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Re: TO ALL TENANTS: Tenant.Net's 6/26 email

Posted by Anna on June 28, 1999 at 22:54:30:

In Reply to: TO ALL TENANTS WHO EVER POSTED HERE: please read posted by Anna on June 28, 1999 at 22:50:38:

Tenants Online 6/26/99
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In this issue...

1. Why Rush to Pass a Bad Lead Bill on June 30th?
2. How Vallone bill guts protection for 1 & 2 family homes
3. What's Wrong with the Peter Vallone Lead Paint Bill

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WHY RUSH TO PASS A BAD LEAD BILL ON JUNE 30?

There is a widespread myth that a "new" court order in the 14-year-long
case of New York City Coalition to End Lead Poisoning ("NYCCELP") v.
Giuliani compels a vote by the City Council by the end of June.

To the contrary, there have been a long series of Court orders, which
became final and no longer appealable as long ago as 1991, imposing
obligations on the City to write regulations for timely enforcement of
Local Law # 1. (Contrary to published reports, these orders do not command
the City Council to "rewrite the laws").

The City has already been held in contempt for failing to obey those orders
three times and has been paying monthly fines for those contempts since as
far back as 1994. This is nothing new, nor has the Court issued any order
directing action by the end of June. At present, these fines amount to only
$4,727.61 per month!

Instead, the administration manufactured a false crisis. Last January, the
(New York City Coalition to End Lead Poisoning) NYCCELP plaintiffs
volunteered to stay enforcement of all the outstanding Court orders through
the end of April -- including further contempt fines -- so that the
litigation would not be used as an excuse for a hurried, ill-considered
adoption of alternative legislation. When the City later asked for an
extension through the end of June, plaintiffs offered unconditionally to
extend it to October 15. The City refused that offer, and insisted the stay
run only through June 30th!

The NYCCELP plaintiffs have repeatedly stated their continued willingness
to extend the stay well into the autumn to give the Council time for a
reasoned consideration and debate on new legislation. NYCCELP urges the
Councilmembers to urge that the City to accept this unconditional offer.

But even if the City refuses to accept this offer and the stay ends, the
consequences are minimal. Either the City will:

1. merely resume paying the contempt fines of just $4,727.61 per month, or

2. issue rules to comply with the orders to enforce Local Law #1. However,
even the rules themselves provide that they do not go into effect for
30 days.

Our City's children are the future. There's no reason for Councilmembers to
rush to judgment and vote for a bill that has not been fully considered and
does not adequately protect our City's children.

Provided by NMIC Legal Services, counsel to the New York City Coalition to
End Lead Poisoning. For more information, call 212-822-8309.

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HOW VALLONE'S LEAD BILL GUTS THE TIMEFRAMES FOR REMOVAL OF LEAD
VIOLATIONS
IN THE HOMES OF ALREADY LEAD POISONED CHILDREN

Under current law, if a child is found to have a blood lead level of 20
micrograms per deciliter (g/dL) or higher, the Department of Health (DoH)
is required to inspect for lead paint and order its removal with five days.
Health Code 173.13(d)(2)

If the owner fails to remove the lead violations within 5 days, Health Code
173.13(d)(2) requires that DoH request HPD to execute the order, pursuant
to the power granted in 17-147 of the Administrative Code.

Admin. Code 17-147 gives DoH authority to order other city agencies to
respond to DoH orders if the owner fails to do so. However, 17-147 itself
has no timeframes for compliance.

The timeframes are found, instead, in 27-2126 of the Admin. Code, which
currently provides:

"If the owner fails to comply with an order of the department
of health to correct the violation, the department of health
shall certify such conditions to [HPD]. The procedure of
certification shall be completed within sixteen days from
receipt of complaint or inspection or examination, whichever
occurs first. The conditions so certified shall be corrected
within eighteen days of certification to the department."

Thus, under the current scheme, DoH violations -- which are only placed
where a child is already lead poisoned -- must be corrected by the City
with a total of 34 days after the inspection if the landlord fails to do so.

