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Your Local Epidemiologist

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By Dr. Katelyn Jetelina

On Monday WHO’s Emergency Committee gave official word that they voted to renew the Public Health Emergency of International Concern. They are likely teeing up for “the end” in 2023.

The U.S. is far more confident in “the end” of the national emergency. On Monday, the White House announced that they are ending it in mid-May.

An inflection point is clearly on the horizon, albeit with uncertainty. This leads to legitimate questions: Are we still in an emergency? What will the future hold? What happens next?

Are we still in an emergency?

There is no “level of disease” that defines a pandemic or emergency. Even if there was an objective metric, the reality is that this isn’t determined through epidemiology alone. Where we, as a society, place SARS-CoV-2 in our repertoire of threats is a collective decision—a psychological, cultural, and political decision.

Every day we consciously (or subconsciously) decide how much risk and suffering we are willing to accept: How many people get the booster? How many people wear a mask? How many people order free antigen tests? How many deaths, and among whom, are we willing to accept?

This has sparked an intense tug-of-war among scientists, leaders, and the public throughout the pandemic: a push towards “normalcy” from some and push back towards “urgency” from others. All individuals and societies fit somewhere on this spectrum. And one’s position may (and perhaps should) change with time.

How did winter play out?

How we fared this winter gives us a good idea as to whether we are still in “emergency” phase in the U.S. We essentially had two tests:

  1. How well did our immunity hold up against a constantly changing Omicron? According to varying hospitalization models from early fall, the 2022-2023 winter played out as a best case scenario for COVID-19. Even the best case scenario, though, led to a peak of 48,000 hospitalizations.National projection of hospitalizations. Slide from ACIP meeting on Sept 1, 2022
  2. Could our hospital systems handle the stress of a novel virus on top of the “normal” respiratory viruses? We hadn’t previously seen the impact of all of them at the same time. In addition, health care workers are increasingly burnt out, and hospitals are increasingly understaffed.
  3. Given all of this, hospitals did okay this winter. Pediatricians were drowning, particularly because of a massive RSV wave. Emergency rooms were overcrowded with sickness. But a COVID-19 emergency declaration wouldn’t necessarily help with either of these. Hospitals were not overwhelmed with adults because of our immunity wall, and I’m increasingly convinced there was viral to viral interaction—in other words, we didn’t see all three viruses peak at the same time.

Given this, I agree that we are not in an emergency phase in the U.S. An emergency declaration was appropriate when we had rational hope that transmission could be interrupted on a population level and when we needed extreme measures to prevent collapse of healthcare systems.

We are past this. Continuing the emergency would not be constructive given public sentiment and lack of funding anyway.

As one epidemiologist told me, “If it’s always an emergency, nothing’s an emergency.”

What will the future hold?

If we end the emergency, it begs the question: What phase are we in?

I don’t believe we are in an endemic phase— a state of predictability. I think we are on our way, and COVID-19 will eventually fall into seasonal patterns. But this will likely take years.

Until then, we will be in an awkward space between pandemic and endemic. Epidemiologists don’t have an official word for this phase. WHO flu risk management people would probably call this the “transition” phase.

Source for Figure Here

We will continue to see the virus ebb and flow—it will mutate, we will get waves, people will continue to miss work and daycare, and people will continue to be hospitalized and die, particularly those over 65 years and immunocompromised. The end of an emergency does not mean the end of disruption or suffering.

Todayroughly 500 Americans are dying each day from COVID-19. At this rate, SARS-CoV-2 will be the fourth leading cause of death in the U.S. in 2023—about triple the threat of influenza.

(Data for other causes of death was pulled using 2020 data from CDC here; COVID-19 deaths are projected for 2023 given average rate as of February 1, 2023.)

What happens next?

Unraveling the public health emergency may get messy.

It will certainly take time (hence the 3 month lag time). The Kaiser Family Foundation outlined the implications nicely:

What Happens When COVID-19 Emergency Declarations End? Implications for  Coverage, Costs, and Access | KFF

In addition:

  • This does not impact the Emergency Use Authorization of vaccines and therapeutics from the FDA. In other words, these will still be available.
  • HOWEVER, the ending of funding for testing and vaccines is a real cause for concern.
  • Once our free supply is out, everything will be privatized. Pfizer announced its vaccine will cost $130 per dose. Insurance will have to cover it, like the flu vaccine. This will, no doubt, fuel deep inequities in the U.S.
  • And it is part of a much larger, deeply flawed system of pharmaceutical profiteering that this country hasn’t got the ethical fortitude to address yet.

