Council Member Mark Levine Statement on Renewal of Mayoral Control

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 29, 2017
CONTACT: Jake Sporn // 516-946-5253 // jsporn@council.nyc.gov

City Hall, NY -- “When I started my career as a high school teacher in the South Bronx, I saw firsthand how the old system left teachers demoralized and families frustrated. New Yorkers deserve great schools and a fair education system. Mayoral control empowers New York City to make real changes to strengthen our classrooms, and prioritize students over politics.

I applaud the state for extending mayoral control so we can get back to focusing on educating New York’s school children. This is a big win for students, parents, and teachers across the City.”

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Council Member Levine Statement on A Train Derailment

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 27, 2017
CONTACT: Jake Sporn // 516-946-5253 // jsporn@council.nyc.gov

Harlem, NY -- “New Yorkers already know the City’s subway system has become unreliable, but today’s A train derailment was a frightening demonstration that in extreme cases it can even be a threat to public safety. The MTA needs to recognize the severity of the problem so we can start a new conversation about what solutions are necessary before another accident like this occurs -- not after.

These issues must be met with immediate and dramatic action. New Yorkers have the right to a safe, reliable transit system so they can get to work, take their kids to school, and live their daily lives.

My thoughts are with the injured passengers and the families of those affected by today’s A train derailment. I am deeply grateful no lives were lost and applaud the NYPD and FDNY for their rapid response and safe evacuation of the passengers.”

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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.”

Read the full story here.

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New York City Co-Names Upper West Side Block for Nobel Laureate, Elie Wiesel

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 13, 2017 
CONTACT:  (Levine) Jake Sporn // 917-842-5748 // jsporn@council.nyc.gov

Upper West Side, NY – Along with Deputy Mayor Richard Buery, today City Council Members Mark Levine and Helen Rosenthal memorialized the life of Jewish-American writer, professor, political activist, Nobel Peace Laureate and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel, with a street co-naming the south west corner of West 84th Street and Central Park West as “Elie Wiesel Way.” The lifetime champion of human rights and Jewish causes and his wife raised their only son in Manhattan’s Upper West Side from the 1960s through the 1980s, residing at 239 Central Park West for over 15 years.

Wiesel was born on September 30th, 1928 and at the age of 15 was placed in a confinement ghetto by Nazi occupiers along with his parents and three siblings. Only three months after being forced into the ghetto, he and his family were deported to the Auschwitz concentration camp where he lost his mother and younger sister. Wiesel and his father were later deported to the Buchenwald concentration camp where his father perished only four months prior to the camp’s liberation.

After surviving the war, Wiesel authored over 60 books, including his acclaimed memoir Night, based on his experiences as a victim of Nazi Germany’s brutality towards Jews. Wiesel also became an outspoken activist on humanitarian issues related to violence, racism, and oppression. His leadership on these issues earned him the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986 when he asserted a sentiment still frighteningly relevant to this day, “silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”

“Elie Wiesel was a moral giant whose lessons continue to reverberate today.  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 Levine. “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.  I am excited that we will marking this local connection with a street co-naming in his honor, so that generations to come will remember the man who made ‘never again’ among the most important words uttered in the past century.”

“Throughout his life, Elie Wiesel demonstrated a remarkable commitment to and belief in humanity. Despite experiencing the depths of human evil first hand, Mr. Wiesel devoted his life to speaking and acting out on behalf of those most threatened and vulnerable among us. His prolific writing and strident humanitarianism boldly fought back against discrimination and oppression. To this day, Mr. Wiesel’s commitment to humanity shows us how we can best meet our contemporary challenges—not with hate or fear, but with love and decency. I am humbled to join Council Member Levine in memorializing Mr. Wiesel’s life with this street co-naming by his long-time home on the Upper West Side,” said Council Member Rosenthal. 

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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.”

Read the full story here.

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Statement from City Council Member Mark Levine on NYC's FY 2018 Budget

**FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE** June 2nd, 2017
Contact: Jake Sporn // 917-842-5748 // jsporn@council.nyc.gov

City Hall, NY-- “This budget proves that our City is answering the challenges of the Trump era by delivering real wins for New Yorkers. For the fourth year in a row, thanks to the extraordinarily effective leadership of Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and Finance Chair Julissa Ferreras-Copeland, we’ve passed a budget that makes New York a more fair, more equitable City for all.”

“We were able to increase funding for everything from more support for our seniors, to better equipment for our firefighters, to school lunches and after school programs for our children. And as Chair of the Committee on Parks, I’m particularly relieved the Council was able to save 150 critical parks maintenance workers after yet another year of the budget dance.”

“With the assault on New York City being waged by a reckless and hostile administration in Washington, New Yorkers should be relieved and proud their City has put together a budget that protects our values while investing in our future.”

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Councilman Levine Announces New District Office Service to Help Seniors, Disabled New Yorkers Stay in their Homes

**FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE** Tuesday, May 30, 2017
Contact: Jake Sporn 917-842-5748 // jsporn@council.nyc.gov

Harlem, NY -- Last week Councilman Mark Levine hosted a ‘Rent Freeze Kickoff’ event at the Hamilton Grange Senior Center with the NYC Public Engagement Unit’s Rent Freeze team to raise awareness about the City’s Rent Freeze Program, also known as the Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption (SCRIE) and Disability Rent Increase Exemption (DRIE). During the event, which brought in over 40 seniors from the neighborhood, he announced a new service being offered by his District Office (500 West 141st Street) that will make applying for these programs quicker and easier.

