How You Can Help

Since Wednesday’s tragic building collapse, so many of you have reached out to offer your help and support. Today, I am pleased to announce that, at the request and urging of my office, the Mayor’s Fund to Advance NYC has established a special East Harlem Building Collapse Relief fundraising effort. I thank Mayor Bill de Blasio and First Lady Chirlane McCray for working with my office to establish this relief fund and for all that they have done in the days since this tragedy.

The East Harlem Relief Effort will aim to address the short and long term needs of the individuals, families and businesses stemming from Wednesday morning’s building collapse. Contributing to this effort – in any amount you can – is the best way to get help directly to those in need. Click here to donate and be sure to select East Harlem Building Collapse Relief Effort.

Funding will be utilized to create a victims assistance fund for expenses related to housing, funerals and replacing lost possessions, long-term case management and counseling services, and specialized outreach to El Barrio’s immigrant communities. Local community based organizations like Union Settlement and Little Sisters of the Assumption will be among those providing these important services.

The fund has already received pledges from a range of entities, including the families and Board members of the East Harlem Tutorial Program, the Real Estate Board of New York, Con Edison and the Association for a Better New York. I thank them for their generosity.

I invite you to join these organizations and businesses by making a contribution now to help our neighbors recover from this tragedy.

Together, we will provide the immediate relief and ongoing support that our neighbors need in this difficult time.


NYC Council Passes Resolutions to Help Students Facing Exorbitant Student Loan Debt

We’ve all heard about the student debt crisis in our country. The New York City Council passed two resolutions on Monday related to our ballooning student debt. Melissa sponsored one of the two resolutions, in support of the Bank on Students Loan Fairness Act introduced by Senator Elizabeth Warren, which would reduce the interest rate of federal subsidized Stafford student loans for one year from the current 3.4% to 0.75%.

Want to show your support for reducing student debt? Click here to sign a petition by Senator Elizabeth Warren, in support of her bill, which would allow students to pay the same rate that banks pay to borrow money from the government for one year.

If Congress does not act before this coming Monday, the interest rates of all federal student loans will double from 3.4% to 6.8%, a move that would have devastating impacts across the country. The federal legislation supported by these Council esolutions can allow students to refinance their student loans as well as lower interest rates to those offered to U.S. banks by the Department of the Treasury.

Currently, over 38 million people have student loan debt obligations, amounting to close to $1 trillion. Over the last 10 years, student loan debt has quadrupled from $240 billion in 2003. With the planned increase in federal Stafford loans, more defaults are expected as currently, students are not able to refinance their loans.

“Our two resolutions send a clear message from New York City that we demand action in Congress on measures that will lower student loan debt. We must continue to invest in our young people without asking them to assume such a high level of debt in return, especially in today’s economy. The planned doubling of interest rates will only discourage prospective college students from seeking to better themselves through higher education. That is why I am supporting Senator Warren’s proposal to lower interest rates to the same level that banks pay for at least one year, as well as Senator Gillibrand’s legislation for a long-term fix. We cannot continue to be held hostage by forces in our country that want to do nothing else but impede our President’s agenda while turning a blind eye to our most vulnerable. Senators Gillibrand and Warren are both showing incredible leadership on this issue and I thank them as well as Higher Education Chair Rodriguez for ushering these resolutions to passage in the City Council.”

Melissa Speaks at the Committee on Finance & Public Housing Hearing

housinghearing1NYCHA’s Section 8 housing subsidies have been drastically cut by $205 million because of  the federal sequester, which will lead in 500 lay-offs, a hiring freeze, community center closures, and program cuts.  This travesty is just part of the bigger picture, which Melissa talked about earlier in the Chambers of City Hall during the Committee on Finance & Public Housing hearing that took place this morning. The Republican party is holding our nation hostage because of politics and preventing our President from moving his agenda forward. We need to come together as a city and tell Congress that we will not allow our community to suffer.

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.


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.

El Barrio/East Harlem: Volunteer to Clean Up Our Streets!

It is not news that East Harlem faces a challenge with littering. This is a problem that Melissa has previously addressed and is now calling for your help. If you are as tired of litter in our community as we are, please volunteer and  join Melissa and our office on Saturday, June 22nd from 10 AM to 1 PM  in sweeping our sidewalks, showing our community that we take pride in our neighborhood! For the full flyer and schedule of the days events, please click here. We hope to see you there!


WHO: Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito, Boys and Girls Harbor, SCAN NY La Isla Beacon Program, ABV and more to be announced.
WHAT: East Harlem Community Clean-Up
WHEN: Saturday, June 22, 2013. 10 AM to 1 PM
WHERE: Meeting at 10 AM at Council Member Mark-Viverito’s District Office (105 East 116th Street, between Lexington & Park Avenues)
RSVP OR FOR MORE INFO: Email or call (212) 828-9800


Stop the Bullying Candlelight Memorial Walk in Memory of Joel Morales

Please join Melissa at the upcoming Stop the Bullying Candlelight Memorial Walk, in memory of  Joel Morales, who tragically was driven to commit suicide last year at the age of just 12 years old after enduring relentless bullying. This event is being spearheaded by Assemblyman Robert J. Rodriguez and gives all of us in El Barrio/East Harlem the opportunity to come together, remember Joel and renew our fight against bullying in our schools and communities.

Check out the flyer below for details.

Stop the Bullying Flyer

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.


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 

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, 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 ( 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 or sign a petition that was created by BronxCentric: Bronx Movers and Shakers.

Intro 410: The Immigrants Voting Rights Bill

The New York City Council is holding a hearing today about Intro 410: The Immigrants Voting Rights Bill, which would allow 1.3 million voting-age, tax-paying New Yorkers to vote in NYC municipal elections. Melissa is a strong supporter of Intro 410, along with 34 other council members. This is a very exciting time in our city and will directly affect around 27,000 individuals in District 8 alone! You can watch the hearing live at 1 PM on the City Council’s website, or stop by the Council Chambers at City Hall to show your support.

Read more about Intro 410: El Diaro NY and

Healthy Moms = Healthy Babies

healthymomshealthybabiesIt is a sad fact that mothers and newborns living in low-income communities like East Harlem suffer from preventable illnesses and serious health risks that tragically take or undermine lives. Just because there are mothers and babies that live in poverty and do not have access to health care or may lack the presence of family or mentors that can help and teach them how to keep their babies well, doesn’t mean they shouldn’t have access to knowledge about completely preventable health problems. The Little Sisters of the Assumption Family Health Service (LSA) has made it their priority to bring maternal awareness to this travesty. And there are two ways you can get involved:

  1. LSA is hosting a Virtual Baby Shower through, where you can donate necessities to those who need it most – it includes everything from diapers to baby formula.
  2. Additionally, they are holding a Mother’s Day Haiku and Short Poem Contest. The deadline is May 10th at noon, and you can submit your work (Spanish and English accepted) online or tweet it to @LSA_EastHarlem. The First Place prize is a $100 Macy’s gift card; Second Place prize is a Mother’s Day brunch for two at Kings’ Carriage House; and Third Place prize is a beautiful spring bouquet by Kathy Flowers.

We hope you have a very Happy Mothers Day this weekend & don’t forget about the mothers and babies in our community that could use an extra hand.

Why Are NYC Public Schools Failing Gym? Melissa Joined the Panel to Discuss the Issues

Last Monday, Melissa spoke on a panel entitled “Healthy Minds in Healthy Bodies: The Case for Implementing a Full Physical Education Curriculum in NYC’s Public Schools,” hosted by the Women’s City Club of New York. The panel was convened in response to a number of recent studies showing that NYC public schools are failing to meet State guidelines for physical education.

This issue prompted Melissa to write a letter to the Department of Education last year, signed by thirty-five Council Members inquiring about the DOE’s plan to improve the quantity and quality of gym class in City schools and to address the disparities between schools. Melissa was joined by education chair Robert Jackson along with other phys ed experts, all of whom discussed the many evidence-based benefits of PE, including improved academic achievement along with physical health.


Melissa expressed her strong stance on this issue:

“Providing quality physical education in our public schools is critical in a time when our City is facing a staggering childhood obesity epidemic! It is shocking that according to the City Comptroller’s Audit none of the 31 elementary schools visited were meeting State requirements for gym class, due to factors such as co-locations and budget cuts. This issue is particularly important to low-income communities of color such as the South Bronx, East and Central Harlem, and Bedford-Stuyvesant which are disproportionately impacted by higher rates of obesity, diabetes, heart disease and other related illnesses. The issue of gym class is a symptom of the overall direction the DOE has been headed over the last decade. Budget cuts, a lack of gym teachers, an overemphasis on high-stakes test prep, and the co-location of charter schools, have all served to undermine physical education in our schools.”

