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.  ”

Learn How To Apply for a Play Street in Your Neighborhood

Transportation Alternatives and the New York City Department of Health are hosting a public workshop to assist and educate community based organizations with the Play Street application process. Play Streets are weekly one-day street closures in the summer that give children access to a safe, fun and supervised place to engage in physical activity. Many neighborhoods throughout New York City lack access to parks and open space, making it difficult for children to get the proper amount of exercise each day. Play Streets address this problem by empowering community groups to create their own places for children’s recreation and encourages a healthy active lifestyle.

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The workshop will provide participants with the knowledge, tools and assistance to win a Play Street for their neighborhood. Additionally, you will be guided through the application process and they will work with you on developing strategies to ensure a successful program. They will also provide you with information about improvements you can request from the City to make your neighborhood streets safer and more welcoming for walking and biking.

WHO: Transportation Alternatives and the New York City Health Department
WHAT: Play Street Permit Process Workshop
WHEN: Thursday, January 31, 2013; 4 PM – 6 PM
WHERE: 40 Worth Street, 5th floor, room 5.2/5.2
RSVP: playstreets@transalt.org or 646-839-6483

Be A Part of the MTA’s Second Avenue Subway Quarterly Public Workshop on Wednesday, January 30th

You are invited to attend an MTA public workshop regarding the construction of the Second Avenue Subway.

The goal of this workshop is to maintain an open dialogue between the MTA and the community at large. Attendees will have the opportunity to engage project representatives about current construction activity and the initiatives implemented by the MTA as a direct response to community input from the previous SAS public workshop.

MTA employees and contractors will attend the workshop to facilitate discussion and answer questions.

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WHO: MTA
WHAT: Second Avenue Subway Quarterly Public Workshop
WHEN: Wednesday, January 30th from 6:45 to 8:30 PM
WHERE: Temple Israel, 112 East 75th Street (between Park & Lexington Avenues)
RSVP: Reserve your seats online here or by calling (646) 564-5866.

* The capacity of the facility is 200 people and seats are filling quickly, so reserve yours today.
* Photo ID will be required for entry.
* Facility is ADA accessible.

Join Us on Tuesday in Celebrating ‘Las Octavitas,’ the End of the Puerto Rican Christmas Season

As some of you may know, the Christmas season in Puerto Rican culture stretches out into January. First with the celebration of Three Kings Day and then, days later with Las Octavitas; the holiday season in Puerto Rico is the most extensive in the world.

With that being said, we hope you can join us on Tuesday, January 22nd from 5:30 to 7:30 PM, in celebrating Las Octavitas with traditional Puerto Rican food and live music. This event is not a religious ceremony, but a celebration of Puerto Rican cultural heritage.

WHO: Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito, Comptroller John C. Liu, Representative Charles B. Rangel, Senator Bill Perkins, and Assembly Member Robert J. Rodriguez
WHAT: Las Octavitas Celebration
WHEN: Tuesday, January 22nd; 5:30 – 7:30 PM
WHERE: Taino Towers, 240 East 123rd Street (Gymnasium); between Second & Third Avenues
RSVP: Please reply to the Comptroller’s Office of Special Events: (212) 669-4466; TTY: (212) 669-3450; or eventsrsvp@comptroller.nyc.gov

Handicap-Logo8To arrange special accommodations, please call (212) 669-4315. Fully accessible facility. 

Melissa Speaks at the Inauguration of Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz Soto of San Juan

Yesterday, Melissa was honored to speak at the inauguration ceremony for Carmen Yulín Cruz Soto, the newly elected mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico.

For so long we have watched and hoped for a moment like the one in which we find ourselves right now. A moment that is truly a transformative one for Puerto Rico and all its people. The people are demanding that their government represent the needs of the majority and not that of a small sector of interests. Some people have compared this moment in Puerto Rico to the Arab Spring and the Occupy Wall Street movement, which literally helped reshape and reframe the public discourse around income inequality and government representation…

Her message has been simple but powerful: “Un San Juan Para Todos” (“A San Juan for All”). Her inclusive vision for the future of San Juan extends to all – old and young, women and men, poor and wealthy, members of the LGBT community, immigrants… everyone. Even those that did not vote for her. Those who historically have not had a voice in our society are included to bring forth a new future for San Juan, together with our inspiring mayor.

All this means that new ways of doing business must be put in place. I am proud to say that Mayor Carmen Yulín – who I consider a sister in struggle – has committed to engaging in a participatory budgeting process here in San Juan, a way to turn the power over to the people and their communities to decide how to spend public dollars. I was among the first Council Members to engage in this process in New York, which is only the second city to do so in the U.S. It was an honor for me to invite Carmen Yulín to City Hall to discuss this initiative with her, and I look forward to seeing it happen here in San Juan.

To watch Melissa’s speech, commence at the 38:30 mark:

For the full transcript, in English & Spanish, click here.

Preparing For The Potential School Bus Driver Strike

The Amalgamated Transit Union 1181, representing about 8,800 New York City school bus drivers and matrons, is planning to go on strike this Wednesday. Below is updated information from the NYC Department of Education (DOE) about what to do in the event that they do strike:

METROCARDS

  • All students who currently receive yellow bus service may receive a MetroCard.  These MetroCards are being made available at your local school and should be requested through each school’s general office.  Schools will distribute student MetroCards beginning Tuesday, Jan. 15th.
  • Parents of pre-school and school-age children with an Individual Education Plan (IEP) requiring transportation from their home directly to their school as well as parents of general education children in grades K-2 may also request a MetroCard for the parent or guardian to act as the child’s escort to school.  Parent MetroCards will be distributed beginning Wednesday, Jan. 16th.  These cards can be used on subways beginning Wednesday, Jan. 16th and on buses beginning Thursday, Jan. 17th.

TRANSPORTATION REIMBURSEMENT

  • The DOE is offering reimbursement for actual transportation costs (subject to DOE guidelines) for students in grades K-6 who receive yellow bus service from home or a school bus stop and live in areas where public transportation is not readily available.
  • Parents who drive their children to school will be reimbursed at a rate of 55 cents per mile.
  • Parents who use a taxi or car service to transport their child to school will be reimbursed for the trip upon completion of reimbursement forms that includes a receipt for provided services.
  • Requests for reimbursements should be made weekly on forms that will be made available on the DOE website and in each school’s general office.

ROUTE FINDER

CLASS MATERIALS

  • In the unfortunate event that students cannot get to school, the DOE will be posting materials online for every grade and core subject so that students can continue their learning at home during the strike.

Please contact your local school, 311 or the Office of Pupil Transportation at (718) 392-8855 for additional information. 

Melissa Celebrates the Resignation of Puerto Rican TV Personality Kobbo Santarrosa

Melissa released the following statement regarding the resignation of Kobbo Santarrosa from the WAPA-TV program SuperXclusivo. Santarrosa’s character on the show, La Comay, had inspired a grassroots boycott of the show, after a history of homophobic comments and recent remarks about the brutal murder of publicist José Enrique Gómez.

“On Wednesday, Puerto Rico rejoiced at the resignation of Kobbo Santarrosa from the widely-watched WAPA-TV program SuperXclusivo. Santarrosa’s resignation followed a massive grassroots campaign and boycott targeted at his character, a puppet named La Comay, who consistently spewed hateful, homophobic rhetoric on air. Most recently, La Comay made remarks in response to the brutal murder of José Enrique Gómez that he “looked for” his own death because he was in a particular neighborhood.

“I am truly moved and encouraged by this incredible victory, and congratulate all my Puerto Rican brothers and sisters who united so forcefully in this campaign, which linked our demands for an end to the horrific violence on the island and for an end to hate speech on our airwaves.

“In the context of the major electoral victories of Governor Alejandro García Padilla and soon-to-be-inaugurated Carmen Yulín Cruz, we are in the midst of a transformative moment on the island, where people at the grassroots are really driving incredible change at all levels and demanding that their government truly represent the needs of the majority and not that of a small sector of interests. Let’s not forget that a grassroots movement also defeated two harmful propositions that would have shrunk the legislature and given judges the right to deny bail in certain cases.

“I thank and congratulate Pedro Julio Serrano, a friend and longtime leader in the struggle to get La Comay off the air, for this victory, as well as all others who led and participated in this campaign.”

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.

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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 hearings@districting.nyc.gov.

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

Learn About HIV Prevention Efforts in Immigrant Communities

Join us on the morning of Thursday, January 17th at the Hunter School of School of Social Work to The East Harlem Immigrant Service Network’s “Maximizing HIV Prevention in Immigrant Communities in 2013 – Programs and Policies Affecting East Harlem and Beyond” panel. Melissa will be speaking at the event, in addition to the Harlem United Community AIDS Center, Iris House and the NYC Department of Health/Mental Hygiene.

Find out about the impact that the implementation of the Affordable Care Act and other policies can have on maximizing HIV prevention in immigrant communities as well as what resources are available for residents, and more. Did you know that even though death rates due to HIV have decreased in East Harlem in the past decade, our community still has the second highest HIV-related death rate in the city? Stop by to get informed.

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WHO: Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito, The East Harlem Immigrant Service Network, Harlem United Community AIDS Center, Iris House and the NYC Department of Health/Mental Hygiene
WHAT: “Maximizing HIV Prevention in Immigrant Communities in 2013 – Programs and Policies Affecting East Harlem and Beyond” Panel
WHEN: Thursday, January 17th, 9:30 AM – 11:30 AM
WHERE: Hunter School of Social Work, East 119th Street & 3rd Avenue, 2nd floor
*For more information & to RSVP, please contact Joe Pressley in the Office of Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito at 212.828.9800 or via email at jpressley@council.nyc.gov OR contact Thierry Ekon at the NYCDOH/MH Harlem District Public Health Office at 347.396.7776 or via email at aekon@health.nyc.gov

The East Harlem Immigrant Service Network is an initiative launched by Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito’s Office out of a desire to support each other as service providers and advocates working with the immigrant community in District 8. The network is open to organizations interested in collaborating and sharing information relating to programming and services, and in discussing issues of immigrant rights, the political environment, and the challenges facing the immigrant community in the district.

Sign Up for An Allowable Political Activity by Nonprofits Course

The Association for Neighborhood and Housing Development’s (ANHD) Affordable Housing Institute will be hosting an Allowable Political Activity by Nonprofits course on Wednesday, January 9th. This training will address the ability of nonprofit, tax exempt organizations to engage their communities in election related activities. While 501(c)(3) organizations cannot endorse or oppose candidates, they can run voter registration and Get Out The Vote campaigns, highlight community issues, and encourage civic engagement. The training will be conducted by Harvey Epstein and Ted De Barbieri, attorneys at the Urban Justice Center’s Community Development Project.

