Wednesday, December 24, 2008

ATTENTION: Holiday Office Hours



Ask Team Tish: Round 3

Alrighty, it's time for another round of Ask Team Tish before we all go on holiday break! We've dealt with a few major issues in the 35th District in the past few months, and we'd like to hear what you'd like more information on. We love feedback, and it's the only way we can gage what readers are most interested in. So we very much encourage readers to post their questions and comments in the comments section...

Also, we circulated a rather adorable holiday e-card featuring skiing penguins to our colleagues in the City Council (you can see here: In continuing with our penguin holiday theme...

Have a Happy Holiday!

team tish

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Dear Santa letters from Brooklyn elementary school break hearts



They're the saddest kids' holiday letters in Brooklyn.

Children from a Crown Heights elementary school are not asking for toys, but food, clothes, a better place to live and money for college as their gifts this year.

"I need food," wrote one Public School 241 student. "I need . . . not to starve every morning, noon and evening. I just can't take it anymore. Me and my family are hungry."

The 571 pre-kindergarten through fifth-grade students at the school on President St. were assigned to write letters laying out their needs this holiday season so teachers and others could help.

What the adults got back shocked even the most city-hardened observers.

"These are issues on a grand scale and issues that highlight the disparity that continues to exist in Brooklyn," said City Councilwoman Letitia James (WFP-Fort Greene), who thought the kids would request dolls, bikes and other toys.

"I cried when I read these letters," said James, who is collecting donations. "These children are carrying a heavy weight on their shoulders."

The heartbreaking letters include pleas for a new stove, money to pay the bills and new homes because of mice, crime and overcrowding.

Despite their circumstances, some of the children managed to look to the future.

"My mom and dad had money but it's for food and clothes and bills," wrote one child. "I don't want me going to college to take from food and clothes and bills. I know college is far away from [now] but, can you help me with my college fund," wrote a fifth-grader.

Others couldn't escape thoughts of their frightening surroundings.

"I hear shooting sometimes and it wakes up my baby sister," one child wrote. "So please help me move out of the neighborhood."

PS 241 Principal Philip Dominique said the letters reflect the most extreme cases at the school, where 81% of students are considered poor, according to Department of Education statistics.

"I don't think it's unique to our school," said Dominique. "Because of the current economic problem, there is an impact," such as fewer jobs or less hours of work for parents.

"I prayed when I read these letters," said Florencia Chang-Ageda, a Community Education Council vice president, who has asked her church to help 25 of the students. Chang-Ageda also has raised $500 for grocery-store gift certificates for the families. "It's sad. It's very sad."

Though they know their families are hurting, the children of PS 241 still managed to be grateful for what they do have.

"For Christmas my dad can only give me love," wrote one child, "and I am thankful for that."

The Daily News article may be found here:

Thank you to the warm individuals that have contacted out office...

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO MAKE A DONATION PLEASE CONTACT PRINCIPAL DOMINIQUE AT: or call Florencia Chang, Vice President of the Community Education Council at School District 17 at 718-909-4943.

Anyone who donates will be mentioned on CM James' next newsletter.

Also, if you're interested in donating to schools in the 35th District that need your help, please support Team Tish For Schools at


Monday, December 22, 2008

Conference on Manhole Explosion in Clinton Hill; 12/23, 2:45PM


December 22, 2008

Manhole explosion in Clinton Hill this past Friday

Council Member Letitia James, elected officials, and residents will come together to discuss the manhole explosion in Clinton Hill, at the site of this dangerous incident on Washington Ave. at corner of Lafayette Ave., this Tuesday, Dec. 23rd, at 2:45 pm

Brooklyn, NY - The blast that occurred in the heart of Clinton Hill could be heard and felt across the neighborhood this past Friday evening / Saturday morning. The explosion was loud and frightening, and numerous fire trucks lined Washington Avenue immediately following the explosion.

Although the sidewalk was destroyed and possible damage caused to the Underwood Playground located near this site, as well as two residences that lost power, fortunately, no injuries were recorded. The lack of communication from Con Edison with elected officials and residents about the explosion is unacceptable (aside from residents whose homes had to be searched because of the blast, and the 23 people temporarily evacuated that night). Also, improved coordination with Con Edison and the Department of Sanitation should be made a top priority as this holiday season begins.

The winter season is prime time for incidents like this to happen – specifically post snowstorm. Manhole fires and explosions are caused by salty runoff from the streets that leak into the manholes and transformer vaults. The salt eats the insulation producing an explosive/flammable gas; the wires short out and spark, which then becomes the source of the ignition. If the manhole covers are older, the blast may put up enough pressure to turn them into cast iron Frisbees (newer manhole covers are made with vents to release pressure from harmful/explosive gases). Lastly, fire and carbon monoxide can make its way into nearby properties, specifically if the building’s electric service enters through an underground conduit.

WHAT: Press conference to discuss manhole explosions and improved coordination by Con Edison

WHEN: Tuesday, December 23rd, at 2:45 pm

WHERE: Washington Avenue at the corner of Lafayette Avenue


Sunday, December 21, 2008

Department for the Aging-RFP Pulled!

Council Member James and Team Tish were happy to hear that the proposed Department for the Aging Request for Proposal (DFTA-RFP) was recently pulled. We have written on the blog about the RFP in the past (see here: Here’s an excerpt that basically sums up what the RFP was:

“the Department for the Aging (DFTA) services RFP, [which] is an RFP that would centralize senior centers. The proposal calls for a 3% budget cut between FY08-09, a decrease in the number of senior center case managers (from 32 to 23); and the possible closings of some of the 323 senior centers in the City. Council Member James has joined many of her colleagues in calling for a delay of the RFP, and feels that modernization does not necessarily equal centralization, and that local centers are best equipped- when properly funded- to provide services for seniors. Furthermore, once these resources are absorbed, they may be lost to seniors in the future.”

