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Questionnaire response from:
photo of James F. GennaroJames F. Gennaro, candidate for City Council (24th District - Queens)



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For other candidates running for City Council, go to the Questionnaires section

Contents:

  1. Candidate Information

  2. Action Shows Commitment!

  3. General Questions

  4. Housing

  5. Transportation

  6. Civil Rights

  7. Community Board

  8. Discretionary Funds

  9. Accessibility

  10. Organization

 

I. Candidate Information:

Candidate Name: James F. Gennaro
     Candidate for: City Council, 24th District, Borough: Queens

Campaign Name: Gennaro 2005
Mailing Address: PO Box 660012, Utopia Station, Fresh Meadows, NY 11366
Campaign Address: 185-01 Union Turnpike, suite 107, Fresh Meadows, NY 11366
Phone: 718-454-5697
Fax: 718-264-0986
Email: bmariotti@gmail.com

Is your campaign office wheelchair accessible? The office is unfortunately not wheelchair accessible, however we have met in nearby locations with people with disabilities. However, Council Member Gennaro’s district office is handicap accessible.

Campaign Manager: Brittany Mariotti
Phone: 718-454-5697
Email: bmariotti@gmail.com

Previous elected offices held:

  • NYC Council Member, 24th District, Queens
  • Former President, Jamaica Estates Civic Association

Previous appointed offices held: Member, Community Board 8

Key endorsements to date:

Community organizations:

  • Working Families Party
  • League of Humane Voters
  • League of Conservation Voters
  • Democratic Organization of Queens County
  • Asian American Association of Queens
  • Bangladeshi American Public Affairs Front

 

Political Leaders:

  • Queens County Democratic Leader Tom Manton
  • NYC Council Speaker Gifford Miller
  • Former NYC Council Speaker Peter Vallone, Sr.
  • Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum
  • Congressman Greg Meeks
  • Congressman Gary Ackerman
  • Queens Borough President Helen Marshall
  • Assemblywoman Nettie Mayersohn
  • State Senator Toby Stavisky
  • Assemblyman Brian McLaughlin
  • Assemblywoman Vivian Cook
  • State Senator Malcolm Smith
  • Assemblyman Mark Weprin
  • Councilmember Melinda Katz
  • Councilmember Leroy Comrie
  • Councilmember John Liu
  • Councilmember David Weprin
  • District Leader Uma Sengupta
  • District Leader Archie Spigner

 

Local Community Leaders:

  • Rory Lancman, community board 8, member
  • Countless community Rabbis and religious leaders
  • Kevin Forrestal, Hillcrest Estates Civic Association
  • Alvin Warhaviak, community board 8, chair
  • Mohammad Aminullah, Jamaica Muslim Center

 

Labor:

  • Doctor’s Council
  • SEIU 1199
  • 32 BJ
  • Council of School Supervisors and Administrators
  • UFCW, Local 1500

 

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II. Action Shows Commitment!

  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?

    As a leading member of the Council’s Committee on Mental Health, Mental Retardation, Alcoholism, Drug Abuse and Disability Services for the last three and half years, I continuously sponsor, review, and pass legislation that advances disability rights. Including legislation setting specific standards in relation to mandating accessible water borne commuter services facilities for disabled persons, recently passed by the Mayor.
     

  2. What oversight have you performed regarding implementation of programs/legislation you have passed (in first term or in previous offices)?

    As a leading member of the Council’s Committee on Mental, Mental Retardation, Alcoholism, Drug Abuse and Disability Services it is my responsibility to review and conduct oversight on both the implementation of legislation passed by the Council and the Administration’s policies regarding disability services. One oversight hearing, I was particularly proud of was our recent oversight hearing on the accommodation and accessibility for disabled CUNY students. As a former college professor at Queens College the results of this hearing of great concern to me.
     

  3. What implementation/strategy do you have for your future programs and legislation to help constituents with disabilities?