WHO: ANHD and Urban Justice Center’s Community Development Project
WHAT: Allowable Political Activity by Nonprofits course
WHEN: Wednesday, January 9th – 3:30 PM to 5:00 PM
WHERE: ANHD – 50 New Street, suite 1125, Manhattan
COST: $50 per organization (free for ANHD members), admits two people. If cost is a concern fee reductions may be available, feel free to ask.
REGISTER: Email the form found here to Rita Mazza – rita.m@anhd.org. Please make checks payable to the Association for Neighborhood and Housing Development.

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.

Link: http://www.streetsblog.org/2012/12/31/the-2012-nyc-streetsies-part-3/

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.

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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 yul-san@justicecommittee.org  
* Spanish translation, childcare and free food will be provided!

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

Melissa Hosts Three Kings Day Luncheon Celebration

Flyer - 3 Kings Day 2013 (1)
Please join us for a Three Kings Day Luncheon Celebration hosted by Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito next Friday, January 4th, following the annual parade in El Barrio. The luncheon begins at 12:30 and will be held at the Cora Texidor Bonifacio Senior Building (7 E. 116th Street, between 5th and Madison Avenues). Traditional Latin cuisine and non-alcoholic beverages will be served. There is limited space and RSVP is required. Please call our office at 212-828-9800 or e-mail lquinones@council.nyc.gov. We look forward to seeing you there as we celebrate Three Kings Day!

Melissa Defends Young Leaders Elementary School from Closure

Melissa stands with PS 369X students.

Melissa stands with PS 369X students.

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

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

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.

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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.

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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.

Melissa Announces New Legislation To Protect Unjust Deportation of Immigrant New Yorkers

Today, Melissa joined her colleagues in announcing a new legislative action that will reduce the unjust deportations of immigrant families due to the federal Secure Communities program. Building on legislation sponsored by Melissa which became law last year, the two new pieces of legislation that will be introduced this month will limit the city’s ability to hand over immigrants who pose no threat to public safety for deportation proceedings. Melissa is the lead sponsor of one of the two new bills, which should receive a hearing within the first quarter of 2013. The other bill is sponsored by Speaker Christine Quinn.

Because of the current Secure Communities program in NYC, once an immigrant encounters the criminal justice system, they are at automatic risk of deportation. Under the current system, regardless of immigration status, age, criminal record or the accused crime, immigrants can be detained and deported – constantly living in fear. With this proposed legislation, the city would only be able to honor a detainer request from the federal Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) if the person poses a threat to our city or has serious criminal charges pending. It would specifically ensure that immigrant youth and individuals that only have old or very minor convictions, or convictions directly related to their immigration status like driving without a license, are not funneled into the deportation system.

Melissa commented:

“New York City continues to be at the forefront of protecting our immigrant communities from unjust deportations. I am proud that this Council is again ushering through legislation that expands our city’s ability to have discretion in its collaboration with federal immigration enforcement. This legislation comes in response to the forced roll out of Secure Communities in our state, which threatens to funnel immigrant New Yorkers directly from central booking to deportation centers. We must extend to our police precincts the same protections we put in place in our city’s jails to prevent the unfair deportation of immigrant New Yorkers. We also want to strengthen the current law to ensure that immigrant youth and immigrants with old or minor convictions are clearly protected from deportation. I thank Speaker Christine Quinn and Immigration Chair Danny Dromm for their leadership, as well as Make the Road New York and the Cardozo Law School for their continued advocacy.”

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This legislation will surely serve as a model for other municipalities throughout the U.S. as we await for comprehensive immigration reform at the federal level. We will keep you all updated on this piece of legislation.

Melissa Mourns the Tragic Death of Jenni Rivera

“The tragic and untimely death of Mexican superstar Jenni Rivera in a plane crash on Sunday has shaken the Mexican and Latino communities here in New York and throughout the U.S., not to mention millions and millions of adoring fans throughout Latin America.

“The daughter of Mexican immigrants, Rivera was not only a successful musician and TV star, but she was also an inspiration for our community and in particular for Latina women. Her music challenged machismo and communicated messages of female empowerment, and the personal struggles she endured in her relationships made her a fierce advocate for an end to domestic violence and sexual abuse. She was also a key ally in the fight for immigrant and LGBT rights.

“In a testament to her continued rise to crossover success, Rivera was to star in an English-language sitcom on ABC, which would have helped provide some much-needed diversity in prime time television.

“She will be missed but never forgotten by our community. I send my condolences to Jenni Rivera’s family, friends and fans in this difficult time.”

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.

Melissa Brings #TodosSomosJoseEnrique and #BoicotLaComay Campaigns to the City Council

795_10151340699522324_1226723458_nCouncil Member Melissa Mark-Viverito brought the “Todos Somos José Enrique” and “Boicot La Comay” campaigns to the floor of the City Council today, where she made the following statement:

“About a week and a half ago, the City celebrated a full 24 hours without a single murder, stabbing or shooting. Such an occurrence is rare on the island of Puerto Rico, which is half the size of NYC at 4 million people but last year suffered over 1,000 murders. Puerto Rican people on the island, here in NYC and beyond are simply fed up with this sad state of affairs. Fueled by the drug trade, police corruption and high unemployment, this enormous wave of crime has taken far too many lives. One of the latest victims which has inspired a mass movement is José Enrique Gómez, who was forced to withdraw $400 from an ATM machine before he was beaten, doused with gasoline and set on fire. Since then, tens of thousands of Puerto Ricans have been organizing online under the banner ‘Todos Somos José Enrique’ or ‘We Are All José Enrique’ and held large demonstrations on the island and here in New York as well.

“Embroiled within this mass movement is a huge pushback against a show on Puerto Rican network WAPA-TV which is shown here in New York. This program, which features a puppet called La Comay, has long been criticized for its use of vile homophobic slurs. In April of 2010 the Council’s LGBT Caucus, Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez and I wrote to the FCC to call for an investigation into this offensive language which prompted an apology from the show.

“This show crossed another line when it attacked Jose Enrique Gomez and suggested that he was killed because he was on a street known for prostitution. This latest controversy has ignited a historic boycott that has pressured sponsors, including Walmart, to pull advertising from the show. Clearly, the network is now feeling the pressure. But the truth is that we’ve heard enough apologies. Nothing short of taking this show completely off the air would be acceptable.

“We are more united than ever in fighting to stop the violence in Puerto Rico and stop the hatred that is regularly spewed on this offensive television program.

“It is my sincere hope that with all of this pressure and with a new change in leadership coming in the new year we see positive changes on the island moving forward. ¡Basta ya con la violencia! ¡Todos Somos José Enrique!”

Melissa Will Be On The City Limits Panel to Discuss “Latinos and the Mayoralty: Searching for El Primero”

logo_newCity Limits will be hosting a discussion panel, “Latinos and the Mayoralty: Searching for El Primero on the morning of Wednesday, December 12th. Melissa will be joined by featured panelists to discuss the past, present, and future of Latino political engagement in New York City. Come join the discussion!

WHO: Jarrett Murphy, Editor of City Limits will moderate. Panelists include: Melissa Mark-Viverito; Ed Morales, author and adjunct professor at Columbia University’s Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race; Lucia Gomez Jimenez, the Executive Director of La Fuente; Ramona Hernandez, Director of CUNY Dominican Studies Insitute and professor of sociology at CCNY; and Angelo Falcon, President and Founder of the National Institute for Latino Policy.
WHAT: Latinos and the Mayoralty: Searching for El Primero
WHEN: Wednesday, December 12, 2012. 9:30 AM Panel Discussion & 9 AM Networking
WHERE: The Community Service Society, 105 East 22nd Street, 4th Floor
RSVP: Click here

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.

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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.

IN THE NEWS:

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

TO FIND OUT MORE:

New Video Tells Story of Bike Lanes in El Barrio/East Harlem

https://i0.wp.com/www.streetsblog.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/FirstSecondCompletionRally.jpgAs you may know, protected bike lanes are on their way on First and Second Avenue in El Barrio/East Harlem. Melissa is featured in a new video produced by StreetFilms, How Complete Streets Came to East Harlem, which tells the story of how the East Harlem community fought for this important amenity in our community. Take a look at the video and stay tuned for information how we will kick off and celebrate the completion of the lanes this coming spring!

Please Complete a Brief Survey Regarding Election Day 2012

https://i1.wp.com/media.silive.com/latest_news/photo/newvotejpg-f440dd42093cdf31_large.jpgOn and following Election Day (November 6th) 2012 there were many reports about long lines and confusion at polling sites across the nation. Media reports cited some similar concerns locally. As such, we have designed a brief survey (just 10 questions) for you to tell us about your experience on the most recent Election Day. The survey is for you to inform us about favorable and problematic experiences on Election Day.

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

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

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

The Coca Cola Foundation Donated $25,000 to Local Organizations in Honor of “Green Exercise Day”

Earlier in October, Coca Cola teamed up with local organizations to celebrate “Green Exercise Day” in East Harlem, which promoted children participating in recreational activities.

As a result of Melissa nominating local organizations for “Active, Healthy Living” grants, The Coca Cola Foundation donated $25,000 to Concrete Safaris and The Children’s Aid Society, among others. This is an exceptional opportunity for Concrete Safaris’ City Surfers program and for The Children’s Aid Society and we are delighted that we got to be a part of such a positive day.

Melissa with representatives of the Community Association of Progressive Dominicans, Concrete Safaris, The Children’s Aid Society and The Coca Cola Foundation. Photos courtesy of Impacto De New York Al Mundo.

Para un artículo sobre “Green Exercise Day” en español, haga clic aquí.

Donate to the Participatory Budgeting Project Today & Your Donation Will Be Doubled in the Spirit of #GivingTuesday

For the past three years, The Participatory Budgeting Project (PBP) has empowered us in NYC and other cities across the United States and Canada to directly decide how their tax dollars are spent. This vibrant movement has grown and is now currently engaging 20,000 people in deciding how to spend almost $20 million dollars of capital funds in their own communities. And it’s growing – almost every week, an organization or official asks for PBP’s help to bring PB into their city. As exciting as the expansion of PB is, it is also expensive for PBP, who is just a small non-profit organization. This leads us to PB2 which is “PB for PB.”