Tish joined many of her colleagues in the New York City Council in opposing the DFTA-RFP on these grounds, and participated in Speaker Quinn’s “Protect Our Senior Centers” Initiative (where seniors and senior centers wrote their Council Member and the Mayor noting their objection to the RFP), receiving over 100 letters from seniors stating that the RFP would not serve their needs. We consider the pulling of the DFTA-RFP to be a victory for Council Member James, the City Council, and seniors throughout New York City.

Friday, December 19, 2008

ATTENTION: Nursing Home Deaths

I’m sure that at this point in time, many of you are aware of the three deaths that occurred yesterday (December 18, 2008) morning at the New Carlton Rehab and Nursing Center in Fort Greene, Brooklyn. The three men were all pronounced dead at the nursing home.

According to The New York Times, “there were no obvious signs of violence where the men were found.” We will post further information on these matters when we receive it.

See this New York Times article for further information:

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Crown Heights Re-entry Fair: Follow Up

Re-Entry Resource Fair

"Re-adjusting within the community for formerly incarcerated individuals is often a difficult experience. It is argued that they do not receive adequate facilities during their time in prison to equip them upon their release. The goal of the fair was to assist formerly incarcerated people to rehabilitate them into society in order for successful integration into the community."- Council Member Letitia James

The Re-Entry Resource fair for formerly incarcerated individuals and their families took place on November 22nd at Calvary Community Church in Crown Heights. It produced a great turnout, and many formerly incarcerated individuals were assisted on issues concerning housing, legal advocacy, counseling, family services, education, employment and career development, medical services, substance abuse treatment, and spiritual resources. Channel 12 were on hand to cover the event, and interviewed both Council Member James and individuals from Crown Heights Mediation Center, who were working closely with our office to ensure that the event was a success.

(Tish, British Intern/International Communications Specialist Faye Biggin, and Crown Heights Mediation Center's Molly Spevack)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Brooklyn Steppers Marching Band Selected For 2009 Inauguration Parade - Honored at Stated Council Meeting Tomorrow

December 17, 2008

I would like to extend an invitation to you to join me in honoring the Brooklyn Steppers Marching Band at the Stated Council Meeting for their upcoming participation in the 2009 Presidential Inauguration Parade. The details are listed below.

Special honor and citation presentation to the Brooklyn Steppers Marching Band for being selected to participate in the 2009 Presidential Inauguration Parade in Washington, DC on January 20, 2009. The Brooklyn Steppers Marching Band is a part of the Brooklyn Music & Arts Program, located at Boys and Girls High School, 1700 Fulton Street, Brooklyn, 11213. The New York City Council helps to fund this special program.

Thursday, December 18th. The Brooklyn “Steppers” will arrive at 1:00 PM.

Stated Council Meeting, Council Chambers, City Hall

For more information about the Brooklyn Steppers Marching Band go to:

President-elect Obama invites the Brooklyn Steppers to Perform in 56th Inaugural Parade!

President-elect Barack Obama and Vice President-elect Joe Biden's Inaugural Committee officially extended an offer to the Brooklyn Steppers Marching Band to march in the 56th Inaugural Parade. Members of the Steppers will join representatives from across the country and our Armed Forces in the historic parade down Pennsylvania Avenue following President-elect Obama's swearing-in ceremony on the steps of the Capitol. If interested in helping with travel expenses, sponsorship forms are available online, and the Brooklyn Steppers can be contacted at 718-467-1700 ext. 173.

Fulton Business Improvement District

On December 8, 2008, Council Member James hosted a meeting at the Fort Greene Senior Citizens Council to bring members of the community and business owners together to discuss the proposal for the Fulton Street Business Improvement District (BID).

The Fulton Street BID would extend from Rockwell Place to Classon Avenue on the south side of Fulton Street, and from Rockwell Place to Classon Avenue on the north side of Fulton Street. The plan was funded through the Pratt Area Community Council, and is a public-private partnership that is modeled on a shared maintenance program model of business. The advantages of a BID would include increased property values, a reliable source of funding for services, quick and organized response from the business community, a decrease in commercial vacancy rates, and a stronger business community. This would greatly benefit the roughly 207 businesses operating within the BID’s boundaries. Additionally, the BID would include security services.

The projected budget for the first year of the BID is $300,000 (although this is an early projection), as proposed by the Fulton Street Steering Committee, not exceeding the City Council cap of $400,000. BIDs have been generally successful vehicles for business throughout New York City.

Council Member Letitia James put forth Res. 1618-2008, which supports a Fulton Street BID, and she has written the following letter:


I wish to make you aware of the reasons I strongly support the creation of a Fulton Street Business Improvement District (BID).

This BID will be able to fund additional improvements along Fulton Street from Rockwell Place to Classon Avenue. With the imminent completion of the Fulton Street reconstruction project, this retail strip will be ready to make a comeback, and a BID will provide coordinated marketing efforts to benefit all merchants.

The Board of Directors for the BID, consisting of merchants and property owners, will make the final allocation on how to spend the annual budget for those services they decide will be in the best interests of all the merchants and property owners. It is premature at this time to make predictions on how much will be spent on the following services: marketing, public safety, maintenance and graffiti removal, landscaping, capital improvements, business development, or community services.

I ask you to look at Myrtle Avenue as the most recent local example of a local commercial street that has been strengthened and improved by the efforts of a BID. The same success will happen on Fulton Street with your support.

Please join me in supporting the future Fulton Street Business Improvement District; let’s work together for a brighter future for all of our small businesses on Fulton Street.

Letitia James
Member of the City Council

If you're interested in learning more about the Fulton Street BID, please see this link: Please let teamtish know how you feel about the BID, by leaving your comments in the comment section of this post.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Hate Crime- Attack on Sucuzhanay Brothers

* On Sunday, December 14, 2008, Council Member James joined her fellow Members in the Council, and many Bushwick community members in mourning the senseless hate crime against Ecuadorian brothers Jose and Romel Sucuzhanay.