    I intend to work with the Council’s Committee Mental, Mental Retardation, Alcoholism, Drug Abuse and Disability Services of which I am a member to review current programs available and find ways they can be improved. I also look forward to working with the Committee to identify and introduce legislation that advances disability rights and directly improves the quality of life of all New Yorkers.
     

  4. Will you commit to only attend or sponsor events that are accessible to people with disabilities? NOTE: This includes providing written materials in alternate formats for people with low vision, providing assistive listening systems for people who are hard-of-hearing, and sign language interpreters for people who are deaf, as well as ensuring that locations are accessible to people who use mobility aids, like wheelchairs and walkers.

    Yes.
     

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    III. General Questions:

  5. What personal and professional experience have you had with people with disabilities?

    1. ...in your personal life?

      Every day I live with a speech impediment that was so severe, when I was younger that I could barely speak. I have been through years of therapy and today I am proud to say that I don’t fear public speaking any more. I also have a close relationship with my god-son and nephew who is Autistic.
       

    2. ...in the workplace?

      When I was growing up, I used to help out in my father’s jewelry store and assist our customers with a variety of disabilities.
       

  6. What special accommodations do you believe/think are in use in the workplace?

    I believe that every workplace should be safe, healthy, and comfortable. An Employer should be sensitive to every need of his/her employee(s) and make the necessary and appropriate accommodations without discrimination.
     

  7. How do you propose to implement your active involvement and/or availability to the disability community?

    I would continue to have a handicap accessible district office, at which I am working everyday and available to assist all my constituents.
     

    1. Will there be a specific person in your office responsible to this community?

      Yes.
       

    2. Will have regular office agenda items and meetings on disabled community issues?

      Yes.
       

  8. Do you/or will you, have an active Disability Advisory Committee? Explain its duties, responsibilities and powers.

    Yes. I intend to continue to serve as a member of the Council’s Committee on Mental, Mental Retardation, Alcoholism, Drug Abuse and Disability Services, and consult with my community liaison regularly.
     

  9. How will you work closely with the disability community to assure passage of vitally needed legislation through the City Council? What is your strategy during your first term?

    I look forward to continuing to working closely with the interested communities and groups to hold and attend press conferences, write letters, introduce legislation, fund advocacy, attend rallies and much more.
     

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    IV. Housing:

  10. What is your position on the development of supported apartments/homes and retirement homes for the mentally disabled in your borough? Please also explain same for physically disabled. What strategies will you utilize?

    I support the development of supported apartments/homes and retirement homes for both mentally disabled and physically disabled. I have been the loud (and sometimes unpopular) voice speaking out at community board meetings and at City Council hearings in support of increased development of these homes and apartments. Even before I was elected to the City Council, as a community board member I never voted against the establishment of a home/apartment for the disabled.
     

  11. What is your position on extending the Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption (SCRIE) to low-income, eligible persons with disabilities under the age of 62 on the same basis and income level (currently the income cap for seniors is $24,000, but for persons with disabilities it has been set at $17,000)?

    I support it.
     

  12. How will you develop realistic income levels for individuals and couples with disabilities to avail themselves of the SCRIE provisions?

    I was a prime supporter and worked to craft the legislation just passed in the Council to expand the SCRIE programs to those who qualify within the City’s disability community, DRIE. This new program will ensure that persons with disabilities will be exempt from rent increase exemptions and consequently safeguarded from unfair evictions. Furthermore, as a member of the Council’s Mental Heath, Mental Retardation, Alcoholism, Drug Abuse and Disability Services Committee I am committee to further expanding these programs and creating minimum income requirements that ensure everyone who needs exemption from rent increases qualifies for the program.
     

  13. What alternative programs will you propose to allow persons with disabilities to stay in their own homes/apartments? (i.e. protection from rent increases or undue eviction (harassment) and make funds available to make appropriate accommodations in present living environment). Another example: perhaps a dedicated housing trust fund should be established for making those housing accommodations. If so, how would you fund same?

