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Melissa Mark-Viverito

Melissa Mark-Viverito

  • Council Speaker Candidates Hesitant to Criticize or Reform Party-Controlled Board of Elections

    City Council chambers with members

    photo by William Alatriste/City Council


    The New York City Board of Elections has widely been acknowledged as a dysfunctional agency in need of urgent and sweeping reform, yet the political will for modernizing and professionalizing the board has not existed, at least in part because its current structure benefits those in power.

    Its system of appointments based on political patronage has long been a source of criticism and its mismanagement of election operations has frustrated voters and been the subject of City

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  • City Council Ends Term with Flurry of Oversight Hearings

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    Speaker Mark-Viverito (photo: John McCarten/City Council)


    [Note: this article has been updated based on fluctuations in the City Council calendar]

    A flurry of oversight hearings are filling the City Council calendar as the Council enters its final month of the four-year session, most notably a hearing slated to address controversies over NYCHA’s falsified lead inspection reports, a hearing to discuss the city’s progress in closing Rikers Island jails, and a hearing on integrating the city's

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  • The Right to Know Act and the City Council Speaker Race

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    Jumaane Williams at a Right to Know Act rally (Samar Khurshid/Gotham Gazette)


    In less than two months, the current class of the New York City Council ends its term, and eight incumbents who won reelection on Tuesday are running to lead the 51-member legislative body as its next speaker. It is an internal race influenced by county party affiliates, labor unions, Mayor Bill de Blasio, himself newly reelected, and others.

    As the clock ticks on this term and the speakership of Melissa Mark-Viverito, a de Blasio ally who is

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  • City Council Members, with Notable Exceptions, Send Letter to MTA Supporting De Blasio Tax Plan

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    De Blasio on the train (Edwin J. Torres/Mayor's Office)


    Amid an ongoing feud -- between the Mayor Bill de Blasio on one side and Governor Andrew Cuomo and the MTA on the other -- over funding for mass transit infrastructure in New York City, 27 New York City Council Members on Thursday announced support for the mayor’s proposal to tax wealthy New Yorkers to raise money for subway and bus improvements.

    The mayor has pitched a tax increase on the top-most earners in the city as part of his “Fair Fix” plan, which would raise about $700

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  • De Blasio’s Record on Ethics and Transparency

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    Mayor de Blasio (photo: Benjamin Kanter/Mayor's Office)


    This article is part of a series on Mayor de Blasio's first term record as he seeks reelection this fall, in partnership with WNYC radio and City Limits. Find all pieces of the series here.

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  • At the City Council, Better Gender Balance Among Chiefs of Staff

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    Council Member Mark Levine & his Chief of Staff, Aya Keefe (photo: Levine's office)


    The New York City Council, a 51-member body, currently includes only 13 women, down from 18 in 2009, and that number is likely to soon fall to 12 when the next Council is seated in January, if this year’s elections continue as expected. There has been widespread recent attention given to the City Council gender imbalance, in part because the Council’s Women’s Caucus released a report on the subject, and there are efforts underway to improve

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  • In Surprise to Some, Diana Ayala Victorious in Tight Primary

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    Speaker Mark-Viverito with Diana Ayala (photo: Samar Khurshid/GothamGazette)


    The primary election on Tuesday saw incumbents retain power across most of the city and few upsets in contested races. But in one of the most competitive races of the day, a first-time candidate prevailed over a long-time elected official, overcoming an expected gap in name recognition and other deficits, in a City Council district struggling with concerns for its future and looking for its next local leader to advocate for its interests.

    District 8, which covers East Harlem and the South

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  • Assemblymember Rodriguez Would Have to Give Up Outside Income If Elected to City Council

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    Assembly member Robert Rodriguez (photo: Elbert Garcia/Former Rep. Charles Rangel's Office)


    State Assemblymember Robert Rodriguez, a Democrat from East Harlem running for the City Council, has a second job at an asset management and financial consulting firm that has earned him hundreds of thousands of dollars over the last few years. But, if Rodriguez wins the Council seat, which will be vacated by term-limited Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito at the end of the year, he would have to give up his position at the firm under new rules passed by the Council

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  • For Mark-Viverito’s Seat: Leading Candidates with Long Community Resumes

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    Ruben Diaz Jr. introduces Diana Ayala, alongside Melissa Mark-Viverito (photo: @jtaranto)


    Melissa Mark-Viverito, the Speaker of the City Council, is term-limited and leaving office at the end of this year, which, aside from indicating that there will be a new leader of the Council, means her position representing the Council’s 8th District is “open.”