Jose, the owner of a real estate agency, was declared brain-dead on December 10, 2008, a day after the brothers were attacked with baseball bats and broken bottles. He passed on December 14, 2008.

Witnesses were said to overhear anti-gay as well as anti-Latino sentiments hurled at the brothers during the attack, which suggests that the attackers may have been spurred-on by an assumption that the men were together.

Council Member James is deeply saddened by these events, and hopes that they will draw the attention of all New Yorkers to the continuing work we all have to conquer hate and violence within our own communities. Tish has always acted with strong support for both the LGBT community and people of color, and her prayers and thoughts continue to be with the Sucuzhanay family.

The individuals who committed these heinous crimes are still at-large, and a flyer containing sketches may be found on the New York City Council website here:

Please call 1-800-577-TIPS(8477) if you have any further information.

*Photo courtesy of William Alatriste.

Christmas Caroling in Clinton Hill

Friday, December 19, 6:30 pm

Community Garden (DeKalb/Hall)

Join a 40-year tradition of song and celebration…bring family, friends and neighbors to share in the season, sing to the residents of our neighborhood, and share cookies and hot chocolate. The route is not long, the spirit will be high, and the joy of song will go right into your heart. Bring an instrument if you play.

Call Marge at (718) 789-1619 with questions or to volunteer with the arrangements.

The Ivy League: Harvard University's Free Tuition

Council Member James, in her (intense!) interest in, and concern for, access to higher education opportunities, wanted to forward along this information concerning Harvard University. For those who don’t know, Tish is a graduate of City University of New York undergrad, Howard University Law School, and Columbia University’s Graduate School. From one Ivy Leaguer to another:

Harvard University announced in 2006 that undergraduate students from low-income families will no longer pay tuition. In making the announcement, Harvard's president Lawrence H. Summers said, "When only ten percent of the students in elite higher education come from families in the lower half of the income distribution, we are not doing enough. We are not doing enough in bringing elite higher education to the lower half of the income distribution."

To find out more about Harvard offering free tuition for families making less than $60,000 a year, visit Harvard's financial aid website at: http://www.harvard. edu/admissions

Also, please see the announcement in the Harvard Crimson:


Mayor Bloomberg: Please Diversify Administrative Positions

December 16, 2008

Mayor Bloomberg
City Hall
New York, NY 10007

Dear Mayor Bloomberg:

The following is an open letter. We, the undersigned urge you to dedicate high priority to filling the current vacancies at NYCHA, DFTA, HPD, and DEP with qualified and diverse individuals.

On many occasions you have publicly stated that the diversity of New York City is our greatest strength, yet your words ring hollow, as we examine the lack of diversity within your administration. Furthermore, there is a complete omission of African American men in charge of any high level agency. You have four high level vacancies that deal predominantly with people of color. You now have an obligation to ensure that those positions be filled by individuals who represent the people those agencies serve.

By appointing individuals who represent the magnificent mosaic that makes up New York City, the benefits of a diverse workforce are established and recognized. We reject the argument that diversity compromises merit. Diversity and merit can be achieved by casting a wide net to highly qualified individuals, who are often overlooked and/or may live and work in New York’s outer boroughs, people that relate to the concerns of average New Yorkers.

New Yorkers recently voted for Change. This Change was not intended to end on Election Day, nor to rest solely in the White House. This call for Change should also be honored in the chambers, and on the steps of City Hall. As we study the demographic shifts in our City, we urge you to give serious consideration to this letter, and our request for action.

Given the small number of high-level positions currently held by either women, or persons of color in City government, it is imperative that we not only work to maintain those positions, but also work towards taking corrective action to increase diversity throughout your administration.

We thank you for your prompt attention to this important matter, and we patiently await your decisions regarding the appointments.

Letitia James
G. Oliver Koppell
Diana Reyna
Charles Barron
Robert Jackson
Joel Rivera
Leroy G. Comrie, Jr
Miguel Martinez
Larry B. Seabrook
Bill de Blasio
Melissa Mark-Viverito
Kendall Stewart
Inez E. Dickens
Darlene Mealy
Albert Vann
Mathieu Eugene
Rosie Mendez
Helen D. Foster

Monday, December 15, 2008

Team Tish: Some Recent Photos

*Council Member James at Vigil: United Against Hate! in response to attack against Sucuzhanay brothers, on December 14, 2008. Photo courtesy of William Alatriste.

*Council Member James with Speaker Quinn and Members of the City Council, and HPD Commissioner Shaun Donovan, viewing a building on Gates Avenue in Brooklyn that was rehabilitated after being selected for the Alternative Enforcement Program (AEP), a program that was enacted by the passage of the Safe Housing Act (a law originally sponsored as a bill by Council Member James), on December 1, 2008. Photos courtesy of William Alatriste.

*Council Member James with Members of the City Council at a Childcare Health event, December 9, 2008. Photo courtesy of William Alatriste.

Sunday, December 14, 2008


ATTENTION!The press event planned by Council Member James to fight the proposed MTA service cuts, which was to be held on the Steps of City Hall tomorrow, Dec. 16th at 1:00 pm, has been postponed. This cancellation/postponement is due to the presentation of Governor Paterson’s 2009-10 budget proposal to the State Legislature tomorrow morning. The response by the State Legislature to Governor Patterson’s budget proposal may determine whether recommendations made by the Commission on the Metropolitan Transportation Authority Financing to cut bus and subway services will be implemented.


December 12, 2008

Contacts: Eva Ruiz at (212) 788-7081, and Amyre Loomis at (718) 260-9191

Council Member Letitia James, public officials, and residents will gather on the steps of City Hall to oppose MTA cuts - this Tuesday, Dec. 16th, at 1 pm. The MTA proposed cuts include the B25 bus route in Brooklyn, plus night and weekend service to the B65 bus route, as well as other severe cuts to bus and train services both in brooklyn, and across the five boroughs.

