Rosie’s Intro 978-A: Council prepares to trump mayor on political-influence law

Following Bloomberg veto, council readies rollback of campaign-spending disclosure rules

UPDATE, March 14, 2013: The City Council voted Wednesday to override to the mayor’s veto, 47-0.

As early as Wednesday, the City Council will vote to override the mayor’s veto of legislation that will roll back disclosure rules for groups that seek to influence elections.

If the council successfully overturns the veto, companies, unions and other membership groups will no longer have to disclose the money they spend advocating for or against a candidate, as long as their communications only target their own ranks.

“Member-to-member communications are not intended to influence that public,” Councilmember Gale Brewer, who chairs the Committee on Governmental Operations, said at the hearing today at the Committee on Governmental Operations. “So the public’s interest in source disclosure is significantly reduced.” The committee voted in favor of overriding the veto.

However, Mayor Michael Bloomberg does not share these views. In the memo attached to his veto, he stated that the council’s legislation “will only weaken the City’s strong campaign disclosure laws and I see no reason why unions and other organizations should not be held to the same standard as others who are supporting candidates for elective office.”

The City Council Committee on Governmental Operations, chaired by Councilmember Gale Brewer, right, voted today to override Mayor Bloomberg’s veto of a bill loosening campaign finance disclosures. Photo: Beth Morrissey

Despite the veto, the legislation has been all but a done deal since the Council voted on it in January, when the measure passed with only one dissenting vote. The council, which only needs 34 votes to override a veto, will vote on the matter again during its session on Wednesday.

Only two elections have been subject to the Campaign Finance Board’s current disclosure rules: the special election held last month to replace former councilmember (now state senator) James Sanders, and the special election held last November to replace former (and disgraced) councilmember Larry Seabrook.

In both instances, the only independent expenditures made were by the union 1199SEIU, which sent mailers to its members urging them to support Andy King to replace Seabrook, and Donovan Richards to replace Sanders. King and Richards won their respective races.

The union’s spending in both contests totals about $35,000. If the council overrides the mayor’s veto, expenditures such as these will not be disclosed during the 2013 citywide elections.

According to the New York City Campaign Finance Board, which advocated against the council’s bill, the disclosures so far show that the public has an interest in money spent on member-to-member communications.

“Its important that voters know who’s trying to influence their votes,” said Eric Friedman, director of external affairs for the board. “Its also important that the public at large understands who is spending money to influence elections.”

Last January Council Member Rosie Mendez, who sponsored the legislation that will curb the Board’s rules, argued that member-to-member communications did not require disclosure because recipients already know the source of the communication. At the same hearing, a quintet of good-government groups objected to government had the power to regulate how an organization communicates with its own members.

According to Brewer, the recent special elections don’t show the vast spectrum of membership organizations that participate in the electoral process. “Not everything is as big as 1199,” she said.

Brewer is concerned that the Board’s current disclosure rules could discourage small membership organizations from endorsing candidates. “All the rules are going to apply to the little ones too,” she said. “If they can’t tell their members what they’re doing, that’s a problem.”

Rosie Mendez leads call on NYCHA officials to improve infill development process

Thursday, April 4, 2013

From the EV Grieve inbox...

Friday at 9 a.m. on the steps of City Hall, City Councilwoman Rosie Mendez, Chair of the Committee on Public Housing, and Council Members Margaret Chin and Melissa Mark-Viverito will be joined by other elected officials, Tenant Association Presidents, community organizations, advocates and concerned residents as they hold a press conference to demand that the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) improve the Infill Development process to empower residents.

The Council Members will then proceed to Council Chambers in City Hall to conduct an oversight hearing of NYCHA’s Infill Development/land lease proposal and to consider a resolution that calls on NYCHA to “engage its residents in planning for and to include certain requirements in any ground leases for NYCHA land.”

