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December 2016 Newsletter: Staten Island Grand Jury Decision, Landmarks Preservation, Housing, Immigration, and more.

The Staten Island grand jury decision.
I disagree with the decision not to indict Officer Daniel Pantaleo in the chokehold death of Eric Garner. Sadly, Garner’s death is yet another instance where the outcome is utterly, tragically out of proportion to the offense—in this case, for selling loose cigarettes on a commercial strip on Staten Island. As I said after the Ferguson Grand Jury’s decision, we need reforms, we need training, but mostly we as a country need to address our racial disparities and the very real and devastating actions that are the result. We need to demonstrate our outrage peacefully and constructively and move ahead to make change.

The Landmarks Preservation Commission’s misguided proposal means lost landmarks.
I was disappointed to learn of the LPC’s announcement of a massive, short-notice, arbitrary “decalendaring”—i.e., removal from landmarks consideration— of 96 sites or districts citywide, including 36 in Manhattan. My staff and I visited all 36 on Thanksgiving weekend, days after the LPC announcement, and there are at least eight that deserve further consideration, not elimination—including the magnificent Loew’s 175th Street Theater, the former IRT Powerhouse on West 58th Street and an 1855 farmhouse on East 85th Street. I’ve written to LPC Chair Srinivasan asking that the LPC delay this action (announced with just two weeks’ notice!) and hold a public hearing on the sites they propose for decalendaring. The large backlog at the LPC is partly of their own making—but simply erasing scores of locations in one swoop is no way to solve the problem. I’m working on legislation that would introduce clarity and certainty to the landmarks process, and will keep you informed.

If you would like to join me in objecting to LPC’s move, please take to Twitter and Facebook before their scheduled vote on December 9. Here are some things you can do:

— Write a letter to the Landmarks Preservation Commission on their Facebook Page:

— Tweet to @NYClandmarks and tell them you don’t want any more #lostlandmarks in NYC:

Dept. of Housing Preservation and Development reverses part of their downsizing policy.
I’m delighted to announce a victory in the fight against the downsizing policies of the City’s HPD agency. Their policy required single residents, many of them seniors, to downsize to smaller apartments. You may recall that I and over two dozen Councilmembers called on HPD to change its policy, and now they are no longer going to require that those in one-bedrooms move to studio apartments—and those who have already been moved to studios may be placed on waitlists for one-bedrooms. While I still have concerns about other relocation policies (especially the practice of considering family size alone rather than looking at family composition as well), and am seeking the actual amount this policy purports to save, I applaud this change.

Immigration action by President Obama a good start.
On November 20, President Obama announced a plan to suspend deportations for some 3.7 million undocumented immigrants who have been in the United States for at least five years and have children who are legal citizens or permanent residents.

The President’s action is a brave and necessary move for millions of immigrants to our country and city. These immigrants work hard and their children—who were born here—deserve to be treated as the citizens they are without the constant threat of deportation breaking up their families.

In New York City, these immigrants are our lifeblood. They create small businesses, work incredibly hard, and are forming the next generations of our city’s culture—just as Jewish, Irish, and Italian immigrants did in past generations. That’s why the President’s actions are cause for celebration.

There is much more to do, of course—and we must pressure our federal representatives in the House and Senate to make the American Dream a reality for the many millions more who have come here and not become parents.

CUNY Public Service Scholars get first assignments.
The 14 CUNY students assigned to my office as part of the CUNY Service Corps technology outreach initiative have not only learned a lot; they have started to provide creative and useful maps that focus on everything from heating complaints to problems with muni-meters. This month they will fan out to provide hands-on services to Community Boards throughout Manhattan.

Upcoming in the new year…
An examination of the many problems small businesses face as well as some creative ideas for addressing them; a comprehensive look at the growing number of urban farms and the variety of ways in which schools, community centers and NYCHA developments are growing food; and a user-friendly catalog for seniors of the many services and opportunities available to them.


December 5: Holiday piano concert by Roger Davidson.
Roger Davidson’s free holiday concert, “Temple of the Soul,” takes place at 8 pm at St. Ignatius of Antioch Episcopal Church, 522 West End Ave. (near 87th St.). Click here for reservations and more information – and watch their promotional video.

December 8: “Guns & Domestic Violence: A Lethal Combination”
I’m proud to be co-sponsoring with Connect, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, and New Yorkers Against Gun Violence a panel that will feature an expert presentation on U.S. federal and New York State gun laws to
address domestic violence, and pending state legislation designed to close loopholes. This will be followed by a roundtable discussion with community activists about the lethal intersection of gun violence and domestic violence in New York City. 6:30 – 8:30 pm, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Gerald W. Lynch Auditorium, 524 W. 59th Street. RSVP online.

December 14: Songs of Chanukah, celebrating the festival of lights.
I’m delighted to cosponsor a Chanukah performance by the National Yiddish Theatre at Brookfield Place (the new name for the World Financial Center near Battery Park City), along with the Manhattan Jewish Historical Initiative and the New York Board of Rabbis. 12:30 – 1:30 pm, Brookfield Place, 200 Vesey Street. Find out more.

December 21: Make Music New York’s Winter edition.
Make Music Winter is back for a fourth year with a dozen musical parades on the first day of winter. Each musical procession is profoundly participatory; we make the music happen. Nine parades are returning favorites from Make Music Winters past, and there are three world premieres. Bring your instrument, your voice or your hands and join projects for Bach, Bells, Bicycles, Buildings, Spanish Carols, Radios, Singers, and Smartphones, or make music history and join a worldwide celebration of In C in the fiftieth anniversary year of Terry Riley’s iconic piece. Visit their website for a schedule of events.

December 27: Kwaanza celebration at the American Museum of Natural History
My office joins the American Museum of Natural History, Community Works and Voza Rivers/New Heritage Theatre Group in the celebration of Kwaanza, with Savion Glover premiering new work. Bring your family to enjoy the performances and the international marketplace. 12 Noon – 5:00 pm, AMNH, Central Park West & 79th St. Click here for more information.

All month in the MBPO Gallery: Art Students’ League winter show.
“Small Works” is the theme of the December show in the 19th floor Gallery hung by students from the Art Students League. The works are on display during business hours in my office until January.

Categories: Landmarks, Newsletters