Immigration Reform: What You Need To Know

We are happy to share with you a very clear rundown on Immigration Reform, provided by CUNY Citizenship Now:


Visit CUNY Citizenship Now’s website. It’s a great resource to learn about everything from  protecting yourself from immigration fraud to finding English language classes and preparing for the citizenship test.

You can download the PDF of this flyer to share with your network through this link.

Teens: How Would You Like to Spend Your Summer at Randall’s Island?

Get creative this summer at the Bronx Museum’s The People Make the Park Teen Summer Program at Randall’s Island! This is your chance to spend July with teens just like you, interviewing community members, park staff, artists, activists and professionals in order to create audio podcasts that will be placed on exhibit at Randall’s Island Park. Additionally, there will be free lunches on program days and a stipend for your travel and hard work. Think of the people you could meet and uncharted experiences to be had — sounds like a winning college application essay! Check out The People Make the Park 2012’s Tumblr for a better idea of the program.


Applications are due by Sunday, June 9, 2013 – so apply today. You must be entering the 10th, 11th or 12th grade in the fall of 2013. The program will be held from July 8 – 26, 2013, Mondays through Thursday, 1 PM to 5 PM.

Looking Back on Our Second Year of Participatory Budgeting

Melissa unveiled the 2012-2013 Participatory Budgeting (PB) vote results for the 8th Council District on Monday evening at a celebration featuring San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz Soto. In response to the growing participation and excitement around the process in its second year, Melissa nearly doubled her initial commitment of $1 million to the process. This year, 1,770 District 8 residents voted in the process, as compared to just over 1,000 last year.

The $1.9 million in projects funded through PB for the Fiscal Year 2014 budget are:

  1. Security cameras for Douglass, East River, Johnson and Millbrook houses — 964 votes
  2. New Laptops for 9 Schools in District 8– 857 votes
  3. Technology Centers for Seniors and Youth — 706 votes
  4. Mobile cooking classroom for SMART  (Sisterhood Mobilized for AIDS/HIV Research and Treatment)   — 534 votes
  5. Solar powered Greenhouse — 533 votes
  6. Hoops by the River — upgrade Jefferson B-ball Courts — 501 votes


“I could not be more thrilled with the level of participation or the results,” Melissa said. “The winning projects are a reflection of the community’s concerns about public health, safety, youth, seniors and public parks. I thank all of our incredible partners in this process including Community Voices Heard, the Participatory Budgeting Project and the budget delegates for their hard work throughout the process.”

The tireless dedication and commitment from the community volunteers, otherwise known as ‘budget delegates’, was truly inspiring. Delegates came together from all different social, cultural, and economic backgrounds to work as a team of urban planners, community organizers, and decision-makers. Together they analyzed hundreds of project ideas, and through a long and grueling process they narrowed them down to twenty-one project proposals to address a wide variety of community needs such as more access to technology in our public schools, senior-friendly spaces, safe public housing, quality recreational spaces, transportation improvements, community gardens and urban agriculture.

One story that stands out in this process was the engagement of formerly incarcerate youth of color who worked on the education committee and developed one of the winning project proposals for new computers and technology in local schools. Another is that of Susan Rodriguez who works with SMART (Sisterhood Mobilized for AIDS/ HIV Research and Treatment), who has been very concerned about public health and the lack of nutritious food options in her community.

“First of all, just meeting and speaking with the Mayor of San Juan and knowing that she wants to bring PB to her city was one of the highlights of the evening!” said Rodriguez.  “Of course, I was overjoyed when SMART’s Mobile Cooking Classroom won and I thank everyone who came out to vote! This has been an extraordinary process for me, meeting and working with other budget delegates, community organizers and residents, especially in Millbrook Houses/Mott Haven, and learning how to make our community and city the best it can be.”

Last year, which was the first year of PBNYC, Ray Figueroa proposed a solar-powered greenhouse to teach urban agriculture to court-involved youth in the South Bronx, but it did not receive enough votes to win. This year however, the greenhouse pulled through.


“Participatory Budgeting re-enfranchises the dis-enfranchised,” said Figueroa. “It reaches out to the most marginalized residents in the most underserved sectors of our community and honors them as the experts of our community.  Participatory Budgeting respects their human dignity in this regard, and, by so doing, helps to galvanize their sense of ownership as community stakeholders and re-defines what it means to be civically engaged.”

DSC_0437The last winning project with 501 votes, was the Jefferson Park basketball courts which have not been renovated in decades. These courts are heavily used by the Hoops by the River basketball league, run by Will Kelly and his son, Will Kelly II. “It is wonderful that we were able to mobilize our youth and community residents to finally make these much needed safety upgrades to this court,” said Kelly. “This way we can run a quality league and expand our work to combat youth violence and promote health.”

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More information on all of this year’s projects is available here

The full voting tally is available here.

And The Winners Are…

We want to thank everyone that participated in PB this year, whether you volunteered, were a delegate, voted or even talked about the PB process to a neighbor. It’s because of District 8’s participation that our second year of PB was such a great success. And because of that, Melissa decided to allocate a whopping $1.9 million to the projects that were chosen and voted on by you, the people.

Last night Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz Soto spoke at our Participatory Budgeting Unveiling Celebration. We were thrilled to hear her affirm that she would be launching the first PB process  in San Juan, Puerto Rico soon; where select areas in the city would decide on how to spend $1.5 million. Stay tuned in the coming days  for photos and reflections on the PB celebration and the Mayor’s visit. 

So without further ado, we are proud to present the winning projects:


PB Celebration PPT_laptops

PB Celebration PPT_tech




Total Vote Counts:

7. Play for All: PS 155 Playground Renovation (#1 – 416 Votes)
8. Air Conditioning Wiring for PS 72 (#9 – 362 Votes)
9. SMART Board Technology for Schools (#8 – 355 Votes)
10. Lighting Upgrade in Douglass (#5 – 353 Votes)
11. Auditorium Upgrade at Manhattan Center HS (#10 – 307 Votes)
12. Upgrades for Gaylord White Senior Center (#15 -304 Votes)
13. Peaceful Valley Community Garden (#3 – 301 Votes)
14. Playground Upgrades at Washington (#6 – 285 Votes)
15. New Fitness Equipment for Cherry Tree Park (#14 – 278 Votes)
16. Safety Upgrades at the Heckscher Building (#13 – 231 Votes)
17. History/Media Lab for PS 171 (#11 – 215 votes)
18. Backyard Renovations for UPACA 6 (#16 – 199 votes)
19. Layered Access at UPACA 6 (#17 – 148 votes)
20. New Subway Canopy (#21 – 139 votes)
21. Multi-Media Information Kiosks (#20 – 106 votes)

Join Us for the Second Annual Participatory Budgeting Celebration, with Special Guest San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz Soto

PBNYC vote image small_1It has been a great week in District 8, with hundreds of community members coming out to vote for projects that they believe in. If you haven’t had a chance to vote yet, there’s still time – check out the list of voting sites and times on our PB site, conclude the weeklong voting process, the Second Annual Participatory Budgeting Celebration, unveiling the winning projects, will be held on Monday, April 8th from 6:30 PM to 8:30 PM at the Johnson Community Center (1833 Lexington Avenue).

We are very excited to announce that our Second Annual Participatory Budgeting Celebration will feature a very special guest, San Juan’s Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz Soto.  As you may remember, Melissa had the honor to deliver the keynote at her inauguration. Mayor Carmen Yulín  has pledged to implement a PB process in San Juan and is coming to see how the process works in our district.

“It is an incredible honor for me to welcome such an incredible woman and inspiring leader to our city for the first time since being elected Mayor of San Juan,” said Council Member Mark-Viverito. “Mayor Carmen Yulín is bringing a new style of democracy to San Juan. I am truly excited that she has committed to roll out a PB process in the city, which will help bring transparency and direct public input in how the government allocates resources. I look forward to continued collaboration with the Mayor’s administration in continuing to strengthen ties between our two cities and across the Puerto Rican diaspora.”

PB Celebration Flyer_eng

Para ver el volante del evento en español, haga clic aquí.

WHATSecond Annual Participatory Budgeting Celebration
WHO: Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito, Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz Soto, PBNYC, and Community Voices Heard
WHEN: Monday, April 8th from 6:30 PM to 8:00 PM
WHERE:  Johnson Community Center (1833 Lexington Avenue)
RSVP: or (212) 828-9800

Manhattan CB 7 Hosts “Pedestrian & Traffic Safety Study,” Next Thursday

Melissa, along with with Council Members Gale Brewer and Inez Dickens are sponsoring Manhattan Community Board 7‘s ‘Pedestrian & Traffic Safety Study,’ which will be held this Thursday, April 4th.

Join us in discussing ways to improve the blocks of West 94th to 100th Streets and Central Park to the Hudson River, in order to help create safer streets on the Upper West Side. Refreshments will be served.


WHO: Manhattan Community Board 7 and Council Members Melissa Mark-Viverito, Gale Brewer and Inez Dickens
WHAT: Pedestrian & Traffic Safety Study
WHEN: Thursday, April 4th, 6:30 to 8:30 PM
WHERE: Goddard Riverside Community Center, 593 Columbus Avenue at 88th Street

Safer Neighborhood Streets: Apply for a Slow Zone by May 31st

slowzoneNeighborhood Slow Zones reduce the speed limit on residential streets from 30 mph to 20 mph. Slow Zones grant local families peace of mind because they know drivers in their communities will stick to safer speeds. Communities that apply for a Slow Zone can get safety improvements that reduce traffic crashes, cut-through traffic and traffic noise, making residential streets safer for biking and walking.

NYC Department of Transportation (NYCDOT) is currently accepting applications to the Neighborhood Slow Zone program. Community boards, civic associations, BIDs, or other community institutions such as schools or churches can apply. If you’re interested in applying, you can download the application, and follow NYCDOT’s application instructionsApplications must demonstrate local support for the Neighborhood Slow Zone. Applications that include letters of support from key community stakeholders will be prioritized.  

Applications are due by Friday, May 31st. Are you interested, but don’t know where to begin? Need help drumming up local support? Transportation Alternatives will help! E-mail, or call at (212) 629-8080.

Participatory Budgeting Voting to Commence In April

Starting Monday, April 1st, voting for Participatory Budgeting (PB) projects in our community will be open to all residents of District 8 that are 16 years of age and older. Not sure if you’re in the district? Check the map or look it up on the City Council website. You’ll need to bring at least one document proving current address and age. You can check out our PB page ( for a list of examples of documents that will be accepted at the voting polls. This is your chance to vote on how we should spend $1 million in our community! Can we get your commitment to vote? If we can count on your vote, please fill out this form for us.  


This year, mobile voting sites will be held throughout the district. We will post the dates and locations as they are announced. Keep checking back for updates.


Para ver el volante del evento en español, haga clic aquí.

Join Us For A Town Hall Meeting About Stop And Frisk

On Monday, March 18th, please come join us at a Town Hall Meeting in the Bronx, where you can share your thoughts about Stop and Frisk practices. We are looking forward to having open conversation about ways to improve public safety and working towards a real solution.


