Another victory for carwasheros

Through the winter, so many of you stood side-by-side with the carwasheros at Vegas Auto Spa in Park Slope. This spring – thanks to their courage and our community’s solidarity – they won a huge victory: a union contract with better wages, worker protections, and a $1,500 per-person signing bonus. 

This week, carwasheros across NYC (along with their partners at Make the Road NY, New York Communities for Change, and the RWDSU) won another big victory for fair wages, better working conditions, and basic worker dignity. Read more »

A Few Thoughts on the "Zoning for Quality and Affordability" Plan

I've heard from many of you about the NYC Department of City Planning’s “Zoning for Quality and Affordability” (ZQA) text amendment proposal. The Park Slope Civic Council and other civic and preservation organizations have also shared their opinions with me, and asked me to take a position on the proposal.

Most of the attention in the civic and preservation communities has focused on the element of this proposal that would allow height increases of 5’ to 15’ in contextual districts, with no requirement of affordable, senior, or supportive housing. Read more »

Why I support Mayor de Blasio’s 421-a reform proposal

(along with stronger rent laws, a mansion tax, and a real strategy for lifting up workers)

For more than a decade, I’ve been fighting to reform New York’s “421-a” property tax-exemption – which has long been a far-too-generous giveaway to developers, too expensive to NYC, unnecessary to encourage development, and generating far too little affordable housing. Read more »

The democratic promise of our public schools

Nothing is more important to our democracy than strong public schools that offer all kids a genuine opportunity to learn, grow, solve problems, imagine, create, work in teams, get ready for careers, and become citizens of NYC. In just a few short weeks – at 5th grade, 8th grade, and high-school graduations across the district – we’ll have a chance to see and celebrate the magic that happens daily in our public schools.

We’re lucky to have many great schools in District 15. And we’re making some strong steps forward: I’m especially excited about the continued expansion of Pre-K in our community. Next fall, I believe that the majority of four-year-olds in our neighborhoods will be served in free, high-quality, public Pre-K programs. 

Still, we’ve got a long way to go to fulfill the true democratic promise of public education. Across NYC, too many of our schools aren’t providing kids with the education they need. And as you’ve been reading in the news, we are still grappling with many public policy issues (though most of these are set, for better or worse, at the state level) from mayoral control to high-stakes testing to the charter school cap.

I won’t go into all of those here – but I did want to fill you in on some of the work my office has been doing in recent days to strengthen our City’s schools: confronting segregation & improving diversity, re-imagining the middle-school admissions process, the PTA 5k fun-run-for-schools, school crossing guards, and more: Read more »

City Council Passes “School Diversity Accountability Act”

New law will require NYC Department of Education to provide detailed demographic data & steps it is taking to advance diversity in NYC schools, Seen as strong tool for advocates confronting school segregation.

NEW YORK – Today, the New York City Council voted to pass new policies designed to confront segregation and increase diversity in NYC public schools. Read more »

City Council, Advocates Ask Mayor for School Crossing Guard at Every Dangerous Intersection

Elected Officials, Advocates, School Community Members respond to Mayor’s Lack of Attention for School Crossing Guards in Executive Budget, Demand Better Job Quality for City’s Valuable Public Servants

NEW YORK--Today on the steps of City Hall, City Council Member Brad Lander, and Chair of the Committee on Public Safety Council Member Vanessa L. Gibson, along with other elected officials, labor leaders, street safety advocates and representatives from the school community called on Mayor de Blasio to address the lack of school crossing guards at dangerous intersections across the city, and poor job quality that makes it difficult to keep positions filled. Read more »

Talk Kensington’s parks, plazas, streets—and more

There are some great projects in the works for Kensington this summer – improved parks, plazas, streets and more. I’m writing with updates on a few of these projects, as well as an invitation to join me at a Brooklyn Community Board 12 meeting next week.

On Tuesday night, come make your voice heard at the Brooklyn Community Board 12 meeting in Kensington. Community boards are composed of fifty local volunteers, who work closely with government agencies to help New York City neighborhoods thrive. Kensington is part of Brooklyn Community Board 12, which also covers Borough Park and parts of Midwood. I encourage you to come out and share your ideas for ways Kensington could be better served by New York City government. Read more »

Elected Officials & Families of Seniors Denounce NYS Department of Health for Abandoning 90-Year-Olds, Seeking to Force Their Eviction

NYS DOH Refusing to Advance Funds Needed for Safe Building Operation to Receiver Whose Appointment They Requested

BROOKYLN, N.Y. – Monday morning, Council Member Brad Lander, Public Advocate Letitia James, families of seniors living at Prospect Park Residence, and concerned community residents gathered outside the Brooklyn Supreme Court to denounce the failure of the NYS Health Department and Governor Cuomo to protect the elderly residents remaining in the building. For the past year, NYS DOH has failed to protect residents – despite repeated court orders – from the contemptuous management of owner Haysha Deitsch, who has consistently worsened building conditions (including downgrading security, firing all cleaning staff, and serving spoiled food) while attempting to force residents out, in order to sell the building for luxury housing.

Read more »

Schools, Libraries, and Our Charity

As one of the "spirited Brooklynites" who spent last weekend running (and even helping to organize) the Brooklyn PTA 5K Fun Run for Public Schools, and then Biking the Branches in support of the Brooklyn Public Library, I completely agree with Liza Featherstone's critique in this article: that we must not come to view our schools and libraries as "charities," but as fundamental public institutions that we have a duty to robustly (and more equally) support with our tax dollars. AND that we are not doing so. AND especially not in the case of NYC's public libraries. AND that this is a real shortcoming of the budget that Mayor de Blasio put forward this week (which cuts the expense budget of the 3 library systems $10 million from last year, and includes only a scant & largely illusory increase of capital funding).

For what it's worth, though, I do think events like the PTA 5K, and Bike the Branches -- and even more participatory budgeting (PBNYC) -- can be a fundamental part of efforts to "fight privatization, not revel in it," as Featherstone rightly demands. Read more »

Support for Mayor de Blasio's Proposal to Reform 421-a Tax Breaks & Strengthen the Rent Laws

Statement of City Council Member Brad Lander, Deputy Leader for Policy (and a member of NYC's 421-a Task Force in 2006):

"For far too long, despite our prior efforts at reform, the 421-a tax break has been far too big a giveaway of our tax dollars, for far too little affordable housing in return. New York City simply cannot afford to continue to subsidize market-rate development with no affordability.

So I embrace Mayor de Blasio's proposal for reform (outlined this morning in The New York Times). By requiring affordable housing in exchange for any 421-a tax break, increasing the amount of affordability required, eliminating condos, expanding the options to fit different neighborhoods, and broadening the mansion tax, 421-a can become a program that truly supports the creation of affordable housing for New Yorkers who need it. Read more »

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