Tag Archives: Melissa Mark-Viverito

Queens advocates join annual Brides’ March to end domestic violence

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photos by Kelly Marie Mancuso


Domestic violence survivors, advocates, family members and community leaders led by Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley and City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito set out from Glendale Saturday to take part in the 15th annual Gladys Ricart and Victims of Domestic Violence Memorial Brides’ March in the Bronx.

“We’re bringing attention to the fact that women are getting killed at the hands of their lovers,” Crowley said. “Domestic violence is the number one call that our police will go on, but it’s a crime that people don’t like to talk about and very often it goes unreported. We want to make sure that we don’t have another woman die at the hands of her lover.”

The annual citywide march originally began in Manhattan back in 2001 to honor Gladys Ricart, a Dominican-American woman who was murdered in her wedding dress by her abusive ex-boyfriend shortly before she was to wed her fiancé on Sept. 26, 1999.

The inspiration for the march came from Josie Ashton, a young woman so moved by Ricart’s murder that she decided to make the 1,600-mile trek from New York to her home state of Florida on foot while wearing her wedding gown in 2001, marking the second anniversary of Ricart’s death.


Council Member Elizabeth Crowley

Saturday marked the first time a contingent from Queens participated in the Brides’ March.

“Domestic violence continues to be the highest reported crime in this precinct and in this borough,” Crowley said. “In this community alone, in the very neighborhood that you are standing in, there have been 2,649 reported cases of domestic violence this year alone. In all of Queens, there have been over 14,000 reported incidents this year, and those are just the reported cases. Nobody should feel trapped in their own home.”

“We need to have these events as a way of highlighting this problem and challenge in our community,” Mark-Viverito added. “The numbers are alarming. It’s happening throughout the city.”

New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito

New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito

Crowley and Mark-Viverito were joined by marchers clad in white bridal gowns and veils in Ricart’s memory. Many held signs calling for an end to domestic violence, while some shared their own personal experiences and stories of survival.

“I think that domestic violence is far too common,” explained local poet and singer Taina Delamar. “I grew up in a household that was full of domestic violence and unfortunately a lot of my family members have been affected by it. There’s a lot of stigma attached to it, and for that reason a lot of women are hesitant to speak out and ask for help.”

Domestic violence survivor and LifeWay Network coordinator Jasmine Ortiz also shared her story during the rally.

“Twenty years ago, I was in a violent relationship and there was no support like this,” Ortiz explained. “I almost died from staying in that relationship. He kicked me and tried to stab me, but I survived for my son. Absolutely no one would help me. It touches my heart to know that there’s help now.”

After the rally, Crowley led the group of marchers down Woodhaven Boulevard to Queens Center Mall, where the group boarded an R train to join the large Bride’s March in the Bronx.

Domestic violence survivor and LifeWay Network coordinator Jasmine Ortiz  shared her personal story

Domestic violence survivor and LifeWay Network coordinator Jasmine Ortiz shares her personal story.


Pols announce construction of new library in Far Rockaway

| amatua@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Dominick Totino Photography

Elected officials gathered at the Queens Library at Far Rockaway on Wednesday to announce that the $29.75 million project to completely rebuild the structure is underway.

Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and Councilman Donovan Richards secured more than $6 million in capital funding for the project and Queens Borough President Melinda Katz added more than $21 million over several years. Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder and Mayor Bill de Blasio also contributed funding to rebuild the 47-year-old library at 1637 Central Ave.

“Libraries make a difference in the lives of many New Yorkers, and this City Council is proud to support the Queens Library in their plans to rebuild and improve the Far Rockaway branch,” Mark-Viverito said. “From serving as a hub for education, communal activity, and access to services, to providing Internet access for those who don’t have it at home, libraries are a pillar of communities across the five boroughs.”

The accompanying teen library annex located on Cornaga Avenue and Beach 20th Street will act as the temporary location when the structure is demolished in the fall. The library will reopen in 2019.