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

The full voting tally is available here.

Melissa Rallies For Safe Streets in Mott Haven

Photo: Stephen Miller

Photo: Stephen Miller / Source:

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.

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

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

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

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

PB Celebration Flyer_eng

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

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

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

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

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

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

Participatory Budgeting Voting to Commence In April

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


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


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

Join Us For A Town Hall Meeting About Stop And Frisk

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


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

Join 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)

Council To Pass Melissa’s Street Vendor & Secure Communities/ICE Bills Tomorrow

We are happy to announce that two bills sponsored by Melissa will be passed by Council tomorrow.

vendy awards


Intro 16 will require the reporting of data related to vendor licenses and permits, as well as the outcomes of vendor adjudications. This bill is integral to the future of the reforming vendor policy in NYC because of the information collected. In addition to Intro 16, Council Member Steve Levin’s bill, Intro 434, which Melissa has supported, will also be passed tomorrow. Intro 434 will cap the maximum fine at $500 and reform the unfair escalation of fines. These bills are a critical first step towards efforts to provide greater support to our vendor community who has played an essential part of the fabric of NYC life for generations. Today, punitive fines leveraged against vendors can easily add up into the thousands, making it nearly impossible for vendors to make a living.

“Our city needs to support and not criminalize our hardworking street vendors,” said Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito. “I am proud that the Council is taking a stand to lower the punitive fines that make it difficult for vendors to earn a living and I thank the Street vendor project for their incredible advocacy. Under the bill I am sponsoring, the Council will receive annual reports on vending licenses and fines. My hope is that this data will help inform future policy changes to our city’s vending system. I thank Speaker Quinn, Council Member Levin and Chair Koslowitz for their leadership and support.”


We’ve previously discussed our objection to Secure Communities in this blog. Melissa’s Intro 989 amends current law to ensure that immigrants that pose no danger cannot be detained by the Department of Correction. Intro 982, sponsored by Speaker Quinn and co-sponsored by Melissa, focuses on being detained by the NYPD. Whether we like it or not, we are still in the secure communities program. But with this legislation, we will not use our personnel or resources to hold immigrants that pose no danger to our city.

“Today, the Council reaffirms its commitment to protecting our immigrant communities,” said Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito. “We will not allow our city’s resources to be used to facilitate the unjust deportations of hardworking New Yorkers that pose no threat to public safety. These pieces of legislation place limits on our city’s collaboration with the Secure Communities enforcement program, as we await Comprehensive Immigration Reform. I thank Speaker Quinn and Chair Dromm for their leadership on bringing this legislation forward, as well as the Bloomberg administration for their support. I also thank Make the Road New York and the Cardozo Law School for being a critical driving force in passing these important bills.”

Participatory Budgeting: Join Us At An Upcoming Project Expo

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

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


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

For more information on PB in District 8, visit

Melissa Calls On DOE To Comply With New York State Guidelines for PE

Last week, Melissa spearheaded a press conference, covered by NY 1, calling on the New York City Department of Education to be in full compliance with New York State guidelines for physical education (PE) in New York City public schools.  Recent reports from the American Heart Association and the Women’s City Club of New York have demonstrated a clear need to improve the quality and quantity of PE in New York City.  The benefits of PE are far reaching evidence shows that school-based PE leads to improved academic achievement, increased state standardized test scores and a student’s health and overall well-being. PE also improves a child’s cognitive ability and behavior.


Melissa expressed her concern regarding this critical issue saying:

“Providing quality physical education instruction for our children is absolutely critical in a time when our City is facing a staggering childhood obesity epidemic!  It is unacceptable that teens in East Harlem (which I represent) are nearly three times less likely to attend a daily gym class than teens in more affluent neighborhoods!  And we wonder why our community has one of the highest childhood obesity rates in the city.  This is why I spearheaded a letter to the DOE signed by 35 of my colleagues, asking the department about its strategy to improve the quantity and quality of PE instruction in our schools and demanding a plan to address the disparities between schools that have sufficient PE programs and those that do not.”

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.


Help End Discriminatory Policing

Please join us tonight, Tuesday, February 5th from 6:30 to 8:30 PM for a Know Your Rights! training that will be hosted by Picture the Homeless. Here, you will learn your rights with the NYPD and how to exercise those rights as safely as possible. We will also be holding a Cop Watch! training next Tuesday, February 12th from 6:30 to 8:30 PM, hosted by the Justice Committee. At this training, we will learn how to observe and document police activity in your neighborhood. The ultimate goal of these trainings are to help end discriminatory policing – we believe in standing up and being a part of the solution.


WHO: Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito, Picture the Homeless, The Bronx Defenders, Justice Committee, and Communities United for Police Reform
WHAT & WHEN: East Harlem Stand Up! Trainings

  • Know Your Rights! Training: Tuesday, February 5th; 6:30 – 8:30 PM
  • Cop Watch! Training: Tuesday, February 12th; 6:30 – 8:30 PM

WHERE: Taino Towers, Crystal Room. 240 East 123rd Street (4/5/6 to 125th St)
For more information or to RSVP:

  • Know Your Rights! Training:
  • Cop Watch! Training:

UPDATE: New Photo of Robbery Suspect Targeting Asian Americans in East Harlem

Police have just released a new photo of the suspect responsible for eight vicious muggings in over a week against our Asian American neighbors in East Harlem (see below).Please share this widely as we continue our efforts to spread the word and help police locate this attacker. If you have any information, please call 1-800-577-TIPS.

Today, we hit the streets for the second day in a row, this time with Comptroller John Liu and other elected officials, to distribute flyers. Please check the blog regularly for any additional updates.

wanted poster

East Harlem Stands Up Against Discriminatory Policing

Last Thursday, Melissa addressed over 200 East Harlem and South Bronx residents at Taino Tower’s Crystal Room at the East Harlem Stand Up event co-sponsored by Melissa, Justice Committee, Picture the Homeless, and the Bronx Defenders. The town hall forum was meant to address discriminatory policing in our community.

The event included speeches by Comptroller John Liu, as well as organizers who educated participants on their constitutional rights, and what to do and say if you are stopped or harassed by the NYPD. Residents were also given the opportunity to speak out about their experiences with stop and frisk.

Melissa called for the East Harlem community to unite and fight this unconstitutional practice:

“East Harlem has had over 17,000 stops in our 23rd Precinct alone, the highest number in Manhattan.  This policy is criminalizing an entire generation of young people in our community!

This is why I introduced a resolution in support of a change in state law that would end the NYPD’s enforcement of small-time marijuana possession during stop-and-frisks, where police would routinely ask individuals to empty their pockets, and upon finding marijuana would arrest them.

This practice was leading to the arrest of more than 50,000 New Yorkers each year, costing over $75 million, money which should instead be invested in youth programs.

This administration has been closing our schools, cutting our after-school programs, and then cracking down on our kids when they’re on the street. This is racial discrimination at its finest! 

If the city wants to combat violence in our communities than we have to look at the Root Causes: poverty, unemployment, lack of decent affordable housing or health care or education or recreational programs for our youth.  ”

Get Involved By Joining a Community Board

If you have something to say about the neighborhood you live in, one of the greatest forums you can join is your local community board. This Thursday, Transportation Alternatives and Bronx Health REACH are hosting a FREE informational session, Community Board Join Up, where you can learn about your community board and how to apply to be a member. Hear from the Bronx Borough President’s office about just how integral community boards are in the decision making process within their neighborhood.

Enjoy snacks and drinks while meeting like-minded New Yorkers interested in joining their community board. You can fill out an application while you learn about the process. This Community Board Join Up will happen in the Bronx, but anyone is welcome to attend.


WHO: Transportation Alternatives and Bronx Health REACH
WHAT: “Community Board Join Up” informational session
WHEN: Thursday, January 10th – 6:30 to 8 PM
WHERE: Cornell University Cooperative Extension, 432 East 149th Street, 4th floor. Bronx, NY 10455
RSVP: Please click this link to RSVP through Transportation Alternatives

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

Melissa Testifies to Keep East Harlem Whole

Yesterday, Melissa testified at the NYC Districting Commission’s Manhattan public hearing. In front of the Commission and District 8 constituents, who were the overwhelming majority of those in attendance, Melissa had another chance to speak before the Commission’s next map revision comes on January 23rd.

