Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Also, we circulated a rather adorable holiday e-card featuring skiing penguins to our colleagues in the City Council (you can see here: http://www.123greetings.com/send/view/12023708813208047676). In continuing with our penguin holiday theme...
Have a Happy Holiday!
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
BY RACHEL MONAHAN
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: http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local/brooklyn/2008/12/22/2008-12-22_santa_letters_from_children_at_brooklyn_.html
Thank you to the warm individuals that have contacted out office...
IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO MAKE A DONATION PLEASE CONTACT PRINCIPAL DOMINIQUE AT:
firstname.lastname@example.org 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 http://www.donorschoose.org/donors/viewChallenge.html?id=18308&utm_source=NE&utm_medium=Tish&utm_content=Thalia031708&utm_campaign=NE.
Monday, December 22, 2008
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
“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
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: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/19/nyregion/19nursing.html?_r=2&ref=nyregion&pagewanted=print
Thursday, December 18, 2008
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
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: www.brooklynmusicandartsprogram.org
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.
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.
Member of the City Council
If you're interested in learning more about the Fulton Street BID, please see this link:
http://www.fultonstreetbid.bravehost.com. 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
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: http://council.nyc.gov/html/home/home.shtml
Please call 1-800-577-TIPS(8477) if you have any further information.
*Photo courtesy of William Alatriste.
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.
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: http://www.thecrimson.com/article.aspx?ref=512382
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.
G. Oliver Koppell
Leroy G. Comrie, Jr
Larry B. Seabrook
Bill de Blasio
Inez E. Dickens
Helen D. Foster
Monday, December 15, 2008
*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
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
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
527 MYRTLE AVENUE
Bt. Grand Ave. & Steuben St.
BROOKLYN, NY 11205
Wednesday, December 17TH, 2008
6:00 PM until 12:00 AM
PLEASE COME OUT AND CELEBRATE
THE JOY OF GIVING BY DONATING
NEW UNWRAPPED TOYS
All toy donations will go to children in need
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
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, 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
(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 http://www.courtinnovation.org/leadershipapplication.pdf. 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
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: http://achildgrowsinbrooklyn.com/childcare/daycare. 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
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.
Monday, December 1, 2008
New York Police Department [NYPD]:
COST OF CUTTING THIS SERVICE
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$252.2 million in FY09-12
Department of Health [DOH]:
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Administration for Children’s Services [ACS]:
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$1.8million in FY09; $8.7million in FY10+
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$3.7million in FY09;
$3.8 million in FY10+
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$1.6 million in FY09; $3.2 million in FY10+
Department for the Aging [DFTA]
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$1.2 million in FY09
$2.4 million in FY10+
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Human Resources Administration [HFA]
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Department of Youth and Community Development [DYCD]
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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.