According to a statement from Snohetta, the architecture firm responsible for the new design, the exterior will be made up of colored glass with a gradient resembling the sky off the Long Island coast.

Far Rockaway library rendering

The new library will feature separate children’s, teen and adult library spaces on two levels, accommodate community meetings, include literary services and encourage after-school study. The library will also offer job skills training services, and career and entrepreneur resources for community members.

“The Far Rockaway library is a necessary and vital element of our community that provides necessary resources that help residents find employment, study for exams and learn new skills,” Richards said. “A new fully loaded library will help our neighborhood reach that next level as we continue to bring in added resources and opportunities to ensure our residents acquire the essential tools for success.”

To celebrate the announcement, the Queens Library hosted a book bag giveaway that day and provided 300 students with book bags for the upcoming school year.

The Queens Library at Far Rockaway played an important role in the area’s recovery following Hurricane Sandy, providing a place for residents to receive supplies like bottled water, food and batteries. Though there was no heat or light at the library for several days, people gathered at the makeshift relief center for information and help.

“The Far Rockaway community depends on their public library for so many things: technology access, job readiness services, small business resources, educational materials and programs for all ages,” said Bridget Quinn-Carey, interim president and CEO of Queens Library. “They have long outgrown the current facility. Now, thanks to the generous support of Borough President Melinda Katz, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Mayor Bill de Blasio, Council member Donovan Richards and Assembly member Phillip Goldfeder, a new, state-of-the-art library is on its way.”


Queens lawmakers celebrate Supreme Court same-sex marriage decision

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer's office


Updated 12:21 p.m.

Same-sex marriage is constitutional, according to the U.S. Supreme Court.

In a 5-4 decision issued Friday morning, the court overturned state-imposed bans on same-sex marriage. The court ruled that gay and lesbian couples have the right to marry under the 14th Amendment through the Due Process and Equal Protection clauses.

“The fundamental liberties” in the Due Process Clause “extend to certain personal choices central to individual dignity and autonomy, including intimate choices defining personal identity and beliefs,” according to the decision.

Queens lawmakers and gay rights advocates – including City Councilman Daniel Dromm – expressed delight in the decision in statements issued Friday morning.

“Marriage is finally equal,” said Dromm, who is one of Queens’ two openly gay City Council members. “No longer will there be gay marriage or heterosexual marriage – just marriage. As someone who has been in the gay rights movement for over 40 years, it is difficult to express my sentiments. I never thought I would live to see this day. God bless America.”

Dromm will join other Queens LGBTQ activists and supporters on Saturday morning at 10 a.m. in front of the Jackson Heights Post Office, located at 78-02 37th Ave., to celebrate the Court’s decision.

Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, who is the second openly gay Queens City Council member, released a statement Friday together with his husband, Dan Hendrick.

“Today’s Supreme Court Decision is a landmark ruling making marriage equality the law of the land. Make no mistake, this decision is historic and breathtaking in its recognition of the equality inherent in love,” Van Bramer said. “We have been moved to tears this morning, knowing that the pain and stigma of being unequal is lifted. Of knowing that our relationship and our love is recognized by our country and is just as valid, beautiful and equal as any other.”

“Thanks to today’s ruling, same-sex couples across the country will no longer be treated as second-class citizens when it comes to issues regarding the family,” Queens Borough President Melinda Katz said. “This is a great day for those who believe in the dignity of all people.”

“History will remember this day as a watershed moment, a day when ‘we the people’ took another major step toward justice in our enormous and enduring struggle to form a more perfect union,” said U.S. Rep. Joe Crowley.

“When we passed the Marriage Equality Act in 2011, New York sent a message to the nation that it was time to end one of society’s greatest inequities, and I am thrilled to see the court join us on the right side of history,” Governor Andrew Cuomo said. “Today, we are proud New Yorkers and proud Americans. Today, progress marches on.”

“One of my proudest moments as a legislator was my vote for marriage equality in New York State; today I am equally proud that the United States Supreme Court extended these rights to all Americans,” said Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas. “This ruling sends a strong message that bigotry and intolerance will not be the law of the land.”

