Introducing Follow Me Fridays!

Follow Me FridayDear Friends,

This week, I will launch a new way to stay connected with my constituents. It’s called Follow Me Fridays… and I’m not talking about Twitter.

On at least one Friday each month, I will visit a business, community center, outdoor location or other destination in the district and invite all of my constituents to join me.

Follow Me Fridays will be a great way of highlighting our diverse and vibrant district while giving an opportunity for local residents to get one-on-one time with me. I got the idea from Chicago Alderman Joe Moore (who also inspired our local Participatory Budgeting process).

This Friday, May 23rd, we will be visiting The Mix Pop Up Coffee Shop at 127 Lincoln Ave (between Bruckner Blvd and E 134th St) in Mott Haven. Please stop by anytime from 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm to say hello and grab a great cup of coffee.

I look forward to seeing you there! And please stay tuned for upcoming Follow Me Fridays in the coming weeks.

Gracias,

MMV

 

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Environmental Children’s Fair This Saturday at Brook Park

Join us this Saturday at Brook Park for an Environmental Children’s Fair, sponsored by the Friends of Brook Park and BuildOn. The FREE event kicks off at 11:30 am and will include face painting, arts and crafts, planting and much more. Brook Park is located at 141st Street and Brook Avenue. Hope to see you there!

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Melissa to Sponsor a Bronx Tenants’ Forum with HPD

On Tuesday, August 20th, Melissa will host a Tenants’ Forum in Mott Haven with the Department of Housing Preservation & Development (HPD). The forum will be held from 6:30 to 8:00 pm at Judge Gilbert Ramirez Houses (Please note the updated address: 623 E. 138th Street).

Please join us for information on getting repairs, housing court issues, rent subsidies, housing benefits for seniors, NYCHA housing, Section 8, dealing with bed bugs, tenants’ rights and more. This forum is open to all. Contact Joe Pressley at Melissa’s office for more information at (212) 828-9800 or jpressley@council.nyc.gov.

SOUTH BRONX: Apply to NYC Summer Quest 2013

summerquestNYC Summer Quest is a free, five-week, full day summer learning program that provides elementary and middle school students with fun, hands-on enrichment experiences while strengthening their academic skills. DOE teachers and educators from community-based organizations collaborate to offer students Common-Core aligned instruction, enrichment activities, sports and recreation, and field trips. Last summer, 90% of parents surveyed reported that NYC Summer Quest was a good balance of fun and learning, and 90% of parents would recommend the NYC Summer Quest program to other parents.

For Summer 2013, the program will be offered in 11 schools in Community School Districts 7, 9, and 12 in the South Bronx. The following Bronx schools and community-based partners have been selected to offer the program:

  • PS 5 Port Morris/LEAP (Learning thruogh an Expanded Arts Program)
  • PS 153 Jonathan D. Hyatt/YMCA of Greater New York – Bronx
  • PS 179/BELL (Building Educated Leaders for Life)
  • PS 63 Author’s Academy/BELL
  • PS/IS 218 Rafael Hernandez Duel Language Magnet School/BELL
  • CS 211/Children’s Aid Society
  • CS 300 School of Science and Applied Learning/Good Shepherd Services
  • JHS 162 Lola Rodriguez de Tio/Oasis Children’s Services
  • South Bronx Academy for Applied Media/Partnership with Children
  • Urban Assembly School for Applied Math and Science/Wingspan Arts
  • IS 313 School of Leadership Development/Oasis Children’s Services

All elementary and middle school students attending public school in Districts 7, 9, and 12 are eligible to sign up through July 11, 2013. Capacity is limited. Priority enrollment is offered to students who attend the schools listed above. 

If your child attends one of the schools listed above, contact your school principal or parent coordinator to learn more and to apply. If your child attends an elementary or middle school in Districts 7, 9, and 12 and you would like further information, please email: nycsummerquest@schools.nyc.gov.

You can read more about NYC Summer Quest at this link.

Click here for a PDF flyer with the above information in English & Español.

BRONX YOUTH: NYC Justice Corps & DYCD Building Trades Program Open House

The Phipps Turning Point Center will be holding two upcoming open houses for Bronx youth, next week. The NYC Justice Corps will be in attendance, which is a program that serves court involved youth ages 18-24. As will the NYC Department of Youth & Community Development (DYCD) Workforce Investment Act (WIA) Out-of-School Youth’s (OSY) Building Trades Program (Electrical/Plumbing) that serves youth ages 16-21. Both programs offer Education (GED/College/Vocational Trade), Workforce (internship/job placement) and Life Skills development.

These are great opportunities for young people, ages 16-24, that are currently out of school and out of work. Interviews will be held on the spot, so we would advise that applicants come prepared.

