Category Archives: Uncategorized

Senator Bernie Sanders comes to town

Commissioner Polly Trotenberg says NYC streets are safer

By Michelle D. Winfield

On Thursday, September 28, 2017, Commissioner Polly Trotenberg spoke at the New York Law School focusing on the Department of Transportation’s mammoth task of designing and redesigning the roadways and transportation systems in New York City. “How do we accommodate the increased numbers of residents, tourists and workers?” The Department of Transportation continues to collect data and use technology to improve safety conditions.  Statistics show New York City’s traffic fatalities have declined three consecutive years in a row, while other large cities are increasing. The Commissioner remarked, “My greatest achievement, with the support of the department, has been the success of Vision Zero. We have made streets safer through lowering the speed limit, increasing the number of speed cameras and pedestrian right of way.” She added, “We were surprised there was little opposition to lowering the speed limit from 30 to 25.”  The Commissioner asked for the help of legislators to establish laws to require seat belt use for people riding in the back seat of cars.

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Commissioner Polly Trotenberg, Department of Transportation

 

Members of CB Six Manhattan Transportation Committee Gene Santoro and Lawrence Scheyer were present. After the questioning session, to accommodate competing use of street space, Mr. Scheyer, an attorney, suggested holding a design charrette for filling in the gap in a protected Second Avenue Bike Path and pedestrian protections at the Queens Midtown Tunnel and Queens Borough Bridge entrance. Commissioner Trotenberg seemed to agree to discuss this matter further.

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Commissioner Trotenberg and Lawrence Scheyer, CB Six, Transportation Committee

Finally, Sekou M. Sheriff, Deputy Chief of Staff in the Commissioner’s office, handed out his business card soliciting questions and problems dealing with traffic. His information is below:

55 Water Street – 9th Floor                                                                                                                    New York, NY  10041                                                                                                                              T: 212-839-6409 C:  347-931-6519

The New York Law School breakfast talks are open to the public and is located at 185 West Broadway in Manhattan, MTA subway # 1, Franklin station.

 

Senator Bernie Sanders speaks to his troops

By Michelle Deal Winfield

On Monday, August 28, 2017 at 7:00 p.m., Senator Bernie Sanders stood in the same pulpit Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. stood 50 years ago opposing the Vietnam War. The Riverside Church at 409 Riverside Drive at 120th Street on the Westside, opens its doors to various issues. Sanders recalled, “168 newspapers condemned Dr. King, a civil rights leader, for opposing the Vietnam War.”

Sanders was here to introduce his book, Bernie Sanders Guide to Political Revolution. The event was sponsored by Harper’s Magazine and co-sponsored by Book Culture, book store. As people filed in the church, they were given Draft Bernie for 2020 posters to hold up.

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The audience exploded when their leader appeared. The cheers and smiled filled the hall. Sanders proclaimed, “The Republican Party didn’t win the election. The Democratic Party lost the election because they turned their backs on the workers.” He asked, “Which side are you on?”

Sanders tackled most of his social themes: equal pay, $ 15 an hour and distribution of wealth, eliminating tax breaks for the rich, universal health care, jobs for youth, support for illegal immigrants, reduce use of fossil fuel and free college tuition. Bernie Sanders called for a political revolution to fight the greed and tax cuts for the billionaires in America. He stated, “The Walton family owns more wealth than 42 % of the nation. In the last decade 51 millionaires have risen to 565 in number. During the Wall Street crisis, the middle class bailed out Wall Street and now Wall Street needs to bail us out.”

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The church was filled to capacity, 2,100. This was an opportunity for Senator Sanders to build momentum of his political revolution. He asks, “How do we get a vibrant political system where everyone gets one vote and the billionaires don’t buy the election?” Sanders provided the answer, by saying, “Every time change is happening, it is the grassroots that gets it done. The $ 15 an hour fight was a grassroots initiative. First Seattle, San Francisco and then New York said yes to a $ 15 an hour wage for a minimal standard of living. Anything less is a starvation wage.”

