Monday, December 9, 2013

NYC Councilmen Propose Committee to Oversee Sandy Recovery | Politicker

Coney Island beach after Hurricane Sandy.  (Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images)NYC Councilmen Propose Committee to Oversee Sandy Recovery | Politicker

Two incoming Brooklyn councilmen want to create a new committee to oversee Hurricane Sandy recovery efforts.

Councilmen Carlos Menchaca and Mark Treyger, both set to represent districts ravaged by Sandy a year ago, today proposed the creation of a new City Council council committee to vet the billions of dollars in funding allocated to the city by federal authorities.

“We must increase the level of organized attention to each of the communities impacted across the City. Small businesses, public housing residents, home owners and apartment renters continue to feel the impacts of Superstorm Sandy today more than a year later,” Mr. Menchaca said in a statement. “A City Council committee will provide the necessary oversight over our city agencies and ensure federal aid reach the hands of our impacted residents who deserve a just, equitable and sustainable recovery.”

Mr. Menchaca hails from Red Hook, a neighborhood that was badly flooded during Sandy. Mr. Treyger will represent Coney Island, a community that also endured a staggering amount of damage from the storm. The federal government allocated $60 billion for Sandy aid, but much of that money has yet to be spent. Recently, Senator Chuck Schumer announced that more money would be released to the thousands of homeowners and small business owners in need of recovery funds. Critics have attacked the slow pace of Sandy recovery, as well as how Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s administration responded to the storm.

“It has been over a year since Superstorm Sandy devastated Coney Island, Sea Gate, Bensonhurst, Gravesend, Bath Beach and [coastal] communities throughout New York City. I have students in my classes who were displaced for over half the year by Sandy,” Mr. Treyger stated. “Our families deserve transparency and accountability. Creating a City Council committee dedicated to Sandy recovery will increase oversight of money coming in, make sure those dollars are helping our communities rebuild, create good paying jobs, improve local infrastructure and prepare our [coastal] communities for future storms.”

Creating council committees in response to major disasters is not unprecedented. After the September 11 terrorist attacks in 2001, the council formed a committee to oversee redevelopment in the downtown area. Any new committees must be approved by the council’s rules committee and then voted on by the full council, according to a council staffer, but it is not yet clear how much support the proposal has.

One former council staffer said he thought it was unlikely a motion would pass.

“It is very very unlikely they’d create a new committee. There are so many committees right now and there would need to be a hearing on whether or not the new committee was needed and why it couldn’t just be baked into an existing committee,” the staffer said.

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