PB2 is PBP’s first fundraising drive with a participatory budgeting twist. Half of the money that PBP raises will be set aside for you to decide and vote on what they should do with it. There are currently six priority projects that you can vote for (everyone gets two votes). At the end of 2012, PBP will tally the votes and the money donated. PBP will get to implement the projects with the most votes, just like the PB process in our community, until the money donated and allocated runs out. That means that the more we give, the more projects will be completed.

In honor of #GivingTuesday, any donations given today, Tuesday November 27th, will be doubled up to $2000 thanks to two of PBP’s donors. So today is the day to donate (all donations are tax-deductible) & here’s how:

  • Send a check (US$, made out to “The Participatory Budgeting Project”), to: The Participatory Budgeting Project,  55 Washington St. Suite 724,  Brooklyn, NY 11201 USA
  • Donate online via PayPal, using a credit card of PayPal account here.

THE SIX PROJECTS TO VOTE ON FOR PB2:

  • PB Intro Video
  • New PB Brochures and Info Sheets
  • Travel Funds for Conference Participants
  • Hire Part-Time Development Person
  • Launch Youth PB Campaign
  • Office Furniture and Equipment

Find out all of the details on PBP’s website: participatorybudgeting.org/participate/donate/

Melissa Mourns Loss of Hector “Macho” Camacho

Melissa released the following statement regarding the death of Puerto Rican boxing legend Hector “Macho” Camacho:

The El Barrio community and Puerto Ricans worldwide are mourning the loss of Hector “Macho” Camacho, a boxing legend who was shot last Tuesday and died on Saturday. Camacho was born in Bayamon, Puerto Rico and moved to East Harlem as a child with his family where he lived in the Johnson Houses NYCHA development. His life was a complicated one but his accomplishments have brought pride to Puerto Ricans on the island, in El Barrio and beyond. He was a dynamic fighter who won world championships in three weight divisions and left an indelible mark on the sport of boxing. He was also a charismatic entertainer and a proud Puerto Rican.

In recent years, there has sadly been a rise in drug-related murders and other violence in Puerto Rico. It appears that Camacho fell victim to this unfortunate trend. My community and I send our condolences to his family and will continue to honor his memory.

Temporary Work Available Cleaning Up Communities Impacted by Hurricane Sandy

Governor Cuomo announced over $27 million was allocated in federal grants to hire workers to clean up communities impacted by Hurricane Sandy. This grant is provided to New Yorkers who lost employment due to Hurricane Sandy or are unemployed and not receiving unemployment benefits.

Workers interested in this program should call 1-888-4-NYSDOL (1-888-469-7365). The New York State Department of Labor will work with local officials to recruit and hire workers. You can fill out the Preliminary Registration form here. 

For more information about unemployment insurance for individuals or businesses that were affected by Hurricane Sandy, please visit the New York State Department of Labor’s website

Pick Up Your Farm Fresh Thanksgiving Produce Bag this Saturday at La Marqueta

While you’re at La Marqueta for the Clothing & Textile Recycling Day, this Saturday, November 17th, Wholesale Greenmarket will be selling pre-packed fresh produce bags that are perfect for your Thanksgiving dinner. The reusable tote bag consists of potatoes, onions, sweet potatoes, carrots, winter greens and more. The pre-packed bag will cost $10, which you can pay for in cash, credit and EBT. Additionally, there will be a Harlem Seeds Thanksgiving themed cooking demo. All is welcome!

WHERE: La Marqueta, 115th St & Park Ave
WHEN: Saturday, November 19th starting at noon
QUESTIONS: GrowNYC  at 212.788.3581 or email egregg@grownyc.org

Free Electronics Recycling and Textile Collection this Saturday

COMPUTER AND ELECTRONICS RECYCLING: UPPER WEST SIDE

Saturday, November 17 – 12 PM to 5 PM

Amsterdam Avenue and 110th Street (south side)

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

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

The following items will be accepted:

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

The following items will not be accepted:

  • Air conditioners
  • Large appliances such as refrigerators
  • Carpeting

TEXTILE COLLECTION: EAST HARLEM

Saturday, November 17 – 12 PM to 5 PM

La Marqueta, 115th Street and Park Avenue

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

New Age-Friendly Database Linking Older Adults to Educational Opportunities at NYC Colleges and Universities

Age-Friendly NYC College Link is a new searchable online database that empowers older adults to browse, search, compare, and connect with educational opportunities at more than 40 of local colleges and universities. The program grew out of consultations with hundreds of older adults throughout New York City who said they wanted to have more options for lifelong learning, but found it difficult to know exactly what was available. Older adults who are interested in seeking opportunities to learn new skills, interests, train for new careers, and simply just enjoy the rich resources available at New York City’s higher education institutions will find Age-Friendly NYC College Link to be a valuable informational hub.

Age-Friendly NYC College Link is a joint initiative of the Mayor’s Office, the City Council, and the New York Academy of Medicine, dedicated to making the resources of New York City more available to older adults.

Please share and visit www.agefriendlynyc.org for more tools and resources.

Blanket and Coat Drive to End Tuesday Afternoon + Weekend Volunteer Opportunities

Thank you all for your incredible generosity! We’ve already collected dozens of coats and blankets for those affected by Hurricane Sandy. We will be suspending the drive beginning Tuesday afternoon at 2:00 pm. For information on where to leave additional donations after Tuesday, please contact New York Cares. If you are still interested in donating, please note that we are closed on Saturday and Monday for the Veteran’s Day Holiday and will re-open at 9:00 a.m. on Tuesday.

We would also like to share information on volunteer opportunities being sponsored this weekend by the New York City Council. They are open to everyone, but please make sure to RSVP to sandyrelief@council.nyc.gov with your name, cell phone number and which day you would like to participate.

Saturday, November 10th, Sunday November 11th and Monday, November 12th
Buses will be leaving daily at 10 am from 250 Broadway (between Murray St. and Park Place in Lower Manhattan) across from City Hall.  These buses will be going to some combination of hard hit areas in Brooklyn and/or Queens. Please look for the Gray Line New York double-decker buses. Volunteers should dress warmly, be prepared to get dirty/wet, and bring a lunch with you.

East Harlem Spa Will Be Providing Free Mammograms & Spa Treatments this Sunday

This Sunday, November 11, 2012, Melissa is proud to announce that Soluna Holistic Spa and the American Italian Cancer Foundation (AICF) will be partnering together to provide free mammograms for up to forty women.

This is a follow-up from an earlier event in September where Soluna Holistic Spa and AICF were pre-screening women for breast cancer and began scheduling appointments for the upcoming free mammograms. Soluna Holistic Spa is still accepting appointments for November 11th. In addition to AICFproviding the mammogram bus and equipment that day, the participating women will be receiving vouchers that will provide them with a much deserved relaxing treat to correspond with their mammograms, compliments of Soluna Holistic Spa. They are offering either a free 15-minute scalp, neck and shoulder massage OR a 15-minute hand massage with paraffin.

Providing breast cancer awareness holds a special place in the heart of Soluna Holistic Spa’s owner, Susu Lespier, being that her great-grandmother passed away from breast cancer and she once had a scare herself. Aware that many Latinas and African American women will unfortunately succumb to this disease due to the lack of regular breast screenings, and passionate about the cause, Susu knew she had to do something.  Along with bringing free screenings and mammograms to Soluna Hoslistic Spa, the spa also continually offers a “Wellness Day.” In conjunction with Columbia Presbyterian Hospital, Soluna Holistic Spa’s “Wellness Day” offers women currently partaking in breast cancer treatment a day of wellness and relaxation for free. This is Susu’s way of giving back to women who are going through a very difficult and challenging time in their life.

WHO: Councilmember Melissa Mark-Viverito’s Office, Soluna Holistica Spa and the American Italian Cancer Foundation
WHAT: Free Mammograms and Complimentary Spa Services
WHEN: Sunday, November 11, 2012 – 12 to 6 PM
WHERE: Soluna Holistic Spa – 143 East 103rd Street (between Lexington and Park Avenues)
CONTACT: Call for an appointment today, 212-876-1326

DREAM Act Eligible College Students: Apply for the 2013 DREAM Fellowship Program

Photo courtesy of Fund for Public Advocacy

The New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC), in partnership with the Fund for Public Advocacy, is accepting applications for the 2013 DREAM Fellowship Program.

The DREAM Fellowship Program is a semester-long leadership development program. In its first semester in the Spring of 2012, ten college-level DREAM Act eligible student leaders from across the world, were selected for the fellowship. In the program, the fellows were exposed to leadership development trainings, internships at community organizations and received $2,000 scholarships toward tuition at City University of New York. You can find out more about the 2012 Fellowship here.

According to The NYIC, their leading drive for the Fellowship was the “vibrant and growing immigrant youth movement. With almost no paid staff, no lobbyists, and few financial resources, undocumented immigrant youth and immigrant communities galvanized a historical movement for passage of the DREAM Act.  In the aftermath of Congress’s failure to act, a new sense of urgency emerged. However, DREAMers faced the challenge of continuing to fight for their rights, while still excluded from most of the educational, financial and leadership opportunities their peers had, simply because of their immigration status. To address this disparity, recognizing the tremendous talent and leadership potential of these young people, the NYIC and the Fund for Public Advocacy created the DREAM Fellowship, a program that combines financial assistance with leadership training and hands-on field work.”

Photo courtesy of NYIC

We encourage you to share this opportunity with DREAM Act-eligible college students you know who could benefit from this opportunity! Please visit NYIC’s website for the application as well as the qualifications required to apply.  The deadline to apply for the DREAM Fellowship is Monday, November 19th, 2012. Applications received after that date will not be considered.

Hurricane Sandy Recovery: How to Get Federal, State and City Assistance

Did you lose wages as a result of Sandy? Did your property or business sustain damage? Take a look at the below resources we have compiled where you can report damage and/or apply for assistance.

Lost Jobs and Wages (State Department of Labor) –

  • If you live or work in NYC and you lost your job or income due to the effects of Hurricane Sandy, you may qualify for Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA).  You may qualify for DUA even if you would not normally be able to get unemployment insurance benefits. To find out if you might be eligible for DUA, call the Telephone Claims Center (TCC) at 1-888-209-8124, or 1-877-358-5306 if you live out of state. Claims will be decided on a case-by-case basis. Answer the questions to indicate that you lost your job as a direct result of Hurricane Sandy. File your application with the New York State Department of Labor as soon as possible.  The application deadline is December 3, 2012. For more information, visit http://www.labor.ny.gov/ui/2012-sandy-services.shtm.

