An ‘Evolving’ Mission for NYC Dept. of Consumer Affairs

Lorelei Salas, commissioner of the NYC Dept. of Consumer Affairs, speaking with reporters following a briefing at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. (Photo by Julius Motal for the Center for Community and Ethnic Media)

Lorelei Salas, commissioner of the NYC Department of Consumer Affairs, speaking with reporters following a briefing at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. (Photo by Julius Motal for the Center for Community and Ethnic Media)

New York City Department of Consumer Affairs Commissioner Lorelei Salas, named to her position only a few months ago, met with members of the community and ethnic press on Sept. 15 to discuss her department’s efforts to expand its work in protecting workers’ rights, ensuring that small businesses are compliant with regulations and a number of other topics related to her department.

Speaking to reporters at a Newsmakers briefing held by the Center for Community and Ethnic Media at the City University of New York’s Graduate School of Journalism, Salas said that, especially with the establishment of the Office of Labor Policies and Standards at the DCA, the city agency’s name “doesn’t quite capture all the great stuff happening at DCA.” The briefing was moderated by Errol Louis, director of the urban reporting concentration at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism and political anchor at NY1. Gregg McQueen, reporter at Manhattan Times and Gail Smith, managing director of Impacto Latin News, joined in questioning Salas.

For many years, DCA was focused on consumer protection and licensing of businesses, and over the last decade expanded its work to financial education for individuals and families, and a couple of months ago launched the new labor policies office.

“Our mission has evolved over the years,” says Salas, who has extensive experience as a labor lawyer and in government. “What we do at DCA is that we protect and enhance the daily economic lives of New Yorkers.”

In elucidating that mission, Salas noted that a key objective is to work with small businesses to ensure that they are compliant with legally established standards. Business owners “really truly want to know what they’re supposed to be doing and they just need the tools to do so. At the DCA we’re perfectly placed to do that.”

Salas said that the DCA will launch a “community listening tour” as part of a “much more community and neighborhood-based approach to the policies we are in charge of enforcing.”

The de Blasio administration is committed to reducing fines, especially for small business owners, she said, and “this year we went further” than the administration’s goal, she said.

Salas was asked about the limited number of street vendor licenses available in the city, unchanged for years, which has led to a black market in licenses. She said that while her agency could not control the number of licenses available, “the good news is that there is a waitlist that is opening up for general vendors…in about a month or so.” Noting that potential vendors are “anxious for this,” says said, “we’ll make sure that people know that there’s an opportunity to apply for this.”

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  1. Pingback: Center for Community and Ethnic Media – Newsmakers 2016: Q&A with DCA Commissioner Salas

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