for the City to tap hundreds of millions of dollars in Federal funds—without the dangers of prior authorization. All sides should sit down together and work this out.

I’m delighted to report that my bill to require that City agencies ask applicants in what language they prefer to receive summons notifications (Intro. 382-A) passed the Council this week. 

And on Thursday, 1/12/23 at 1 pm, there will be a hearing on “Proliferation of Unlicensed Smoke Shops in NYC” held jointly with my Oversight and Investigations Committee, the Committee on Consumer and Worker Protection (chaired by Council Member Marjorie Velázquez) and the Health Committee (chaired by Lynn Schulman). 

This hearing comes on the heels of the Upper West Side Town Hall sponsored by me and Assembly Member Linda Rosenthal last week, and follows my survey of Upper West Side smoke shops which discovered 26 retailers that were selling illegal weed. See coverage: Cannabis Town Hall Sheds Light on Legal Weed in West Side Rag and Less-Than-Legal Pot in the West Side Spirit.

Other cannabis news: Next Thursday (12/29) at Housing Works’ Astor Place location, the first legal recreational marijuana sale in New York State will take place. 

The federal omnibus spending bill (which may or may not pass before Christmas) includes $800 million in grants for cities like New York to help pay for shelter, food, transportation, basic healthcare and first aid for asylum seekers. (Hotel Newton, on Broadway between 94th and 95th Street, is now housing many asylum seekers; please welcome them! This was also the hotel that welcomed many of my Haitian friends years ago.)

Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine has opened the 2023 Manhattan Community Board application period, now through 3/17/23. Current members who wish to serve another term must reapply.

Community Boards provide New Yorkers with an opportunity to participate in local democracy and decision making, helping to shape the future of Manhattan. Community Boards touch every aspect of life: parks, sanitation, education, land use, and public health. 

As Borough President myself, I appointed or reappointed hundreds to serve on Community Boards; I served on Community Board 7 myself back in the 1990s—I recommend it!

Speaking of Community Boards, you may have seen “N.Y.C. Community Boards Usually Oppose New Housing. Not This One.” in the Times; here’s a link to the CB 4 Affordable Housing Report discussed there (PDF). 

The public comment period on new proposed FAA and National Park Service rules governing tourist flights in New York Harbor which will likely increase helicopter traffic and noise in Lower Manhattan is open only until next Friday, 12/30. Please take the time to submit your comments at this National Park Service link. Visit Stop the Chop for guidance on the topic. Email them using this form for guidance on what to say.

Ballet Hispánico Company dancer Dandara Veiga has been included in Dance Magazine’s 2023 “25 to Watch” – an annual list of “trailblazers and breakout stars forging their own paths through the field of dance.” Congratulations! 


Backlash erupts in NYC Council after Mayor Adams threatens nonprofit cuts (Gothamist)
Gale Brewer, a Manhattan city council member, said she was caught off guard by the mayor’s request to cut discretionary funds. “Every dollar I have allocated keeps the community safe, keeps it clean,” Brewer said during a council meeting. Her remarks occurred as members were deliberating proposed budget cuts from the mayor that they are expected to vote on next month...

Deal adds $1 billion for World Trade Center Health Program to omnibus spending bill (Newsday)

To combat illegal short-term rentals, NYC tries a new registration system for hosts. Here's how it works (Brick Underground)

New York Bans Pet Stores From Selling Dogs, Cats and Rabbits (NY Times) (This legislation was sponsored by UWS Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal)

NYC Helicopters Are Back, Sending Noise Complaints Soaring 678% (Bloomberg CityLab) 

New Spending Bill Makes It Easier for Americans Saving for Retirement (NY Times)

A timeline on the closure of Rikers Island (City and State) 

We just finished another edition of my printed-and-snail-mailed newsletter, but there were a few items that couldn’t fit into the “Bookmarks” section because of space limits (something that doesn’t really exist in email, lucky for me!):

Want to help animals? Here’s where to donate your money. ( 

Inside the Global Effort to Keep Perfectly Good Food Out of the Dump (NY Times)

Lots of food gets tossed. These apps let you buy it, cheap. (NY Times)   

‘The True Cost,’ a Different Kind of Fashion Documentary (NY Times) (Here's a link to watch this documentary online) publishes ‘Who Owns What?’ a landlord-lookup tool.