Our work is not done

Most importantly, the end of the emergency doesn’t mean our work is done. There is no infectious disease more insidious or with greater impact on global mortality, morbidity, and health care systems than COVID-19.

  • As individuals, we still need to get vaccinated. We still need to leverage antigen tests. We need to invest in better filtration and ventilation. We still need to protect the most vulnerable.
  • As public health officials, we must decide the minimum structure needed moving forward. Invest in wastewater monitoring. Continue to report hospitalizations (and get better at it). Commit to transparent and effective communication. Vaccine innovation is needed.
  • As a society, we MUST put real energy, innovation, and investment into repairing and strengthening our health and public health systems. The new normal cannot fall back to a pre-COVID normal. We must be bigger, better, and smarter. This means the very notion of for-profit healthcare needs to be fixed. In public health, we must figure out how to get out of the cycle of panic and neglect through preparation. We are LESS prepared for the next pandemic, given loss of trust, polarization, changing information echo-systems, and mis/disinformation.

Sadly, I’m starting to see denial and wishful thinking.

I hope this changes as it will definitely not be another 100 years before the next pandemic emerges to grip the globe in a choke hold.

Bottom line

In the U.S., the end of the emergency is coming. I agree with this decision, but this certainly isn’t the end of COVID-19 or public health threats.

In fact, this end is the beginning. We have our work cut out for us.

Love, YLE

“Your Local Epidemiologist (YLE)” is written by Dr. Katelyn Jetelina, MPH PhD—an epidemiologist, data scientist, wife, and mom of two little girls. During the day she works at a nonpartisan health policy think tank and is a senior scientific consultant to a number of organizations, including the CDC. At night she writes this newsletter. Her main goal is to “translate” the ever-evolving public health science so that people will be well equipped to make evidence-based decisions. This newsletter is free thanks to the generous support of fellow YLE community members

Editor’s Note: Your Local Epidemiologist is reprinted by WPCNR with permission.

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$1 Billion Plan Will Fix New York State’s Continuum of Mental Health Care

Governor Follows Through on Pledge Not To Raise Income Taxes for FY 2024 Budget

New York Housing Compact Will Build 800,000 New Homes, Address Statewide Housing Shortage

$337 Million Investment Aimed at Reducing and Preventing Gun Violence   

Addresses MTA ‘Fiscal Cliff’ While Investing in Public Transit Statewide

Investing $5.5 Billion to Promote Energy Affordability, Reduce Emissions, and Clean Our Air and Water, Building on More Than $30 Billion Committed to Climate Action

$7.6 Billion, Four-Year Child Care Investment Continues, Eligibility Increased To Include an Additional 113,000 Children

$1 Billion Health Care Investments for Capital Projects at Hospitals and Other Facilities

$1.3 Billion Economic Development Investments Will Create Jobs of the Future Across the Empire State

$1 Billion Investment Will Provide Health Care, Shelter, and Other Critical Services to Asylum Seekers

Fully Phases in Foundation Aid, A $24 Billion Commitment to Education that Includes $125 Million for Pre-K, and $250 Million for Learning Loss Tutoring

Link to Budget Book Here

Governor Kathy Hochul today outlined her Fiscal Year 2024 Executive Budget. The FY 2024 Executive Budget reflects Governor Hochul’s agenda to make New York more affordable, more livable, and safer by making smart, responsible investments in mental health care, public safety, housing, education, climate initiatives, and more. 

“I’m committed to doing everything in my power to make the Empire State a more affordable, more livable, safer place for all New Yorkers,” Governor Hochul said. “We will make bold, transformative investments that lift up New Yorkers while maintaining solid fiscal footing in uncertain times.” 

“Governor Hochul’s Executive Budget considers the needs of every New Yorker, providing both the funding and a road map to put in place lasting, meaningful solutions,” said Acting Budget Director Sandra L. Beattie. “From bold investments in affordable housing, innovative mental health services, and effective crime prevention strategies, this Executive Budget is one that will reach today’s New Yorkers as well as our future generations, making New York a stronger and safer state for years to come.” 

A Balanced Budget   

Governor Hochul’s FY 2024 Budget proposal reflects New York’s steady finances, even as global economic trends send mixed signals. All funds spending is $227 billion growing 2.4 percent. Deposits to reserves that had been planned for FY 2024 and FY 2025 will be completed by the end of the current year — two years ahead of schedule – for a total of $24 billion secured for a rainy day.