Melissa testified:

My community of El Barrio/East Harlem has a clear message: we want to remain united within one district. We are asking for the full restoration of the current East Harlem boundaries in the 8th District, which will protect a historic community of interest, keep our public housing developments united and encapsulate critical community and cultural resources within one district. We are also asking for the restoration of Randall’s and Wards Islands and the preservation of Central Park within District 8. All of this is accomplished by the Common Cause map, while greatly expanding District 8’s portion of the Bronx, something I fully welcome. I strongly urge the Commission to use the Common Cause map as the basis for the reconfiguration of the proposed District 8.

For the full testimony, please click here. 

To watch Melissa’s testimony, please fast forward to around the 52-minute mark:

Thank you to everyone who came out to testify and signed our petition. We presented a petition with over 150 signatures to the Commission calling for the full restoration of the East Harlem boundaries. For those who were not able to make it out to testify, the final hearing is on January 15th, so there is still time to submit written testimony to

Read more about yesterday’s hearing from City & State.

Melissa Named 2012 NYC Streetsies’ Elected Official of the Year

streetsies_2012_smallPersistence and hard work does pay off. We ended 2012 with the honor of having Melissa’s hard work recognized with a Streetsie for Elected Official of the Year. If you don’t know, Streetsies are given by Streetsblog NYC, which covers all things sustainable transportation and advocates for “progressive policy changes that are saving lives and creating a more sustainable future for New York.”

The winner and Streetsblog’s Elected Official of 2012 is Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito. This was the year that the East Harlem representative’s persistent advocacy for safer streets in her district finally paid off, when the first protected bike lane above 96th Street was installed on Second Avenue. From speaking on the City Hall steps in 2010 to facing down the misinformation campaign against the project in 2011, Mark-Viverito was at the center of the effort to bring complete streets to East Harlem. This wasn’t the first time she’d taken a stand for livable streets, either. Mark-Viverito was the council’s clearest voice for congestion pricing in 2008, and she’s a big proponent of Bus Rapid Transit. If every City Council member was so willing to embrace change, progress would come to NYC streets a lot faster.


Thanks Streetsblog! Here’s to a great 2013 and more progress on bringing transportation improvements to communities throughout NYC.

Speak Out Against Discriminatory Policing at East Harlem’s Town Hall Event on Thursday, January 17

On Thursday, January 17th, Melissa will be co-sponsoring a town hall event about discriminatory policing with the Justice Committee. At “East Harlem Stand Up!”, community members will be encouraged to speak out against the NYPD’s Stop & Frisk policy, and the program will also include Know Your Rights training and a discussion of the Community Safety Act which Melissa is co-sponsoring. East Harlem is disproportionately impacted by this policy, with the highest number of stops in Manhattan.


WHO: Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito, The Bronx Defenders, Picture the Homeless, and the Justice Committee
WHAT: Town Hall on Discriminatory Policing
WHEN: Thursday, January 17th, 6:30 – 8:30 PM
WHERE: Taino Towers in the Crystal Room – 240 East 123rd Street
* For more information, call 347-676-1878 or email  
* Spanish translation, childcare and free food will be provided!

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

One Last Chance to Be Heard

Back in October, during the last Districting Commission hearing, Melissa and our office were so moved by how many community members, children included, came out to testify against the commission’s proposed new lines for District 8. Under the original proposed map, East Harlem would be split up beyond recognition. Due to your efforts, the commission revised their lines to bring La Marqueta back to El Barrio, where it belong. There is more work to do though – over 30 blocks in East Harlem have been cut out of the district.

We have one more opportunity to make our voice heard on this important issue. The Districting Commission is holding one more round of hearings in January before passing a final set of district lines. We’ve already showed them how united we are as a community and are being given another chance to prove it to them. Please save these dates and join us in the fight to defend the integrity of our community:

El Barrio/East Harlem Town Hall on Redistricting
Sponsored by Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito
Thursday, January 3rd | 6:30 pm
Children’s Aid Society (130 E. 101st Street, between Lexington and Park)

Manhattan Districting Commission Hearing
Monday, January 7th | 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Hunter College (695 Park Avenue, Auditorium)

Bronx Districting Commission Hearing
Wednesday, January 9th | 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Hostos Community College (500 Grand Concourse, Repertory Theatre, Building C)

  redistricting_english     Districting Flyer - Spanish

To view the latest District 8 lines, please follow this link and click on District 8.

We hope to see you all at these important meetings to make clear that splitting up our neighborhood is unacceptable.

Melissa Joins the Call for a Citywide Gun Recovery Initiative

In the wake of the tragic Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, so many across the country are clamoring for aggressive action to tighten restrictions around guns at the federal level. Right here in NYC, leaders and Council Members are also calling for a large-scale gun recovery initiative.  This initiative would be a way for the city government to do its part and honor the memories of the 20 children and 6 adults whose lives were cut short last Friday by ensuring that we take steps to reduce the scourge of gun violence.

Melissa supports and stands behind a gun recovery initiative that will help prevent another tragedy, like in Newtown, and instances in our district, from happening again. District 8 has not been a stranger to unnecessary gun violence and tragic murders. The fact is that as crime in NYC has been decreasing, it has been increasing in East Harlem, as per NYPD statistics. Just this Monday, a 57 year old woman was wounded by a stray bullet on 116th and Fifth Avenue and not even an hour later, a 17 year old boy was shot in the face on 109th Street and Second Avenue. This is completely unacceptable and scarily becoming the norm.

A parent should never have to question their child’s safety at school or on a street in their neighborhood – a change must be made and Melissa remains dedicated to the cause. By strengthening and implementing gun buyback programs and a homicide reduction program, we can make the streets a safer place. “This is something we all have a role in. This is something we are tired of. We want peace in our streets,” Melissa said.

“We cannot afford to lose one more child in this city to senseless gun violence,” Melissa added. “To truly tighten gun control, we need the help of our partners in state and federal government, but there are things we can do here in New York City to help make our streets safer. A citywide gun recovery initiative is one of those things. The killing of so many young children in Newtown was an unspeakable tragedy. On so many occasions, our communities have also experienced the pain of children being taken from us too soon as a result of gun violence. I thank Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez and all of my colleagues who are adding their voice to this effort.”

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.


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

Reflecting On Last Week’s March for Peace in East Harlem

This past Thursday, December 13th, ironically the night before the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy, Melissa marched with over 70 young people through El Barrio/ East Harlem calling for peace in our streets and an end to the senseless violence among young people that we’ve seen in recent years.

Everyone could feel the energy and passion in the air as the  teens and their family members chanted  in unison, “Put the Guns down, Throw ya Peace Signs Up,” and “No more silence, Stop the Violence!”, amplifying their voices throughout the neighborhood.

The march ended at 106th Street and 3rd avenue where Melissa spoke, along with Reverend Sean Gardner from East Ward Baptist Church, and several youth about why they were there as well as their visions for positive alternatives to violence. Melissa told us about her experience attending a grief session earlier that afternoon for Aubrey Jackson, a teenager who died last week after having been in a coma for 6 months due to an assault in the Taft Housing Development.  She reiterated that violence and death cannot be tolerated as the norm for East Harlem’s younger generation.


We could have never foreseen what tragedy would strike the very next morning just 60-miles north of our community.  This tragedy will only strengthen our commitment to ending gun violence and standing up for peace in our community and across the country.

Melissa Receives Top Human Rights Report Card Score For the Third Consecutive Year

MMV human rights report cardThe Urban Justice Center’s Human Rights Project works tirelessly to improve the lives of New Yorkers living in poverty by monitoring and advocating for human rights, especially those related to employment, housing, health, food and education. For the past five years, the Human Rights Project has released an annual Report Card. This Report Card is designed to advance the use of a human rights framework in policy evaluation and advocacy; as well as measuring the commitment of the New York City Council to promoting human rights in New York City.

We are all very proud to announce that for the third year in a row, Melissa has been one of the highest scored City Council members in human rights as per the Human Rights’ Report Card. With her passion and commitment to advancing the rights of our city’s most vulnerable populations and building a more just city for all, this is a major honor that underscores all her hard work in these areas.

March For Peace With Us This Thursday

Please march with us this Thursday to support peace in El Barrio/East Harlem. “PUT THE GUNS DOWN, THROW THE PEACE SIGNS UP.” We’d love to see you there with anti-violence signs and noise makers. Let’s unite to support peace in our community!

peace march

WHO: Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito & the El Barrio/East Harlem Youth Violence Task Force; to be joined by youth, parents, schools, families, CBO’s and elected officials
WHAT: El Barrio/East Harlem Community Anti-Violence Peace March
WHEN: Thursday, December 13, 2012; 4 PM – 6 PM. Leaving promptly at 4:30 PM.
WHERE: At 4 PM, we will meet at 116th and Madison. Departing promptly at 4:30 PM, we will head east on 116th Street, south on Lexington Avenue and east on 106th Street to 3rd Avenue, where the march will end at the East Harlem Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony.

