Thursday, July 28, 2005

Bill Perkins


The New York Times November 29, 2003 Saturday

Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

The New York Times

November 29, 2003 Saturday

Late Edition - Final

SECTION: Section A; Column 1; Editorial Desk; Pg. 14

LENGTH: 355 words

HEADLINE: A Lead Paint Law We Can Live With


The way to a meaningful lead paint bill looks clearer now that the City Council has produced responsible legislation and the Bloomberg administration seems ready to work with it. Still, there is much to be done if the city is serious about helping to protect young children from lead poisoning.

The Council's proposal is a worthy effort to redeem its last performance on lead poisoning, a hazard that disproportionately affects black, Hispanic and Asian children in New York's poorer neighborhoods. That lead paint law, passed in 1999, was a disgrace. It failed to hold landlords accountable and did not identify one of the biggest threats -- lead dust particles that fly when tainted windows and doors are opened and closed. In what began as an uphill battle against real estate interests and even fellow members of the Council, Bill Perkins, who represents Harlem, took on the campaign to fix the law. His effort gained momentum when the state's Court of Appeals struck down the 1999 law last summer, and when advocates for lead poisoning victims persuaded the Council speaker, Gifford Miller, to help draft and usher through legislation.

Mostly silent on the sidelines through the process were Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his staff. That changed when the commissioners for health and housing praised the bill in Council hearings while voicing some concern over what will be required of city workers who must inspect homes for lead paint and the shortened time frames for landlords to remove the hazard. Thomas Frieden, the health commissioner, said he wants the age of protected children capped at under 6 years old, while the Council proposes under 7. Those are all matters that should be negotiated, and quickly.

With 38 of its 51 members as bill sponsors, the Council could push through a law without the mayor's support. But the measure deserves Mr. Bloomberg's backing, even if it is not perfect. It offers the best chance to remove a major source of a hazard that has damaged the brains and nerves of perhaps thousands of the youngest New Yorkers in the four years since their safety was compromised with a bad law.

The New York Times September 13, 2003 Saturday

Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

The New York Times

September 13, 2003 Saturday

Late Edition - Final

SECTION: Section A; Column 1; Editorial Desk; Pg. 12

LENGTH: 558 words

HEADLINE: The Plague of Lead Poisoning


The federal goal to eliminate lead poisoning in children by 2010 seemed achievable when it was set in 1991. With bans on leaded gasoline and paint in place, progress has been made -- the number of cases detected has fallen by 50 percent. Still, hundreds of thousands of small children, most of them black, Hispanic and Asian, face one of the most preventable environmental hazards in the nation by simply breathing inside their homes.

Tests have shown that more than 400,000 children 1 to 5 years old have blood lead levels above that considered toxic by the Centers for Disease Control -- and that number would be much greater if the index was lowered, as many experts wish, and if more children were regularly tested. Most cases occur in large and mid-size cities where formerly good housing is deteriorating. When lead paint peels or is improperly removed, or even when it is scraped as a window is opened, it unleashes a dust fine enough to be both ubiquitous and undetected as children crawl on it and touch it. It takes very little ingested lead to damage the still-forming brains and nerves of children or fetuses, and such damage can lead to permanent and debilitating health and learning problems, like lower IQ's and retardation, and behavioral problems.

Where testing has been done, patterns emerge. In Chicago, one in three children tested positive for lead poisoning, mainly in poorer neighborhoods, causing the city to push for increased testing and education. Similar hot spots were found in Providence, Philadelphia and St. Louis. But for sheer density of risk, nothing compares with New York City because of its huge stock of older homes and a lead belt stretching across underserved poor, minority and immigrant communities in Brooklyn and Queens. New York was years ahead of the federal government in outlawing lead paint in 1960. But the city faltered four years ago, passing a law that failed to address the danger of lead dust. That law was struck down on a technicality in the courts this summer, leaving a void on an urgent issue.

A bill before the New York City Council -- sponsored by Bill Perkins, who represents parts of Harlem and the Upper East Side -- would go a long way to protect those most vulnerable by clearly labeling lead dust a health hazard. It also corrects a lapse in the previous law, which shielded landlords from liability. The new law would place the burden of fixing lead problems on building owners, who would have to act in a timely way, using trained workers. City officials say the bill is too expensive and goes too far, including its provision to increase the upper age range of monitored children to age 7, from age 6.