In addition to the provisions in the resolution, the Council members will call on NYCHA to hold themselves to a “gold standard” of resident and community engagement, including, without limitation:

• Additional time between Infill meetings at affected developments so that all affected Tenant Associations and residents can secure independent legal and technical assistance to review plans and make meaningful comments

• Additional time between now and the release of the RFP — including a third meeting where residents and their “technical advisory team” can review a draft RFP and comment upon it before it is released

• NYCHA must ensure that all comments on the Infill plans are addressed and responded to; they must also provide a paper based system (to compliment the online portal) that captures the comments of those who do not have internet access. Lastly, suggestions should be centrally posted and logged for all residents to review

• NYCHA should commit to full Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) review for each Infill site, ensuring that the community has an effective voice in the process and that additional considerations and interconnected issues that major development presents are unilaterally addressed

Baruch Students Ecstatic About New Pedestrian Plaza

By Ivan Pentchoukov
Epoch Times Staff
Created: February 21, 2013 Last Updated: February 21, 2013Michael B. Wallerstein (C), Baruch College president, and Lawrence N. Field (L), Baruch College alumnus, and Rosie Mendez (R), City Council Member, prepare to cut the ribbon on the new pedestrian plaza on East 25th Street between Lexington and 3rd Avenues. (Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Times)

NEW YORK—Baruch College students returned from winter break last month to find the traffic and parking gone, and a brand new open air campus on East 25th Street between Lexington Avenue and 3rd Avenue. 

The street is now lined with crunchy gravel and filled with outdoor seating in “Baruch-blue.” The ribbon cutting took place on February 20 accompanied by Baruch alumni and university and city officials including Chancellor Matthew Goldstein and Councilwoman Rosie Mendez. 

“The students have been ecstatic about this,” said Student Government President Chris Catalano. “It was done so fast, it really surprised a lot of students, especially the seniors and juniors, [who] assumed it would never happen.”

The idea for the plaza has been circulated for years. Many, including Councilwoman Christine Quinn’s office, considered it to be impossible. In the end, it took collaboration between the school administrators, the student body, the community board, local businesses, alumni, and various city departments to finally push the project through. The new plaza is the first in the city to be financed via a public-private partnership.


A student braves the cold to enjoy the new pedestrian plaza on Baruch College cmpus on Feb. 20. (Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Times)

“This is the best investment I have ever made out of all the money I have ever given,” said Lawrence N. Field, Baruch College alumnus, and CEO of NSB Associates.

The current plaza is an interim solution while the college seeks development proposals from architecture firms for a permanent installation that will be even grander.

Baruch foresees elevating the street to curb level, planting trees, adding a performance space and benches, and creating a green area at each end of the block to set the space apart from the rest of the concrete grid. The future plaza is financed by a “seven-figure” commitment from the Baruch College Fund, public and private funds, and the student government.

Baruch College President Michael B. Wallerstein said: “I’m just so thrilled that the city agreed to close the street. [It’s] both our students as well as the community that get the benefits of this.”

City Councilmembers Dan Garodnick and Rosie Mendez secured $375,000 to make over P.S. 116


KIPS BAY — The children at P.S. 116 in Kips Bay were treated to a special surprise on the first day of school: a repaved, repainted and reopened playground.

The play space at P.S. 116, located on East 32nd Street between Second and Third avenues, has been undergoing renovations since this past fall, after City Council members Dan Garodnick and Rosie Mendez secured $375,000 to make over the outdoor area.

On Wednesday, Garodnick cut the ceremonial ribbon at the playground, along with the school’s principal, Jane Hsu.

"Would it be in poor taste if I used the slide?" Garodnick asked at the event. "It probably wouldn't be dignified. But this place does look great."

The playground was closed for several months of this past school year while the space was being repaved, said Marlowe Bamberger, president of the PTA at P.S. 116, meaning that parents lost their pick-up and drop-off location for part of the year and children were forced to play inside.

“This is really our functioning front door,” Bamberger said of the playground. “It’s a central meeting spot for so many things.”

During those months of closure, Bamberger said the school moved drop-off and pick-up to its East 33rd Street entrance, working with Community Board 6 to get that block closed to vehicle traffic for several hours each school day to keep the area safe for the masses of departing children.

The PTA fielded its share of complaints about the situation, Bamberger said.

“But the end result was what kept us going,” she added. “Once it's done, it’s a better place.

The repaving work on the playground leveled out the space and made it safer for children to run around, Bamberger said. The ground was also completely repainted, with bright colors delineating a miniature track and games such as hop scotch.