FEMA Disaster Assistance –

  • Apply online at DisasterAssistance.gov.
  • Apply via smartphone at m.fema.gov.
  • Apply by phone: (800) 621-3362 or call TTY (800) 462-7585 for people with speech or hearing disabilities. For individuals who use 711 or Video Relay service, call (800) 621-3362. The numbers mentioned are available from 7 AM to 10 PM, 7 days a week until further notice.

To find out what disaster assistance is and if you qualify, or to check the status of your application, please visit fema.gov/apply-assistance.

NYC OEM – 

NYC Business Assistance Programs –

  • New York City, including the Department of Small Business Services (SBS) and the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC), is coordinating a set of services to assist small businesses in recovering from Hurricane Sandy. Please follow this link for further information.

Insurance –

  • Remember that the assistance mentioned above should be in addition to your insurance claim. 
  • For individuals who need assistance contacting or dealing with their insurance company, you can call the New York State Department of Financial Services (formerly known as New York State Insurance Department) at (518) 474-4567 or (800) 686-1526. There is also a storm assistance number, (800) 339-1759.
  • Sandy was considered a post-tropical storm, not a hurricane, so you should NOT have to pay a hurricane deductible on your insurance policy.

Collecting Blankets and Coats at Our District Office

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

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

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

Sand piled up like snow near Coney Island Houses.

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

Volunteer Opportunities in Manhattan and the Bronx

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

MANHATTAN – 

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

BRONX –

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

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

MANHATTAN – Click here to register to volunteer.

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

BRONX – Click here to register to volunteer.

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

Melissa Visits the East River & Metro North Houses

Yesterday, Melissa visited NYCHA’s East River and Metro North Houses. Although some of the buildings are still without power and hot water, we are very thankful for NYCHA and Con Edison’s extensive work to make sure that NYCHA residents across New York City will have their power restored shortly.  NYCHA has announced that once building systems are restored, they will be able to focus on proper clean up and recovery efforts.

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Some Subway Service to be Restored Tomorrow

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Aftermath of Sandy: A Message from Melissa

I hope that everyone is doing ok. Though compared to other areas we didn’t get hit so hard in our Council district, the damage across the city as a result of Sandy is absolutely devastating. As you know, MTA service continues to be suspended until further notice. The FDR Drive still appears to be flooded. The East River bridges are just reopening. And hundreds of thousands of people across the five boroughs are without power. Also, as the Mayor just announced schools will again be closed tomorrow.

Please continue to let me know of any downed trees or dangerous conditions by e-mailing newsfrommelissa@gmail.com or by tweeting me @MMViverito. You should also report them to 311 and take note of your tracking number.

A few very important things:
  • If you absolutely need to go outside, please be careful and please do not drive unless it is absolutely necessary. We need to keep the roads as clear as possible for emergency vehicles and first responders.
  • Only call 911 if it is truly an emergency. For all other concerns, please contact 311 online or by phone.
  • Please don’t go near damaged trees or power lines and stay out of parks, which are still closed.
There is clearly a lot of work ahead. The Mayor said this morning that it could take several days to fully restore all subway service and power to all New Yorkers. In the meantime, I will continue to share critical updates over e-mail.

Please continue to be safe, and again, let me know of any outstanding issues at newsfrommelissa@gmail.com or @MMViverito on Twitter.

-MMV

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.

Explore El Barrio with the Taste Trolley this Saturday

You have the chance to sample food and drinks from 5 of El Barrio’s finest restaurants for free! Hope Community, with the support of the NYC Department of Small Business Services, is hosting their second El Barrio Taste Trolley this Saturday, October 27th,  from 1 PM to 4 PM.

The tour begins at The Lexington Social, a tapas, wine and cocktail bar, on 1634 Lexington Avenue at East 103rd St and will commence at the three block food festival, the East Harlem Harvest Festival  on East 115th and Park Avenue. The Taste Trolley will also visit: Amor Cubano for authentic Cuban food; Bistro 118 Wine Bar  for French cuisine; the restaurant, bar and lounge Sweet Jane’s; and one of our favorites for a hot latte, East Harlem Café.

Although this is a free event, a $10 donation is suggested. 100% of the funds go to Hope Community to sponsor future taste trolley events.

There’s about a dozen spots left, so reserve your place today to explore El Barrio in the most delicious way – email jcaracino@hopeci.org. Please click here for the official flyer.

 

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

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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 Applauds Governor Cuomo’s Renewed Push for Marijuana Arrest Reform

Yesterday, Melissa issued the following statement in response to Governor Andrew Cuomo’s strong support of legislation that would end small-quantity marijuana arrests, calling for its passage and the passage of a minimum wage increase before considering pay hikes for legislators.

“I commend New York Governor Cuomo for urging the State Legislature to adopt what he calls ‘The People’s Agenda,’ which includes an end to unjust small-quantity marijuana arrests, before they consider a potential salary hike for legislators.

“I strongly support this principled act of leadership in the face of a hostile Republican State Senate which in the last session blocked legislation to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana in public view. This inaction has led to thousands more unjust stop-and-frisk arrests of young men of color when they are told to empty their pockets during stops. Enforcement of this policy costs the city an estimated $75 million each year.

“The new law would make marijuana possession merely a violation, like a traffic ticket, and not a crime that the police can arrest people for committing. Since there are currently over 50,000 annual stop-and-frisk arrests for small-time marijuana possession in NYC, this will dramatically reduce the unjust criminalization of our youth. Earlier this year, the New York City Council passed a resolution in support of this legislation, which I sponsored, and Mayor Bloomberg and Commissioner Kelly have voiced their support of these reforms. The Commissioner even issued a directive to officers intended to slow down the number of marijuana arrests. Still, it is essential to codify this policy change at the State level, and I thank Governor Cuomo for taking this issue so seriously.

“I am also very pleased that Governor Cuomo is renewing the push to raise the state’s minimum wage, a vitally important measure which will help working families remain in New York City and the state during times of increasing poverty and income disparity.”

NYC Council Members Call for Justice in Noel Polanco Case

NYC COUNCIL MEMBERS CALL FOR JUSTICE IN NOEL POLANCO CASE

Joint Statement by Council Members Melissa Mark-Viverito, Daniel Dromm, Charles Barron, Leroy Comrie, Julissa Ferreras, Rosie Mendez, Ydanis Rodriguez, Mark Weprin, and Jumaane Williams

“We support the call for a grand jury investigation into the October 4th shooting death of Noel Polanco, the 22-year- old National Guardsman who was shot and killed in his car by NYPD detective Hassan Hamdy during a traffic stop along Grand Central Parkway in Queens.

“We have deep concerns about this case, given the facts that have come to light so far. Police said that Polanco was speeding near La Guardia airport around 5:00 a.m. when officers pulled him over. As two officers approached the car, one of them (Hamdy) claims he saw Polanco reaching for something, and he then shot him once in the stomach. The other passenger in the car said this account was untrue — that Polanco’s hands were on the steering wheel. No weapons were recovered from the car.

“Our support and prayers go out to Polanco’s family. We fully support his mother’s call for an independent grand jury investigation. It is important that the NYPD officer be held accountable and prosecuted if the investigation determines that he committed a crime. Given the other recent fatal shootings of unarmed New Yorkers by police officers, it is essential to make sure that justice is served in this case. We are currently reaching out to the family to see in what way we can be supportive.”

Make an Appointment Today for Your FREE Mammogram on Monday, October 29

Judges and Lawyers Breast Cancer Alert (JALBCA) and the Association of Secretaries to Supreme Court Justices (NY County Chapter) are funding FREE mammograms on Monday, October 29. The mammograms will be given by Project Renewal’s ScanVan program.

Project Renewal’s ScanVan is a mobile radiology clinic that provides mammograms and chest x-rays to those without access to other health care providers. The staff provides counseling, education, and initiates and ensures follow-up treatment for all positive screening. Women that are 40 and older should have an annual clinical breast exam and mammogram. Early breast cancer detection can save your life.

Hear the personal journeys of two women whose lives were touched by the ScanVan:

 

WHAT: Free Mammograms
WHEN: Monday, October 29 – starting at 8 AM
WHERE: ScanVan outside of the Harlem Community Justice Center, 170 East 121st Street, between Lexington & Third Avenues

* APPOINTMENTS ARE NECESSARY – Please call 1(800)564-6868
* For women 40 and older who have not had a mammogram in the past year, this is of no cost to you. However, if you have insurance please bring the information with you.

Para un folleto en español, haga clic aquí – MAMMOGRAFIA GRATIS.

East Harlem Rezoning Meeting on Monday, October 22

CIVITAS and Community Board 11 have been working together, brainstorming ways to modify land use and zoning policies in East Harlem. They’re talking about creating affordable housing, promoting economic development, and controlling appropriate building sizes for the area under consideration, which is Madison to Lexington Avenues and 115th to 132nd Streets, excluding the 125th Street corridor.

To learn more about the changes the 2003 rezoning brought to East Harlem, please watch CIVITAS’ 2010 video of an East Harlem walking tour led by land use planner Richard Bass:

Be a part of the conversation and envision a better East Harlem.

WHO: CIVITAS, Community Board 11, land use consultants Insight Associates and George M. Janes & Associates

WHAT: Land Use & Zoning in East Harlem meeting

WHEN: Monday, October 22 at 6:30 PM

WHERE: The Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College, 2nd floor auditorium. 2180 Third Avenue at 119th Street

RSVP: Community Board 11 office at 212-831-8929

Deferred Action: “The Basics”, an Informational Session, on Thursday, October 18

Melissa, along with New York Immigration Coalition, the Office of the Manhattan District Attorney, and the East Harlem Immigrant Service Network will be holding a general informational session that will focus on the federal Deferred Action policy. The goals of the Deferred Action: “The Basics” session is to give agencies who may come into contact with undocumented individuals basic information on Deferred Action, share preventive measures that participants can use to protect themselves from fraud, and finally share the various resources that exist for people seeking information on this or other policies as it pertains to immigrants.

WHAT: Deferred Action: “The Basics” Informational Session
WHEN: Thursday, October 18 – 9 to 11 AM
WHERE: Hunter College’s School of Social Work, 2180 3rd Avenue (corner of East 119th Street)
RSVP: Joe Pressley at 212-828-9800 or jpressley@council.nyc.gov

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

Education Partners: Parents, Schools, and the Community Panel this Thursday

How can you get more involved in your child’s education? In what ways can schools and the community work together to provide resources to young people and their families? Boys & Girls Harbor is hosting its inaugural educational panel to discuss these and other topics on Thursday, October 18, at 6 PM.