WHO: Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito, Comptroller John C. Liu, Senators Jose Serrano and Gustavo Rivera, Assembly Members Vanessa Gibson and Eric Stevenson, Council Members Fernando Cabrera and Helen Foster; and community partners
WHAT: Town Hall Meeting
WHEN: Monday, March 18, 2013. 6 to 8 PM
WHERE: Latino Pastoral Action Center. 14 West 170th Street, Bronx, NY 10452

Join NYCHA For Their Infill Development Meetings: Washington & Douglass Houses

NYCHA has already held their first public meeting about “Infill Development” at Carver Houses this week, but there are two additional upcoming meetings – one at the Washington Houses and the other at the Douglass Houses. NYCHA is proposing to lease their land to private developers so that they can create ’80-20′ housing  (80% market-rate and 20% affordable/low-income) that will fill critical budget shortfalls and meet its capital obligations. This is an opportunity for residents and community members to ask questions and express their opinions before NYCHA submits their Request for Proposals (RFPs) for their target properties by the end of April. If approved, this will impact District 8 residents and community members of Carver, Washington and Douglass Houses, and the surrounding community. 

While NYCHA is not privatizing the developments or taking anyone’s apartments away, this is an important community issue, and we encourage all concerned residents to attend this meeting.


This Thursday, March 14, from 6:30 to 9:30 PM, NYCHA will be at the Union Settlement Association’s White Community Center (237 East 104th Street, between 2nd & 3rd Avenues) to speak about their infill development proposal for two sites affecting Washington Houses’ residents:

  1. Southeast Corner of East 99th Street & 3rd Avenue (Parking Lot & Community Center)
  2. North Side of East 99th Street between 2nd and 3rd Avenues (East of El Barrio Artspace PS109)



Next Thursday, March 21, from 6:30 to 9:30 PM, NYCHA will be at the Douglass Community Center/Children’s Aid Society (885 Columbus Avenue on 104th Street) to speak about their infill development proposal of three sites affecting Douglass Houses residents:

  1. West 104th Street between Amsterdam and Columbus (Parking Lot)
  2. West 100th Street between Amsterdam and Columbus (Parking Lot, Garden and Play Area)
  3. Manhattan Avenue between West 101st & 102nd Streets (Parking Lot)

NYCHA douglass

Pictures From Our Black History Month Celebration

Melissa hosted a Black History Month celebration at Taino Towers last Thursday, which was co-sponsored by Senator Jose Serrano, Assemblyman Robert Rodriguez, and Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer.

The evening was filled with friends and neighbors, along with excellent entertainment. East Harlem Repertory Theatre Company singers and actors paid tribute to Madam CJ Walker, Marvin Gaye, Harriet Tubman and Michael Jackson with dazzling and moving performances. Additionally, we had the opportunity to honor two extraordinary women in our community with the Black History Month AwardPrincella Jamerson, a South Bronx community activist, community safety advocate and the President of Millbrook Houses Resident Association; and Kioka Jackson, an East Harlem community activist, youth services advocate and the Chair of the Tony Mendez Houses Tenants Board.

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Join Us At Our Upcoming Participatory Budgeting Project Expos

Yesterday marked the first Participatory Budget (PB) Project Expo in District 8 for 2013 – our second year partaking in the PB process. Yesterday’s expo was the first of three, where our Budget Delegates unveil the projects that will appear on the ballot for a public vote this April.  Nearly 100 residents came out in East Harlem to learn about the unveiled projects, which range from new computers for schools and youth centers, basketball court renovations and new community gardens.

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Who are our budget delegates & what do they do?  The budget delegates are volunteers who come from all different ethnic and economic backgrounds, and walks of life. Although they are all members of our community, it is because of PB that many of them crossed paths for the very first time.  And for the past few months they have worked together to analyze all of the great ideas that were generated in the neighborhood assemblies. Splitting up into seven different committees (including our awesome Youth Committee), the budget delegates assessed our community’s needs and delved deeper into 20 amazing project ideas that they are presenting at the Project Expos.

If you weren’t able to make it to yesterday’s Project Expo, please join us at either of our upcoming expos. PB gives local residents the power to decide how at least $1 million gets allocated in our community; and the Project Expos gives you a chance to be an informed voter. We hope to see you there!

  • Tuesday, March 5th from 6:30 PM to 8:00 PM at Frederick Douglass Center (885 Columbus Avenue)
  • Thursday, March 7th from 6:30 PM to 8:00 PM at Millbrook Community Center (201 St Ann’s Avenue, Bronx)

A Special Message From Melissa: 2012 Annual Report

Though we are already well into the new year, I thought it would be important to reflect on 2012 and some of the important accomplishments that we all achieved together. We held the first-ever Participatory Budgeting vote in the City of New York. We united to defend our community from district lines that would have cut out some of our most vital institutions. We also won protected bike lanes for First and Second Avenues, and helped save two of our local public schools from closure. And those are just a few examples.

Last year was an exciting one for our community and for my office. And there’s a lot to look forward to in 2013.

Participatory Budgeting: Join Us At An Upcoming Project Expo

We are about to enter the third phase of the Participatory Budgeting (PB) process – Project Expos. In the first phase, we held seven neighborhood assemblies, which were attended by hundreds of community members and where we gathered even more great ideas on how to spend $1 million in District 8. Then in the second phase, the budget delegates worked hard on turning the ideas you helped generate in our neighborhood assemblies into concrete proposals for a public vote.

Please join us at one of our Project Expos, where our budget delegates will unveil the projects that will appear on the ballot for a public vote this April. This is a great way to learn more about the projects before you cast your vote. Hope to see you there!


Para ver el volante del evento en español, haga clic aquí.

For more information on PB in District 8, visit

Bring The Kids to PS/MS 165’s Winterfest Saturday, February 23rd

*Please note that Winterfest has been rescheduled, ironically, because of the winter (Nemo)*

On Saturday, February 9th, from 11 AM to 2 PM Saturday, February 23rd, from 11 AM to 2 PM, stop by PS/MS 165 for the first ever Winterfest. Winterfest will be held indoors and is jam packed with fun carnival games; complete with prizes, art, food and music by Tom Knight and magic by Magic Evan.


WHAT: Winterfest
WHEN: Saturday, February 9th; from 11 AM – 2 PM Saturday, February 23rd; from 11 AM – 2 PM *RESCHEDULED BECAUSE OF NEMO*
WHERE: PS/MS 165; West 109th Street, between Broadway & Amsterdam
Admission is free; and activities and food start at only $1.
Para ver el volante del evento en español, haga clic aquí.

Please Complete a Brief Survey Regarding Election Day 2012 and following Election Day (November 6th) 2012 there were many reports about long lines and confusion at polling sites across the nation. Media reports cited some similar concerns locally. As such, we have designed a brief survey (just 10 questions) for you to tell us about your experience on the most recent Election Day. The survey is for you to inform us about favorable and problematic experiences on Election Day.

We have developed the survey to gain a better understanding of what transpired recently here in New York City and in the communities that we serve. Even if you did not vote or are not registered to vote in New York City Council’s District 8, we are hoping that you could take the time to complete the survey by visiting the following link:

If you have questions about the survey, please do not hesitate to call Joe Pressley at 212-828-9800. You can also email him at The survey will only take about 5 to 10 minutes to complete!

Free Electronics Recycling and Textile Collection this Saturday


Saturday, November 17 – 12 PM to 5 PM

Amsterdam Avenue and 110th Street (south side)

While electronic devices are safe to use in the home or office, they pose an environmental risk when improperly discarded. E-waste accounts for 40% of toxins in household garbage. Recycling helps keep it out of landfills, incinerators and the environment.

This Saturday, WeRecycle! and Upper West Side Recycling will be accepting computers and electronics that you wish to recycle. All collected computers and electronics will go to an EPA-licensed recycler.

The following items will be accepted:

  • Working & non-working computers (laptops & desktops)
  • Peripherals: monitors, printers, keyboards, mice, cables, etc.
  • TVs, stereo equipment, VCRs, DVD players, cable receivers, etc.
  • Cell and wall phones
  • Small appliances: toasters, microwaves, coffee makers, etc.
  • Compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) – no long bulbs, please.
  • Flashlight-type batteries (AA, D, etc.)
  • Textiles (clothing, shoes, blankets, sheets, towels, etc.)

The following items will not be accepted:

  • Air conditioners
  • Large appliances such as refrigerators
  • Carpeting


Saturday, November 17 – 12 PM to 5 PM

La Marqueta, 115th Street and Park Avenue

Recycle your unwanted clothing and textiles. They’re accepting clean & dry clothing, paired shoes, bedding, linens, hats, handbags, belts, fabric scraps 36″ x 36″ or larger and other textiles. No rugs, carpeting or commercial waste. Your contribution to the program is tax deductible.

Collecting Blankets and Coats at Our District Office

We have begun collecting blankets and coats at our District Office (105 East 116th Street) for families affected by Hurricane Sandy. Tens of thousands of people are still without power and heat today, as temperatures continue to drop. Please feel free to call ahead (212-828-9800) or just stop by to leave your donation. For our West Side constituents, we have also learned that Modell’s on W. 98th Street and Columbus Avenue is collecting clothing and blankets.

One of the damaged homes in New Dorp Beach, Staten Island.

This weekend, Melissa joined thousands of New Yorkers who went out to devastated neighborhoods across the city to offer support in these difficult times. In Chinatown, we delivered food to the homebound. In Staten Island, we cleaned up around homes that were completely destroyed. And in Coney Island, we bused supplies over to housing developments and went door-to-door checking in on residents, finding some homebound seniors stuck in 12th floor apartments without elevators to get downstairs.

Sand piled up like snow near Coney Island Houses.

Given the crisis we find ourselves in, with an estimated 20,000 to 40,000 people that could be in need of housing, we encourage all of our constituents to continue to band together to help our fellow New Yorkers. In addition to donating blankets and coats at our office, please also consider making a donation to the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York, or continuing to give your time at volunteer sites throughout the city.

Volunteer Opportunities in Manhattan and the Bronx

When considering the devastating impact of Hurricane Sandy on other neighborhoods, we are very fortunate to have not sustained extensive damage in Council District 8 and we believe that it’s time to give back to others who have not been as fortunate in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Below are volunteer opportunities that could use your help:


  • On Friday, November 2nd at around 12:00 noon, we will be meeting up with Council Member Margaret Chin (District 1), where Hurricane Sandy hit the hardest in Manhattan, at the Chinatown Partnership Local Development Corporation (CPLDC) on 60 St. James Place.  From there, volunteers will be assigned to different tasks to assist downtown. While transit is still a challenge downtown, the M15 Select Bus Service on 1st and 2nd Avenues (which will again be free tomorrow) is a great option to get to CPLDC.


  • The Food Bank needs volunteers at their warehouse in the Bronx. People are needed tomorrow (Friday, November 2) to repack donated food for delivery to emergency food organizations. The volunteer shifts are 10:30 AM – 12:30 PM and 1:30 – 3:30 PM. For more information, contact the Food Bank’s Triada Stampas at 917-568-3389. Address: 355 Food Center Drive, Bronx NY 10474. It is accessible by subway/bus combo: 6 to Hunts Pt, then the Bx6 bus to the Hunts Pt Market.
  • Lehman College is currently being used as a shelter and is taking volunteers. Address: 250 Bedford Park Blvd, Bronx NY 10458

Additionally, the Parks Department is accepting volunteers to help aid in clean-up and recovery of parks citywide. For those who would like to volunteer, please follow the provided link to submit a volunteer application. When showing up to help, please remember to dress appropriately – closed-toe shoes and clothes that can get dirty are appropriate. Bring a water bottle and snacks (water refills and restrooms will be available at each site). All supplies for the clean up effort will be provided. Children 12 and older are allowed to lend a hand.

MANHATTAN – Click here to register to volunteer.

