GOTHAM GAZETTE: SEARCHLIGHT 2002: District 50

District 50
Mid-Island, Staten Island; Bensonhurst
Bath Beach, Brooklyn



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District 50 - James Oddo
94 Lincoln Avenue, Staten Island 10306
City Hall: (212) 788-7159
District: (718) 980-1017
Fax: (718) 980-1051
Email: oddo@council.nyc.ny.us

Committee Assignments:
Economic Development, member
Fire & Criminal Justice Services, member
Health, member
Housing & Buildings, member
Rules/Privileges & Elections, member


Grappling With Budgets Not Street Names, Post 9-11

By James Oddo

Issues that seemed critically important just a few months ago have understandably been displaced in our minds by anxiety, sadness, and perhaps more so by pride in the unity and heroism exhibited by our great city.

It is obvious that the "dust of our everyday lives," as Picasso called it, has been dramatically altered since 9-11. Also changed will be the challenges faced by government, specifically the fiscal implications that are only now fully beginning to be realized. Concurrent with these trials is the advent of a freshman class of 37 legislators–a relatively large group of neophytes who, less than a month after being sworn in, will soon have the Mayor®s Preliminary Budget proposal placed in front of them. They will be asked to dissect what, in all likelihood, will be a city budget in excess of 40 billion dollars–the fourth largest budget in the United States. Unfortunately, this budget will have to address deficits in the billions. This would be a daunting task for even the most seasoned legislators, never mind for first time elected officials.

Budgets are often called blueprints of an administration or a council®s agenda. They reflect our goals, priorities and ambitions. Budgets are the programs and services -- such as public safety, health care for our children and seniors, education, economic development initiatives and more -- that make a city habitable. There is no single action that a Council member takes that impacts a greater number of New York City residents in such a substantial way than his or her role in budget negotiations and adoption. The most pressing issue facing the new Council is how this body will come to terms with the harsh fiscal reality of 9-11 and how those realities will shape the budgets and the city for years to come. The Council will also have to be prepared to tackle complex legislative and land use matters. If the Council is to fulfill the mandate of Charter Revision and be a legitimate check on the Executive Branch, we will need to focus all of our energies on these responsibilities.

Furthermore, we as a body must concern ourselves, not only with critical legislative initiatives, but also with determining what is substantive legislation. For instance, a simple, yet effective change that I suggested previously, which would symbolize a tangible step in redefining our role, is taking the City Council out of the "name change game," i.e., street and park renamings. While these are heartwarming gestures that are genuinely significant to the community, having an entire Council committee dedicated to enacting them is a luxury this body can no longer afford. Legislation I re-introduced would create a "call up" system so that street and park name changes would be initiated, negotiated and voted upon by community boards. Unless the Council objected, the community board's decision would stand, thus allowing the Council to avoid dealing with the minutia of the name change process, while still preserving a Council member®s right to oppose a particular name change.

Guiding the Council through these tough times will be the new Speaker, and the selection of a speaker will be the first task facing the new Council. This person should be an individual with proven experience and vision, ready to lead a majority freshman class of legislators in these times of adversity. He or she must also possess the qualities and ability necessary to work well with the next mayoral administration -- characteristics that Speaker Peter Vallone embodied, and which were indicative of the relationship he and Mayor Rudy Giuliani shared, a relationship that undoubtedly made this city a better place.

Republican Mayor-elect Michael Bloomberg has already demonstrated his capacity to establish a good working relationship with a diverse group of legislators and make his transition into office as smooth as possible, despite the rather rocky period that we face.

Harsh economic times often trigger the temptation to do what is "easy," but what is not necessarily "right". Recent rumor and innuendo that economic savings can be garnered by re-opening the Fresh Kills Landfill would be tantamount to telling Staten Island to drop dead. Moreover, it would violate a social and moral compact made with the people of this borough and would undercut the credibility of city and state government with citizens beyond Staten Island. Fresh Kills was "re-opened" to take debris from the World Trade Center, because in this time of crisis all New Yorkers were asked to step up and this was a responsibility we accepted. However, despite these drastic financial times, nothing should take place to allow Fresh Kills, the largest health and environmental nightmare in New York State, to rear its ugly head.

We have focused on the human loss of 9-11, and rightly so. However, the ever-changing fiscal landscape created by this atrocity will be profound and the choices that we as public officials will have to make will be a formidable task.

--updated December 17, 2001


Community Boards for District 50
Community Board No. 2
Sea View Hosp. Community Services Bldg., 460 Brielle Ave., Staten Island, NY 10314
(718) 317-3235
Mr. Lou Caravone, Chair
Ms. Kathy Dodd, District Manager



Community Plans for District 50 (PDF format)
Transportation Plan - The Harbor Loop: Proposed Harbor Loop Ferry System for the Upper New York Bay (Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance)




Ethnic Makeup and Political Registration


Ethnic Makeup

Political Registration


Public Schools

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High Schools



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Police Precincts

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City Parks
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Historic Districts and Landmarks
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