Thirteen members from the Progressive Action of Lower Manhattan, PALM, a group formed by President Arthur Z. Schwartz, regularly meets at the Seafarers International at 15th Street and Irving Place were in the house. PALM proudly boasts there are 119 original members.  Recently, I became the State Committeewoman from the NY 74th Assembly District and believe that everyone should be at the table to discuss, question and demand transparency on behalf of the services for our residents. PALM is a vital link between elected officials, community leaders and other community-based organizations to improve our society. Like, Senator Sanders, PALM supports Progressive candidates. We were delighted to raise our hands in solidarity to hear Bernie conclude by saying, “Progressives get elected by standing up and having the courage to do what is right. He asked a final question: “Where do we want to be tomorrow?”

The audience erupted in applause with cameras and cell phones documenting the moment.

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Administration of Children’s Services, ACS, has a new Commissioner

Mayor Bill de Blasio appoints a commissioner of the Administration of Children’s Services

by Michelle Deal Winfield

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(Pictured) NYPD Chief Robert K. Boyce, Commissioner of Administrtion of Children’s Services, David Hansell; Mayor Bill deBlasio, Deputy Mayor of Health and Human Services, Herminia Palacio

Recently, Gladys Carrion, Commissioner of the Administration of Children’s Services, ASC, resigned after the unfortunate death of a child under the jurisdiction of the agency. On February 21, 2017, Mayor de Blasio accepted the recommendation from Deputy Commissioner Herminia Palacio to appoint David A. Hansell, as the new Commissioner.

Mayor deBlasio said, “As a parent I know it takes passion and drive to tackle the worst challenges of humanity. ACS must find a way to look within families where there is substance abuse, violence and poverty to protect the city’s most vulnerable. It’s not easy. A person needs courage, strength and resourcefulness. David Hansell understands our mutual shared goal: Our job is to save every single child.”

David Hansell, a graduate from Yale Law School who worked in the former President Obama’s administration on the Senior leadership team at U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. He also brings managerial experiences and served in the New York City Department of Health, implementing programs for HIV services. Mr. Hansell said, “I am honored to lead ACS at this critical time. I plan to improve performance by building on what ACS has started. I respect the work of Commissioner Gladys Carrion and will continue what’s working. When I resume my responsibilities, I plan to do the following:

1)Review the Child Stat Program, 2)Identify the collaboration model with the NYPD,  3)         Establish a metric based model for accountablilty, 4) Provide staff training, 5) strengthen parenting skills, 6) Provide protection for ACS employees during parental contacts, 7) Employ an evidenced-based model (methods practiced and tested, some from other areas); 8) Eliminate systematic problems, and  9) Provide support to children that have experienced trauma.

Mayor deBlasio reassured Commissioner Hansell, “By April there will be 100 additional case workers at ACS. This will reduce the case worker ratio. We are calling on other agencies to partner with ACS to protect all New Yorkers. All leaders must be responsible by calling 311 to report suspected abuse. If you fear a child is in need – pick up the phone.

The Commissioner Hansell pledged, “This is an important opportunity I could not refuse. I will do everything in my power to improve performance at ACS.”

Justice Robert R. Reed Reigns Supreme

The Induction of the Honorable Robert R. Reed as a Justice of the Supreme Court of the State of New York

By Michelle Deal Winfield

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Photo Credits: Michelle Deal Winfield

On Thursday, January 26, 2017 an Induction of the Honorable Robert R. Reed was held at New York County Civil Courthouse, Room 325 at 111 Centre Street in New York City. Hundreds filed in to witness the swearing-in of the newly elected Justice of the Supreme Court of the State of New York. Elected officials, residents, family, colleagues and former classmates participated in a love fest as they honored the Honorable Robert R. Reed. Many stood waving their hands coming from Massachusetts,Texas, California,Washington, D.C., Maryland, New Jersey and attorneys and judges from all five boroughs of the city.

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Mr. Ralph Andrew, Master of Ceremonies was also the Master of Ceremonies at Justice Reed’s swearing-in during his Civil Court Induction. The Honorable Tanya Kennedy sang her rendition of “Lift Every Voice and Sings” by James Weldon Johnson known as the National Black Anthem. The Honorable Fern A. Fisher announced this was one of the last ceremonies she would attend. The Deputy Chief Administrative Judge for the New York City Courts, Hon. Fern Fisher paid homage to former Mayor David N. Dinkins, saying, “Mayor Dinkins reminded us that our city is composed of a gorgeous mosaic.” She praised Justice Reed for his warmth, intelligence and commitment to the community.