“Our country will finally afford millions of Americans the rights they have always deserved, but until now were unable to exercise,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “Today, this country is richer – filled with more equality, more acceptance, and more love than yesterday. And for the people of this city, where the movement for LGBT rights began in 1969 at the Stonewall Inn, we can be proud that we helped blaze the trail to this great victory.”

“From this moment on and for generations to come, marriage equality is a civil and human right for LGBTQ couples and no one – no matter where you live in this country or who you love – will be denied that right,” said City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito.

“As has been said, ‘the arc of history is long and it bends in the direction of justice,” said Sen. Charles Schumer. “Thank you to five Supreme Court heroes for helping bend it a little sooner.”

The court was ideologically split in its decision, as Justice Anthony Kennedy – regarded as its most moderate member – sided in the majority with the court’s four liberal justices: Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan and Stephen Breyer. The conservative wing – Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Clarence Thomas, Antonin Scalia and Samuel Alito – voted in the minority.

Photo courtesy of U.S. Supreme Court

Photo courtesy of U.S. Supreme Court


City budget agreement brings more cops, six-day library service

| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Photo via Twitter/@JimmyVanBramer

More than a thousand new police officers will be hired and six-day library service will be restored in Queens and elsewhere under a $78.5 billion budget agreement that Mayor Bill de Blasio and City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito announced late Monday night.

“This budget is a reflection of the responsible, progressive and honest process we’ve built over the last year and a half,” de Blasio said. “We’re strengthening the NYPD’s ranks, devoting new officers to counter-terror work and neighborhood policing, while securing vital fiscal reforms in overtime and civilianization.”

“This early, fiscally responsible budget will uplift New Yorkers in every neighborhood across the five boroughs,” Mark-Viverito added. “From establishing a citywide bail fund, to creating new jobs for young adults, to strengthening the city’s commitment to veterans and hiring 1,297 more NYPD officers to keep us safe, our budget makes New York City a better place to call home.”

The spending plan allocates $170 million toward the NYPD to bolster its roster by 1,300 officers. In the weeks leading up to the agreement, the mayor and speaker differed on how many new officers to hire (de Blasio initially sought 500; Mark-Viverito wanted 1,000).

According to the mayor’s office, the city stands to save $70 million by reforming NYPD overtime and increasing the number of civilian employees within the department.

The city will also allocate an additional $36 million to the Queens, Brooklyn and New York public library systems, enabling them to offer six-day library service at all branches. The Queens Library last had six-day service in 2008; the policy was eliminated as a result of budget cutbacks in subsequent years.

Other components in the budget agreement include the following:

  • $17.9 million toward implementing a breakfast in the classroom program at 530 schools, serving over 339,000 children;
  • a $1.8 million expansion of the city’s Emergency Food Assistance Program;
  • $1.5 million to expand the Mayor’s Office of Veterans Affairs efforts to eliminate veteran homelessness;
  • $5 million to expand inspections of and make improvements to dilapidated conditions at boarding homes across the city; and
  • $1.3 million to the Office of the Special Narcotics Prosecutor for efforts to stop drug-related violence.

The budget covers the city’s 2016 fiscal year, which begins on July 1 of this year; city lawmakers had until June 30 to reach a budget agreement.


Flushing senior center enriches members’ lives with technology

| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Eric Jankiewicz

For a senior center in Flushing, innovation is measured by iPads and in megabytes.

The City Council allocated $150,000 to senior centers like the Benjamin Rosenthal Prince Street Innovative Senior Center so that it could continue to develop technological programs that, among other things, allow older people to connect with their families using Skype. The senior center is run by Selfhelp and was designated by former Mayor Michael Bloomberg as an “innovation center” along with seven other places in 2012.

“This Council has been determined to enhance senior services and Selfhelp is a great example,” City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito said on Friday during a tour of the center.