Gifford Miller, the Council speaker, has been criticized for not moving more quickly on the legislation, but he now appears to agree with much of what it seeks to accomplish and has offered improvements, like adding a focus on primary prevention. In New York's current fiscal squeeze, City Hall is right to worry about costs, but the mayor's economists also need to consider the long term. Lead poisoning does not typically kill. Instead it leaves a lifetime of expensive concerns -- like special schooling and medical care -- that society is left to absorb. This is a problem with a clear solution if those in government do the right thing now, while the goal is in sight.

The New York Times January 10, 2003 Friday

Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

The New York Times

January 10, 2003 Friday

Late Edition - Final

SECTION: Section A; Column 1; Editorial Desk; Pg. 22

LENGTH: 380 words

HEADLINE: Crime, False Confessions and Videotape


By the time five teenage suspects gave the videotaped confessions that helped convict them in the 1989 rape of the Central Park jogger, they had been through hours of unrecorded interrogation. What led them to confess to a crime they apparently did not commit will never be known for certain. Far from a neat ending, the exoneration of the young men begs for reforming the way suspects are led to rehearsed statements of guilt.

According to the Innocence Project at the Cardozo School of Law at Yeshiva University, 23 percent of the people who are exonerated after conviction turn out to have falsely confessed to the crime. Many of those confessions were taped and played as compelling evidence to a jury. As the jogger case and other reversals demonstrate, innocent people can be led into confessions. Their questioners -- wittingly or not -- also often provide them with details that would seem to be known only to the real criminal.

Beyond the injustice of punishing the wrong people, false admissions of guilt allow the real culprits to remain free to commit more crimes, as did Matias Reyes, who raped four other women, killing one of them, after he attacked the jogger in Central Park.

To minimize false confessions, the state of Minnesota started mandatory recording of interrogations eight years ago. Prosecutors and police at first protested, but now the chief prosecutor in the Minneapolis area calls the technique a valuable aid in convicting the guilty. Alaska mandates thorough videotaping, and Illinois may soon follow.

Despite the lessons of the jogger case, the office of the district attorney in Manhattan says that while expanded videotaping is being considered, the expense is a concern at a time of shrinking budgets. And the notion of changing procedures does not sit well with many in the Police Department.

A City Council member, Bill Perkins, is introducing a measure calling for full videotaping of police interrogations citywide. It would be better if the criminal justice system adopted the practice voluntarily, but there is no real excuse for not acting. By videotaping every minute of interrogations, the police would help protect themselves against charges of coercion, improve the integrity of confessions and plug a gaping hole in the system.

The New York Times, September 9, 1997

Copyright 1997 The New York Times Company

The New York Times

September 9, 1997, Tuesday, Late Edition - Final

SECTION: Section A; Page 26; Column 1; Editorial Desk

LENGTH: 340 words

HEADLINE: New York City Primary Choices


This list summarizes our recommendations for some of the most hotly contested Democratic primaries today in New York City. Poll hours in the city are 6 A.M. to 9 P.M.



Fernando Ferrer


12th District (Co-op City and northeast Bronx): Lawrence Warden. 14th District (west Bronx): Adolfo Carrion Jr.


First District (Woodlawn, Wakefield, Williamsbridge, Throgs Neck, City Island, Soundview, Edgewater Park, Co-op City, Parkchester): Diane Renwick.



35th District (Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, Prospect Heights, part of Crown Heights): Errol Louis. 38th District (Sunset Park and parts of Park Slope, Red Hook and Boerum Hill): Angel Rodriguez. 41st District (parts of Brownsville, east Flatbush, Bedford-Stuyvesant, Ocean Hill and Crown Heights): Salena Glenn. 42d District (East New York and parts of Brownsville, east Flatbush and Canarsie): Charles Barron. 45th District (Flatbush and parts of east Flatbush): Kendall Stewart. 47th District (Brighton Beach, Coney Island, parts of Bensonhurst, Gravesend and Ocean Parkway): Adele Cohen.


Karen Rothenberg



Virginia Fields


First District (Soho, Tribeca, Chinatown, Little Italy, Battery Park, parts of the Lower East Side and Greenwich Village): Kathryn Freed. Second District (Murray Hill, Gramercy Park, the Lower East Side): Judy Rapfogel. Eighth District (East Harlem, Manhattan Valley, part of Mott Haven in the South Bronx): Philip Reed. Ninth District (Harlem, Morningside Heights, part of East Harlem and the Upper West Side): Bill Perkins. 10th District (Washington Heights, Inwood, part of Marble Hill in the Bronx): Guillermo Linares.


