First Day of School, 2016

It’s a big first-day-of-school in our office!

Our chief-of-staff Rachel Goodman’s son Max is starting his first day of Pre-K.

Our education liaison Vicki Sell’s daughter is starting middle school.

My daughter Rosa is starting 8th grade, and my son Marek is starting his senior year in high school.

Pretty emotional, all around. So you can be sure my team and I have both a deep appreciation for the New York City public school system – and many of the same same anxieties that all parents feel. Read more »

Joint Statement on NYPD Response to the Inspector General’s Report on Quality-of-Life Enforcement

Council Members Brad Lander, Jumaane D. Williams and  Vanessa L. Gibson issued the following statement on the NYPD Response to the Inspector General’s Report on Quality-of-Life Enforcement:

“We are disappointed with the NYPD’s response to the Inspector General’s (IG) recent report on Quality-of-Life Enforcement. The City Council created the Office of the Inspector General to ensure that NYPD policies and procedures are operating effectively and consistently with the law -- with the understanding that everyone in NYC, including the NYPD, will benefit from a more accountable, efficient police force. Read more »

Some great news about the Pavilion Theater

The Pavilion Theater at the corner of Prospect Park – previously known as the Sanders, and before that the Marathon Theater – has been a site of first dates, family movies, and waiting in lines for blockbusters for over a century (even as it has deteriorated pretty badly in recent years).

So many of us were distressed last year when we learned that our neighborhood theater might be replaced with – what else? – luxury condos. It symbolized the loss of places that make our community, well, a real community. 

So today, I’m happy to pass on some good news: our community’s movie theater will be preserved – and made far better. Nitehawk Cinema (one of the best theater operators in NYC) will convert the entire Pavilion building into a completely renovated 7-screen, 650-seat movie theater (and accompanying restaurant and bar). Read more »

Next City: NYC Takes Steps to Protect Gig Economy Workers

By Oscar Perry Abello originally posted on Next City September 6, 2016

Jessica Perez is CEO and founder of Tycoon, a smartphone app for freelancers to track jobs and make sure they get paid. With over a decade of experience freelance modeling in the fashion industry, Perez has lived through the challenge of juggling multiple jobs, clients, agents and money.

“One of the problems I always struggled with was just knowing how much money I was actually making,” says Perez. “Fashion is an industry that tends to have long payment terms. I created Tycoon to give our population a better method of following up on checks that are owed to us.”

Perez is hardly alone. In a nationwide survey of more than 5,000 freelancers, respondents reported they lost an average of $5,968 in unpaid income in 2014, detracting 13 percent of the average respondent’s annual income. Half of freelancers said they had trouble getting paid in 2014, and 71 percent said they have had trouble collecting payment at some point in their career.

Read more »

Press Release: Raising the Floor for Workers in the Gig Economy

New report highlights innovative policies the New York City Council can adopt to strengthen rights, protections, and benefits for gig workers

City Hall, NY -- For Labor Day 2016, New York City Council Member Brad Lander released a new policy report identifying challenges facing workers in the gig economy, and outlining concrete steps that New York City can take to protect gig workers from wage theft and discrimination, as well as longer term efforts to offer portable benefits and a framework for worker organizing.

Since 2005, the “gig economy” has grown dramatically, as companies have sought to shed costs and employer responsibilities. From 2005 to 2015, the number of workers engaged in “alternative work arrangements” (independent contractors, freelancers, temps, on-call, and contract workers) grew by 9.4 million, while the number of traditional employees declined slightly. From graphic designers, to models, to temps, to for-hire drivers, studies show that between 16% and 40% of all workers earn their checks “by the gig” rather than by a traditional hourly or weekly wage. There are an estimated 1.3 million freelance workers in NYC alone.

While these arrangements can bring flexibility, convenience, and lower prices, it is too often workers who bear the cost. Typically classified as independent contractors, gig economy workers lack the rights, protections, and benefits of traditional employees, making it far more difficult to piece together a decent standard of living. More than 70% of freelancers report that they have been victims of wage theft or late payment. Others face discrimination with little recourse. And the IRS estimates that millions of workers have been misclassified as independent contractors when they are truly employees, and thus denied health benefits, retirement security, or paid leave. Read more »

The new year of PBNYC is about to launch – please join us!