  • Randall’s Island (Friday & Saturday only)
  • Happy Warrior Playground (West 98th and Amsterdam Avenue)
  • Annunciation Park (West 135th Street btwn Amsterdam and Convent Avenues)
  • Carl Schurz Park (East 87th Street and East End Avenue)
  • Anne Loftus Playground (at Fort Tyron Park – Broadway at Riverside Drive)

BRONX – Click here to register to volunteer.

  • Van Cortlandt Park (1 Bronx River Parkway)
  • Orchard Beach (Park Drive and Orchard Beach Road)

Council Members Mark-Viverito and Brewer Urge New Yorkers to Respect Directive to Stay Out of Parks

Council Members Melissa Mark-Viverito (Chair of the Parks & Recreation Committee) and Gale A. Brewer, who represent districts on the east and west sides of Central Park, issued the following statement to urge New Yorkers to follow the City’s directive to stay out of parks.

“Hurricane Sandy has had a devastating impact on our city’s public parks, including over 250 downed trees in Central Park alone. As Council Members who surround the park, we are strongly urging our constituents to please heed the directives to stay out of Central Park and all of our parks until further notice. This directive is meant for everyone’s safety. 

“We have already had incidents of people who have tragically been killed by falling trees in the wake of Sandy. Just because the storm is over, it does not mean that branches can no longer shift and fall down. Unfortunately, we have heard reports of individuals trying to defy the directive to stay out of the parks and force their way in. The Parks Department and the Conservancy are hard at work to clean up Central Park and make it safe for everyone’s enjoyment as soon as possible, but in order to do so safely, they need the park to be free of non-essential personnel.

“We are clearly in the process of a long recovery from the storm in areas across the city, including our public parks. This is a time for us all to come together. There are people in neighboring communities who are in desperate need of assistance, and so the most efficient use of our city’s resources has become more important than ever. We ask that everyone please respect directives from the City that are only intended to keep us all safe and allow the clean-up efforts to move forward as quickly as possible.

“Like all New Yorkers, we look forward to the reopening of our parks and thank Parks Department staff, conservancy groups and all those that are helping in the clean-up efforts across the city.”

You Can Still Submit Ideas on How We Should Spend Money in District 8

Just because you missed one of our Participatory Budgeting (PB) neighborhood assemblies doesn’t mean that you can’t brainstorm on ideas on how we should spend capital funding in our district. Please visit District 8′s PBNYC website, created by Project for Public Spaces, where you can submit your ideas, browse other submissions and share your comments. We will be accepting submissions until November 12, 2012 at 9 AM. Anything submitted after 9 AM will not be considered.

District 8 is one of only eight districts in New York City where PB is practiced. Typically, this funding is distributed at the exclusive discretion of Council Members, but this year 1.3 million residents of these eight districts will have an opportunity to brainstorm, shape and vote on capital projects in their district. This revolutionary process ensures that your voice is heard, so please share with us any proposals you have – and who knows, it may be one of the winners. 

Click here to find out more about the PB overview and process.

Do You Agree with the Proposed New District 8 Lines?

In light of the NYC Districting Commission’s proposed new lines for District 8, splitting up Manhattan Valley and East Harlem, while extending even further into the Bronx, there is something that we as a district can do to express our concerns in a constructive manner – we can testify in front of the NYC Districting Commission or submit written testimony. Melissa testified before the NYC Districting Commission regarding the proposed draft map on October 4, 2012:

Good Evening. I am Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito, and I represent Council District 8 on the City Council. This district currently includes El Barrio/East Harlem, Manhattan Valley, part of the Upper West Side and part of Mott Haven. I am here this evening to express the serious concerns I am hearing across my district about the Commission’s preliminary draft lines.

In the weeks since this proposal was released, I have studied the draft lines closely and have had countless meetings and conversations with members of my community as well as leaders around the city. At this time, I am prepared to state emphatically that these proposed district lines as presented are completely unacceptable to the communities I represent.

In looking at the proposed new district, and the rationale expressed by the Districting Commission, my constituents have expressed deep concerns for a number of reasons, and I share these concerns. First, the proposed lines divide up neighborhoods in a way that is unfair to those communities and does not reflect the realities on the ground. Second, the proposal moves pockets of the current District 8 that are solidly Latino into districts that do not necessarily share their cultural and neighborhood identity. Finally, the proposal to split the 8th District evenly between the Bronx and Manhattan, allegedly done in the spirit or “borough equity,” actually marginalizes residents of Manhattan.

Click here for the remainder of the testimony.

If you are concerned about the future lines of District 8, which you can view here, we urge you to make your voice heard and submit written testimony to the Districting Commission. Every voice matters. 

Read more about redistricting in Council District 8 in the news:

PICTURE POST: Participatory Budgeting

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Two neighborhood assemblies down and five to go! We’re having a great time conversing with our constituents and brainstorming on potential capital projects that deserve funding in our district. Make sure to join us and have your voice heard at one of the next five assemblies:

Saturday, September 29th – 11 AM to 1:30 PM
Draper Hall – 1880 1st Ave (@ 97th St)

Thursday, October 4th – 6:30 PM to 9 PM
Millbrook Community Center – 201 St. Ann’s Ave (@ 137th St)

Thursday, October 11th – 6:30 PM to 9 PM
Red Oak Apartments – 135 W. 106th St (@ Columbus)

Tuesday, October 16th – 4:30 PM to 7 PM
* Special Assembly for Young People, Ages 14-24
Children’s Aid Society – 130 E. 101st St (@ Lexington)

Wednesday, October 17th – 6:30 PM to 9 PM
Harlem United El Faro Day Center – 179 East 116th St (btwn Lexington & 3rd)

To find out more about Participatory Budgeting and the process, please click here.

Opportunity for a Career as a Union Skilled Construction Craft Laborer

Construction & General Building Laborers’ Local 79 will be taking the first 2,000 applications they receive for the opportunity to become a Skilled Construction Craft Laborer Apprentice with the hopes to accept up to 200 Apprentices in the next 9 to 24 months.

As a first-year Apprentice, you will be making $36.80 per hour in wages and benefits. Upon completion of the apprenticeship, you will become a Journey worker, making $59.39 per hour in wages and benefits. This is obviously a great opportunity, not only to be a part of a union, but to have a career.

Minimum Requirements:

  • 18 years of age
  • High school diploma or GED
  • Physically capable of performing the work
  • Pass a pre-entry drug screening at your expense (once you’ve already been selected into the program)


  • Applications will be distributed for 10 business days, or until they reach 2,000 applicants. Beginning September 24, between 9 AM and 11:59 AM, go to (very important to include the “WWW”)
  • Follow the directions on the website
  • You may only apply once during these ten days
  • Fill out the form no different than if you were ordering a product online. If you are planning on moving in the next 2 years, please include two different addresses – at least one of which is very consistent (ex: a family member that does not plan on moving & will let you know when mail arrives)
  • Click submit

Everyone that applies will be mailed a letter of invitation for an interview. These names will be drawn at random, when needed periodically over the next  9-24 months. This could take up to 2 years depending on economic conditions. If you or anyone else you know is interested, make sure to apply as early as possible so that you’re part of the first 2,000 applicants.

Vote to Give Back to Local Charity, Dominican Sunday

Chase is donating $5 million to local charities across the country and one of those organizations, Dominican Sunday, is from our very own community! Dominican Sunday’s mission is the empower and strengthen the residents of Manhattan Valley, Morningside and West Harlem, as well as the rest of the City.  Dominican Sunday provides citizenship classes, computer training, ESL classes, career assistance, and cultural events to the community and it’s time that we give back to Dominican Sunday but giving them our vote.

You will be able to cast two votes via Facebook  until September 19; and if you Like, Send, Tweet, or copy the link Facebook provides, you can earn an extra vote if any of your friends follows the link and casts a vote. If you’re a Chase customer, then you get to use two additional votes as “customer appreciation votes.” To use these additional votes, just go to, log in, search for Dominican Sunday and cast your ballot!

In the spirit of Election Day, please click here to vote between now and September 19 for a local charity that has done a lot for our community – Dominican Sunday.

Tomorrow: Small Business Job Fair Prescreening

Tomorrow, the Workforce1 Manhattan Career Center is hosting a job fair prescreening event featuring small businesses in Upper Manhattan and the Bronx that are looking to recruit employees in a number of fields. Applicants that meet employer requirements will be asked to return for an interview with the employer. See below for more info!


Thursday, September 6th between 2:30 PM and 3:30 PM

Location: 60 Madison Avenue, Suite 704

Please bring: Valid (non-expired) Photo ID, Social Security Card, and your Resume.

(Applicant must be in proper interview attire)


Best of luck!

Participatory Budgeting Enters its Second Year in District 8

It seems like only yesterday when we were finishing up our first year implementing the Participatory Budgeting (PB) process. We had a fantastic turn-out – hundreds of local residents came out to vote for project ideas that were developed by the community, from a Meals-on-Wheels van for seniors to playground renovations for youth. We are excited to announce that we are entering our second year of the PB process. Last year was such a success, some even say “revolutionary,” that four more Council Members have signed on to bring the program to their communities. Through the PB process, community members will directly decide how to spend at least 1 million dollars in capital funds in each of the eight participating districts. Typically, this funding is distributed at the exclusive discretion of Council Members but this year 1.3 million residents of these eight districts will have an opportunity to brainstorm, shape and vote on capital projects in their district.

Have something you’re passionate about? Want to get involved? Our offices, along with PBNYC, will be hosting numerous neighborhood assemblies. Whether you simply want to learn more about the PB process or submit your ideas for projects that you’re passionate about and will make a difference in our community, the neighborhood assemblies are the venues to do so.

Come join us at a Neighborhood Assembly. We even have a specialized one just for seniors and one just for youth (14 to 24 years old). Food & Spanish translation will be provided at all assemblies.

Thursday, September 20th – 10 AM to 12 Noon
* Special Assembly for Seniors
SCAN La Guardia – 307 E. 116th St (@ 2nd Ave)

Tuesday, September 25th – 6:30 PM to 9 PM
Frederick Douglass Center – 885 Columbus Ave (@ 104th St)

Saturday, September 29th – 11 AM to 1:30 PM
Draper Hall – 1918 1st Ave (@ 99th St)

Thursday, October 4th – 6:30 PM to 9 PM
Millbrook Community Center – 201 St. Ann’s Ave (@ 137th St)

Thursday, October 11th – 6:30 PM to 9 PM
Red Oak Apartments – 135 W. 106th St (@ Columbus)

Tuesday, October 16th – 4:30 PM to 7 PM
* Special Assembly for Young People, Ages 14-24
Children’s Aid Society – 130 E. 101st St (@ Lexington)

Wednesday, October 17th – 6:30 PM to 9 PM
Harlem United El Faro Day Center – 179 East 116th St (btwn Lexington & 3rd)

Here is your chance to be heard and make a difference. See you there!

If you are interested in taking part or have any questions or suggestions, email us at Click here for our PB Page that includes the outcomes from last year’s vote. General information about the citywide PB process is available at and you can find their rulebook here.

The lead community partner in this project is El Barrio/East Harlem-based Community Voices Heard and the lead technical assistance partner is the Participatory Budgeting Project.

West Side Summer Fair Tomorrow

Tomorrow, Saturday, August 19, 2012, West End Presbyterian Church will hold a Summer Fair at its corner location at Amsterdam Avenue and 105th Street. The block at 105th Street will be closed to traffic between Amsterdam and Columbus Avenues from noon until 6 PM.