Standing United with Car Wash Workers

Despite the intended purpose of car washes, many car wash operators conduct a very dirty business. The New York State Department of Labor investigators found that nearly 80% of NYC’s car wash operators are guilty of wage and hour violations. There’s an exploited workforce of around 5,000 employees for the almost 200 car washes throughout the five boroughs. Working anywhere from 60 to 80 hours a week, overtime is practically non-existent for a majority of these minimum-wage or below-minimum-wage employees. And we haven’t even touched upon the many work-related hazards that employees are exposed to or what actually happens with the money in the tip jar in many cases.


Car wash employees, regardless of their legal status, want and deserve dignity and respect on the job, which includes improvements in wages and benefits and safer working conditions. To date, four different car wash employees’ have voted to join the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) and more than 20 car washes are involved with the campaign. The owner of two of the newly unionized car washes has been forced to pay $3.4 million in back pay and damages to workers from 2009 after a federal lawsuit.

2012-11-20dailynews-sunnydayAnd this is only the beginning. Last Monday, Melissa and Senator Gustavo Rivera joined car wash workers at Sunny Day Car Wash in the Bronx, to confront the owner and protest outside. Sunny Day workers staged a previous walkout earlier in November after not getting paid for two weeks and were all subsequently fired – that is when they contacted the RWDSU.

We support the carwasheros in finding the courage to collectively take action. They will no longer be silenced.


Daily News – Labor dispute at Sunny Day Car Wash in Bronx clouds the holiday season for picketing workers: Local pols join protesting carwasheros to demand their jobs back; November 27, 2012


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

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

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

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.

Getting Ready for Election Day: Do You Know Where You’re Voting?

AP Photo

We hope you’re as excited as we are for Election Day! In preparation, we’ve confirmed where our poll site is. Why so early? Well, knowing where your poll site is ahead of time will save you time and possibly a huge hassle on Election Day. If you’re not sure where your poll site is, please check out the Board of Election’s Poll Site Locator & Sample Ballot tool that is available online. If you have a iPhone, Android or Blackberry, go ahead and download the app here.


There have been two changes that may affect where your poll site for this election will take place:

  1. Since the Primary Election in September, the Board of Elections has changed the location of several poll sites, meaning that this may be the first time that you have voted at this new poll site. Before voting, please check here to see if your poll site location is one of the few that have changed.
  2. You may have received a letter in the mail if your poll site has been deemed inaccessible for physically disabled voters (for the full list, click here). This just means that those sites do not meet the full ADA requirements due to ramps that are considered too steep or other barriers to access. To those of you who received this letter, please note that you can still vote at your normal poll site but if you are physically disabled, you have the right to request that your poll site be changed to one that is accessible.

Happy voting!

Melissa to be a Panelist at Participatory Budgeting Seminar this Thursday

Baruch College will be hosting a free seminar, Participatory Budgeting in New York City: First Year Experience and Future on Thursday, October 18, from 4 to 6 PM. The seminar will present a broad perspective on Participatory Budgeting (PB) in government and discuss the pilot process for the four council districts that participated last year. Melissa will be one of the panelists along with Councilmember Brad Lander, the Project Coordinator of the PB Project, Donata Secondo, and member of the District Committee in the 45th District and Citywide Steering Committee for PB, Hazel Martinez. Although the admission is free, the space is limited so RSVP today.

WHAT: Participatory Budgeting in New York City: First Year Experience and Future Prospects
WHERE: 151 East 25th Street (between Lexington & Third Avenue) – Baruch College Information & Technology Building, Newman Conference Center, 7th Fl, Rm 750
WHEN: Thursday, October 18th – 4 to 6 PM
RSVP here

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:

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:

Free Self-Defense Training Workshop in Central Park

Following the recent disturbing, violent attacks towards women in our parks, Melissa, along with Speaker Christine C. Quinn, and Council Members Gale A. Brewer and Jessica Lappin, will be sponsoring a Free Self-Defense Training run by The Center for Anti-Violence Education. This workshop is open to all over the age of 13, including seniors, although it is geared towards women and the LGBT community. Here’s your chance to learn how to defend yourself – RSVP today & make sure to wear comfortable clothes!

WHAT: FREE Self-Defense Training Workshop
WHEN: Sunday, October 7th, 2012 from 2 – 4 PM
WHERE: North Meadow Recreation Center in Central Park (Mid-Park at 97th Street)
RSVP: or 212.788.6871

* Training will also be provided in Spanish / También se proporcionará capacitación en español 

PICTURE POST: Participatory Budgeting

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Vote to Give Back to Local Charity, Dominican Sunday

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

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

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

Melissa to ‘Occupy the Corner’ in East Harlem

Occupy the Corner  with Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito

EAST HARLEM – 1st Ave @ 104th Street!

Saturday, September 8th

11:00pm -1:00am

Come take part in a Peaceful Gathering for Change

 Stop the Violence!

Say NO to GUNS!  Yes to more Youth Programs!

Participatory Budgeting Enters its Second Year in District 8

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Join Us for Our Sixth Annual Teen Fair!

Join us next Tuesday, August 28th, for our 6th Annual Teen Fair from 1:00 to 4:00 pm on East 104th Street, between Lexington and 3rd Avenues. The annual event, sponsored by Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito helps connect our young people with services in the community as they prepare to go back to school.

Stop by and spend an afternoon with us! There will be free food for attendees, live music and dance performances by young people, and a backpack giveaway generously sponsored by Kars 4 Kids. Throughout the afternoon, local organizations will set up tables to recruit teens to take part in their programs. Don’t miss it!!

The event is co-sponsored by the El Barrio/East Harlem Youth Violence Task Force, the Office of Senator Jose M. Serrano, the Office of Assemblyman Robert J. Rodriguez and Manhattan Community Board 11.

‘There is No Poop Fairy in East Harlem’ Campaign Needs Volunteers

We can all agree that not cleaning up after your dog on the street is an unsanitary nuisance, so it’s time to do something about it. We’re looking for volunteers to assist with our initiative to promote being a responsible dog owner and member of the community.

On Saturday, August 25, we will be holding a series of events as the launch of the “There is no Poop Fairy in East Harlem” campaign. We will need volunteers to assist in setting up the event as well as going out in the community to help educate dog owners on the need to clean up after their dogs. If you’re available to help out during the morning and early afternoon on that Saturday, please call (212) 828-9800.

Please donate your time to help improve the cleanliness of our neighborhood. We really appreciate it and hope to hear from you soon & see you there!

Back to School Back Pack Drive: Helping Local Families in Need

Now through August 24, 2012, Bishop Joseph Harris, the Senior Pastor and founder of Life Changers Church and Ministries of Manhattan, is on a mission to collect as many book bags with school supplies for children ages 5 to 12 in East Harlem and Porte-Prince, Haiti.

In these hard times, there are many families in our community and in Haiti that cannot afford to provide their children with basic tools that they will need to succeed in school, such as back packs and school supplies. By simply just providing our youth with these tools to learn, we can help take this one burden off of these families’ backs whose burdens include worrying about where their next meal will come from or if they’ll have a roof over their head.

At the end of the Back to School Back Pack Drive, on August 25, 2012, Life Changers Church will throw a “Back 2 School Block Party” for all the young people of our East Harlem community. Stay tuned for more details on this event!

If you would like to contribute, Life Changers Church is suggesting you donate a book bag with school supplies inside such as: a 3-ring binder, erasers, folders, loose-leaf paper, crayons or markers, pens and pencils. Please contact Felipe Ayala to set up your donation: (914) 458-2096 or  

RSVP Today for a Special Know Your Rights Training for NYC Youth

A special Know Your Rights Training session for NYC youth will take place on Thursday, August 16, 2012 from 5:30 to 7:30 PM. Knowing your rights is the first step to empowering yourself.

Our community, like other minority communities in NYC is plagued with racially biased and unlawful stop and frisk practices, which could lead to unjust arrests for possession of marijuana. We’ve sponsored a resolution that the City Council overwhelmingly adopted and the New York State Senate failed to agree on, we’ve held silent marches and we’ve spoke out for justice.  This event for our city’s young people is the next step. Sponsored by the New Yorkers for Health and Safety, and a collaboration by the Drug Policy Alliance, Institute for Juvenile Justice Reform & Alternatives,  Center for NuLeadership and VOCAL-NY, Know Your Rights Training is giving our young people the knowledge and tools that they need to implement justice and accountability in their everyday lives.