474699_10151623920342978_364044482_oWHEN:   Monday, June 17, 2013 11 AM to 12 PM; and Tuesday, June 18, 2013 11 AM to 12 PM
WHERE: Phipps Turning Point Center, 1409 Fulton Avenue (between East 170th St and Third Ave), Bronx

Join Melissa in the Bronx to Rally to Save Child Care & After-School Programs, Tomorrow

Melissa, along with Council Member Annabel Palma, Campaign for Children, The Children’s Aid Society and Good Shepherd Services will be holding a rally to save child care and after-school services in the Bronx tomorrow, Wednesday, June 12th at 4 PM outside the Bronx courthouse.

Because of the Mayor’s budget cuts, over 47,000 more children will lose child care and after-school programs. Click here to read the Campaign for Children’s full report: “NYC is Going Backwards: What the Mayor’s Budget Cuts to Child Care and After-School Mean for New York’s Children and Families.” This budget cut is simply unacceptable – there is too much at stake.

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WHO: Council Members Melissa Mark-Viverito and  Annabel Palma, Campaign for ChildrenThe Children’s Aid Society and Good Shepherd Services
WHAT: Bronx Rally to Save Child Care and After-School Programs
WHEN: Wednesday, June 12, 2013 at 4 PM
WHERE: Bronx Courthouse, 861 Grand Concourse

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

Let’s Combat Stigma, Homophobia & Transphobia in Our Community

Melissa, State Senator José Serrano, and the East Harlem Immigrant Service Network are sponsoring an all-inclusive roundtable discussion entitled “Bridging the Gap; Expanding the Dialogue” that will be held on Friday, June 7th from 9 AM to 11:30 AM at the East Harlem Asthma Center of Excellence. This dialogue is intended to broaden conversations about sexuality and gender identity in El Barrio/East Harlem and the South Bronx. This is a chance for you to have an interactive discussion between elected officials and other members of the community about the best ways we can combat stigma, homophobia and transphobia in our community.

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WHO: Sponsored by: Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito, State Senator José Serrano, Jr., the East Harlem Immigrant Service Network; along with co-sponsors: Anti-Violence Project, Bailey House, Harlem United, and the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene
WHAT: Bridging the Gap; Expanding the Dialogue: Combating Stigma, Homophobia, and Transphobia in our Communities
WHEN: Friday, June 7th from 9 AM to 11:30 AM
WHERE: East Harlem Asthma Center of Excellence. 161-169 East 110th Street, 1st floor (between Lexington & Third Avenues)
MANDATORY RSVP: Joe Pressley at (212) 828-9800 or jpressley@council.nyc.gov 

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

We Spoke & They Listened! #NoMoreGhettoTours

The Post has reported that the Real Bronx Tours company is no longer providing the “GHETTO” tours they once boosted, in fact they are not providing any tours in the Bronx — and we have YOU to thank! Between Melissa and  Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.’s letter to the tour company and your shared outrage, sparking more vocal support (like through Change.org), we have influenced change. You can find the Post’s original article detailing the insulting and demeaning tour at this link. Going forward we hope all tour companies conduct tours that highlights the Bronx’s “diverse ethnic groups and neighborhoods, cultural institutions and surprising natural beauty,” as Real Bronx Tours’ website claimed. The fact is that there are many tours you can take around the borough that do just that.

I-Love-The-BronxThe Bronx Tourism Council highlights many great guided tours throughout the borough (ilovethebronx.com/tours). One unique tour is the Bronx Culture Trolley that takes place on the first Wednesday evening of every month – check out the flyer for the schedule of stops on the upcoming tour on Wednesday, June 5th. And don’t forget to check out the Bronx Tourism Council calendar for upcoming events throughout the borough.

If you know of any other fun or informative tours or activities that highlight the South Bronx, please feel free to comment with the website and contact information! Or just let us know what you LOVE about the Bronx. What we love about the South Bronx is you – our constituents! We asked for your help yesterday and you not only helped but spread the word fast. There’s nothing greater than a community that sticks together for a good cause.

A “Ghetto” Tour of the South Bronx?

Melissa has written a letter with Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. to Real Bronx Tours, a company that reportedly gives tours of the South Bronx that offer “a ride through a real New York City ‘GHETTO.'” The letter urges the company to radically change the way this tour is marketed and presented to the public. You can read the letter by clicking here.

The account of the tour published in the New York Post yesterday is sickening. The tour guide not only painted the South Bronx as a haven for crime, but also mocked local residents who were waiting on line at a food pantry.

Are you as outraged as we are? Send an e-mail to Real Bronx Tours at realbronxtours@gmail.com or sign a Change.org petition that was created by BronxCentric: Bronx Movers and Shakers.

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:

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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.

TeenSummerProgramFlyer

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.

