Gotham Gazette

The Place for New York Policy and politics

Melissa Mark-Viverito

Melissa Mark-Viverito

  • Time to Say and Do More for Women's Health

    Eric Adams Brooklyn women's health

    Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams


    Tampons. Periods. Breastfeeding. Hot flashes.

    These terms, and others relevant to women’s health, have traditionally been considered taboo — inappropriate for polite conversation and therefore left unmentioned. That silence has had serious consequences for women and girls, who are denied access to feminine hygiene products, charged more at the cash register for “women’s” versions of household items, and made to feel ashamed about their bodies.

    This taboo extends to sexual health, with terrible costs for young

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  • Several Council Asks Remain as City Budget Negotiations Hit Home Stretch

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    The Mayor and Council discuss the budget (all photos: William Alatriste)


    City budget season entered its home stretch last week when the City Council conducted its final hearing on Mayor Bill de Blasio’s $82.2 billion executive budget for fiscal year 2017. With a deal between the Council and the mayor due by the July 1 start of the new fiscal year, the parties will largely negotiate behind closed doors, with funding levels for a number of major priorities on the table. There are also lingering questions about savings and how much

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  • Council to Hear Bills on Providing Tampons at Shelters, Prisons & Schools

    Gibson Ferreras-Copeland Mark-Viverito hearing

    Council Members Gibson, Ferreras-Copeland, Mark-Viverito (l-r) (photo: William Alatriste)


    The City Council is about to take the next step toward making feminine hygiene products readily available, and free, in New York City public schools, shelters, and correctional facilities. On Thursday, June 2, the Council’s Committee on Women’s Issues will hold its first hearing on a package of bills to ...

  • Serving the Last Generation of Holocaust Survivors in New York

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    Mrs. Klein, a Holocaust survivor, with Council Member Levine (William Alatriste)


    “If our stories do not survive when we are gone, then six million Jews were murdered in vain.” That sobering call to action from Mrs. Klein, one of the 4,700 Holocaust survivors served by Selfhelp Community Services each year, rings especially true as we marked Yom HaShoah, the annual commemoration of Jewish survival through last century’s great tragedy.

    At this time of the year, we are once again reminded to share the stories of

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  • City Council Passes Criminal Justice Reform Act

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    NYPD Commissioner Bratton with officers (photo: @CommissBratton)


    The City Council voted on Wednesday to pass the Criminal Justice Reform Act, a package of eight bills largely aimed at diverting low-level nonviolent offenses from criminal to civil matters.

    Offenses such as public urination, littering, drinking alcohol in public, and being in a park after hours are currently enforced as criminal misdemeanors and prosecuted in criminal courts, at times resulting in permanent criminal records for offenders. Under these bills, spearheaded by Council

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  • A Budget for the City of Immigrants

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    Students of an adult literacy class (photo: Make the Road New York)


    In recent years, New York City has taken major strides forward in its engagement with immigrant communities. Under the leadership of Mayor Bill de Blasio, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, and the Council as a whole, our city has adopted and invested in new initiatives to welcome and protect immigrants and embrace their tremendous economic, cultural, and political contributions.

    Now, with the 2017 budget process in final negotiations, our leaders have a key

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  • City Council to Pass Reforms Aimed at Broken Windows Policing

    MMV BdB Bratton

    City Council Speaker Mark-Viverito (photo: William Alariste)


    City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito has a year and a half left on the job and is clearly focused on making criminal justice reform a centerpiece of her legacy. While a commission formed by the speaker explores other changes to the city’s criminal justice system and the idea of closing the notorious Rikers Island jail complex, the City Council on Wednesday will vote on a package of bills that will in large part establish civil rather than criminal punishment for low-level nonviolent offenses and

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  • Council to Hold First Budget Hearing for New Veterans' Services Department

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    Mayor de Blasio with Commissioner Sutton (in blue) (photo: Ed Reed/Mayor's Office)


    On Friday, the New York City Council will hold the first-ever budget hearing for the newly created Department of Veterans’ Services.

