District 36
Central Brooklyn

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District 36 - Albert Vann
613-619 Throop Avenue, Brooklyn 11216
City Hall: (212) 788-7354
District: (718) 919-0740
Fax: (718) 919-0744

Committee Assignments:
Education, member
Health, member
Land Use, member
Youth Services, member
Planning, Dispositions & Concessions, member of Land Use Subcommittee

Back In Brooklyn

By Albert Vann

After serving in the State Legislature for the last 27 years, I am now a freshman in the New York City Council. For the most part, being a legislator is the same whether it is in Albany or City Hall. But there are distinct differences.

For one, I have been a little surprised by all of the media attention the City Council gets. Often we pass resolutions that are not that significant, but the media covers it. In the State Legislature, we would pass important pieces of legislation and no one noticed.

Second, the pace at City Hall is quicker than in the State Legislature. The issues in the city have an immediacy to them and you are forced to respond immediately. In Albany, it seemed like we had a little more time to deliberate, negotiate, and strengthen our position on issues. In addition, the mayor has a lot of power, and the council, in order to serve as a counter balance must be swift and unified in its response.

Third, as a member of the State Legislature, I played a strong role in many of the fundamental issues that affected the city -- education funding, rent control, public authorities, and taxes. I knew that when I came to the City Council it would be different, given that the powers of this body are limited in certain areas.

The biggest difference between Albany and City Hall is how the government system works. In Albany, we have a bicameral system with two decision making bodies -- the Assembly and the Senate. Legislation needs to have the support of leaders of both houses and from both political parties. In the New York City, the council is it. We are the legislative body that makes policy decisions to the extent that the city charter allows. And since 47 of the 51 members are Democrats, it is easier to work together. Fewer negotiations are required to pass a piece of legislation.

I know what it is like to have a good working relationship with governmental agencies and to get things done for constituents. And I also know what it is like to be shut out because the leadership is from a different political party. For the last years under Governor George Pataki, I did not have that same access as I did under Democratic governors. So far, I have found the city agencies have been responsive to my concerns. Even though the mayor is a Republican, access to city agencies is similar to when I first joined the Assembly.

One of the best things about moving from the State Assembly to the City Council has been personal. After years of traveling back and forth to Albany, now I get to spend all of my time in Brooklyn, the place where I was born and raised, and where I can work more closely with my constituents.

In my district, which includes the neighborhoods of Bedford Stuyvesant and some of Crown Heights, my primary concerns revolve around issues of community development. Communities like mine have been neglected over a long period of time and we have never received the adequate resources to properly develop our area to its full potential. We still struggle with issues like infant mortality, high rates of AIDS and HIV infection, banks with weak portfolios, and an increase in predatory lenders. Predatory lending leads to foreclosures foreclosures and abandoned property.

As the chair of the select committee on community development, my vision is to help areas of the city -- using my district as a model -- to come up with goals and objectives for revitalizing their neighborhoods. My district has great strengths: our people, our homeowners, churches, community groups, and cultural organizations. Right now we are doing the groundwork and research to learn how we can better organize around our strengths to improve the quality of life in the area

In the end, the community development process may result in small business loans, zoning changes, commercial areas, or new cultural or educational opportunities, but right now we are in the listening and organizing stages. It is important to bring people together and find out what they really need. For example, in the area of education, we are developing strong parental organizations that can speak to the system, regardless of who the chancellor is or who controls the schools. There has been a lot of talk about school governance, but parents play one of the most essential roles in the success of education.

One of the main things that the City Council does for the city as a whole is to pass the annual budget. Even though we face deficits ahead, I have learned over time that budgeting is not all that complicated. You either have revenues or you have to cut services. You have to make a choice of what is in the best interest of the public. In my judgement, we can not, and should not, have to sustain any more substantial cuts to services. The mayor and City Council need to look to generate new revenues, whether it is from an increase in the personal income tax or by seeking to reinstate the commuter tax, or others. The Mayor and the City Council must agree to revenue alternatives.

Posted August 26, 2002

Community Boards for District 36
Community Board No. 3
1360 Fulton St., Brooklyn, NY 11216
(718) 622-6601
Ms. Sharonnie Perry, Chair
Mr. Lewis A. Watkins, District Manager
Community Board No. 8
1291 St. Marks Ave., Brooklyn, NY 11213
(718) 467-5574
Mr. Robert Matthews, Chair
Ms. Doris Alexander, District Manager

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)