January 27, 2022
Dear Neighbor:

Thursday, January 27 marks International Holocaust Remembrance Day. This is the day that one of the most notorious concentration camps, Auschwitz, was liberated. Please take a moment to reflect on and honor the memories of more than six million Jewish victims of the Holocaust and millions of other victims of Nazism.

It has been eighty years since the Holocaust began, and we continue to see violent strains of anti-Semitism throughout the United States and the world. Shockingly high numbers of people do not know basic facts about the Holocaust, and imagery is being coopted by anti-vaxxers who would have you believe that not wanting to get vaccinated is comparable to being forcibly removed from your home, shipped to forced labor concentration camps, and murdered en masse – solely based on religion and ethnicity.

If you are so inclined, I encourage you to watch this commemoration ceremony from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum here.

Please remember to be kind to one another today (and every day), and thank you for being a part of our community here in the north and northwest Bronx.

Jeffrey Dinowitz
Member of Assembly
What's Happening in the 81st Assembly District?
  • More Test Kit & PPE Distribution Events This Week
  • Thoughts on Public Safety After Two NYPD Officers Are Killed
  • Local Update: Fighting to Restore Heat at Fort Independence Houses
  • Albany Update: Another Dinowitz Bill Passes Assembly
  • COVID-19 Update: Statewide Mask Mandate Remains in Place After Court Challenges
  • Updates from Government & Community Partners
More Test Kit & PPE Distribution Events This Week
I am pleased to share that I am once again hosting several distribution events for at-home COVID-19 testing kits and personal protective equipment (such as N95 or KN95 masks). My office is in the process of organizing additional distribution events, and the federal government has started delivering test kits requested by USPS.

All events are first come, first served and while supplies last. Information for distribution events this week are as follows:

WHAT: Free COVID-19 Testing Kit, PPE, and Food Package
WHEN: Thursday, January 27 at 5:30pm (while supplies last)
WHERE: Corner of Nereid Avenue and White Plains Road
WHO: Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz, Speaker Carl Heastie, Bronx Borough President Vanessa Gibson, State Senator Jamaal Bailey, Council Member Eric Dinowitz, and Council Member Kevin Riley
THANKS TO: NYC Health + Hospitals System / NYC Test & Trace Corps and NY Common Pantry
CONTACT: Office of Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz at 718-796-5345 or DinowitzJ@nyassembly.gov

WHAT: Free COVID-19 Testing Kit and PPE
WHEN: Friday, January 28 at 3:00pm (weather permitting, while supplies last)
WHERE: Outside of Williamsbridge Oval (Corner of Bainbridge Avenue and Van Cortlandt Avenue East)
WHO: Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz, Congressman Adriano Espaillat, State Senator Jamaal Bailey, and Council Member Eric Dinowitz
THANKS TO: Governor Kathy Hochul and NYC Department of Sanitation
CONTACT: Office of Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz at 718-796-5345 or DinowitzJ@nyassembly.gov

WHAT: Free COVID-19 Testing Kit and PPE
WHEN: Friday, January 28 at 12:00pm (weather permitting, while supplies last)
WHERE: Outside of Fort Independence Houses (3340 Bailey Avenue)
WHO: Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz, State Senator Gustavo Rivera, Bronx Borough President Vanessa Gibson, Council Member Pierina Sanchez, and Northwest Bronx Community & Clergy Coalition
CONTACT: Office of Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz at 718-796-5345 or DinowitzJ@nyassembly.gov
ICYMI: President Biden Launches Federal At-Home Test Kit Distribution
As anticipated, President Biden and his White House administration have launched a federal system to mail at-home COVID-19 test kits directly to Americans who request them (for free).

Tests have started shipping already and to place an order, all you need is your name and residential address. Tests will typically ship within 7-12 days of ordering.

You can order tests online at COVIDtests.gov or you can also call 1-800-232-0233 if you cannot use the website or need additional support placing an order. I am aware of concerns that some website issues have been noticed, particularly around people who live in multi-family buildings (i.e. apartments). If the website will not let you order test kits, please try calling the telephone hotline instead.

The initial program has a limit of 4 free individual tests per residential address. If you have insurance, your insurance will also cover the cost of at-home tests (up to 8 per month for each person on the plan). For more information on how to get an at-home test kit covered by insurance, please visit the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services website here.
Thoughts on Public Safety After Two NYPD Officers Are Killed
My heart broke this week, along with the hearts of millions of New Yorkers, as we mourn the deaths of two NYPD police officers who were killed in the line of duty. Officers Jason Rivera and Wilbert Mora are the first city police officers to be killed in the line of duty since 2014, when Officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu were murdered.