Skype is used as the engine of the virtual senior center, which provides seniors with extra-large computer screens, so even those with failing eyesight can participate remotely in live events.

Such events include virtual tours of the Guggenheim and the Museum of Modern Art.

Councilmen Paul Vallone and Peter Koo joined Mark-Viverito on the tour, and both emphasized the importance of caring for the elderly and stimulating their minds with devices like the Nintendo Wii game console that the center has.

Vallone said that with the new allocation they would be able to make more centers “innovative.”

“My senior centers in northeast Queens are going to start experiencing this wonderful technology as we start phasing it in,” he said. “This is the beginning of something wonderful.”



Queens Morning Roundup

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

morning roundup


Wednesday: Sunny. High 61. Winds NW at 10 to 20 mph. Wednesday night: Clear skies. Low 39. Winds NNW at 10 to 20 mph.


Amanda Loulaki flirts with fragmented time, imagery, empty space, non-linear narrative and the extremities of a movement’s physicality. The work contains a series of vignettes incorporating autobiographical elements while presenting the body as a container of history, and the space as a container of the body. At the Chocolate Factory Theater in LIC through Saturday, April 12.  Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Chick-Fil-A expanding into New York City: report

A southern fast food staple as famous for its CEO’s controversial stances as it is for its fried chicken sandwiches is set to open dozens of restaurants in New York City, according to published reports. Read more: NBC New York

Council to introduce bill for ID cards for undocumented NYers

The City Council is scheduled to introduce legislation on Thursday to create municipal ID cards for undocumented New Yorkers — following through on an initiative pitched by the mayor during his February State of the City speech. Read more: New York Post

NYPD to update training and policy on responding to fires

Speaking from the Police Academy’s C Deck, where recruits perform and practice formation tactics, Commissioner Bill Bratton said that moving forward there will be a new focus for part of training to become an NYPD officer: responding to fires. Read more: Fox New York

Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito seeks extra $5 million for NYC Council 

The New York City Council apparently wants to go on a spending spree — on itself. Read more: CBS New York

Toyota recalls 6.39 million vehicles

Toyota Motor Corp. is recalling 6.39 million vehicles globally for a variety of problems spanning nearly 30 models in Japan, the U.S., Europe and other places. Read more: AP

Mayor de Blasio signs first bill, approves paid sick leave law

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo via Twitter/@NYCMayorsOffice

Bill de Blasio signed his first bill into law as mayor Thursday, extending the right to paid sick leave to half a million more New Yorkers.

Earlier this year, de Blasio and Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito announced the bill, which will apply to all workers at businesses with five or more employees. The City Council approved it on Feb. 26.

“This law is the first of many steps we are taking to fundamentally address inequality in this city, and make this a city where everyone rises together, the mayor said. “Today is truly a historic day that takes us one step closer toward that goal.”

The law takes effect April 1, and extends on previous legislation that gave the right to business with 15 or more employees.

It also removes exemptions for the manufacturing sector, and adds grandparents, grandchildren and siblings to the definition of family members, and cut out legislative red tape that could have delayed paid sick leave.




City Council passes paid sick leave expansion

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Rob Bennett for the Office of Mayor Bill de Blasio

The City Council has approved a law that would grant thousands more workers the right to paid sick leave.

It will be the first piece of legislation Mayor Bill de Blasio will sign into law.

“From waitresses and dish washers to store clerks and car wash workers, New Yorkers across the five boroughs will finally have legal protection to a basic right that so many of us take for granted each day – and employers will benefit from a stronger and healthier workforce,” de Blasio said Wednesday, following 46-5 the passage.

In January, de Blasio and Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito announced the legislation, which will extend the right to paid sick leave to businesses with five or more employees.

Under the law, about 500,000 more New Yorkers, 200,000 of whom do not currently have paid sick days, would have the right to them, the mayor said last month.

The legislation expands on the New York City Earned Sick Time Act, enacted by the City Council in June.