The Honorable Keith L. T. Wright, Manhattan Democratic County Leader noted, “I was to mention that Mayor Dinkins was coming here tonight. Hon. Wright looking over to Mayor Dinkins said, “But, I see he is here already.” After relating that Justice Reed had attended every community event even on Sunday afternoons. In a deep baritone voice, Wright said, “And may the force be with you!” The audience cheered. The Manhattan Borough President Gail A. Brewer, enumerated the outstanding support Justice Reed offers to the community and he is one of the most positive people she knows. She said, “I went to an N.A.A. C.P. event and learned Justice Reed sure can dance. Keep on dancing!”  Diallo Shabazz, Executive Director of One Hundred Black Men, Inc.,OHBM, read a speech referring to Justice Reed as a strong reed helping others to succeed. All members of One Hundred Black Men were asked to stand. Distinguished men from all over the Tri-State area, including Mayor David N. Dinkins and Hon.W. Franc Perry stood proudly.

The final speaker was Geoffrey E. Eaton, President, N.A.A.C.P. Mid-Manhattan Branch. Mr. Eaton listed the various activities Justice Reed has participated as a Board member. Again, all members of the respective organization regardless of branch affiliation were asked to stand. The community spirit was alive and well.

Everyone rose as Hon. Sheila Abdus-Salaam, Associate Judge, New York Court of Appeals asked Justice Robert R. Reed, his wife, Annette Gordon-Reed, and their daughter, Susan Reed to come forward for the swearing-in.  Justice Reed raised his right hand, no one uttered a sound, only Justice Reed could he heard taking the oath. As he ended with, “I swear,” the audience erupted in applause.

Justice Robert R. Reed donned in his black robe, began multiple shout outs to former freshmen classmates, family members and supporters. He closed by saying, “I’m straight out of Compton, California.”

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Aaron Humphrey, Alternate Delegate, 1st Judicial Dist.;NYS Assembly Member Inez Dickens, Michael J. Garner, President OHBM; Hon. Verna L. Saunders Photo Credit: Aaron Humphrey

Rev. Dr. Cathy S. Gillard, Senior Minister at Park Avenue United Methodist Church provided the Invocation and the Benediction.

Justice Reed announced, “The reception will be held in room 107 after Jackie Rowe Adams, Co-Founder/ President, Harlem Mothers Save sings “God Bless America.”

All those who testified on Justice Reed’s behalf lauded his intelligence, his degrees from Stanford University, followed by Harvard Law School where he obtained a Doctor of Laws, J.D.  Annette Gordon-Reed, his wife, a graduate of Harvard Law School is a Professor, Historian and a Pulitzer Prize winner in History. She received the distinguished National Humanities Medal presented by President Barack Obama. Justice Robert R. Reed remains steadfast in his commitment to his faith and family as he continues his journey to serve as Justice of the Supreme Court of the State of New York.

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Annette Gordon-Reed, Pulitzer Prize winner in History

And finally, Laura F. Koestler, a member of the Samuel J. Tilden Democratic Club and an elected Delegate to the 1st Judicial District sends her best by saying, “It was no surprise there were so many well-wishers, including the elder statesman Mayor Dinkins, at the Induction. Justice Reed is a fine man who is eminently qualified to serve in that important position; where his well-considered decisions could positively impact someone’s future path, and their useful contribution to society. Congratulations to Justice Robert R. Reed and his supportive family on this achievement!”

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You’ve earned it!

16,000 jobs for East Side and Long Island City

Mayor aims to create science jobs on East Side and in L.I. City

By Michelle Deal Winfield                         Published: Town and Village Newspaper

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Mayor Bill de Blasio with other elected officials and speakers at an announcement at the Alexandria Science Research Center in Kips Bay. (Pictured)Dr. Vicki Sato, Dr. Harold Varmus, President of the Economic Development Corporation Maria Torres-Springer, student Teeba Jihad, Mayor Bill de Blasio, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, State Senator Liz Krueger, State Senator Brad Hoylman, and Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh                                           (Photo by Michelle Deal Winfield)

On Tuesday, December 13, 2016,  Mayor Bill de Blasio unveiled a plan that he says will create 16,000 new jobs in life sciences and bio-engineering in New York City. He made the announcement at the Alexandria Science Research Center is located at 450 First Avenue in Manhattan.