During the playground unveiling on Wednesday, the day before P.S. 116 welcomed children back to school, roughly 50 kids came to scope out the new space, Bamberger said.

Some took to the track immediately, darting around the playground, Bamberger said. Others were drawn to the hop scotch board and the colored squares on the ground, creating games where players were only allowed to step on certain colors.

“It was just so funny to watch the kids’ play patterns change just by painting the ground,” Bamberger said. “The kids are so excited.”

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Rosie Mendez Calls on City Planning to Support "East Bowery Preservation Plan"

At the forefront of the campaign these last few years, the Bowery Alliance of Neighbors continues the fight to safeguard our beloved thoroughfare. Unlike across the street, an area that falls within the confines Special Little Italy District, the east side has no such measures in place.  That’s why it’s built so much higher (i.e. Bowery Hotel, Sperone Westwater, New Museum, Wyndham Garden, etc.). The East Bowery Preservation Plan [PDF] aims to end the gold rush along this strip of land.

Councilmember Rosie Mendez, the sole opponent in the landmark overthrow of 135 Bowery, recently penned a letter to the Department of City Planning endorsing the proposal.

It reads:

I am writing to express my support for the East Bowery Preservation Plan proposed by the Bowery Alliance of Neighbors (BAN). I also ask that the Department of City Planning (DCP) conduct a study to evaluate a potential rezoning for the east side of the Bowery.

I greatly appreciated DCP’s work on the 2008 Lower East Side/East Village Rezoning. Specifically, I commend DCP’s willingness to meet with community stakeholders to develop and implement a viable plan that will not only preserve the Lower East Side’s distinct low-rise buildings, but also create opportunities for affordable housing development. As much of the Bowery is already preserved through the Little Italy Special District, the NoHo Historic District, and the Third Avenue Corridor Rezoning, a plan to preserve the east side is now necessary to ensure the historical integrity of the street and to protect the Bowery’s unique built form.

As you know, the Bowery is one of the city’s oldest historic districts and is a vital component of the culture and history of Lower Manhattan. At the same time, the lack of contextual zoning for the east side of Bowery has precipitated a wave of out-of-scale development which not only threatens the affordability of the area but changes the cultural, historical and architectural significance of the Bowery. The Bowery Preservation Plan maintains that any new developments in the area would be of a size and scale that would not interfere with the Bowery’s architectural integrity. The Plan calls for controlled, responsible development, including community facilities, while maintaining the low-rise character of the street and will promote the retention of mixed socio- economic populations, affordable housing, social services, & artists’ live/work spaces.

I echo Community Board 3 and my city, state, and federal colleagues in asking that DCP act expeditiously to conduct a study and implement a plan to preserve all of the Bowery.

Sincerely, Rosie Mendez

Rosie Mendez has secured funding for the cameras at Campos Plaza


Suzanne Rozdeba Attendees at last night’s meeting regarding the new cameras.

Cameras at Campos Plaza Can’t Come Soon Enough for Residents

Residents of Campos Plaza expressed optimism last night that new high-tech security cameras would deter the violence that they said has left many of them living in fear.

“I am scared for a lot of our lives here in this development. I am scared for our kids, for ourselves, for our elderly, for us all,” said Dereese Huff, president of the Campos Plaza tenants association. “We need these cameras.”

The surveillance equipment, financed by Councilwoman Rosie Mendez, will be installed in pathways, playgrounds and lobbies around the houses bordered by East 13th and 14th Streets and Avenues B and C. Public officials hope to have 16 cameras for each of the four building at Campos Plaza. Ms. Mendez has secured $400,000 for the cameras, which is roughly half of the total needed to cover the entire complex. The cameras would monitor both inside and outside the buildings and will be connected to a network than can be observed from a central location.

An official with the New York City Housing Authority sought to dispel any notions of a “Big Brother”-style system.

“We don’t have enough manpower, even if we wanted to, to watch all the buildings of N.Y.C.H.A.,” said Sharon Berger, the deputy director of capital projects for the Housing Authority.

