Update from the Car Wash Picket Line

The car wash workers at Vegas Auto Spa in Park Slope are still on strike – but today they have some good news to share. This afternoon (in an official election moderated by the National Labor Relations Board) the workers unanimously voted to unionize. This is an important step forward in their struggle for fair wages, better working conditions, and being treated with dignity. Read more »

Gowanus community wins significant improvements for NYS parole facility

When we learned last summer about plans to build a large-scale parole facility on the Gowanus many of us were concerned. Without our knowledge the NYS Department of Corrections & Community Supervision (DOCCS) had moved forward with long term plans to build a facility for all of Brooklyn’s parolees at an isolated location (15 Second Avenue) in our neighborhood.

We are an inclusive community, that believes in second chances, and willing to do our fair share, as part of a thoughtful plan. But serving all 6,000 of Brooklyn’s parolees at one site, inconvenient to transit, at a location that required a long walk through quiet residential and industrial blocks, was a bad idea for community residents, small businesses, and parolees themselves. As this article made clear, “literally no one was happy about it.” The community mobilized – through public meetings, petitions, forming the Gowanus United coalition of area residents and business owners, and bringing a lawsuit – to push for a better plan. Read more »

Safer Streets in Kensington & Windsor Terrace

Last Thursday night, our community came together for a well-attended meeting on long-standing concerns about pedestrian safety in Windsor Terrace and Kensington – concerns made all-the-more pressing by the tragic death of Mohammad Naiem Uddin in November. Read more »

Statement on New York Methodist Hospital and Preserve Park Slope Settlement

I am pleased that Methodist Hospital and Preserve Park Slope have reached a settlement that enables the expansion project to move forward and responds to community concerns by lowering the height, allowing for more community involvement, and working with my office to address the traffic issues that have been raised by the proposal. The expansion of Methodist Hospital is an important part of preserving quality health care in the neighborhood, especially in the midst of a shifting health care landscape, and I look forward to working with the hospital and the neighborhood to ensure the highest level of care for our residents.

You can read the full text of the settlement here or see press releases summarizing the details on both the New York Methodist Hospital and Preserve Park Slope websites. Read more »

Dark days, and brighter ones

The waning days of 2014 have been dark ones for New York City. The killing of Detectives Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu made real the worst imaginable fears for those who put their safety on the line to serve our communities. Reactions to their murders highlighted tensions among New Yorkers – around how we understand the challenges of public safety and policing – and have risked setting us against ourselves.

Just a few weeks earlier, here in the 39th Council District, we lost 14-year-old Mohammad Naiem Uddin in a traffic crash that reminded us that our efforts to improve traffic safety and reduce speeding have not yet done enough.

Still, as the year turns, I remain truly grateful for what we’ve done together. Democracy can be messy, even painful. We don’t all agree on how to understand the problems, and certainly not on the solutions. But I am genuinely glad about what we’ve achieved together in New York City in 2014. While much of the rest of the country is stuck in a place of political polarization, we have moved forward in tangible ways to make lives better for many New Yorkers. Read more »

City Council Hearing: Finding Ways Forward to Confront Segregation and Increase Diversity In NYC’s Schools

Sixty years after the U.S. Supreme Court declared in 1954 in Brown v. Board of Education that “separate but equal is inherently unequal,” New York’s public schools are among the most segregated in the country. On December 11, 2014, the New York City Council took a stark look at issues of school segregation and diversity – in a day-long hearing that I worked with Education Committee Chair Danny Dromm to convene. The hearing was contentious at times (you can view the whole 9-hour video here), but pointed to some concrete ways forward.

Public schools are, for me, our most important democratic institutions – the mechanism by which all our children are supposed to receive an opportunity to learn, grow, and succeed.  Segregated schools communicate an enormous amount to our kids about what sort of society we really value. Taking real steps to confront school segregation is necessary if we care about the core democratic principal of equal opportunity. Read more »

Our city is black and blue

Our deepest sympathies go to the families of Officer Rafael Ramos and Officer Wenjian Liu, who were brutally killed because they chose careers of public service in the NYPD, and to risk their safety for ours. Read more »

Contribute to support the workers at Las Vegas Car Wash

The fight for dignity and fair pay for low-wage workers has made it to our doorstep – or at least to our neighborhood car-wash.

The car-wash workers (or “carwasheros”) at Las Vegas Auto Spa (on 19th Street & 7th Avenue) have been cheated out of $600,000 in overtime and wages by owner Marat Leshehinsky, threatened, and denied their right to organize and form a union. So they took the brave step to go out on strike, and have been on the picket line since Thanksgiving.

We have a very concrete role to play: I am asking every one of us who cares about workers' rights to make a contribution to the strike fund so these courageous workers can get through the holidays.

Read more »

Next steps toward Kensington/Windsor Terrace Street Safety

Last week, many of us joined memorial services for Mohammad Naiem Uddin, who was killed in a hit-and-run incident at E. 7th Street & Caton Avenue. As our community came together for the Uddin family (you can make a contribution to support the family, organized by the PS 130 PTA), the call for action was clear: we must do all we can to make sure this does not happen again.

I’m writing to let you know the steps we are taking – to honor Naiem’s memory – toward safer streets in Kensington/Windsor Terrace and beyond:

Read more »

Remembering Mohammad Naiem Uddin

Update: There will be a vigil held in remembrance of Mohammad Naiem Uddin on December 1st at 6 p.m. beginning in the PS 130 school yard. For anyone who would like to contribute to a memorial fund for the Uddin family, the PS130 PTA is collecting donations on their website and via check placed in the PTA mailbox directly outside the school’s main office (checks should be made out to “PS130 PTA” and include a note on the check “for Naiem Uddin” ). Read more »

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