We strongly urge you to RSVP today or find out more information by calling Chino at (718) 484-5887 or Alfredo at (718) 415-9254. Spread the word!

WHEN: Thursday, August 16th – 5:30pm-7:30pm

WHERE: RFK Building, 113 East 13th Street (between 3rd and 4th Avenues), New York, NY 10003 [Directions: 4, 5, 6, L, N or Q train to 14th Street Union Square]

Don’t Deport Luis Guerra

Luis Guerra is a 23 year old college student living in our district who has been fighting deportation to Mexico for several years now.  Luis maintains above a 3.5 GPA at Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC) and works five days a week to help support his mother and U.S. citizen step-siblings, but because of a wrongful arrest for a crime he did not commit, he has been placed in removal proceedings.  Please take a moment to sign this petition calling on the Chief Counsel of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to exercise discretion and not deport Luis.

Luis was brought to the United States at the age of nine, after several of his family members died or disappeared due to the violence in Mexico. Luis has never left the United States since his arrival, and is eligible to benefit under the DREAM Act when Congress finally acts on this critical legislation.  At age 18, Luis was wrongfully arrested by the NYPD. After more than a year of incarceration, the charges against Luis were dismissed.

Since then, Luis has become a leading advocate for the law Melissa recently sponsored in the City Council that will protect individuals from unjust deportations when they are arrested but not convicted of a crime.  He spoke at two hearings on the matter and his personal story was instrumental in moving the legislation forward.

The Obama administration has directed local ICE officers to exercise discretion and not deport individuals like Luis. However, ICE has failed to exercise discretion for Luis and they are continuing to advocate for his deportation.

Please sign this petition asking that ICE follow their own directives and not deport Luis.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Melissa Demands that ABC Apologize for “Work It” Anti-Puerto Rican Comment

Please find below a letter sent by Melissa and nine of her City Council colleagues demanding an apology from ABC after their new show “Work It” insulted the Puerto Rican community by including the following line: “I’m Puerto Rican, I would be great at selling drugs.”

UPDATE: Sign this new online petition at to demand an apology from ABC!

Melissa Appears on Democracy Now! to Discuss Citizens United

Melissa made an appearance on Democracy Now! this morning to discuss the resolution she sponsored with the Progressive Caucus in the City Council yesterday that opposes the infamous Citizens United decision that gave corporations the same rights as people.  Under this decision, corporations can now donate unlimited funds to federal political campaigns.  Melissa and her colleagues in the Progressive Caucus are now joining the call for a Constitutional amendment to overturn this court decision.

Take a look at the video below and let us know what you think.  Should corporations have the same rights as people?

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,

The Governor’s Plan to Make Our State’s Tax Structure More Progressive

We all breathed a sigh of relief when Governor Cuomo announced NY State’s new progressive income tax last week. The State was facing a $3.5 billion budget deficit that endangered vital social services and would have led to more layoffs at a time when many New Yorkers are struggling to make ends meet. Under the Governor’s proposal, which has now been passed by the State Senate 55-0, the budget deficit will become far more manageable.

Yet, we have more work to do. Governor Cuomo and the leaders of the Senate and Assembly deserve credit for putting aside their differences, working together and remembering that a more progressive tax system is critical to putting our state in a better financial position. But NY State will still face a $1.5 billion deficit next year, and we have received no indication that our schools, parks, hospitals, and public housing will be shielded from the cuts. These institutions, along with many others, are invaluable, especially in hard times like the ones we are facing now. We cannot allow resources to be driven away from these essential resources.

Send Governor Cuomo a message. Remind him that we still need revenues and that cuts to our vital services are not acceptable.

I had been very vocal in my criticism of the Governor when he came out against the extension of the Millionaire’s Tax, which in my view made New York fairer. Last week, I set my criticism aside and I am happy to say that I stand in support of this new plan to invest in our state’s economy. Yes, I would have rather seen the Millionaire’s Tax extended, but it is nevertheless gratifying to know that Governor Cuomo agrees that those who earn more ought to contribute more to our State in furtherance of a more just society. I am particularly encouraged by the commitment to invest in jobs for our youth, which are so desperately needed in communities like ours.

The Governor has come a long way in recognizing that New York’s tax system has been unfair for many years. I believe he can come a bit further.

Let’s push Governor Cuomo a little further to the left. Ask for more revenues and less cuts.


Join Us for an Anti-Violence Peace March

Please march with us this Friday evening to support peace and an end to violence in El Barrio/East Harlem.  It is time for all concerned residents, youth, parents, schools, friends, families, CBOs and elected officials to come together and take a stand against violence.

Can you join us at this march?  Please click here.

We will begin gathering at 5:30 pm on the corner of 116th Street and Madison Avenue, and will depart at 6:00 p.m.  The march route is as follows: South on Madison to 106th Street; east on 106th Street to 3rd Avenue where the march ends.

Please bring anti-violence signs and noise makers!  We look forward to seeing you there.

Come Voice Your Support for Protected Bike Lanes on 1st and 2nd Avenues

Dear Friends:

Please join us on Tuesday, December 6th at 6:00 p.m. for a public meeting on the addition of protected bike lanes on 1st and 2nd Avenues. The meeting will be held at Taino Towers’ Red Carpet Theater (240 E. 123rd Street, between 2nd and 3rd Avenues). This meeting is being held in conjunction with Community Board 11’s Transportation Committee.

Can you join us at December 6th? Click here to RSVP.

Bike lanes are not just about protecting cyclists. These lanes increase safety for all users of our streets, by providing pedestrian islands to help residents cross the street safely. Seniors, in particular, will benefit greatly from the ability to stop at these islands before continuing to cross. The protected lanes also help promote exercise and healthier lifestyles in our community, which suffers disproportionately from the obesity epidemic. Finally, these lanes will reduce left-turn conflicts and create attractive, landscaped corridors up and down 1st and 2nd Avenues.

El Barrio/East Harlem has one of the highest bicycle commuting rates in New York City. We deserve nothing less than the transportation improvements being provided to communities like Chelsea, the Upper East Side and the East Village.

Click here for a flyer in English and Spanish, and please spread the word about this meeting.


Melissa Mark-Viverito

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

Tomorrow: Join Us as the Youth Violence Task Force Unveils Anti-Violence Platform

Tomorrow, November 10th, at 3:30pm, Melissa, East Harlem community-based organizations, local youth, and other elected officials will release the El Barrio/East Harlem Youth Violence Task Force’s official platform, which calls for collective action by government, non-profits and the community to reduce neighborhood violence.  The platform’s recommendations build upon ideas shared by East Harlem youth at community discussions held over the past year.  The press conference will be held outside of the James Weldon Johnson Community Center located at Lexington Avenue and 115th Street. This brand new community center, which has been in the works for over a decade, could be a vital resource to our youth, but is still shuttered.

The release of the Youth Violence platform follows a story published in this Sunday’s New York Daily News that revealed that Council Member Mark-Viverito’s car was hit by a stray bullet this past September. The alleged shooter was a 16 year old young man.  Council Member Mark-Viverito will speak about the incident and how it reinforces the need for collective action on the part of the community and the city to prevent more young people from turning to gangs and gun violence.  Youth and community leaders will also speak about the recommendations outlined in the platform and call for an end to senseless violence.

We welcome all community members, friends of East Harlem/El Barrio, and concerned citizen to join us. An official copy of the report will be made available here tomorrow afternoon.

Coming Together and Taking Collective Action on Youth Violence

Dear Friends:

The Daily News published an article today about a stray bullet that hit my car while I was driving up 3rd Avenue this September.  Thankfully, nothing happened to me or my mother that night.  But the fact that the shooter was a 16-year-old young man again reinforces the need for our entire community to come together and collectively take action to prevent more young people from turning to gangs and gun violence.  That is why we convened and are facilitating the El Barrio/East Harlem Youth Violence Task Force, a collaborative of community organizations and elected officials working to curb violence in our community through the development of positive alternatives.

Although the incident I was unknowingly involved in, in retrospect, was truly scary, unnerving, and extremely unfortunate, it is in no way a reflection of our youth or who we are as a community.  To me it is indicative of a greater challenge before us.  That young man, out on the street at 10:30 pm, carrying a gun and aiming to shoot someone, was surely let down by many people along the way, and that saddens me.  It is an “all hands on deck” moment for our community and our city.  We all have a role to play, and that is the message of the Youth Violence Task Force.  We can’t stand idly by while we are losing a generation of our youth.  Young people and the community as a whole want to pro-actively be part of dialogue to arrive at sensible and effective strategies and solutions.