Boys & Girls Harbor’s Education Partners: Parents, Schools, and the Community will have an impressive roster of panelists including seasoned educators, New York City politicians, representatives from community-based organizations, and parents. This year’s panel will be moderated by Harbor Executive Director Dr. Thomas Howard and will address critical issues and challenges facing today’s parents. Panelists include: Margaret Harrington, Ed.D., education consultant and Harbor Board member; Paula Martin, Executive Director of Harlem Center for Education; Jeanne Mullgrav, Commissioner of the Department of Youth and Community Development (DYCD); Kelly Smith, Harbor parent; and Lew Smith, Founder and Director of the National Principals Leadership Institute

Light refreshments will be served. Don’t miss your opportunity to be a part of this important conversation!

 

WHO: Boys & Girls Harbor

WHAT: Education Partners: Parents, Schools, and the Community Panel

WHEN: Thursday, October 18 at 6 PM

WHERE: The Heckscher building, 1 East 104th Street

RSVP to news@theharbor.org for guaranteed seating. Walk-ins are welcome!

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

Melissa Celebrates Publicolor Day by Revitalizing an East Harlem Community Facility

Since Mayor Bloomberg’s 2006 proclamation, every fall we celebrate Publicolor Day. Publicolor Day recognizes the Publicolor organization and their volunteers that prove that something as simple as color and design can make a deep and positive impact on struggling communities. Publicolor engages high-risk students, ages 12-21, in their education by offering a range of design-based programs and academic support. They are dedicated to revitalizing public and civic spaces by beautifying them with paint. Every Publicolor Day, the organization selects NYC public spaces to transform and East Harlem was fortunate enough to be home of one of the space’s chosen for this year’s Publicolor Day.

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The Lehman Community Center in East Harlem got a much needed color lift thanks to all of Publicolor’s staff, volunteers and students, along with Melissa, Assemblyman Robert J. Rodriguez, NYCHA Chairman John Rhea, NYCHA residents, community activists, and union professionals from Laborers’ Local 79, 100 Black Construction Workers, Nontraditional Employment for Women and District Council 9 International Union of Painters and Allied Trades. We feel extremely fortunate to have been able to participate in such a positive and colorful day. To find out more about Publicolor and ways you can get involved, please visit their website.

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: events@council.nyc.gov or 212.788.6871

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

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

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

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

At this Contractor Forum, you will learn:

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

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

WHAT: Bronx Contractor Forum

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

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

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

Apply Today for the Saturday Academy at the Museum of the City of New York

The Museum of the City of New York’s Saturday Academy is a free six-week program for students in grades 8 – 12 interested in American History or SAT preparation. There’s no homework or testing and all course materials are provided.

Fall 2012 courses meet on Saturdays October 27, November 3, 10, 17, December 1 and 8. Course offerings include:

  • Arts Movements in New York: From World War II to the 1960s
  • Futurama! America’s World’s Fairs and Envisioning the World of Tomorrow
  • Voices of Resistance: Photography and Poetry of the Civil Rights Movement
  • From Epidemics to Healthcare Reform: The History of American Medicine
  • Bell Curves SAT Skills

All applications must be received online. TO APPLY, please click on this link and fill out all the required information.

The application deadline is Tuesday, October 9. Enrollment is first-come, first-served, so please apply early since space is limited! Should you experience any trouble applying online, you may email Saturday.Academy@mcny.org or call 917-492-3401 to request that an application be mailed to your home address for you to fill out and return to the Museum of the City of New York.

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.

Join Us for the Groundbreaking Celebration of El Barrio’s Artspace PS109

We are proud to announce the groundbreaking of PS109 becoming an affordable live/work space for El Barrio artists thanks to Artspace, America’s leader in arts-driven community transformation. El Barrio’s Artspace PS109, a $52 million project, will serve the East Harlem community by creating 90 units of permanently affordable live/work housing and an additional 12,000 square feet of space for arts and cultural activities on the ground floor and lower level. Along with El Barrio’s Operation Fightback, Artspace will be bringing a new life to the historic former public school, which is expected to take two years.

The residential units in El Barrio’s Artspace PS109 will be reserved for artists whose household income is less than 60% of the Area Median Income. To ensure that East Harlem artists are well-represented in the facility, the project will apply NYC Department of Housing Preservation & Development’s (HPD) lottery process, ensuring that at least 50% of the units are set aside for artists who are current residents of East Harlem.

The groundbreaking ceremony for this exciting new project is scheduled for Tuesday, October 2, 2012 from 4 – 8 PM at 215 East 99th Street. Melissa as well as Mayor Bloomberg, National Endowment for the Arts Chair Rocco Landesman, Cultural Affairs Commissioner Kate D. Levin, HPD Commissioner Matthew Wambua, Community Board 11 Chair Matthew Washington, Ford Foundation President Luis Ubinas, Artspace President Kelly Lindquist and El Barrio’s Operation Fightback Executive Director Gustavo Rosado will be in attendance. There will be performances by salsa legend Johnny Colon and his Orchestra, along with other local artists. The ceremony and performances are free and open to the public, so please join us!

Make Your Voice Heard on Redistricting

Every 10 years, our districts get re-drawn based on the latest Census. The NYC Districting Commission has released a set of draft lines for districts citywide. Check out this map which compares the current district with the proposal by the Commission.

Here is the information on the upcoming hearings where our constituents can provide feedback on the lines. Note that this may be the final opportunity for public input.

BRONX
Tuesday, October 2nd – 5:30PM – 9:00PM
Bronx Community College Hall of Fame Playhouse
2155 University Avenue

MANHATTAN
Thursday, October 4th – 5:30PM – 9:00PM
Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture
515 Malcolm X Boulevard

If you plan to testify, please pre-register here. If you cannot attend but want to send written testimony, you can do so to hearings@districting.nyc.gov.

Search and Care is Looking for Volunteers

Search and Care will be holding an Open House for potential volunteers on Tuesday, September 25th from 6 to 7:30 PM. This is a great opportunity to give back to the community by providing free help to seniors who want to stay in their apartments but may have a hard time managing on their own. This rewarding experience can involve anything from just visiting a senior in their home to walking their dog,  assisting a frail senior to and from doctor appointments, or grocery shopping for a homebound senior.

If you’re 18 or older (bilingual is a plus) and want to know if this would be a great way for you to give back, or if you have a parent in East Harlem and want to learn more about Search and Care’s services, please RSVP to attend and bring a friend or neighbor. Refreshments will be served. RSVP today!

WHO: Search and Care

WHAT: Volunteer Open House

WHEN: Tuesday, September 25th, 6 – 7:30 PM

WHERE: Community Board 11, 1664 Park Avenue (117th & 118th)

RSVP: Call Robin at 212-289-5300 x203 or email strashun@searchandcare.org

Opportunity for a Career as a Union Skilled Construction Craft Laborer

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

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

Minimum Requirements:

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

Instructions:

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

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

This Thursday: A Big Day for Participatory Budgeting in Our District and Citywide

This Thursday, we will launch Year Two of our Participatory Budgeting process in Council District 8 with a special Neighborhood Assembly geared to our seniors. The assembly will be held at 10:00 a.m. on Thursday, September 20th at SCAN LaGuardia (307 E. 116th Street). We hope to see you there or at one of our six other assemblies planned over the next month.

That same evening, the citywide Participatory Budgeting NYC initiative will hold a special launch party for Year 2 of the PB process, which will include raffles, refreshments, music and great company from the eight districts across our city now participating in PB. The launch party will be held at Pratt Manhattan (144 West 14th Street, between 6th and 7th Avenues).

And if you can stop by a bit earlier, the Urban Justice Center will release its report on the first year of the PB process in the four pilot Council districts (including ours) at 3:30 pm, also at Pratt Manhattan. Join UJC for a briefing on the report to learn how PB helped engage communities that have been historically disenfranchised by offering a new exciting vehicle for political participation.

Stay tuned for more PB updates throughout the process!

This Thursday: Immigration Fraud Roundtable

Immigration Fraud Roundtable
“New Yorkers, Know Your Rights!”

Where and When?
Hunter College School of Social Work
2180 3rd Avenue @ East 119th Street
Thursday, September 20, 2012  ─ 9:30AM to 11AM

Sponsored by:
Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman

Co-Sponsored by:
Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito, State Senator Jose M. Serrano & Assembly Member Robert Rodriguez

Presented by:
Assistant Attorney General Roberto G. Lebron

 Come hear a discussion on how to protect your community from Immigration Services Fraud and the Unauthorized Practice of Law NY

To RSVP and for more information, please contact Gregory Meyer at Senator Serrano’s office at (212)828-5829 or email him at gregorygmeyer@gmail.com.

 

Remember to Vote in the Primary Election Today!

AP Photo

For those of you have not already voted in today’s primary election, please note that the polling location you have had previously may not necessarily still be your designated poll site. Before you go to vote, confirm your voting location here. You can also download a sample ballot to see what races are going on in your part of the district.

Please note that because this is a primary and not a general election, in some parts of the district, there are no races to vote on. But if you do live in an area with a contested primary, we urge you to vote.

The polls will be open today until 9 PM. If you have any problems, please contact the Board of Elections at 866-VOTE-NYC.

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 chase.com/chasegiving, 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’s Statement on Approval of HHC Housing Development on E. 99th Street

On Wednesday, August 23rd, the City Council approved a land use item that will pave the way for the construction of a new housing project E. 99th Street, adjacent to Metropolitan Hospital. The project, which will be built by the City’s Health and Hospitals Corporation (HHC) will provide housing to 176 low-income elderly and/or disabled New Yorkers who currently reside at HHC’s Coler Goldwater skilled nursing facility on Randall’s Island, but no longer require intensive care. After extensive negotiations with the Bloomberg administration and HHC, I arrived at the decision to support this project.

The move of the Coler Goldwater facility from Randall’s Island to El Barrio/East Harlem was in the works since at least 2010, but the final push to move this plan along came with the announcement that the City was seeking to use the land occupied by Coler Goldwater for a new engineering school on Randall’s Island (which will be operated by Cornell University). The new facility planned for E. 99th Street is one of several new developments coming into the East Harlem community as a result of the closure of Coler Goldwater. A new nursing facility will be built near North General Hospital, and a former North General building will also be renovated to provide acute long-term care (these two sites are outside of my Council district).

