• Michael Grimm is a major opponent of Obamacare

    Congress members speak out after courts issue Affordable Care Act rulings

    By Paula Katinas, Brooklyn Daily Eagle<

    Two members of Brooklyn’ congressional delegation spoke out, voicing opposing viewpoints, on the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare, after two federal courts issued opposing rulings on the controversial law on Tuesday.

    U.S. Rep. Michael Grimm (R-C-Bay Ridge-Dyker Heights-Staten Island) and U.S. Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-Crown Heights-Brownsville) both issued statements after the flurry of court activity on July 22.

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    AARP lauds GOP Rep. Michael Grimm for co-sponsoring bill for seniors

    NEW YORK, N.Y. – Rep. Michael Grimm (R-Staten Island/Brooklyn) is getting kudos from AARP for signing on as a co-sponsor to the Older Americans Act Reauthorization.

    The act would extend for four years provisions of a 1965 law that helps pay for an array of senior services, including home-delivered meals, transportation, community-based long-term care, legal services, elder abuse and prevention services, preventive health services, nursing home ombudsmen, senior community service jobs and services that help support family caregivers.

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    Congressman Grimm Weighs in on Current US Foreign Policy

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    Health care for our vets is the least we can do

    By Rep. Michael Grimm

    When Michael Hill first walked into my office about three years ago, he was a desperate man, living in squalor, enduring the daily torment of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. For more than 20 years, Michael had been at war with his own country –- a country he had proudly and honorably served in the United States Air Force. Fighting just to get the benefits and the care he so desperately needed.

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    Hundreds rally in search of answers after 3 Israeli teens found dead

    SEA VIEW – There was heartbreak all over Staten Island’s Jewish community Monday evening after learning that the bodies of three missing Israeli teenagers — whose disappearance drew worldwide attention — had been found.

    The sadness of the borough’s local Jewish community and others who related to those in Israel and worldwide who were heartsick after the June 12 disappearance of the boys from the West Bank and their subsequent killings. The sadness of the evening was coupled with anger of over a push for the killers to be brought to justice as well as sense of disappointment at a lack of response by the United States.

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    Rep. Grimm takes to House floor to rally against school bullying; cites case of Staten Island youth

    Rep. Michael Grimm (R-Staten Island/Brooklyn) took to the floor of the House of Representatives in Washington on Wednesday to rally his Congressional colleagues in support of a bill against school bullying.

    “The Safe Schools Improvement Act” (H.R. 1199) would require public schools to establish and enforce policies that prevent and prohibit severe conduct, including bullying and harassment.
    In urging colleagues to co-sponsor the legislation, Congressman Grimm cited the case of an 11-year-old Stapleton boy, Cyon Williams, who told the Advance how he was relentlessly tormented by bullies this year while a sixth-grader at Morris Intermediate School, Brighton Heights.

    “Cyon’s struggle is with unaddressed bullying which drove him to contemplate suicide. Think about that … an 11-year-old boy contemplating violence and suicide,” the congressman said.

    “Just a few weeks ago, I met with this bright and very impressive young man, along with his mother, at their home,” he continued. “I have to tell you it was an absolutely heartbreaking story of how he’s terrified to go to school every day, but yet he’s yearning to read and to learn.”

    Cyon’s mother, Halcyon Williams, said school officials at Morris turned a deaf ear when she came to them about the bullying, and said the city Department of Education took four months before it acted on the case by approving a transfer in the final weeks of the school year. She subsequently decided to keep her son home.

    “It’s time that we all say enough is enough,” Grimm said. We must demand accountability from those charged with addressing bullying in our schools … we owe it to all of our young adults.”

    By Diane C. Lore | lore@siadvance.com, originally posted on SILive.com

  • Bay Ridge House

    Bay Ridge in danger of overcrowding, longtime homeowners say

    Bay Ridge is such a desirable neighborhood to live in, people will do anything to move there, even cheat.

    That’s what longtime residents are telling the Brooklyn Eagle. Homeowners are raising the alarm over an increasing number of one and two-family homes that are being sold for big bucks and are then completely gutted by the new owners apparently with the intent of converting the private houses into multiple dwellings for large groups of tenants.

    And in some cases, the construction work is being done without the proper permits from the city’s Department of Buildings (DOB), according to angry homeowners, who said they are growing frustrated as they watch their neighborhood rapidly changing around them.

    “People are buying homes in Bay Ridge under the radar,” Bob Cassara, who lives on Bay Ridge Parkway, told the Eagle. “The house down the street from me, a beautiful house, was sold for $1 million. They got permits from the city for minor renovations and then they totally gutted it from stem to stern. That doesn’t sound like a minor renovation to me.”