It’s that time of the year again: our 6th cycle of Participatory Budgeting NYC (PBNYC) is about to kick off, and we need your help – and your ideas – to make this another fantastic year of grassroots democracy. 

Last year over 67,000 people voted citywide, funding $38 million worth of projects in 28 districts around the city.  Here in our district you voted on $1.5 million worth of projects – including translation equipment in 5 public schools, bus countdown-clocks for the B67/B69,  new laptop carts for a high school, new “mobile art studios,” and so much more.

If you’ve had a good experience with PBNYC in the past, we hope you’ll continue – and even increase – your involvement this year.

Submit an idea to improve your neighborhoodhelp out at a neighborhood assembly, or join a delegate committee to see how these projects make it to the ballot, from start to finish. PBNYC only works because people like you step up and make it your own. Read more »

Statement on NYPD Inspector General's report on NYPD surveillance

Council Members Brad Lander, Jumaane D. Williams and Vanessa L. Gibson praise NYPD Inspector General's report on NYPD surveillance, urge NYPD to quickly implement recommendations to better protect constitutional rights of all New Yorkers:

"We are pleased with the NYPD Inspector General’s report on surveillance activity by the NYPD, the concrete recommendations for reform that it provides, and the critical independent oversight that it affirms.

When the City Council created the Office of the NYPD Inspector General in 2013, this was one of our primary reasons for doing so. Surveillance and undercover policing are necessary for public safety in modern society, and especially in New York City, which has been a target for terrorist attacks. But in a democracy committed to civil rights, free speech, free exercise of religion, and privacy, surveillance must be applied based on evidence and not prejudice, constrained by rules, and guided by independent oversight. Read more »

Confronting racism, privilege, and becoming a better ally to people of color in the work for racial justice

From St. Paul to Baton Rouge to right here in NYC, the killings of unarmed young men of color have been a devastating reminder of systemic racism in American communities.

The killings this summer of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile – adding to the list that includes Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Freddie Gray, Sandra Bland, and too many more – painfully reminds us how much work remains to be done to end the persistence of racism. And of course, systemic racism pervades far more than our criminal justice system. It’s in our schools, health care, housing, employment, in all the places that matter for creating or stamping out opportunity. Read more »

Join our Muslim neighbors for a peace & unity rally tomorrow

As New Yorkers, we were collectively saddened and angered by the horrific killing of Imam Maulama Akonjee and Thara Uddin last Saturday afternoon in Ozone Park. Our hearts go out to their families, to the Ozone Park community, and to the broader Bangladeshi and Muslim communities.

At moments when hate and violence threaten to disrupt the diversity and tolerance that are the bedrock of NYC, it is critical that we stand together.

So I hope you’ll join a “peace and unity rally” tomorrow, organized by leaders of the Bangladeshi Muslim community in Kensington, Brooklyn.

Peace and Unity Rally  
Sunday, August 21, 2016 at 3:00 PM  
Ave C Plaza
McDonald Avenue at Avenue C
(Near Church Avenue F train stop)
Kensington, Brooklyn Read more »

The future we want for Gowanus: help us get there

A few short years ago, the future for Gowanus looked bleak. The canal was toxic, with no plan to clean it up. Businesses were on the decline. New housing on 4th Avenue displaced existing residents, was zero percent affordable, and featured ground-floor parking garage grilles blighting the streetscape.

We’re making some genuine progress. Thanks to the EPA’s Superfund process, a real cleanup is on the way. New businesses are springing up – light manufacturing, artists, materials re-use, co-working, and more. We’ve got funding in the budget for new parks and schools.  

Now, we face new challenges. Real estate pressures threaten manufacturing businesses, artists, and affordable housing. Current trends will yield more hotels, self-storage facilities, and big-box stores which do little to strengthen our neighborhood. Long-term disinvestment in infrastructure means streets that flood, dilapidated public housing, and a continued need for schools, open space, and transit.

So the next steps – in shaping the future for Gowanus we want – are up to us. Read more »

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