The E. 99th Street Sanitation Garage

The community had expressed a number of concerns about the proposed move of Coler Goldwater facilities into El Barrio/East Harlem. The most salient of the issues raised by community stakeholders like the Metropolitan Hospital Community Advisory Board (CAB) and Community Board 11 involved a longstanding concern with the location of the E. 99th Street Department of Sanitation garage.

I share the community’s frustration about the location of such a garage across the street from our public hospital, and now from a planned housing development for low-income seniors and disabled individuals, and I have raised this with the Bloomberg administration, the Department of Sanitation (DSNY) Commissioner and HHC in the past.

In negotiating the Council approval of the 99th Street housing development, I secured several commitments from the administration:

  1. Search for potential new location of sanitation garage: DSNY will work with the Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS) and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to try to identify another City-owned or privately-owned site on which to house the sanitation garage. DSNY has pledged to keep me updated on this process.
  2. Reduction in number of sanitation vehicles: DSNY will reduce the total number of vehicles stationed at E. 99th Street in its summer season (April 2nd through November 11th) by 20%. Additional vehicles will be added in the winter season, but those will only be used for the purposes of cleaning up snow in Community District 11.
  3. Additional parking space for trucks on 1st Avenue: The City has secured additional space to park Sanitation trucks on the corner of 1st Avenue and 99th Street, eliminating the need for trucks to park on 99th Street itself.

I believe that these commitments are an important step in the right direction to mitigating some of the negative impacts of the garage on 99th Street and opening up the possibility that the garage could eventually be moved if the right opportunity presents itself.

Resources from Cornell University

The community also requested that El Barrio/East Harlem receive consideration for resources that Cornell University is planning to provide to schools on Roosevelt Island, considering the burden our community is taking on with the influx of patients formerly located at Coler Goldwater. While we could not receive specific commitments at the present time, I am confident that there is a genuine openness on the part of the administration to help secure resources for our schools from Cornell, as the development of the engineering school moves forward.

Thank you for your continued support. If you have any additional questions, feel free to contact my office.

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!

Tomorrow: Small Business Job Fair Prescreening

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

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

Location: 60 Madison Avenue, Suite 704

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

(Applicant must be in proper interview attire)

APPLICANTS WITHOUT RESUMES WILL NOT BE ADMITTED

Best of luck!

PICTURE POST: The Sixth Annual Teen Fair

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Our office had a blast at the Sixth Annual Teen Fair! We thank all the organizations that participated and the talent that performed. Please enjoy just some of the pictures that we took and feel free to share any that you have from that day. We can’t wait to do this again next year!

Take Advantage of Free Performances at Lincoln Center

One of our favorite things about living in NYC is having so many free cultural events made accessible to us across the five boroughs. Lincoln Center is one of the organizations that provides extraordinary free performances for all New Yorkers. Here is their upcoming schedule for weekly events and free performances  at the David Rubenstein Atrium at Lincoln Center:

WEEKLY EVENTS:

Target Free Thursdays: Taking place every Thursday night at 8:30 pm, all year long, Target Free Thursdays provide free public performances that represent a diverse cross-section of musical genres, including pop, Latin, rock, soul, country, spoken word, and world music. Performers come from Lincoln Center’s resident organizations including Jazz at Lincoln Center and The Julliard School, as well as independent artists from across the five boroughs.

Meet the Artist Saturdays: On the first Saturday of each month at 11:00 am, Lincoln Center offers Meet the Artist Saturdays free-of-charge to the public. Meet the Artist offers a unique blend of performance, participation, and education that is specially created for family appeal. Each program provides audiences of all ages with the opportunity to experience the arts firsthand with world-class performers and every presentation includes a Q&A with the artists.

FREE PERFORMANCES:

When: Thursday, August 30th, at 7:30pm
What: Target Free Thursdays / “Lysander Piano Trio” / Grand Prize winner at the 2011 Coleman Chamber Music Competition, Lysander Piano Trio performs an exciting cross section of the most beloved piano trio repertoire.

When: Tuesday, September 4th, at 7:30pm
What: Special free performance / “The Tres Amigos: The Spicy Special” / The Tres Amigos deliver earnest, often comic originals and innovative takes on a range of classics, all tightly arranged to suit the group’s unique mix of alto sax, accordion, acoustic guitar, and hollerin’ voices.

When: Saturday, September 15th, at 11:00am
What: Meet the Artist Saturdays / “Classical Jam” / A vibrant ensemble of flute, percussion, violin, viola and cello, Classical Jam (CJ) brings five of the most highly demanded soloists and chamber musicians together.

When: Thursday, September 20th, at 7:30pm
What: Target Free Thursdays / “The Donations” / The Donations is comprised of Lincoln Center staffers — a singing group originally commissioned by Reynold Levy, President of Lincoln Center, to perform at Board functions.  Friends and colleagues will accompany the group on an eclectic selection of songs ranging from Broadway to the King of Pop. We hope you’ll join us for an evening of merry music-making!

When: Thursday, September 27th, at 7:30pm
What: Target Free Thursdays / “Stevy Mahy” / Float away on the enchanting voice of Stevy Mahy whose lyrics flow seamlessly over rich acoustic melodies that envelop and warm the soul. Growing up in a musical household, she spent her time between her birthplace, Paris and Guadeloupe. Stevy’s music is distinctly influenced by her global childhood. Singing in English, French, and Creole, her hushed tones and intimate style are complemented by the hints of Caribbean rhythm.

When: Saturday, September 29th, at 2:30pm
What: Meet the Artist Saturdays / “Lincoln Center Local Final Series Performance” / Journey across Latin culture with Alexander Wu and the Zigzag Quartet to find the threads of salsa, samba, and tango in classical jazz and modern musical compositions. This performance features ballroom dancers and will be broadcast live to selected libraries in Queens.

When: Thursday, October 4th, at 8:30pm
What: Target Free Thursdays / “Ne(x)tworks: John Cage’s Variations IV” / To celebrate iconoclastic American composer John Cage’s centenary, local creative music ensemble Ne(x)tworks (with special guest R. Luke DuBois on video) presents the evening-length work Variations IV (1963). Fourth in a series of classic indeterminate works from the 1960’s, Variations IV is a seminal exploration of simultaneity and site-specificity, and is Cage’s composerly representation of the Hindu/Buddhist concept samsara or “the world of everyday life.”

When: Saturday, October 6th, at 11:00am
What: Meet the Artist Saturdays / “NewSong Music: Songwritting workshop with James Maddock” / British born James Maddock was first recognized in the U.S as leader of the band Wood (Songs From Stamford Hill – Columbia Records). Songs From Stamford Hill, which remains a fan favorite 10 years later, produced a Top 5 Triple A hit, “Stay You” and was included in the first Dawson’s Creek compilation.

When: Thursday, October 11th, at 7:30pm
What: Target Free Thursdays / “O Sole Trio: From Prima Donna to Post-Madonna
How Italy and Italian-Americans influenced American Popular Music” / A vibrant musical ensemble featuring the lush voices of soprano Erin Shields and baritone Giuseppe Spoletini along with the amazingly versatile David Shenton on violin and piano. The night will offer a blend of some of the most popular Italian opera, Neapolitan and classic jazz standards with a concentration on the Italian language.

For additional performances in October and beyond, check out their schedule.

The David Rubenstein Atrium at Lincoln Center is located between West 62nd and 63rd Streets with entrances on Broadway and Columbus Avenues.

Hispanic Federation Will Award 100 DREAMers $50,000 to Apply for Deferred Action

In the midst of rejoicing with the still-new news of DREAMers being able to obtain protection from deportation and receive work permits for at least two years, there’s a harsh reality for those who qualify for deferred action – the cost of applying. At $475 per applicant, it’s not a small fee, especially for families with multiple eligible DREAMers. This is why the Hispanic Federation, along with 10 Latino nonprofit partner organizations, is going to award $50,000 to aid 100 deserving, eligible immigrant youth applying for the Obama’s Administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Immigration Program.

DREAMers looking to confirm their eligibility and apply for assistance with the application fee must do so through the 10 partner organizations, which are listed below:

Make the Road NY (Brooklyn & Queens, NY)
347-SONAR12 (347-766-2712)
dream@maketheroadny.org

Northern Manhattan Coalition for Immigrant Rights (Manhattan & Bronx, NY)
665 West 182nd Street, Ground Floor, New York, New York 10033
212-781-035

El Centro del Inmigrante (Staten Island, NY)
1546 Castleton Ave, Staten Island, NY 10302
718-420-6466

Westchester Hispanic Coalition (Hudson Valley, NY)
46 Waller Avenue, White Plains, NY  10605
914-948–8466

Center for Latino Progress (Hartford, CT)
95 Park Street, 2nd Floor, Hartford, CT 06106
860-247-3227

Hispanic Center of Greater Danbury (Danbury, CT)
87 West Street, Danbury, CT 06810
203-798-2855

Immigration & American Citizenship Organization (Passaic, NJ)
647 Main Avenue, Suite 205, Passaic, New Jersey, 07055
973-472-4648

La Casa de Don Pedro (Newark, NJ)
39 Broadway Newark, NJ 07104
973-481-4713

Juntos (Philadelphia, PA)
2029 South 8th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19148
215-218-9079

Esperanza Immigration Legal Services (Philadelphia, PA)
4261North 5th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19140

Donations to support DREAMers can be made to the Hispanic Federation through their website or by contacting Tania Munguia at their headquarters at (212) 233-8955. If this is something you or someone you know is interested in applying for, spread the word and apply today. Best of luck!

Participatory Budgeting Enters its Second Year in District 8

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Learn About Being a Responsible Pet Owner this Saturday at the Launch of “There is No Poop Fairy in East Harlem” Campaign

It’s undeniable, we love our pets – but there is no excuse for not cleaning up after our dogs. Not only is it offensive to our sense of smell when dog waste is left on the street, but it contains harmful bacteria, pollutes groundwater, and sticks around for a long time. Stepping in it is more than just a nuisance – it’s an opportunity to spread bacteria to your home. Please help keep our neighborhood free of poop piles by joining us in the launch of this important public service health campaign, “There is No Poop Fairy in East Harlem,” this Saturday, August 25. Enjoy a day of six different informative and free workshops, and also get a chance to win a physical examination for your pet at Oliver’s Dog & Cat Clinic of East Harlem, a PetSmart gift certificate or doggie goodie bags; and of course there will be free biodegradable poop bags.