    The re-construction usually results in the opening of an eight-unit multiple dwelling and perhaps has many as 32 people living in a building that once housed a single family, or at the most, two families, said Josephine Beckmann, district manager of Community Board 10. “It seems that the intention is to sub-divide the house,” she told the Eagle.

    The ramifications are potentially devastating. “It changes the density of the block. It increases the number of cars on the block. It stretches city services such as water and sanitation. And it causes our public schools to become even more overcrowded than they are now,” Beckmann said.

    In addition, the construction work itself can pose a danger to surrounding homes, according to Beckmann. “These are major renovation projects. We’re seeing extensive excavations of basements. Most of our housing stock in Bay Ridge was built in the early 1900s. We are getting an increasing number of calls from residents who are concerned about the structural integrity of their homes.”

    Besides, said Beckmann, you can’t just create a multiple dwelling out of whole cloth. “You have to bring engineers in. You have to register with the Department of Housing Preservation and Development. You have to establish a proper egress. There are safety issues you are required to address,” she said.

    DOB has issued “Stop Work” orders at three locations in recent weeks, Beckmann said.

    Ann Falutico, chairman of Community Board 10’s Zoning Committee, issued a report on the troubling situation to the board at its June 16 meeting. The committee is taking the matter so seriously that it had David Nussbaum, a community affairs official with DOB, speak at a committee meeting earlier this month.

    Many of the construction projects are taking place on Bay Ridge Parkway, Falutico said.

    “The proliferation of illegal residential conversions continues to be a major problem in our district with a recent concentration noted on Bay Ridge Parkway near Tenth Avenue. Although this is a complex social issue, illegal conversions threaten the quality of life for all residents as well as putting strain on public amenities and services,” she said in her report. “Offenders display blatant disregard for zoning and code regulations, illegally establishing full apartments and single-room rental occupancies, often creating structural and fire hazards during construction and post construction.”

    DOB does its best to investigate complaints “but access by officials to offending premises is most often denied at the doorstep,” Falutico said.

    Nussbaum told Falutico and her committee that DOB follows up on complaints made to 311 and attempts to gain access to the address of the possible illegal conversion on a first occasion leaving a notice if access is not achieved. If the second attempt to gain access is unsuccessful, the complaint is closed-out.

    “Although observations of only the exterior of a residence can sometimes give indication of an illegal conversion, access to the interior is crucial,” Falutico said. In many cases, however, DOB’s hands are tied. “To go beyond the two attempts to gain access to the inside of a residence, requires a search warrant which are issued in limited numbers and requires the cooperation and willingness on the part of the complainant who must be willing to submit signed affidavit.”

    But in cases where the building code violations are deemed to be hazardous, an order to vacate the building is issued.

    In cases where the violations are not hazardous, the violations are referred to the Environmental Control Board (ECB), an administrative court, where fines are imposed in addition to the civil penalties imposed directly by DOB.

    U.S. Rep. Michael Grimm (R-C-Bay Ridge-Dyker Heights-Staten Island) and state Sen. Marty (R-C-Bay Ridge-southern Brooklyn) jointly sent a letter to Mayor Bill de Blasio urging the city to immediately crack down.

    “For generations, neighborhoods in southeast Brooklyn like Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights have resisted overdevelopment to preserve that signature character and quality of life that make them so great. Unfortunately, the latest culprit is homeowners secretly converting one and two family homes into illegal multi-occupancy residences that are dangerous and completely out of character with the community,” Grimm said.

    “The illegal conversions of one and two family homes into multiple dwellings and SRO’s is plaguing our community and endangering residents. We must get a handle on this situation so to address one of the greatest challenges to our present day quality of life,” Golden said.

    By Paula Katinas, Brooklyn Eagle

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    Congressman Grimm Weighs in on Prisoner Exchange

    Click play below to listen to the Congressman’s recent comments on the exchange between the Obama administration and terrorist groups to release Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.



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    Many Displaced by Superstorm Sandy Still Wait for Housing Help

    Seventeen months after Congress authorized up to $16 billion to fix homes wrecked by superstorm Sandy, tens of thousands of people still are living in damaged houses or paying rent on top of a mortgage as they wait for rebuilding help.

    About 15,000 New York City residents are seeking aid, but city officials say only 352 have so far received a check or city-provided home construction.

    In New Jersey, 2,032 homes are being built or repaired, for more than 11,500 homeowners deemed eligible for rebuilding help, according to the state department of community affairs. Continue Reading

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    Rep. Michael Grimm: More density in Mayor Bill de Blasio’s affordable housing plan could be “disastrous”

    Rep. Michael Grimm took aim this week at Mayor Bill de Blasio’s affordable housing plan, saying he was worried it would lead to new housing that could be “disastrous for Staten Island and southern Brooklyn.”

    Grimm’s comments in a statement Thursday came after he and the rest of the city’s congressional delegation met with Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development Alicia Glen.

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