This family-friendly event will have many kid’s favorite activities, including a Bounce truck, face-painting, and games. Tables and booths will be selling food, jewelry, clothing, and housewares, among other popular items. A staffed table will offer information about the church, a beloved neighborhood resource for more than 100 years, worshiping in Spanish, English, and Eritrean every Sunday.

All are welcome to join us for this fun-filled afternoon!

WHAT: Summer Street Fair

WHERE: West 105th Street between Amsterdam and Columbus Avenue

WHEN: Saturday, August 19, 2012 – noon to 6 PM

The City Council Approves The Upper West Side Zoning

After several years of persistence and research, it is official – as of June 28, the Upper West Side Zoning change was approved and the Zoning Text Amendment will create the Upper West Side Enhanced Commercial District. The Zoning Text Amendment ensures a certain level of protection to Upper West Side small business owners who historically have helped make the Upper West Side eclectic, but who are now falling victim to large banks and chains that are occupying an increasingly extensive amount of ground floor space along the avenues.

In order to ensure that present and future small businesses can reside on the ground floor, the Zoning Text Amendment will cap the length of ground floor commercial street frontage for banks on portions of Broadway, Columbus and Amsterdam Avenues at 25 feet for any single user. Existing banks and other large businesses (many of which have frontages of just under 40 feet) that exceed the new requirements are permitted to remain as-is. This will mean that any new developments that require more space can expand upstairs or downstairs. The approval additionally promotes small business owners by requiring a minimum number of stores per block on Amsterdam and Columbus Avenues.

“This zoning change will go a long way to safeguard the small business character of the Upper West Side and maintain the neighborhood’s trademark vibrancy and diversity,” Melissa stated. “These protections are long overdue, as many long-time local businesses have been unfairly pushed out by chains and banks. With the adoption of this re-zoning, we can prevent large businesses and commercial banks from continuing to lease exceedingly large ground floor spaces, depriving our ‘mom and pop’ stores from an opportunity to serve the neighborhood and thrive. I thank Council Member Gale Brewer who has been a tireless leader in bringing this re-zoning to passage. I also thank Speaker Quinn, Land Use Chair Leroy Comrie, Zoning and Franchises Chair Mark Weprin, Council Member Inez Dickens, City Planning Commission Chair Amanda Burden and all of her staff, and of course Community Board 7 and all of the local residents who spoke out on the need for this re-zoning.”

Fiscal Year 2013 Discretionary Funding Process

The application process for Fiscal Year 2013 discretionary funding is now available on the Budget section of our blog.  Please visit for the latest info on deadlines, application forms and other requirements. 

For more information please contact Joe at 212-788-6960 or

It’s Time to Decide Where $1 Million is Spent in Our Communities

In less than two months, the participatory budgeting (PB) process will conclude with District 8 residents finally voting on how to spend at least $1 million on infrastructure projects to improve our community.  For more information on the process thus far, links to all the project ideas that were submitted, and more visit our PB in District 8 page.

Sunday, March 25th and Saturday, March 31st will be the official voting days for PB, with other mobile voting locations to be announced.  Times, locations and other details are coming soon.  But before the vote, we must begin by taking the time to inform ourselves about the options that will be available to us on the ballots.

Come and learn more at this month’s neighborhood assemblies. Please click here to RSVP!

Wednesday, February 15th at 6:30 PM
Children’s Aid Society
130 E. 101st Street

Thursday, February 16th at 6:30 PM
Youth Hostel
891 Amsterdam Avenue

Thursday, February 23rd at 6:30 PM
Betances Senior Center
401 St. Ann’s Avenue

Translation in Spanish will be available and refreshments will be served.

Community residents have been refining the ideas generated at the October-November public meetings into concrete proposals for the past three months.  You’ll be amazed by what they’ve come up with.  Make sure to join us!  For more information contact Max Cantarero at or (212) 828-9800.

You can also print out a flyer to show your neighbors.

New Commercial Zoning Protections Proposed for Upper West Side/Manhattan Valley

The NYC Department of City Planning announced earlier this week the initiation of public review on a series of proposed zoning regulations that aim to protect the vibrant retail character of the Upper West Side community.  An original version of the proposal did not include the Manhattan Valley portion of the Upper West Side in these zoning protections.  However, after advocacy by local community leaders, CB 7 members, small businesses and Melissa’s office, City Planning has agreed to extend these protections to parts of Amsterdam Avenue in my district from W. 96th Street to W. 110th Street.  For details on these zoning protections, click here. 

“We must do all that we can to ensure that diverse retailers continue to define the distinct character of the Upper West Side,” said City Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito. “I am thrilled that part of the Manhattan Valley neighborhood which I represent is being included in this proposed zoning change, so that it can also be protected from the increasing dominance of banks and retailers that tend to occupy a large ground floor footprint, leaving little room for the diverse small businesses that fuel our local economy. I applaud Commissioner Burden and my colleagues for their leadership on this zoning change and look forward to voting for it in the City Council.”

These new zoning changes aim to slow down a trend that we are seeing in many parts of our city, whereby banks and chain stores are leasing exceedingly large ground floor commerical spaces.  This practice reduces the diversity of our streetscape and retail corridors and does not provide opportunities to the local small businesses that make the Upper West Side the vibrant neighborhood that it is. 

The zoning protections being proposed by City Planning will include restrictions on frontage space for stores, banks and residential lobbies, and once adopted, will apply to new developments as well as alterations, conversions and changes in use in existing buildings.

New Year. More Progress.

Dear Friend:

I hope your holidays were both restful and full of cheer. As I looked back at our community’s many accomplishments in 2011, I couldn’t help but reflect on how hard we worked and how much it paid off.  In the coming year, I look forward to continuing to expand even further on the progress we are making in District 8.

What are your New Year’s Resolutions for our community?  Please leave them in the comments section below!

Last year, we engaged directly with local residents to help shape the future of our community.  The El Barrio/East Harlem Youth Violence Task Force, which was convened by my office, released its official platform, a plan to bring peace to our streets that was created in conjunction with our community’s youth.  Soon after the release of our platform, NYCHA finally opened the Johnson Center after over 10 years of community struggle.  Our community was also one of four in the city to take a major step towards democracy in 2011 as my office began implementing a Participatory Budgeting (PB) process in Council District 8. Through PB, community residents will decide how to allocate $1 million in discretionary funds towards capital projects of their choosing.

For our older residents, my office continued to make progress on developing El Barrio/East Harlem’s Age Improvement District, by working with the City to launch Senior Pool Hours at Jefferson Pool and to unveil several new benches on our sidewalks, which will provide a resting place for older adults as they walk outside.

And let’s not forget the citywide and national efforts to which we have contributed.  Like so many of you, I have became more motivated than ever to pursue economic and social justice in our community and our city. I marched alongside thousands of Occupy Wall Street protestors and was arrested for civil disobedience as a way of making a statement on the unconscionable level of economic inequality in our society. I was also proud to sponsor and see passed into law a bill that will help protect undocumented New York City residents from detention and deportation, which will help keep more families united.

Our accomplishments in 2011 have set the bar for a great 2012. We’re starting off on the right foot by celebrating Chinese New Year with our Chinese neighbors this month (more details to come). From there, the work continues. After another round of public meetings in February, we will hold the official Public Vote for the Participatory Budgeting process in late March.  And of course my office and the organizations that make up the Youth Violence Task Force will continue to lead the fight for safer streets, as we seek funding to implement the recommendations from our platform. In the coming months, I will also be fighting against City budget cuts and to bring more resources to our neighborhoods.

And as always, I will continue to be active on local issues of importance across our district.  Exciting and challenging times are ahead.

Please don’t forget to take a moment to share your New Year’s Resolutions for our community by leaving a comment below!

All the very best,

District 8 Participatory Budgeting Project Idea List Now Available Online

Young people generate project ideas at our Youth Assembly (Oct. 25, 2011).

Following seven neighborhood assemblies held during the month of October as well as a period of submissions through our online platform, we are pleased to share with you the final list of participatory budgeting (PB) project ideas from Council District 8.  This list will be made available to the dozens of budget delegates who have signed up to help formalize these project ideas into concrete proposals.

All of the ideas, sorted by committee, are available at  This list will be updated on a regular basis as we receive new updates from delegate committees.

Over 550 individual ideas were submitted as part of this brainstorming process.  As you will see, suggested projects range from new technology for schools to park renovations and security cameras for NYCHA developments, among many others.  While some of the suggested projects are not eligible under PB because they do not require capital funding, our office will look into these ideas to see if there are other mechanisms available to bring them to life.

Budget delegates will officially begin meeting next week and will start reviewing the project list.  If you are still interested in becoming a budget delegate, there may still be time to get up to speed.  Please reach out to for more information.

Tomorrow: Join the Occupy Wall Street National Day of Action

Tomorrow, November 17th, thousands of New Yorkers will take part in a National Day of Action in support of Occupy Wall Street.  As you know, the City will begin enforcing new rules at Zuccotti Park, which will prohibit OWS protestors from staying overnight and using tents and tarps.  More than ever, this movement needs the support from all of New York City’s 99 percent.  A rally will be held tomorrow at 5:00 p.m. in Foley Square to commemorate the two month anniversary of this global movement and to continue the call for economic justice in our city and our nation.  We urge everyone to join us at this rally so that we can all make our voices heard!  Check out this Facebook event to RSVP and to learn more details on all of the day’s actions.  If you are interested in joining our office at the rally tomorrow, please call Lauren in our District Office at 212-828-9800.

Yesterday, Melissa joined many of her colleagues and partners in the labor movement in condemning the overnight removal of the OWS protestors from Zuccotti Park.  Click here for coverage from NY1.  Below is a joint statement issued by several Council Members which also criticized the late night eviction.

Statement from Council Members Gale Brewer, Daniel Dromm, Letitia James, Brad Lander, Steve Levin, Melissa Mark-Viverito, Rosie Mendez, Annabel Palma, Deborah Rose, James Sanders, Jimmy Van Bramer, Jumaane Williams on the Eviction of Occupy Wall Street

We, the undersigned members of the New York City Council, are dismayed by the late night eviction of the occupation of Wall Street. We condemn the violation of the FirstAmendment rights of the protesters. It is shameful to use the cover of darkness to trample on civil liberties without fear of media scrutiny or a public response.

We are proud to be a part of the movement for economic and social justice and shared sacrifice sparked by Occupy Wall Street. We commend Council Members Ydanis Rodriguez and Jumaane Williams, who demonstrated their solidarity by standing with protesters at Zuccotti Park last night. In the aftermath of the eviction, we reiterate our support and look toward the future.

We know that the fight is far from over, and that last night’s events will only fuel the fire for change. We will march to hold the banks accountable and call for a fairer economy on November 17 and beyond.

Submit Project Ideas Online for Participatory Budgeting

Missed our Participatory Budgeting Neighborhood Assemblies? We are excited to announce that project ideas for the process can now be submitted online! On a webpage created by our partners at the Project for Public Spaces, you can suggest ideas which will appear on a map. You can also view others’ ideas and comment on them.  Because we are moving ahead quickly through the process, only those ideas that are submitted this week (before the end of the day on Sunday, November 20th) will be guaranteed to be presented to budget delegate committees.

Click here to visit the idea submission webpage.

Remember: Council Member Mark-Viverito has pledged $1 million in capital funds for the participatory budgeting process in our community. Project ideas should be for capital (infrastructure) projects in our district, and should serve the needs of members of our community.  For some examples of capital projects, click here.

We hope you will take advantage of this final opportunity to brainstorm ideas for inclusion in this process.  Budget delegates will soon be working hard to formulate these ideas into budget proposals for our community vote in March.