Calling Bronx Artists: The BCA is Taking Applications for the Bronx Terminal Market Pedestrian Bridge Art Project

The Bronx Terminal Market is a need of your creativity and artistic abilities. Whether you’re an emerging or seasoned professional artist, the Bronx Council on the Arts (BCA) and Bronx Terminal Market are looking for you –  a Bronx resident with experience working with community members, landscape architects, businesses and government entities. (Although preferred, this vast amount of experience is not mandatory)

BCA_BTM

The BCA is planning on installing artwork to be displayed along the Pedestrian Bridge at Bronx Terminal Market in the South Bronx. The bridge is located off River Avenue, near 151st Street, and its entrance is marked by a tall pylon sign post that features the Bronx Terminal Market name and logos from featured stores and restaurants. You can click here to see the images.  The project will be completely installed in Fall 2013. The deadline for the application is April 30, 2013. 

The installation should heighten awareness of the Bronx Terminal Market and create a physical space for Bronx community involvement and exchange – it should be a call for community engagement.

Below is the necessary information and forms:

  1. Information: Artist RFP
  2. Guidelines and Application
  3. Required Image Sheet
  4. Images of Pedestrian Bridge

Bike Tour Through the South Bronx, This Saturday

Garbagia-LandIt’s Spring! And that means that it’s time to take advantage of all that Spring weather has to offer. This Saturday, Friends of Brook Park and South Bronx Unite will be giving a leisurely bike tour that will include all the “beautiful natural wonders of the waterfront, community gardens and art, historic places” and cherry blossoms! Beyond the natural beauty and history, the tour will be visiting the site for the proposed truck-heavy Fresh Direct location. This is your chance to see the vast possibilities for this space from which the community would benefit. This is a great chance to learn more about your community or if you’re not from the neighborhood, then to explore it for the first time. We can’t think of a better way to get informed on issues than being active and riding our bikes!

bikes tracks

Photos courtesy of Friends of Brook Park

WHAT: South Bronx Bike Tour
WHEN: Saturday, April 20th, 12 PM noon
WHERE: Brook Park, E. 141st St & Brook Ave (ride returns to the park)

For more information, visit friendsofbrookpark.org and southbronxunite.com

Join Melissa Tonight At Bronx Town Hall Meeting: Community Safety & NYPD Accountability

We are now a month into Flyod v. City of New York, the federal class action law suit filed against the NYPD that claims they engaged in racial profiling and uncalled for stop and frisks on law-abiding New Yorkers – and the impact that stop and frisk practices have on African-American and Latino communities is more prevalent than ever. Mott Haven’s 40th precinct has one of the highest rates of stop and frisk in the city.

This evening, Melissa will be at a Town Hall meeting in the Bronx that she is co-sponsoring, demanding there be an end to discriminatory NYPD practices and calling for a more effective approach to community safety and the passage of the Community Safety Act. It’s time that the NYPD takes accountability for their actions. The Bronx Defenders and the Vacamas Programs for Youth will be hosting tonight’s meeting.

bronx town hall

WHO: Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito, Senator Gustavo Rivera, Council Member Annabel Palma, Bronx Defenders Organization, Vacamas Programs for Youth, Morris Justice Project, SOS South Bronx, Justice Committee, Picture the Homeless, New York Harm Reduction Educators (NYHRE), and VOCAL-NY
WHAT: Bronx Town Hall Meeting
WHEN: Thursday, April 18, at 6:30 PM
WHERE: Vacamas GLOW Classic Center, 286 East 156th Street (at Morris Avenue)

* Food & childcare will be provided
Spanish translation will be available

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

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“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.

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“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.

Learn About the Mott Haven Choice Neighborhood Initiative on Saturday and Next Wednesday

If you live, go to school, do business, or provide services in Mott Haven – we have great news for you! Mott Haven has been selected for the Choice Neighborhood Initiative to transform the neighborhood by improving job opportunities, public safety, education, health, housing, and more.

Come learn how to be part of the initiative at one of the kick-off events — you can come at 2 PM on Saturday, April 20, or at 6 PM on Wednesday, April 24. See more details in the flyer below (la versión en español también esta adjunta). Everyone is welcome: residents, students, parents, business owners, local organizations, churches, etc. Light refreshments will be served. See you there!

CN - Community Kick-off Meeting flyer.English

Melissa Rallies For Safe Streets in Mott Haven

Photo: Stephen Miller

Photo: Stephen Miller / Source: StreetsBlog.org

On Saturday, Melissa joined Friends of Brook Park, South Bronx Unite and other concerned community members in marching on 138th Street and St Ann’s Avenue, demanding safer streets and protesting illegal truck traffic.

This comes in response to the hit-and-run that killed two pedestrians on Bruckner Boulevard, last Monday; marking the third recent fatal crash involving pedestrians and trucks in Mott Haven. Back in February, Melissa sent letters to the DOT and NYPD about her concerns on illegal oversize trucks, hoping to open up conversation about traffic enforcement. She will be following up with the respective agencies about these matters.