According to the act, beginning in April, businesses with 20 or more employees would be required to give at least five paid sick days per worker each year. Starting in October 2015, businesses with 15 or more workers would have to do the same.

The new legislation would take effect for all business with five or more employees starting this April also. The law passed Wednesday also removes exemptions for the manufacturing sector, and adds grandparents, grandchildren and siblings to the definition of family members, and cut out legislative red tape that could have delayed paid sick leave.




Federal, state and city officials: ‘Make Lunar New Year an official school holiday’

| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

State lawmakers have strengthened a renewed push to make Lunar New Year an official school holiday, garnering support from City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and Mayor Bill de Blasio.

“Students shouldn’t feel like they have to choose between celebrating their heritage and missing a day of school,” the newly-risen speaker said.

The City Council plans to introduce two resolutions, calling for schools to close and metered parking to be suspended on one of the most important holidays of the year in Asian communities, Mark-Viverito said.

Multiple other measures have been introduced in the state and federal levels that call for a similar break for families.

A bill that would establish Lunar New Year as a school holiday for districts with an Asian-American population of at least 7.5 percent has been introduced in the State Senate and Assembly for years.

Flushing is the only neighborhood in Queens to meet the criteria, along with Chinatown in downtown Manhattan.

While it has made no movement in the past, elected officials gathered Friday in downtown Flushing to declare 2014 the year of action.

“This is the year and this is the time we believe it’s going to happen,” said Councilmember Paul Vallone, who is drafting a bill that would suspend metered parking that day.

About 14 percent of city students in the school system are Asian-American, Mark-Viverito said.

Officials have long argued absence rates in some city schools climb 80 percent on the first day of the Lunar New Year. Though observing students are “excused,” the absence is marked on their record.

U.S. Rep. Grace Meng, who spearheaded the Assembly’s attempts during her last tenure, proposed a resolution in Congress this month, asking local education agencies that include the city’s Department of Education to close schools that day.

“One day, we’ll look back and see that we made history,” said Councilmember Karen Koslowitz.



Leadership roles go to Queens councilmembers who supported speaker

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Official NYC Council photo by William Alatriste

Several important leadership positions went to Queens representatives Wednesday who showed support for newly-elected City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito last month.

Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer retained his position as chair of the Cultural Affairs Committee, but was named majority leader.

“It has always been my goal to play a meaningful leadership role in this new, Progressive Council. The opportunity to serve in the second highest position in the Council… is one I relish and am truly humbled by,” he said.

He was rumored to be in the running for Finance Chair along with another Queens elected, Julissa Ferreras, who got the appointment. She was previously Women’s Issues Chair.

“As the first woman and first person of color to ever chair the Council’s Finance Committee, I am honored and humbled to have the opportunity to further serve the people of our great city,” she said.

Van Bramer and Ferreras were two of six Queens councilmembers to back Mark-Viverito for the speaker position in December, along with Daniel Dromm, Daneek Miller, Donovan Richards and Republican Eric Ulrich, in contrast to the wishes of their county’s Democratic and GOP leadership.

Councilmember Daniel Dromm, a former public school teacher, is now the Education Committee chair after previously heading the Immigration Committee.

Ulrich was appointed chair of the Veterans Committee, Miller chair of the Civil Service and Labor Committee and Richards chair of the Environmental Protection Committee.

Additional chair positions went to Elizabeth Crowley, the Fire and Criminal Justice Services, Karen Koslowitz, the State and Federal Legislation Committee, Peter Koo, the Landmarks Public Siting and Maritime Uses Sub-Committee, Mark Weprin, the Zoning and Franchises Sub-Committee, Ruben Wills, the Drug Abuse Sub-Committee and Paul Vallone, the Senior Centers Sub-Committee.




Mayor de Blasio announces paid sick leave expansion

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo via witter/@NYCMayorsOffice

More New Yorkers could be protected from losing their jobs for taking a day off when they or their family members are ill.

Mayor Bill de Blasio and City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito announced legislation Friday that will extend the right to paid sick leave to businesses with five or more employees, which expands on a law enacted by the City Council.

