council member stephen levin

Council Member Levin Explains ‘Yes’ Vote on City Budget to Skeptical Crowd

Council Member Stephen Levin explains his ‘yes’ vote in Greenpoint (Image via Ben Weiss).

A crowd gathered Tuesday evening in McCarren Park to hear Council Member Stephen Levin explain his ‘yes’ vote for a city budget that many Black Lives Matter activists opposed.

What started as an in-the-weeds discussion of city finances turned into an open forum in which community members and activists criticized Levin for supporting a budget that failed, they argued, to adequately cut funding for the NYPD.

“The only reason you’re out here is because you feel guilty,” said a community activist who declined to give her name.

Levin stood behind his reasoning to vote for a budget that was a vast improvement, he said, over Mayor de Blasio’s conservative financial plan that barely reduced funding for the city’s police department.

“I think I made the right vote, in my heart of hearts,” he stated.

Community members voice their concerns and criticisms (Image via Ben Weiss).

Levin explained that he and other City Council members faced substantial opposition from Mayor de Blasio. The resulting budget, which cut overtime spending for the city police in half but did not lay off any school safety officers, he said was a compromise. Continue reading

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Protestors Rally in Front of Council Member Levin’s Apartment During Budget Vote

Council Member Levin during yesterday evening’s remote hearing.

Protestors clanged and banged in front of Council Member Stephen Levin’s apartment yesterday evening as he joined a majority of members that passed the City Council’s budget for the upcoming fiscal year.

The protest followed Levin’s announcement earlier this week that he would vote in support of a city budget that cuts the NYPD’s funding by $1 billion.

Demonstrators, however, exhorted him to cast a ‘no’ vote on a budget they say didn’t go far enough in defunding the city police.

“We don’t want them to pass the bill. It’s not what we asked for,” said Melina Juárez, a member of the protest who lives in Williamsburg. “It was just moving money around.”

Levin acknowledged that what was on the table was unsatisfactory for many of his constituents.

“This is the most difficult and heart-rending budget in recent memory,” he said during yesterday night’s hearing. “I too am disappointed that we weren’t able to go further with cuts to the NYPD.” Continue reading

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Greenpoint’s Elementary Schools Overcrowded, Residents Say

Photo courtesy of Ben Weiss

Last summer, Darla Childs, a Greenpoint resident of 16 years, was ready to leave the neighborhood. After months of trying to get her son into a Pre-K program at neighborhood public schools, she was at her wit’s end.

“He’s supposed to go to school in a month and we’re not enrolled anywhere,” she said in an interview with Greenpointers. Childs’ son, who has severe food allergies, had only been offered a seat in East Williamsburg, a 45-minute walk from her home. 

“I need him to be at a school that’s within walking distance so that I can meet an ambulance if there’s an emergency,” she explained.

Childs’ difficulty in enrolling her son in a nearby public school reflects a growing problem in Greenpoint. Despite statistics from the Department of Education (DOE) that depict a large swath of northern Brooklyn as under capacity, Greenpoint’s Pre-K and elementary schools are filled to the brim, parents and elected officials say. Continue reading

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North Brooklyn Development Meeting on Thursday 2/28

Greenpoint Landing construction begins on Commercial Street. Photo credit: Kim Masson

The next public meeting regarding real estate development and Superfund sites in North Brooklyn is happening Thursday, Feb. 28 at the Polish Slavic Center (176 Java St.) from 7 p.m. – 9 p.m. The meeting is hosted by Assembly Member Joseph Lentol, Senator Julia Salazar and NYC Council Member Stephen Levin.

Topics including the former Nuhart Plastics Superfund site and community air monitoring will be discussed with representatives from the state Department of Environmental Conservation’s Office of Environmental Remediation.

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Meeting Tomorrow (11/8) on 600-Seat Elementary School Next To Superfund Site

Nuhart Plastics Superfund Site

New York City Council Member Stephen Levin will hold a public meeting to hear feedback from Greenpoint parents on the plans to build a 600-seat elementary school on a vacant lot across the street from the Nuhart Plastics Superfund site (280 Franklin St.), which will be remediated in the next few years after the proposed cleanup plan (PDF) is approved. The meeting will take place on Thursday, Nov. 8, at 7:30 p.m. at the Dupont Senior Center (80 Dupont St.). The school would take around three to five years to complete following approval. Continue reading

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