Each of these deadly crashes have taken place near or around 138th Street, which is a notoriously dangerous thoroughfare, known for the crowds, speeding trucks and lax traffic enforcement by the local 40th Precinct. Although 138th Street is designated as a “local truck route,” that implies that it should only be used for in-borough deliveries, the reality is that truck drivers take advantage of 138th Street and other neighborhood streets as a way to avoid Major Deegan Expressway traffic. As per the the most recent data available, in February 2013, the 40th Precinct issued 449 tickets for tinted windows and a mere 4 tickets for trucks that strayed from designated routes, which really highlights to lack of enforcement that needs to be addressed. Something needs to change.

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:

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PB Celebration PPT_laptops

PB Celebration PPT_tech

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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)

Bronx Constituent Hours Are Now Every Friday

To our Mott Haven community members –

Please note that we have updated our Bronx Constituent hours to every Friday at Millbrook Houses Community Center (201 St. Ann’s Avenue), between 10 AM and 12 PM, noon. We look forward to meeting with you on a weekly basis. Click here if you’d like the PDF flyer.

BronxHours

 

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, www.mmviverito.com/pbnycTo 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: mmvbudget@gmail.com or (212) 828-9800

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 safety@transalt.org, 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 (mmviverito.com/pbnyc) 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.  

MOBILE VOTING SITES:

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.

PB

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.

townhallmeeting

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

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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Millbrook Community Center’s After-School Program Thanks Melissa

Last week, Melissa paid a visit to the Millbrook Community Center, where she has fought hard to keep their after-school programs, ranging from head-start to teen programs, open after Mayor Bloomberg’s proposed budget cuts. Last year, Melissa and constituents across the district rallied at the Children’s Aid Society to restore the budget, which Melissa was ultimately able to do for the FY13 Budget.

The children of the after-school program wanted to thank Melissa for her work, so along with our staff, they plotted their surprise! And it was a success – when Melissa arrived at the Millbrook Community Center, they surprised her with handmade collages and cards that highlight just how special and important the after-school programs are to them.

A heartwarming visit, like the one last week, is definitely a major job perk!

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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.

Purchase Your Shares in the South Bronx Community Supported Agriculture Program Today!

280508_167393829994113_6020953_oFriends of Brook Park announced today that shares are still available for their 10th year of the South Bronx Community Supported Agriculture Program at Brook Park.  Growing in popularity around the nation with demand significantly outpacing supply, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) offers community members the opportunity to buy fresh, local, seasonal food directly from a farmer by purchasing a “share” in the farm. Shareholders “buy into” the farm as members at the start of the growing season, and in exchange receive a weekly allotment of the farm’s harvest.  Shareholders and farmers share in both the risks and the many rewards of the growing season, which include weekly access to delicious, locally grown, nutritious vegetables – all grown without synthetic chemicals or pesticides.

THE UPCOMING 2013 SEASON:

This year’s South Bronx CSA season will begin in June and run through late October. Share pick-ups are scheduled on Wednesdays from 2 PM – 7 PM at Brook Park located on East 141st Street and Brook Avenue in the Mott Haven neighborhood of the South Bronx. Shares are just the right size for two or three adults or a small family.  Local organizations, community centers and tenant groups that order four of more shares can have it delivered by a non polluting bike cart and trailer.

CSA crops have included: cilantro, jalapenos, arugula, beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, broccoli raab, carrots, cantaloupe, cauliflower, cabbages, sweet corn, chard, collard greens, celery, celery root, cucumbers, edamame, eggplant, escarole, fennel, herbs (basil, cilantro, dill, marjoram, parsley, summer savory, sage), kale, kohlrabi, lettuce, leeks, onions, potatoes, peas, pie pumpkins, parsnips, peppers, radishes, radicchio, sweet potatoes, spinach, scallions, summer squash, salad turnips, tomatoes (slicing and cherry),  watermelon, winter squash and zucchini. There will be supplemental crops sometimes provided from the organic youth farm at Brook Park.

Click here to register for your share in South Bronx CSA. In an effort to make healthy foods available to everyone, they offer sliding scale prices based on individual’s incomes, accept payment installments, and welcome SNAP (food stamps) and EBT. The bulk payment early in the season is typical of the CSA structure because it brings in the necessary cash flow that is needed to purchase expensive equipment, such as machinery, fertilizers, and seeds.

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!

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

For more information on PB in District 8, visit mmviverito.com/pbnyc.

Mott Haven’s PS 369 is Saved from the DOE’s Chopping Block

Back in November, the DOE was threatening to phase out PS 369, the Young Leaders Elementary School, in the South Bronx. Melissa immediately rallied in solidarity with the parents, students and teachers. “Studies have shown that school closings disrupt the community and fail to improve the education of our students. We need to invest in our schools, not shut them down,” Melissa said back in November. She also joined the parents in a meeting with DOE officials to make clear her strong support for keeping the school open.