The announcement was made at Esmeralda’s Restaurant in Bushwick, Brooklyn, a business that is part of a coalition supporting paid sick days.

Speaking at the announcement was the restaurant’s owner, who already provides her employees with paid sick leave and has seen its benefits, as well as Leonardo Hernando, a car wash worker from Queens.

Hernando, a father of four, has lived and worked in the U.S. for nine years and has never once had a job that provided paid sick days. He said he cannot take a day off because it will mean he won’t have enough money for his family.

With the new legislation, he will no longer be in that situation.

“Families will be more stable and secure, because they have paid sick leave coverage,” de Blasio said.

Under the expanded legislation, about 500,000 more New Yorkers, 200,000 of whom do not currently have paid sick days, will now have the right to paid sick leave, according to de Blasio.

The City Council enacted the New York City Earned Sick Time Act on June 27 in a 47-4 vote, overriding then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s veto of the legislation.

According to that bill,  beginning in April, businesses with 20 or more employees will be required to give at least five paid sick days per worker each year. Starting in October 2015, businesses with 15 or more workers will have to do the same.

“While that legislation was a good start it was not nearly enough,” Mark-Viverito said.

The new legislation would take effect for all business with five or more employees starting this April. De Blasio said he believes the legislative process will move quickly so it can be enacted by that time.

The law also removes exemptions for the manufacturing sector, and adds grandparents, grandchildren and siblings to the definition of family members, and cut out legislative red tape that could have delayed paid sick leave.



Van Bramer, Ferreras in running to head Council finance committee: report

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

File photos

After showing support last month for newly-elected Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Queens Councilmembers Julissa Ferreras and Jimmy Van Bramer are the top contenders to head the Council’s finance committee, according to Politicker.

A City Council source told Politicker negotiations over the finance chair appointment are underway this week and “announcements could be coming soon.”

When contacted by The Courier, both Van Bramer and Ferreras had no comment to the Politicker report.

Mark-Viverito has yet to respond to a request for comment.

Van Bramer and Ferarras were two of six Queens councilmembers to back Mark-Viverito in December, in contrast to the wishes of their county’s Democratic Party leadership.

Mark-Viverito has so far only appointed members to the Council’s rules, privileges and elections committee.

Those members include Councilmember Donovan Richards, the only Queens representative on the committee.

The remaining committees are expected to be announced at the Council’s next meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 22.



Councilmember Daneek Miller gets to work his first two weeks in office

| mhayes@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Maggie Hayes

Councilmember Daneek Miller is “rolling up his sleeves” and taking the ball into his own hands, creating partnerships throughout the southeast Queens community to form one voice for City Hall.

“There’s the potential to do really great things as a collective,” he said. “To be successful you have to be inclusive. You have to empower others, and you do that by being inclusive and engaging.”

Miller’s first two weeks in office have been a testament to his campaign – meeting with various community and clergy members to form those coalitions early on. He also introduced City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito to area residents because “we have a different set of concerns. We needed her to come out and see specifically what to do,” he said.

Getting guns off the streets leaped to the top of Miller’s agenda after the city’s first murder of the year took place in Jamaica, when a 22-year-old man was fatally shot in the chest.

“I’ve been a young man in the streets. There’s no reason you should walk around here and not feel safe,” he said. “That’s not what this community is about. We’re better than that.”

He hopes to target the area’s youth, work on conflict resolution and provide a means to get them focused on school and employment.

Miller was officially sworn into office on Saturday by Mark-Viverito at the Jamaica Performing Arts Center in front of a crowd of dozens of elected officials, community leaders and residents.

Former Councilmember Leroy Comrie passed the torch to Miller, and said he expects the new councilmember to not only lead the 27th district but to have a great impact on the city.

“Daneek understands government. Daneek understands more importantly people, the needs of people ,” he said.