Countywide: Rolando Acosta. First District (Greenwich Village, SoHo, Lower Manhattan and portions of the Lower East Side): Stuart Cohen.



20th District (Flushing, parts of Fresh Meadows and Whitestone): Pauline Chu.

The New York Times, September 2, 1997

Copyright 1997 The New York Times Company

The New York Times

View Related Topics

September 2, 1997, Tuesday, Late Edition - Final

SECTION: Section A; Page 20; Column 1; Editorial Desk

LENGTH: 1221 words

HEADLINE: Manhattan Endorsements


Primary elections will be held Tuesday, Sept. 9. This page will not endorse a mayoral candidate until the final vote in November. But many of the other races will be decided for practical purposes in next week's Democratic primaries. These are The Times's endorsements for some of the more competitive races in Manhattan.

Borough President

The two strongest candidates in this large field are City Councilwoman Virginia Fields of Harlem and Assemblywoman Deborah Glick of Greenwich Village. A longtime reformer, George Spitz, and John Clark Fager, a schools activist, are not close to winning. Antonio Pagan began his Council career with promise, but over the long haul he has shown himself unable to forge alliances or foster consensus. Adam Clayton Powell 4th, another Council member, is strong on the campaign trail but weak at delivering on the job.

Ms. Glick was the first openly gay member of the State Legislature, but she has proved to be far more than a one-issue politician. In a sea of mediocrity, she stands out as an effective and independent lawmaker. But back at home, she sometimes seems captive of a familiar New York mentality that meets any plan for change with endless reservations or calls for more public hearings. Ms. Glick voted against the important reform of the public school structure. She opposed the city's initiative to control porn shops and was for far too long an opponent of the much-needed Hudson River Park.

We prefer Ms. Fields, who is not as strong a legislator as Ms. Glick, but outstrips her as a consensus-builder. Ms. Fields has grown over her last four years in the Council. Community leaders praise her willingness to negotiate honestly and find common ground with her opponents. She has been helpful in the struggle to improve Harlem's faction-ridden school district. On the Council, she has worked hard on issues ranging from the Civilian Complaint Review Board to that bane of neighborhood life, delivery bicyclists on the sidewalk.

The borough president's office has been a job in search of a function since the City Charter revision. The title comes with a large staff, some discretionary funds for community projects and the power to appoint community boards and one member of the Board of Education. We hope Ms. Fields will keep her promise to use these tools to help improve the borough's schools, and that Ms. Glick continues her valuable work in Albany.

City Council

First District (Soho, Tribeca, Chinatown, Little Italy, Battery Park, parts of the Lower East Side and Greenwich Village): The theme of this diverse district is expanding residential areas at war with freewheeling business districts. The incumbent Council member, Kathryn Freed, has made more than her share of enemies in her fights with Soho sidewalk art venders, Chinatown fish merchants and produce warehousers. Her opponents, Marie Dormuth and Jennifer Lim, claim that Ms. Freed is overly confrontational. They may be right, but we do not believe either of them would be as successful in managing the needs and conflicting demands of these crowded, contentious neighborhoods. We support the re-election of Ms. Freed, on the basis of her hard work and commitment to her district.

Second District (Murray Hill, Gramercy Park, Lower East Side): The two women waging the most active campaigns in this district come from opposite political poles. Judy Rapfogel, chief of staff to Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, is imbued with the traditional networking and favor-trading skills of New York politics. The district leader Margarita Lopez is much more of an advocate, with an intense commitment to the needs of the most vulnerable residents of her community. Albert Fabozzi, a former community board chairman who helped lead the fight to restore Tompkins Square Park, does not appear to have the organizational base to challenge the other candidates. Ms. Lopez, a social worker, is an openly gay Hispanic whose energy and dedication would be an asset to this largely low-income Spanish-speaking district. But Ms. Rapfogel seems a better bet to deliver improved services the area desperately needs. We endorse Ms. Rapfogel in the hope that she will help stabilize a district often plagued by political factionalism.