Fixing the Continuum of Mental Health Care   

For too long, New York’s mental health care system has suffered from underinvestment, and the pandemic only made things harder for New Yorkers with serious mental illness. To address the unmet mental health needs of New Yorkers, Governor Hochul will make a long-term, $1 billion investment to transform New York’s continuum of mental health care. This comprehensive, multi-year plan includes allocating: 

  • $915 million in capital to develop new residential units, plus $127 million in annual operating costs.
  • $18 million in capital and $30 million annually to increase operational capacity for inpatient psychiatric treatment.  
  • $60 million in capital and $122 million annually to expand outpatient services.
  • $27.5 million annually to improve post-discharge connections to services through the creation of 50 new Critical Time Intervention care coordination teams.
  • $30 million annually to expand mental health services in schools.  

Addressing the Housing Crisis  

The New York Housing Compact is a comprehensive, multifaceted proposal to address a historic housing shortage in New York State and build 800,000 new homes over the next decade. In addition to setting local housing targets in every New York municipality, emphasizing transit-oriented development, removing barriers to housing creation, and incentivizing new construction, Governor Hochul’s plan includes:  

  • $250 million for infrastructure upgrades and improvements to support local housing growth and development.  
  • $20 million for planning and technical assistance to support local rezoning efforts and other solutions to drive growth. 
  • $15 million for a new statewide data collection effort.  
  • $4 million to create a new Housing Planning Office within Homes and Community Renewal to support localities in meeting their housing goals and coordinate planning efforts across the state. 
  • $39.8 million to reduce the risk of lead exposure in rental properties outside of New York City, including $20 million in assistance to property owners for building remediation.
  • $50 million for the creation of a statewide Homeowner Stabilization Fund to provide critical home repairs in 10 key communities with a high concentration of low-income homeowners of color. 

In order to unlock thousands of units of housing currently under construction, the Executive Budget extends the 421-A construction deadline through 2030. The Budget also expands HCR’s Tenant Protection Unit as part of a multi-year investment to provide targeted support for tenants in upstate New York. 

Driving Down Gun Violence, Combatting Fentanyl and Protecting Public Safety  

Governor Hochul will make major public safety investments aimed at reducing violent crime and enhancing quality of life. Funding will expand programs and services to further drive down gun violence, reduce recidivism, address the flow of deadly fentanyl, and improve the efficacy of the court system, which was disrupted by the pandemic.  

  • $337 million for programs designed to prevent and reduce gun violence, including but not limited to:

$84.1 million for youth employment programs, of which $37 million is for programs in Gun Involved Violence Elimination (GIVE) jurisdictions.

$70 million for communities to respond to the aftermath of gun violence, of which $50 million is for community capital needs.  

$36.4 million for the GIVE initiative.

 $31.1 million for crime reduction, youth justice, and gang prevention programs.

 $25.9 million for State Police Community Stabilization Units (CSUs).

 $25 million for the SNUG Street Outreach program.

 $18 million for Crime Analysis Centers, including $2 million for crime analysts to combat the flow of fentanyl into communities.

The Executive Budget proposal also includes:

  • $52 million in aid to prosecution funding for all 62 district attorneys’ offices.
  • $40 million to funding to support discovery reform implementation.
  • $31.4 million for alternatives to incarceration programs.
  • $20 million for pretrial services.
  • $10 million to support stipends for volunteer firefighters who complete core training, providing a recruitment and retention incentive to those who serve their communities.
  • $7 million for a new Anti-Fentanyl Innovation Grant.

Expanding Public Transit Access, Affordability, and Safety  

Over the past year, Governor Hochul has advanced the completion of the Long Island Rail Road’s Third Track project, taken the inaugural ride into Grand Central Madison, broke ground on the Metro-North Penn Station Access project, and pushed other major projects forward, including the Second Avenue Subway and the Interborough Express.  

Governor Hochul has worked tirelessly with partners in the MTA, New York City, and the State to strengthen the long-term fiscal stability of the MTA, while ensuring continued progress in rider safety. The Executive Budget proposal calls for: 

  • Implementing over $400 million in MTA operating efficiencies to reduce expenses and improve service to customers. 
  • Increasing the top rate of the Payroll Mobility Tax (PMT), generating an additional $800 million annually. 
  • Increasing New York City’s share of funding for paratransit services, providing students with reduced fare MetroCards, and offsetting foregone PMT revenues for entities exempted from paying the tax, generating nearly $500 million annually.  
  • $300 million in one-time State aid to address the extraordinary impact on MTA operating revenues. 
  • $150 million annual commitment from the MTA for additional safety personnel.  
  • Dedicating a share of $1.5 billion in the licensing fees if three casino licenses are awarded, and a share of an estimated $462 to $826 million in annual tax revenue from the casinos for MTA operations.  

Governor Hochul will build on her record investing in transit by making a new historic contribution to expand public transit access and affordability while improving public safety on trains, buses, and subways, across the state. 