The Mayor paid homage to former Mayor Bloomberg saying, “We are taking a page from the former Mayor’s playbook. Mayor Bloomberg diversified investments to help set up the Cornell Tech Center on Roosevelt Island. It worked. The City will invest in emerging companies to create innovative approaches that will lead to improvements in the health industry. We decided to look for spaces on the Eastside in Manhattan and in Long Island City.”

Maria Torres-Springer, President of NYC Economic Development Corporation said, “The project will generate 9,000 jobs in the life sciences. 7,000 new jobs will be created in related fields like marketing, advertising and training. There will also be 7,500 jobs in construction to set up labs.”

According to de Blasio, “The average salary will be $75,000 a year. Thirty percent of the jobs will require a high school diploma and/or an Associate’s degree. Fifty percent will require a Bachelor’s degree.”

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Manhattan Borough President Gail Brewer

Manhattan Borough President Gail Brewer suggested the project should use city owned land and rezone areas for  science labs.

The city will offer “Life Sciences NYC” tax incentives to promote affordability rate of rent for companies.

Torres-Springer estimated the potential growth from setting up the Life Sciences sector could yield 6 Billion dollars to the City.

Mayor de Blasio added, “Encouraging companies and having competitions is a good thing. The result is lower prices for drugs and discoveries for cures for diseases. It will also help the firms compete for funds provided through the National Institute of Health’s Small Business Innovation Research Program.”

A summary of the plan:

  1. $ 100 million to set up an applied life science campus that drives bio-engineering innovations.
  2. $ 50 million to invest in existing academic medical centers that will train and have the passion for bio-medicine.
  3. $ 10 million will support at least five life science start-up companies
  4. $ 20 million will help up to 80 companies by offering seed money to expand and create new jobs.
  5. $ 7.5 million will be invested to create internships and improve life science curricula at local colleges.
  6. $ 300 million will be provided to companies as tax incentives and make available affordable space.
  7. Rezone areas to include life sciences site to create a science sector.
  8. $ 7.5 million will assist companies that cultivate new talent and goods in the five boroughs.
  9. $ 3.8 million will be used to provide expanded training programs for entrepreneurs. It will also help the firms compete for funds provided through the National Institute of Health’s Small Business Innovation Research Program.
  10. Launch the Mayor’s Life Science Advisory Council

I can’t breathe!

National Action Network, NYC Council team up to support criminalizing chokehold

By Michelle Deal Winfield

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Gwen Carr, mother of Eric Garner and Hon. Inez Dickens, Minister Ktisten John Foy, National Action Network, NAN (standing directly behind) Photo: Michelle Deal Winfield

On Friday, December 2, 2016 a rally was held on the steps of City Hall to urge Mayor de Blasio to support Intro. bill 540-A, which calls for penalties for NYPD’s use of the chokehold as a method of arrest. The chokehold is a procedure when the arm or grip is wrapped around the neck to cut off the flow of air by compressing the windpipe.

Representatives from the NYC Council led by Rory I. Lancman, Jumane Williams, Robert Cornegy and Inez Dickens stood side-by-side with Gwen Carr, the mother of Eric Garner. Twenty-eight members of the Council signed on to the legislation. Eric Garner died almost two years ago, after Police Officer Daniel Pantaleo used a “chokehold” to arrest him. The Grand Jury decided not to indict Officer Pantaleo.

National Action Network, NAN, Minister Kristen John Foy, Northeast Regional Director of the civil rights organization introduced Gwen Carr by saying, “NYC has led the nation in many areas but we need to improve in transparency and accountability. This is not just a New York issue. We should lead the nation. The Mayor has reversed his campaign promise.”