    The Mayor’s Office of Veterans Affairs is transitioning into the Department of Veterans’ Services, a standalone department with a distinct agency budget and providing expanded services for the city’s 225,000 military veterans. The department became official in April and will now proceed to rollout over the next year, increasing staff

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  • Top 10 Accomplishments of Progressive Leadership & The Need to #ProtectProgress

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    Council Members Richards, left, and Reynoso, the authors, address a crowd


    As co-chairs of the New York City Council’s Progressive Caucus, we have worked closely with Mayor de Blasio since he took office. It is clear that the mayor has delivered for our constituents and all 8.4 million New Yorkers in transformative ways. From affordable housing to quality jobs to expanded educational programming, New Yorkers are doing better and the scale of the accomplishments is substantial.

    In partnership with our Speaker, Melissa Mark-Viverito, and the City Council, Mayor

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  • Armed with New Report, Supporters to Push De Blasio on Summer Youth Employment

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    Council Member Eugene & advocates for youth summer camps (photo: @CAMBAInc)


    When the City Council held its first hearing on Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Executive Budget for fiscal year

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  • Legislation Aimed at Holding City Accountable for Rezoning Commitments

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    Announcement at City Hall (photo: Demetrius Freeman/Mayor's Office)


    With the recent passage of the East New York rezoning and community development plan, the city committed to revitalizing the neglected Brooklyn neighborhood by creating affordable housing, investing in community infrastructure, and promoting economic development. The first among 15 neighborhood rezonings planned by Mayor Bill de Blasio, East New York ushers in a new era of planned change and city promises.

    As these rezoning and

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  • The Week Ahead in New York Politics, May 2

    New York City Hall

    New York City Hall


    What to watch for this week in New York politics:

    This week starts amid a swirl of controversy - there are several ongoing investigations into Mayor Bill de Blasio, his administration, his allies, and their fundraising practices; and, news broke Friday of ongoing investigations into associates of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, including his former top aide

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  • Homeowners Stand to Gain in Areas to be Rezoned, If They Can Keep Their Homes

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    Mayor de Blasio (photo: Rob Bennett, Mayor's Office)


    As plans to spur new development in areas around New York City proceed, mostly silence surrounds the experience of homeowners who are being pressured by investors to sell. Prior to the City Council’s approval of rezoning East New York, Brooklyn last week, there had been little public discussion of how or whether to ameliorate real estate speculation on small homes. At least in East New York, some homeowner protections have been introduced to the plan, but investor-backed

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  • De Blasio Releases New $82B Budget with 'Targeted Investments,' Additional Savings

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    photo: Demetrius Freeman/Mayoral Photography Office


    Mayor Bill de Blasio released his $82.2 billion Executive Budget for Fiscal Year 2017 on Tuesday, increasing spending by about $100 million from his proposed preliminary budget while expressing concern about a possible economic slowdown and the effects of consistent underinvestment by the state and federal governments.

    The executive budget “continues a trajectory of progressive, responsible and honest budgeting,” the mayor said at the release at City Hall. “We believe that disciplined

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  • Rethinking ‘Women’s Issues’ in Public Policy

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    Council Members Rosenthal (front) and Cumbo (photo: William Alatriste)


    Access to reproductive health care is generally viewed as a “women’s issue,” a label that some say excludes men and more specific impacted groups from a variety of important conversations, and can make it more difficult for so-labeled issues to get the attention they deserve from public policy-makers. While closing the wage gap, securing paid family leave, combatting sexual assault and domestic violence, and protecting and improving access to reproductive health care impact everyone, not just

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  • City Council Budget Response Seeks New Spending, More Savings

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    Mayor de Blasio briefs Council members on his budget (photo: William Alatriste) 


    The City Council on Monday issued its formal response to Mayor Bill de Blasio’s $82 billion preliminary budget for fiscal year 2017, capping a month of budget hearings that were fraught with ...

