Sunday, June 26, 2011

CM James Comments on Passage of Marriage Equality Act

**For Immediate Release**
June 25, 2011

Contact: Amyre Loomis at (718) 260-9191

Statement by Council Member Letitia James on Passage of Marriage Equality Act

Today, we are all proud to be New Yorkers. Thank you Governor Cuomo, bill sponsors Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Assembly Member Daniel O'Donnell, and all New Yorkers for their hard work in achieving marriage equality - persistence has prevailed in the 2011 session.

History was witnessed; a human rights struggle was finally realized yesterday in the dark of night. And so, today we rise, with the moral arc of justice on our side, as we take in the full breath and depth of knowing in the dawn of this new day, that the full weight, faith and credit of New York State now recognizes and upholds marriage equality for all.

I look forward to celebrating this victory, a win for everyone seeking equality and justice in life. Congratulations to the New York Legislature for passing the Marriage Equality Act, which allows same-sex couples to marry their significant other and receive the basic legal protections of marriage; what a tremendous and historic move!

According to polls, a majority of New York residents support the victory, and it is significant because of the rich history of gay rights in this state, including the movement’s foundational moment during June 1969 when a riot against police and for gay rights occurred inside the Stonewall Inn.

The passage of this law is especially important because it repositions New York again as a leader in equality, as well as eliminates discrimination from the law books. The national gay-rights movement has been given new momentum, and New York is now the largest state where gay couples are able to marry.

As we move forward, let's remember the eloquent text of the bill that states: Marriage is a fundamental human right. Same-sex couples should have the same access as others to the protections, responsibilities, rights, obligations, and benefits of civil marriage. Stable family relationships help build a stronger society. For the welfare of the community and in fairness to all New Yorkers, this act formally recognizes otherwise-valid marriages without regard to whether the parties are of the same or different sex.


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

ATTENTION: CM James and PH Hold Community Safety Meeting

In an effort to address a string of robberies and muggings that have occurred recently in the Prospect Heights area, Council Member Letitia James and the Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Council will host a community meeting with Commanding Officer Capocci of the 77th

The meeting will address the following--
* How is the precinct working to address the recent increase in street crime?
* What steps can the community take to improve safety and security?

WHEN: Thursday, June 30, 7:00 PM
WHERE: P.S. 9, 80 Underhill Avenue
(between St. Marks Ave. and Bergen St.)

NYC DOE: School Starts on Thursday, September 8

In an effort to prepare students for the level of rigor they will encounter in college and careers, the DOE is focused on aligning instruction with the new Common Core State Standards.

The Common Core State Standards were developed to instill a common understanding for students, parents and educators about what students should know and be able to do by the time they graduate high school and are aligned to college and career expectations. The Common Core State Standards include rigorous content and application of knowledge through high-order skills and are internationally benchmarked so that all students are prepared to succeed in the global economy.

Over the past few months, the DOE heard from principals about the need for more time to plan for next year, particularly to prepare to roll out the important set of instructional work related to these higher standards and improving teacher practice. To this end, in partnership with the UFT and CSA, they have added an additional day for professional development and planning before the school year begins to give principals and teachers the time necessary to do this work well. This means that students will begin school on Thursday, September 8, 2011, one day later than previously announced.

You can also learn more about the Common Core Standards on our website at the following link:

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

ATTENTION: DHS and Advantage Program Updates

The Advantage Program was a NYC Department of Homeless Services (DHS) program that provided rental subsidies that helped clients transition from temporary, emergency shelter to self-sufficiency as quickly as possible, instilling responsibility through its firm linkage to employment opportunities. However, due to New York State's withdrawal of funding for the program, DHS ceased signing Advantage leases as of April 1, 2011. If you have questions or concerns about the Advantage program as a client or a landlord, please contact DHS at 212-607-6200.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

CM James Joins Colleagues In Commenting on NYC Marijuana Arrest Policy

JUNE 16, 2011

Joe Taranto (CM Viverito), (917) 535-5531,
Stefan Ringel (CM Williams), (917) 608-8784,
Amyre Loomis (CM James), (718) 260-9191,


New York, NY – New York City Council Members Melissa Mark-Viverito, Jumaane Williams and Letitia James issued the following response to comments made by Frank Barry, a spokesperson for Mayor Bloomberg, regarding the city’s marijuana arrest policy and pending legislation at the state level (S.5187 / A. 7620) that would de-criminalize the public display of small amounts of marijuana. The comments were published in New York Times’ columnist Jim Dwyer’s piece on Wednesday, June 15th (available at

“The responses provided by Mayor Bloomberg’s spokesperson, as quoted in The New York Times, provide further evidence of how disconnected Mayor Bloomberg is with Black and Latino communities. No matter how much the administration thinks that arresting youth for what amounts to low-level marijuana violations is helping to stem violence, this could not be further from the truth. These arrests only serve to engender distrust between low-income communities of color and the NYPD, which will only undermine the Police Department’s efforts to address real crime in our neighborhoods. In a time of limited resources, the NYPD should be focusing on violence that impacts our communities, rather than on the overzealous enforcement of low-level marijuana violations, which has already been de-criminalized by the state.

