During Erik’s time on Gov. Cuomo’s staff, he served as a community liaison, meaning, what Erik carried back to Gov. Cuomo’s Executive Chambre would help set policy, given the people’s needs and priorities. That time (2011-2014), coïncided with Occupy Wall Street, a social movement to end economic inequality in society and corruption by big business interests in Government. We never saw that sensibility reflected in the policies of Gov. Cuomo.
Instead, we saw a continuation of neoliberalism by the State Government. We witnessed Gov. Cuomo forcus on Medicaid cuts that threatened safety net hospitals across New York City. We witnessed severe, austerity budgets put forth by Gov. Cuomo. Never did we hear about a robust internal debate by Cuomo staff over ending both income inequality and the influence of big business in Government.
Before Erik went to work for Gov. Cuomo, we lost St. Vincent’s Hospital in our district. In the time before the Coronavirus pandemic, and during the pandemic, we have yet to hear Erik call for an expansion of hospital capacity in the district or in the catchment areas that we share with neighboring Council Districts.
Because of the Government’s neglect of people in need, our District became home to the City’s largest soup kitchen. We are very grateful for how the Episcopal Church has opened its doors to people in need in our community. But the scale of the need they fulfill reflects how Government has failed people. Our District has also become home to many homeless shelters during the pandemic, a reflection of the luxury construction boom that over-built hotels and luxury apartments by eradicating affordable housing.
In contrast, Council candidate Marni Halasa has proposed a collection of policy ideas that would refocus Government to comprehensively restore the social safety net. From offering rent vouchers to small businesses and individuals, who have suffered loss of income during the Coronavirus pandemic ; to convert empty hotels into SRO’s with supportive services, offering people without homes a chance at a permanent lease to their own space ; to fighting to keep public housing public, Marni offers new policy ideas to help us recover from the pandemic and to fund Government policy to strengthen the social safety net.
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Cuomo, de Blasio, Johnson and Bottcher. More of the same is not what we need.