  • $9.1 billion in mass transit operating support, including $809 million in operating support for non-MTA authorities. 
  • Nearly $7 billion for the second year of a record $32.8 billion, five-year DOT Capital Plan to improve highways, bridges, rail, aviation infrastructure, non-MTA transit, and DOT facilities including $1.2 billion for local roads and bridges.
  • $1.3 billion for a commuter-first Penn Station, the Western Hemisphere’s busiest transit hub.
  • $20 million for bus electrification for non-MTA authorities, and $20 million to rehabilitate NFTA’s light rail. 

Additionally, Governor Hochul will take action to fight toll and speed camera evasion. A new law will authorize law enforcement and the Department of Motor Vehicles to levy increased penalties on drivers whose license plates are knowingly altered to make them unreadable in photographs, including increased fines and registration denials. The law will also enable law enforcement to seize materials affixed to license plates that are designed to prevent them from being read by speed and toll collection cameras.  

Addressing the Climate Crisis and Investing in Affordable Energy 

New York State has one of the nation’s most ambitious climate plans focused on creating a cleaner, healthier environment for future generations. Governor Hochul will make a transformative $5.5 billion investment to promote energy affordability, reduce emissions, and invest in clean air and water, building on more than $30 billion committed to climate action.  

In her State of the State address, Governor Hochul directed the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and New York State Energy Research and Development Authority to advance a Cap-and-Invest Program to establish a declining cap on greenhouse gas emissions and invest the proceeds in programs that drive emissions reductions and maintain the competitiveness of New York’s industries. Included in the Executive Budget is a proposed Climate Action Fund which is expected to deliver more than $1 billion in future Cap-and-Invest proceeds to New Yorkers every year.  

The Executive Budget includes a proposal to advance renewable generation in New York State by granting the New York Power Authority the ability to help the State meet its aggressive renewable energy targets. The Executive Budget also includes nation-leading building decarbonization proposals that will prohibit fossil fuel equipment and building systems in new construction, phase out the sale and installation of fossil fuel space and water heating equipment in existing buildings, and establish building benchmarking and energy grades. The new construction proposal includes certain exemptions such as commercial kitchens. The existing equipment phase out proposal does not impact stoves. 

In addition to forthcoming investments from the historic Environmental Bond Act passed by voters in 2022, the Executive Budget includes:

  • $500 million in clean water infrastructure funding and $400 million for the Environmental Protection Fund.  
  • $400 million to provide relief to New Yorkers experiencing high electric bills as well as lowering energy burdens through electrifications and retrofits. 
  • $200 million for the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation to invest in enhancing the improving state parks.  
  • A proposal to implement the Waste Reduction and Recycling Infrastructure Act to increase recycling rates, save local governments money, and protect the Environment.

New grant program to provide funding for municipalities to investigate and remediate sites contaminated with emerging contaminants like PFAS. 

Making Child Care More Accessible and Affordable    

With the actions included in the FY 2024 Executive Budget, Governor Hochul is increasing the State’s investment to an unprecedented $7.6 billion over four years to make the child care system more accessible and affordable. This will put New York State on the path toward improving the process of finding child care, widening program eligibility, and supporting the child care workforce.  In addition, there will be the following targeted investments:

  • $389 million in underutilized Federal funds for a Workforce Retention Grant program. 
  • $25 million in foregone revenue to support the Employer Child Care Tax Credit.
  • $4.8 million in State funds for the Employer-Supported Child Care Pilot Program. 

Creating a Stronger Health Care System   

Building off last year’s historic $20 billion investment, Governor Hochul’s will continue to invest in high quality health care, address pressing health needs facing New Yorkers, and helping facilities across the state prepare for future public health emergencies. New York’s health care system is among the best in the nation, but the pandemic shed light on disparities in the system. The budget seeks to address these disparities by adding more than $1 billion in health care capital funding, expanding Medicaid coverage for 7.8 million low-income New Yorkers, and improving access to aging services and high-quality long-term care:

  • $500 million in multi-year health care capital funding to drive transformative investment that support the State’s health care investments.
  • $500 million in multi-year capital grants to support investments in technological investment upgrades, including clinical tech and cybersecurity.
  • $967 million to complete consolidation of Wadsworth Laboratories’ five unconnected sites to one site on the W. Averell Harriman Campus in Albany by 2030.
  • $100 million to expand Medicaid coverage of preventative health services and access to primary care.
  • $157 million in New York State’s nursing homes and $9 million in New York’s assisted living providers, so staff can better provide high-quality care to residents.
  • $60 million beginning in FY 2025 to expand the Medicaid Buy-In program so more New Yorkers with disabilities can work and still qualify for coverage.
  • $39 million to reduce the risk of lead exposure in rental properties outside of New York City.
  • $8 million to revitalize the state’s Emergency Medical Services system and $14 million to increase Medicaid reimbursement rates for medical transportation.
  • $12 million to modernize New York State’s health reporting systems and build a nation-leading health monitoring and surveillance system.