U.S. Senator Charles Schumer, Congressmember Gregory Meeks, Borough President Melinda Katz, Public Advocate Letitia James, City Comptroller Scott Stringer, Mark-Viverito and labor leaders also spoke about Miller, and said he will be a voice for the middle class.

Moving forward, Miller is determining the feasibility of participatory budgeting, establishing community policing and taking “full advantage of all amenities that the district has to offer.”

“I’m going to shoot hoops at one of the youth centers later,” he said. “I don’t have to change who I am or what I’ve done in the past.”


Melissa Mark-Viverito elected as next City Council Speaker

| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Photo via NYC City Council Flickr/Official NYC Council Photo by William Alatriste

Melissa Mark-Viverito was unanimously elected as the next City Council Speaker Wednesday by the 51-member body, becoming the second most powerful politician in the city and the first Latin-American to take the spot.

“We will work together, because that is what New Yorkers expect and that is what New Yorkers deserve,” she said. “We unite for a more equal and just New York.”

The two-term East Harlem councilmember first declared victory on Dec. 19 after receiving support from 30 council colleagues — more than the 26-majority vote needed.  Reports later surfaced that city officials wanted a unified backing behind Mark-Viverito.

Shortly before the Jan. 8 vote, her opponent, Daniel Garodnick, conceded and sealed Mark-Viverito’s win with a hug in the City Council chamber, followed by cheers from their fellow councilmembers.

“In the spirit of strengthening the council, which animated my candidacy from the start, I now formally concede to the next Speaker of the City Council – my colleague Melissa Mark-Viverito,” Garodnick said. “I look forward to working with [her] … She is a smart and committed public servant, and we have worked extremely well together in the past.”

Garodnick also vowed to do his part to “resolve any rifts” the process may have caused among colleagues.

Mark-Viverito is also the first Puerto Rican woman and the first member of the Black Latino and Asian Caucus to take the Speaker spot.

Several Queens councilmembers supported Mark-Viverito from her December announcement, including Daniel Dromm, Daneek Miller, Donovan Richards, Eric Ulrich and Jimmy Van Bramer.

They confirmed their support at the Jan. 8 vote, along with the remaining Queens delegation.

Councilmember Julissa Ferreras called Mark-Viverito a “passionate advocate for reform” to “bring transparency” to city government.

“We owe it to the people to elect a strong and principled woman,” she said.

Mark-Viverito said the vision for the “new City Council” is one of “unity, independence, integrity, transparency and accountability.”

Her agenda includes fighting for affordable housing, improving the city’s education system, raising the minimum wage and uniting for the city’s first responders.

“This council will be unified,” she said.


Queens’ Morning Roundup

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

morning roundup


Thursday: A mix of clouds and sun. High 41. Winds SW at 10 to 20 mph. Thursday night: Cloudy. Low 36. Winds SW at 5 to 10 mph.

EVENT OF THE DAY: New Sounds of East and West

Set in a quaint, Gothic style church, Project Hansori’s concert will present new original music centered on Asian-infused jazz. Free, donation suggested. Starts at 7 p.m at All Saints Church in Sunnyside. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Melissa Mark-Viverito says she has support to become next City Council speaker

Councilmember Melissa Mark-Viverito is claiming she will have enough votes in the City Council to become its next speaker. Read more: The Queens Courier 

Immigrant population highest in a century

The percentage of immigrants in New York City’s population is the highest it’s been in a century. Read more: New York Post

Bloomberg’s meddling ways on unions don’t sit well with de Blasio

Michael Bloomberg has offered an unprecedented challenge to his successor to slash union benefits — for the good of the city — even if it means he doesn’t get re-elected. Read more: CBS New York 

DeBlasio picks ‘true progressive’ for budget director

Describing him as a “true progressive,” Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio appointed a former top fiscal aide to Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver as the city’s next budget director. Read more: New York Post

Millions of Target customers’ credit, debit card accounts may be hit by data breach

Approximately 40 million credit and debit card accounts used by Target customers may have been impacted by a major data breach, the retailer said Thursday. Read more: NBC News