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Williams Advises St. Louis Lawmakers On Creating A New Public Advocate Position

July 23rd, 2024Press Release

NEW YORK:  New York City Public Advocate Jumaane D. Williams testified before the St. Louis Board of Aldermen today as the legislature considers a bill to establish a similar position in their city. In his remarks, he emphasized the importance of an elected, independent ombudsman in city government, speaking to his own experience in the role and offering recommendations for a new office in St. Louis. “There is the stature of the office as a City-wide level elected,” argued Public Advocate Williams after speaking to several recent achievements by his office and outlining the history and powers of the role. “This facilitates the full force of the bully pulpit to bring a voice to the voters that cannot be ignored by the administration nor any other level of government.” The Public Advocate acknowledged some of the challenges of the office, including budget and staff limitations, and urged that a newly created position address these areas from the outset. He reiterated the importance of the role as a counterbalance to other executives. Board Bill 71, legislation from Alderwoman Daniela Velazquez, would put a proposed charter amendment before St. Louis voters to create a position of public advocate and office of public advocacy.  Should the City of St. Louis move forward in creating the position, Public Advocate Williams recommended that:

  • The operational budget of the office must be appropriately sized and comparable to the city-wide office holder; 
  • The Charter Commission should delineate in the Charter the percentage of the budget that will be allocated to the Public Advocate; and
  • The Public Advocate should have the power to subpoena records, as well as witnesses.

Watch the Public Advocate’s full testimony and dialogue with the St. Louis Board of Aldermen here


NYC Public Advocate’s Statement On The City Council Authorizing Legal Action To Ensure Implementation Of Solitary Confinement Law

July 18th, 2024Press Release

“I commend the Speaker, Council Members Nurse and Rivera, and the entire City Council for taking this action to protect New Yorkers and ensure the administration complies with our laws – even ones the mayor opposes. Ending the harm of isolation is a moral and legal imperative. 

“The administration clearly has the resources to implement Local Law 42. Instead, they’re using those resources to try to preserve the status quo on Rikers. I had hoped that when the Council overrode the mayor’s veto with more votes than the bill was originally passed by, the mayor would work to implement the law and improve conditions on Rikers. There is still an opportunity for the administration to act in good faith, but the Council’s vote today provides a safeguard and path to enact that a policy overwhelmingly approved by lawmakers is carried out in city jails.”


Judge Orders Bus Service Cuts Restored Following Hearing On Public Advocate’s Lawsuit

July 18th, 2024Press Release

NEW YORK: At a hearing this afternoon on a lawsuit filed on behalf of bus riders by Public Advocate Jumaane D. Williams and the Transportation Workers Union of America (TWU) Local 100, State Supreme Court Judge Arthur Engoron issued a Temporary Restraining Order to restore recent cuts made to bus services in several boroughs. The dramatic reductions in service initiated by the MTA last week must now be reversed as the case moves forward.

This suit, which highlights the cost-cutting measures undertaken by the MTA since the last-minute “pause” of congestion pricing, is the first in a series to be filed in coordination with a coalition of transit riders, disabled commuters, and environmental advocates as part of a legal effort initiated by Comptroller Brad Lander. 

“This is a moment of victory in a much larger and longer movement,” said Public Advocate Jumaane D. Williams after the hearing. “Because of this order, New Yorkers will see buses back on the streets, resuming the routes that people rely on. The cuts in this case show the real, personal consequences of the Governor and MTA’s cancellation of congestion pricing and the revenue it would have raised. They need to be transparent about that impact, and about any cuts they make. In this instance, the MTA acted without adequate notice or process, and I am grateful that while the case moves forward, we have been able to mitigate this harm. I thank the TWU and all who are leading on this case and in the overall fight to get the funding we need for our city’s public transit.”

The lawsuit, filed yesterday in conjunction with TWU Local 100 and New York City transit riders, aims to establish injunctive relief from non-emergency, long-term reduction of bus service throughout the city. Roopdai Julie Davis, an 82-year-old resident of Kensington and daily bus rider, joined the suit as representative of the many New Yorkers who will suffer as a result of these cuts, particularly amid the dangers of a heat wave.