Boosting New York’s Economy  

The Executive Budget includes proposals to strengthen the state’s economy and accelerate Governor Hochul’s vision of making New York the most business-friendly and worker-friendly state in the nation. The Governor has proposed a significant expansion of the State’s business attraction programming to create good, high-paying jobs in fast-growing industries like tech, life sciences, and advanced manufacturing.  

The Governor has also proposed indexing New York’s minimum wage to inflation to help workers meet the rising cost of living and a nation-leading plan to offer fully paid parental leave to thousands of New York State employees.  

The Executive Budget also adds:  

  • $425 million to invest in local economies, including $225 million in grant funding and tax credits for the Regional Economic Development Councils and $100 million each for the Downtown Revitalization Initiative and NY Forward.
  • $60 million in grant funding to support locally sourced school meals and food retailers in underserved communities and regions. 
  • $58.5 million to support the State’s robust tourism industry, including funding to promote regional attractions and matching grants to assist counties and municipalities with local tourism efforts.  
  • $45 million to be made available to GO-SEMI: The Governor’s Office of Semiconductor Expansion, Management, and Integration to lead the growth of the state’s semiconductor industry.
  • $18.8 million to rebuild New York State’s government workforce through critical initiatives to be administered through the Department of Civil Service and Office of General Services.  
  • $2 million to help Public Assistance recipients recoup stolen benefits. 
  • $1 million for the Department of Agriculture and Markets to develop a stronger food supply workforce pipeline. 

As part of Governor Hochul’s ongoing commitment to expanding opportunity for New York workers and businesses, the Executive Budget also establishes the Office of Community and Workforce Development in New York City. The Office will require New York City contractors to make best efforts to hire candidates from economically disadvantaged backgrounds and will require the city to consider impacts of penalties for noncompliance on minority- and women-owned businesses, nonprofits, and small businesses.  

Providing Critical Assistance to Asylum Seekers
Since asylum seekers began arriving in New York in unprecedented numbers, Governor Hochul has been working to provide assistance and support. The FY 2024 Budget sets out a framework through which the financial responsibility for supporting asylum seekers is split evenly: one-third for New York City, one-third for New York State, and one-third for the federal government.

In total, the State will commit more than $1 billion in the coming year on critical initiatives to support asylum seekers, including:

  • $767 million to pay 29 percent of city shelter/HERRC costs for asylum seekers, consistent with existing State shares for Safety Net Assistance, which already supports City shelters.
  • $162 million for logistical and operational support provided by the National Guard, which has deployed more than 900 service members for this mission.
  • $137 million for health care to support the City of New York, which is providing free health care to certain eligible asylum seekers.
  • $25 million in resettlement funding for asylum seekers through the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance.
  • $10 million in legal services funding through the Office of New Americans.
  • $6 million to support the shelter site at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal.
  • $5 million for enhanced migrant resettlement assistance, distributed to refugee resettlement agencies already under contract with OTDA.

Supporting Students and Schools  

All New York students deserve a high-quality education, from prekindergarten through college. Governor Hochul will allocate a historic $34.5 billion in total School Aid, the highest level of State aid in history. This funding will help give every child in New York the tools to succeed through a high-quality education.  Funding for education includes:

  • $24 billion for Foundation Aid – a $2.7 billion increase from last year – to complete Governor Hochul’s three-year phase-in to fully funding Foundation Aid for the first time in history. 
  • $1.5 billion in new capital projects for SUNY and CUNY.
  • $250 million of the historic increase in Foundation Aid to establish high impact tutoring to address learning loss. 
  • $125 million expanding prekindergarten to bring the State’s annual support for such programs to $1.2 billion
  • $270 million in new operating support for SUNY and CUNY campuses.
  • $400 million in SUNY transformation capital initiatives, including $200 million for research labs at the University at Buffalo and Stony Brook University and $200 million for a digital transformation of IT infrastructure throughout the SUNY system.
  • $500 million to create the first-ever New York State matching fund for contributions made to the endowments of SUNY’s four university centers.  

Governor Hochul will also eliminate the regional cap on the number of charter schools in New York City and authorize the reissuance of charters due to surrender, revocation, termination, or non-renewal. These changes will permit the issuance of additional charters in New York City and expand educational opportunities for students.