Newly elected Bronx NY Senate Marisol Alcantara touted, “This is a city with a Progressive agenda and yet black and brown men continue to be killed. The officers get a raise and higher pay. You come to our communities, in Harlem and Washington Heights asking for our votes.” Alcantara supports the ban.

Gwen Carr, cried as Council Member Inez Dickens spoke. Dickens reaching out to Gwen said, “We the people. We want fairness. We are part of the fabric of the mosaic of the city.” Directing her comments to Mayor de Blasio, Dickens continued, “Do the right thing. I am sick and tired of being sick and tired. I ask you to stand with the family.”

The Rev. Johnny Greene of Harlem, an imposing figure, said, “Mayor de Blasio received 97% of African American support during his election. The Mayor needs to talk the talk and walk the walk. The world witnessed Officer Pantaleo murder Eric Garner. I call on the Mayor to put up or shut up!

Gwen Carr was very emotional, saying, “I support the legislation. I stepped into this fight and I will be here to the end. This bill will not help my son. This could happen to your son, your nephew or your grandson. You are not exempt. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Carr wants NYC to ban the use of the “chokehold” procedure when arresting a person.

Council Member Lancman reminded, the crowd, “Mayor de Blasio has threatened to veto this bill to criminalize chokeholds. Since the two year anniversary of the death of Eric Garner the numbers of chokeholds has increased.”

On Friday, December 2, 2016 a rally was held on the steps of City Hall to urge Mayor de Blasio to support Intro. bill 540-A which calls for penalties for NYPD’s use of the chokehold as a method of arrest. The chokehold is a procedure when the arm or grip is wrapped around the neck to cut off the flow of air by compressing the windpipe.

Representatives from the NYC Council led by Rory I. Lancman, Jumane Williams, Robert Cornegy and Inez Dickens stood side-by-side with Gwen Carr, the mother of Eric Garner. Twenty-eight members of the Council signed on to the legislation. Eric Garner died almost two years ago, after Police Officer Daniel Pantaleo used a “chokehold” to arrest him. The Grand Jury decided not to indict Officer Pantaleo.

National Action Network, NAN, Minister Kristen John Foy, Northeast Regional Director of the civil rights organization introduced Gwen Carr by saying, “NYC has led the nation in many areas but we need to improve in transparency and accountability. This is not just a New York issue. We should lead the nation. The Mayor has reversed his campaign promise.”

Newly elected Bronx NY Senate Marisol Alcantara touted, “This is a city with a Progressive agenda and yet black and brown men continue to be killed. The officers get a raise and higher pay. You come to our communities, in Harlem and Washington Heights asking for our votes.” Alcantara supports the ban.

Gwen Carr, cried as Council Member Inez Dickens spoke. Dickens reaching out to Gwen said, “We the people. We want fairness. We are part of the fabric of the mosaic of the city.” Directing her comments to Mayor de Blasio, Dickens continued, “Do the right thing. I am sick and tired of being sick and tired. I ask you to stand with the family.”

The Rev. Johnny Greene of Harlem, an imposing figure, said, “Mayor de Blasio received 97% of African American support during his election. The Mayor needs to talk the talk and walk the walk. The world witnessed Officer Pantaleo murder Eric Garner. I call on the Mayor to put up or shut up!

Gwen Carr was very emotional, saying, “I support the legislation. I stepped into this fight and I will be here to the end. This bill will not help my son. This could happen to your son, your nephew or your grandson. You are not exempt. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Carr wants NYC to ban the use of the “chokehold” procedure when arresting a person.

Council Member Lancman reminded, the crowd, “Mayor de Blasio has threatened to veto this bill to criminalize chokeholds. Since the two year anniversary of the death of Eric Garner the numbers of chokeholds has increased.”

NYC Foster Care Intro Bills Passed

 

Mayor de Blasio and Public Advocate Letitia James give Foster Care youth a voice

By Michelle Deal Winfield

 

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Council Member Daniel Dromm, Council Member Stephen Levin, Mayor Bill de Blasio, Council Member Donovan Richards, Jr., Public Advocate Letitia James, Council Member Laurie A. Cumbo.                      Photo: Michelle Deal Winfield

On Wednesday, November 16, 2016 Mayor Bill de Blasio held a public hearing for twelve pieces of legislation. Seven of the bills, Intros. 118-A, 1190-A, 1191-A, 1192-A, 1197-A, and 1250-A, dealt with requests to amend present foster care local laws.