Please stay updated on the participatory budgeting process by visiting

Monday: March in Support of the 99%

The Occupy Wall Street protests have gripped the city and the nation with their message that we must strive for a more fair and equitable society.  This Monday, November 7th, a coalition of unions, elected officials and community groups will hold a march from Washington Heights all the way down to Lower Manhattan to show solidarity with the OWS movement, and to call for the Millionaire’s Tax, and progressive solutions on jobs, education and healthcare. 

Watch Melissa and other Progressive Caucus members talk about OWS.

The march, entitled “End to End for 99%,” will commence at 181st Street & St. Nicholas at 10:30 a.m., and will stop at various points along the way, where rallies and gatherings will be held.  The following is a list of meeting locations and the times when marches are expected to arrive.  Feel free to join the march at any point along the way, but try to get there before the expected arrival time!  For those who use Twitter, please follow @EndToEndFor99, which will be updated throughout the day on Monday with the latest location of the march.

  • 181st Street & St. Nicholas: 10:30 a.m.
  • 125th Street & Broadway: 12:00 – 12:30 p.m.
  • 72nd Street & Broadway: 1:30 p.m.
  • 14th Street & Broadway: 3:30 p.m.
  • Zuccotti Park: 4:30 p.m.

For more information, email, or call 718-844-9849.  See below for a flyer, or click here to download it.  Please help us spread the word about this event!

Tell Us What You Want to Build in Your Neighborhood – In a Video!

As part of our new Participatory Budgeting initiative, a contest has been launched where you can create a video to share how you would spend $1 million to improve our community.  All of those who create a video will be entered into a raffle to win a Flip video camera!  All contest details are below, as well as some tips for those who may be new to making videos.  Please read the instructions carefully and upload your submission before the November 21st deadline.

You have a chance to decide how to spend $1 million to improve your neighborhood. What do you want?

Tell us in a video.  Deadline November 21.

Participatory Budgeting is a new and different way to make decisions about publically funded infrastructure projects in your neighborhood.

If you or someone you know has ideas about how things could work better in these districts – make a video and let us know!  All eligible ideas submitted by November 21 will be considered. 

Here’s How You Can Participate

  • Read and follow the rules
  • Create a 30 second to 3 minute video about how you would spend $1 million to improve infrastructure in one of the four districts
  • Upload your video to YouTube and tag it pbnyc (very important to tag it!)
  • Send us an email at with your contact info and the name of the video that you uploaded and tagged. Everyone who uploads a video will be entered into a raffle for a Flip video camera, so make sure to send us your info!
  • Submit your video by November 21

There is a Video Workshop to Help You Out

November 7 from 6:30 – 8:30 pm at the Brooklyn Community Access TV (BCAT) studio 232 Third Street in Gowanus, Brooklyn at the Old American Can Factory. RSVP required (space is limited, first come first served)

For more information



  • Videos should be no longer than 3 minutes – shorter is great!
  • Capital projects only: that’s money for physical improvements that benefit the public like rebuilding a street, renovating a park, installing benches or street lights, or trash cans, repairing buildings, or buying computers or equipment for a school or community center.
  • Any music used must have the permission of the artist or be available via a Creative Commons license (see Or create your own music!
  • By tagging your video pbnyc you agree to allow the Arts & Democracy Project, Participatory Budgeting Project, and the City Councilmembers to use your video for educational purposes and feature on their websites.
  • Projects need to be within the four City Council districts: District 8, Manhattan/Bronx, Districts 39 and 45 in Brooklyn and District 32 in Queens. Check to see what neighborhoods are in these districts.
  • Videos need to be submitted by November 30 for your ideas to be considered this year.


  • Plan ahead. Even if your idea is simple, think through how you want to do it before you start recording. If your idea is more complex, write out a script or a storyboard.
  • Make sure you have enough light, especially if you are shooting indoors.
  • If you are recording sound with your camera mic, make sure there are no background noises and then make sure that the person speaking is loud and clear.
  • Make sure you can see everything/everyone in the shot before you start recording.


Thanks to the American Friends Service Committee & the National Priorities Project for sharing their resources and inspiring this project!

First Neighborhood Assembly Held Last Night, Six More to Go!

Over 120 District 8 community members joined us at our first participatory budgeting neighborhood assembly to begin the process of deciding how to allocate $1 million in funding for our district. There are six more of these assemblies to go! The next assembly will be at the Youth Hostel on Amsterdam Ave and 104th Street on Tuesday, October 11th at 6:30 pm. All dates and locations are available here.

After time for food and getting to know one another, participants learned more about what the participatory budgeting process entails and what types of projects are eligible. They were then broken up into small groups where the brainstorming process began. Project ideas included increasing lighting on our streets, installing larger and taller trash cans and painting new murals in the community.

More than 25 people signed up to be budget delegates, who will help us form the ideas generated throughout the process into concrete proposals that the community will vote on in March 2012.

Have a great idea for a project? Want to get involved and serve as a budget delegate? Join as at one of the six remaining assemblies this month. The dates and locations are below. We’re still looking for volunteers to help carry out this process as well (you can sign up to volunteer at 

A huge thanks to Yorkville Common Pantry for hosting last night’s assembly, and also to Community Board 11, Children’s Aid Society, Community Voices Heard, Violence Intervention Program, the Participatory Budgeting Project and everyone else from the District 8 Committee who was instrumental in making the event a success! And of course thanks to all who participated last night.

Please continue to spread the word so we can make sure to pack the house at all of the upcoming neighborhood assemblies.

Tuesday, October 11th – 6:30 pm to 9:00 pm
Youth Hostel
891 Amsterdam Ave @ 104th Street
English with Spanish Translation
Wednesday, October 12th – 6:30 pm to 9:00 pm
Crystal Ball Room at Taino Towers
2382 2nd Ave (btwn 2nd and 3rd Aves), 4th Floor
English with Spanish Translation
Wednesday, October 19th – 9:30 am to 12 noon
Union Settlement (237 E. 104th Street)
English with Spanish Translation
Note: This assembly will be geared toward seniors.
Thursday, October 20th – 6:30 pm to 9:00 pm
Children’s Aid Society Frederick Douglass Center
885 Columbus Ave (@ 104th Street)
English with Spanish Translation
Monday, October 24th – 6:30 pm to 9:00 pm
Millbrook Community Center
201 St. Ann’s Ave (@ 137th Street) – Bronx
English with Spanish Translation
Tuesday, October 25th – 4:30 pm to 7:00 pm
Children’s Aid Society
130 E. 101st Street (@ Lexington Ave)
English Only
Note: This assembly will be geared toward youth.

Congressman Gutierrez Visits New York as Melissa’s Immigration Bill Advances

Capping off an exciting weekend of events with Illinois Congressman Luis Gutierrez, the City Council held its first hearing this week on the bill introduced by Melissa that will limit immigration agents’ reach in our city’s jails.  The Bloomberg administration now supports the bill, paving the way for its passage by the end of the year.

Press conference outside of Ascension Church. Photo by William Alatriste.

This past Saturday, we welcomed Congressman Luis Gutierrez to New York City. He spoke at an event in Staten Island on the importance of immigration reform, emphasizing the impact of the Secure Communities program and the changes to federal policies on deportation.

On Sunday, Congressman Gutierrez joined Melissa, Speaker Quinn, Congressman Rangel, Make the Road New York, and many other electeds and community members at Ascension Church on West 107th Street in Melissa’s district.  Following the 9:30 am Spanish language mass, the elected officials addressed the congregants and then held a press conference outside to celebrate the advancement of Intro 656, a bill introduced by Melissa that will restrict the collaboration between the City’s Department of Correction and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Congressman Gutierrez spoke highly of the legislation and stressed the importance of local and national collaboration on immigration reform.

Video from Saturday and Sunday’s events are available by clicking here.

Finally, on Monday, the City Council held a hearing on Intro 656. This legislation is truly pathbreaking, and we hope that it will pave the way for municipal immigration reform all around the country.  The hearing included testimony from the Bloomberg administration that it stood in support of the legislation as the proper balance between ensuring the security of our neighborhoods and protecting our city’s immigrants.  The bill is scheduled to be passed before the end of 2011.

As lead sponsor of the legislation, Melissa had the opportunity to offer some opening remarks:

Thank you Chair Dromm, and thanks to all of you for being here this morning.  This is a historic day, as we take one more step towards making this legislation a reality in the city of New York.  I want to take a moment to thank Speaker Quinn who has shown great leadership on this issue and of course all of the advocates, especially Make the Road New York, for your commitment, strong support and hard work.

The message throughout this process has been clear: in a city that truly values its immigrant communities, it is clear that we can no longer allow immigration agents to have unfettered access to inmates at Rikers Island.  While the Criminal Alien Program, which is the basis for the relationship between DOC and ICE, claims to place public safety first and focus on the most dangerous criminals, the numbers tell a different story.

Of the Rikers inmates who had a detainer placed on them by ICE, around 50 percent had no previous criminal convictions; and only roughly 20 percent had a misdemeanor as their highest charge.  These are not the hardened criminals that the Criminal Alien Program was meant to target. Still, every year, hundreds and even thousands of New Yorkers are separated from their families and communities for extended periods of time and, in some cases, permanently. Continue reading

Dates Announced for Participatory Budgeting Neighborhood Assemblies

Last week, Melissa’s office announced an exciting new initiative coming to District 8, whereby residents will be able to directly determine how $1 million in capital funds is spent called participatory budgeting. The process officially begins next month when we will hold a series of neighborhood assemblies, brainstorming sessions open to the public during which ideas for community projects will be generated. At these assemblies, local residents will also have the opportunity to sign up as budget delegates, who will help transform the ideas that emerge at the assemblies into concrete proposals for a public vote in March.  We hope that you will be able join us at one or more of these events to ensure that your voice is heard! Please help us spread the word to all in our community.

A flyer for the event in English and Spanish is available for viewing and downloading by clicking here. We are also currently looking for volunteers and organizations to help us with this process. Please visit for more info.

Below are the current dates and locations for the assemblies. Additional background information on the entire participatory budgeting process is available at

Food will be provided at all assemblies. Additionally, child care will be provided at evening assemblies.

October 6th – 6:30 pm to 9:00 pm
Yorkville Common Pantry
8 E. 109th Street (between Madison & Fifth Avenues)
English with Chinese Translation

October 11th – 6:30 pm to 9:00 pm
Youth Hostel
891 Amsterdam Ave (@ 104th Street)
English with Spanish Translation

October 12th – 6:30 pm to 9:00 pm
Benjamin Flores Senior Center
Crystal Ball Room, Taino Towers, 4th Floor
2383 2nd Ave (btwn 122nd & 123rd Streets)
English with Spanish Translation

October 19th – 9:30 am to 12 noon
SENIOR ASSEMBLY – Union Settlement
237 E. 104th Street
English with Spanish Translation
Note: This assembly will be geared toward seniors.

October 20th – 6:30 pm to 9:00 pm
Children’s Aid Society Frederick Douglass Center
885 Columbus Ave (@ 104th Street)|
English with Spanish Translation

October 24th – 6:30 pm to 9:00 pm
Millbrook Community Center
201 St. Ann’s Ave (@ 137th Street) – Bronx
English with Spanish Translation

October 25th – 4:30 pm to 7:00 pm
YOUTH ASSEMBLY – Children’s Aid Society
130 E. 101st Street (@ Lexington Ave)
English Only
Note: This assembly will be geared toward youth.

