Kavanagh Set to Lead State Senate’s Housing Committee

State Sen. Brian Kavanagh; Chinatown, November 2017.

State Sen. Brian Kavanagh; Chinatown, November 2017.

A local elected official, State Sen. Brian Kavanagh, has been appointed chair of the Senate’s Committee on Housing, Construction and Community Development. This means Kavanagh will be an influential voice as the Senate, under Democratic control for the first time in nearly a decade, makes a big push for stronger affordable housing protections.

Kavanagh was elected in 2017 to his post in the 26th Assembly District, which includes sections of Brooklyn and most of Lower Manhattan, including the Lower East Side. He previously served in the State Assembly. Among the top priorities for the newly empowered Democratic majority is ending vacancy decontrol and the vacancy bonus. There have also been calls for universal rent control.

“For the first time in many, many years,” Kavanagh told the Villager in a recent story, “we’re going to be able to have a serious conversation where we’re not being held hostage by Republicans that control the Senate and are dependent on the landlords to continue to keep the majority.”

Sen. Kavanagh Holds Community Convention May 6

State Sen. Brian Kavanagh; Chinatown, November 2017.

State Sen. Brian Kavanagh; Chinatown, November 2017.

State Sen. Brian Kavanagh will be hosting a Community Convention in Lower Manhattan Sunday, May 6. It’s an opportunity for constituents in the 26th Senate District to weigh in with their legislative and funding priorities for the next year. Late last year, Kavanagh succeeded Daniel Squadron, who made a tradition of holding these annual conventions while he was in office. You can RSVP here. There’s a list of topics to be covered here.


Kavanagh Leads Legislators in Push For New Gun Control Laws

Sen. Kavanagh held a news conference in Albany with fellow lawmakers and gun control advocates. Image via Twitter.

Sen. Kavanagh held a news conference in Albany with fellow lawmakers and gun control advocates. Image via Twitter.

The Lower East Side’s new state senator, Brian Kavanagh, is helping to lead a coalition in Albany in support of new gun control laws.

Two weeks after the tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, the lawmakers unveiled a package of 12 bills. The various pieces of legislation championed by New York Legislators for Gun Violence Prevention would strengthen background checks, close loopholes for out-of-state gun permit holders, prevent those convicted of certain domestic violence offenses from buying guns, among other measures.

Kavanagh was elected this past November to serve as state senator in the 26th Senate District, including Lower Manhattan and sections of the Brooklyn waterfront. He’s chair of the gun control coalition. Kavanagh is sponsoring three of the bills, including a measure that would establish a new court-issued order of protection barring anyone from acquiring a gun if they are found likely to harm themselves or others.

“Even if the gun industry lobby and its allies in Washington continue to block federal progress on this issue as they have for so long,” said Kavanagh “I believe that New York lawmakers can and will step up. The Parkland students are calling for change, and here in New York we’re answering their call.”

In 2013, the State legislature enacted the Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement ACT. As the Wall Street Journal reported yesterday, Senate Republicans are likely to oppose new gun control legislation, focusing instead on beefed up school security. Gov. Cuomo has been non-committal on the new proposals.


State Liquor Authority Rejects Sons of Essex Team in Bid For 200 Allen St. Permit

200 Allen St./Google Image.

200 Allen St./Google Image.

The State Liquor Authority rejected an application today for a big new venue that had been in-the-works at 200 Allen St. In an unusual move, two elected officials — State Sen. Brian Kavanagh and City Council member Margaret Chin — both appeared in person to testify against the applicant.

The project, Dos Cientos, was the latest venture by real estate developer/nightlife operator Michael Shah (he’s behind Sons of Essex and Rochelle’s). It was meant to be a bi-level Mexican restaurant/bar for 200 patrons. The space, located near East Houston St., has been vacant since the demise of Preserve 24 in 2014.

Community Board 3 opposed the application in a May 2017 resolution. Kavanagh, Chin, U.S. Rep. Nydia Velazquez, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and State Assembly member Yuh-Line Niou backed it up with a letter to the liquor authority. Here’s part of the letter:

As detailed in the Community Board resolution, the applicants have a long history as bad actors in the communities where they operate. Community Board 3 has voiced their concern about Victor Jung. who the Board believes will have a lead role in the operations of this venue and who, in 2008, was convicted of a felony associated with his business operations, as outline in the May 2017 resolution. In addition, the resolution recalls that in 2014 the SLA found the applicants in violation for “improper conduct” and use of an “unauthorized trade name” in relation to another LLC known as 133 Essex Restaurant. In 2015, Manhattan Community Board 2 strongly called for the renewal of the applicants’ full on-premises liquor license to be denied for operating outside the Board’s stipulations.