Celebrity Groomer to the Stars, Jorge Bendersky come by to discuss the importance of properly grooming your pet. ASPCA will be joining us to provide free or low cost spay/neuter services as well as providing free tick/flea prevention, rabies and distemper shots. NYC Department of Health & Mental Hygiene will be administering dog licenses and Animal Care and Control of NYC will be sharing the benefits of the feral cat Catch and Release Program. Come join the discussion about being a pet owner in a NYCHA development and reacquaint yourself with the much improved Jefferson Park Dog Run. For the complete schedule, see below.

WHO: Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito, Jorge Bendersky, ASPCA, Jefferson Park Dog Run Committee, Animal Care and Control of NYC, New York City Housing Authority, NYC Department of Health & Mental Hygiene, and Search and Care.

WHAT: There is No Poop Fairy in East Harlem Campaign

WHEN: Saturday, August 25, 2012 – 10 AM to 1 PM

WHERE: Thomas Jefferson Park Recreation Center – 112th Street and First Avenue (dogs are not permitted inside the Center)

To attend the workshops or learn more about the different ways in which you can volunteer, please call 212-828-9800. We hope to see you there!

West Side Summer Fair Tomorrow

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

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

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

WHAT: Summer Street Fair

WHERE: West 105th Street between Amsterdam and Columbus Avenue

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

Melissa at the BlogHer 2012 Conference

Earlier this month, Melissa had the opportunity to be on a panel at the BlogHer 2012 Conference about Latinas in Elected Office.  Melissa talked about the key role social media plays in engaging with her community (Thanks followers!!) and beyond. It was a great experience conversing with like-minded politically active Latinas. Oh, and did we forget to mention that President Obama spoke via satellite?

Ella Gobierna’s Latinas in Elected Office Panel: Ana Roca Castro, Nevada Assemblywoman Lucy Flores, blogger Veronica Arreola, NH Representative Marilinda Garcia, and Melissa. Photo courtesy of Blogs by Latinas.

‘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!

Deferred Action Application Now Available for Undocumented Youth

Earlier this year, President Obama announced that DREAM Act eligible immigrant students will be able to remain in the U.S. without fear of deportation and can access work permits. Applicants who have not committed major crimes can apply for Deferred Action without fear of deportation for at least two years.

The application for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (I-821D) has been released along with the application for employment authorization (I-765)  and I-765WS, form I-765 worksheet. If you are filing for Deferred Action make sure to file all applications. Filing address depends on state of residence, check out the complete list here.

The total fee for forms for deferred action I-821D, employment authorization I-765 and the worksheet I-765WS is $465. This fee includes the $380 form fee for the working papers I-765 and an $85 biometric services fee. Make sure you do not pay more for the applications.

Here is the list of the requirements and a list of documents you need in order to prove you are eligible for deferred action.  

Attend New York State Youth Leadership Council’s (NYSYLC) Manhattan’s Deferred Action Workshop to get more information about Deferred Action, the requirements, how to apply, when and where. Get your questions answered by an accredited lawyer.

Manhattan Deferred Action Workshop

WHEN: Thursday, Aug 16th from 6:30pm-8:30pm

WHERE: Little Sisters of the Assumption on LSA Family Health Service, 333 East 115th St, New York, NY 10029, 3rd Floor.

For more information contact info@nysylc.org, visit NYSYLC’s website, follow @NYSYLC or like NYSYLC on Facebook

Additional information provided by U.S. Citizen & Immigration Services: Deferred Action Informational Flyer & Deferred Action Detailed Informational Brochure

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 fayala@lifechangerschurch.org.  

Melissa Comments on the Calls for a Federal Investigation of NYCHA

The New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) is under the microscope right now by some elected officials and the media. Melissa released the following statement yesterday in response to these recent reports:

“With all of the challenges facing NYCHA, we as local elected officials and advocates for public housing need to be constructive in expressing our concerns and seeking real solutions,” said Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito. “In the context of this Republican Congress, which would like nothing more than to dismantle one of the largest remaining housing authorities in our nation, now is not the time to call for a federal investigation of NYCHA. In a city that has grown too expensive and now has the highest income disparity in the nation, NYCHA serves as an important stabilizing force, as the cornerstone of affordable housing in New York City. Clearly, we want all of our agencies to function effectively and efficiently, but we must not lose sight of how these sensational news stories, and the political response they have provoked, could serve to undermine all the work that still needs to be done to improve the lives of NYCHA’s 400,000 residents.”

The fact is that in the past three years, NYCHA has been making progress on many important issues, including: addressing the work order backlog, federalizing and preserving 20,000 units, enhancing employment and empowerment opportunities for residents, wisely investing stimulus funding, developing a “Green Agenda” and planning for the future. It was also during these past three years that they spent about $1.5 billion for a number of vital initiatives, including: completing the 75,000 repair work orders in more than 16,000 apartments citywide, $400 million in capital improvements such as brick work, elevator modernizations, boiler and electrical system upgrades and the creation of 3,200 jobs for New Yorkers. NYCHA has been actively working on empowering their residents with connecting them to jobs through the proven Jobs-Plus programs. That included over 500 members of our communities of East Harlem and the South Bronx.

Despite continuous federal cuts, NYCHA is working hard to have their Operating deficit completely eliminated in 2015-2016. We applaud NYCHA’s efforts to preserve and protect New York City public housing despite all of the cuts that they have endured.

Voice Your Opinion at the NYC Districting Commission’s Public Hearings

It’s that time again. Every ten years, the NYC Districting Commission meets to redraw the New York City Council’s district lines in order to account for shifts in the population based on the last Census. This process has officially begun this summer. Don’t be left out of the conversation!

The NYC Districting Commission will be holding hearings this month so that the public can give its input as the Commission enters the initial phases of drafting a new districting plan. If you would like to register for speaking time at one of these hearings or submit written testimony in advance, please sign up online at http://www.nyc.gov/districting. Those speaking will be allotted up to three minutes to provide their testimony.

You can also keep up with the latest on the process by visiting the Districting Commission’s website or following the Commission on Twitter or Facebook.  

Below are the two public hearings for our Manhattan and Bronx constituents:

MANHATTAN – Thursday, August 16th – 5PM-9PM

New York Law School, 185 West Broadway, New York, NY 10013

BRONX – Thursday, August 23rd – 5PM-9PM

Lehman College, 250 Bedford Park Boulevard West, East Dining Room, Music Building, Bronx, NY 10468

We welcome you to participate and share your views with the Districting Commission as well as pass the word on to your neighbors!

Para información sobre la Comisión de Designación de Distritos en español, haga clic aquí

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]

Free Rodent Management Training

Community Board 7 is opening their doors to anyone interested in a free training program in rodent abatement. The Rodent Management Training session will be held on Wednesday, August 15th at 250 West 87th Street, 2nd floor.

Whether you’re a building owner, manager, super or simply a resident that has seen rats and mice in and your building, learn how to safely and effectively manage the unwelcome pests around your property. New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene implemented a “Rat Indexing” program in the Bronx and Manhattan, where they would inspect most properties, even if no complaint of a rat was received. Here is how our district fared: Manhattan Community Board 11, Bronx Community Board 1 and Manhattan Community Board 7.

Registration is required so please register by either calling (212) 362-4008 or by emailing office@cb7.org. Register today for this useful training session!

Click here for Spanish.

WHEN: Wednesday, August 15, 2012 – 2 PM to 4 PM

WHERE: 250 West 87th Street, 2nd Floor

Free Deferred Action and College Fair Information Session this Saturday

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

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

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

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

WHAT: Deferred Action and College Fair Information Session

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

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

Council Members Melissa Mark-Viverito and Letitia James Call on DOE to Combat Youth Obesity Through Expanded Physical Education in Public Schools

LETTER SIGNED BY 34 COUNCIL MEMBERS CALLS ON CHANCELLOR WALCOTT TO BRING PHYSICAL EDUCATION PROGRAM UP TO STANDARDS, REDUCE DISPARITIES IN LOW-INCOME COMMUNITIES  

As the Bloomberg administration promotes its proposed ban on the sale of large sugary drinks, Council Members Melissa Mark-Viverito and Letitia James have spearheaded a letter to NYC Department of Education Chancellor Walcott highlighting deficiencies in the City’s physical education (PE) program. The letter, which was signed by 32 other Council Members, points to several studies indicating that the city’s children, particularly in low-income communities of color, are not receiving the minimum required gym classes, despite the important role that regular physical activity plays in reducing obesity.

“With all the attention being placed on the Bloomberg administration’s proposed soda ban, we felt that there was a larger story to tell about how other policy choices by this administration are contributing to the obesity epidemic in this City,” said Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito. “The disparities between our city’s neighborhoods when it comes to physical education are unacceptable. We look forward to working with the DOE to achieve a marked improvement in the City’s physical education program, particularly in low-income communities of color.”

“Unlike the administration’s ‘soda ban’, the expansion of physical fitness activities and education in schools will go far to teach the benefits of living a healthy lifestyle from an early age.” said Council Member Letitia James, who has been working with “Let’s Move Brooklyn” (part of First Lady Michelle Obama’s national youth fitness campaign) this summer, speaking at their educational panel as well as hosting the “Brooklyn Olympic Fun Day Events” in Bedford-Stuyvesant last month.

According to a recent New York Times article, one in five city high school students reported not having gym class in an average week. Additionally, none of the 31 elementary schools visited by the NYC Comptroller’s Office last year met New York State standards on PE. And a 2012 study conducted by the NYC Strategic Alliance for Health found only 6 out of 74 elementary schools studied were meeting state requirements.

The New York State Education Department requires that PE classes be held every day for students in grades K to 3, and three times a week for grades 4 to 6, for a minimum of 120 minutes a week; and at least 90 minutes a week for grades 7 and 8. Three gym classes a week are required for grades 7 through 12 in one semester, and twice a week in another.

The communication to the Chancellor requested that his office provide the Council with data on the City’s PE program; clarification on the DOE’s policy on PE in co-located schools; and information regarding the DOE’s strategy to improve PE in schools and reduce PE disparities across neighborhoods.

Poll: How Do You Feel About the Soda Ban?

You have probably seen all of our recent posts about the Mayor’s proposed ban on the sale of large sugary beverages.  We have created an informal online poll to see how our constituents and friends feel about the proposed soda ban.  Let us know what you think!

Melissa Denounces Racist Anti-Obama Tweets by Advisor to Speaker of Puerto Rico House of Representatives

Melissa has denounced racist tweets sent to President Obama by an advisor to the Speaker of Puerto Rico’s House of Representatives named Heidi Wys (@HeidiWys) on July 26, 2012.  In response to a photo of Barack and Michelle Obama holding a birthday cake, which was tweeted with the message “Someone has a birthday coming up,” Ms. Wys replied “Who cares? Take her to Burger King, buy her a sundae with double banana, take her to your homeland, Kenya.”  Last month, Ms. Wys replied to a tweet regarding an Obama fundraiser saying, “Wah! Wah! I feel like vomiting! Dinner with a guy borned in Kenya and claims he was borned in Hawaii!”

