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Let’s Implement the Community Safety Act!

Melissa, along with the Progressive Caucus and many members of the City Council, believe that there is a need for more police accountability in New York City. Progressive Caucus Member Jumaane Williams, with the support of the Progressive Caucus, is sponsoring four bills that collectively make up the Community Safety Act.

The Community Safety Act includes the following:

  • Int 0799-2012: A Local Law to amend the administrative code of the city of New York, in relation to requiring law enforcement officers to provide notice and obtain proof of consent to search individuals.
  • Int 0800-2012: A Local Law to amend the administrative code of the city of New York, in relation to prohibiting bias-based profiling by law enforcement officers.
  • Int 0801-2012: A Local Law to amend the administrative code of the city of New York in relation to requiring law enforcement officers to identify themselves to the public.
  • Int 0881-2012: A Local Law to amend the New York city charter, in relation to establishing an office of the inspector general for the New York city police department.


Join us at one of the upcoming hearings:

Taking a Stand for Police Accountability

Yesterday, I joined my Progressive Caucus colleagues Jumaane Williams, Letitia James, Brad Lander, Ydanis Rodriguez and others in standing up to keep NYPD accountable to New Yorkers. NYPD increasingly relies on stop-and-frisk tactics with a significant impact on communities of color. In 2002, the NYPD made approximately 97,000 stops. By 2010, the number of stops had increased to more than 601,000. Black and Latino New Yorkers face the brunt of this practice and consistently represent more than 80 percent of people stopped despite representing just over 50 percent of the city’s population. Moreover, stop-and-frisk practices have not increased public safety, as year-after-year nearly 90 percent of individuals stopped are neither arrested nor issued a summons. Bias-based profiling by the police alienates communities from law enforcement, violates New Yorkers’ rights and freedoms, and is a danger to public safety.

The bills we introduce will reform police practices to keep NYPD accountable by:

1. Prohibiting bias-based profiling by law enforcement officers that relies, to any degree, on actual or perceived race, color, ethnicity, religion, national origin, age, sex, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, immigration or citizenship status, language, disability (including HIV status), housing status, occupation, or socioeconomic status.

2. Requiring law enforcement officers to identify themselves and the reason for questioning, and present a business card at the end of the encounter which will identify the name, rank, and command of the officer, and a phone number for the Civilian Complaint Review Board that the subject of the law enforcement activity may use to submit comments or complaints about the encounter

3. Requiring law enforcement officers to provide notice and obtain written or recorded proof of consent to search individuals. Many New Yorkers are unaware of their constitutional right to privacy when interacting with law enforcement officers.

We want to hear from you.

Have you been the victim of unaccountable police officers whose activity would not have been allowed under this law? Share your story.

Monday: March in Support of the 99%

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

Watch Melissa and other Progressive Caucus members talk about OWS.

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

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

For more information, email november7march@gmail.com, or call 718-844-9849.  See below for a flyer, or click here to download it.  Please help us spread the word about this event!

Autumn Updates from the City Council’s Progressive Caucus

As you may know, Melissa serves as the Co-Chair of the City Council’s Progressive Caucus.  Read the latest on what the Caucus has been up to in the Autumn updates below.


The Progressive Caucus of the New York City Council is excited to report on the work that we’ve been doing and to spread the word about upcoming events. It’s been a busy autumn, and we have a lot of news to share!

Receive this update from a friend? Sign up for our e-mail list.

Want a daily dose of the Progressive Caucus? Follow us on Twitter (
@nycprogressives), like us on Facebook, or visit our website!


Updates on The Fair Wages for New Yorkers Act

Save the Date: Many Voices, One Goal
The Progressive Caucus will be joining Living Wage NYC and faith, labor and community leaders to call for passage of the Fair Wages for New Yorkers Act on Monday, November 21 at 6:30pm. Spread the word to your friends and neighbors and join us at Riverside Church!

Date Set for Public Hearing on the Living Wage
The City Council will be holding a public hearing on the revised living wage legislation on November 22 [10am at 49-51 Chambers Street]. The changes to the bill focus in on the main target of the legislation: large-scale retail developments. We’re looking forward to discussing the amended bill and taking the next step toward implementing this landmark legislation.

Supporting Occupy Wall Street
The Occupy Wall Street movement has captured the attention and imagination of our city and country. Members of the Progressive Caucus have joined the chorus of elected officials, labor leaders and our community allies in amplifying the call to action and invoking the right to freedom of speech and assembly. Read this recent op-ed in support of Occupy Wall Street by Councilmember Jumaane Williams.