Kavanagh and Chin, along with a representative from Niou’s office, communicated their concerns in person at a hearing in Manhattan today. It apparently helped sway the SLA, which voted against the application.


SLA.200 Allen Street 1-9-18 by The Lo-Down on Scribd

Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh Announces Candidacy For Squadron’s Senate Seat

State Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh.

State Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh.

Early this morning, State Sen. Daniel Squadron went public with his resignation. Now local Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh has announced he’s running for Squadron’s seat in the 26th Senate District.

Kavanagh currently represents the 74th Assembly District, which includes small sections of the Lower East Side, and extends up to East Midtown. In a press release, he said, “I am running for State Senate to fight for our communities in Manhattan and Brooklyn and create the progressive, reform-minded Senate that New Yorkers deserve.”

Kavanagh has been in the Assembly for 11 years. “As a State Senator,” he explained, “I will fight for the things that matter to New Yorkers: strengthening rent laws and preserving affordable housing, increasing access to quality schools, safeguarding the environment, promoting economic and social justice, preventing violence in our communities, and creating a fairer and more accessible political process.”

Squadron says he’s quitting to focus his energies on electing progressive candidates at the national level. In his announcement, he was critical of Albany as a cesspool of corruption.

A special election will most likely take place in November when regular city elections are scheduled. The Democratic county committees in Brooklyn and Manhattan will choose a nominee to run in the general election. Same goes for the Republican Party in the heavily Democratic district. This afternoon, Zack Fink of NY1 reported that Keith Wright, head of the New York County Committee, would like Brooklyn democrats to be part of selecting a nominee.

The 26th Senate District includes Lower Manhattan and sections of Brooklyn along the waterfront.

Besides Kavanagh, other names being mentioned for the job: local District leader Paul Newell, former District leader Jenifer Rajkumar (who works for the New York Department of State) and Lincoln Restler, a Brooklyn activist.

NYCHA Chairman Rhea Grilled By State Lawmakers

NYCHA Chairman John Rhea at Friday's Assembly hearing.

NYCHA Chairman John Rhea at Friday’s Assembly hearing.

Members of the State Assembly grilled NYCHA Chairman John Rhea Friday concerning the public housing agency’s controversial plan to build market-rate housing alongside existing low income developments on the Lower East Side and elsewhere in Manhattan.  Details of the plan, which the New York City Housing Authority promised to finally make public this week, have been seeping out in news reports and during vague briefings for tenants in impacted buildings for the past month.

In an appearance before the Assembly’s housing committee, Rhea said the plan to lease parcels in eight developments  – five of them on the LES – would help make up for the federal government’s disinvestment in public housing (NYCHA has lost a total of $2.3 billion from Washington in the past decade). “Every penny” earned from the leases “will be used for capital improvements” in NYCHA’s aging buildings, he promised.  Highlighting the urgency of the funding crisis, he warned, “NYCHA is at risk.”

In Aftermath of Teen Murder, Recreation Program Coming to Campos Plaza

Six weeks ago, Lower East Side teenager Keith Salgado was murdered in the courtyard of the Campos Plaza public housing complex on East 12th Street. Today his mother, community activists and elected officials gathered in the gymnasium, just a few hundred feet from the scene of the crime. They were there to announce the creation of a new “education and engagement” program inside the Campos Plaza Community Center.

Health Fair, Immigrant Rights Event to Be Held Tomorrow

Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh is sponsoring two community events tomorrow:

The 74th Assembly Health Fair will be held from noon-4 p.m. at the Health Professions and Human Services High School, 345 East 15th Street. There will be free health screenings and information on a wide range of medical topics.

At the same time and same location, Kavanagh’s office is holding an “Immigrant Workers’ Rights Awareness Day.”

For more info on either event, call Leslie Pena or Marcela Medina at 212-979-9696.

Brian Kavanagh’s district includes much of the East Side of Manhattan, including sections of the Lower East Side.

