Brooklyn State Sen. Julia Salazar and Jabari Brisport — who won the democratic primary in June and is likely to secure a State Senate seat in the upcoming general election — discuss ways the city and state can address school safety, potential evictions and other pandemic-related issues.
With New York in its six month of the COVID-19 pandemic, the city and state continue to face a range of unprecedented challenges, including how and when to reopen schools and how to handle the bleak economic realities triggered by the outbreak — in June, the city’s unemployment rate surpassed 20 percent, Department of Labor statistics show.
Lawmakers are debating a number of tactics to address these multiple crises. On Wednesday, two Brooklyn politicians gave their takes: Brooklyn State Sen. Julia Salazar, who represents neighborhoods including Bushwick, Williamsburg and Cypress Heights, and Jabari Brisport, who won the June democratic primary and is likely to secure a State Senate seat in the upcoming general election to represent a district that includes Bedford-Stuyvesant, Downtown Brooklyn, Prospect Heights, and Clinton Hill. Both are members of the Democratic Socialists of America.
In a conversation Wednesday on WBAI’s Max & Murphy Show, both Salazar and Brisport said they’re apprehensive about the city’s plan to reopen schools this fall, despite the urging of teachers to delay doing so. Brisport, a public school teacher himself, says city schools are “being held to a double standard” compared to other facilities and institutions.
“Right now, they’re the only place where we’re allowing congregations of hundreds of people inside a building. We’re not doing that in the sports, in the arts, in any other field are we saying that’s fine,” the likely future lawmaker said. “In my school there’s around 1,400 students and about 100 or so students and faculty, so even at a third capacity, we’re looking at over 500 people inside the building, which is unsafe at this point.”
Salazar agreed that more planning is needed to safely and effectively reopen schools, adding that New York also needs to do more to address the childcare needs of families “who otherwise sort of rely on public schools for that.”
The federal CARES act, Salazar notes, provided New York with almost $70 million that could be used to support child care agencies during the pandemic, money she says that has yet to be allocated.
“It’s really urgent that the governor, and if necessary the legislature, act in order to make sure that childcare is provided and use the funds that were specifically given to the state for this purpose,” she said.
The senator also discussed a bill she introduced this spring to offer emergency relief for renters and homeowners struggling to afford housing costs because of the pandemic, as well as offer funding to property owners impacted by their tenants’ inability to pay.
Hear our conversation below, or listen to the full show, which includes an interview with Julia Salazar and Jabari Brisport: