New law will track Sandy relief funds online

BY SAM SPOKONY | The City Council last week passed legislation to create a more detailed online database that will publicly track where and how Hurricane Sandy recovery funds are spent throughout the city.

The Bloomberg administration first launched a “Sandy Tracker” website in November, allowing members of the public to see how federal disaster recovery funds from FEMA and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development are being allocated by the city.

But the new legislation, which was introduced by Councilmembers Donovan Richards, of Queens, and Brad Lander, of Brooklyn, requires that all Sandy rebuilding projects receiving $100,000 or more in public money must report further information specifically focused on construction jobs and safety.

For those major projects the public database must now, according to the legislation, list the number of full- and part-time jobs created, the salaries of those jobs, the home zip code of each new employee, the name of each contractor and subcontractor handling the projects, and any labor law violations incurred by the contractors.

Labor unions and other advocacy groups celebrated the passage of the new law, since they have repeatedly raised concerns of wage theft, unsafe working conditions and lack of local job creation at numerous Sandy rebuilding sites.

“The passage of this legislation is a huge victory for all New Yorkers who have been struggling to rebuild and recover after Sandy,” said Nathalie Alegre, coordinator of the Alliance for a Just Rebuilding, one of the groups that backed the bill. “Tracking the Sandy recovery funds will make it easier to ensure that the money is invested in good jobs, affordable housing and other top priorities of local communities.”

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