I was delighted to help facilitate hundreds of tickets to the Big Apple Circus at Lincoln Center for NYCHA families this past Tuesday (12/20). I was an honorary ringleader, along with a rep from the Ronald McDonald house. Big thanks to all!

Useful items.

The Dept. of Sanitation won’t be making trash or compost pickups on Monday, 12/26 or Monday, 1/2.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority announced it will cut service on some lines and bolster it on others next summer to adjust to new ridership patterns.

My office’s January virtual Housing Clinic (held on the first Wednesday of each month) is on the topic of “Succession Rights” on Wednesday, 1/11/23 (yes, it’s the second Wednesday, because of holidays). Register at the link or at

Housing Conservation Coordinators’ Legal Clinic is open to all New York City residents, regardless of income. The questions they answer are primarily about housing and housing-related legal issues, but questions about other basic legal matters (employment, contracts, family law issues etc.) are also fair game. Call 212-541-5996 to reserve one of the eight 15-minute slots on any Monday between 5 and 7 pm. 

In addition, my District Office will have a trained volunteer every Monday from 2–6 pm (but not on Monday holidays) to assist with Senior Citizen and Disabled Rent Increase Exemption applications and renewals for those in rent-regulated units. 

There’s so much demand for SCRIE/DRIE help that, starting in January, we will also have a representative from the City Dept. of Finance in the District Office once a month on Tuesdays who will also be able to assist. We will take calls at 212-873-0282 for appointments 10 am–2 pm on the second Tuesday of each month.

Attorney General Tish James has uncovered fraud and abuse at several nursing homes.  If you have reason to believe that a nursing home could be exploiting or abusing its residents, please call the AG’s nursing home hotline: 1-800-771-7755

Just a reminder: The NY Times’ Upshot section has published “Help The New York Times map New York’s neighborhoods” an interactive article where people can locate their neighborhood and draw what they think the boundaries are. They’ll use the data to create a crowd-sourced citywide map, touching on how the neighborhoods of New York are constantly in flux (and how people love to fight about them). They’re looking for more responses from the 6th Council DIstrict, including Lincoln Square, Upper West Side, and Hell's Kitchen neighborhoods.


The U.S. Commerce Department has launched a $100 million grant initiative, “The Capital Readiness Program” which will provide over $90 million in grants to business incubators and accelerators to connect female and minority entrepreneurs to a pipeline of resources, training and capital to develop their businesses. The program, an initiative of the Commerce Department’s Minority Business Development Agency, will focus on high-growth industries such as health care, climate technologies, asset management and infrastructure; grants are estimated to be between $2 and $3 million. Funding for the program was allocated as part of President Biden's American Rescue Plan, passed in 2021. Click the link to learn more.

The NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellowship is a $8,000 unrestricted cash grant available to artists living in New York State (and/or an Indian Nation within state boundaries). They are currently accepting applications in the categories of Craft/Sculpture, Digital/Electronic Arts, Nonfiction Literature, Poetry, and Printmaking/Drawing/Book Arts.

Visit this link at New York Foundation for the Arts to learn more. Application Deadline is Wednesday, 1/25/2023 and successful applicants will be notified Summer, 2023. 

Nominations for the Lucy G. Moses Preservation Awards  are due Monday, 1/9/23. The New York Landmarks Conservancy’s highest honor, the Moses Award is bestowed upon an outstanding individual in the field of historic preservation. Awards are given to projects that demonstrate excellence in the restoration, preservation, or adaptive use of historic buildings, streetscapes, and landscapes that preserve commercial, residential, institutional, religious, and public buildings. Only projects that are substantially completed during 2022 and located within the five boroughs of New York City will be considered. Books, other publications, and films are not eligible. If you have any questions please email Andrea Goldwyn at


12/28, 6:30 am – 9 am: Virtual Recruitment and Interviews for Construction Jobs, sponsored Building Skills NY (BSNY), a workforce development nonprofit which provides opportunities for NYC residents to enter and build a career in the construction industry. View the flyer at the link above, call (212)776-4149, or learn more about BSNY here.

The Grace Institute is an organization that provides women with free workforce training. They have upcoming information sessions for their Administrative Professionals (AP) Program and Patient Service Representative (PSR) Program: 1/11/2023, 1 - 2 pm, and 1/23/2023, 5 - 6 pm.


Christmas Day is this Sunday (12/25)!  Goddard Riverside will be hosting its traditional holiday meals, available for pick up from 12 pm to 3 pm at 593 Columbus Avenue (at 88th Street) and open to anyone. They will also have limited indoor seating available for guests to eat their meals after picking them up. 

Also on Christmas, from 2–4 pm, the SAJ synagogue— Judaism that Stands for All— is coordinating with Team TLC and hosting a Christmas party for 100+ asylum-seeker families and their children at 15 W. 86th St. between Central Park and Columbus. There will be lots of good South American food and gifts for children. Join me there! 

Wednesday, 12/28, 12 – 2 pm, Adler Hall at the New York Society for Ethical Culture (2 W 64th St.): Caitlin Caruso Dobbs and Alana Murphy Perform Songs From the American Songbook, part of the Music at Noon Concert Free Series. Hot chocolate and snacks; proof of vaccination and mask are required to attend.

Thursday, 1/5/23, 4 – 5:30 pm, virtual: educator training session for City Parks Foundation’s “Green Girls Empowered by ING” curriculum. Intended for educators and community programmers, this training will explain the lesson format and how the curriculum integrates STEM, experiential learning and youth development concepts into each lesson. 

Sunday 1 / 8, 1 pm, NY Society for Ethical Culture Adler Hall, 2 West 64th St: ‘One With the Current’ (free eventbrite tickets here). Special performance of Daniel Damiano’s solo play. A North Carolina husband and father accompanies his childhood friend on a fishing trip during the pandemic, but the events that ensue will change his life forever. Directed by Leslie Kincaid Burby. More info at the title link. 

(Ethical Culture also has other arts and culture events listed at their calendar here and continues their Good Neighbor Initiative which collects and distributes food to food-insecure neighbors.)

Tuesday, 1/10/23, 12 noon – 1 pm, virtual: Storytelling Workshop: “Shark Tank” Style. In part two of this webinar series, three volunteers will pitch their stories in a “Shark Tank”-style session. Communications experts from the NonProfit Help Desk will provide real-time feedback, helping participants refine their key messages to tell stories that are differentiated, compelling and consistent. The experts will offer practical advice on how to apply storytelling strategies to each organization’s communications channels as well as possible media targets for their stories. Listen in to be inspired and see how the advice might apply to your organization.

Thursday 1/12, Lincoln Center: The New York Jewish Film Festival opens with “America”  by Ofir Raul Graizer, in Hebrew with English subtitles; Q&A with Ofir Raul Graizer after the screening. The festival continues through 1/23. Complete schedule at the festval link above. 

Thursday, 1/12, 6 – 7:30 pm, virtual: “What to know about RSV” presented by Lenox Hill Greenwich Village and cosponsored by State Sen. Brad Hoylman, Rep. Jerry Nadler, B.P. Mark Levine, and me, along with Assembly Members Deborah Glick, Danny O'Donnell, Linda Rosenthal, anc Council Members Shawn Abreu, Erik Bottcher. 

Quirk of the week: The history of the snow globe.

                                             Stay Safe, 
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P.P.S. If you have a problem or concern going forward, please contact me at, or call (917) 685-8657, or contact my Council district office at (212) 873-0282 and
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