Council Introduces Legislation to Protect Tenants From Harassment

CONTACT: Jake Sporn // 917-842-5748 //

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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City Council’s Budget Response Steps Up to Invest in Parks

CONTACT: Jake Sporn // 917-842-5748 //

City Hall, NY -- Following the release of the City Council’s Response to Mayor de Blasio’s FY18 Preliminary Budget, Council Member Mark Levine praised the response for laying out a roadmap to bold, smart investment in the City’s parks system.

“This document is an unmistakably strong statement by the New York City Council that we believe the City needs to up its investment in parks,” said Council Member Levine, Chair of the Parks Committee. “At a time of record parks use - over 100 million last year alone - we are unequivocally demonstrating that the Council sees the parks system as an essential part of the New York’s infrastructure. This budget response recognizes that a thriving parks system isn’t just a luxury in a dense city of 8.5 million people, it’s essential to livability.”

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How Donald Trump Could Weed Out Your Community Garden

WNYC.pngBy Janet Babin

The Trump administration could decide how green New York City's future is.

More than 500 community gardens in the five boroughs rely on a program called GreenThumb. It was started in the 1970s after a financial crisis left many public gardens abandoned and bereft of funding.

GreenThumb gets 43 percent of its funding from federal Community Development Block Grants, the very funds the Trump administration wants to zero out in its latest budget.

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NYC rent freeze for one-year leases upheld by New York State judge

AMNY.pngBy Sheila Anne Feeney

Tenants were relieved and landlords frustrated at a New York State Supreme Court decision announced Tuesday that appeared to vindicate the rent freeze for one-year leases instituted by the Rent Guidelines Board in 2015 and repeated again last year.

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Council Member Levine Praises NYS Supreme Court Ruling Vindicating Rent Freeze

: March 28, 2017
CONTACT: Jake Sporn // 917-842-5748 //

City Hall, NY -- Following the decision made by the New York State Supreme Court today regarding the Rent Stabilization Association’s lawsuit against the Rent Guidelines Board, New York City Council Member Mark Levine released the following statement:

“Today’s ruling is a monumental victory in our continued pursuit of justice for 2.5 million rent regulated tenants in New York City. For years now, tenants in our city have faced record levels of displacement, an epidemic of evictions, and rents that go nowhere but up. But in that landscape of pain, the Rent Guidelines Board’s rent freeze was the one glimmer of good news, and this court ruling confirms what we all already knew - that tenants in this city deserve every break they can get. However, as the Board meets this Thursday, our work is not done yet. With a third of tenants paying more than half of their income towards rent, we need to fight for a rent rollback to give tenants a measure of relief from the damage done by decades of unjustified past increases.”

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Tom Cat Bakery Tells Employees To Prove They're Not Undocumented Or They're Fired

Village_Voice.pngBy Nick Pinto

Last Wednesday, employees at Tom Cat Bakery, the industrial-scale provider of high-end breads and baked goods to restaurants and hotels throughout the region, received a letter from the company's payroll administrator: "Tom Cat bakery has been audited by the Department of Homeland Security," the letter stated. "After an ongoing audit, it was brought to our attention that documents you provided at the time of hiring in form I-9 does not currently authorize you to work in the United States." Employees had 10 days to prove that they have the proper documentation to legally work in the country. The letter didn't specify what would happen if they were unable to, but the implication was that they would be fired.

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NYC Parks Department Blames Crime Uptick On Parks' Increased Popularity

Gothamist.pngBy Rebecca Fishbein

Though reported crime in the city hit an overall record low last year, city parks saw a worrisome spike in some felony crimes last year, prompting one Council Member to propose the city's budget include provisions for an increase in Parks Enforcement Patrol Officers.

According to this year's Fiscal 2017 Preliminary Mayor’s Management Report (which you can read here), the number of felony crimes committed against persons, like robbery, rape, and assault, in city parks went up 28 percent from 2015 to 2016, reflecting an uptick from 488 crimes to 612. That data excludes Central Park—there, overall felony crimes decreased 9.3 percent (from 85 felony crimes to 78) from 2015 to 2016, and crimes against persons decreased by 3 (from 33 to 30) according to NYPD data.

Still, in the first four months of 2017, there was an 11.8 percent increase in felony crimes against people in city parks (excluding Central Park) and a 45 percent increase in crimes against property.

Council Member Mark Levine, who chairs the Council's Committee on Parks and Recreation, is concerned about the uptick. "It’s noteworthy that at a time when crime in the city is dropping overall—really an extraordinary achievement—we’re moving in the opposite direction in parks," Levine told Gothamist. "We’ve got to figure out why. And we’ve got to devote the resources to deal with it."

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Opening Statement at the Parks Committee's Fiscal Year 2018 Budget Hearing


Good morning, and welcome to the Parks and Recreation Committee’s Hearing on the Fiscal Year 2018 Preliminary Budget and the Fiscal Year 2017 Preliminary Mayor’s Management Report 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.

Park use in New York City is surging. There are now 42 million visitors per year in Central Park alone--double the number of who visit Disney World.  Over 7 million people visit the High Line annually and 5 million visit Bryant Park. On a peak summer weekend, 127,000 visit Brooklyn Bridge Park.
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El Concejo evalúa plan ante recortes federales a NYCHA

ElDiario.pngPor: Edwin Martinez

Carmen Valentín lleva 40 años viviendo en apartamentos de vivienda pública en la Gran Manzana, y a sus 73 años confiesa que está aterrorizada por lo que será su futuro, tras los recortes que el gobierno federal pretende hacer a la Autoridad de Vivienda Pública de Nueva York (NYCHA).
“Con estos recortes de Trump, es imprescindible que haya más inversión de la Ciudad y que tengamos que poner más sobre la mesa y como gobierno municipal invertir más en vivienda pública”, aseguró el concejal Mark Levine, quien le pidió a Trump que en vez de gastar $20,000 millones en construir un muro, invierta en vivienda pública y servicios sociales.

Lee la Historia Completa Aquí

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In Focus: City Councilman Argues for More Security to Fight Wave of Anti-Semitism

NY1.pngCouncil Member Levine was interviewed on In Focus by NY1's Cheryl Wills to discuss the recent rise in hate crimes across New York City, and his plan to protect New York's diverse community centers and institutions. 

Watch the Full Interview Here

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