Occupy for Education Election Day Rally
In response to overcrowded classrooms and cuts to vital programs, parents and educators are calling on the Governor to renew the millionaire’s tax and save our schools! On Election Day, members of the Progressive Caucus will be joining a rally organized by activist parents at Governor Cuomo’s New York City office (633 3rd Ave).  Come out on Tuesday, November 8th at 3:30pm to show your support!

In favor of a fair share tax, but can’t make it to the rally? E-mail Governor Cuomo today to say that you’re counting on him to do the right thing for New York’s working families!

Center for Working Families 2011 Policy Conference

The Progressive Caucus is a co-convener of this year’s Center for Working Families’ annual policy conference, which brings together advocates, organizers, policy makers and legislators to discuss progressive solutions to New York State’s most pressing problems. This year’s conference will feature a keynote address by Barbara Ehrenreich and discussions and workshops about green jobs, voter owned elections and progressive taxation. RSVP to join us on December 2nd!

City Council Holds Oversight Hearing on NYPD’s Intelligence Operations
The Progressive Caucus joined members of the Black, Latino & Asian Caucus, the Brennan Center for Justice, community groups, and civil rights advocates on October 6 to raise concerns about the New York Police Department’s infiltration of our local Muslim community and to call for more oversight of the NYPD’s intelligence operations. The Progressive Caucus actively participated in the City Council hearing that followed the joint press conference, and will continue to monitor this issue.

Rebuild the Dream

The Progressive Caucus has joined progressive organizations nation-wide in signing on as a partner to Rebuild the Dream, a hub for the emerging American Dream Movement. Rebuild the Dream recently worked with thousands of Americans to create the Contract for the American Dream, and supports many of the ongoing efforts to fulfill that dream here in New York. We’re excited to be a part of this movement.

Make the Road New York Marches Against Stop and Frisk

On October 13, members of the Progressive Caucus joined Make the Road New York in a march across the Brooklyn Bridge to call for an end to discriminatory policing, particularly stop and frisk. Councilmembers and advocates called for more accountability and transparency from the NYPD and an end to racially biased police practices.

Questions? Comments? Feedback? Contact the Progressive Caucus at nyccprogresscaucus@gmail.com

Elected Officials Stand in Support of NYPD’s New Marijuana Policy

Yesterday, Melissa, Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries, and Council Member Jumaane D. Williams, joined by advocates from the Institute for Juvenile Justice Reform and Alternatives, VOCAL NY, and the Drug Policy Alliance, gathered in front of One Police Plaza to celebrate an internal order issued by NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly to all precinct commanding officers to stop arresting New Yorkers for small quantities of marijuana if the marijuana was not in plain view.

Photo by William Alatriste.

In 2010, over 54,000 people – mostly black or Latino – were arrested for possessing small amounts of marijuana in New York State. Over 50,000 of those arrests occurred in New York City, making it the most frequent arrest citywide. On Monday, September 19th, responding to mounting public pressure from elected officials and advocates, NYPD Police Commissioner Ray Kelly issued an operations order that clarified existing marijuana possession laws, instructing officers not to arrest people for marijuana in public view when complying with an officer’s demand to “empty their pockets.”

Earlier this year, Melissa questioned Commissioner Kelly at two City Council hearings on the NYPD’s marijuana arrest policy,  highlighting the immense human and fiscal costs of this enforcement strategy.  Melissa endorsed Commissioner Kelly’s operation order and stressed that this is “a huge victory for communities of color in the city of New York.”  But the fight is not yet over. Kelly’s internal order can be made permanent, and apply to all of New York State, by passing A.7620 (Jeffries) and S.5187 (Grisanti, R-Buffalo). This legislation would standardize penalties for marijuana possession offences, protect New Yorkers from illegal searches, save taxpayer dollars, and bring down the disproportionately high number of arrests among black and Latino men for marijuana-related crimes by eliminating the misdemeanor charge.

Melissa has introduced a resolution supporting the state legislation and emphasized that she and other advocates “will continue to closely monitor how stop and frisk policies are carried out in our city and to advocate for the passage of the State legislation.”

Progressive Caucus Calls on Mayor Bloomberg to Accept Offer from Municipal Labor Council

Criticizes Mayor from Blocking Plan to Save Essential Services

The New York City Council’s Progressive Caucus calls on the Bloomberg Administration to accept the constructive and responsible offer from the Municipal Labor Council – to avoid teacher lay-offs and massive class size increases, the closing of fire companies that put communities at risk, the elimination of thousands of day care slots, of neighborhood libraries, and many other essential services.

