2017 City Council Screening Questionnaire
Candidate Name: Paul D Graziano
If there is a Campaign office(s), is it wheelchair accessible? We do not have a campaign office
Campaign Address: 146-24 32nd Avenue Flushing, NY 11354
Political: Senator Tony Avella; Reform Party
Community: Founded numerous civic associations in my district; they are non-profits that cannot endorse
Action Shows Commitment!
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? For more than two decades, I have fought for 100% compliance for accessible housing and overall building access through zoning and building code reform. Additionally, since college I have advocated for additional funding, supportive services and full integration of students with disabilities at the university level. Finally, I was a supporter of Tom Cooke, a quadriplegic veteran who ran in the 19 th Council District in 2009 .
Will you only attend / sponsor events that are accessible to people with disabilities (PWDs including providing written materials in alternate formats, providing assistive listening systems, and sign language interpreters as well as ensuring that locations are physically accessible)? I will commit to this as much as possible during the campaign and, should I be elected, commit to attending/sponsoring as many events as possible as well. To date, every event that I have attended has had at least physical accessibility for people with disabilities .
Local Law 28 requires City department and agency “advertising and other materials pertaining to public events to include information regarding accessibility for people with disabilities” but it does not include elected officials or Community Boards. Do you believe the law should be amended to include electeds and Community Boards? In the absence of an amendment to Local Law 28, would you voluntarily comply? Yes and Yes.
II. General Questions:
What personal and professional experience have you had with people with disabilities? Numerous. Some which stand out: a longtime girlfriend whose brother has autism; delivering “meals on wheels” to disabled veterans; a close friend who is a paraplegic.
What would be your strategy to work closely with the disability community to assure passage of vitally needed legislation through the City Council? I will designate a liaison from my office – or work directly with the disability community representatives myself - to draft, introduce and/or co-sponsor legislation, and lobby my Council colleagues to assure a fair hearing and ultimate adoption into law. Additionally, I would request to sit on the Committee on Mental Health, Developmental Disability, Alcoholism, Substance Abuse and Disability Services.
How will you use your office to affirm or strengthen, rather than weaken, civil rights protections for persons with disabilities? Same as above – I will defend and broaden said protections with the full power of my office .
Will all events planned by your office be accessible with all material including the appropriate accessibility symbols (such as the wheelchair, ASL CART, etc)? Yes.
What is your position on the development of supported apartments/homes for people with disabled in your borough? I am a strong proponent for supported apartments and homes for residents with disabilities.
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 Building Code? Absolutely.
What will you do to expand affordable wheelchair accessible transportation in NYC, express buses, and shuttles, more accessible subway stations, etc.? I will work with both my colleagues on the City Council to advocate for these improvements as well as lobby the State Legislature and the Governor, as much of the implementation and budgeting for these expansions need commitments at the state level.
Access-A-Ride (AAR) users experience unnecessarily long trips, causing users to be late for work and appointments. Users have been stranded and penalized as a "no-show" when the vehicle never arrived. Riders who complain report they have been subject to retaliation. What would you do to improve the quality of service? I have read Comptroller Scott Stringer’s report from 2016 which details the numerous failings of Access-A-Ride and support all of his proposed remedies ( asking the MTA to ensure that all vehicles have functioning GPS devices, directing companies to stop using driver-reported pick-up times, except when the GPS fails, and cracking down on providers that misrepresent trip and vehicle data). I would add that I would propose the creation of an independent oversight board with powers to end contracts and levy fines against providers not following through on their duties.
VI. Community Boards:
Do you support requiring all Community Board meetings and functions to be accessible, including requiring sign language interpreters and large print format material? Yes, with the caveat that the budget be amended to baseline these requirements for all Community Boards.
b How many people with disabilities have/will you appoint to your local Community Board? I have no limit on how many people with disabilities could or should be appointed should I be elected.
VII. Discretionary Funds:
Will you use your discretionary funds to support organizations serving PWDS or service organizations seeking to make their programs accessible to PWDS? Yes.
a. What steps do you think NYC should take to encourage business owners to make their establishments more accessible? A combination of mandatory actions through legislation – including a grace period for phasing in new laws – along with other incentives (tax breaks, assistance in permitting, etc.) will be helpful in setting up a “new normal” throughout the city, in terms of increased accessibility.
How would you ensure that emergency evacuation for PWDS provisions are put in place to improve survival rates of PWDs in the event of fire, attack, blackout, or other emergency situation? Again, that is legislative matter, and making sure that it is included in Building and Public Safety code ordinances.
X. Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities (MOPD)
a. Mayor Bloomberg elevated the Director of the (MOPD) to a Commissioner without any increase in budget. How would you ensure that city departments/agencies coordinate through MOPD? By mandating increases and ensuring baseline budgeting. As for coordination through MOPD, that is a Mayoral decision unless it is codified by the City Council .
How do you believe the City Council should enforce and do oversight regarding the work of the office and be certain of the implementation and its efforts? If elected, I would call for a change to the structure of the office which would include a representative from the City Council which would report back to the Speaker and the Committee on Mental Health, Developmental Disability, Alcoholism, Substance Abuse and Disability Services .
Date: June 9th, 2017