This Thursday, the Youth Violence Task Force will release its official platform, which is a direct result of our community discussions and other meetings with young people, who shared with us their ideas about how we should all work together as a community to reduce violence in our neighborhood.  The release of this report is only the beginning, as the Task Force will move on to more action-oriented next steps that will directly engage young people and the entire community in anti-violence efforts.

As a proud member of our community, I did not take lightly my decision to go to the press with this story.  I feared that it might reinforce the notion that our neighborhood is a dangerous place, when clearly, violent incidents are the exception, and not the rule.  However, I also thought it was important to draw attention to the hard work that our community has been doing on tackling the issue of youth violence.

Please stay tuned to my blog ( for the latest on the El Barrio/East Harlem Youth Violence Task Force, and check back on Thursday for the release of the platform.  Thank you as always for your support.

Melissa Mark-Viverito

Monday: March in Support of the 99%

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

Watch Melissa and other Progressive Caucus members talk about OWS.

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

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

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

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

Gun Buy-Back Events to Be Held This Saturday

This Saturday, the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office and the New York Police Department are holding two gun buy-back events in El Barrio/East Harlem and Harlem from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.  The locations are Beth Gospel Assembly at 2-26 East 120th Street and St. Joseph of the Holy Family R.C. Church at 405 West 125th Street.  Operable handguns can be exchanged for a $200 bank card, no questions asked.  Please review the flyers below in English and Spanish for more information (click each image to expand the flyer).  We hope you will help us in spreading the word about these important events.

1st Annual Haunted Housing March to be Held on Halloween 2011

Please join Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito and members of the El Barrio/East Harlem Anti Displacement Task Force on Monday, October 31st for our First Annual Haunted Housing March.  East Harlem residents and community based organizations will be gathering at 3:30 pm to draw attention to the vacant units and abandoned building that exist in our neighborhood. Poverty and homelessness are at record levels in NYC and in East Harlem. We need developers to open these units and buildings to create more affordable housing.

The march will begin at 110th street and Lexington Avenue, proceed south to 106th street and Third Avenue, head back north to 111th street, and then return to our starting place. There will be a reception immediately following the march at The Asthma Center for Excellence (161-169 East 110th Street).

You can download a flyer for the event by clicking here.  We hope you will be able to join us!

Dates Announced for Participatory Budgeting Neighborhood Assemblies

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Participatory Budgeting, a New Groundbreaking Democratic Process, Coming to District 8

Melissa speaks to community leaders about the participatory budgeting process.

Melissa joined three of her colleagues today in unveiling a new groundbreaking budgeting process called Participatory Budgeting. Through this process, community members will directly decide how to spend at least 1 million dollars in capital funds in each of the four participating districts.  Council Members Brad Lander, Eric Ulrich and Jumaane Williams are the other three members participating in this process.  Typically, this funding is distributed at the exclusive discretion of Council Members, but for the first time in New York City history, residents of these four districts will have an opportunity to brainstorm, shape and vote on capital projects in their district.

The NYC Participatory Budgeting (PB) initiative is the largest of its kind in the U.S.  Participatory budgeting has gained acceptance around the world as an innovative strategy for increasing civic participation and community engagement. But thus far in the United States, only one Chicago City Council ward has engaged in participatory budgeting.

How the Process Works
The PB initiative will take place in three stages, including a series of community meetings in each district, a process for finalizing proposals and a final public vote.  Throughout the month of October, we will hold a series of “neighborhood assemblies,” where the brainstorming process will begin.  All residents of District 8, as well as those who work and go to school in our district, will be invited to participate in these assemblies (Look out for the dates and locations coming soon!) and identify local priorities.  Out of those neighborhood assemblies, budget delegates will be chosen to refine and further develop the proposals that emerge.  After another set of neighborhood assemblies in the winter, a public vote will take place around March 2012.

We hope that everyone in District 8 will play an active role in this process.  Here are some of the things you can do:

  • Attend a Neighborhood Assembly
    Dates and locations will be available soon.  Check back to our new PB page ( or join our e-mail list by clicking here.
  • Spread the Word to All of Your Neighbors and Friends
    Tell everyone you know in our district about this new initiative, especially once the dates and locations of the neighborhood assemblies are released. Talk to your neighbors and the other parents at your children’s school.  Announce it at your next tenant association meeting.  You get the idea!
  • Volunteer to Help Out with this Process
    You can help out at a neighborhood assembly by volunteering to provide translation or child care, or by helping us to do outreach in the community to ensure that we have lots of participation. E-mail for more information.
  • Sign Up to Be a Budget Delegate
    Budget delegates make a commitment to help transform projects from ideas into proposals that the community can vote on next March.  If you are interested in becoming a delegate, you can begin by attending one or more of our neighborhood assemblies.  Please contact for more information.

Learn About Redistricting Next Monday, September 19th

Due to changes in the size and composition of our population as counted in the Census and as compared to other states, New York is required to redraw the boundaries of some electoral districts, particularly Congressional Districts.  Next Monday, September 19, from 6-8pm, Melissa will convene a meeting, in conjunction with the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund and the Hispanic Federation, to discuss redistricting’s effects on our community.

The event will take place at Union Settlement Association’s Community Center on 104th street between 2nd and 3rd Avenues. Please join us to learn about these important changes and to voice your concerns in time for the upcoming New York State Legislative & Congressional Redistricting hearing, to be held on September 21, 2011.

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 (
  • 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!

Next Tuesday: Join Us for Our Fifth Annual Youth Fair!

Next Tuesday, August 30th, please join us for our Fifth Annual Youth Fair, hosted by Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito and the El Barrio/East Harlem Youth Violence Task Force.  The event will take place from 12 noon to 4 pm and will be held on 104th Street between Lexington and Third Avenue.  Our goal is to bring local youth together to support them and connect them with services.  The Youth Fair will feature food, give aways, music and a talent show, and will also highlight the work we have been engaged in to stop the violence in our community.

We hope to see you there!

Melissa to Join LGBT Groups as They Mourn the Death of Camila Guzman

On Thursday, August 11th Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito will join LGBT groups, community leaders and Elected Officials in a candle light vigil mourning the death of Camila Guzman, a transgender woman found stabbed to death in her New York apartment.

“It is important that we denounce any act of violence against the transgender community and send the message that such violence will not be tolerated in El Barrio/East Harlem or anywhere in this city,”

Click here for the full article:


During yesterday’s vigil Melissa continued to send the message that will not accept violence in our community:

 “esta comunidad no acepta la violencia, valoramos a todas las personas por igual e instamos a denunciar cualquier tipo de violencia antitransgénero”.

 Click here for the article written in El Diario:


See below for details on the vigil:

Manhattan Vacant Building Count Next Saturday!

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

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

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

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

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

Video, Photos and Media Coverage from Yesterday’s Latino Marriage Equality Press Conference

For those who missed yesterday’s press conference featuring Latino leaders and community members in support of marriage equality, we have compiled a video with some of the highlights, as well as photos and media coverage:

Press Coverage:


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

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

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

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

Check Out Our New Volunteer Opportunities Page!

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

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

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

Tomorrow: Melissa Holds Community Discussion on PCBs in Our Schools

Tomorrow, Melissa and the Community Education Council for School District 4 will hold a community discussion on a toxic chemical called PCBs, which has been found in many of our local schools.  We hope you will join us to get informed and participate in a discussion about what actions we can take as a community to ensure that our schools are PCB-free.  All members of our community are welcome, particularly parents with children in public schools.

PCBs are toxic chemicals that do not degrade and accumulate in the body. Children and pregnant women are more sensitive to PCBs than adults and repeated exposure has been linked to nervous and immune system effects and learning disabilities in children. Inhalation of PCBs can cause asthma and other respiratory illnesses PCBs were heavily used in the construction of schools between 1950 and 1978 in window caulking and the ballasts in class room lighting.

There may be hundreds of schools throughout the city that have PCBs, but the City has only committed to clearing out PCBs in a period of 10 years.  Melissa has joined with other elected officials in stating that this is unacceptable and that it must be done in a shorter amount of time.

Please join us tomorrow at 5 p.m. at the Julia de Burgos Latino Cultural Center to learn more about this issue!


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 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.

Youth Violence Task Force to Hold Second Community Discussion on May 5th

Photo by Jeff Mays/DNA Info.

On Thursday, May 5th at 4:30 pm, the El Barrio/East Harlem Youth Violence Task Force, led by Council Member Viverito and local youth organizations, will hold the second in a series of community discussions to hear directly from young people and prominent leaders about the issue of violence in the neighborhood.  The event will be held at the Boys’ Club in East Harlem (321 East 111th Street) and will focus on the area between 106th and 116th Streets (from 5th Avenue to the East River).