Eighth District (East Harlem, Manhattan Valley, part of Mott Haven in the South Bronx): The five-person race to succeed Adam Clayon Powell 4th includes Federico Colon, Mr. Powell's chief of staff, Jorge Vidro-Ortiz, the chief counsel to State Senator Olga Mendez, and Philip Reed, a community activist who has organized H.I.V. care networks and youth programs in some of the city's poorest neighborhoods. Any of these three men would represent the district well. The district leader Wilma Sena, a teacher, has a history of community involvement in East Harlem, but questions about her residence have clouded her candidacy. The fifth candidate, the entertainer Edwin Marcial, is running far behind. Mr. Colon and Mr. Vidro-Ortiz are good candidates. We were particularly impressed by Mr. Colon's interest in economic development. But we endorse Mr. Reed for his strong history of public service and good judgment.

Ninth District (Harlem, Morningside Heights, part of East Harlem and the Upper West Side): The seat being vacated by Virginia Fields has drawn another crowd of candidates who can point with pride to their records of community involvement. Mary Sweeting, a tenant activist, has been of particular service to her fellow residents of northern Harlem. William Allen has roots that go deep in the district, and I. Ronnie Holly has put years of effort into building up his neighborhood Democratic club. Virginia Montague has a good understanding of the district, drawn from her experience as Ms. Fields's former chief of staff. But the candidate who appears to be by far the best qualified is Bill Perkins, a district leader who works for the State Assembly's Education Committee. Mr. Perkins says his top priority will be turning around the troubled schools in District 5, and he speaks with both passion and intelligence about his hopes for improving education in Harlem. Mr. Perkins, who has held patronage jobs controlled by the Democratic organization for a long time, will have to fight to prove he can be an independent city official. But his strengths include a political veteran's sophistication about how to get things done in the city.

10th District (Washington Heights, Inwood, part of Marble Hill in the Bronx): This page places a high value on the re-election of Guillermo Linares. Mr. Linares's seat is threatened solely because he cast the deciding vote in favor of the deal to develop a Pathmark supermarket in East Harlem. Mr. Linares had to choose between pandering to a bloc of influential campaign donors who own local grocery stores or supporting a project that would bring jobs, cheaper food prices and economic growth to his district. Mr. Linares chose the people over the campaign contributors. His main opponent, Roberto Lizardo, will have plenty of chances for public office in the future. Francesca Castellanos, an energetic grass-roots candidate, also shows promise. But if Mr. Linares is thrown out of office as a result of his principled stand, it will send the worst possible message to other city officials.

The New York Times, September 6, 1991

Copyright 1991 The New York Times Company

The New York Times

September 6, 1991, Friday, Late Edition - Final

SECTION: Section A; Page 22; Column 1; Editorial Desk

LENGTH: 679 words

HEADLINE: For City Council From Manhattan


This year's City Council primary election in Manhattan and an adjoining section of the Bronx has attracted a number of capable candidates. Here are The Times's recommendations in those districts where winning the Democratic designation next Thursday will be tantamount to election.

First District: One prominent candidate, Margaret Chin, is vague and misleading about her background and her positions on issues. She refuses, for example, to clarify her past affiliation with the Communist Workers Party and other radical organizations. That's troubling because any candidate's record bears on judgment and character.

Our choice is Kathryn Freed, a lawyer who works for the State Assembly and is familiar with issues in this southern Manhattan district.

Second District: Miriam Friedlander, an 18-year veteran of the Council, provides caring constituent service but is not notably effective on the Council. Philip Howard, a lawyer who is active in his community and a trustee of the Municipal Art Society, has great potential but would benefit from more experience. Our preference is Antonio Pagan, head of a nonprofit housing development program. Though sometimes too supportive of development, Mr. Pagan takes a tough, sensible approach to problems in a district that includes the beleaguered Tompkins Square area.

Third District: Because the likely winner of this contest will be the Council's first openly gay member, the campaign's most prominent issue has unfortunately become who most genuinely represents the gay community. It should be who would most effectively serve the entire community. Both leading candidates in this district, which includes Chelsea and Greenwich Village, are capable. Thomas Duane, a former stockbroker recently on the City Comptroller's staff, has an admirable record of community service. But his failure to participate in the public campaign finance program is disappointing, as is his opposition to needed city incinerators.

Liz Abzug, an articulate lawyer with the State Urban Development Corporation, has a less accomplished record in the community but approaches issues thoughtfully and is particularly sensible about economic development and taxation. In a very close call, we recommend Ms. Abzug.

