city council

Roadrage, Trash Equity and Grate-Diving — The Hook-up (7/27)

G train
Would You Climb through a subway grate?

Happy Friday, Greenpoint! As you may know, Greenpoint is the undisputed center of NYC wastemanagement. Last week, a long-stalled waste equity bill passed the City Council. The bill aims to reduce the amount of trash processed in North Brooklyn.

In more alarming news, on Tuesday, a driver experiencing road-raging slashed another man with a box cutter, snatched his keys and then pinned him against another vehicle at the intersection of Nasssau Avenue and McGuinness Blvd.

Meanwhile, below all the hubbub, there’s the subway. A Greenpoint resident captured a video of a man climbing into a subway grate on Manhattan Avenue

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Councilman Levin Arrested in Act of Civil Disobedience

via Greenpoint Post

Councilman Stephen Levin was arrested outside of City Hall on Wednesday morning. Levin, who chairs the General Welfare Committee was arrested along with other protestors during a demonstration urging Mayor de Blasio to release the results of a study on supervised opioid consumption spaces.

Safer Consumption Spaces (SCS) are Supervised Injection Facilities where opioid addicts can consume pre-obtained drugs under medical supervision. The Drug Policy Alliance, which advocates for drug policy based on “science, compassion, health and human rights,” sees SCS as one of the most successful approaches to the opioid epidemic, with the potential to save thousands of lives.  Continue reading

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Democrat Stephen Levin Wins City Council Race in a Landslide

Councilman Stephen Levin
Councilman Stephen Levin

Democratic City Council Member Stephen Levin was re-elected to represent Greenpoint and the rest of the 33rd District on the New York City Council this Tuesday, November 7th. Levin received more than 18,600 votes, or over eighty-eight percent of the ballots cast. His opponent was a native Greenpointer, Victoria Cambranes, a novice politician who received some two thousand seven hundred votes, or about eleven percent of the vote. Cambranes cut into Levin’s victory total in 2013 when Levin received over ninety-one percent of the vote. Cambranes attracted some support because of her Polish and Latina background, but still fell far short of the very popular Levin.

Part of the reason for the Levin landslide was his success in getting the city to buy the land for Bushwick Inlet Park. In announcing the purchase of the land, Mayor De Blasio, an ally of Levin’s, spoke of Levin being a tireless gadfly in advocating for the purchase of the park. Levin was also instrumental in gaining more than seventeen million dollars in funding for the park.  Continue reading

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Get Ready to Shake It Tonight! NYC Repeals “No Dancing Law” Today

#LetNYCDance via Dance Liberation Network's Instagram
#LetNYCDance via Dance Liberation Network’s Instagram

The City Council is set to repeal New York’s “No Dancing” law today. Formally known as the “Cabaret Law,” the 1926 statute forbids dancing in bars without a cabaret license. The Law law is widely considered to be discriminatory since it was primarily used to police jazz clubs in Harlem during Prohibition, and has a broad history of violating New Yorkers’ civil liberties. According to the New York Times, music was not permitted in unlicensed bars at all until 1936, and from 1940-1967 the city required performers and employees in cabarets to be fingerprinted and cary “cabaret cards” which were denied to those with a police record. As a result, artists including Charlie Parker, Billie Holiday and Ray Charles could not work in New York. Frank Sinatra simply refused to sing in New York rather than be fingerprinted. The law showed its teeth again during the Giuliani Administration, when the city targeted gay bars and shut down clubs in response to ’90s rave culture.

Today, just 97 of New York’s 25,000 watering holes have cabaret licenses, which means that nearly all of the dancing that goes on in New York is illegal. Given that Mayor de Blasio established an Office of Nightlife on September 19th, and the city is on the hunt for its inaugural Night Mayor, City Hall is supportive of repeal.  Continue reading

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Participatory Budgeting Meetings Tonight & Next Week (9/20 & 9/27)

For the past few years, City Council Member Stephen Levin has allowed the residents of District 33 to decide how to allocate at least $1 million of discretionary funds. And it’s time to submit ideas for next year! Need some inspiration? Here are winning ideas from other districts (26, 34, 35, 36, and 39). Or you can help Stephen Levin and his team brainstorm ideas at one of the upcoming neighborhood meetings!

Participatory budgeting has been going on in New York City for seven years now with District 33 joining during the second year. In short, “Participatory Budgeting is a democratic process in which community members directly decide how to spend part of a public budget.” Yes, voters directly decide which of the proposed projects they feel should be funded and the popular vote wins. Projects are funded until the available money runs out. Earlier this year, 3,789 turned out to vote with the winners including bus clocks along the B62/B32 bus routes; a STEAM Lab for Samuel Dupont Elementary School/P.S. 31 (75 Meserole St); and upgraded electrical wiring at Monitor School/P.S. 110 (124 Monitor St). Continue reading

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Sinkholes, Summonses and the City Council — The Hook-Up 9/1

Hallelujah, we're in Greenpoint. Photo by Lucie Levine
Hallelujah, we’re in Greenpoint. Photo by Lucie Levine

Pedestrians in North Brooklyn have been Walking on the Wild Side this week, since our thoroughfares are more treacherous than you thought. On Tuesday, a sinkhole opened on Myrtle Avenue between Bedford and Nostrand, and swallowed a man’s entire right leg as he was walking to work. He was rescued by the NYFD and was not seriously injured.