My LES – Leslie P. Pena

This weekly feature spotlights a wide variety of people who live and work on the Lower East Side. If you know someone you would like to suggest be featured in “My LES,” please email us here.

What do you do?

I am a community and legislative liaison for Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh, on the LES between 14th Street and Delancey. I get to interact with people who live in our community on a daily basis, assisting constituents in resolving housing problems and accessing government services. I represent our office at Community Board 3 meetings and attend many events in the neighborhood.

Lawmakers Rally in Support of Protecting Rent Regulated Apartments

Lawmakers rallied at City Hall yesterday in support of extending and expanding New York’s rent protection laws. Among those participating: State Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh (see photo), who represents portions of the Lower East Side. The current rent law expires in June. There’s been talk in Albany that the renewal could be tied to property tax relief. Governor Andrew Cuomo has been vague about where he stands on strengthening protections for New York City’s rent stabilized and rent controlled apartments.

According to some estimates, more than 10,000 Lower East Side apartments have been deregulated in the past decade.

Election Night Shocker! LES Elected Officials All Victorious

State Senator Daniel Squadron, State Assemblymn Brian Kavanagh.

Election night wasn’t exactly a nail-biter for the Lower East Side’s elected representatives. In Downtown Manhattan, there’s not much for Democratic candidates to fear once they prevail in their party’s primary.  But for the record, here are the results:

  • Daniel Squadron defeated Joseph Nardiello 86% to 14% in the 25th Senatorial District contest. Squadron returns to Albany to serve a second term, representing Lower Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn.
  • Brian Kavanagh beat Dena Winokur 84% to 16% in the 74th Assembly District race.  Kavanagh has represented the East Side, mostly above Houston Street, since 2007.
  • Sheldon Silver ran unopposed in the 64th Assembly District, a fact that drove the city’s editorial boards absolutely insane.
  • Carolyn Maloney defeated Ryan Brumberg 74% to 21% in the 14th Congressional District, which includes part of the LES.
  • Nydia Velazquez won over Alice Gaffney 92% to 7% in the 12th Congressional District, which includes another slice of the Lower East Side.

Law Cracking Down on Careless Drivers Takes Effect Today

A short time ago, elected officials, pedestrian safety advocates and community leaders crowded onto the bustling sidewalk on the Lower East Side to acknowledge a legislative achievement. Today, “Hayley and Diego’s Law,” which cracks down on careless drivers, went into effect.

Elected Officials Call on DOE to “Fix” Girls Prep Situation

We just returned from 1 Centre Street, where elected officials and education advocates rallied against the Education Department’s decision to proceed with its expansion of the Girls Prep Charter School. Today’s event was organized by Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, who denounced the DOE’s “tactic to bulldoze parent input.”

“Kavanagh on Your Corner” in August

Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh has announced an August schedule for his “mobile district office.”  Staffers will be available to help constituents with specific problems they might be having and to answer questions about legislation and local issues. Here are the details:

August 1 Gompers Houses (4-6pm) 90 Pitt Street
August 2 Riis Houses (1-3pm) 465 East 10th Street
August 7 Baruch Houses Family Day 100 Columbia Street
August 19 Riis Family Day 454 East 10th Street
August 26 LES II (1-3pm) 628 East 5th Street

Kavanagh represents the 74th Assembly District, which includes the area above Houston Street and extending up the East Side, but oddly also includes Pitt Street between Delancey and Houston.   By the way, he’s also co-sponsoring free dental checkups for kids (6months-14 years). The checkups will take place in the Baruch Houses’ community room August 2-6, 9am-2:30pm. See more info here.

Kavanagh Less Than Thrilled with Election Year Tactics

Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh

In the past week we’ve linked to a couple of items about State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver’s lawsuit aimed at keeping his Republican opponent in the 64th Assembly District race off the September Primary ballot. Comically, the New York Post portrayed the challenger, Joan Lipp, as an impoverished widow being bullied by Albany’s most powerful politician.

Meanwhile, there’s also a petition challenge in the neighboring 74th Assembly District, currently represented by Brian Kavanagh. But Kavanagh is not the one doing the challenging.  Instead, State Committeeman Michael Farrin, a longtime activist in the downtown political club, Coalition for a District Alternative (CoDA), has filed an objection with the Elections Board.