Cuts to service began without public notice on or about Friday, July 12. The New York State Public Authorities Law requires the MTA to give 30 days notice of any non-emergency bus service reduction to the NYC Mayor and Council. The MTA failed to provide such notice and allow for a public hearing by the Council on the cuts, also required by law, seemingly in its haste to account for the revenue lost by pausing congestion pricing. 

The next court date in this case will be September 24, with the Temporary Restraining Order in place and service cuts reversed in the interim.  


NYC Public Advocate's Statement On The 10th Anniversary Of Eric Garner's Death

July 17th, 2024Press Release

"Ten years ago this afternoon, Eric Garner was killed by Officer Daniel Pantaleo on a Staten Island street corner and on camera. In remembering Eric’s death, we honor his life as a father, son, husband, and a beloved member of our New York community whose life was needlessly taken by law enforcement.

"His last words, ‘I can’t breathe,' have become a rallying cry for justice, accountability, and reform, a refrain echoed in the wake of George Floyd’s death six years later, one which still resounds today. We should use this moment of reflection to examine the progress made since 2014 as well as the ongoing injustices we continue to face and fight. 

"Yesterday Mayor Adams said he hoped there would be ‘no Eric Garner situation’ under his administration. But just months ago, Win Rozario was killed by the NYPD, and justice was denied to the family of Kawaski Trawick. At the start of this year, the mayor vetoed our law which can help prevent encounters like Eric Garner’s from escalating, and attempted to convince the public that police transparency makes people less safe. These ‘situations’ will continue to happen as the city not only attempts to prevent better policing, but retreats from the progress of the last decade.

"I want to offer continued condolences and gratitude to Gwen Carr and the Garner family, who have turned their pain into purpose. They have shown immense strength and resilience in the face of profound loss, and I’m proud to be alongside them in the movement for lasting change and true justice. We cannot wait another day, let alone a decade, to make the changes that will prevent future tragedies."


NYC Public Advocate's Statement On FY2025 Budget Deal

June 28th, 2024Press Release

"I am glad to see a budget agreement on time, and with many important initiatives intact. I thank the Council and the Speaker in particular, in partnership with advocates, for their relentless efforts to not only secure capital investment in key initiatives such as affordable housing, but to oppose austerity and preserve vital programs. Nowhere is this more clear than in our libraries and cultural institutions, and I am grateful that the final budget deal restores crucial funding in these areas. 

"At the same time, we should not let relief at undoing the administration’s unnecessary and high-profile cuts to libraries obscure the reality: there are still other unnecessary, less-visible cuts in this budget, and these will have an impact far beyond the fiscal year. I will continue to review the details of the budget deal for a wide range of agencies and issues.

"Finally, it should be clear that announcing services will be slashed, then reversing course months later, is not a sign of strong administrative management; it’s playing politics with programs that people depend on. We need to lead with fiscal and moral responsibility, consider the human cost of cuts, and move forward as strong stewards of not just the city’s finances, but the city’s people."


NYC Public Advocate Responds To The Surgeon General's Gun Violence Advisory

June 25th, 2024Press Release

"Gun violence is and has been a public health emergency. I commend Surgeon General Murthy for recognizing the urgency and scope of this crisis, an American epidemic that spreads to our streets, supermarkets, homes, houses of worship, and more. This declaration also prescribes a pathway to addressing a plague which is now the leading cause of death among children in America.

"Like tobacco before it, America’s obsession with guns is pervasive, but not inevitable. By highlighting the need for enhanced research, improved safety measures, expanded mental health services, and stronger community engagement, this announcement promotes common sense, actionable measures that I and others have long advocated as part of a holistic approach to combating gun violence. New York knows the pain of each shooting, the tragedy and trauma on families and communities, and the Surgeon General’s call aligns with our ongoing efforts to create safer neighborhoods.

"As we approach the end of June’s Gun Violence Awareness Month, all levels of government must implement and expand on these life-saving measures. I am eager to work with local, state, and national leaders to implement effective strategies that turn these recommendations into reality."


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