We are happy to announce that the DOE heard our voices, with the fantastic help of the Coalition for Educational Justice and strong advocacy from parents and students, PS 369 will be kept whole and will not be shut down.

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Bronx Parents: Learn More About Kindergarten Admissions, Wednesday, February 6th

Bronx Parents –

School District 7 having a Kindergarten Admissions Fair on Wednesday, February 6, from 6:00 pm to 8:00 PM at P.S. 5 Port Morris (564 Jackson Avenue). The fair will provide families with information about the District 7 kindergarten admissions process and the various school options within the district. The District 7 Fair provides a great opportunity for students and their families to meet with potential schools.

District 7 Elementary School Directory
Families can pick up the District 7 Directory at any public elementary school in District 7 or at the Enrollment Office (1 Fordham Plaza, 7th floor). We also have it available here in English and here in Spanish.

More Ways for Families to Apply
Starting this year, families applying to kindergarten programs in District 7 will have three ways to submit applications:

  1. In person at the District 7 Enrollment Office (1 Fordham Plaza, 7th floor)
  2. Online at www.nyc.gov/schools/kindergarten
  3. Over the phone by calling the Office of Student Enrollment at 718-935-2009

District7KindergartenAdmissionsFlyer

WHO: NYC Department of Education
WHATKindergarten Admissions Fair for School District 7
WHEN: Wednesday, February 6, from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm
WHERE: P.S. 5 Port Morris; 564 Jackson Avenue, Bronx, NY
Para ver el volante del evento en español, haga clic aquí.

Melissa Defends Young Leaders Elementary School from Closure

Melissa stands with PS 369X students.

Melissa stands with PS 369X students.

Last month, in response to the DOE’s threat to close Young Leaders Elementary School (PS 369X) in the South Bronx, Melissa took part in a press conference and rally in solidarity with parents, students and teachers, which was organized in partnership with the Coalition for Educational Justice. She also met with the principal, parents, students and Marc Sternberg, the Deputy Chancellor, Division of Portfolio Planning. Melissa made it very clear that she supports PS 369’s students, families and teachers, and is opposed to closing the school:

“If the DOE truly cares about supporting our schools in low-income communities of color, then they should take PS 369 off the list for closure,” said Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito. “This school is only 4 years old and has worked hard to serve the community’s most challenged children including high numbers of special ed and ELL students. PS 369 has increased its progress report score by 50% and the school has been proactive by actively engaging teachers and parents to develop a plan to address the DOE’s concerns. Parents and community members have rallied together in support of PS 369 sending a clear message that the DOE should provide the school with the strategic supports that its students need. Studies have shown that school closings disrupt the community and fail to improve the education of our students. We need to invest in our schools, not shut them down.”

Safe Streets Rally in the South Bronx this Saturday

This Saturday we will meet on East 138th Street & St. Ann’s Avenue in Mott Haven to rally for safer streets. Just last week, it was on the corner that we will meet that a 69 year old man, who lived around the corner, was struck and killed by a tractor-trailer in the middle of the afternoon. Please join us in remembering this Mott Haven resident and rallying for less truck traffic that proves time and time again to be bad for pedestrians and the Bronx.

southbronxrally

WHO: Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito, South Bronx Unite, Casa Atabex Ache, Community Connections for Youth, Friends of Brook Park, Heketi Community Charter School, Mothers on the Move, Transportation Alternatives, and United Federation of Taino People
WHAT: Safe Streets in South Bronx Rally
WHEN: Saturday, December 22, 2012 – 12 PM to 1:30 PM
WHERE: East 138th Street and St. Ann’s Avenue
For more information, connect South Bronx Unite at 646.648.4362

Please Complete a Brief Survey Regarding Election Day 2012

https://i1.wp.com/media.silive.com/latest_news/photo/newvotejpg-f440dd42093cdf31_large.jpgOn 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: 

http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/M2QRRD3

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 jpressley@council.nyc.gov. The survey will only take about 5 to 10 minutes to complete!

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:

MANHATTAN – 

  • 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.

BRONX –

  • 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)

Some Subway Service to be Restored Tomorrow

A hopeful sign that we are on our way to recovery: We are happy to report that the MTA will begin restoring select subway lines for tomorrow, November 1st (though there is still no train service below 34th Street).

Click here for the full list of subway lines and the specific routes they will take.

Or you can click here to view a map of available service tomorrow.

If you are driving tomorrow or Friday, please keep in mind that all of the East River bridges, as well as the RFK/Triborough Bridge, Henry Hudson Bridge and the Lincoln Tunnel will be required to have 3 or more people in order to enter into Manhattan from 6:30 am to midnight.

