Readers Write: Great Neck mayor defends Covid-19 record

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In “Readers Write: Why is Great Neck a hotspot for Covid-19,” (Sept. 25, 2020), the author cites an uptick in COVID cases in Great Neck, asserting that it is terribly frightening and frustrating for the residents of the Village, and he calls for an investigation.

I share the author’s fear and frustration.

My fear, however, was the catalyst six months ago in March for me as mayor to act and act expediently.

In Great Neck News’ cover story Oct. 2 about Great Neck residents displeased with a lack of masks, reporter Robert Pelaez advances the opinions and the agenda of the oft-quoted residents who seem to think that COVID-19 is political.

The fact is COVID-19 does not discriminate. It infects and, unfortunately, takes the lives of many without any regard for race, creed, religion, or political agenda.

Here are the facts:

As mayor of The Village of Great Neck, I expeditiously issued a state of emergency (March 12) and enacted two mayoral emergency orders, (March 13, 16), controlling public assembly,  including houses of worship (against many in opposition).

While Gov. Cuomo ordered nursing homes to receive elderly Covid-19-positive patients, causing the death of over 12,000, and gave his daily press briefings to deflect his grave errors and lack of leadership, I reached out to our residents via various media – WNBC, News 12 LI, PATV, social media, website and robocalls — to reach the maximum number of people, imploring residents to wear masks to slow the transmission of COVID-19.

On March 26, I sent a draft of Mayoral Emergency Order #3 Required Coverings in Public and/or Business.

WHEREAS, the COVID-19 virus remains a public emergency, and

WHEREAS, the COVID-19 virus is highly contagious and contagion is frequently spread by the emission of bodily fluids and/or other contaminants from individuals as a result of coughing, sneezing, and even ordinary breath; now, therefore
As Chief Executive of the Incorporated Village of Great Neck, and in accordance with the proclamation of a local State of Emergency which I executed on the 12th day of March, 2020, I do hereby declare and

ORDER that all persons present in places of public accommodation, as well as in all governmental, commercial and/or not-for-profit places of business within the Village of Great Neck wherein in-person presence remains permitted, shall cover their mouths and nasal passages with a covering at all times so as to reduce the expulsion of bodily fluids and/or other contaminants from each person. And it is further

ORDERED that violation of the foregoing Order shall subject the violator to the full process of law, including but not limited to arrest for a Class B Misdemeanor pursuant to NYS Executive Law section 24.5, and/or to a $1,000 fine for each day of violation, as appropriate.

This Order shall be in effect from noon on the 27th day of March, 2020, for five calendar days (i.e., until noon Wednesday, April 1, 2020) unless extended, terminated or modified by my further Order.

Signed this 26th day of March, 2020, at _____, in Great Neck, New York.

________________________________________
Pedram Bral, M.D., Mayor of Great Neck

Not only was my request denied, but it took the governor THREE (3) WEEKS after to enact that same order.

RE: Denial of Village of Great Neck’s Mayoral Emergency Order #3

Dear Mayor Bral:

Pursuant to Executive Order 202.5, signed March 18, 2020, the Village of Great Neck’s Mayoral Emergency Order #3 has been reviewed by the New York State Department of Health and is hereby DENIED. This denial is without prejudice to submit a new local emergency order, which satisfies all legal requirements, including but not limited to, compliance with current New York State Emergency Orders and Executive Law § 24.

Following the denial citing the governor’s March 26 Executive Order 202.5, essentially clipping the wings of local elected officials like myself, I sent two emails and a letter on March 31, 2020 asking him to strongly consider granting me permission to enact a emergency order requiring the wearing of masks in public spaces.

RE: Mayor’s response

The Honorable Andrew M. Cuomo:

On March 26, in an attempt to further safeguard my residents, I forwarded my draft Executive Order #3, requiring people to cover their mouths with a mask or bandana. It was denied by the New York State Department of Health citing non-compliance with legal requirements.

As a physician, I am cognizant that health-care workers on the front lines need PPE. The very goal of my executive order is twofold. In requiring protective masks for residents, the effect would be a decrease of infected people flooding the hospitals’ ERs.

While the state supersedes local government, I would like to request that you strongly consider permitting local mayors like myself to employ a more micro approach by allowing Villages to enact emergency orders that are critical to save lives.

Respectfully,

Pedram Bral, M.D.
Mayor, Village of Great Neck

NEVER RECEIVED A RESPONSE TO MY FOLLOW-UP LETTER

It took The World Health Organization and The Centers for Disease Control till June 8 and July 14, respectively, to take a stance on mask wearing after repeatedly switching their position.