This past week, the MTA proposed service cuts in Brooklyn, and around the city to help alleviate a massive budget deficit. They maintain that the B25 is underused and already serviced by the A and C trains. Riders are expressing the exact opposite opinion; they say the B25 and B65 bus routes are vital life lines for Brooklyn residents, and that both buses often filled to capacity.

Taking the bus is simply a better option for the elderly and the handicapped because of the lack of elevators at most MTA subway stops. The B65 bus line is one of only two buses that cover the area from Fulton Street to Eastern Parkway, and an 11 block stretch exists between these two bus lines. It is unacceptable that special-needs riders who depend solely on bus lines to travel to work, as well as individuals who travel during overnight hours will now be subjected to long, unsafe walks.

Other MTA service changes that affect Brooklyn include:

* Shortening the G-train to operate between Court Square and Smith/9th Street at all times, eliminating evening, overnight, and weekend service between Court Square and Forest Hill/71st Avenue
* Operating 10 minute headways on the A-train, 4/5-trains, N/Q/R- trains, and G-train routes (among others) on Saturdays and Sundays. As a result, loads will exceed 125% of off-peak loading guidelines
* Midday loading guidelines will increase to a 125% seated load on the A-train and N/Q/R- trains, which will amount to longer waits
* Operating the A-train, 4/5-trains, and 2-train subway service on a 30-minute headway between 2 am and 5 am (service currently runs on a 20-minute headway during this period)

WHAT: Press conference in opposition to the MTA’s proposed service cuts in Brooklyn, and across New York City

WHEN: Tuesday, December 16th, at 1:00 pm

WHERE: Steps of City Hall


Thursday, December 11, 2008

Christmas Party/ Toy Drive at TAMBORIL!

Hosted By
Tamboril NYC

Bt. Grand Ave. & Steuben St.
Wednesday, December 17TH, 2008
6:00 PM until 12:00 AM

All toy donations will go to children in need

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

MTA Proposes Cuts to B25 Route, Night/Weekend Service for B65

Last week, the MTA proposed service cuts around the city to help alleviate massive budget deficits. They maintain that the B25 is both underused and already serviced by the A and C trains. Now, I will speak for my pregnant self when I say that I have yet to see the B25, as often as it may run, not full. The lack of elevators in most subway stops makes the bus a better option not only for myself, but also for the many elderly and handicapped living in our neighborhood.

As far as the B65 goes, the bus lines is one of only two lines that cover the area from Fulton to Eastern Parkway (AN 11 BLOCK STRETCH!!!) It is unacceptable to think that people who have come to depend on this line to get home in the late hours will now be subject to the long walk possibly from their place of employment to the trains AND from the train to their residence.

Other changes to MTA service that effect the 35th Council District include:
  • Shortening the G-train to operate between Court Square and Smith-9th Street at all times, eliminating evening, overnight, and weekend service between Court Square and Forest Hill-71st Ave.
  • Operating 10 minute headways on the A-train, 4/5-trains, N/Q/R- trains and G-train routes (among others) on Saturdays and Sundays. As a result loads will exceed 125% of off-peak loading guidelines depending on the car type.
  • Midday loading guidelines will increase to 125% seated load on the A-train and N/Q/R- trains, which will amount to longer waits of about 1-2 minutes.
  • Operating the A-train, 4/5-trains, and 2-train subway service on a 30-minute headway between 2am and 5am (service currently runs on a 20-minute headway during this period).

CM James is currently organizing a press conference, please stay tuned and come out and support in numbers. We must make MTA hear our collective voices!

Please share your stories if these service cuts will effect you...

"Young Minds Child Care" Now Accepting 2-Year-Olds!!!

Young Minds Child Care, located at 972 Fulton Street at Washington Avenue, and has just opened their doors to children aged 2-years and older (from 2.6 years :). If you or someone you know is interested in getting your child enrolled at the day care, or after-school care program, please contact the center at 718-622-8622.

Young Minds Child Care is full of warm, wonderful, and committed professionals in an easy-to-access location. ACS vouchers,as well as private applicants, are encouraged to apply and welcome.

Friday, December 5, 2008


CONTACT: Mollie Spevack
PHONE: 718-773-6886

(New York, December 3, 2008)- The Crown Heights Community Mediation Center is set to hold a Leadership Training Institute to help leaders in the community develop leadership skills. This free six month program is set to get underway in the middle of January.

The Leadership Training Institute is designed to further strengthen the leadership skills of a diverse group of up-and-coming leaders in Crown Heights. Participants will attend skill oriented trainings led by experts in the field on such topics as coalition building, community organizing, fundraising and grant writing, media strategies, networking, and event planning. These leaders will then have the chance to collaborate together and plan a community-wide event, building on the strengths of Crown Heights and addressing issues where the neighborhood can develop. The Leadership Training Institute creates an opportunity for community members to build open relationships with one another. This coalition of leaders will hopefully be able to work together to leverage resources and tackle long-term problems of Crown Heights.

The Institute will meet once or twice a month on Wednesday evenings from January thru June for a total or 25 training hours.

Last year’s participants helped plan a photography contest that is currently on exhibit at the Brooklyn Children’s Museum. Applications are currently available and can be accessed online at If you have questions or would like more information, please contact the Crown Heights Community Mediation Center.

About the Crown Heights Community Mediation Center: The Mediation Center is a unique neighborhood institution that works to improve community problem-solving, collaboration, and inter-group relations in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. Operating out of a storefront office since 1998, the Mediation Center seeks innovative ways to promote community cohesion in our neighborhood, known for fragmentation. This includes providing residents with links to resources on issues like education, parenting, housing, and immigration; providing support to young people navigating the challenges of a community tainted by violence, drugs, and poverty; and galvanizing neighborhood, borough, and city stakeholders in order to improve the quality of life for all residents.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Are You STILL Looking for the Right Day Care For You?