    Since 2005, Mark-Viverito has represented the district, which includes East Harlem and parts of the South Bronx. New York State Assemblymember Robert Rodriguez, whose district encompasses much of District 8, and Diana

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  • City Council Bail Fund Begins Operations

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    Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito (photo: @NYCCouncil)


    The New York City Council’s bail fund, a signature project of Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, has officially launched operations and is actively taking on cases in Manhattan and Brooklyn.

    “We had a very soft rollout in June and July,” said Dave Long, executive director of The Liberty Fund, the official name of the fund, which provides bail to low-level offenders facing misdemeanor charges who cannot afford to post bail. The most common misdemeanor charges in Brooklyn, for instance, are for

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  • Crucial Weeks Ahead for Potential Rezoning of East Harlem

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    Mark-Viverito at East Harlem planning session (photo: Samar Khurshid)


    The de Blasio administration’s plan to significantly alter a large section of East Harlem is in the middle of a contentious process, with its fate unclear. The proposed changes to land use rules and infusion of community development resources -- part of the administration’s larger efforts to build more housing, some of it with affordability requirements, and improve neighborhoods -- have not been to the liking of key elected officials

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  • City Council Passes 'Right to Counsel' For Low-Income Tenants in Housing Court

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    Council Member Levine and Speaker Mark-Viverito (photo: William Alatriste/New York City Council)


    The New York City Council passed a bill on Thursday to guarantee free legal services to low-income tenants facing eviction in housing court. The bill codifies an agreement, announced in February this year, between the Council and Mayor Bill de Blasio to fully fund anti-eviction

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  • Council Speaker Contenders Spread the Wealth to Colleagues

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    Speaker Mark-Viverito (center) and Council Member Johnson (r) (photo: William Alatriste/New York City Council)


    A number of City Council Members who are jockeying to replace Melissa Mark-Viverito as the next Speaker of the City Council seem to be stepping up efforts to curry favor with their colleagues and other elected officials through strategic campaign donations.

    The latest campaign

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  • 4 Interesting Participatory Budgeting Project Winners

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    (photo: Council Member Lander's office)


    After an 11-day window in which over 100,000 residents of pertinent districts cast ballots, the City Council recently announced the winners of the 2016-17 participatory budgeting cycle. Thirty-one of 51 Council districts participated this year, leading to $34 million in capital funds going towards hyper-local projects chosen directly by the districts’ voters.

    A total of 138 projects received funding in this cycle, with most districts backing three to five projects. Some districts awarded funding for many more

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  • The Future of Latino Politics in New York City

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    Ruben Diaz Jr. (photo: @rubendiazjr)


    Just last month the annual Somos El Futuro legislative conference took place in Albany. Over 30 years ago a group of Latino elected officials and community leaders initiated the conference as a means to highlight issues important to Latinos and to shine a light on the plight of Latinos in New York. The visionary leadership of these early pioneers was to capitalize on and give consciousness to the ever-growing presence of Latinos in the state. Perhaps the name itself, Somos El Futuro -- We are the Future -- was not only a testament

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  • At First Executive Budget Hearing, Council Pushes Unfunded Priorities

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    Speaker Mark-Viverito (all photos: John McCarten/City Council)


    The City Council held its first hearing on Mayor Bill de Blasio’s $84.86 billion executive budget for fiscal year 2018 on Thursday, and Council members gave the mayor a mixed review for his updated spending plan. They praised de Blasio for increasing funding for a number of recommendations made by the Council and for taking steps to control the capital budget. But, Council members expressed concern that crucial priorities remained unfunded, or underfunded, even as the latest budget plan increased projected

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  • De Blasio Increases Spending and Savings in $84.86 Billion Executive Budget

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    The Mayor presents the budget (photo: Edwin J. Torres/ Mayor's Office)


    Nearly $200 million more in spending and $587 million in savings were added to the budget for the 2018 fiscal year in Mayor Bill de Blasio’s latest iteration of the city’s spending plan released on Wednesday.

