Spring is here along with a lot of exciting new beginnings. We just found out the winning projects of this year’s Participatory Budgeting (PB), which over 2,000 of you voted in, and over 8,500 public high school students just registered to vote in their first election through Student Voter Registration Day.
Helen and a young constituent at a voting site for Participatory Budgeting (March 29, 2016)
PB Vote Week Results: from March 26th through April 3rd, 2,167 Upper West Siders came out to vote for how $1 million of the City’s budget will be allocated. The results are in, and the five projects with the most votes will be funded: Technology Upgrades at LaGuardia High School (896 votes), Picnic Tables for Riverside Park (834 votes), Upper West Side CERT Emergency Response and Education Vehicle (833 votes), the Creation of Library Space of P.S.191 (826 votes), and a Riverside Park Recreation and Activity Area (773 votes). Thank you to everyone who came out to vote in PB, and a special thanks to all of the volunteers, who made PB a great success! You can learn more about the winning projects and see the vote count for the other projects on the ballot on my website.
Helen and panelists from 17 city agencies on stage for Helen’s third annual Town Hall (April 18, 2016)
Monday night was my third annual Town Hall, and we heard answers to dozens of questions ranging from housing to transportation issues. I am hugely grateful to the Manhattan Neighborhood Network, which filmed the event and pitched in with sound equipment and tech support, and to Urban Assembly Green Careers High School Assistant Principal Luke Janka, Frank McCourt High School teacher Daniele Gates, and everyone at the Brandeis High School Complex for being such accommodating hosts. MNN will air the Town Hall on May 1 at 9PM on MNN1 and MNN5HD (TWC 34 & 1993), and my office will post video of the event and answers to the remaining questions on my website as they become available. You can also learn more about the event from coverage in DNA Info and the West Side Spirit.
Our second bike helmet giveaway is this Saturday! The DOT will fit you for a helmet that you can take home free of charge. Please note that you must be present and fitted for a helmet in order to receive one. In addition, the NYPD will once again offer bike etching free of charge. The event will be from 11am-2:30pm outside of my district office on 87th and Columbus. See the flyer.
Helen speaks to students at La Guardia High School on Student Voter Registration Day (March 18, 2016). Credit: William Alatriste for the New York City Council
Our Student Voter Registration Day on March 18 was a huge success: we registered over 8,500 students to vote in time for the Presidential Primary, and we brought civic education to thousands more. It was a huge effort organized by my office, NYC Votes, the New York Immigration Coalition, and the Department of Education, and it took place in over 60 high schools citywide. You can learn more about it from coverage on NBC News Channel 4 (which interviewed Upper West Side students!), the New York Daily News, NY1, DNA Info, BronxNet, Manhattan Times, Queens Press, and SI Live.
We heard many problems with voting on Primary Day in our district and around the city. Poll sites were closed, voters were not informed of changes, signage was poor, and accessible entrances were not clearly marked. There were also voter access issues, including people dropping from the voter rolls. 3,200 people showed up to vote at my poll site: 200 of them had to fill out affidavit ballots, and many simply walked away. In our district, which generally has the highest voter turnout in the city, we also face the issue of our schools that are poll sites being overwhelmed by an influx of people while the children are attending school. I wrote a letter to Mayor de Blasio and Police Commissioner Bratton calling for extra security for school poll sites, and I hope the DOE ultimately agrees to make any primary voting day a non-attendance day for children to avoid any safety issues. Some schools did get extra security, and others did not.
Sunday, April 3rd was the first Sunday with no tourist helicopters. Per the agreement between the City and the tourist helicopter industry, there will be no tourist helicopters flying overhead on Sundays, ever.
If your child is in 2nd – 10th grade, you can apply apply now to STEM Summer in the City, a FREE program designed to provide students with the opportunity for an innovative, engaging, and fun summer learning program designed specifically around science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). In addition to weekly STEM challenges, involving coding & game design, developing engineering solutions and inventing with robotics, the program also includes enrichment opportunities in the Arts, Physical Education and includes trips to NYC cultural institutions.Breakfast and lunch are included, and Metrocards are provided.
PowHerNY Founder Beverly Neufeld, Public Advocate Tish James, U.S. Women’s Soccer Champion Megan Rapinoe, Helen, and Council Member Laurie Cumbo call to close the gender wage gap on Equal Pay Day (April 12, 2016).
On average, women in the U.S. get paid 79 cents for every dollar men make for same job with the same qualifications and experience. That means that it takes women an extra three and a half months to make what men made in the previous year. Council Member Laurie Cumbo, Public Advocate Tish James, PowHerNY, and I hosted a rally on Equal Pay Day calling for an end to the wage gap between men and women. If you want to learn more, you can check out Huffington Post Women’s live stream from the rally.
The Committee on Housing and Buildings had a hearing last week on four bills to protect tenants from construction as harassment, including my bill with Council Member Corey Johnson that would require construction permits to include occupancy status and prevent landlords with a recent history of harassment from self-certifiying. The Administration was supportive of the bill, and I’ll let you know as it moves forward through the legislative process.
I recently held a Contracts Committee hearing on challenges facing nonprofits that provide job training and placement, early childhood education, senior center care, and more through contracts with the City. These nonprofits employ over 200,000 New Yorkers, who are overwhelmingly women and people of color, and the City regularly pays them months late, which is a real hardship for these nonprofits. In addition, these contracts do not include the cost of overhead, payroll, IT, or other essential infrastructure, which means that the City is only paying 80 cents to the dollar of the cost of the service. Over 25 nonprofits came out to testify about this problem, and I want to thank the Human Services Council, which recently released an excellent report that explains these issues in depth. You can learn more about the issue in my op-ed in City & State and news coverage in City & State, Politico, and Gotham Gazette.
Helen and Frank McCourt High School student Cristina at Council Member for a Day at City Hall (April 7, 2016)
The Women’s Caucus held our annual Council Member for a Day event, where we hosted promising young women for a round table discussion with the Caucus, tour of City Hall, and a front row seat at a full Council stated meeting. I hosted Cristina from Frank McCourt High School, who is already an inventor. I look forward to seeing Cristina invent some very important medical devices in the near future.
Council Member Laurie Cumbo, Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Helen, and the honorees at the 2016 Women’s Herstory Month event at City Hall (March 31, 2016)
As the new co-Chairs of the Women’s Caucus, Council Member Laurie Cumbo and I hosted our first Women’s Herstory Month event at City Hall. This year we recognized New York City women in uniform, including crossing guards, 911 call operators, sanitation workers, firefighters, and police officers. The girl scouts did a color guard, and the Lower Eastside Girls Club did a podcast of the event. It was a small way to give back to these strong and brave women in uniform who do so much for our City, and I hope the young women in the audience consider these careers, traditionally filled by men, for themselves.
See you in the neighborhood!