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:

Green Jobs Green NY Bronx Contractor Forum on Tuesday, October 9

Currently there is only one certified GJ/GNY contractor in the entire Bronx! Becoming one can grow your business!

Through the Green Jobs Green NY (GJGNY) program, thousands of homes can receive free or reduced cost audits and retrofits, stopping air leaks, installing installation, upgrading HVAC systems, changing lighting, etc. In order to do this work, a contractor must be Building Performance Institute (BPI) accredited before they can participate in the Home Performance with ENERGY STAR® program sponsored by the New York State Energy Research Development Authority (NYSERDA).

At this Contractor Forum, you will learn:

  • What BPI certification encompasses, how to become involved in the NYSERDA GJGNY program, and available incentives.
  • AEA, BCC, and Solar One will discuss their training opportunities for BPI certification.
  • What contractors need to be prepared to offer, in terms of capacity to get the assessments and retrofits completed.
  • MWBE certification and the opportunities for procurement that it can open up for MWBE contractors. Also additional incentives and training funding opportunities offered through SBS.
  • Additional incentives for business development for GJGNY, such as OJT training funding.

HOSTED BY: Solar One and Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation; with support from Bronx Community College, Association for Energy Affordability, NYC Small Business Services, Sustainable South Bronx

WHAT: Bronx Contractor Forum

WHERE: Bronx Community College, Language Hall, Facility Dining Room (map)

WHEN: Tuesday, October 9, 2012 from 6:30 – 8:30 PM

If you are interested in taking advantage of the quickly expanding market for home energy upgrades or “green jobs”, RSVP today!

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)

Instructions:

  • 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 WWW.MTTF.org (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.

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!

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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)

APPLICANTS WITHOUT RESUMES WILL NOT BE ADMITTED

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 mmvbudget@gmail.com. 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 www.pbnyc.org 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.

Free Deferred Action and College Fair Information Session this Saturday

Achieving a higher education is very much a reality for DREAMers. On Saturday, August 11th, MASA-MexEd, along with CUNY Citizenship Now, CUNY’s Admission Office and the New York Legal Assistance Group will be hosting an informational workshop covering everything from President Obama’s Deferred Action to how to apply to college regardless of your legal status.

DREAMers, family and friends are welcome to come take advantage of this free session and receive guidance about obtaining a work permit, applying to college and learning what financial resources are available to you. Your legal status does not mean that you cannot obtain a college degree. The first step is finding out the tools you need to succeed at the Deferred Action and College Fair Information Session on Saturday.

Please spread the word! If you need more information please contact Angelo Cabrera at acabrera@masany.org

WHO: MASA-MexEd, CUNY Citizenship Now, New York Legal Assistance Group and CUNY’s Admission Office

WHAT: Deferred Action and College Fair Information Session

WHEN: Saturday, August 11, 2012 – 2 PM to 4 PM

WHERE:  Centro Comunitario de MASA-MexEd Inc. 420 East 145th Street, Bronx, NY 10454

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 www.mmviverito.com/budget for the latest info on deadlines, application forms and other requirements. 

For more information please contact Joe at 212-788-6960 or jtaranto@council.nyc.gov.

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 mmvbudget@gmail.com or (212) 828-9800.

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

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,
Melissa

Melissa Celebrates Agreement on the Livery Taxi Bill

Melissa joined Mayor Bloomberg, elected officials and representatives from the livery taxi industry in Washington Heights yesterday to celebrate the agreement reached between Governor Cuomo, the State Legislature and advocates on a bill that will provide legal street hail service to under-served areas in New York City (including Upper Manhattan and the outer boroughs).  The bill will also authorize a medallion sale that could bring up to $1 billion in new revenue to the city to help plug our budget deficit, and will expand the number of wheelchair accessible taxis.

“Today is a great day for Upper Manhattan and outer borough residents,” said Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito. “Finally, our communities will have access to the same safe, dependable street hail service that residents of the Central Business District have, and the drivers and bases that have served our neighborhoods for decades can provide this service legally.  Any action that helps chip away at the barriers we face towards achieving equity is a victory for all.  That is why this bill is so significant.  I congratulate Mayor Bloomberg, Commissioner Yassky and all of the livery bases and drivers who have advocated so strongly for the passage of this legislation. I also thank Governor Cuomo for arriving at a fair resolution on this bill.”

Earlier this year, Melissa stood against a plan that would have excluded a vast number of livery bases and drivers by offering upgraded street-hail licenses at prices that were far out of reach for our communities; however, she strongly supported the bill that was ultimately passed by the State Legislature in June, which made this business opportunity more affordable, while still expanding service to parts of our Council District.

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 http://tinyurl.com/pbideas8.  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 mmvbudget@council.nyc.gov 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 www.pbnyc.org.