The hearing and signing was held at City Hall in the Blue Room with a standing room only audience. The Mayor welcomed everyone and thanked NYC Council Speaker, Melissa Mark-Viverito for forwarding the bills. The Speaker Mark-Viverito sent a statement which read, “…To create a package of legislation that speaks to their needs (foster care children), even the youngest among us will see their worlds change for the better.”

Council Member Stephen Levin sponsored a bill to develop a five-year plan to address the problems, and barriers youth faced due to permanency in foster care. The Administration for Children’s Services will now analyze and submit ways on how to fix existing problems.

Students in the foster care system testified before the Mayor saying, “We thank Council Member Levin for inviting us to the first ever “ Foster Youth Shadow Day.”  Youth visited the Council Chambers and witnessed the members’ deliberations. Two students remarked, “I would like to become an elected Council Member.”

 

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Mayor Bill de Blasio, Public Advocate Letitia James, holding a baby from the audience, Council Member Donovan Richards, Jr.

Public Advocate Letitia James spoke on behalf of Intro. 1205-A. In her remarks, Hon. James said, “We want you to know, we are on your side.” James holding a baby from the audience seemed to be reassuring us of her commitment.

In closing, Council Member Laurie A. Cumbo applauded a foster care youth, age 16, who was attending Westchester County College. Cumbo continued, “Every youth, irrespective of their socioeconomic status or background, deserves an equal opportunity to succeed as scholars and professionals. With nearly 9,000 children and youth under the care of the Administration for Children’s Services, we must ensure that the proper resources are in place to support their continued growth and development within and beyond the foster care system.”

Mayor de Blasio signed the package of foster care bills. The sponsors and supporters were given engraved ball-point pens with Mayor de Blasio’s signature.

Members of the audience commented that they felt that the foster care bills would give the youth a voice in what happens in their own lives.

 

A Place Called Home

      Carmel Place micro-unit building opens in Kips Bay

By Michelle Deal Winfield              Published by: Town and Village Newspaper

img_6917(Pictured L-R) Hermit Hewitt, Board Chair, Lower East Side People’s Mutual Housing Association, Inc.; Alicia Glen, NYC Deputy Mayor; Molly Parks, former HPD Commissioner of Development; Council Member Rosie Mendez, Claude L. Winfield, Community Board Six Vice-Chairman.

On Thursday, October, 27 at 10:30 a.m., a ribbon cutting ceremony was held to celebrate the opening of Carmel Place, formerly referred to as Micro Apartments. Carmel Place is located at 335 East 27th Street next to Bellevue South Park.

Residents, elected officials and Community Board Six members attended the ceremony.

Kirk Goodrich, Senior Vice President and Director of Real Estate Development, Developer of Monadnock Development, LLC, gave the opening remarks by saying, “This project was an opportunity to introduce choices while delivering fulfilling creative styles.”

Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen provided a brief history of NYC’s efforts in constructing affordable housing units. In her remarks, she noted, that Mayor Bill de Blasio has financed 55,309 affordable apartments since taking office.

“We are on budget and ahead of schedule: 144,691 more apartments to go!” she said. “By changing outdated housing codes we can have safe, decent, high quality homes that are smaller than traditional apartments. These apartments cost less to build, are easier to maintain, and are in many ways better suited to the lives of our younger people and elders living in our city. This is a template for the future.”

Dario Luciano, a Carmel Place resident and former veteran who is now a fashion designer, said he was happy to live live. “I go to exercise at 4 in the morning and then walk to work.”

‘By changing outdated housing
codes we can have safe,
decent, high quality homes that
that are smaller than traditional homes.’
 Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen

Council Member Rosie Mendez shared her immediate reaction to the proposal of the Micro Units, when she was not convinced they were the answer. “I said, ‘you have to know I want permanent housing in this community. I was not a fan of stand alone development,” she said. She added that working along with Claude L. Winfield, Vice Chairman, Community Board Six, she was able to assist veterans who needed a place close to the V.A. Medical Center. “After reviewing the plans, I was on board because apartments would be designated affordable, eight set aside apartments would be for veterans, affordable apartments are guaranteed for 40 years and the apartments were placed across from a park,” Mendez said.