Thank you again Team Tish parents, advocates, and day care institutions for making our Day Care Fair a success!

For anyone who is still searching for day care options, and is looking for private, public-private, and non-ACS-funded day cares, please see this helpful list in the surrounding areas of Brooklyn: A great site to search for through the larger pool of day cares is The Savvy Source Additionally, Child Care Inc. can help you find a day care that is right for your individual needs.


Wednesday, December 3, 2008

P.S. 221 Needs Color Printer

Perhaps you or someone you know may be able to help P.S. 221 procure a color printer for their school. If you can help, please contact the parent coordinator, Philton Lewis at 718.756.0122.

Thank you,
team tish

Monday, December 1, 2008

Opposition to Mayoral Budget Cuts:

Council Member Letitia James opposes the Mayoral Budget Cuts proposed, as outlined below:

Service cuts proposed in the Mayor’s November Plan (PEGs)

New York Police Department [NYPD]:

  • Elimination of the January 2009 Police Academy Class and limiting the six subsequent classes from FY10 through FY12 to 2,000 hires each

$252.2 million in FY09-12

Department of Health [DOH]:

  • Closing an East-Harlem STD Clinic


  • Elimination of Oral Health Program; 44 oral health sites throughout the city will close as a result


Administration for Children’s Services [ACS]:

  • Childcare co-payments will be increase for non-public assistance families. Weekly minimums will increase by $2 per child

$1.8million in FY09; $8.7million in FY10+

  • Increasing Level I Supervisor Caseloads; the agency will reduce the child protective services staffing model by 127 positions. This will require Child Protective Level Supervisors to carry a full caseload, focusing on more complex investigations

$3.7million in FY09;

$3.8 million in FY10+

  • Eliminate payments for the Living for the Young Family through Education Program [LYFE], which supports pregnant and parenting students enrolled in DOE schools by providing childcare and referral services

$1.6 million in FY09; $3.2 million in FY10+

Department for the Aging [DFTA]

  • Suspend the Senior Center RFP--Opposed by the speaker and most Council Members and advocates for seniors.

$117 million

  • Elimination of social adult day care, which would close all non-medical adult day care services to fewer than 200 individuals with cognitive or physical limitations

$1.2 million in FY09

$2.4 million in FY10+

  • Elimination of elder abuse prevention contracts


Human Resources Administration [HFA]

  • Elimination of HASA Homemaking Re-estimate


City University of New York [CUNY]

  • Elimination of “Jobs to Build On” (a council initiative)


Department of Youth and Community Development [DYCD]

  • Reduction of Out of School Time (OST) Slots

$3.2 million

  • Reduction of Work Hours in Summer Jobs for Teens program

$1.7 million


Team Tish is back from the Thanksgiving holiday, and getting happily back to work! The season is upon us, and Council Member James is happy to be joining State Senator Velmanette Montgomery in sponsoring a Senior Christmas Party at the Brooklyn Masonic Temple. Click the flyer below to enlarge:

When: December 10, 2008. 11AM-3PM

Where: Brooklyn Masonic Temple
317 Clermont Avenue (corner of Lafayette Avenue)

The buses will leave from Ft. Greene/Grace Agard-Harewood Senior Center, Willoughby Senior Center, Farragut Senior Center, and Greene Avenue Houses. Please call (718) 260-9191, or (718) 643-6140 for further information.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Brooklyn Day Care Fair!!!

Thank you to all the Child Care Centers, various referrence and referral groups, and other Early Childhood Services that came out to greet and inform parents. Parents from all over Brooklyn were able to walk through the gorgeous Luntze Commons (thanks to LIU's Brooklyn Campus, that lent us the space for the event) gathering information about Child Care.

Even with all the work the centers put into setting up their tables and disseminating information to the parents of young children, ACS still informed at least one day care that we know of that they would be affected by ACS' most recent budget cuts. It is important that we continue to work together to provide for parents and children in our community!!!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Blogs We Love: Council Member Vincent Gentile

We wanted to make you aware of Council Member Vincent Gentile's blog here:

Council Member Gentile posts about things happening in 43rd District (which includes Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, and parts of Bensonhurst), events the Council Member is sponsoring, and information on his policy initiatives (basically, the same stuff we do!). His blog is, like our own, open to public comments.

Team Tish supports fellow bloggers (especially bloggers who make use of free services!), which may not be the most aesthetically-pleasing, but allow public funds to be put towards the needs of constituents.

Thanks for being a blog-lover,
team tish


Two groups that Council Member James is particularly focused on are the youth and senior communities, who are often outside of the work force and therefore may have a harder time securing proper and affordable health insurance. Please note that the information below is meant to be a continuation of the prior healthcare information posted.


-I’m sure many of you are aware of the Department for the Aging (DFTA) services RFP, which is an RFP that would centralize senior centers. The proposal calls for a 3% budget cut between FY08-09, a decrease in the number of senior center case managers (from 32 to 23); and the possible closings of some of the 323 senior centers in the City. Council Member James has joined many of her colleagues in calling for a delay of the RFP, and feels that modernization does not necessarily equal centralization, and that local centers are best equipped- when properly funded- to provide services for seniors. Furthermore, once these resources are absorbed, they may be lost to seniors in the future. Anyone desiring further information on this matter should contact our City Hall office at (212) 788-7081, or call 311 to contact DFTA.