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 pb@artsanddemocracy.org 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 rsvp@artsanddemocracy.org (space is limited, first come first served)

For more information

contact pb@artsanddemocracy.org

Rules

  • 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 https://creativecommons.org/legalmusicforvideos). 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 http://pbnyc.org to see what neighborhoods are in these districts.
  • Videos need to be submitted by November 30 for your ideas to be considered this year.

Tips

  • 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.

Resources

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 http://tinyurl.com/pbvolunteer). 

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.

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 http://tinyurl.com/pbvolunteer 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 http://www.mmviverito.com/pbnyc.

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.

Preparing for Hurricane Irene

As you may have heard by now, there is a strong possibility that New York City could feel the effects of Hurricane Irene, which is forecasted to move up the East Coast of the U.S. as we head into the weekend.  While the extent to which the hurricane will affect the city is still unclear, we are likely to experience a severe storm and possibly up to a Category 1 hurricane on Sunday. 

As we head into the weekend, it is important for all of us to be well prepared and informed for a worst-case scenario, including possible evacuation of some coastal areas.  Parts of El Barrio/East Harlem and Mott Haven are considered low-lying areas.  Residents of these neighborhoods should only expect to evacuate in the event of a stronger hurricane (Category 2 or 3), which is not currently in the forecast.  However, sometimes weather conditions can be unpredictable.  To download a map of evacuation zones and centers in your area, please click here.  You can also find out if you live in an evacuation zone by clicking here.

The City’s Office of Emergency Management (OEM) is encouraging all New Yorkers to do the following, particularly those who live in low-lying areas:

  • Stay up-to-date on weather conditions and other important information at all times by watching the news and checking OEM’s website (http://www.nyc.gov/oem).
  • Stock up on supplies such as water, non-perishable food, flashlights, batteries and a first aid kit.
  • Prepare an emergency supply kit and a “Go Bag.”  For more information on what to include, click here.

We also encourage you to check on friends, relatives, and neighbors, especially those with disabilities or special needs, and assist them with their preparation and, if necessary, their evacuation.

If you need additional information, please visit the OEM website or call 311.

We wish you all a safe weekend!

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.

NY Daily News: Ballfields at $120 million Randalls Island largely unused, not attracting neighborhood kids

Cross-posted on the NYC Council Parks & Recreation Committee blog.


Ballfields at $120 million Randalls Island largely unused, not attracting neighborhood kids

BY DANIEL BEEKMAN
DAILY NEWS WRITER

If you build it, they will come – but not to Randalls Island.

Dozens of new ballfields in the sprawling park beneath the RFK-Triborough Bridge went unused last summer by the kids who need them most, the city parks boss admits.

And with school almost out for summer, advocates are complaining the $120 million revamp of Randalls Island Park in early 2010 created a playground for the rich and took crucial dollars from neighborhood ballfields.

Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe cited the low traffic earlier this year to justify plans for a private sports camp.

“Fields on Randalls Island have gone largely unused during weekday daytime hours in July and August, and thus availability should not be an issue,” he wrote City Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito in January.

The deal called for Florida-based IMG Academies to operate the camp on Randalls Island after donating $200,000 to the Randalls Island Sports Foundation. But plans for the $895-a-week camp fell through in April, with IMG citing low enrollment.

Mark-Viverito (D-East Harlem/Bronx) slammed the pricey park rehab, claiming thousands of trees were cut down to make way for the artificial turf fields.

“Why would you build so many fields and then have a problem in terms of utilization?” she asked. “It was shortsighted and now we’re paying the price.”

“From day one, we were concerned there was no need to build so many” new fields, said Geoffrey Croft of NYC Park Advocates. “Now that has come to fruition. The result is the fields are empty.”

The park boasts fancy golf and tennis centers, but no basketball courts, he added.

During the rehab, the city took heat for a $2.2 million-per-year pay-to-play scheme involving Manhattan private schools. It was struck down in court after East Harlem and Bronx community groups sued.

“The fields were built mostly to accommodate the private schools,” Croft said. And Marina Ortiz, of East Harlem Preservation, called the park “a private playground … designed to bring in revenue.”

There’s a move afoot now to try and spread the word about what’s in the park. Randalls Island fields go unused partly because they are isolated and more people need to be made aware of the space, said Frances Masrota of Manhattan Community Board 11.

A renovated E. 103rd St. pedestrian bridge is set to reopen soon, while the M35 bus runs between the park and E. 125th St. – but few youngsters make the trip.

The Parks Department has assigned a representative to attend Board 11 meetings and share info related to Randalls Island to try to spread the word on what’s there.

The fields are “generally permitted to capacity” in the evenings and on weekends, Parks spokesman Zachary Feder said. The park foundation also offers a free summer program, he noted, and softball leagues
Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local/2011/06/14/2011-06-14_kids_unaware_or_unwelcome_after_120m_randalls_island_fixup_theres_a_park.html#ixzz1PG07ybD9

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: www.mmviverito.com/volunteer.

