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photo of Martin Connor2008 Questionnaire response from:
Martin Connor, candidate for State Senator (25th State Senate District, Manhattan/Brooklyn)

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Candidate Name: Martin Connor

Candidate for State Senate District: 25


Campaign Name: Connor For Senate '08

Campaign Address: P.O. Box 3141, Church Street Station, New York, NY 10008; 80 Livingston Street, Brooklyn, NY

If you have a campaign office, is it wheelchair accessible? Yes

If you are an incumbent, is your district office wheelchair accessible? Yes

Campaign Manager: Martin Connor, Jr.

Phone: 646 - 509 - 0623

Fax: 718 - 875 - 6044

Email: connor.for.nys.senate.08 @


Previous elected offices held: Incumbent

Previous appointed offices held: Assistant Counsel to the NYS Comptroller


Key endorsements to date:

  • Independent Neighborhood Democrats (IND)
  • Committee for a Democratic Alternative (CODA)
  • Lambda Independent Democrats
  • Gramercy Stuyvesant Independent Democrats (GSID)
  • Village Reform Democratic Club (VRDC)
  • United Democratic Organization of Chinatown (UDO)
  • Harry S. Truman Democratic Club
  • Lower East Side Democratic Club
  • Seneca Democratic Club.

Political leaders: Members of Congress: Velazquez, Maloney, Nadler, Clarke, Towns; Assembly Members Glick, Lentol, Silver, Millman; Council Members Quinn, Mendez, Gerson and DiBlasio, District Leaders Alan Fleishman, Jo Anne Simon, etc.

Local community leaders: committee in formation

Labor: Endorsement processes under way - UFCW





    1. While in public office/prior to this campaign, what have you accomplished in regard to advancing disability rights? This can include work towards accessible housing, transportation, employment, health care, education, and including people with disabilities in the political process?

      I was the principal Senate sponsor of the law that required the MTA to provide free fares for health aids accompanying persons with disabilities. To my chagrin, the New York Times found a few years later the MTA was ignoring the law. I regularly press the MTA on its level of compliance. I have always pressed for accessibility being required in every housing construction initiative and am currently pushing to ensure its inclusion in the affordable housing initiative we passed in this year's budget. I have also been strongly supportive of ensuring the equal accessibility for voters with disabilities.


    2. Will you commit to only attend and/or sponsor events that are accessible to people with disabilities including providing written materials in alternate formats, providing assistive listening systems, and sign language interpreters as well as ensuring that locations are physically accessible?

      Yes. I always check to assure accessibility before sponsoring an event. I make every effort to obtain interpreters, assistive listening systems, and alternate formats. However, the Senate majority, even with its huge budget, does not readily supply resources for this, especially to Minority members. When we are in the majority next year, I am going to insist that the new Senate Rules we adopt, which have the force of law in the Senate, require that all Senate forums, hearings, etc. conform to such standards.




    1. What personal and professional experience have you had with people with disabilities in your personal life and in the workplace?

      I grew up in a household with a severely disabled older brother; my 32 year-old daughter is disabled. Over the years, I have employed persons with disabilities on my staffs in Albany and NYC at all levels, from messengers to Press Secretary. When I became Democratic Leader, I appointed as my Deputy Leader a person with disabilities - he is now the Governor of the State of New York! I have been pleased to have had his endorsement and support for many years.


    2. Are you willing to hire and to provide reasonable accommodation (e.g. flex or part time) for staff members with disabilities?

      Yes. I have done so in the past and have done so to accommodate staff members with children with disabilities.


    3. How will you work closely with the disability community to assure passage of vitally needed legislation through the State Legislature? What will be your strategy?

      No answer.




    1. What will you do at the State level to reverse the negative impact of recent decisions in Federal Courts which are undercutting the powers of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 to protect the civil rights of people with disabilities in New York State?

      Next January, when Democrats are in the majority and we adopt new Rules for the Senate, I am going to insist that the Senate impose the ADA protections on itself to overcome federal court decisions that the law does not apply to state legislatures. Then, I will push my colleagues to remove the court imposed exemption for state employees and state government.


    2. How would you change the laws of New York State to protect the rights of its citizens with disabilities?

      The New York State Human Rights Law provides many of the same protections as the ADA and in a number of cases, more protection. The problem is the courts consistently interpret it more narrowly - as if it were the same as the ADA in all respects. When we are in the majority I will sponsor a NYS Human Rights Law Restoration Act, to clarify and codify that NYS law is meant to be more liberally construed and add important provisions such as the availability of attorney's fees for prevailing plaintiffs.