These police officers, and tens of thousands of others, put their lives on the line to keep our city safe. I am grateful for their service and sacrifice, and share my deepest condolences to their friends and family. Rest in peace.

Stepping back from this tragedy, I believe there are two primary takeaways that should frame the broader conversation about public safety in New York.

First, gun violence continues to rise in our city – now at levels we haven't seen in more than a decade – and it will require a concentrated and continued effort from leaders at every level of government. I am pleased to see President Biden visiting New York to discuss gun violence with Mayor Adams, and I am hopeful that this conversation will lead to tangible progress to combat the "Iron Pipeline". This is the moniker given to the illegal firearms trade along I-95, where unregistered and unlawful weapons are smuggled into our state from other states that have much weaker gun laws than New York does. We can continue to pass the strongest laws to protect people from gun violence in the entire nation, but we frankly cannot do anything to address gun sales in other states without federal help. An estimated 86% of handguns used in crimes in New York come from out of state, and 70% came from just six states along I-95 (Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, and Pennsylvania).

Second, we as a society need to do a better job at having honest and productive conversations about public safety policies. I have been disappointed, but not surprised, to see a number of people (including some here in our own community) bring up the issue of bail reform in the context of the killing of these two officers last week. The apparent perpetrator, who was also killed, was not out on bail under the changed laws. This was a domestic dispute that turned ugly because of an illegal firearm that had been reported stolen in Baltimore five years ago.

I understand that many people are anxious about rising rates of violence in our city, and around the entire country, and it can be easier to process this anxiety with a convenient scapegoat – especially one that is being wielded as a cudgel for self-interested political gain by the Republican Party and their quislings. But the truth is this: only two percent of defendants released without bail pending trial between June 2020 and June 2021 were rearrested. Only one half of one percent of defendants released without bail during this period were rearrested for a crime involving a firearm. The reality is that the rise in crime rates appears to be overwhelmingly unrelated to changes that our state made to bail and discovery laws. Similar increases in crime rates can be seen in cities around the country, none of whom implemented the same bail and discovery reforms as we did in 2018 and 2019.

We must work hard to get more comfortable talking about issues of public safety, restorative justice, and systemic inequities that have long been present in our criminal justice system without devolving into tribalism and rancor. I think this conversation ought to begin with a common understanding. I believe we all want safe communities. I believe most of us want a system of justice that is equitable, efficient, and restorative. Those ideals do not need to compete with each other, regardless of what the talking heads on Fox & Friends might have you believe, and that is the conversation that we need to be having in coming months.
Local Update: Fighting to Restore Heat at Fort Independence Houses
Late last week, my office received word that the temporary boiler at Fort Independence Houses was malfunctioning and as a result, hundreds of tenants did not have access to heat for several cold days. After working hard to get NYCHA officials on the scene to make repairs on Friday, the heat broke again on Saturday. Together with Council Member Pierina Sanchez and tenants from Fort Independence Houses, we stood in solidarity to demand that NYCHA not only get the heat back on – but also fix the temporary boiler which had been in use for many months already.

It is my understanding that the heat was eventually restored, although the higher floors were still reporting insufficient heat, and I will keep working hard to make sure NYCHA fixes the permanent boiler.

The lack of heat during cold, winter months is unacceptable anywhere – and it ought to be most unacceptable in buildings that are owned and managed by the City. The unfortunate reality is that people who live in NYCHA housing are forced to bear more than their fair share of poor living conditions, largely due to decades of capital neglect and inefficient management. I lived in a NYCHA building for a period many years ago, when I was growing up, and the contrast between how it was growing up and how it is now could not be more clear.

My office remains available to help my constituents living in NYCHA housing (or any type of housing) deal with insufficient heat or hot water (or any maintenance complaint). Please contact my office at 718-796-5345 or DinowitzJ@nyassembly.gov. Please have your repair request number or 311 complaint number ready when you contact us for the most expedient assistance.
Albany Update: Another Dinowitz Bill Passes Assembly
I am pleased to share that another of my bills has passed the Assembly (A2193). This legislation has passed the Assembly in each of the past six years but it has never been able to move in the State Senate. I remain hopeful and will continue to work hard to get this over the finish line once and for all.