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 www.mmviverito.com/volunteer.

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 https://application.nycsyep.com/

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:

 

City Council Launches ‘Save Our Senior Centers’ Campaign

The City Council has launched its “Save Our Centers Campaign” in response to the possible closing of up to 105 senior centers citywide, as a result of Governor Cuomo’s New York State budget proposal.  The campaign aims to convince the Governor and the State Legislature to make the funding available in the State budget to keep the centers open.  Tomorrow, Melissa will join other Council Members in going up to Albany to meet with legislators on this and other budgetary issues of importance to the City of New York.

The Governor’s current budget would move over $25 million out of the City’s Department for the Aging (DFTA).  Of the current senior centers on the closure list, six are in our district (four in El Barrio/East Harlem and two in the South Bronx).  The full list is available for download here.

We need your help to send a strong message to Albany that allowing half of our senior centers to close their doors is unacceptable. Click here to download a letter to Governor Cuomo that you can sign.  Please ask your family, friends and neighbors to do the same.  You can mail or drop signed letters off to our District Office (105 E. 116th Street, NY, NY 10029).  Please also share the flyer below (in English and Spanish) with seniors and other community members to spread awareness of these impending cuts.

Check back here for more updates on the campaign to save our centers.

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.

Discounted Holiday Train Show Tickets Available from the NY Botanical Garden

The New York Botanical Garden is currently offering a 50% discount for weekday tickets to their Holiday Train Show for the Bronx and surrounding communities.  This special will run until December 17th and tickets are subject to availability.  Tickets must be bought on site at the Garden or by phone at 718-817-8716 (Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m.–5 p.m.) and use the code “NEIGHBORS.”  The New York Botanical Garden is located in the Bronx and can be reached by taking the 4, B or D trains to the Bedford Park Blvd station.  See the below video for a preview of this year’s Holiday Train Show:

The following is a description of the Holiday Train Show from the Botanical Garden:

With more trains, more live performances, and more fun than ever before, it’s the perfect time to visit the Holiday Train Show. Wrapped in the glow of twinkling lights, model trains wind their way through an enchanting world featuring replicas of more than 140 New York landmarks. Decorate gingersnaps, explore the Garden grounds, pick up holiday gifts in the Shop—it’s a whole day of fun for the entire family.

For more information, visit http://www.nybg.org/hts/. We hope our constituents will take advantage of these discounted rates for local residents!

Melissa Celebrates the Opening of the Haven Academy’s New School Building in the Bronx

Yesterday, Melissa joined students, parents and faculty in celebrating the opening of a new building which will house the Mott Haven Academy Charter School in the Bronx.  Haven Academy partners with New York Foundling to provide additional services focused on children that are in foster care or receiving preventive services.

Students gather to ring the opening school bell with Melissa and Deputy Mayor Walcott. (Photo by William Alatriste)

The school is now located at 170 Brown Place, just down the street from their old location, sharing space at P.S. 43.  The new building is environmentally-friendly and LEED certified.  The school will ultimately grow to serve over 300 students in Grades K-8.  Currently, a third of enrollees are in foster care, a third are receiving preventive services and a third are from the general neighborhood population.

Photo by William Alatriste.

The new school building provides a full academic program, prevention programs and support services for families, social services counselors, a medical clinic that offers free healthcare for families without insurance, as well as afterschool and arts programs for students.

Photo by William Alatriste.

“I congratulate the Mott Haven Academy Charter School on their first day of school in this brand new, environmentally-friendly building.  The Haven Academy has done a fantastic job targeting their enrollment to students and families that are often not given the specialized attention that they need in our schools.  I wish all of the students, the school faculty and staff the best of luck in this school year.” — Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito

Not far from the new Haven Academy location, the Department of Education also announced yesterday the opening of the Mott Haven Educational Campus, which will house over 2,000 seats for high school students, as well as 25 additional new school locations throughout the city.

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)

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.

Thursday Evening: Public Advocate & Bronx BP Sponsor Town Hall on State of Our Youth

On Thursday evening, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio and Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. will host a town hall meeting on the state of New York City’s young people.  The event, entitled “Walking the Walk” will bring together youth, parents, educators and community organizers to share experiences, ask questions and start a conversation about the future for children and teenagers in our city.

The event is co-sponsored by Melissa and many other elected officials representing the Bronx.

“Walking the Walk”
Thursday, April 22, 2010
6:30-8:30 p.m. (Doors open at 6:00 p.m.)
The Rotunda at the Bronx County Courthouse
851 Grand Concourse (at East 161st Street), First Floor

Interpretation Services will be available.
For more  info on the event, contact Paula Caquias (212-669-7200 or organize@pubadvocate.nyc.gov)

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.

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.