    The mayor presented an $84.86 billion executive budget, which increased proposed spending from the $84.67 billion proposed in the preliminary budget in January. The new spending is targeted at early childhood education, job creation, veterans services, anti-eviction

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  • New York City Council to Host Conference of Municipal Legislative Leaders

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    Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito (photo: @NYCCouncil)


    Local legislators from large cities across the country will gather at the New York City Council chambers at City Hall on Friday and Saturday, in a first-of-its-kind conference to exchange ideas on policy, governance and, perhaps most significantly, the challenges cities face under the presidency of Donald Trump.

    City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito first spoke of the conference in her final State of the City speech in February, when she struck a defiant tone against divisive politics and the threats

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  • De Blasio Pulled to Rikers Closure by Mark-Viverito, Activists

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    De Blasio at Rikers (photo: Mayor's Office)


    Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Friday that he is putting into motion a planning process to close the jails on Rikers Island. The mayor, a first-term Democrat up for re-election this fall, was pulled somewhat begrudgingly to the politically- and fiscally-tenuous position by City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, who called for Rikers to be closed in her 2016 State of the City speech and formed a commission to create a plan to do so. That commission, led by former Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman, is set to

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  • Federal 'Wait and See' Dominates First City Budget Hearing

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    Council Finance Chair Ferreras-Copeland (two photos: William Alatriste/City Council)


    The City Council held its first hearing on Thursday to examine Mayor Bill de Blasio’s $84.7 billion preliminary budget for fiscal year 2018, starting the next phase in a months-long process to determine the city’s spending priorities amid broad uncertainty about its fiscal future.

    Roughly $7 billion in federal funding to the city is threatened by the proposed policies of the Trump administration and the Republican Congress in

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  • Several Points of Funding Contention for City Budget Negotiation

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    Mayor de Blasio presents his budget (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayor's Office)


    The city’s annual budget season kicked off on January 25 with the release of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s $84.7 billion preliminary budget for fiscal year 2018, which begins July 1. Starting Thursday, the City Council will hold weeks of hearings to examine the financial plan,

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  • In Final State of the City Speech, Mark-Viverito Vows Resistance

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    Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito (photo: @BenKallos)


    City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito vowed defiance against President Donald Trump’s immigration policies and promised to uplift and empower New York City’s immigrant population in her final State of the City speech at the Kings Theater in Brooklyn on Thursday.

    Mark-Viverito, the first Latina speaker of the body, has 10 months left on the job before she is term-limited out of the Council. On Thursday, she sought to cement her legacy and inspire with her speech, titled “Who We Are,” that recognized the

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  • Bill de Blasio’s Police Accountability Problem

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    Mayor de Blasio (photo: Ed Reed/Mayor's Office)


    Mayor Bill de Blasio’s campaign account recently posted a Twitter message touting the NYPD’s neighborhood policing initiative. “New York City is proving to the rest of the country that respectful, compassionate neighborhood policing drives down crime & makes us safer,” the tweet from @BilldeBlasio read.

    In a response symbolic of a problem de Blasio is facing as he heads into his re-election year, Lumumba

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  • Top Ten Stories of 2016 in New York Politics

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    Bill Bratton departs (both photos: Michael Appleton/Mayor’s Office)


    Gotham Gazette's Top Ten Storylines of 2016 in New York Politics:

    10. Bill Bratton Leaves ‘On Top’
    In an extraordinary send-off -- his own mini-parade -- Bill Bratton departed 1 Police Plaza on September 16, 2016 for the final time as NYPD commissioner. For about two-and-a-half years Bratton was Mayor Bill de Blasio’s police commissioner and the arrangement worked mostly well for both: Bratton had the job and power in it that he wanted, de Blasio had

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  • De Blasio Fails to Explain His Support for Limits on Groups Like Campaign for One New York

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    Bill de Blasio (photo: Ed Reed/Mayor's Office)


    The City Council will pass a bill this week to put significant limits on the donations that political nonprofits aligned with elected officials can accept from entities with city business. Mayor Bill de Blasio intends to sign the bill, sponsored by Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, into law.

    While she has been a close ally of the mayor, in crafting the bill Mark-Viverito condemned one of the most controversial aspects of de Blasio’s tenure, The Campaign for One New York. And in supporting the bill, de

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