The bill addresses arbitration awards in consumer and employment disputes, such as what may take place in a wrongful termination lawsuit. In a simplistic sense, arbitration is a process that is used to determine how much the losing party in a lawsuit has to give up to the winning party. This process involves an arbitrator, which is an impartial third party who makes a determination about who gives up how much to whom. Currently, there is no requirement for an arbitrator to explain their decision. This legislation would change that, such as is currently done with arbitration disputes between automobile insurance companies and their customers.
COVID-19 Update: Statewide Mask Mandate Remains in Place After Court Challenges
As you may recall, back in December 2021, Governor Hochul implemented a statewide indoor mask requirement for any business that does not require proof of vaccination for entrance. This action was challenged in court, and this week there were a pair of decisions that have essentially left us in the same place we were last week with respect to the indoor mask requirement.

To explain the context here, it is important to remember how New York's court system is structured. There are three basic tiers of the court system: State Supreme Court (the lowest tier), the Appellate Division/Terms of the Supreme Court (the middle tier), and the Court of Appeals (the highest tier). This can be a little confusing because it differs from the federal terminology, where the Supreme Court of the United States is the highest tier of courts in our country.

In summary, a state Supreme Court Justice from Nassau County issued a decision that the state's indoor mask requirement rule violated the State Constitution. That ruling was appealed by the State Attorney General (on behalf of the State of New York), and the state appeals court judge granted a stay to maintain the indoor mask requirement until a final verdict is reached. There is another hearing scheduled for this Friday (tomorrow).

I strongly support the concept of indoor mask requirements. I believe it is appropriate for the Department of Health to issue rules requiring public places to require masks be worn indoors (or even outdoors if there is a tightly packed crowd) in order to combat the spread of COVID-19. I am hopeful that the state court system will uphold this policy, which is based in solid scientific data that shows that mask requirements reduce community transmission of this deadly virus. I'm sure there are very few people who actually like to wear masks (I know I don't), but I think this requirement is the most minor of burdens in the context of a pandemic that killed almost 900,000 Americans. Wearing a mask is a small price to pay if it means saving lives and if you think that wearing a mask is too large a sacrifice then you just don't know what sacrifice is.
ICYMI: Sticky Mailboxes Return to Our Community
My office has received an uptick in reports of mailboxes with sticky residue, indicating that people may be mailbox phishing at these locations. We have raised these problem locations with the USPS as well as NYPD, but unfortunately it seems that they are unable to put a complete stop to the problematic behavior.

The USPS has shared some tips for people to follow when they use the blue mailboxes to send their mail.

  • Locations with sticky mailboxes should continue to be reported to the USPS, which can be done online: https://emailus.usps.com/s/postal-facility-inquiry
  • The USPS encourages people to use a physical post office to mail very important financial and/or personal documents in order to utilize additional mailing options (such as return receipts or insured mail) and to confirm that the mail was accepted by USPS.
  • People are also encouraged to refrain from using the blue mailboxes after the last collection of the day (which should be shown directly on the mailbox) so that mail does not sit in the mailbox overnight.

Please feel free to contact my office about problematic locations with sticky mailboxes at DinowitzJ@nyassembly.gov.
Updates from Government & Community Partners
Bronx Jewish Community Council – Project HOPE Passover Delivery (Bag Collection)
  • Project HOPE Passover Delivery will take place Sunday, April 3, 2022 from 9-11:30am
  • BJCC is collecting 500 FreshDirect (or similar sized) bags to use for the Passover Project HOPE Delivery to isolated Jewish seniors
  • Bag collection will run until March 23, 2022
  • Bags can be dropped off at SAR Academy (there is a designated box in the school's atrium) as well as at 630 West 246th Street (tell the doorman they are for Apartment #230)
  • Contact Niti at nminkove@bjcconline.org or 917-693-3084 for more information
NYS Department of Labor – Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Change
  • The federal government have newly required states to obtain certain documentation from recipients who collected PUA after December 27, 2020.
  • Starting next week, the Department of Labor will begin notifying recipients who received PUA of the additional information that will be required from them.
  • People will have 90 days to submit their documentation, which may include at least: pay stubs, tax documents, signed affidavits, and more.
  • More information can be found online: dol.ny.gov/puadocumentation.
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Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz

Phone: 718-796-5345 | E-Mail: dinowitzj@nyassembly.gov