Legislative Update: Responding to Arizona and Fighting for Juvenile Justice Reform

I'm pleased to let you know about two City Council resolutions that passed the Council at our meeting last Thursday.

Smarter, fairer funding for juvenile justice alternatives:  Right now, the State of New York essentially bribes the City to send young people who present little or no risk to public safety to juvenile jails (officially, "secure detention facilities") like Spofford - even when judges, the City, and prosecutors believe that treatment, rehabilitation, and alternatives programs would produce lower rates of recidivism and therefore a safer and better city.  The State pays half the cost of detention, but nothing for community-based alternatives. Councilmember Sara Gonzalez and I co-sponsored Resolution 201, which passed the City Council last week, calling upon New York State to develop a more equitable method of billing New York City for the placement of young offenders, so we can choose strategies that work best. State Senator Velmanette Montgomery is leading the effort to change the funding formula in Albany.

Just and comprehensive immigration reform
: When last week Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed the harsh, mean-spirited, and likely unconstitutional new immigration law, the City Council moved quickly. We passed Resolution 162-A, sponsored by Councilmember Melissa Mark-Viverito, which criticizes the new Arizona law, and calls on Congress and President Obama to pass a just, humane, and comprehensive immigration reform bill in 2010. All around the city, New Yorkers have been taking part in actions to decry the Arizona law and call attention to the need for immigration reform now.


Testimony to the New York City Charter Review Commission

As Alexis de Tocqueville wrote, democratic practice in our cities is the foundation of American democracy ... At its best, deliberative changes to the NYC Charter can contribute to this centuries-old tradition of grassroots municipal democracy – of engaged citizens committed to promoting equality, inclusion and participation in government, thoughtful debate, and democratic practices that balance the extraordinary range of interests that make up both New York City and the United States. But the opposite is also true. An inadequate process risks real harm to our local democracy – through a cycle in which the people of this city lose faith in their government, become more cynical and less likely to participate, as less democratic and more managerial processes are adopted, and core democratic values are eroded.

Join me in Prospect Park on Saturday to help our schools

It's not too late to be a part of this Saturday's Brooklyn PTA 5K Run/Walk for Schools! This fundraiser is a great way for us to all come together to take action in support of local public schools (and it's good for your health, too!).

What: Brooklyn PTA 5K Run/Walk for Schools
When: Saturday, May 1st, 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM
Where: Prospect Park (Bartel Pritchard entrance, Prospect Park West & 15th Street)

Registration forms and more information about the race are available at the Brooklyn PTA website, and you can also register on Saturday morning on-site.

Council Speaker Quinn and Councilmember Lander Respond to Bias Attack

Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn and Council Member Brad Lander have released a joint statement on last week's alleged bias attack in Carroll Gardens. Says Lander, "Carroll Gardens is a diverse community. We have no room for hate in our community. We embrace every race, religion and sexual orientation. We will not tolerate hate and violence in Carroll Gardens or anywhere else in New York City.”

Brad on Designation of the Gowanus Canal as a Superfund Site

Press Release

I was very enthusiastic to hear about the Superfund designation of the Gowanus Canal which was announced today by the Environmental Protection Agency. Previous EPA studies have confirmed that the Canal – including the sediment at the bottom, the water, and the land around it – is highly toxic and demands comprehensive cleanup, and I am convinced that Superfund designation is the best approach for getting it done. Read more »

Why We Are Launching the New York City Council Progressive Caucus

I am proud to announce that eleven of my colleagues and I are forming the New York City Council Progressive Caucus, and that I will be serving as a co-chair. As a group, we'll confront the city's growing inequality and bolster grassroots democracy.  Building on what other cities have done, we'll help create a new economy that offers good jobs, thriving communities, and a healthy environment for all.  And we’ll do it by involving New Yorkers across lines of race, class, and neighborhood in conversation and action about the direction of our city.

Click here to read a New York Times article on the formation of the Progressive Caucus!


  Read more »

Read my testimony from the MTA service cuts hearing

I am adamantly opposed to the service cuts facing our city. The mass transit system is the life blood of our region and is a necessity to millions of households in the region. The cuts to student metro cards and Access-a-Ride are particularly troubling and will only create other problems down the line: truant students in low-income neighborhoods, health problems for Access-a-Ride customers who will miss medical appointments, and a more dangerous system as station workers are cut.

Lander Creates Interactive Website to Track Stalled Development Sites

Councilmember Brad Lander released an interactive map of vacant, stalled or abandoned development sites in his City Council district (Carroll Gardens, Cobble Hill, Park Slope, Windsor Terrace, Borough Park, and Kensington).  The map is available online at where community members are encouraged to help track the status of the sites.  “We need to make these sites into assets for the community,” said Brad.  “These developments cause real hazards for their neighbors—fences falling down on sidewalks, loose construction debris that can become deadly in high winds, and unsecured sites that are dangerous for children and an invitation to squatting.  We need to get a better handle on these sites, and to take action to convert local blight into community benefit.”  Lander outlined a three-point action plan to address the issue, and encouraged residents to use the map to track and take action on specific sites.

Call for Solutions for 2,600 NYers with Cancelled Housing Vouchers

Six weeks after the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) abruptly invalidated their new Section 8 vouchers for this year— leaving 2,600 New Yorkers without alternate housing, elected officials, local legal agencies, and housing advocates came together to call on NYCHA and the Bloomberg administration to provide housing solutions for the impacted low income and formerly homeless families. In December, NYCHA announced they would rescind Section 8 vouchers for 2,600 New Yorkers, in many cases, leaving them facing homelessness. Brad joined a wide range of colleagues, advocates, and families to call for a solution. “After revoking promised vouchers to 2600 families who desperately need a safe place to live, it is outrageous that 6 weeks later the City did not even appear before our committee to discuss possible solutions. I urge the City and State to listen to what was presented today and to take swift action to fix this problem."

F Line Service Update & MTA Action Alert

I wanted to pass along to you some information about a number of weekend suspensions this year to the F and G service between Jay Street and Church Avenue due to the ongoing Culver Viaduct rehabilitation project. During these weekends, shuttle buses will replace F G service between the effected stops. In addition, I hope you'll join me in taking action to protest recent cuts that have been proposed by the MTA that would drastically our reduce bus, subway, and Access-a-Ride service and eliminate student MetroCards.

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