Cornegy, Cumbo Hit The City Council Ground Running

Stephen Witt
By Stephen Witt February 21, 2014 13:32 Updated

While Mayor Bill de Blasio continues to rally for a city tax on the wealthy to fund his Universal Pre-K program, an increase in the minimum wage and paid sick leave for any business with five or more employees, newly elected Central Brooklyn City Council members Robert Cornegy, Jr. and Laurie Cumbo both say they’re working out their own legislative agenda.

Cornegy, who represents Bedford-Stuyvesant and parts of Crown Heights, said he is developing legislation to improve safety in public schools. The measure is a result of the recent death of Avonte Oquendo in Queens and another incident involving a four-year-old leaving P.S. 59 through an unalarmed exit, according to Cornegy’s office.

Additionally, Cornegy has scheduled a meeting with Department of Education Chancellor Carmen Farina later this week (too late for this deadline) where he plans on discussing his school safety concerns and his goal of bringing gifted and talented education to the 36th Council District.

Cornegy is the chair of the Committee on Small Business, and a source confirmed he was not in attendance when City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito reportedly met with several small business owners who complained about the paid sick leave rollout and enforcement.

Neither Cornegy nor Mark-Viverito’s office responded to calls on why Cornegy was not in attendance at press time.

Cornegy’s first official meeting of the Small Business Committee is scheduled for later this month and his office said the meeting will focus on issues specific to nonprofit corporations and social entrepreneurs, vital members of the small business community that are not often respected as job creators and change agents. The committee is also considering means of improving the city’s outreach and service to targeted segments of the small business community and on reducing regulatory and financial burdens on small businesses.

While Cornegy’s office did not comment on de Blasio and Mark-Viverito’s paid sick leave bill, Cumbo said she supports the measure, although she has heard some pushback from some small business owners in her district who fear what this will mean for their business.

“However, it is critically important that we set a reasonable foundation to protect the rights of workers and that includes raising the minimum wage, expanding paid sick leave and enforcing the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act,” she said.

Cumbo, whose 35th District includes Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, Prospect Heights and parts of Crown Heights, also chairs the Committee on Women’s Issues. As such, she is working on a bill that would prohibit employers from denying work or promotions to workers simply based on their familial status.

Cumbo said she was pleased with de Blasio’s recent preliminary fiscal year 2014 city budget, and in particular, his proposal that NYCHA residents will no longer have to pay for police protection as there are several NYCHA developments in her district.

“Mayor de Blasio has taken a huge step in the right direction by reallocating those valuable resources to important renovations and repairs that our NYCHA developments have gone without for far too long,” she said.

Cumbo said she’s also glad de Blasio’s first budget plan included additional funding for homeless services including a $1.3 million allocation for security and other improvements at the Auburn and Catherine Street family shelters in her district.

The two other City Council members representing Central Brooklyn – Darlene Mealy and Inez Barron, did not return several calls concerning their work in the City Council at press time.

Stephen Witt
By Stephen Witt February 21, 2014 13:32 Updated
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