We hope you will be able to join us as we continue to gather feedback and suggestions from local residents about how to meaningfully address the increase in violence among young people occurring in our community.

Melissa Appears in PSA Urging President Obama to Halt Deportations

Watch Melissa in a public service announcement for the New York Immigration Coalition’s Stroke of a Pen Campaign urging President Obama to sign an executive order halting unjust deportations of immigrants (in both English and Spanish) and please take a moment to sign the petition at

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


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
  • Jonathan Wstin, New York Communities for Change, 917-637-9501 or
  • Francine Streich, Alliance for Quality Education, 917-439-9602 or

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.

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

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

Statement on Mayor Bloomberg’s Work to Reform our Gun Control Laws


Mayor Bloomberg, surrounded by Martin Luther King III and 34 people affected by gun violence (Photo by Spencer T Tucker).

Melissa released the following statement in support of Mayor Bloomberg’s renewed efforts, along with mayors from across the country, to reform our gun control laws:

“Yesterday, Mayor Bloomberg held an emotional press conference at City Hall to announce his renewed nationwide push for much-needed reforms to our gun control laws. He stood surrounded by individuals from across the U.S. who told stories of how they have been affected by gun violence. Three of these 34 courageous speakers came from El Barrio/East Harlem and the Bronx – including family members of Naiesha Pearson, Rory Forehand and Cheyenne Baez, who were senselessly killed on our streets. Sadly, we are seeing an alarming increase in gun violence in my district, with the homicide rate in East Harlem tripling last year, and shootings at public housing in East Harlem and Harlem increasing two-fold. This increased wave of violence has prompted my office to form the Youth Violence Task Force and to explore other means of addressing this growing problem.

“With the recent events in Arizona, this may be our biggest opportunity in years to reduce the number of illegal guns on our streets, and to try to keep these weapons out of the hands of emotionally disturbed individuals. I would like to thank Mayor Bloomberg for his leadership at a national level to promote sensible reforms to our gun laws, such as fixing the broken background check system, closing all loopholes and requiring checks for every gun sale in the U.S. The Mayor has also shown support for banning high-capacity ammunition magazines, which have been behind recent massacres like the one in Tucson.

“While our approach to combating violence in our city will continue to be comprehensive and multi-pronged, gun control at the federal level is a critical part of the equation. I join many of my colleagues in the City Council and members of my community in expressing my gratitude and support for Mayor Bloomberg’s efforts to reform our gun control laws.”

To sign a petition calling upon Congress to fix the background check system, visit

Council Holds Hearing on Administration’s Response to the Blizzard

The New York City Council held a hearing today on the Bloomberg administration’s response to the blizzard.  The hearing began at 11:00 this morning and at the time of the publication of this blog post (seven half hours later), it still has not ended.  We were live tweeting throughout the morning.  You can read our Twitter feed for the minute-by-minute updates.


Photo by Richard Perry/The New York Times.

Deputy Mayor Stephen Goldsmith and the Commissioners of the Department of Sanitation, the Office of Emergency Management and the Fire Department, who testified and answered Council Member’s questions, offered apologies and admitted openly that the response to the storm was unacceptable.  They also shared some of the information regarding conversations happening behind the scenes in the days leading up to and following the storm.

Testimony and responses to the questions exposed a serious lack of coordination and communication between our city’s agencies, which severely limited their ability to respond effectively to the storm and deploy all the necessary resources.

Due to the length of today’s hearing, public sessions have been scheduled for each borough.  We urge our constituents to attend these hearings just outside of our district in Manhattan and the Bronx:

  • Manhattan: Thursday, January 20th, 6:00 pm
    Adam Clayton Powell State Office Building
    163 W. 125th Street
  • The Bronx: Monday, January 24th, 6:00 pm
    Hostos Community College, Savoy Building D
    120 E. 149th Street (btwn Walton and Gerard Avenues)

Among the information revealed during questioning was that Sanitation Commissioner John Doherty and Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan were responsible for making the decision not to call a snow emergency, which among other things, would have required cars to be moved off of the city’s main streets.  Deputy Mayor Goldsmith indicated that declaring a snow emergency could have facilitated a quicker response to the storm.  The Commissioners, however, made this determination without consulting Mayor Bloomberg or the Deputy Mayor.

The administration released its preliminary internal review of the snow response, which includes a 15-point reform plan to improve the City’s ability to handle major snow storms.  You can download the report by clicking here.

These are only a few highlights from today’s hearing.  Please visit our Twitter page for additional highlights.  You can also click here to see many of the Twitter posts from Melissa’s Council colleagues, the press and members of the public about today’s snow hearing (those who used the #snowhearing tag).

The New York Times City Room Blog also was blogging live throughout the day.  You can see that article here.

We will keep the blog updated on the Council’s continued efforts to get to the bottom of what went wrong in the last storm and ensure that it never happens again.

TONIGHT: Candlelight Vigil at City Hall for the Strengthening of Rent Stabilization Laws

Join tenants and advocates TONIGHT (Monday, January 3rd) at 6 pm on the steps of City Hall to call on Governor Cuomo and the State Legislature to strengthen and protect rent stabilization laws. Those state laws which provide for rent stabilization (for buildings built from 1974 on) and for rent control are set to expire in June 2011.  The Legislature is expected to renew these laws, but they may do so with substantial givebacks to landlords.  Tonight’s vigil will call for:

  • Full repeal of Vacancy Decontrol
  • The extending rent protections to all Mitchell-Lama and Section 8 buildings which leave govt program

Attendees will begin to gather at around 5:30 pm.  Be sure to bundle up and bring signs! The Real Rent Reform Campaign will provide hot cider. For more information, please contact Anderson Fils-Aimé at (347)392-9851 or

Happy New Year!

New Volunteer Opportunity: Help Local Seniors to Take Care of their Pets

Are you interested in helping local seniors keep and take care of their pets? Join Search and Care this Wednesday, December 1st from 6 pm-8 pm to learn about a new volunteer opportunity that will enable frail and low-income older adults to enjoy the benefits and companionship of owning pets even if they can no longer perform everyday tasks such as dog walking, litter changing and shopping for pet food.  The Open House will be held at 1844 2nd Avenue (between 95th and 96th Streets).  RSVP is required to Robin at 212-289-5300 X203.

Search and Care is a small community nonprofit helps El Barrio/East Harlem and Yorkville frail elders to remain in their own homes as long as safely possible.  Through the help of volunteers, this new initiative, the Pet + Elder Empowerment Project (PEEP), will help these low-income seniors by providing essential pet-support services they can no longer do and cannot possibly afford to purchase.

Volunteer opportunities could include:

  • An occasional dog walk
  • Litter change
  • Bird cage cleaning
  • Shopping for pet supplies
  • Taking a pet to/from vet appointments
  • Arranging for visits with your pet to an older adult’s home

If you are interested in helping these older adults, please RSVP for the open house by contacting Robin at 212-289-5300 X203.

Hundreds Rally for the DREAM Act and Family Unity in Brooklyn

Yesterday, hundreds of immigrants and supporters gathered inside a church in Bushwick to rally for the passage of the DREAM Act and other policies which will keep immigrant families united and stem the tide of deportations.  Melissa emceed the event, and was joined by a number of speakers, including Congressman Luis Gutierrez, who came in from Chicago for the event and Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez.

The event focused on several important policy reforms to our immigration enforcement system, at the local, state and federal levels, as well as the DREAM Act, which would provide a path to citizenship for undocumented students who have lived in the country for five years or longer, have graduated high school and complete two years of college or military service.  The DREAM Act is expected to come to the floor in the Congress in the coming weeks.

Speaker Christine Quinn also joined the event to reaffirm her commitment to restricting the City’s collaboration with ICE at Rikers Island and other correctional facilities, sharing a letter that she, Melissa and other Council Members have sent to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano on this matter.

Speakers also urged attendees to participate in the “Stroke of a Pen” campaign, which aims to collect thousands of letters from immigrant communities and allies calling on President Obama to place a moratorium on deportations.  For each letter, the New York Immigration Coalition will send the President a pen, symbolizing his ability to enact a moratorium by signing an Executive Order, which does not require Congressional approval.

“This is the moment for the enactment of common sense and humane immigration policies at all levels of government,” said Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito.  “Right here in New York City, our correctional facilities are serving as a pipeline to inhumane detention centers, and nationally we are separating more families than ever.  Meanwhile, immigrant youth have courageously fought for the passage of the DREAM Act for a decade to no avail.  As immigrant communities and allies made clear today, we are ready to hold accountable those leaders who were elected on pro-immigrant platforms, from Mayor Bloomberg to President Obama, as we await action on these critical reform measures.”