Though Councilman Levine’s office always offers assistance in applying for SCRIE/DRIE during regular business hours, as of May 25th, seniors and disabled members of the community will now be able to have their applications processed instantly on Thursdays.

“Ensuring that New Yorkers are able to stay in their homes has been a top priority of mine since I took office,” said Councilman Mark Levine. “The New York City Rent Freeze program has been a runaway success at accomplishing this goal for the most vulnerable populations in our community—seniors and the disabled, so I’m excited that my office will now be making it even easier to get enrolled. I strongly urge everyone in our community to help spread the word, and if you think you’re eligible, don’t hesitate to call my office for assistance in applying.”

The cost savings of the NYC Rent Freeze program increase over time and have the potential to save some New Yorkers thousands of dollars over a period of just two years. There are an estimated 151,366 eligible households for SCRIE or DRIE, however only 39% of eligible New Yorkers are actually enrolled.

The NYC Rent Freeze Program (which includes SCRIE and DRIE), helps eligible seniors and disabled persons, many of them living on fixed incomes, stay in their homes by freezing their rent. Under this program, a person’s rent is frozen at the amount they pay when you enter into the program, and the City pays their landlord the difference between the prior legal rent and increases to your rent through a property tax credit.

Qualifying tenants must:

  • Live in a rent regulated apartment; and
  • Be 62 years of age OR have a disability; and
  • Have a household income of $50,000 or less; and
  • Spend more than one ­third of your monthly household income on rent

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Council Member Levine Leads City Council to Approve Morningside Heights Historic District

**FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE** Wednesday, May 24, 2017
Contact: Jake Sporn 917-842-5748 // jsporn@council.nyc.gov\

Morningside Heights, NY -- Following a decades long fight to designate the Morningside Heights Historic District (MHHD), today New York City Council Member Mark Levine declared victory for the community as he voted to approve the designation in the City Council with the unanimous support of his colleagues.

Earlier this year, the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) unanimously approved the 115-building MHHD in Manhattan, citing their architectural, historic and cultural significance. In conjunction with the designation, the agency launched a 3-D webmap providing users with detailed information about the buildings comprising New York City’s newest landmark.

The new district consists of 115 residential and institutional buildings in an area stretching from West 109th Street to West 119th Street, Riverside Drive to Amsterdam Avenue. Like much of the Upper West Side, the earliest residential development in the proposed district includes private town houses such as 625-627 West 113th Street (1897-98) and speculative rows such as 604-616 West 114th Street (1896) that were built in the 1890s. However, it was the arrival of the IRT subway in 1904 with stops at 110th and 116th Streets that spurred development and rapidly transformed the area into a neighborhood of apartment buildings marketed to the middle class.

“More so than almost any other neighborhood in New York City, Morningside Heights is defined by its history,” said Council Member Mark Levinewho represents the area. “We are incredibly lucky that its unique architectural identity has survived remarkably intact into the 21st Century. As part of Morningside Heights’ new historic landmark designation, over 115 historic buildings essential to the identity and heritage of our community will now be preserved for decades to come. I am incredibly grateful to have worked with the Morningside Heights Historic District Committee, and the countless residents who overwhelmingly supported this proposal, to shepherd this designation through the City Council.”

“If you ask most residents if Morningside Heights should be a Historic District, they would probably tell you that we already have one! At long last they will be correct,” said Laura Friedman, President of the Morningside Heights Historic District Committee. “We thank Council Member Levine for his invaluable leadership in bringing a Historic District to Morningside Heights, and look forward to working with him in the second phase of this important project. Our community, in all its historic splendor, will finally achieve the recognition it deserves.”

On December 6th, 2016, Council Member Levine offered testimony in support of the MHHD before the LPC, which can be read in full here.

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Council Member Levine’s 4th Annual Health Fair Draws in Nearly 800 Upper Manhattan Community Members

**FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE** Monday, May 22, 2017
Contact: Jake Sporn 917-842-5748 // jsporn@council.nyc.gov

Harlem, NY -- In partnership with dozens of local community organizations, health advocacy groups and city agencies,  City Council Member Mark Levine hosted his office’s 4th Annual Community Health Fair this past Saturday in Riverbank State Park. The annual event drew in its largest crowd ever with nearly 800 community members taking part.

During the event, Council Member Levine gave away over 673 bike helmets for 304 Children and 369 adults with the Department of Transportation to help promote the City’s Vision Zero initiative.

Additionally, nearly 100 families received free smoke detectors courtesy of the FDNY, and dozens of free health exams were conducted through partnerships with the New York Presbyterian Ambulatory Care Network, the American-Italian Cancer Foundation, WellCare and Mount Sinai Hospital.

Performances and demonstrations were also conducted by Urban Yoga, Dances for a Variable Population and local cultural organization Mano Mano.

“Every year I look forward to hosting this event for the community,” said Council Member Levine. “The importance of making informed choices about your health can’t be overstated, and I am so proud that we were able to reach out to so many organizations and members of the community to give away free fitted bike helmets, access to free health exams, and to expose them to the dozens of health advocacy organizations who are rooted right here in our community.”

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