That means Greenpointer Victoria Cambranes has her work cut out for her. As an advocate for street-safety and affordable housing, she is hoping to run for City Council as a member of the Progress for All Party, which she created,

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It’s Time for the Annual Participatory Budget Vote! (3/25 – 4/2)

Real Money, Real Power: Participatory Budgeting from PBP on Vimeo.

Cycle 6 of the annual Participatory Budget voting begins Saturday, March 25th, and goes until Sunday, April 2nd. “Participatory Budgeting is a democratic process in which community members directly decide how to spend part of a public budget.” Our City Councilman, Stephen Levin, chose to give us the voice on how to spend our tax dollars. In this vote, you have the opportunity to vote for as many as five project proposals; funding is granted based on which proposals receive the most votes and our district’s annual discretionary fund budget. The vote is open to anyone over the age of 14 who lives within our district (33), and this year, we can vote online! Of the 15 projects this year, here are the ones proposed for Greenpoint and Williamsburg: Continue reading

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Three Participatory Budgeting Meetings This Week Offer Greenpointers Opportunities to Enhance Community

pb-meetingCitizens of North Brooklyn looking to ameliorate their community have three opportunities this week to directly affect some change through New York City Council’s Participatory Budgeting program. As described on the City Council’s website, Participatory Budgeting is “a democratic process in which community members directly decide how to spend part of a public budget.” Each year, NYC council members decide whether they want their districts to participate in the PB process, and then spend a year organizing public meetings, speaking to members of their communities and getting an idea of what sorts of projects citizens need and want most.

Thanks to City Council Member Stephen Levin, the opportunity is being afforded to District 33, which includes Greenpoint and Williamsburg. This year, there’s $1.5 million dollars allocated. You’ve got three opportunities this week to go pitch your own ideas and hear ideas of fellow community members. The schedule for the remaining meetings is as follows:

  • Monday, Sep. 19 at 6:30 p.m. at First Presbyterian Spanish Church (161 South 3rd St.)
  • Tuesday, Sep. 20 at 6:00 p.m. at The Greenpoint Library (107 Norman St.)
  • Thursday, Sep. 22 at 6:30 p.m. at The Actor’s Fund (160 Schermerhorn St.)
  • Tuesday, Sep. 27 at 6:30 p.m. at WeWork Brooklyn Heights Office (195 Montague St.)
  • Wednesday, Sep. 28 at 6:30 p.m. at Independence Towers Community Center (114 Taylor St.)

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Can Small Businesses Survive in North Brooklyn? Not Without Our Help

Lost our Lease

In the past year covering Greenpoint happenings, I have written about more local businesses closing than I care to remember. A simple peek on Manhattan Avenue shows a smattering of empty store fronts–some shuttered for more than a year—waiting to be taken over by some business with deep enough pockets able to afford a new tier of astronomical rents. Out you go mom and pop. Adios working artists. Sayonara small fry.

Each MONTH an estimated 1,000 to 1,200 NYC small businesses lose their leases due to profiteering rent increases.  And as we’ve bared witness, the only ones who can truly afford to occupy these newly priced spaces usually come strapped with shareholders, millions of dollars in equity, and a black bottom line.

In fact, the crisis is so dire, under the Mayor Bloomberg’s tenure 83,211 commercial tenants received eviction notices, an estimated 240,000 small businesses closed, and NYC saw more than 2 million jobs lost.

Real estate speculation is nothing new, but when it finally swoops in like that long lost relative no one ever wanted to deal with, the affect can be devastating as it takes over our lives.

So you might ask: Is there any real way to stop this? The answer is yes, but you have to keep reading to find out how.

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Who wants to spend $1 million dollars?

District 39 Project Expo2013

 

Tax season has come and gone, and hopefully by now, your nasty W2’s and 1099’s have been neatly filed away until next year. While you are sitting pretty, dreaming of all the different ways to spend that refund check (or pay the IRS back), what if I told you there was a way to spend a million dollars of city tax money instead? You’d be excited, right?

Welcome to the wonderful world of Participatory Budgeting, where a cool $1 million dollars is placed into our delicate hands to help fund neighborhood projects within the City Council’s 33rd district.

Last year, over 2,000 of you casted your vote and roped in a whopping $1.6 million dollars for the 33rd! McGlorick Park Playground got a much needed makeover, the BOOKlyn Bus shuttle drove around inspiring kids to read, and even our fellow toxic hood Gowanus saw their community center, ravaged by Hurricane Sandy, get much need repairs.

It’s time to spread the love again, and if Greenpoint wants to get a slice of that million dollar pie, we need to put our mouths where the money is and vote for our favorite projects. Continue reading

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