Also in attendence were: Herman Hewitt, Board Chair, Lower East Side People’s Mutual Housing Association, Inc.; Joe Pizzutelli, Vice President, M&T Bank; Mark Ginsberg, President, Citizens Housing & Planning Council; Robert Wenxel, HUD/VASH Coordinator Veterans’ Health Administration; Rick Eggers, Chairman, CB 6.

A reception was held on the eighth floor of Carmel Place.

Vendors oppose new street fair rules

Vendors Storm Hearing Opposed to 2017 Rule Changes

By Michelle Deal Winfield                                                                                                                               Photos by: Anthony J. Finkel

On Thursday, October 13, 2016 at 10 a.m., the Office of Citywide Event Coordination and Management (CECM) and Street Activity Permit Office (SAPO), held a hearing to afford the community an opportunity to comment on proposed new 2017 street fair rules. At first glance, it appeared to be chaotic with hundreds of people, seated, standing and the extra room equipped with a monitor and sound system was overfilled too. There were 89 people who signed up to speak. Their supporters cheering until quieted by the staff, were reminded the speakers’ 3 minutes time limit would include applause. Wally Rubin, District Manager, Community Board (CB) Five M, supported the committee’s rule changes of reducing the number of street fairs to only 10 fairs a year in a Community Board area. Mr. Rubin stressed there was a lot of congestion in the Times Square area due to street fairs blocking the streets. The crowd booed.

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Manhattan Borough President Gail Brewer testifying.  Photo: by Anthony J. Finkel

Fred Arcaro, a resident from Community Board Six M, on the eastside, opposed the new rules stating, he volunteered with two organizations: the Manhattan East Community Association, MECA in Murray Hill and the 17th Police Precinct Council. The MECA used funds from the street fairs to beautify the neighborhood by planting flowers. The 17th Police Precinct Council’s only source of funding came from the street fairs and supports the Night Out Against Crime, provides updates about how to protect yourself and honors police officers in the area. Manhattan Borough President Gail Brewer, made her way to the front to provide an analysis of what was wrong with the new 2017 street proposals. Calmly, Hon. Brewer, enumerated:

  1. CECM/SAPO should postpone their decision and extend the deadline to allow the community to respond to the changes.
  2. Limiting the number to only 10 street fairs in one calendar year would reduce festival oversaturation but fails to accommodate the needs of our communities, such as Manhattan CB Six which has multiple one block fairs.
  3. A requirement of having 50 % local vendor participation in the fairs is unworkable. An ethnic festival features vendors coming from all over the region.
  4. The first come, first application does not consider annual fairs that have been established throughout our communities.
  5. Increased application fees would be a disadvantage to smaller not-for-profit organizations.

Norman Seigel, an attorney representing Mardi Gras Festival Productions. Inc., stated, “The 2017 street fair rules are discriminatory and capricious.”

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The room was overfilled with vendors. Photo by: Anthony J. Finkel

A host of vendors, majority of women and immigrants, recalled stories of how they had come to America searching for the American dream. Pleading, “I support my family as a vendor at the street fairs. I am an artist and cannot afford a brick and mortar store. Please don’t take my job.”

Joe Giovanni, Mardi Gras Festival Productions, refuted the claim that the street fairs caused the congestion in the Times Square area. “The gridlock was caused when the Times Square Alliance Bid closed off the Times Square area to cars.”

At the close of the meeting, it appeared 97 % testifying, were opposed to the new 2017 street fair rules proposed by the committee. To read the proposed rules visit nyc.gov/nycrules.  A deadline to respond to the new street fair rules has been extended to October 27, 2016. Send comments to: Website. You can submit comments to SAPO through the NYC rules Web site at www.nyc.gov/nycrules

  • Email. You can email written comments to saporules@cityhall.nyc.gov
  • Mail. You can mail written comments to Michael Paul Carey, Executive Director, Office of Citywide Coordination and Management, at 253 Broadway, 6th Floor, New York, New York 10007.