Melissa Sends Letter to the New York State Department of Health Commissioner Calling for a Public Hearing Regarding Jewish Home Lifecare (JHL’s) Possible Relocation to 97th Street

In a letter sent yesterday to the New York State Department of Health Commissioner Nirav Shah, MD, MPH, Melissa writes:

“I am writing to you on behalf of the constituents of my district, many of whom continue to be deeply concerned about a newly-purported plan by Jewish Home and Hospital (now known as Jewish Home Lifecare or JHL) to construct a residential healthcare facility on West 97th Street in Manhattan. Before being able to continue with its plans, I again call upon the State Department of Health to convene a public hearing, where residents’ concerns about the project can be heard and taken into account.”

Read the full letter below:

Chinese Language Constituent Office Hours to be Held Tuesdays Through the End of August

Melissa’s office has begun holding special office hours for the growing number of Chinese-speaking constituents in our district each Tuesday from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.  These office hours will run through the end of August.  Below is an introductory letter in both English and Chinese from Preston Tan, our liaison to the Chinese community.

Below are a few articles outlining our efforts to engage the Chinese-speaking constituents in our District:


Melissa Releases Report on Discretionary Funds Coming to Our District in the Fiscal Year 2012 Budget

Melissa reviews budget documents prior to voting yesterday.

Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito released a report today on discretionary expense and capital funds that she has helped secure for organizations and schools in our district in the Fiscal Year 2012 budget.  The budget was adopted by the City Council yesterday.  The report, which can be found below, also provides information on the restorations to the Mayor’s proposed budget made by the City Council, as well as Council initiatives.

The adopted FY 2012 budget included critical restorations of cuts proposed by the Mayor to the city’s safety net, in areas ranging from education, parks, libraries and senior centers to HIV/AIDS services, fire engine companies and child protective services workers.  Most notably, thanks to the Council’s negotiations with the Mayor and the UFT, the 4,000 plus teachers proposed to be laid off will remain in the classroom.  Unfortunately, not all programs could be kept whole in this challenging fiscal environment.  Melissa and many of her colleagues continue to push for the need for fair share tax reform and alternative revenue options to avoid further cuts in the future.

Please take a moment to review the report, which is embedded below.  You can also download it in PDF format by clicking here.

Manhattan Vacant Building Count Next Saturday!

Melissa joins Picture the Homeless in announcing the vacant buildings count (Photo by Jeff Mays/DNA Info)

On Saturday, June 18th, hundreds of Manhattan residents will pound the pavement and walk every block of seven community boards in search of vacant buildings and lots. Why?  Because they know that their community needs housing, gardens, jobs, and open space – and they know that there’s a ton of vacant buildings, lots and storefronts that could help transform their neighborhoods in ways that help everyone.

In order to get the most accurate count possible of vacant properties, we need your help.  If you are interested in volunteering, or getting more information, please call Adrian at 646-314-6423 or email

You can also CLICK HERE for full details on meet up locations and other logistics.

We hope you will join these important efforts to gather data on vacant properties, as it will help inform our collective advocacy efforts to utilize these properties in order to create new, income-targeted housing, as well as open space for our communities.

Upper Manhattan Electeds and Families Rally Against Proposed Cuts to Child Care

Yesterday evening, Council Members from Upper Manhattan stood in unity with parents, children and day care providers in protesting the proposed cuts to City-funded child care.  Footage from the rally and Melissa’s remarks are included in the video above.  The communities of Upper Manhattan are disproportionately impacted by the proposed cuts as nearly 80% of the scheduled slot reductions in the borough of Manhattan occur in these council districts.

For additional photos, courtesy of DNA Info, click here.

Though the Mayor recently announced a plan that he said would restore the funding for child care, there is still deep concern that thousands of families will find themselves without access to these vital services.  Only $40 million of the $91 million in proposed cuts have been restored, saving 4,400 of the 16,000 slots on the chopping block in the Fiscal Year 2012 Preliminary Budget.  The Mayor’s current plan hinges on offering 10,500 school-age children the option of enrolling in DYCD’s Out-of-School Time (OST) afterschool program, which itself has experienced severe cuts in recent years and does not address the needs of those working parents that require child care during traditional working hours.

The communities of Upper Manhattan are disproportionately impacted by the proposed cuts as nearly 80% of the scheduled slot reductions in the borough of Manhattan are set to occur in these council districts. Day care services represent a critical investment in our young people’s future, as it increases access to early childhood education.  It also helps boost our local economies, by enabling parents to remain employed.  According to the Emergency Coalition to Save Childcare, every dollar cut from child care leads to a $1.86 loss for the community.

Council Members Viverito, Dickens, Jackson and Rodriguez all pledged to make a restoration of child care centers a priority heading into budget negotiations, but called on the community to urge Mayor Bloomberg, who controls the overwhelming majority of the City’s budget, to come up with the funds for a full restoration.

This Thursday: Upper Manhattan Unity Rally Against Cuts to the City’s Child Care Centers

Upper Manhattan Council Members, parents, children, day care providers and advocates will rally this Thursday at 6:00 p.m. against the proposed cuts to the City’s child care centers at Colonel Young Park on 143rd Street between 5th and Lenox Avenues.

Though the Mayor recently announced a plan that he said would restore the funding for child care, there is still deep concern that thousands of families will find themselves without access to these vital services.  The Mayor’s plan hinges on offering 10,500 school-age children the option of enrolling in DYCD’s Out-of-School Time (OST) afterschool program, which itself has experienced severe cuts in recent years and does not address the needs of those working parents that require child care during traditional working hours.

We hope you can join us this Thursday as we unite to urge the administration to develop a real plan to save child care slots, hundreds of which are currently on the chopping block in Upper Manhattan alone.

Check Out Our New Volunteer Opportunities Page!

Are you an individual interested in volunteering at an organization in District 8?  Do you work at a local organization that is seeking volunteers?  If so, please check out our new page dedicated to connecting potential volunteers with organizations in our community:

Local organizations are invited to post volunteer opportunities in the comments section of the page, to which interested individuals can respond.  Some groups have already begun posting these opportunities.  Don’t forget to check back often, as the page will be updated in real time with additional opportunities.

We hope that this will be a helpful resource for both potential volunteers and our District 8 organizations.  For more information, and to browse the opportunities that have already been posted, please visit

Melissa Sends a Letter to the State Health Department Reiterating Call for Public Hearings on the JHL’s Proposed Move to W. 100th Street

Melissa sent a letter to the New York State Department of Health today in support of the community’s request for a public hearing regarding JHL’s application to open a new facility on W. 100th Street. The full letter can be read below.  We will update the blog when we receive a response from the Department.

Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) Applications Now Available — Deadline is May 27, 2011

Applications for the Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) are now available for New York City residents ages 14 to 24. SYEP is a seven week job program that provides youth with work experience, life skills training and income during the summer months.

The application process will run for 4 weeks.  The deadline for submission is May 27th, after which a lottery process begins.  The program kicks off on Tuesday, July 5, 2011 and continues through Saturday, August 20, 2011.

Apply online today at

You can also download a paper application in PDF or view FAQs for more information.

This Coming Wednesday Join Us at District 8’s Tenants’ Forum

This forum is an opportunity for tenants to obtain information on issues such as getting repairs, housing court, rent subsidies for seniors, NYCHA housing, Section 8, dealing with bedbugs, tenants’ rights, and much more.  The event is being organized by the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) in partnership with Melissa and is a chance for members of our communities to articulate their issues and concerns regarding housing.  See below for flyers in English and Spanish and please spread the word!  We hope to see you there.

Melissa Questions NYPD Commissioner on Rampant Marijuana Arrests

At a City Council hearing this week, Melissa questioned NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly regarding the huge increase in low-level marijuana arrests in the City, which are estimated to cost over $75 million per year, according to a report by the Drug Policy Alliance.  Last year, over 50,000 people (84% of which were Black and Latino) were arrested for possessing small amounts of marijuana, even though it was decriminalized in 1977.  In 2010, more people were arrested for marijuana possession than in the entire period spanning 1978 to 1996.

Click image to open video.

While possession of small amounts of marijuana was previously decriminalized by the State legislature, those who are arrested are typically caught with marijuana “in public view.”  However, there is a great deal of anecdotal evidence that, during stop and frisks, individuals are asked to take out what is in their pockets, thereby exposing what was previously concealed marijuana.

“As the City asks agencies providing vital services to New Yorkers to cut back, it is unacceptable that the NYPD is using $75 million in taxpayer dollars to enforce low-level marijuana offenses,” said Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito. “The disparities in the number of marijuana arrests is just as startling and brings attention to how our criminal justice policies disproportionately target people of color, and in particular our young people, who are too often introduced to the criminal justice system because of these low-level offenses. This funding could surely be better utilized in this time of economic need.”

Last year, the 25th Precinct, which covers El Barrio/East Harlem currently ranked number 14 out of 75 in the number of marijuana arrests, according to an analysis by the Institute for Juvenile Justice Reform & Alternatives and the Drug Policy Alliance.  94% of those arrested are people of color.  The 23rd Precinct on the West Side of our district ranked number 31 and the 40th Precinct, which covers Mott Haven, ranked number 26.

Click the image above to open video from NY1.  Here is some additional media coverage from the hearing:


Education Updates: Melissa Sends a Letter to Chancellor Black Regarding Co-Locations and Submits Testimony Opposing Success Academy at Brandeis Complex

Melissa has sent a letter to Schools Chancellor Cathie Black regarding the impact of school co-locations in all parts of our district.  In El Barrio/East Harlem, these co-location arrangements, whereby new schools (often charters) are placed within existing school buildings, are already common, and we have seen increasing proposals to establish similar arrangements on the West Side and in the South Bronx.

Melissa opposes co-locations, since they force schools, some of which are already struggling, to share limited space and resources, only further inhibiting their ability to succeed. You can read the full letter to the Chancellor below:

Melissa also submitted testimony opposing the co-location of the Upper West Success Academy at the Brandeis Educational Complex on West 84th Street.  The Success Academy had previously been proposed to co-locate with PS 145 and PS 165 in our district.  Her testimony is available below:

How do you feel about co-locations in our communities?

Major Mid-Year Budget Cuts Avoided in Deal Negotiated by the City Council

The City Council has negotiated a deal with the Bloomberg administration to avoid mid-year budget cuts to core services, from case management for seniors to shelter beds for homeless youth, as well as to defer increases in recreation center fees and parking meter rates.  This deal only applies to the current fiscal year, which ends in June.


Melissa questions the FDNY Commissioner at a Council budget hearing (Photo by William Alatriste).


By proposing alternative cuts, such as a reduction in the Department of Education’s private contracting budget, the Council was able to:

  • Defer proposed nighttime fire company closures
  • Restore funding for nearly 200 ACS staff positions in the areas of child welfare and child protective services
  • Fully restore case management services for seniors
  • Fully restore runaway and homeless youth programs and preserve the number of available slots in other afterschool programs
  • Defer parking meters increases above 86th Street and outside of Manhattan
  • Defer the doubling of recreation center membership fees

The City still faces a $2.4 billion deficit for the next Fiscal Year and the  Bloomberg administration is already proposing over a billion dollars in cuts for Fiscal Year 2012 (which begins in July).  Melissa strongly maintains her position that the only way to fully address these recurring budget deficits is to ask the wealthiest New Yorkers to put in their fair share through progressive taxation.

Joint Statement Regarding Congressman Charles Rangel from 15th Congressional District Latino Elected Officials and Members-Elect

“We, the Latino elected officials and members-elect who serve in the areas covered by Congressman Charlie Rangel’s district, stand in solidarity to support a man who has committed nearly 40 years of service to empowering our communities. Congressman Rangel has been a fearless leader, who has often taken on the tough issues that not only affect our communities in Upper Manhattan, but low-income communities of color throughout our nation.