    As I said above, expanding the SCRIE and DRIE programs will ensure that seniors and members of the disabled community are not tormented by rent increases and unfair evictions. I support establishing a trust fund for housing accommodations. I also believe that adequate funding for many of the non-governmental organizations and institutions is necessary as well. They are already doing such good work, with the appropriate funding this work could reach more people.

  14. New York City is in the process of adopting a new building code. How would you advocate for the strongest possible access provisions?

    As a member of the Council’s Committee on Mental Heath, Mental Retardation, Alcoholism, Drug Abuse and Disability Services I intend to address access provisions in the new building code during upcoming related hearings. I am also committed to writing letters, organizing press conferences, and supporting legislation that guarantees access provisions.

    1. Emergency evacuation for people with disabilities: what would you do to ensure that provisions are put in place to improve survival rates of people with disabilities in the event of fire, attack, blackout, or other emergency situation?

      The current building code legislation does not substantively take up the issue of the safe evacuation of persons with disabilities or handicaps, I am committed to working to ensure that this issue is addressed through separate, near term legislation and in full cooperation and involvement of the disability community.

    2. What would you do to ensure that "Visitability" is enacted in New York City? Visitability is the movement towards establishing guidelines providing that newly constructed multi-family dwellings have basic accessible/adaptable features that permit friends and family with disabilities to visit, and for residents to "age in place," without having to move out when age and/or disability set in.

      'Visitability’ is very important. No one should ever be evicted or indirectly forced to leave their home because of their age or abilities. I will do everything in my power to ensure ‘Visitability’ is enacted in NYC, including introducing, sponsoring, and voting on legislation, holding hearings, organizing and attending press conference, and writing letters.

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    V. Transportation:

  15. Will you support, and what strategy will you utilize, to implement an expansion of affordable wheelchair accessible transportation in NYC, including taxis, livery service, express buses, airport shuttle service, more accessible subway stations, etc.?

    Just this month (July) the I sponsored legislation which was passed and signed by the Mayor to increase accessibility on all water-bourn transportation.
     

    1. Efforts to secure a 100% accessible fleet of medallion taxis have been hampered by opposition from Mayor Bloomberg and the taxi industry. Wheelchair accessible taxis are present in many cities as a result of strong support from local Mayors and City Councils. What would you do to assure that all New York City residents, commuters and tourists have access to an important form of public transportation, our medallion taxis and community car services?

      I believe that increased notification is necessary to get the word out about handicap accessible taxis. I think if they could be made available through the 311 system. NYC should also purchase more handicap accessible taxis so that more will be available.
       

  16. Access-A-Ride has denied rides to many eligible consumers; cause unnecessarily long trips, causing workers to be late for work and consequently be docked pay and even lose their jobs; routinely leave many consumers stranded at the curb, lying to their clients that a bus is coming and calling consumer a "no-show" when the bus has not shown. Consumers who complain are often subject to retaliation. What would you do to improve the quality of service for those who must use Access-A-Ride?

    Hold an oversight hearing, and introduce and work to pass any necessary legislation.
     

  17. Do you favor the construction of the Second Avenue Subway? If so, is this a priority?

    Yes, I do favor the construction of the Second Avenue subway and yes, it is a priority.
     

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    VI. Civil Rights:

  18. The Local Civil Rights Restoration Act (Intro 22) seeks to protect the vigor and independence of the City’s Human Rights Law against the attacks of an increasingly conservative State and Federal Judiciary. Although there are 38 Council sponsors, 32 civil rights and allied organizations, in favor of this legislation, and three hearings have been held, Mayor Bloomberg continues to oppose the most central aspect of the bill, the need for City Human Rights Law not to be restricted as federal and state civil rights law gets cut back. Would you work to assure its passage? Please describe your strategy.

    Not on!
     

  19. Under the Bloomberg Administration, the Corporation Council intervened on the side of the city of Sacramento when it sought to challenge the Americans with Disabilities Act regarding the requirement to maintain accessible sidewalks. Do you pledge to use your office to affirm or strengthen, rather than weaken, civil rights protections for persons with disabilities?