Seventh District: Three candidates are fighting to unseat Stanley Michels, a 13-year incumbent now running in a reshaped Upper Manhattan district. C. Vernon Mason, an intemperate lawyer known for preying on racial unrest, would be a destructive force. Peggy Shepard, who works in the state's housing division, shows substantial political promise. But we endorse Mr. Michels, a solid, dedicated lawmaker who, though noticeably less outspoken than he used to be, has earned re-election.

Eighth District: Of the eight candidates in this district in northern Manhattan and part of the Bronx, we prefer Philip Reed, the thoughtful director of an AIDS health project. Adam Clayton Powell, a lawyer, is neither forceful nor versed in key issues. William Del Toro, head of a nonprofit housing agency, speaks in vague generalities and shows little political independence. Nelson Antonio Denis, a lawyer, seems well qualified for a political future, but Mr. Reed stands out.

Ninth District: The incumbent, C. Virginia Fields, two years in office representing central Harlem, has been a disappointment. Particularly disconcerting is her failure to condemn divisive figures like Prof. Leonard Jeffries of City College, who has made anti-Semitic remarks. We endorse Regina Smith, an impressive business school graduate who heads a City Partnership housing program.

10th District: This new district in a largely Dominican section of upper Manhattan has attracted three impressive candidates: Maria Luna, an accountant active in the Democratic Party; Guillermo Linares, a teacher and community school board member, and Adriano Espaillat, a coordinator in the city's Criminal Justice Agency. All could serve well, but we prefer Mr. Espaillat for his energy and fervent aspirations for his community.

The New York Times, September 1, 1989

Copyright 1989 The New York Times Company

The New York Times

September 1, 1989, Friday, Late Edition - Final

SECTION: Section A; Page 26, Column 1; Editorial Desk

LENGTH: 530 words

HEADLINE: The City Council, Old and New: II


Unusual weight attaches to the choice of City Council members in Manhattan, as in the other borough races discussed yesterday. The proposed City Charter would make the Council larger and stronger, and members elected this fall would become its nucleus. These are our choices for Manhattan contests (one partially in the Bronx) in the Sept. 12 tests (one partially in the Bronx) in the Sept. 12 Democratic primary for which no serious general Democratic primary for which no serious general election challenges are in sight.

Third District: Carol Greitzer has made many contributions in 20 years on the Council, but lately her effectiveness has been limited. Tom Duane, a stockbroker and leader in the gay community, is a promising newcomer to politics, with interests ranging from zoning to tenants' rights. He could bring the district more energetic leadership, and we support him.

Fourth District: This West Side community could serve as a model for participatory democracy, with eight candidates fighting to succeed Ruth Messinger, who is running for borough president. Most could do the job, some could do it well and Ronnie Eldridge would do it best. ministrator and political leader, but shows a disturbing inclination to compromise her convictions in pursuit of support. Scott Stringer, who runs a state legislator's district office, sees the job through parochial eyes and hasn't yet learned how to balance local and citywide needs.

Jerry Goldfeder, an attorney, and Ethel Sheffer, consultant and former community board chairwould serve honorably. But Ms. Eldridge could would serve honorably. But Ms. Eldridge could serve with distinction. She has worked to improve child care and prisons and to help battered women. Her 30-year career in government and politics, city and state, promises much for the new Council -especially if Ms. Eldridge, sometimes given to weak follow-through, focuses her considerable energies.

Fifth District: In his nearly four years as a city legislator, Hilton Clark has failed to emerge as a leader of the Council or of his Harlem community. Of his two opponents, Virginia Fields, a social worker, and Wilbert Kirby, former member of the city Board of Corrections, the energetic Ms. Fields commands attention and our support.

Sixth District: The incumbent, Stanley Michels, who faces a lively challenge from Adriano Espailwho faces a lively challenge from Adriano Espaillat, continues after three terms to devote himself to the Council with unflagging interest. His energy and his sensitivity to his district's ethnic diversity recommend him for re-election. Mr. Espaillat, a coordinator with a city-funded bail reform agency, might make a promising candidate in the future, but would benefit from less rigidity and more seasoning.

Eighth District (Manhattan and the Bronx): Carolyn Maloney could be more effective, but has nonetheless provided caring representation for more than six years. Adam Clayton Powell 4th, an impressive newcomer, needs experience. William Perkins, deputy chief clerk in the Manhattan Board of Elections, instills no confidence that he would imcouraging Mr. Powell in his pursuit of a political career.


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