The Vallone bill would amend 27-2126 by, among other things, inserting
language to limit its applicability to only multiple dwellings (i.e.,
buildings with 3 or more units). Thus, where children who have the
misfortune to be lead poisoned reside in one or two family dwellings, there
would no longer be any mandatory timeframes for the City to remove the lead
violations where bad landlords ignore City orders! Nor would these children
have any ability to bring an Article 78 proceeding to force the repairs to
be done.

Many, many children who are lead poisoned reside in one or two family
dwellings. In fact, there may be more likely to be poisoned in the first
place, since Local Law # 1 never applied to those buildings.

Thus, Vallone's bill removes the limited protection these children had
under the existing law once they were poisoned. These are the children who
need the most protection, because they are already poisoned. THESE FAMILIES
WILL HAVE NO CHOICE BUT TO SIMPLY MOVE, AND PERHAPS BECOME HOMELESS,
LEST
THEIR ALREADY LEAD POISONED CHILDREN SUFFER ADDITIONAL HARMFUL LEAD
EXPOSURE!

Provided by NMIC Legal Services, counsel to the New York City Coalition to
End Lead Poisoning. For more information, call 212-822-8309.

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WHAT'S WRONG WITH THE VALLONE LEAD BILL:

- Limits lead hazards to only peeling lead paint - no duty on landlords to
prevent poisoning from lead dust, from chewable surfaces, or from abrasion
(painted windows opening and closing, etc.), or to regularly inspect for
lead dust. Kids will have no protection from lead dust, and no remedies if
poisoned!

- Removed legal obligation that landlords ensure apartments are safe for
children to live in.

- Ignores building problems that cause lead paint to peel (water leaks, etc.).

- Lead paint violations - the most dangerous - will now be the most
difficult to enforce!

- Allows violations to remain as long as 226 days from the date of a
tenant's complaint.

- Landlords are immune from penalties for violations or claims for
injuries by simply denying the tenant told them about lead paint hazards!

- Ignores common areas.

- Landlords' investigation for the presence of young children is modelled
on the old window guard law - which failed!

- Shifts the burden from Landlords to Tenants to know about lead hazards in
the dwelling.

- No real requirements that landlords retain any written records of
inspections. No penalties for noncompliance.

- Guts existing Department of Health (DoH) safety rules for lead paint
repairs (which were based on federal HUD and EPA practices and documented
methodologies)

- Encourages quick and dirty work practices over safe ones existing under
the current Health Code. And no penalties for non-compliance with even
these watered down practices!

- Fails to require clearance dust tests after repairs of peeling lead paint
on walls or ceilings!

- Limited clearance dust tests for windows, doors, and wood trim -
but no requirement that results be given to HPD or tenants, no
requirement of independent testing (landlord can test), no requirement
that test results be kept.

- Eliminates current mandatory timeframes for corrections of lead paint
conditions by the City in homes of already lead poisoned children where
landlords fail to do so in 1 or 2 family homes.

- Eliminates ability of lead poisoned children - over 90% of which are
Black, Hispanic, or other children of color - to sue for their injuries,
thus depriving them of their rights and removing any incentive for
landlords to take their obligations seriously. These children will now have
to prove the landlord knew the peeling paint in old buildings was lead paint!

- Fails to give tenants notice of their rights and obligations

- Fails to require HPD to inquire for presence of children whenever an
inspection takes place, and if so, to look for peeling paint

- Fails to address lead paint in schools and day care centers

- Uniformly opposed by every expert in the field of lead poisoning
prevention, and by a wide spectrum of public health, medical, tenant,
environmental, civil rights, education, community, parent, religious,
political, and labor organizations and leaders.

- Rushed through in the dead of night with no opportunity for meaningful
public review, and violates Vallone's campaign promise not to "weaken[] the
laws that protect children from the dangers of lead poisoning."

- Will result in many more children being lead poisoned (right now 30,000 a
year), and weakened or no remedies.

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