-In the meantime, Council Member James, Speaker Quinn, and other members of the City Council encourage seniors to contact both the Mayor's office and their local Council Member. To do so, please print and fill-out the letters below (click images to enlarge):

-Seniors should call their local senior centers, and ask to be kept abreast of information on how they will be affected by projected budget cuts or an RFP. Additionally, if you aren't sure where your local senior services can be accessed, please click the list below to view a working list of senior centers and institutions which provide senior services in the 35th District:


-DFTA offers a number of different programs promoting healthy living, HIV/AIDS-support, blood pressure maintenance, exercise, etc; and the Office of Citywide Health Insurance Access (OCHIA) can let you know what public health insurance programs you’re eligible for, and give you additional information for applying to those programs. Note that healthcare programs are State-based, not City-based.

Also, please view the following information from Council Member James' Seniors Information packet (click picture to enlarge):

FYI- Anyone interested in having the Senior Information packet mailed to them should contact the District or City Hall office.



-Youth are also more likely to have sporadic, insufficient, or no health care. Young adults aged 19-29 are likely to not have health insurance. Living uninsured among young adults (18-24) rose from 23% in 1987 to 31% in 2004. (National Institute for Health Care Management, A Young People's Health Care: A National Imperative) Ironically, young people have the lowest health expenditures, but the are the most uninsured.

-Young people may feel that they are "invincible" because they are relatively healthy, and see insurance as being unnecessary or too expensive. (New York Magazine, The Young Invincibles) Many young people neglect to look into more affordable choices for health insurance, like their senior counterparts. Young adults who are interested in their public health care options should also contact OCHIA through calling 311.

-For students, you may be covered under your guardian's insurance if enrolled at a college or university, and your school (if accredited) should have a health insurance option as part of your enrollment package, meaning you may not have to pay these fees out-of-pocket.

-Please click the pictures below to view additional health insurance options for students:

Council Members James, de Blasio, Vann Host Day Care Fair on SAT. NOV. 22ND, 10AM-4PM at LIU


November 21, 2008

Council Member Letitia James, Council Member Bill de Blasio, and Council Member Al Vann invite you to a Day Care Fair for parents, families and the community on saturday, Nov. 22nd, from 10 am – 4 pm at Long Island University, Brooklyn

The Brooklyn Day Care Fair answers parent questions, and addresses low enrollment in centers.

Brooklyn child care centers have the lowest enrollment rates of all five boroughs. In this time of budget reductions we must make sure that valuable resources are not cut due to under use, especially when there is a clear need. The day care fair offers residents valuable information about affordable and subsidized day care centers in local neighborhoods.

The Brooklyn Day Care Fair came about several months ago, when on a Saturday, parents from a large child care center in the 35th Council District were informed that the center would be closed, effective the following week. Many parents learned about the closing when they arrived on Monday to drop off their children only to find the doors were closed, without explanation.

“This closing forced me to take a good hard look at the ACS subsidized child cares. Just this week ACS announced plans to reduce the capacity of its subsidized day care centers for low-income families by 18%. Our centers are under siege, and unless we work together to demonstrate the need for these centers by keeping the enrollment rates up, we keep giving the city the excuse to cut them,” said Council Member James.

Bedford-Stuyvesant, for example has the 3rd highest number of low-income children in Brooklyn. In the Bed-Stuy area, the low income rate is 63%, but the service-to-need ratio is 46% and only 81% of the slots are utilized: this means that many child care slots are vacant.

It seems the Administration of Children’s Services is in the process of implementing Project Full Enrollment, effective this Wednesday, to twenty-one of our most vulnerable Child Care Centers. Initially they reported the project would not be implemented until late Spring. Under PFE, Child Care Centers will only receive funding for the number of students enrolled. This will mean budget cuts for all day cares that are under-enrolled. Enrolling our children in day care centers is important because they improve the social and educational development of children; centers help to keep young people safe when parents are working, and many centers also provide after school care for older children.

“I encourage everyone to take advantage of the resource and referral agencies located near the entrance of the fair. These professionals can help you figure out specific questions such as newborn and infant care, special immigrant needs, as well as care during non-traditional hours,” said Council Member James.

The Administration for Children’s Services will also be on hand Saturday to help families walk through the eligibility process, and will provide information about ACS in several languages. The Brooklyn Day Care Fair allows attendees to take their time, ask questions, walk around the room and get to know day care options, as well as meet directors, teachers and parents present to help. It is also possible to set up appointments to visit day cares, and health care organizations will be on-site to offer information and assistance to families.

Councilmember Bill de Blasio, 39th District said: “Despite the large number of Brooklyn families in need of affordable childcare, many day care seats go unfilled. Connecting families directly with providers is key to informing parents about the day care options in their area, and ensuring that center vacancies get filled. I am glad that Council Members James, Vann and I were able to provide these much needed resources to the communities we serve.”

Council Member Albert Vann, 36th District said: “The parents in my district will be most heavily affected by the Administration’s cuts. The closing of any of these centers would be a blow to many economically vulnerable families. Cutting child care services during these tough times only puts working parents at greater risk of losing their jobs, and threatens their overall way of life.”

On-site enrollment for child care centers through the Administration for Children’s services will be available at the day care fair for parents who are prepared with proof of residence; proof of reason for needing child care; legal residency for non citizen children; proof of income; and/or family members.

What: Brooklyn Day Care Fair

Who: Council Members Bill de Blasio, Letitia James, and Albert Vann

When: Sat, Nov. 22nd, 10am - 2pm

Where: Brooklyn Campus of Long Island University 1 University Plaza, Brooklyn (on the corner of Flatbush and DeKalb Avenues) Subway Services: B, M, Q, R to DeKalb Av or the 2, 3, 4, 5 to Nevins Street

Contacts: Eva Ruiz - Council Member James / (212) 788-7081; Dottie Conway - Council Member Vann / (212) 788-7354; and Freya Riel - Council Member de Blasio / (212) 788-6969


Thursday, November 20, 2008




The goal of the Re-Entry Resource Fair is to assist formerly incarcerated people with rehabilitation for successful integration into society, the community, and the workforce.