“Efforts are currently underway at the state level to de-criminalize the public display of small amounts of marijuana. In stating that this bill will lead to the proliferation of ‘open-air drug markets’ on our streets and the ‘reversing (of) successful efforts to clean up neighborhoods,’ the administration is employing scare tactics, which should not be tolerated. Let us set the record straight. This legislation will do nothing to legalize the open sale or possession of large amounts of marijuana, but will close a loophole in the law that criminalizes tens of thousands of our young people each year, when they are asked to remove small amounts of marijuana from their pockets, and then arrested on the grounds that it was exposed to public view.

“According to data released yesterday, the NYPD is on target to make 60,000 marijuana possession arrests this year—more than any other year in history. Although statistics show that Caucasian youth make up the majority of marijuana users, almost 90% of those arrested in recent years have been Black and Latino youth. This is nothing short of a race-based policy of enforcement, and it must be stopped. We call upon the Mayor to support the bipartisan legislation introduced in the State Legislature by Senator Grisanti and Assemblyman Jeffries.”


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

CM James Comments on City Jail Plan; Capital Cuts

June 15, 2011

Contact Amyre Loomis at (718) 260-9191, (646) 201-8183

Despite Cut in Capital Spending, Mayor Bloomberg Plans to Build New Jail: Council Member James Dumbfounded

At this time, because of difficult fiscal times Mayor Bloomberg is proposing a 20 percent reduction in planned City capital spending, which translates to less money for building new schools, new construction of affordable housing, and upgrading public parks around the City.

I still ask why Mayor Bloomberg will not make big banks and millionaires pay their fair share to prevent the worst proposed cuts in this year’s budget? It is well known that real alternatives to these destructive cuts are possible! New Yorkers will continue to hold the Bloomberg Administration accountable, and we now demand that big banks and millionaires pay their fair share! We are all fighting for a City that works for everyone.

And, I along with other New Yorkers are surprised to learn this week that the Bloomberg Administration is still planning to commit more than $620 million in 2011 through 2015 for construction of a new jail on Rikers Island, renovation of jails in Brooklyn and Queens, and the closing of other facilities. Ironically, the system will have less capacity than currently when the changes are complete. The question remains: in the long run who really benefits from this jail construction and the millions of dollars spent – wealthy developers, or NYC constituents?

An alternative to cutting capital spending does exist! This funding is crucial - because it would benefit those who need it the most - the residents of New York City. I will say it again: it is simply time to eliminate unaffordable subsidies for the wealthy. Let’s stop cutting funding for financial institutions, and support the statewide Millionaires Tax. These are fair and just options.


For more details, please read the article posted by Nashla Salas at:

Saturday, June 11, 2011

CM James' Responds to Allegations of 2010 Blizzard Sanitation Slowdown

June 10, 2011

Contact: Amyre Loomis at (718) 260-9191


Almost two feet of snow was dumped on New York City on December 26, and the Tri-state area was covered with nearly 30 inches of snow that week… Sanitation Department slowdown never verified, completely unfounded

“The report issued recently by the Department of Investigation (DOI) regarding the 2010 Blizzard confirms a significant amount of what the Council and the Sanitation Committee discovered during hearings on the blizzard of December 2010. It also brings to light a few important issues that remain unresolved, and I hope to work with DSNY to address these items in the coming months.

Above all, the report underscores the need for improved planning and transparency, which are the two primary objectives achieved by the legislative package passed by the City Council in April. DOI deserves significant credit for conducting a thorough investigation of the allegations of a slow-down, and of other factors that may have contributed to the inadequate response to the blizzard that hit New York City on December 26th and 27th of 2010.

DOI interviewed over 150 witnesses including employees from DSNY, DOT, various elected officials, and several dozen members of the public. DOI also read numerous emails, viewed photos from the public, reviewed hours of video footage obtained from the public and law enforcement sources, issued numerous subpoenas, and conferred with several different prosecutors located in New York City. A number of positive conclusions and important corrections to the record should be emphasized. Most importantly, the allegations of a slow-down were never verified and appear to be completely unfounded.

Furthermore, the vast majority of Sanitation workers were doing the best that they could under the circumstances, although even some of the best equipped plows were getting stuck because of the severe conditions - the level of personnel and equipment was commensurate with levels of recent significant storms. Although there were reports of trucks driving with raised plows, most of the reported incidents that were captured on film were circumstances where the plows were supposed to be up, and DSNY is looking into the few instances where plows appeared to be improperly raised.

When GPS was used, it appears to have been effective, and we are glad to note that DSNY is going forward with our recommendation to expand the use of GPS to all snow plows. According to the DSNY official, the Queens East 8 Garage achieved a higher percentage of streets salted and plowed during the blizzard of December 2010 compared to garages in other districts that received approximately the same amount of snow. The report does identify a number of issues that require further attention such as greater planning and coordination must be in place for sensitive locations such as hospitals.