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 District 92 | News You Can Use  

New DMV Office in White Plains – Tarrytown Office Closed
The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) has opened its new White Plains District Office at the Source at White Plains, 1 Maple Avenue. The new office is open Monday to Friday, from 7:30 AM to 5:00 PM. Reservations are recommended. (Note: having fulfilled its function as a temporary facility, the office in Tarrytown is now closed.)

The DMV is also reminding residents that new federal identity (REAL ID) requirements will go into effect starting May 7, 2025. Click here to learn more about DMV services in Westchester County, including getting your REAL ID/Enhanced documents. 
February Is Black History Month

Each February, we honor the heroes of Black history in the United States — both those we learn about in books and films, as well as the family and community members whose experiences inform our lives today. Their achievements inspire us, and their hardships remind us that the goal of true equality still requires work from all of us. I look forward to using this time to consider how we can move closer to achieving a society that meets the needs and honors the rights of all its citizens. My warmest greetings, this Black History Month. 

Utility Bill Debt Relief

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, unpaid consumer and small-business utility debts piled up for many of our residents. Now, an estimated 478,000 households and 56,000 small businesses in New York State that did not qualify for previous utility assistance programs will receive a total of $672 million in assistance to help pay off utility debt that accrued before May 2022. There is no application process.

Customers will be identified and issued a one-time credit directly by their utility providers. Please contact your utility provider for more information.

 File Free with the NYS Department of Taxation and Finance

If your 2022 income was $73,000 or less, you may be able to file both your federal and New York State returns at no cost through the Department of Taxation and Finance’s website using Free File. Hundreds of thousands of New York State taxpayers take advantage of this service each year, saving the expenses of tax preparation fees. Learn more about this free service here.

 Get Help to Find/Pay for Child Care

Families who need help paying for child care or after-school care should contact the Child Care Council of Westchester. This nonprofit organization administers the Westchester Works Child Care Scholarship for working parents who qualify. The scholarship has high income limits — up to $92,120 for a family of three — and covers 50-60% of the cost of care.

The Council also helps parents find safe, reliable child care and connects those who may qualify to the Westchester County Department of Social Services for child care assistance. All Council services for parents are free! Call 914-761-3456 x140, email, or visit

My Office Is Here to Help!Whether it’s about an issue before the State Legislature or a pothole on a State roadway, I try to respond personally to as many emails as possible. However, I often receive more than I can get to on a daily basis. To ensure that you receive attention in a timely manner, please consider the following options:If you are a constituent of the 92nd Assembly District and have an immediate need, contact District Director Alyssa Jacobs at or leave a phone message at our District Office, tel. 914-631-1605.

If you are reaching out about a legislative matter, or represent a government agency or elected office, contact Chief of Staff Pascale Jean-Gilles at

If you are a member of the media, contact Director of Communications Gaby Bordwin at staff and I look forward to assisting you. MaryJane Shimsky
Assemblymember 92nd District
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WPCNR COUNTY CLARION-LEDGER. Special to WPCNR from Service Employees International 32BJ. January 31, 2023:

PepsiCo violated local law when it did not give required notice under Westchester’s Displaced Workers Protection Law that it was changing contractors in December.

The company’s new security contractor, AGB Investigative Services, Inc., is now under investigation by the National Labor Relations Board for unlawfully withdrawing recognition of 50 security officers’ union 32BJ SEIU at PepsiCo’s New York headquarters in Purchase, and a location in Valhalla.

Workers are now scrambling to prepare for the loss of their employer-paid comprehensive healthcare on Feb. 1.

The security officers have been unionized with 32BJ SEIU, the largest security officer union on the East Coast, since 2019. Pepsi did not give the workers and their union the required 15 days’ notice under county law that Pepsi had canceled its contract with Securitas – a responsible security company that respects workers’ rights to organize and has raised standards for security officers in NY and the Hudson Valley.

On January 17, 2023, 32BJ SEIU filed a charge with the National Labor Relations Board, charging AGB with withdrawing its recognition of the union, an alleged violation of the NLRA. The union seeks injunctive relief.

Workers have delivered a petition to Pepsi (they await a promised response) and will be leafleting outside PepsiCo’s Valhalla location this week and can be made available to press.

“We are not walking away from this fight. Our members have worked too hard over the past decade to raise standards for security officers in Westchester and across the East Coast to allow contractors to come and think they can do whatever they want. Pepsi should know better. We are going to fight. The fight is on,” said 32BJ SEIU Executive Vice President and Director of the Hudson Valley District Shirley Aldebol.