Re-adjusting within the community for formerly incarcerated individuals is often a difficult experience. It has been argued that incarcerated persons do not receive adequate resources during their time in prison to equip them upon their release.

Within the employment environment, the formerly incarcerated face limited opportunities, as well as discrimination from potential employers. The U.S. Department of Justice states that, in 2007, 30% of people released from prison are rearrested in the first six months following release, 44% in the first year, and 67.5% in the first three years. This can partly be explained by inappropriate planning at the end of an inmate’s jail or prison term as well as a lack of employment opportunities and affordable housing upon release. The Independent Committee on Reentry and Employment reports that up to 60% of formerly incarcerated individuals are unemployed, as are 89% of those who violate parole or probation. Yet, if an individual has a job at the start and end of a supervised release from jail or prison, federal court statistics show that the success rate is 85%.

Finding housing for formerly incarcerated individuals is also a difficulty. Private property owners typically inquire into the background of individuals and often deny housing to anyone with a criminal background. Before1988, public housing was a solution to this issue. Ex-offenders were placed on a list like all other public housing applicants and considered based on a number of factors, including age, marital and parental status. However, Congress removed this through an amendment to the public housing statute, adopting a one-strike eviction policy for tenants in federal public housing who engage in certain types of criminal behavior. It has become virtually impossible for formerly incarcerated individuals to find stable and suitable housing.

The Re Entry Resource Fair is an opportunity for formerly incarcerated individuals, and their families, to gain professional and unbiased information on many issues that affect their everyday lives. The fair will contain information on Housing, Legal Advocacy, Counseling, Family Services, Education, Employment and Career Development, Medical Services, Substance Abuse Treatment, and Spiritual Resources.

What: Re-Entry Resource Fair for formerly incarcerated individuals and their families

Who: The Formerly Incarcerated, Churches and Residents

When: Saturday, November 22nd, from 1:00 pm until 3:00 pm

Where: Calvary Community Church, 1575 St Johns Place (at the corner of Buffalo Avenue), Brooklyn

Contact: Faye Biggin at (212) 788-7081, and CHCMC at 718-773-6886


Honoring Legendary Jazz Musician Bill Lee

On the Stated held yesterday, Council Member Letitia James and the New York City Council honored legendary jazz musician William “Bill” James Edwards Lee III, with a proclamation for his life’s work.

William "Bill" James Edwards Lee III was born on July 23, 1928, and is an American musician. The jazz musician, composer, educator and acoustic bassist was born in Snow Hill, Alabama more than 80 years ago. He now lives Brooklyn's 35 District with his wife Susan.

This profound jazzman continued in the footsteps of his parents, Arnold and Alberta. Bill Lee’s father was the first bandmaster of Bethune-Cookman College, and his mother was a concert pianist, (also Bill Lee’s grandfather- his namesake- graduated from Tuskegee Institute and founded the school Snow Hill Normal and Industrial Institute.) Today, Bill Lee is the father of five boys and a girl, including director Spike Lee; he has composed original music for many of his son's films, such as She's Gotta Have It; School Daze; Do the Right Thing; and Mo' Better Blues. His children by his first wife Jackie (deceased) are: Spike; Chris; David; Joie; and Cinque; and his youngest son, with his second wife Susan is Arnold VI.

While residing in Brooklyn for the last 50 years, Bill Lee has had the opportunity to be in the presence of the greatest performers on the planet, and has written more than eleven folk–jazz operas. He has played the bass for many artists including Aretha Franklin, and Bob Dylan. Bill Lee has recorded with Billy Wallace; Frank Strozier; Bob Dylan; Chris Anderson; Johnny Griffin; Bruce Langhorne; Chad Mitchell; Eric Weissberg; Ray Bryant; and Judy Collin; to name a few, and he wrote for Max Roach; Richard Davis; Ted Dunbar; Booker Little; Muriel Winston; Clifford Jordan; Donald Harrison; and others. Bill Lee also appeared with Billie Holiday; Sarah Vaughn; Dinah Washington; Carmen Mc Rae; Betty Carter; Dizzy Gillespie; Clifford Brown; Art Blakey; Duke Ellington; Billy Strayhorn; and hundreds of more great musicians.

Bill Lee is the founder of the New York Bass, Violin Choir, and he continues to mentor up-and-coming musicians.

(Photo courtesy of William Alatriste, New York City Council)

Term Limits Article

We don't usually post media articles, but this one is rather fabulous.

Courtesy of the City Hall news:

Facing New Challenges, Allies Emerge from Term Limits Battle Emboldened
Natural partnership hits its stride during confrontation with mayor

November 13th, 2008
Sal Gentile

Council Members Bill de Blasio and Letitia James (D-Brooklyn, both) like to joke that they are politically married.

If so, James said, “He has to continue to court me and not take me for granted.”

As political husbands go, de Blasio is an especially skilled bread-winner. His political savvy and connections to labor lend credibility to their campaigns together—even the underdog fights they often gravitate toward.

She, meanwhile, infuses a sort of understated ferocity into their campaigns that manages to pull in valuable media attention, while avoiding the charges of radicalism that have dogged some of her colleagues.

“She’s eloquent, she’s a lawyer,” de Blasio said. “Tish is a pretty decisive person when she’s in battle.”

They have crafted an image as the “loyal opposition,” as de Blasio put it, forged for the most part in the fires of the term limits debate, during which they became the public faces of a consistently aggressive opposition.

The task now is to identify fresh political opportunities where that strategy will work.

As she sat in an airport waiting for a flight back to New York, for example, James was firing off emails to de Blasio about assembling a “coalition” to push back on the mayor’s proposed budget cuts, which they both see as the next battleground.

They have extracted a considerable reservoir of political capital from their very public face-off with a popular, even intimidating, administration. That battle—and the bitter back-room dealing that sometimes spilled out into public view—has burnished their image as scrappy, progressive underdogs.