As I pointed out at the City Council hearing on January 10th, there were significant complaints from Sanitation workers that the chains used during the storm were inadequate. The DOI report provides evidence to support this claim. According to DSNY, there were 3,760 chains that were damaged during the cleanup - about 44% of the chains used during the storm - which raises questions about whether the new chains used by DSNY are durable enough to be trusted in the future. Furthermore, a significant number of DSNY employees stated that trucks had insufficient number of chains.

Other issues cited include: the disagreement between management and rank-and-file DSNY employees regarding when to cease salting during the storm, which could have been addressed through better communication and planning, and those disagreements should be resolved before the next snow season begins. DSNY should reconsider its policy requiring that one employee stay with each and every DSNY vehicle that becomes stuck or stalled during a storm.

During a severe storm such as the December 2010 blizzard, a significant number of employees could have been reassigned to other tasks that could have expedited snow removal more directly, and the appearance of so many employees simply sitting in stalled vehicles created a negative perception of the work being done.

Finally, I also urge DSNY to review its procedures with respect to ordering the proper amount and type of snow shovels. Many lessons were learned from the 2010 Blizzard, and I am confident that when snow storms hit again this winter the City will be much better prepared to handle it in every way.”


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

ATTENTION: OEM Opens Citywide "Cooling Centers"

New Yorkers Urged to Take Precautions During Heat Event

The New York City Office of Emergency Management (OEM) and Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) today announced that cooling centers will be open in all five boroughs on Wednesday, June 8 and Thursday, June 9. According to the National Weather Service, the heat index is expected to exceed 95 degrees on Wednesday and may exceed 100 degrees on Thursday.

Cooling centers are public places, such as Department for the Aging (DFTA) senior centers, libraries and New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) and Salvation Army community centers where air conditioning is available.

To find the cooling center nearest to you, call 311, or use OEM’s Cooling Center Finder at

Monday, June 6, 2011

CM James Celebrates Re-Opening of F + S FG Tire Shop

June 6, 2011

Contact Amyre Loomis at (646) 201-8183, (718) 260-9191

The family business was closed down by the City after 26 years of service and is now re-opening - Certificate of Occupancy violation dismissed May 16th at a Department of Buildings hearing

The Joseph brothers came to this country from their native Haiti and have been business and property owners for over 26 years. Earlier this Spring, they were informed that their building on South Oxford Street in Fort Greene, Brooklyn could not legally house their business - F + S Tire Shop. A DOB inspector had informed the Joseph brothers that hundreds of thousands dollars were needed to obtain a new certificate of occupancy, but it has since been discovered under new laws the shop is zoned to be a tire shop.

“I am pleased to see the re-opening of F + S Tire Shop on Fulton Avenue. Many residents and businesses have contacted my office to express support of F + S Tire Shop, as well as gratitude for the owner’s hard work and generosity throughout the years,” said Council Member James. “I appreciate the Joseph brothers’ perseverance and commitment to their small business. On behalf of 35th Council District, I would like to wish the Joseph brothers continued success. Further, I want to thank those individuals in the community who supported the Joseph brothers.”

WHO: F + S Tire company owners - the Joseph brothers, Council Member Letitia James, community leaders, fellow shop owners, advocates, neighbors and friends

WHAT: Press conference to support the re-opening of F + S Tire Shop

WHEN: Tuesday, June 7 at 9:30 a.m.

WHERE: 777 Fulton Street – corner of South Oxford Street – in front of F + S Tire Shop


ATTENTION: NYPD Youth Police Academy

New York Police Department Community Affairs has announced that the department is starting a YOUTH POLICE ACADEMY that will be open to children who are in school, ages 10-16.

The program will run from Tuesday, July 5, 2011 until Thursday, August 11, 2011. Please call the Office of Council Member Letitia James for more information at (212) 788-7081.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


At its meeting on May 3, 2011, the NYC Rent Guidelines Board (RGB) adopted and proposed a range of renewal lease guidelines that will greatly impact many of New Yorkers.

The preliminary rent hike, approved on Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011 by the RGB is slated to be voted on next month. The board proposed changes to both one-year and two-year lease agreements. Increases for one-year leases will potentially fall between 3 and 5.75 percent, while two-year leases would go up between 6 and 9 percent.

Council Member James recently joined her colleagues on a trip to Albany to lobby State officials to strengthen and extend rent laws legislatively. The alternative would effectively allow low and middle-income New Yorkers to continue to flee this City and State due to progressively ballooning rental costs.

The RGB has scheduled two upcoming public hearings during which the public will be able to testify and weigh in on the adopted and proposed renewal lease guidelines. Details on the Brooklyn-based hearing is below—

Thursday, June 16, 2011
Kiltgord Auditorium
285 Jay Street in Downtown Brooklyn

Council Member James encourages you to attend and share your thoughts on a proposed rent hike.