“I have been a security officer for 19 years and at Pepsi for 15 years. Before these were union jobs I only saw two 20 cent raises. After we won union recognition, we were no longer ‘at will’ employees – we had job security, good wage increases and quality healthcare. We depend on our union benefits and will not stop fighting for our union jobs. We have a lot of officers that work here, we spend money in the town, we like the jobs – but we’re getting punished because of the new contract,” said Jason Anderson, who works at Pepsi’s Valhalla location. “Many of our co-workers still live paycheck to paycheck, with no quality healthcare, any sudden health issue could be devastating for any of us.”

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County Executive George Latimer Looks Back

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WPCNR News & Comment. From the Facebook Page of Westchester County Executive George Latimer. January 30, 2023:

A contested election brought great disruption to America. The margin was relatively small and regionalized – one group of states committed to one direction for the country, the other pulling in a different direction. The man elected was vilified by those who did not vote for him, so much so that….

….states would not stay in the union. The year was not 2021…it was 1861. With two exceptions (Georgia and Virginia) the states were the same on the losing side of each election. They felt their way of life would be irreparable ruined by the election of the other candidate. Conspiracy theories abounded in both cases.

The price of Unity 160 years ago was four years of open war, hundreds of thousands of deaths, the ruination of the economy (for a while) and a bitter division that lingers still in some fashion.

I was disappointed with the outcome of some recent elections: 2000, 2004, 2016. Never once did I or we countenance violence against the side that won. The handful of voices that did were not encouraged by the mainstream of my party. We accepted the result – and in two cases, where we had the majority of American voters, but not the Electoral College. Can you just imagine the reverse: what would the case be if my side had lost the popular vote in 2020 but won the Electoral College?? How would that have been accepted by the losing side?

Now, we are past the election and the new President is in office. There will be debate about public policy and disagreement. And there will be other elections that either side might win.

There is no place for violence or vigilantism where you take your weaponry and override the rule of law. The great frustration for some is that they feel they were cheated (although they may have come to believe that without facts or reason). It may be the dawning reality that they are not actually the majority, and may not ever be again. If they regain power electorally it may take voter apathy from the majority, or a scandal or a unique moment or a unique leader. I tend to think it is a pendulum that swings one way then swings back.

But maybe the demographic tides are shifting away from them.

That is what the South felt in 1861. That is why they rebelled.

The “Boogaloo” crowd wants a Second Civil War (look it up if you don’t know the reference). They believe they can take it to the streets and win with bullets what they can’t win with ballots.

The dark clouds that swirl in Russia AND China (not just one or the other) and the lesser players in North Korea and Iran, applaud the domestic upheaval in the USA. They know they have the world to gain if America falls through internal strife. And a long dark future awaits the world if that were to happen.

Rational people- from left to center to right – understand we disagree on fundamentals. But they also understand that we must stay engaged in civil debate and structured competition, else fall into chaos. A chaos that would make the Civil War look like child’s play in comparison.

Buck up, America. We will get through all of this with determination and forbearance. For inspiration, read the speeches of Abraham Lincoln.

Brilliant then. Relevant now.

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Area industry standards for security officers are at risk of being undercut after PepsiCo Inc. replaced union security contractor Securitas with new contractor AGB Investigative Services, Inc. at its New York headquarters in Purchase, and a location in Valhalla. AGB has withdrawn its recognition of workers’ union 32BJ SEIU, in violation of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), the union has alleged.

As a result, some 50 full time security officers (and their families) could lose their high quality healthcare benefits on January 31. (These have been good union jobs since July 2019 and represent roughly 20% of the unionized security officer workforce in the Hudson Valley.)

On January 17, 2023, 32BJ SEIU filed a charge with the National Labor Relations Board, charging AGB with withdrawing its recognition of the union, an alleged violation of the NLRA. The union seeks injunctive relief.

In response, workers have mobilized, delivering a petition to Pepsi Co., calling on the mega corporation “to speak to AGB and assure that they continue our union health benefits or…hire a responsible contractor that will, so we can continue to receive the same benefits that other union security guards doing the same work in our area, and we are able to live with dignity.”

“This is unacceptable,” said 32BJ SEIU Executive Vice President and Director of the Hudson Valley District Shirley Aldebol. “Pepsi is a multi-billion dollar company making historic profits. It must stand by its commitment to social responsibility and continue to adequately fund its security contract so as to not lower area standards for security officers in Westchester. They need to tell AGB to cease its unlawful activity and recognize and bargain with the workers’ union or hire a responsible contractor who will. We need to bring more union jobs with quality wages and healthcare to the area, not attack the standards that have already been set.”