But the image they sometimes present of themselves as the politically pure, disadvantaged crusaders, some of their opponents say, is only that: an image, and one that does not always reflect reality.

The idea that they were not pressuring or even threatening some of their colleagues during the term limits debate is “just horseshit,” according to Council Member Lew Fidler (D-Brooklyn), who works alongside them in the Council’s Brooklyn delegation.

Fidler and other members of the Council who fought rather publicly for Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s (Ind.) bid to extend term limits have accused de Blasio and James of the same bare-knuckled tactics used by Bloomberg and Council Speaker Christine Quinn (D-Manhattan), threatening to amass labor and grassroots organizations against members who voted for the bill.

Several members of the Council have indeed reported feeling threatened or intimidated by the sprawling political coalition—labor unions, the Working Families Party—hastily assembled by de Blasio and James. Some of those bruising tactics may impair their ability to bridge political divides in the future.
James and de Blasio dismiss those claims, but clearly what makes them formidable as a pair is that they have married their activist values with a hard-nosed ability to build coalitions, craft a convincing message and—if necessary—apply considerable political pressure behind the scenes.

The strategy has so far proved effective, at least in making them credible power brokers. The question now is how they apply that strategy—molded by the frenzied intensity and breakneck pace of the term limits debate—to other items on their agenda, such as the mayor’s proposed budget cuts.

“You take a budget battle as an example, some of the same speed dynamics exist toward the end of the budget process,” he said. “I think we will see a very intense final few weeks of the budget process.”

De Blasio and James both see the term limits battle as having strengthened their hand and proven to people that they are capable of at least challenging Bloomberg on some of his signature issues, such as mayoral control of schools and management of the financial crisis.

They are actively engaged in building a “progressive coalition,” as James calls it, pulling in likeminded Council members, labor organizations and the Working Families Party, and applying their own distinct political flourishes.

When asked who might belong to such a coalition, de Blasio rattles off a few likely names: Council Members Melissa Mark-Viverito (D-Manhattan/Bronx), Rosie Mendez (D-Manhattan), Charles Barron (D-Brooklyn).

But successfully squaring off with the mayor and his allies will involve more than just identifying other progressives in the Council willing to vote against Bloomberg’s priorities.

The real task of the coalition will be to apply the model James and de Blasio forged during the term limits debate, fueled by the political capital they earned, to future confrontations with the administration—hopefully, of course, with more success. Even at the height of the term limits battle, the two held a joint town hall on education. They came close to doing an event criticizing the Board of Elections the weekend before Election Day, but pulled back from that after talking with staff there and being reassured that enough provisions were in place so that polling place hours would not need to be extended to give seniors more time to vote.

“The more we’ve held public forums and town halls and did a lot of grassroots organizing,” he said, “the stronger we became. And I think that’s going to be the model going forward.”

He added: “If the discussion occurs only at City Hall, it’s a losing equation.”

There will inevitably be setbacks, and perhaps even some breakthroughs. But de Blasio and James are unlikely to see themselves as anything but relentless, battered crusaders—now with some political muscle to flex.

“Whenever you do that which is right, there are no regrets, none whatsoever,” James said. “If people feel uncomfortable whenever they see us together, to me, it’s a compliment.”

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


Team Tish will be doing a few (2-3) posts on healthcare specifically in relation to the budget cuts. We feel this is a timely and appropriate discussion to have following tonight's informative community forum on how healthcare institutions will be affected by the economic bailout and recession, specifically the budgets cuts proposed by Governor Paterson and Mayor Bloomberg on the State and City levels. These cuts have been made public (as most of you probably are aware, the New York City Council Committee hearings concerning the Mayor's financial plan are are being held from November 17-24th). The City Financial Plan updates can be found here:

A few things that we'd like to point out are some statistics (fun!) regarding healthcare access in the United States:

-The United States government covers around 28% of the US population's health insurance through programs such as Medicaid, Medicare, etc. (U.S. Census Bureau, Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2007)

-The Commonwealth Fund, an organization that promotes health care interests, puts the number of US adults between the ages of 19 and 64 with no insurance, sporadic insurance, or insufficient insurance at 60 Million, or 35% of the US population. (The Commonwealth Fund, Insured But Not Protected: How Many Adults are Underinsured?)

-The exact number of uninsured adults in the US was $45 million in 2007 (U.S. Census Bureau, Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2007), and expected to increase by at least 2 Million in 2008 (Kaiser Family Fdtn, Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured)

-About half of federal expenditures outside of defense and interest are devoted to people ages 65 and up. Population aging alone- a result of the baby boomers generation- is expected to cause Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid costs to rise by about 3.5% of the GDP by 2030. (Urban Institute, Can Faster Economic Growth Bailout Our Retirement Programs?)

-Additionally, the much-talked-about State and City budget cuts include cuts to health and social services- including but not limited to Oral Health Services, a Manhattan STD clinic, Summer School Nurses & Dentists, and reductions in the Health and Hospital Corporation’s budget.

-There are a number of health organizations and non-profits which may be able to aid residents. Please click on the picture below for a working list that provide services to residents in the 35th District:

What We’re Currently Doing:

-Council Member James has shown support for the implementation of a universal healthcare program that is a fair and balanced structure that takes into consideration our currently fragile economy. She has co-signed onto Res. 75, which is supportive of a universal healthcare plan. The resolution may be found here:

-Our office is currently hearing alternative budget proposals from organizations that focus on fiscal policy. The Council Member’s position feels strongly that in consideration of State and City budget cuts, social services should be at the bottom of the list of services cut. Alternative cuts are currently being researched and we hope to develop some proposals soon. The Council Member’s position is that “across the board” cuts are unacceptable (these would include cuts on childrens and senior services, education, housing, health, etc.)