District 10
Northwest Manhattan

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District 10 - Miguel Martinez
601 West 174th, (Suite 1A), 10033
City Hall: (212) 788-7053
District: (917) 521-2640/2616
Fax: (917) 521-1293

Committee Assignments:
Planning, Dispositions & Concessions, Chair of Land Use Subcommittee
Higher Education, member
Land Use, member
Oversight and Investigations, member
Youth Services

Lead Poisoning, Taxi Reform, and Bilingual Education

By Miguel Martinez

Lead poisoning is one of the most critical issues facing children in New York City, and in particular in my neighborhood of Washington Heights. It is also a problem that can be prevented. Lead poisoning can cause neurological damage, learning disabilities, and according to the Department of Health the crisis of lead poisoning correlates with low performance in schools.

In my own neighborhood, I have seen terrible examples of this. Recently we inspected a building in Wadsworth Terrace and found high levels of lead-based paint. We then began testing the children who lived there and found that they had dangerous levels of lead in their systems. Many of these children were in special education classes or were not doing well academically. The children and families have gone through great anguish over what could have been prevented.

It is important to create a greater awareness of the problem especially in Washington Heights because many people have come from the Dominican Republic, where it is also a serious problem. There is a lot that can be done to educate parents. I am also looking at different proposals to change the current lead prevention laws in the city regulations and how we can better enforce the laws that already exist.

However, due to city budget cuts, this is a difficult time to accomplish these kinds of goals. In Washington Heights, rather than talking about the future, we find ourselves fighting to hold on to the funds that were allocated last year.

Many of the constituents worry about cuts to senior centers and that weekend meals will not be delivered to homebound people. Parents are concerned that much needed plans for school renovations and expansions and after-school and summer school programs are going to be affected. And tenants are worried that programs to rehab abandoned property will be forgotten.

I believe the main challenge of the City Council is to convince the mayor that we can not balance a budget just by cutting services, especially services that people in communities depend on for their health and safety.

A coalition in the City Council is discussing ways to generate revenues for the city. We need the mayor to be in the forefront of the battle to reinstate the commuter tax. It is time to ask all of those people who made a lot of money off the prosperity of New York City in the 1990's to give back in these hard times.

To date, I have introduced three resolutions in the City Council. One resolution supports a bill in Albany that would exempt undocumented students from having to pay out-of-state tuition at colleges and universities. Another calls on Congress to hold hearings on the cause of the crash of Flight 587. Many of the victims of the crash and their families live in my district, and we still have not received a full report on what happened. And the third calls on the State Legislature to reinstate the permanent summer youth employment fund, so that our young people can find summer work and learn the job skills they need.

I am also working on amending the City Charter to establish a Civilian Complaint Review Board for the Taxi Limousine Commission. Currently thousands of drivers have no place to submit complaints or defend their rights.

I used to be a cab driver myself, and I experienced the difficulties drivers' face. The Taxi and Limousine Commission needs more diversity and representation from different ethnic groups. And the commission is one of the few city agencies that has only one headquarters rather than offices spread out in the five boroughs. Some days there are hundreds of cab drivers waiting at the same time in the one location in Queens.

Another issue I am committed to in Washington Heights is bilingual education. We are an immigrant community and many children come from the Dominican Republic, Mexico and Puerto Rico knowing little or no English. Putting a sixth-grade student in an English-only classroom gives them no opportunity to excel. We need to get qualified bilingual teachers in the classroom and adopt programs that work.

When I was a bilingual teacher, I would often have a child who was dominant in one language like English help another who was dominant in another language like Spanish. They ended up helping each other and learning two languages. The challenge for legislators is to put together an educational system that allows principals and teachers to do what works and avoid the bureaucratic red tape. It is the same in the debate over who controls the Board of Education. Control for the sake of control does not ensure that the system works. Public officials should be less concerned about pointing the finger at someone when things do not work, and more focused on figuring out how the system can best serve our children.

Posted March 25, 2002

Community Boards for District 10
Community Board No. 7
250 W. 87th St., 2nd Fl., NY, NY 10024
(212) 362-4008
Mr. Larry Horowitz, Chair
Ms. Penny Ryan, District Manager
Community Board No. 8
505 Park Ave., Ste. 620, NY, NY 10022
(212) 758-4340
Mr. Kenneth M. Moltner, Chair
Acting Ms. Elizabeth McKee, District Manager
Community Board No. 12
711 W. 168th St., Ground Fl., NY, NY 10032
(212) 568-8500
Mr. Walter G. Delgado, Chair
Mr. Gregoria Feliciano, District Manager

Community Plans for District 10 (PDF format)
Waterfront Revitalization and Access Plan - Comprehensive Manhattan Waterfront Plan (Manhattan Borough President's Office)

Ethnic Makeup and Political Registration

Ethnic Makeup

Political Registration

Public Schools

Elementary Schools

Middle Schools

High Schools

To find out what school district you live in, call the Board of Education at 718-935-2000 or link to Public School Reports

Police Precincts

Although many precincts cover areas solely within one City Council district, there are many which overlap with other districts. In most cases the overlap of precincts among districts is no more than a few blocks. Wherever there is overlap, we have made sure to alert you.

City Parks
Click thumbnail for larger image of parks in this district

Learn more about the condition of the city parks in your district at the New Yorkers for Parks (PDF file).

Community Gardens

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Find out more about community gardens from
the Council on the Environment of New York City

Historic Districts and Landmarks
Learn more about the historic districts and landmarks in this area.

The Waterfront

map listing suggestions for use and improvement of the waterfront in this district from the Metropolitan Waterfront
Alliance. (pdf format only)