Holocaust Survivor Elie Wiesel Honored in Upper West Side Street Renaming

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By Tatyana Bellamy-Walker


UPPER WEST SIDE — Mayor de Blasio co-named 84 Street and Central Park West “Elie Wiesel Way” on Tuesday to memorialize the Holocaust survivor and renowned author.

Wiesel, a Nobel Peace Prize winner and author of Night who penned his experiences as a survivor of a Nazi death camp, died last summer at the age of 87 in his Manhattan home.

During his life, the literary activist denounced war crimes and genocide across the world and was recognized for his humanitarian work. 

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“He preached tolerance of religious minorities, and knew first-hand the experience of being a refugee, and the vulnerability of living in this country without citizenship,” said Council Member Mark Levine of District 7 in Manhattan. “Mr. Wiesel’s ties to New York City were deep.  His family made their home on the Upper West Side for many years, raising their children there and attending a local synagogue. 

Levine added, “Generations to come will remember the man who made ‘never again’ among the most important words uttered in the past century.”

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An island of graves, yearning to be free: Let the public visit Hart Island

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By NYC Council Members Mark Levine & Elizabeth Crowley

Thanks to a recent agreement between the City Council and Mayor de Blasio, New York City is on a path to make history with the closure of the Rikers Island jail complex. This momentous step would end the Department of Corrections’ nearly century-long hold on the Island, freeing it up for a variety of imaginative uses once more modern and humane jails are built elsewhere.

But, likely unbeknownst to many New Yorkers, Rikers is not the only island controlled by the Department of Correction. In the Long Island Sound off the coast of the Bronx lies Hart Island, a mile-long strip of land which is also under the department’s auspices.

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Calls for Small & Large Fixes to City Congestion, Transit Woes

Gotham_Gazette.pngBy Sam Raskin

The New York City Council Committee on Transportation held a hearing Monday to discuss sources of, and solutions to, traffic congestion in the city.

City Council Member Ydanis Rodríguez, chair of the committee, began the hearing by lamenting New York City’s heavy traffic. “As most New Yorkers can tell you, our streets look like parking lots,” said Rodríguez, a Democrat from upper Manhattan. In addition to economic impediments and general inconvenience, the Council member framed congestion as a safety issue as well. “More cars in our road means more dangerous conditions for cyclists, pedestrians and other street users,” he said -- Rodriguez has been a champion of the city’s Vision Zero street safety program.

Council Member Mark Levine, also an upper Manhattan Democrat, agreed with Rodríguez’s characterization of the situation and highlighted its urgency. “Congestion is at crisis levels in this city,” he said. “This is a threat to our economy, our environment, it is a safety threat and frankly, for drivers, it is driving them crazy to be stuck in traffic.”

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Opening Remarks at the Parks Committee's FY 2018 Executive Budget Hearing

Council Member Mark D. Levine, Chair of the Committee on Parks and Recreation

Opening Statement at the Fiscal Year 2018 Executive Budget Hearing -- May 18, 2017

Good afternoon, and welcome to the Parks and Recreation Committee’s Hearing on the Fiscal Year 2018 Executive Budget for the Department of Parks and Recreation. My name is Mark Levine and I am the Chair of the Parks and Recreation Committee.

In keeping with the budget process mandated by the City Charter that will ultimately lead to the adoption of the Fiscal Year 2018 budget, today we will hear testimony from the Department of Parks and Recreation on its Expense and Capital Budgets for Fiscal Year 2018.

During our Preliminary Budget hearing in March, we called for a robust parks budget to meet the needs of the city’s growing population at a time with park use is surging.  We specifically called for:

  • 80 PEP officers to address the recent uptick in parks crime;

  • 50 new Urban Park Rangers;  

  • 10 new outreach coordinators for Partnership for Parks; and

  • Funding to permanently expand the City’s beach and pool season by a week beyond Labor Day.

Unfortunately, none of these needs were addressed in the executive budget.

Most egregiously of all, the executive budget fails to baseline $9.7 million for critical park maintenance workers, which would lead to a loss of 50 gardeners and 100 CPWs who would be laid off as of June 30th--depriving our parks of sorely needed staffing, and depriving 150 hard-working New Yorkers of their livelihood.  These workers are critical to the success of the Community Parks Initiative--a key administration priority--so the fact that again this year it falls on the Council to save these positions is proof that the budget dance has indeed returned.  

In total, the executive budget proposes a reduction in headcount of 183 positions.  There was some confusion on this point at our last hearing so I want to be clear: the budget as adopted last year included 7,646 full-time equivalent positions for the Parks Department.  The budget now being proposed by the administration would reduce this to 7,463 positions.  We need to understand what impact these cuts will have on our parks system.