  • Wary of Gentrification, East Harlem Braces for Rapid Change

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    Hank Prussing's mural, The Spirit of East Harlem (via @ManhattanCB11)


    Pearl Barkley moved to East Harlem in the 1950s, when she was six years old. Her family lived in the Jefferson Houses on 115th Street, where she lives today and works as an organizer with Community Voices Heard, an economic justice advocacy non-profit.

    “Many people remember the fires, the abandoned boarded up buildings, and the people who left,” Barkley said in an interview. Essential services began disappearing from the

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  • Wary of Gentrification, East Harlem Braces for Change

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     Mark-Viverito at an East Harlem planning session (photo: William Alatriste)


    CONTINUED from page 1 - this is page 2 of 2

    Community calls for community planning
    City officials have not yet presented a timeline, much less a plan, for rezoning East Harlem, but that hasn’t stopped residents from preemptively organizing against “upzoning” that they believe will accelerate displacement of

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  • Questioning Importance, Council Members Spend Limited Time at Hearings

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    Council Member Van Bramer starts a hearing (photo: @JimmyVanBramer)


    On March 1, at perhaps the most important City Council hearing of the year, just three of the finance committee’s eleven members were present when the session began. The Council’s first hearing on Mayor Bill de Blasio’s $82 billion fiscal year 2017 preliminary budget began nine minutes after its scheduled time, at 10:09 a.m., more prompt than typical Council hearings. The City Council Speaker, Melissa Mark-Viverito, arrived three minutes later, just after the finance chair, Council Member

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  • The City Council's Complicated Budget Math

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    Council Speaker Mark-Viverito and colleagues (photo: William Alatriste)


    Last week, the City Council’s finance committee voted to increase the Council’s operating budget for fiscal year 2017, which begins July 1, by $3.1 million, bringing it to a total of $64 million, a five percent increase over last year’s ...

  • The Week Ahead in New York Politics, March 21

    New York City Hall

    New York City Hall


    What to watch for this week in New York politics:

    This week will be another busy one when it comes to budgets: the City Council continues its preliminary budget hearings and state budget negotiations enter their final ten days - a state budget is due by April 1 and some say a deal could be announced before the end of this week. Don't count on it, though, state budgets usually come in just before (or, as was the case last year, just after) the March 31 midnight

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  • Sides Near Deal on Major Zoning Changes Aimed at Creating Affordable Housing

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    De Blasio rallies for his housing plans (photo: Demetrius Freeman, Mayor's Office)


    After months of public discussion and weeks of private negotiation, the City Council is on the verge of passing, with tweaks, two sweeping changes to the city's land use rules that are key to Mayor Bill de Blasio's housing plan.

    Sources familiar with negotiations say that some details are still being worked through, but that the major tenets of the controversial changes to city zoning text are all but set. A deal may be announced as early as Monday

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  • The Week Ahead in New York Politics, March 14

    New York City Hall

    New York City Hall


    What to watch for this week in New York politics:

    Mayor Bill de Blasio has reason to smile as this week begins. Through negotiations with the City Council and outside critics, de Blasio appears to have gotten just about everyone on board with his citywide zoning changes and they are all-but-certain to be passed through the City Council over the next two weeks - first through committee this week, then the full Council on March 22. The City Planning Commission has to

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  • City Council Raises Provoke Questions About Staff Pay

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    Members of the City Council (photo: William Alatriste) 


    As New York City Council members voted on a package of legislation that increased their salaries from $112,500 to $148,500, aides to two Council members stood silently in the balcony of the Council chambers, wearing white t-shirts that read, “Paycheck to Paycheck, Pay Raises for All.”

    The $36,000 salary bump for Council members is about the same amount of money that many of their staff members make in a year. These are aides filling roles such as

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  • Key to Vision of Closing Rikers, City Council Bail Fund Moves Through State Process

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    Mark-Viverito delivers her State of the City (photo: William Alatriste)


    Last year, New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito unveiled her plan for a fund that would cover bail for poor individuals charged with low-level criminal offenses who would otherwise be forced to wait in a city jail for their court date. The Council dedicated $1.4 million of budget funds to back the project, which is nearing

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