The governor, who has treated the entire LI region as one entity, has utilized an ineffective one size-fits-all-model in managing the COVID-19 pandemic. Knowing my Village intimately, in anticipation of Passover and Easter, when people were shopping for their holiday, I swiftly requested permission from the governor’s office to enact an emergency order only to be denied. I went to network news, local news and PATV to implore residents to wear masks and not gather despite the fact that it was a holiday. I did not relax the rules for on street parking typically done at holidays to accommodate parking for extended family visiting so as to not allow any members to visit outside of immediate family.

In enacting Executive Order 202.5 Governor Cuomo has prevented mayors like me from managing their villages.

Gov. Cuomo’s broad-brush approach of relaxing of restrictions regionally has not served the Village of Great Neck well. Gov. Cuomo’s loosening of restrictions on gatherings to allow up to 50 persons was ill-conceived for this Village.

Despite Gov. Cuomo’s relaxing of restrictions permitting houses of worship to conduct indoor services at a lower capacity, many area synagogues, based upon my recommendations, have taken prudent measures to have a significant portion of their services outdoor only.

The measures I have recommended have been more restrictive than those allowed by the governor and more prudent in light of activities that have the propensity for the virus to spread.

With respect to the residents quoted who seek to assign blame, shame, conduct investigations and take their elected officials to task, please know that as mayor of the Village of Great Neck I have dedicated myself wholeheartedly to the management of this pandemic in our Village by advocating and educating about social distancing, and mask wearing.

As a Village we cannot enter anyone’s home or private gathering to enforce social distancing and mask wearing. The Nassau County Fire Marshall and local police may knock on your door and investigate. As a Village we can only enforce what we see in restaurants ,businesses, and houses of worship in our Village, and we have.

We ask Go. Cuomo to lead in a logical fashion. In Executive Order 202.5 the governor prohibited local government officials from issuing executive orders. At the same time, he is critiquing local government for non-enforcement. In a conference call on Oct. 9, coordinated by the Supervisor of TONH, with Peninsula mayors, county representatives, the Nassau County Fire Marshall and a representative from Gov. Cuomo’s office , we concluded we are collectively enforcing the executive orders to the extent allowable by law.

These months have been frustrating, and an unprecedented time for all, including myself. I cannot underscore how my frustration level is exacerbated by conflicting directives from Gov. Cuomo’s office.

I will not name and shame, but I do implore residents to not attend large weddings that take place out-of-state which, while permitted, are super spreader events that then come back to our Village and increase our numbers.

We all want businesses and schools to open because it is the fabric of our community. We want to get back to a sense of normalcy.
Getting there depends on the compliance of each one of us.

Let’s be smart and not complacent.

Collectively we will get through this together.

Pedram Bral, M.D.
Mayor, Village of Great Neck

9 COMMENTS

  1. While this is a good history of how Great Neck has fought the pandemic and does cast blame (on Gov. Cuomo) for not allowing more stringent measures, the fact is that the surge in cases in Great Neck that started in September needs more than just “imploring” residents to not attend large gatherings. I’ve been tracking Covid cases for 6 months and noticed and regularly post tables and graphs on Facebook groups and noted the surge in cases in Great Neck for several weeks – even before it was mentioned in news stories (only 5 Towns was mentioned). This should not be a surprise. All the good work done until recently is being undone and better enforcement is needed – not just “imploring”!

  2. Mayor Bral implores residents not to attend large weddings out of state, but he ignores the many large weddings that have been held throughout the summer and as recently as two weeks ago, right here in Great Neck. He goes on at length about how he was denied the power to enact executive orders by Governor Cuomo, but he doesn’t discuss the fact that he has ignored residents’ repeated pleas to ask for increased inspections by the Nassau County health dept. and fire marshal. These agencies have been very responsive to calls by individuals and have issued warnings, summonses and fines for violations of existing public health laws. Imagine how much more effective it would be if the mayor would contact them!
    Sadly, however, this mayor does not take action that would result in increased enforcement, and we now find ourselves having the dubious distinction of being labeled the next potential “hot spot” in the New York area. Rather than fill the newspaper with extended “pass the buck” complaints about Governor Cuomo, why doesn’t Mayor Bral tell his constituents what actions he is taking to improve compliance in the village?

  3. Nina Gordon-
    Where was this wedding (which village?)
    When did you hear about it?
    What did YOU do when you heard about it?
    Which village do you live in?
    Are you critical about any other mayors? Or is your criticism reserved only for mayors who aren’t members of the Democratic Party?
    Your Facebook page is filled with hate for Republicans. Could it be that you are simply obsessed?

