Tag Archives: Melissa Mark-Viverito

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.”

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Queens Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

morning roundup

TODAY’S FORECAST 

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

EVENT OF THE DAY: Forested

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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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.”

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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.

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Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

morning roundup

TODAY’S FORECAST 

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 

 

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


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

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

Councilmember Melissa Mark-Viverito is claiming she will have enough votes in the City Council to become its next speaker.

In a statement issued Wednesday night, Mark-Viverito, who represents District 8, said she has the backing of 30 councilmembers and councilmembers-elect, including Queens members Daniel Dromm, Julissa Ferreras, Daneek Miller, Donovan Richards, Eric Ulrich and Jimmy Van Bramer.

“I am humbled to have the support and confidence that my colleagues have placed in me. Today is the culmination of over two decades of my work at the grassroots, in non-profit organizations, in labor and as a public servant. I know that my fellow members will work with me in the City Council to create more inclusive legislative body where every member’s voice is heard and validated,” Mark-Viverito said.

She will only need the support of 26 members, when the vote for speaker takes place on Jan. 8.

Mark-Viverito received the backing she needed when Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio convinced Brooklyn Democratic Chair Frank Seddio to support her, according to published reports.

But her remaining opponent, Councilmember Dan Garodnick, isn’t giving up, and called her statement “premature,” reported Politicker.

The Queens councilmembers issued the following statements in support of Mark-Viverito:

Daniel Dromm
“I am proud to have been one of NYC Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito’s earliest supporters. Having a bright, dynamic, independent and committed progressive as the leader of the Council is truly exciting. Mark-Viverito will continue to be a voice for the voiceless. Her connection to the people is her greatest strength. I congratulate her on her victory as the next Speaker of the NYC Council. This is a great day for New York City!”

Julissa Ferreras
“I’m proud to be helping to elect the first Latina Speaker of the New York City Council. Melissa is a friend and an impressive leader. I look forward to working with her to move our community forward, improve our schools, create good jobs and improve green spaces. Today is a great day for all New Yorkers.”

Daneek Miller
“I know and am thrilled with Melissa Mark-Viverito as our speaker and lead voice. We share common interests I know the council will move forward with a progressive voice.”

Donovan Richards
“Melissa Mark-Viverito has been a staunch advocate for the families of Southeast Queens and New York City for decades,” said Council member Donovan Richards. “Whether it was fighting for progressive issues such as paid sick leave days or reforming stop & frisk, she has continuously been on the front lines for our communities. This is why I stand with her in support of her candidacy to become the speaker of the New York City Council.”

Eric Ulrich
“I want to congratulate my colleague Melissa Mark-Viverito on winning a hard-fought race for Speaker of the City Council. I am happy to be part of a diverse coalition of councilmembers and look forward to working with them in a bipartisan fashion on behalf of the working and middle class families in my district and throughout the five boroughs.”

Jimmy Van Bramer
“I am enormously proud to vote for a progressive and the first Latina to lead our great body. I am equally proud to elect a woman, who as Co-Chair of the Progressive Caucus, a body I have stood with since day one, has dedicated her life to ending injustice in all its forms including discrimination and violence against the LGBT community. The unending struggle for a more just city continues, and working together with Mayor-Elect de Blasio, I know our best days are ahead of us.”

 

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Weprin vies to become next Council speaker


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

It’s off to the races for six legislators looking to become the next City Council speaker.

Councilmembers Melissa Mark-Viverito, Inez Dickens, Dan Garodnick, James Vacca, Anabel Palma and Mark Weprin are vying to replace incumbent-Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who is term-limited.

Quinn was voted to lead the Council, the city’s de facto second most powerful office, in 2005.

Weprin, the top Queens candidate in the race, was elected to the Council in 2009 after 15 years in the Assembly. He is campaigning on a promise that he will not run for higher office and is not term-limited in 2017.

“I am not running for the mayor of the City of New York,” Weprin told The Courier. “I can spend all my time being the best speaker I can be. I think one thing that has been lacking in previous speakers is they have all been running for higher office.”

Mark-Viverito, an ally to Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio, is considered a top contender for the seat.
Candidates have been taking part in forums throughout the city, though councilmembers will internally vote on a new speaker January 4.

 

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