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Exigen que almuerzos en escuelas públicas sean para todo estudiante

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By Jonathan Inoa

Ningun estudiante de la ciudad debería aprender con el estómago vacío. Es el mensaje de docenas de organizaciones y líderes políticos y comunitarios al alcalde De blasio.

Henry Garrido, presidente del Sindicato DC37, comentó: "Todos los niños tienen derecho a un almuerzo o a un desayuno gratis en la escuela. Sin importar de donde venga, sin importar de su clase social o de su clase económica".

En las escalinatas de la Alcaldía, exigieron al alcalde que cumpla con sus promesas de campaña e incluya dinero en el presupuesto para extender el almuerzo escolar para todos los estudiantes.  

Con un poco más de un dólar al día por estudiante, se puede hacer una diferencia en el aprendizaje de los niños, ya que tendrían un mejor rendimiento escolar si han comido, señalan.

Diana Reyna, vicepresidenta del Condado de Brooklyn, afirmó: "Que puedan concentrarse en el salón. Que puedan ponerle atención a sus maestros. Que puedan sentarse quietos y enfocarse en lo que es el aprendizaje en el salón".

 Actualmente, casi la mitad de las 1,200 escuelas públicas ofrecen el almuerzo escolar universal que, de ser extendido, tendría un costo de unos $26 millones de dólares al año a la ciudad.

Sin embargo, el costo sería reembolsado casi en su totalidad por el gobierno federal. Es por eso que muchos no entienden por quó el alcande de Blasio, quien está en plena campaña para su reelección, no otorga este beneficio a los estudiantes.  

Mark Levine, concejal Manhattan, señaló: "Lo podemos lograr, los fondos están ahí y estamos aquí exigiendo de nuestro Alcalde que lo haga una vez y por fin este año".

Watch the full piece here.

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Proposal Would Offer Free Saturday Parking For Electric Cars

CBS_Radio.pngBy Alex Silverman

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – A number of New York City Council members have an unusual proposal to help encourage people to purchase electric cars: Free parking on Saturday.

“We think this will be an important boost for people who are trying to make the economics work when they are choosing their next cars,” said Councilman Mark Levine.

Listen to the full piece here.

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De Blasio opposes bill limiting construction noise near schools, siding with building project backed by one his donors

New_York_Daily_News_logo.pngBy Greg B. Smith

Mayor de Blasio is moving to gut a bill that would quiet down construction noise next to schools — a bill drafted in response to a building project supported by one of his big donors.

The bill is being pushed by parents at Public School 163 on the Upper West Side who are fighting a 20-story nursing home set to be built right next to their kids’ school.

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'Setup for Failure': Tenants and Officials Blast City's Rent-to-Own Program

dnainfo-logo.pngBy Dartunorro Clark

NEW YORK CITY — City officials offered a mea culpa regarding a longtime rent-to-own program that has been labeled a failure by tenants — admitting that the program became “unsustainable” after its launch nearly 40 years ago.

Officials from the Department of Housing Preservation and Development were put in the hot seat Thursday at a marathon City Council oversight hearing to answer questions related to the beleaguered city housing program that is currently under investigation.

Officials from HPD offered some concessions and promised reforms related to the Tenant Interim Lease (TIL) program, which was meant to be a pathway for renters in city-owned buildings to purchase their units for just $250.

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Nearly 900 affordable housing program apartments sit vacant

NY_Post.pngBy Michael Gartland

The city has left nearly 900 apartments vacant in one of its affordable-housing programs — a situation that Mayor de Blasio said on Thursday leaves him “perplexed.”

Of the 2,322 apartments in the Tenant Interim Lease program, 38 percent — or 884 — are unoccupied, according to a report by Public Advocate Letitia James.

Some tenants sent packing for renovations are still waiting to get back a decade or more later.

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Council Introduces Legislation to Protect Tenants From Harassment

**FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE** April 5, 2017
CONTACT: Jake Sporn // 917-842-5748 // jsporn@council.nyc.gov

City Hall, NY -- To address the prevailing issue of tenant harassment in New York, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, along with Council Members Mark Levine, Carlos Menchaca, Ritchie Torres, Helen Rosenthal and Jumaane Williams have introduced a package of legislation that will make it easier for tenants to win and pursue harassment cases against abusive landlords.

Under current law, tenants in housing court are obligated to prove that an owner deliberately harassed them with the intent of causing said tenant to leave their dwelling. In addition to expanding the definition of what constitutes harassment, the proposed package would strengthen current protections by creating a rebuttable presumption for tenant harassment claims, meaning tenants would no longer be required to prove an owner’s intent in court.

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