Update: NYCHA Repair Pilot Program and the Saving Our Civil Service Act
This week, NYCHA staff introduced a skilled trades pilot program that will decentralize the work order process in several housing developments in Western Queens, with the goal of making repairs timelier and more efficient. I have been advocating for this change for several years and formally proposed the idea of a decentralized maintenance system to Chairman Russ in June.
As Chairwoman of the Oversight Committee, I released documents on the Trump Administration’s attempt to use $250 million for a political propaganda campaign around COVID-19, on the Department of Education’s failure to help students defrauded by for-profit colleges, and on the Justice Department settlement with Purdue and the Sackler family.
I also introduced the Saving Our Civil Service Act to protect our current nonpartisan, expert career civil service; called for the removal of the Director of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) following the release of an Inspector General report detailing a campaign of whistleblower retaliation, and requested that the Inspectors General of the Department of Justice and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence review whether a counterintelligence investigation regarding President Donald Trump’s financial interests was ever opened, as well as whether it was curtailed or terminated.
More on all this and other updates below.
COVID Data Update
Confirmed Cases: 45,192,450
*data from Johns Hopkins
Confirmed Cases: 8,944,934
*data from Johns Hopkins
New York State
Confirmed Cases: 503,176
Testing Positivity: 3.53%
*data from Johns Hopkins
New York City
Confirmed Cases: 254,091
*data from NYC Health
This year, New York State is offering three different options to voters: early voting, Election Day voting, and mail-in voting. Please note that your Election Day poll site and early voting poll site will be different.
If you have not yet mailed in your absentee ballot, it is recommended that you drop it off in person either at a ballot box or at a board of elections location due to mail delays. More information from the NYC Board of Elections here.
Early voting continues through this Sunday, November 1. Find your early voting polling location here.
Early Voting Events
I hope you’ll join me tomorrow, October 31, for Trick-Or-Treating with Carolyn from 2-4pm at Bushwick Inlet Park. Come vote early and pick up pre-wrapped candy packages.
On Sunday, November 1, I am hosting a Stroll to the Polls with Queens community leaders. Join us at the Queens Library Broadway Branch (40-20 Broadway) at 12:45pm.
NYCHA Repairs Pilot Program
For years, NYCHA residents have complained of the inefficiencies of the centralized work order process. Oftentimes, it takes five to six ticket submissions before a maintenance person is ever dispatched to their apartment. These long wait times can cause severe damage in cases of leaks, mold, or rodent infestations, among other things. Residents have also reported work order tickets being closed before the issue is resolved, forcing residents to submit a new ticket if they want repairs to be made.
By NYCHA’s own admission, this system is rife with problems, and I’m encouraged that the agency has taken the first step towards a permanent solution by launching a pilot program this week assigning dedicated skilled trades workers to Queensbridge, Astoria Houses, and Ravenswood. Each of these developments will have dedicated, full-time carpenters, painters, and plasterers Monday through Friday, while plumbers and electricians would be assigned to work specific days at each development. The pilot will run through the end of 2020, at which point NYCHA plans to roll out a version of the skilled trades decentralization plan throughout the five boroughs.
Saving the Civil Service Act
On Tuesday, I joined with Rep. Gerald E. Connolly, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Government Operations, and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer to introduce the Saving the Civil Service Act, legislation to reverse President Trump’s executive order that would remove important civil service protections and make it easier for the Administration to unfairly retaliate against federal employees.
Trump’s executive order would replace our current nonpartisan, expert career civil service with one that is loyal only to him. Science, justice, and defending our nation would become subservient to personal loyalty to the President. Congress must act to prevent this travesty from happening.
Director of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Must Resign
On Thursday, the Department of the Interior Inspector General found that James Reilly, Director of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), targeted and retaliated against whistleblowers.
I was joined by Rep. Gerald E. Connolly, the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Government Operations, and Raúl M. Grijalva, the Chairman of the Committee on Natural Resources, in immediately calling for Director Reilly’s removal.
Whistleblower retaliation does not get more clear cut than this. Director Reilly made it a practice to seek out whistleblowers and target them for transfer. Anyone who uses official power to retaliate against whistleblowers — who help uncover waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement — is not fit to hold government office. Integrity and accountability matter.