“We also stand on behalf of the thousands of voters in all of our neighborhoods throughout the 15th Congressional District who resoundingly showed their support for Congressman Rangel in both the Democratic primary in September and the general election in November, even amid controversy.

“Congressman Rangel has been instrumental in bringing much-needed resources to our city, and has fought tirelessly to address a wide spectrum of social and economic justice issues, which are of importance to Latinos and all Upper Manhattan residents, including poverty, inequity, job creation and immigration reform. He has helped bring over $300 million to Harlem, El Barrio/East Harlem, Washington Heights and Inwood through the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone (UMEZ) Initiative. He also has a stellar record of delivering increased educational services, improved health programs, and various social services to our neighborhoods.  Additionally, Congressman Rangel has been an outspoken leader in the struggle to reform our country’s broken immigration system. On these and so many other issues, he has not wavered and he has not faltered.

“Therefore, it is no surprise to us that our constituents delivered Congressman Rangel yet another impressive victory this fall.  We expect that the Congressman’s colleagues will remember his unbelievable record of service and the base of support that exists in his district as they deliberate today.”

José M. Serrano, State Senator, District 28
Adriano Espaillat, State Senator Elect, District 31 and Assembly Member, District 72
Melissa Mark-Viverito, City Council Member, District 8
Ydanis Rodriguez, City Council Member, District 10
Guillermo Linares, Assembly Member-Elect, District 72 and Former Council Member, District 10
Robert J. Rodriguez, Assembly Member-Elect, District 68

Statement on Jewish Home Lifecare (JHL)

Melissa presented a statement on Jewish Home Lifecare (JHL) at last night’s Community Board 7 meeting, where a number of local residents spoke during the public session in opposition to JHL’s move from W. 106th Street to W. 100th Street.  She also shared a letter she wrote to the State Hospital Review and Planning Council (SHRPC) calling for a public hearing on JHL’s amended application to build its new facility on 100th Street, given that there have been substantial changes from the previous plans for W. 106th Street.

Below, please find the statement followed by the letter to SHRPC:

I remain deeply concerned with Jewish Home Lifecare’s (JHL) move to West 100th Street.  Members of the community have characterized well the de-stabilizing effects that this move could have on Park West Village and West 106th Street, as well as the lack of open and transparent engagement with the broader Westside community on this matter.

As previously reported, I have requested that JHL hold an open forum not only for local residents to share their concerns about the move, but to hear the latest from the institution about their plans. The absence of such public meetings has left a vacuum where community members have only been able to learn information about JHL’s plans through their own investigations and have had only listervs and community meetings as venues for voicing their concerns, venues at which JHL is not necessarily present or compelled to respond.  Fortunately, JHL has agreed to the request, and we expect that the meeting will be scheduled in the coming weeks.

Meanwhile, local residents have been working to urge the State Department of Health to exercise greater scrutiny over JHL’s new proposed facility and to engage in public hearings with local residents to hear feedback.  I strongly have written a letter to the State Hospital Review and Planning Council in support of this request (see below).

It is my hope that in beginning with an open and productive community meeting, further discussions held and decisions made by JHL regarding the fate of either the West 100th Street or the West 106th Street sites will remain open and transparent.  Beyond this initial meeting, please count on my office to take part in follow-up conversations with the institution to ensure that we begin to address the many issues that have been raised since JHL announced the land swap deal with Chetrit over a year ago.

I thank the Westside community for your continued commitment to the neighborhood as well as to ensuring that our older adults are receiving the highest standard of care.

Here is the letter to SHRPC: Continue reading

Melissa to Introduce Legislation that will Require Reporting of Shelter Inspection Results

Melissa will introduce a new piece of legislation tomorrow that will require the Department of Homeless Services (DHS) to report the outcomes of inspections performed on new transitional housing shelters to the local Council Member and Community Board.

Earlier this year, DHS opened a transitional housing shelter on West 107th Street in District 8, and many constituents raised questions about the quality of the housing and what level of inspection had been performed.  If enacted, this bill would enable members of the public to learn about inspection results before DHS enters into an agreement to open a housing shelter.

The W. 107th Street building where a transitional shelter was opened earlier this year (Photo by Andrew Schwartz / West Side Spirit)

The legislation requires DHS to provide the following information:

  • The name of the person or entity operating the transitional housing and organizations providing services there
  • The number of people to be housed at the location
  • A description of services to be provided
  • A list of any health, sanitation, safety and fire protection-related deficiencies that have not yet been brought into compliance with legal regulations and requirements and a description of corrective actions being required by DHS to enter into an an agreement

The bill will be referred to the General Welfare committee where we hope it will move forward during this session.

Today is Primary Day in NYS | Don’t Forget to Vote!

Today is Primary Day in New York State.  District 8 residents will vote in a number of important primaries for elected representatives at the state and federal level.   Don’t forget to go out and cast your ballot!

To find your polling site, please visit:

Also, remember that this year, NYS residents will vote using new machines.  Take a look at for more information on this new voting system.

Learn About NYC’s New Voting System at Upcoming Events in Our District

As you may know, New York City will begin implementing a new voting system this year.  With primaries coming up next month, it is important that we are all prepared to vote using this new system.

The NYC Board of Elections is currently holding demonstrations of the new voting machine throughout the city.  A few of these events will be held right here in our district (see details below).

If you cannot attend these demonstrations, be sure to review the instructions available here.  Don’t forget to vote on Primary Day, September 14th, 2010!

Upcoming Demonstrations

Date: August 31, 2010
Time: 3:00 PM to 5:00 PM
Location: 150 East 121st St

Date: September 6, 2010
Time: 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM
Location: 221 West 107th Street

Date: September 6, 2010
Time: 10:30 AM to 12:30 PM
Location: UPACA VI, 1940 Lexington Avenue (between 119th & 120th Streets)

Date: September 11, 2010
Time: 12:00 PM to 6:00 PM
Location: East 140th Street (between Brook & Willis Avenue in the Bronx)

Eating Healthy & Living Healthy in District 8: Farmer’s Markets & Exercise Resources

We have created a new page on the blog to post resources in District 8 that help us to eat healthier and lead healthier lives.  We have begun by posting information on farmer’s markets and exercise resources in the district.

Click here to take a look at this new page.  A link to the Eating Healthy & Living Healthy in District 8 page is also available under our About District 8 tab at the top of the blog.

We hope you will take advantage of these important resources in our district.  Do you have any ideas on additional local information to post on our blog? If so, please e-mail

Melissa Speaks Out Against Closure of Subway Station Booths & Layoffs of Station Agents

Melissa has been speaking out against the MTA’s plans to close booths and lay off station agents, submitting testimony at a public hearing last Wednesday and helping to organize a press conference with Council Members and the Transit Workers Union Local 100 on Friday.

Video from Friday’s press conference:

The MTA is moving forward with plans to close booths in 89 subway stations and to fire over 200 more station agents throughout the city.  Several stations in District 8 will be affected by reductions, including 110th and 116th Streets on the 6 line and the 96th Street stop on the 1, 2, and 3 lines.

Click above to open video from NY1.

Melissa and her colleagues in the City Council have called on the NYS Assembly to pass a bill that would keep all booths open until a comprehensive study can be performed.  The bill has already been passed by the Senate.

See below for Melissa’s testimony before the MTA.

Public Advocate to Host Community Forum for Upper Manhattan Residents on 7/21 at 7:00 p.m.

Public Advocate Bill de Blasio and elected representatives from Upper Manhattan will host a community forum on July 21st, where residents can voice their concerns about issues of importance to their neighborhoods and the city as a whole.

The event will be held at the Isabella Geriatric Center, 515 Audobon Ave (@ 190th Street) and will begin at 7:00 p.m. (Doors open at 6:30).

Refreshments will be served and interpretation services will be available.  See flyers below for more details.

Learn More About This Year’s City Budget and Its Impact on Our District

Yesterday, the City Council adopted the budget for Fiscal Year 2011. Our office has prepared a report for our constituents on this year’s budget, particularly regarding the resources Melissa has secured for District 8 and the restorations and initiatives she helped fight for during this process. We hope you will take a moment to read the report.

We have also launched a new section of the blog that will house budget-related information.  It can be accessed by clicking the ‘Budget’ tab at the top of the page.

If you cannot see the report below, click here to download it in PDF format.

Learn About NYC’s New Voting Machines at Two Upcoming Events

This fall, in the Democratic Primary, New York City voters will use a new voting system for the first time.  The New York City Board of Elections will be giving a demonstration on this new system at two upcoming events.

The first, sponsored by Community Free Democrats and co-sponsored by Melissa and several elected officials, will be held this Thursday, June 24th at 7:30 p.m. at the Goddard Riverside Community Center (593 Columbus Ave @ 88th St).

The second, a community forum sponsored by Westsiders for Public Participation and Common Cause/New York, will take place on Monday, June 28th from 7:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. (Doors open at 7:00).   The forum will be held at the Second Presbyterian Church (6 West 96th Street @ Central Park West).

We hope you will take an opportunity to attend these events and get familiar with the new voting system as we quickly approach an important election year.

Parks Department Axes Central Park Tennis Bubbles

Following vigorous community opposition, the Parks Department has decided to drop its controversial plan to put up tennis bubbles in Central Park during winter months. Parks recently axed a similar plan on the East Side.

The Central Park Tennis Courts (Photo Courtesy of Westside Independent)

On Tuesday, the Council’s Parks & Recreation Committee, Chaired by Melissa, held an oversight hearing on concessions. At the hearing, Council Members, advocates, Community Board representatives and members of the public criticized the Parks Department for its lack of transparency in awarding concessions and for not involving the surrounding community in a meaningful way, using the Central Park bubbles as a prime example.
“Community input, community dialogue, community planning–that’s what this whole debate was about,” said Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito.  “If the Department of Parks had just given the larger community the respect it merited then this very public showdown could have been avoided. In the end, I thank Parks for conceding to what we all knew to be true–that these intrusive and enviromentally unfriendly bubbles within the heart of this cherished oasis would have defaced this historic landmark.”
The plan would have allowed for a concessionaire to inflate 35 foot bubbles over the Central Park tennis courts during colder months. The bubbles were to be inflated by diesel generators, which raised environmental concerns. Meanwhile, the concessionaire proposed charing up to $100 per hour, leaving the courts far out of reach for so many New Yorkers.

For more information on this victory for advocates and the Westside community, see the NYC Park Advocates Blog.

NYC Council’s Parks Committee to Hold Hearing on Concessions in NYC’s Public Parks

Please see the hearing notice below for information on an upcoming hearing held by the NYC Council’s Parks & Recreation Committee, which Melissa chairs.  The hearing will explore the policies and practices around concessions awarded by the Parks Department.

As you all know, issues around concessions have had a significant effect on parks in District 8, most notably on Randall’s Island.  The proposal to put up tennis bubbles in Central Park has also generated further interest in this topic.

We encourage all of you to attend this hearing and make your voice heard on concessions in our public parks.  Please see below for more info.

Hearing Notice:

New York City Council’s Parks & Recreation Committee to Hold Oversight Hearing on Concessions in NYC’s Public Parks

Please take note that on April 27, 2010 at 10 a.m. in Council Chambers at City Hall, the Parks and Recreation Committee of the City Council will hold an oversight hearing on concessions.  The hearing is expected to address the entire range of the topic, from the planning of concessions to the process of the awarding of concessions (including input by Community Boards) to the enforcement of concessions.  In addition, the committee will hear Int. 0021-2010, By Council Members Nelson, Foster, James, Mark-Viverito and Mendez: A Local Law to amend the administrative code of the city of New York, in relation to identifying the location of concessions within a park.