  4. David K –
    First, let me ask: What are YOU smoking? Whatever it is, it certainly has diminished your ability to interact politely and respectfully with others, and perhaps it has contributed to your own obsessions. It certainly appears to have affected your ability to be honest; you can’t even sign your full name to your post. I wonder why.
    What village I live in is really of no concern. I live in Great Neck, a town that contains nine incorporated villages and several unincorporated areas. All of us who live in Great Neck utilize the services and shops in both the Village of Great Neck and Great Neck Plaza, Great Neck Estates, and Kings Point. Great Neck residents are Jewish, Catholic, Muslim, Buddhist and more. We are black, white, Latinx, Asian, and more. We are all Great Neckers and we all need to respect one another and obey public health laws. We don’t get to ignore the laws because we don’t agree with them, or because we want to have a wedding, or a party, or whatever. COVID19 doesn’t care what ethnicity we are or who we vote for. It is just looking for a host, and any one of us will do. Those who ignore the precautions are spreading disease throughout our town – the numbers don’t lie.
    I’m not going to answer all of your personal attacks and criticisms of my social media posts other than to say thank you for taking the time to visit my Facebook page. I hope you also took the time to read some of the many interesting articles I post there about what is taking place across the political spectrum in America. I have no hatred for any living being, only a deep concern for individual liberty, social justice, and above all truth. I will criticize any politician, regardless of party, who is shirking his or her responsibilities or deceiving the public.
    I will address your question about whether I criticize mayors who aren’t members of the Democratic party, because it only goes to show your lack of understanding of our local government. Village mayors do not run on any political party – we don’t have Democratic or Republican mayors in the villages of Great Neck.
    Yes, I have been in touch with other mayors and elected officials, and I’m pleased to say that speaking up about this issue has resulted in a tangible result: all of our elected officials met last week to discuss the problem and try and devise a solution, and they released a joint letter yesterday asking all residents to comply with state mandates and to report violations to the appropriate authorities.
    You ask for specifics regarding weddings and what I did when I heard about them (yes, there were more than one). Let me tell you what I did when I heard loud music from a wedding taking place less than a block away from where I live, about a month ago. I walked over there, observed well over the legal limit of 50 people at a wedding, and I called the health department to report the violation.
    And that is exactly what our elected leaders are now asking all of us to do, in a letter signed by Mayor Bral and every other mayor in Great Neck, along with town and county officials, dated October 14, 2020. Besides asking all residents to observe public health protocols, we are all, as good citizens, asked to report violations to the appropriate authorities.
    I am hopeful that this joint effort by all of Great Neck’s mayors, along with town and county officials, will have the desired result of increased compliance and decreased case numbers.
    As for you, David K., I hope you will continue to wear a mask and keep your distance.

  5. Nina G- I read your response (or none response) to David K. I fell asleep while reading it. But when I woke up I realized you’re the none GN Village resident who has been obsessing about Mayor Bral. I remember seeing you in the village meetings. I see you right articles against him. Yes I’m willing to bet your don’t spend a minute worrying about what happened in the 8 other villages. I agree with David K. You’re clearly obsessed. You have a vendetta.

  6. Joe B:

    Please learn to spell before attempting to write letters to the local newspaper, or at least use spell-check. You’ve got three errors in one paragraph; typical elementary school stuff.

    Now let’s look at who is obsessed. You and your pal David K. spend your time posting personal attacks against me. Who am I to you? Simply a concerned citizen of Great Neck who is involved in many areas of local government. You know nothing about me, but you’re very curious about where I live, which I find kind of creepy.

    I’m done responding to trolls hiding behind aliases. You’re not worth my time. Find someone else to obsess over, and please remember to wear a mask and keep your distance.

  7. Nina, given you keep dodging the question, I answer it for you: you live in Great Neck Plaza, not in the Village of Great Neck. Your obsession with Bral is undeniable. Maybe you don’t know or choose to not to know, Bral is Village of Great Neck Mayor not the entire peninsula. Educate yourself before ranting, it takes less energy. Oh also, for your edification, there are 9 Villages in the peninsula, which means there are 8 other mayors beside Bral. Happy smoking!

    • I need to correct my post: Nina you don’t even live in any of the 9 Villages in the peninsula. You live in an unincorporated part of Great Neck which is under the Town of North Hempstead. Still that does not explain your obsession with Bral. Please enlighten us.

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