    While the State is focused on reducing the costs of Medicaid and other programs, persons with disabilities need to continue to have access to the services and supports they need and choose.

    1. Would you oppose proposals which would negatively affect eligibility, benefits, coverage, and/or access to services for Medicaid beneficiaries and eliminate the systemic bias that leads to unwanted placement in nursing homes and other institutions?



    2. Would you seek to promote comprehensive long term care reform that will not reduce coverage or access to services?



    3. Would you increase rental/housing subsidies to participants in the new Nursing Facility Transition and Diversion Medicaid waiver program?





    1. Timothy's Law was designed to end health insurance discrimination by enacting parity in coverage for people with biologically-based psychiatric disabilities. However, returning veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) are not covered. Do you favor amending Timothy's Law to provide coverage for PTSD?

      Yes. On June 12, 2008, in a debate on the Senate floor on my amendment to Senator Morahan's bill to spend $500,000 on a monument to veterans of the Iraq War, I called on Senator Morahan and the Majority to move his bill giving coverage to PTSD to the floor this Session. The thrust of my debate was that we should first provide for the needs of veterans and their families now and worry about monuments (and politicians unveiling them) after the wars are over and veterans have been properly treated and provided for.


    2. Under Kendra's Law, a state-funded Medicaid grants program was established to provide medications for eligible individuals with psychiatric disabilities upon release or discharge from institutions to eliminate some of the problems associated with the Medicaid coverage gap. Do you support Medicaid Presumptive Eligibility legislation which would eliminate the standard 45 days coverage gap that blocks access to treatment?

      Yes. I have been a supporter of such legislation.


    3. Would you expand Elderly Pharmaceutical Insurance Coverage program (EPIC) to provide the same level of eligibility and coverage to persons with disabilities under age 65?





    1. We are in the midst of a housing crisis. Accessible, affordable housing is in short supply. People with disabilities are being priced out of the market. Do you support the creation of a housing trust fund for persons with disabilities?



    2. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 requires housing developers to set aside a certain percentage of accessible units for persons with disabilities when federal funds are used for construction. Do you favor incorporating these provisions into State law so that the Dept. of Housing and Community Renewal can be empowered to enforce these provisions?



    3. Visitability sets guidelines to ensure newly constructed multi-family dwellings have basic accessible/adaptable features to permit people with disabilities can visit, and for residents to "age in place," without having to move out when age and/or disability set in. Do you support incorporating the concept of "visitability" in the New York State Building Code?



    4. What is your position on expanding DRIE (Disabled Rent Increase Exemption) to have the same income eligibility limits as SCRIE (Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption)? Currently SCRIE's income cap is $27,000, while DRIE's is $18,600.

      I have supported this increase in the past and will continue to push for it. When we are in the majority next year this will be a priority for me when we are finally able to change the rent laws to provide relief for tenants.



    With the recent decision to acquire voting machines that attempt to meet the accessibility standards of the Help America Vote Act (HAVA), many poling places in New York State remain inaccessible to persons with disabilities. Do you favor the elimination of provisions in Section 4-104 (1-a) of the NYS Election Law allowing waiver of polling place accessibility standards?

    Yes. All polling places must be made to be accessible throughout the State, not just in NYC as compelled by the courts.




    1. Despite Section 504 and the Americans with Disabilities Act, students with disabilities face problems when pursuing higher education. These statutes do not specify how students should request accommodations or assistance in asserting their rights under the law. Will you support a fully funded office of disability services on each SUNY and CUNY campus to assist students with disabilities in securing accommodations?

      Yes, the current lack of resources and systemic inefficiencies lend themselves to ad hoc decision-making and arbitrariness.


    2. How do you propose dealing with a school district that deny civil rights to disabled students even after the State Division of Civil Rights affirms the student's rights such as to use an assist animal?

      Such orders need to be made enforceable by their automatic entry as court orders, with punishment for contempt for non-compliance.




    1. Do you favor an expansion of accessible transportation options for people with disabilities in NYS?



    2. Will you support Assembly Member Kellner's proposed bill requiring NYC to transition to a 100% accessible taxi fleet?



    3. Do you support legislation requiring car services, and all shuttle services to purchase wheelchair accessible vehicles or otherwise ensure that they have the capacity to serve persons with disabilities?

      Yes. It must be made a condition for their licensing.


Date: June 14, 2008


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