Unfortunately, Mayor Bloomberg is more interested in posturing than in the needs of millions of New Yorkers. He apparently is more concerned with “looking tough on labor” than in the best interests of our city. Mr. Mayor, this is not a competition with Governor Walker, Governor Christie, or Governor Cuomo to wring out the most concessions or look the toughest. This is not a game.

The offer from our city’s public sector labor unions is an extremely generous one. They are willing to contribute more than $260 million that was designated to be used for the health care of their members to the City, in order to keep class sizes low, save fire companies, workers who protect at-risk kids, day care slots, libraries, and cultural institutions. This is not public money, but funds from hard working union members who keep this city going and who are willing to make sacrifices for the greater good. At the same time, the union proposal would use less than half that amount from the Health Insurance Stabilization Fund to contribute to union welfare funds, with narrow uses allowed, specifically for health insurance uses. This offer is not only appropriate and reasonable – it is incredibly generous. The Mayor should respect the good faith proposal made by the city’s unions.

Mr. Bloomberg is supposed to be the dollars and cents mayor, but his rejection of the MLC’s offer doesn’t make finacial sense. Mayor Bloomberg has consistently rejected a fair, balanced, and compassionate approach to this year’s budget. Despite the City Time scandal in which his Administration has wasted hundreds of millions of dollars, he has rejected reasonable proposals from Speaker Quinn and others to trim out-of-control consultant spending. Despite continued profits on Wall Street, his policies will give millionaires a tax break that will cost the City billions.

Mayor Bloomberg, this is not a time for posturing. Please reverse course, accept the offer from our city’s unions, agree to cuts in contract spending, and help achieve a responsible, balanced, “fair share” budget that does not jeopardize our future.

Progressive Caucus members are: co-chairs Brad Lander (D-Brooklyn) and Melissa Mark-Viverito (D-Manhattan/Bronx); Annabel Palma, from the Bronx; Letitia James and Jumaane D. Williams, from Brooklyn; Margaret Chin, from Manhattan; Daniel Dromm, Julissa Ferreras, James Sanders Jr., and Jimmy Van Bramer, from Queens; and Deborah Rose, from Staten Island.

Progressive Caucus: Austerity Budget is Fine for the Rich but Bad for the Rest of Us

Today, Mayor Bloomberg released his Fiscal Year 2012 Executive Budget.  The proposal includes layoffs of over 6,000 teachers and the closure of 20 firehouses, and other massive cuts to municipal and social services.  The Executive Budget will now come before the City Council, which will hold a series of hearings throughout this month, followed by more extensive negotiations with the administration in June.

Next Thursday, May 12th, members from dozens of community groups and unions are coming together to tell the Mayor “No More Cuts – It’s Time for the Big Banks and Millionaires to Pay Their Fair Share!”  Thousands of New Yorkers are scheduled to gather at assembly sites throughout lower Manhattan for teach-ins on the important service areas being cut, after which they will converge on Wall Street.  For more information on May 12th, visit www.OnMay12.org or join the Facebook group.

For now, the Progressive Caucus has released the following statement in response to the Mayor’s budget:

Austerity Budget is Fine for the Rich but Bad for the Rest of Us

Mayor Bloomberg’s austerity budget demands sacrifice from children, parents, seniors, women,  the sick, the at-risk, working families, the unemployed, the underemployed … in short, from everyone except the wealthy.  Year after year, Mayor Bloomberg has balanced the budget on the backs of New York families by cutting vital services. Meanwhile, the rich and powerful (including those on Wall Street who caused the economic crisis) are not only exempted from sharing the sacrifice, but even get special treatment through tax breaks and real estate loopholes.

Although the Mayor is right to place blame on Albany for the budget deficit, the fact is that he lobbied against the extension of the Millionaire’s Tax – which will cost the city billions – while we and busloads of our constituents asked for this fair share solution.

There are still many ways the City can achieve a FY 2012 budget that better serves New Yorkers.  We can extend the millionaire’s tax and eliminate tax loopholes for hedge-fund managers, which amount to an estimated $570 million. We can cut subsidies, tax credits, and special deals with big banks that cost New Yorkers around $250 million.  We can put a break on rapidly growing spending on expensive and out-of-control consultants.  If necessary, we can dip into the City’s “rainy day fund” (while still leaving plenty for the future).

We were glad to see restoration of capital funding for the marine transfer stations that make possible a “fair share” approach to solid waste.  And restoring $40 million of the $91 million cut to childcare will be a good first step if the Mayor works with the Council to achieve a full restoration.

It’s time to have real conversations about eliminating loopholes and increasing revenue, instead of coddling the wealthy at the expense of everyone else. We must consider new revenue options or we will continue to have this problem.