Click here to view a slideshow with additional photos from yesterday’s event.

All photos courtesy of the New York Immigration Coalition and the New York State Immigrant Action Fund.

Join Melissa, Rep. Luis Gutierrez, Rep. Nydia Velázquez and Other Leaders at Special Immigration Event This Sunday

This Sunday, Melissa will join Congressman Luis Gutierrez, Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez, other elected leaders from throughout NYC and community members to call for action at all levels of government to keep immigrant families united.  We hope you will be able to join us at this special event in Brooklyn at 2:00 p.m. (see more details below).

As we begin to approach the holiday season, we remember that thousands of families are torn apart by our immigration system each year.  Important steps can be taken immediately at the federal, state and city levels to protect immigrant families, including:

The event will be held at St. Brigid’s Church, 409 Linden Street in Brooklyn on Sunday, November 21 at 2:00 p.m.  Click here for map of location.  To arrive from our district, take any downtown train to 14th Street and transfer to the Brooklyn-bound L.  The church is just around the corner from the Myrtle Ave-Wyckoff Ave stop on the L line.

This event is being organized in conjunction with Make the Road New York, the New York Immigration Coalition and other NYC immigrant rights groups.

See the flyers in English and Spanish below and please help spread the word!

City Council to Hold Hearing on the Department of Corrections’ Cooperation with ICE

This Wednesday, the City Council’s Committees on Immigration and Fire & Criminal Justice will hold a joint hearing on the NYC Department of Corrections’ (DOC) cooperation with United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).  This collaboration involves using City resources to facilitate the deportation of New Yorkers, who many times are not even convicted of serious crimes.  Approximately 3,000-4,000 City residents are deported annually through this system, even though New York is widely considered to be among the most immigrant-friendly cities in the U.S.

Members of Make the Road New York protest DOC’s cooperation with ICE (Photo courtesy of Make the Road NY).

A young Mexican college student from El Barrio/East Harlem is just one of thousands of New Yorkers that have been negatively impacted by this policy.  He was wrongfully arrested on a murder charge and sent to a detention facility in Texas, until the charges were eventually dropped.  Still, he was left with a pending order of deportation against him, which he is still in the process of fighting.

Melissa is currently working to introduce legislation that will restrict the City’s collaboration with ICE to cases where individuals are convicted of violent felonies.  While the legislation is still being drafted, this hearing will serve as a useful tool to continue to gather information from the City on this topic.

The hearing will be held on Wednesday, November 10, 2010 at 10:00 a.m. on the 14th Floor of 250 Broadway.  Please join us to listen or to offer your testimony.  We will also be tweeting live from the hearing.  If you don’t already follow our Twitter account, please do so at

Raising Awareness about Domestic Violence in Schools, on the Street and on the Web

As you may know, October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.  Melissa’s office is committed to taking this opportunity to raise awareness on this important issue.  Here are some of the things we are doing in the community and citywide during the month of October:

  • In Schools: This month, we are working with two El Barrio/East Harlem schools, the Renaissance School of the Arts and the Young Women’s Leadership Academy, in sponsoring an art contest, where students can submit artwork (in any medium) that seeks to raise awareness about the devastating effects of domestic violence.  Winners will be selected from each of the two schools and prizes will be awarded.   
  • On the Street: Today, we sponsored an event with Violence Intervention Program (VIP) and Marshalls that brought an outdoor exhibit on domestic violence to the corner of 106th Street and Third Avenue (see photos below). 
  • On the Web: On Monday morning, the City Council will hold a hearing on a bill sponsored by Melissa that will require the City to report data on domestic violence incidents on the My Neighborhood Statistics website.  After the bill is enacted, local residents will be able to track the number of these incidents in their community district, police precinct and citywide.

The Women’s Caucus of the City Council is also holding a special ceremonial event before next week’s Stated Meeting to honor domestic violence service providers throughout the five boroughs.

Photos from this morning’s event:

The Cheyenne Baez Memorial Fund + An Introduction to the Youth Violence Task Force

The El Barrio/East Harlem community has seen yet another victim of gun violence on our streets.  On Sunday, October 3rd, 2010, Cheyenne Baez, a 17 year old young woman was a victim of a fatal drive-by shooting in the East Harlem neighborhood.  The Cheyenne Baez Memorial Fund will support the Baez family through these extremely trying times.  The goal of the memorial fund is to raise the $3,000 necessary to defray the cost of homegoing services scheduled for Tuesday, October 12th, 2010.  We encourage everyone who can to donate to this fund, as 100% of donations go directly to Cheyenne’s family.  To donate, visit

Sadly, these violent incidents involving youth have recently been on the rise in our community.  For this reason, Melissa has launched the East Harlem/El Barrio Youth Violence Task Force.  Below is a message about the work of the task force from our Direct of Youth Services, Elsie Encarnación:

Melissa, as a hands-on elected official, had the vision to create the East Harlem/ El Barrio Youth Violence Task Force in response to the increase in violence among youth. The task force has been meeting for over a month and I hope you all will join in and be a part of this movement going forward. Only through working together will this issue be at the forefront of our community’s priorities. Below is some information on our task force.  If you are interested in being on our listserv, please send an e-mail to and I will add you immediately.

The East Harlem/ El Barrio Youth Violence Task Force

Who we are: The task force is comprised of numerous Community Based Organizations (CBO’s) from East Harlem, the District 8 Youth Council, community leaders and most importantly youth from East Harlem. We are looking to reach out to religious leaders and other interested parties.

What we have done: During the few first meetings the task force decided the only way to come up with real solutions to this issue was to first engage and listen to our young people. We needed to provide a safe space for them to express their ideas, fears, frustrations and dreams. With this in mind we set out to speak to the young people from NYCHA developments and other housing developments and started with the one closest to us, Johnson Houses. We have met with the young people there twice. In our conversations the young people really opened up and discussed how they view the issue, what they think causes the issue and how we can help them achieve a solution. Continue reading

Next Friday: Walk Through the ‘Take a Stand Against Domestic Violence’ Outdoor Exhibit in El Barrio/East Harlem

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Our office will be coordinating and participating in several activities that highlight and bring attention to the devastating effects of domestic violence and how to seek help.  Next Friday, October 15th, join us for a walk-through of an outdoor exhibit on domestic violence, sponsored by Marshalls and Violence Intervention Program (VIP).  UPDATE: This event will be held on October 22nd from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm. The exhibit will be placed in front of Ponce de Leon Federal Bank on 106th Street and Third Avenue.

The event will begin at 10:00 a.m. and will also feature poetry, give-aways and inspirational speeches.  The exhibit will be open until 4:00 p.m.  We hope you can join us!

This Sunday: Join the El Barrio/East Harlem Contingent of the Brides’ March to Raise Awareness About Domestic Violence

This Sunday, September 26th, please join us in the El Barrio/East Harlem Contingent of the 10th Annual Brides’ March to raise awareness about the devastating effect that domestic violence has on our community.  We will begin our march on 96th Street and 3rd Avenue at 1:30 p.m.

The Brides’ March commemorates the murder of Gladys Ricart, who was killed by an abusive ex-boyfriend on the day she was to marry her fiancé.  For this reason, we encourage women to wear a wedding gown, white clothes and/or a veil, and that men wear black to represent mourning. We will provide veils for the ladies on a first-come, first-served basis.

The march will end at the Julia de Burgos Cultural Center on Lexington Avenue between 105th and 106th Streets, where a closing ceremony will be held.

More information is available in the flyer below:

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

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

To find your polling site, please visit:

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

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

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

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

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

Upcoming Demonstrations

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

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

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

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

Next Tuesday: A Free Luncheon for Older Adults in East Harlem

Next Tuesday, August 31st at 1:00 p.m., Melissa’s office and the New York Academy of Medicine (NYAM) are hosting a free luncheon for older adults in East Harlem at 1216 Fifth Avenue (@103rd Street).  At the luncheon, attendees will discuss how the neighborhood should be improved and will watch the premiere of a short film about seniors in East Harlem.

This event is part of the Age Improvement District initiative, which was launched as a pilot program by our office and NYAM last year.  The program aims to establish a model in New York City which will soon be launched in other neighborhoods that involves engaging seniors at a local level to identify ways in which their neighborhoods can become more age-friendly, including ensuring equal access to local resources, improving security in the neighborhood, ensuring that our public transportation system serves seniors adequately, and repairing our streets and sidewalks.

Please call 212-822-7284 to RSVP for this event.