    Absolutely.
     

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    VII. Community Board:

  20. Do you support making sign language interpreters available for Community Board meetings? If so, how would you fund this?

    Yes.
     

  21. Will you appoint disabled persons to local Community Boards?

    Yes.
     

  22. How many have you/ or will you appoint to Community Board?

    My community board is full right now and currently has members with disabilities, however as soon as space becomes available I will work with the Queens Borough President to identify the right candidate to fill the vacancy.
     

  23. Will you support the "requirement" and implement, a Disabled Committee on every Community Board?

    Yes.
     

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    VIII. Discretionary Funds:

  24. Please Specify: Have you used (or will you use) your discretionary funds to support organizations serving persons with disabilities or service organizations seeking to make their programs accessible to persons with disabilities? If so, what percentage of your discretionary funds went to such organizations?

    Yes, in fact one program that I am particularly proud of is my funding for PS 255. PS 255 is a school for children with autism and other spectrum disorders. There are eight locations in Queens that are located in public schools. The PS 255 locations are usually hidden in the larger schools and forgotten by many in the Administration when it comes time to allocate funds. This year, I made it my budget priority to not just secure funding for the PS 255 locations in my district but work with the other Queens Council Members to get them to secure funding for the schools. I have put new learning technology in every one of my PS 255 locations. The new equipment helps teachers adapt lessons and students explore communication through the media tools. Over 55% of my discretionary funding is allocated for organizations serving persons with disabilities or service organizations seeking to make their programs accessible to persons with disabilities.
     

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    IX. Accessibility:

  25. Under Mayor Bloomberg, the City settled with the United Spinal Association and agreed to install curb cuts -- Pedestrian ramps, on all corners which presently don’t have one. However, no provision has been made to repair or replace those current ones which are unsafe. How would you ensure that curb cuts—pedestrian ramps—are provided on or repaired on streets that need them? What would you establish as a timetable?

    I have worked with my constituents to identify hazardous sidewalks and curb cuts and continuously submit repair requests to the Department of Transportation. This program is has been very successful and I intend to continue it in my next term. I would also put pressure on the Mayor to establish a timetable for DOT to repair the damaged property.
     

  26. What steps do you think NYC should take to encourage business owners to make their establishments more accessible?

    I and the Council are closely attuned to the recommendations of the US Access Board, as well as those of the city's disability advocate community, related to continuing to encourage handicap accessibility within the private sectors. Recent examples include the Accessible Water Borne Commuter Services Facilities Transfer Act (Int. No. 398-2004), legislation increasing ferry accesses for handicapped persons that was passed by the Committee and full Council, and then signed into law by the major last month, and taxicab accessibility legislation (Int. No. 084-2004) that seeks to promote 100% wheelchair accessibility in the city's taxi fleet. I am a proud sponsor of both pieces of legislation, and voted in favor of the former bill when it passed the full City Council.
     

  27. Do you believe that landmark buildings can be made accessible without losing their historical integrity?

    Yes, look at City Hall.
     

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    X. Organization:

  28. What is your position on efforts to elevate the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities (MOPD) to a commissioner level agency or Commission on Disabilities to enable coordination of efforts of agencies? (A one stop shop for information and assistance.) How would you ensure that city departments/agencies coordinate through MOPD?

    I support it. The guidelines and responsibilities of that Department would have to be outlined by the Mayor, but an oversight hearing could be held to ensure that the Department is being as useful and efficient as possible.
     

  29. What implementation/authority should MOPD have, and/or how would you ensure that MOPD?

    I don’t understand the question.
     

  30. Since presumably "this" office is a Mayoral Office, how would you enforce and do oversight regarding the work of the office and be certain of the implementation and its efforts?

    As with all Mayoral Departments, their procedures and efforts are available and accountable to the City Council as well.
     

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For other candidates running for City Council, go to the Questionnaires section

 

 

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