Requesting an IG Review of Counterintelligence Investigation of President Trump’s Finances
This week, I joined with my colleagues to ask the Inspectors General of the Department of Justice and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence to review whether a counterintelligence investigation regarding President Donald Trump’s financial interests was ever opened, as well as whether it was curtailed or terminated. The American people deserve to know whether the Trump Administration may have deliberately sought to shield the President from a thorough counterintelligence inquiry of his finances at the expense of our national security.
Read the full request from me, Rep. Stephen F. Lynch, the Chairman of the Subcommittee on National Security; Rep. Adam B. Schiff, the Chairman of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence; Rep. Jerrold L. Nadler, the Chairman of the Committee on the Judiciary; Rep. Maxine Waters, the Chairwoman of the Committee on Financial Services; and Rep. Bill Pascrell, the Chairman of the Committee on Ways and Means Subcommittee on Oversight, here.
Document Release: Trump Admin Tried to Use $250M Ad Campaign for Coronavirus to Help Trump’s Re-Election
On Wednesday, I joined with Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis Chairman James E. Clyburn and Oversight and Reform’s Economic and Consumer Policy Subcommittee Chairman Raja Krishnamoorthi in releasing new documents obtained from contractors regarding a $250 million contract awarded by the Trump Administration to launch a massive advertising campaign just weeks before the election to “defeat despair and inspire hope” amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) must provide accurate, nonpolitical public health information to the American people that encourages mask wearing, social distancing, and other science-backed public health recommendations. Yet, the documents we have obtained indicate that HHS political appointees sought to use taxpayer dollars to advance a partisan political agenda and direct taxpayer money to their friends and allies.
Document Release: Department of Education Froze Tool to Help Defrauded Student Borrowers
This week, I joined with Rep. Robert C. “Bobby” Scott, the Chairman of the Committee on Education and Labor, to release new documents detailing how the Department of Education froze a tool designed to ease the Borrower Defense application process for borrowers who were ripped off by their schools, typically for-profit colleges.
We are deeply troubled that the Department of Education halted a web tool to help simplify and streamline the process for defrauded students applying for relief. Last week, a federal court found that the Department denied 94% of Borrower Defense applicants and that the Department’s form denial letters put borrowers in “worse positions” and “hangs borrowers out to dry.” These documents show that the Department of Education continues to undermine and harm these defrauded students at every turn. Regrettably, the Department lacks any credibility to carry out this program fairly for these borrowers and their families.
Document Release: DOJ Settlement with Purdue and Sackler Family
Following last week’s announcement that the Department of Justice (DOJ) reached settlements to resolve criminal and civil investigations into Purdue and a civil investigation into members of the Sackler family, Oversight Committee Member Rep. Mark DeSaulnier and I released documents obtained by the Committee as part of our investigation into Purdue Pharma and members of the Sackler family, who have owned a controlling share of Purdue since 1952.
These documents show that members of the Sackler family — and in particular Dr. Richard Sackler — recklessly pushed Purdue executives to flood the market with OxyContin to maximize their personal wealth, even after the company reached a settlement with DOJ in 2007 for misleading marketing. We are disappointed that DOJ forfeited yet another opportunity to hold members of the Sackler family fully accountable for their role in fueling the devastating opioid epidemic.
Amy Coney Barrett Confirmation
The entire nomination process and confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court ignores the will of the people and is another partisan effort by the GOP to strip healthcare and fundamental rights away from millions of Americans. Not only do I stand against her confirmation in principle, but also because of her blatant views against the rights of the LGBTQ+ community, women, Black people, and workers.
Mitch McConnell put partisan, political hackery ahead of serving the American people – choosing to focus the Senate’s time on this sham of a process instead of providing a COVID relief package that the American people need and deserve. It’s a hard pill to swallow -- and once again we are faced with the reality that we cannot always control who sits on the Supreme Court but, we can change the document they interpret. With Barrett’s confirmation, ratifying the Equal Rights Amendment, and constitutionally prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sex, is more important than ever. We must remain focused on the fight ahead.
As always, your concerns still and always remain my top priority. Please do not hesitate to email me through my website.