“I have been a security officer for 19 years and at Pepsi for 15 years. Before these were union jobs I only saw two 20 cent raises. Since we won union recognition, we got good wages and quality healthcare that helped me support my family. We depend on our union benefits and will not stop fighting for our union jobs. We have a lot of officers that work here, we spend money in the town, we like the jobs – but we’re getting punished because of the new contract,” said Jason Anderson, who works at Pepsi’s Valhalla location. “Most of our co-workers still live paycheck to paycheck, with no quality healthcare, any sudden health issue could be devastating for any of us.”

“The New Year for us has not been good,” continues the workers’ petition. “It has been met with the bad news that AGB, our new employer, will not agree to continue our current health benefits through our union that we have enjoyed for years. We now are worried about how we will take care of our families.”Edit

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WPCNR SCHOOL DAYS. From Michelle Melendez, Clerk to the White Plains Board of Education. January 28, 2023:

Editor’s Note: In the aftermath of the New Rochelle High School Nursing Staff saving the life of a high school student by administering a Narcan nasal spray when the student was not breathing, WPCNR asked the White Plains School District what were the narcan procedures in White Plains Schools. Ms. Melendez has issued the following statement explaining the procedures:)

Here is some Narcan information you requested:

As you are aware, we are presently facing an Opioid epidemic in our state and nation. To make our schools a safer place for students and staff, we are increasing the access of Narcan and opioid overdose training within our district.

All Nurse’s offices have always had Narcan available for use in an emergency situation and Narcan has been available in some of our AED cabinets throughout our schools for some time.

Access to Narcan and training will empower all staff to assist with potentially lifesaving measures, should an opioid overdose occur within our schools.

Rochambeau, White Plains High School, Highlands, and Eastview will have Narcan for use in an emergency in the following areas:

  • Nurse’s emergency response bags
  • Coaches’ emergency bags (coaches will have these during after school sports)
  • Sport offices area
  • Main office
  • Inside all AED Cabinets

Elementary Schools will have Narcan for use in an emergency in these areas:

  • Inside AED
  • Nurses Emergency Bag
  • Main offices

All CPR training in White Plains School District will include Narcan administration as it relates to CPR.

I hope this answers your questions in regard to Narcan.  

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WPCNR THE LETTER TICKER. January 28, 2023:

The Women’s Bar Association of the State of New York (“WBASNY”) commends the Legislature on the second passage of the New York State Equal Rights Amendment (“ERA”), A.1283/S.108-A, sponsored by Assemblymember Rebecca Seawright and Senator Liz Krueger.

WBASNY has unwaveringly supported adding further protections for sex, sexual orientation, and reproductive rights to the New York State Constitution and has made the passage and enactment of an Equal Rights Amendment a longstanding legislative priority. 

For too long sex and gender bias have been pervasive in our social structure, and it has become abundantly clear that biases against sexual orientation and reproductive rights have become more commonplace.

While constitutional guarantees are also needed at the Federal level to prevent further discrimination, WBASNY is relieved to see New York State take up the fight to protect its citizens. By passing the ERA in a second legislative session, the Legislature helps bring an important WBASNY legislative priority to reality and ensure that all New Yorkers will have their rights protected.

WBASNY stands ready to provide whatever support is necessary to insure ERA is on the ballot and enshrined in the New York State Constitution. 

WBASNY extends a special thank you to: Governor Kathy Hochul for her tireless efforts defending New Yorkers; Assemblymember Rebecca Seawright and Senator Liz Krueger for their work on protecting these important rights; and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins for ensuring that this legislation is a priority.
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WPCNR THE LETTER TICKER. January 28, 2023:

The Westchester County Board of Legislators is considering passing a law to prevent, or make it more difficult, for a candidate like Congressman George Santos (who lied about almost every aspect of his life during the campaign)  from holding elective office in this county. 

I believe that the proposed law doesn’t go far enough.

Candidates for every office (local, county, state and federal, should be required to provide biographical information including the candidates educational, military and employment histories to the  New York State Board of Elections when they file nominating petitions.

If the candidate is elected and is found to have lied about his/her educational, military and employment backgrounds – I think that a recall election should be held if 5% of the voters who live within the boundaries of the district sign a petition calling  for a recall election. 

It’s outrageous that the Congress won’t remove George Santos from office even though he misrepresented his life to voters who live in his congressional district prior to the election.

There needs to be a mechanism in place that would enable the voters to remove officials from local, county, state and federal offices,  if a similar situation would arise in the future.

19 states authorize recall elections.

New York State currently does not. I propose that the New York State Legislature approve a limited recall law that would only authorize recall elections when office holders are found to have lied about their educational, military and employment backgrounds.

PAUL FEINER Greenburgh Town Supervisor  

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