While concessions in parks are an important revenue generator for the City and bring life to our parks, they also take up valuable public open space.  The hearing will look to ensure that the balance is struck in a way that benefits the city and its local communities.

We invite you to come and either testify at the hearing, or simply observe.  If you are planning on providing testimony, please confirm your attendance by emailing or calling 212-788-7210.  Also, please bring twenty copies of your testimony to the hearing.

Statement from Melissa on Proposed W. 107th Street Transitional Housing Shelter

The following is a statement from Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito on the proposed W. 107th Street transitional housing shelter:

I am opposed to the current proposal to open a transitional housing shelter at 237 & 239 W. 107th Street, based on the information I have learned about the history of this building and its owner.  I have contacted the Department of Homeless Services to express my deep concerns with the plan as it stands and to request a meeting with the Commissioner where issues raised by the surrounding community can be heard and addressed.

Commissioner Hess has requested a one-on-one meeting with me on Monday to discuss the proposal and we will be organizing a subsequent meeting with community representatives.  As has been reported, the non-profit provider, Help USA, has pulled out of the plan.  I will continue to monitor this situation closely.

Take Action Against MTA Service Cuts & the Phasing Out of Student MetroCards

The MTA has proposed a number of serious cuts and service reductions on buses, trains and Access-A-Rides throughout the city, as well as the phasing out of free MetroCards for NYC students.

These service reductions will lead to an increase in waiting times and crowding on our subway and bus lines, and the cuts to student MetroCards will only further increase the financial hardship already weighing so heavily on our city’s families. Meanwhile, cuts to Access-A-Ride service and eligibility will gravely impact the city’s disabled and senior populations.

We must take action against these cuts. Click here to sign the City Council’s online petition, calling on the MTA to look for alternate solutions to resolving their budget deficit, such as using capital and stimulus funding to avoid service and MetroCard cuts.

You can also voice your opposition at one of the MTA’s public hearings on this matter, which will be held during the first week of March. See the document below for more information on what you can do to fight these cuts.

Click here for a detailed list of service cuts from the MTA.

Manhattan Resident Parking Tax Exemption

The NYC Department of Finance is offering a tax exemption for Manhattan residents who rent parking spaces for their personal vehicles on a monthly basis or longer.  To qualify, you must own your vehicle and it must be registered to your Manhattan address.

Under the exemption, the tax is reduced to a rate of 10.375% instead of 18.375%.

For more information on the exemption, eligibility, and for an application, click here.

Melissa and Speaker Quinn Call for the Protection of NYC’s Community Gardens

Melissa spoke at the New York City Community Garden Coalition‘s forum on Saturday, where advocates, elected officials and local community members met to discuss how we can protect the city’s community gardens.

Click above to see NY1's coverage of the event.

The agreement between the City and the State Attorney General’s office that has helped preserve the gardens will soon expire.

At the forum, Melissa spoke about the importance of community gardens in her district and throughout the City, as well as the efforts the City C0uncil will engage in to ensure they remain a part of New York City’s neighborhoods. Speaker Christine Quinn and Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer also took part in this event.

Melissa released the following statement about community gardens on Saturday:

Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito, Chair of the Committee on Parks and Recreation, stated:

Community gardens are more than simply gardens. They are truly unifying public spaces, areas of reprieve and recreation for neighborhoods desperately lacking community space. Local community members have struggled for years to support themselves, oftentimes against powerful forces, and in spite of a lack of support and resources. Today, they know they are no longer alone in this fight and we in the City Council will work until we achieve real permanent protections for our gardens.

District 8 Youth Council Meeting on 2/23!

Attention District 8 Young People! Please join us at our upcoming District 8 Youth Council (D8YC) Meeting on Tuesday, February 23rd from 5:00-6:00 p.m. The meeting will be held in our district office, 105 East 116th Street.

Step up, speak out and take action on issues impacting our community!

Click here for a flyer with more information.

For more information or if you or someone you know between the ages of 13 to 21 would like to get involved in the D8YC, please contact Elsie
Encarnacion at 212-828-9800.

Uptown New Yorkers: Get Free Tax Assistance + Don’t Miss Out on the EITC!

Congressman Charles Rangel’s office has compiled a list of free tax preparation assistance sites in the 15th congressional district (which encompasses much of Melissa’s City Council district). The list can be found below.

He and other uptown elected officials, including Melissa, have also joined forces to urge New Yorkers to apply for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). You may be eligible for the EITC if you earn less than $49,000, and the credit could be worth up to $5,600. Approximately 20,000 eligible Upper Manhattan residents miss out on the EITC each year.

Don’t be one of them! Visit one of these locations below to check your EITC eligibility and get assistance with your taxes.

Keep in mind that some of these sites have income restrictions, and require a Social Security card or ITIN letter for all names on the return, including dependents.

East Harlem

HomeBase at Palladia
2276 Third Avenue (at 124th Street)
Telephone: (212) 505-3482
Dates: January 19, 2010-April 15, 2010
Site Hours: Monday-Thursday, 5pm-8pm; Saturday, 10am-4pm
Languages: Spanish
Income Limits: To qualify, clients with children must earn less than $50,000 and clients without children must earn less than $18,000.
Assistance available: After February 27, singles and those with no earned income will be served. This site offers food stamp and health insurance screenings to all tax filers.

SCAN La Guardia House
306 116th Street (between 1st and 2nd avenues)
Telephone: (212) 505-3482
Dates: January 19, 2010-April 15, 2010
Site Hours: Monday-Thursday, 10am-4pm; Saturday, 10am-2pm
Languages: Spanish
Income Limits: To qualify, clients with children must earn less than $50,000 and clients without children must earn less than $18,000.
Assistance available: After February 27, singles and those with no earned income will be served. This site offers food stamp and health insurance screenings to all tax filers.

Union Settlement Federal Credit Union-Union Settlement Lobby
237 East 104th Street
Telephone: (212) 505-3482
Dates: January 19, 2010-April 15, 2010
Site Hours: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, 12pm-7pm; Saturday, 10am-4pm
Languages: Spanish
Income Limits: To qualify, clients with children must earn less than $50,000 and clients without children must earn less than $18,000.
Assistance available: After February 27, singles and those with no earned income will be served. This site offers food stamp and health insurance screenings to all tax filers.

Morningside Heights

Morningside Heights Library
2900 Broadway
Telephone: (212) 666-5099
Dates: February 1, 2010-April 15, 2010
Site Hours: Monday, 11am-3pm; Saturday, 10:30am-2:30pm
Income Limits: No income restrictions.
Assistance available: This site prepares current-year tax returns and does electronic filing of returns only.

West and Central Harlem

A. Philip Randolph Senior Center
108 West 146th Street
Telephone: (212) 283-7904
Dates: February 2, 2010-April 15, 2010
Site Hours: Tuesday, 10am-2pm
Income Limits: No income restrictions.
Assistance available: This site prepares current-year tax returns and does electronic filing of returns only

Central Harlem Senior Citizens Center
120 West 140th Street
Telephone: (212) 926-4465
Dates: February 4, 2010-April 15, 2010
Site Hours: Thursday, 10am-2pm
Income Limits: No income restrictions.
Assistance available: This site prepares current-year tax returns and does electronic filing of returns only.

Food Bank-West Harlem Community Kitchen
252 West 116th Street
Dates: January 21, 2010-April 15, 2010
Site Hours: Monday-Friday, 9am-2pm; Saturday, 9am-2pm
Languages: Spanish
Income Limits: To qualify, clients with children must earn less than $50,000 and clients without children must earn less than $18,000.
Assistance available: This site will prepare forms NYC-210 and IT-214 only Monday through Friday. On Saturday, this site will prepare federal and state returns. Throughout the tax season, priority will be given to families with children over individuals. Single filers can visit the site in January, March, and April only. Single filers will not be served in February.

Food Bank-Carver Bank
300 West 145th Street (located inside Carver Bank’s Financial Literacy
Center on the corner of Bradhurst Avenue)
Dates: January 21, 2010-April 15, 2010
Site Hours: January, February, April: Monday-Thursday, 10am-7pm; Friday, 10am-5pm; Saturday, 9am-5pm. March: Tuesday-Thursday, 10am-7pm, Saturday, 9am-5pm
Languages: Spanish
Income Limits: To qualify, clients with children must earn less than $50,000 and clients without children must earn less than $18,000.
Assistance available: This site will not prepare forms NYC-210 and IT-214. Throughout the tax season, priority will be given to families with children over individuals. Single filers can visit the site in January, March, and April only. Single filers will not be served in February.

Fred Samuels Community Center
669 Malcolm X Boulevard
Telephone: (212) 491-1092
Dates: February 6, 2010-April 15, 2010
Site Hours: Saturday, 10am-2pm
Income Limits: No income restrictions.
Assistance available: This site prepares current-year tax returns and does electronic filing of returns only.

UBA Manhattanville Senior Center
3333 Broadway
Telephone: (212) 862-5562
Dates: February 11, 2010-April 15, 2010
Site Hours: Second and fourth Thursday of the month, 10am-1pm (2/11, 2/25, 3/11, 3/25, 4/8, 4/15)
Income Limits: No income restrictions.
Assistance available: This site prepares current-year tax returns only.

Washington Heights

Food Bank-Northern Manhattan Improvement Corporation (NMIC)
76 Wadsworth Avenue (between 176th and 177th streets)
Dates: January 21, 2010-April 15, 2010
Site Hours: January, February, April: Monday-Thursday, 12pm-7pm; Saturday, 9am-5pm. March: Tuesday-Thursday, 12pm-7pm, Saturday, 9am-5pm
Languages: Spanish
Income Limits: Clients with children must earn less than $50,000 and clients without children must earn less than $18,000 to have their taxes prepared by a trained, certified volunteer. Clients must earn less than $58,000 (per tax return) and have a valid e-mail address to file their taxes using the online program.
Assistance available: Throughout the tax season, priority will be given to families with children over individuals. Single filers can visit the site in January, March, and April only. Single filers will not be served in February. Clients who need to file forms NYC -210 and IT-214 must visit the site between 9am-12pm Monday through Thursday (Tuesday through Thursday in March).

Northern Manhattan Improvement Corporation (NMIC)
76 Wadsworth Avenue (between 176th and 177th streets)
Dates: Opens January 23, 2010
Site Hours: Saturday, 9am-5pm
Income Limits: To qualify, clients must earn less than $58,000.

YM-YWHA Washington Heights
54 Nagle Avenue
Telephone: (212) 569-6200
Dates: February 2, 2010-April 15, 2010
Site Hours: Tuesday, 9:30am-2pm; Friday, 9:30am-2pm
Income Limits: No income restrictions.
Assistance available: This site prepares current-year tax returns and does electronic filing of returns only.

Melissa Co-Hosts Community Forum on PWV Crane Collapse

Yesterday evening, Melissa co-hosted a community forum with Westsiders for Public Participation and the Department of Buildings (DOB), to discuss a recent crane collapse in Park West Village.

Community members had an opportunity to get answers directly from the DOB representatives about the accident and to raise their concerns about construction safety and oversight.

The meeting also dealt with the larger issues of planning and development at Park West Village.

Melissa looks forward to continuing to work with the community on these matters.