Some painful cuts will be indeed necessary, but not the brutal cuts the Mayor is proposing to schools, child care, libraries, firehouses, neighborhoods, and working families.

Next Thursday, May 12th, we will join thousands of new Yorkers to call on Mayor Bloomberg to support fair taxation, end Wall Street tax breaks, and put an end to harmful practices that cost New York City money and hurt our economy.  In the coming weeks, we will be asking New Yorkers to weigh in on what they would like to see in the City’s budget, as the Council prepares to negotiate with him before the budget deadline on June 30th.

Council Members Viverito & Dromm Respond to Mayor Bloomberg’s Participation in Immigration Summit Held by President Obama

Photo by CBS Local.

Today, Mayor Bloomberg participated in a summit on comprehensive immigration reform held by President Obama.  Council Members Melissa Mark-Viverito and Danny Dromm (Chair of the Council’s Immigration Committee) released the following statement:

“Today, Mayor Bloomberg joined President Obama and a group of leaders from around the country at a summit to discuss the need to fix our broken immigration system. We thank the Mayor for continuously taking a bold stance on the issue of comprehensive immigration reform at a national level and his efforts to help bring common sense to the debate. However, there is still a great deal to be done here in New York City to protect our immigrant communities from our nation’s dysfunctional deportation system.

“Each year, thousands of New Yorkers are funneled into detention and removal proceedings due to the entanglement of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the City’s Department of Corrections (DOC) at Rikers Island. While the Mayor’s Office claims that the City collaborates with ICE in the interest of public safety, half of the immigrants who are transferred by DOC into ICE custody have no prior criminal records, and many are never even found guilty of the charges for which they have been arrested.

“It is difficult to reconcile Mayor Bloomberg’s national platform that our immigration system must be reformed when New York City is a willing participant and partner with the federal government in that same broken system. We call on the Mayor to reconsider his administration’s current position and to join us in crafting a sensible and balanced policy that will stop DOC from facilitating the deportation of those New Yorkers who pose no threat to public safety.”

Join Us This Sunday for a Unity Rally in Support of a Progressive State Budget and the Strengthening of Rent Stabilization Laws


The New York City Council

Black, Latino, and Asian Caucus

jointly with the

Progressive Caucus

Invites you to

A RALLY FOR A PROGRESSIVE STATE BUDGET

Sunday, March 27th at 1pm

City Hall Steps

JOIN US To Call For A State Budget That:

*** STRENTHENS the Rent Laws & REPEALS Vacancy Destabilization

*** RESTORES the Continuation of the Millionaires Tax

*** SAVES our children from devastating education cuts

 

Coordinated with Alliance for Quality Education, New York Communities for Change, the Real Rent Reform Campaign, Right to the City, VOCAL New York and the Coalition for Educational Justice

For more information, contact:

  • Mary Tek, Real Rent Reform Campaign, 212-608-4320 x 616 or mtek@tandn.org
  • Jonathan Wstin, New York Communities for Change, 917-637-9501 or jwestin@nycommunities.org
  • Francine Streich, Alliance for Quality Education, 917-439-9602 or francine.laurie@gmail.com

Council Holds Rally and Hearing on Walmart’s Plans to Come to NYC

Last week, the City Council held a rally and hearing on Walmart’s plans to move to New York City.  Melissa opposes the opening of Walmart stores in New York City because of the company’s history of labor rights abuses, their refusal to allow workers to unionize and their impact on local small businesses.

At the rally prior to the Walmart hearing (Photo by William Alatriste).

At the hearing, academics, small business owners and other community leaders testified regarding Walmart’s record in other cities, which has not ultimately resulted in more jobs for low-income neighborhoods, since while it has created new jobs, it also has led to the loss of jobs at surrounding small businesses.

Walmart refused to attend the public hearing, because it said it was being unfairly targeted.  The New York Times published a story on the hearing, and Walmart’s absence, here.

“Wal-Mart is definitely not welcome in New York City,” Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito said. “It is a union-busting, tax-evading, wage-suppressing, job-destroying, civil rights-abusing, food stamp-denying, multinational corporation that has no place in New York City.”  Wal-Mart Critics Rip Retailer During Hearing, WNYC.

While Walmart is reportedly looking at a particular site in East New York, in Brooklyn, East Harlem has also been cited as a potential location for a Walmart store.

Melissa asks a question at the hearing (Photo by William Alatriste).

We were live-tweeting throughout the hearing.  You can take a look at our tweets for moment-by-moment updates by visiting www.twitter.com/mmviverito.

You can also sign a petition to keep Walmart out of NYC, by clicking here.  Stay tuned to the blog for additional updates.