She has sought to “defend” her comments by saying that she is not a racist since “mis sobrinas más queridas son prietas” (“my dearest nieces are dark skinned”) and that she is just anti-Obama.  She tweeted yesterday, “Combato a Obama con todas las fuerzas de mi corazon y pasion como descendiente de alemanes!!” (“I am fighting Obama with all my heart and passion, as a descendent of Germans!!”).  These tweets come just a few months after another set of racist Twitter attacks by Zaida “Cucusa” Hernández, a former Speaker of Puerto Rico’s House, against Rafael Cox-Alomar, a Democratic candidate for Puerto Rico’s Resident Commissioner in the U.S. Congress.

“Heidi Wys’ comments against the President are vile and disgusting, and represent the height of ignorance,” said Melissa. “I am sickened by the continued racist attacks from prominent political figures in Puerto Rico. Instead of setting a civil tone and engaging in a responsible debate, Ms. Wys has stuck by comments that are inflammatory, highly offensive and continue to demonstrate the deep-seated racism that abounds in Puerto Rican political and social discourse.  I call on Ms. Wys to retract her comments and issue a real apology. If she continues to spew this kind of hateful and ignorant diatribe, she should be fired.  I also call on all Puerto Rican elected officials to denounce these racist statements.”

Ms. Wys currently advises Puerto Rican House Speaker Jenniffer Gonzalez of the Partido Nuevo Progresista, the political party that supports statehood.

Melissa Attends the Hot Bread Almacen Opening in La Marqueta

On Monday, Melissa, along with Speaker Quinn, attended the inauguration of the latest stall in El Barrio/East Harlem’s historic La Marqueta: Hot Bread Almacen, the first retail location from the Hot Bread Kitchen Bakery, whose thriving kitchen has been located in at La Marqueta since 2010. Funding from the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone made it possible to create the retail outlet for the non-profit Hot Bread Kitchen that provides primarily foreign-born and low-income women a chance to train and work in the growing specialty food industry, combining a workforce development program with a thriving bakery. Hot Bread Almacen currently seats 15 people. Be sure to stop by and check out this culinary destination!

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Melissa Featured in Profile of MNN’s East Harlem Youth Media Facility

Check out this video profile of Manhattan Neighborhood Network’s (MNN) East Harlem youth media facility, the MNN El Barrio Firehouse located on East 104th Street. As Melissa talks about in this segment, the Firehouse is giving community members a chance to represent our community through their eyes. Youth Programming provides high school students and interns with the chance to produce for the 10-hour Youth Channel block on MNN. Through the production and editing training that is provided, our young people are given the opportunity to be in a creative environment with unlimited potential.

For more information about MNN El Barrio Firehouse Community Media Center, visit their website.

Melissa’s Testimony Before the New York City Board of Health Regarding the Proposed Ban on Sugar-Sweetened Beverages

Melissa testified today before the NYC Board of Health regarding the proposed ban on large sugary drinks, explaining that this is a distraction from the real solutions to our obesity epidemic, such as the need for more youth recreation programs, school sports and physical education, increased funding and renovations for parks and open spaces, as well as increased access to healthy food programs in low-income communities.

Good morning, my name is Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito. I represent District 8, which encompasses El Barrio/East Harlem, Manhattan Valley and part of Mott Haven in the Bronx. I appreciate the opportunity to speak before you today regarding Mayor Bloomberg’s proposed soda ban, which would prohibit the sale of sugar-sweetened beverages over 16 ounces by most food establishments.

Like the Bloomberg administration, I am very troubled by the city’s staggering rates of obesity, heart disease, and diabetes—which are especially high in communities of color like the one I represent. In fact, I have been working hard to address these epidemics in my community for a number of years. Although I share the Mayor’s goal for a healthier New York, I remain deeply concerned about this proposed ban for a number of reasons.

This proposed ban would be arbitrary and ineffective. Unlike the trans fat ban which was applied across the board, thereby creating a level playing field, this ban creates an un-level playing field; while the ban will cover soft drinks and teas at any establishment that receives a letter grade from the city’s Health Department including restaurants, fast-food restaurants, movie theaters, sports arenas and food carts, it does not prevent consumers from going next door to where they are eating to purchase a large soda at a grocery store or bodega.

This is a major concern for many local East Harlem food establishments – most of which are sandwiched between grocery stores, delis, and bodegas. I recently participated in a walking tour of East Harlem to see how the soda ban might affect our local businesses. After speaking face-to-face with restaurant owners, I am convinced that this ban will have an adverse economic impact on our community’s small businesses and could result in job losses.

In addition to hurting our small businesses, it is important to note that this proposed ban is a distraction—a proposal that attracts a lot of media attention and generates a lot of public discussion, but does not address the root causes of the obesity epidemic. As I stated in a letter to the editor published in the New York Times, it is ironic that while the mayor is touting the health benefits of his proposed ban, his Executive Budget would have denied young people exercise opportunities by cutting after-school recreation programs, if not for restorations by the City Council; school sports and physical education are severely underfunded; schools are being built without gyms; and community leagues are not given the resources that they need.

In East Harlem, more than one in three adolescents exercise fewer than 20 minutes a day, three days a week, as recommended, and teenagers in my community are three times less likely to have a daily gym class compared with students in other neighborhoods. Where are the bold proposals from the Bloomberg administration to reduce these disparities? The City should ensure that our schools meet the New York State mandate of 120 minutes of physical education per week; this is one way that we can lay the foundation for healthier lifestyles at an early age.

The administration should be focusing its attention on issues that will have a greater impact on public health than a beverage ban that might hurt small businesses. The City should be expanding youth recreation programs, school sports and open space, as well as creating programs to subsidize healthy food access and rehabilitating parks, playgrounds and indoor recreational spaces that would encourage New Yorkers to exercise. We need to get to the root of the problem which goes much deeper than the size of a cup of soda.
Thank you.

Melissa Featured in Powerful New Youth Documentary on Stop and Frisk

Melissa is featured in the Educational Video Center’s powerful new documentary on Stop and Frisk titled ‘Life Under Suspicion,’ which recently won an award from the New York Civil Liberties Union’s Freedom of Expression Contest. The film documents the criminalization of an entire generation of young men of color in New York City.

“The Educational Video Center has done a remarkable job empowering youth in our community,” said Councilmember Melissa Mark-Viverito. “This project is giving voice to those who are most victimized by the alienating stop-and-frisk policy. These young people are being trained to be journalists and documentary film makers who can fight this injustice and make a difference.”

Melissa Appears on ‘Tiempo’ and ‘Pura Politica’ This Weekend

This weekend, Melissa appeared on ABC’s Tiempo to discuss rise in gun violence in communities of color, the NYPD’s stop and frisk practices and the work of our Youth Violence Task Force.  Click here to watch the interview.  Be sure to watch Segments 2, 3 and 4.

Melissa also appeared on NY1 Noticias’ Pura Politica to discuss the ongoing campaign to provide earned paid sick leave to all New Yorkers.  Click here to watch that interview (in Spanish).

Melissa’s New Huffington Post Piece: ‘Taking on Our Fair Share of the City’s Waste Burden’

Melissa published a new piece on Huffington Post regarding her position on the East 91st Marine Transfer Station, which is part of the city’s larger Solid Waste Management Plan (SWMP):

“A group of residents from the Upper East Side suddenly has a newfound interest in its neighbors to the north. Residents for Sane Trash Solutions, a group led by Upper East Siders, has waged a relentless and well-funded campaign to “save East Harlem-Yorkville” in an attempt to stop the construction of the municipal waste marine transfer station at 91st Street in Manhattan. Simply put, this group is exploiting East Harlem. By incorporating this neighborhood into its campaign, the group seeks to bind itself to the struggle of New York’s environmental justice communities, which have endured the hardships of environmental inequality for decades.”

Read the full post here.

Summer Camp Spots Still Available for 7 to 11 year olds in East Harlem

Concrete Safaris still has spots left in their East Harlem Summer Camp for children 7 to 11 years old. Camp has already started but runs until August 24th. This is perfect for an active and creative child. Their days will be filled with gardening, swimming, running, cycling, fishing, hiking, media projects, art, and more. Plus, every Friday is a field trip! Concrete Safaris prides themselves on empowering youth to be healthy leaders through green exercise programs that enrich the mind, body, community and environment.

Camp hours: Monday – Thursday, 8 AM – 1 PM; and Friday 8 AM – 2:30 PM

Campers are required to participate for all 5-days of the week.  Three absences and/or failure to comply with the program rules may result in suspension.

For more information about getting your child involved, call Ms. Mac at (347) 267-2903.

Melissa Hits the Streets to get Business Owners’ Opinions on Bloomberg’s Proposed Soda Ban

Lal Barak, owner of Crown Fried Chicken at Lexington Avenue & East 116th Street, talks to Melissa about how Mayor Bloomberg’s soda ban would hurt his business. (PHOTO CREDIT: DNAinfo/Jeff Mays)

Melissa participated in a walking tour of East Harlem last Wednesday with reporters and the American Beverage Association to see how the soda ban would potentially affect local businesses. After speaking one-on-one with restaurant owners, all previous concerns about the ban have only been further reinforced.

The ban will cover soda fountain drinks and teas at any establishment that receives a letter grade from the city’s Health Department. That list includes restaurants, fast-food restaurants, delis, movie theaters, sports arenas and food carts that will be prohibited from selling sugary drinks that are larger than 16 ounces. However, this does not prevent consumers from going next door to where they’re eating to purchase a large soda at a grocery store or bodega. That is the major concern for many local East Harlem establishments – most of which are sandwiched between grocery stores, delis, and bodegas.

“This is just a distraction,” Melissa said about the proposed ban. “East Harlem has the highest proportion of obese adults in New York City and nearly half of our residents report not exercising at all. We should be focusing on changing our communities’ attitudes towards health and that starts with enforcing mandatory physical education in public schools and increasing access to fresh, healthy foods. Only 3% of bodegas in East Harlem carry fresh vegetables. We need to get to the root of the problem and stop focusing on the size of a cup of soda.”

Read more about the walking tour in The Village Voice [Warning: language not appropriate for children], DNAinfo, Crain’sEl Diaro and Manhattan Times.