Read more: Rosie Mendez has secured funding for the cameras at Campos Plaza

Eternal Agitation Is The Price of Living Here- City Limits_ News for NYC's Nonprofit, Policy and Activist World


Among the many tenants who have toiled to make a Harlem apartment complex livable, one woman fights every day for civilized conditions. > By Curtis Stephen Inside a 12-story Harlem apartment building, Deborah Elliott- Bloodman, 54, peers down from a living room window to survey the streets below. It's the day before Easter, and a driving rainstorm sends pedestrians without umbrellas scurrying along the sidewalks. While Elliott-Bloodman, a native of Savannah, Georgia, usually greets the season with enthusiasm, her mood at the moment resembles the gloomy weather. The source of her frustration is the drab two-bedroom apartment that she's presently living in and her daunting experiences with poor living conditions, a succession of negligent property managers and New York City's housing court system.

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City Councilmember Rosie Mendez: 2012 Village Award Winner

City Councilmember Rosie Mendez

At a time when over-development is an ever-present threat in our Village neighborhoods, City Councilmember Rosie Mendez has distinguished herself as a staunch advocate for historic preservation and zoning protections. Since 2005, Rosie has served District 2 in Manhattan, which includes the East Village as well as parts of NoHo and Greenwich Village. In recognition of her public service to our community, Rosie will be presented with a 2012 Village Award at GVSHP’s Annual Meeting tonight at The New School’s landmarked Tishman Auditorium.

Rosie Mendez protesting NYU's plans for a mega dorm on the site of the historic St. Ann's Church in the East Village

One of Rosie’s first acts as city councilmember was to join GVSHP and neighbors in protesting NYU’s plans for a 26-story dorm on the site of the historic St. Ann’s Church in the East Village. By now, our readers are aware of the NYU 2031 plan that calls for a massive expansion of their campus just south of Washington Square Park; Rosie was an early endorser of GVSHP’s efforts to advocate for the establishment of NYU satellite campuses as a way to protect from over-development in the Village.

In the East Village, in particular, Rosie has had a tremendous influence in expanding landmark protections and speaking up for endangered historic sites. With her help, GVSHP and other preservation groups were able to get the Landmarks Preservation Commission to hold an emergency hearing for the East 10th Street Historic District, which earlier this year became the first historic district in the East Village since 1969. She also successfully campaigned for the expansion of the proposed East Village/Lower East Side Historic District to include key sites, such as 101 Avenue A and the Russian Orthodox Cathedral on East 2nd Street, which GVSHP has long fought to protect. The public hearing for this proposed district will be held on June 26th at the Landmarks Preservation Commission.

(l) 101 Avenue A and (r) Russian Orthodox Cathedral on East 2nd Street, two buildings Rosie fought for inclusion in the proposed historic district.

Rosie could also be found rallying for the protection of endangered historic sites, such as 35 Cooper Square and 326 & 328 East 4th Street. She is also unafraid to stand up for preservation in City Council sessions, as she was the lone councilmember to vote against the de-landmarking of an early 19th century house at 135 Bowery.

In addition to her landmarking efforts, Rosie pushed for more appropriate zoning in nearly the entire East Village and much of the Lower East Side in 2008. In doing so, she helped GVSHP and community groups prevent out-of-scale development through rezoning that established sensible height limits for the first time in most of the neighborhood. She also worked with GVSHP to successfully campaign for rezoning along the Third and Fourth Avenue corridors, which will prevent incompatible structures, such as the 26-story NYU dorm, from ever being repeated.

Please join us tonight at 6:30 as Rosie Mendez is awarded a Village Award for her outstanding leadership on preservation issues locally and citywide, and for championing diverse needs and interest groups to foster more livable communities in the East Village, NoHo and Greenwich Village. GVSHP’s 2012 Annual Meeting will also honor seven other awardees for their contributions to the Village. Check out Off the Grid’s posts on all the 2012 Village award winners.

14 LGBT leaders chosen for Harvard program

14 LGBT leaders chosen for Harvard program

Harvard_shield-GovernmentThe Gay & Lesbian Leadership Institute today announced its 2011 class of David Bohnett Gay & Lesbian Leadership Fellows, a group of 14 openly LGBT leaders in government and non-profit organizations who will receive scholarships to attend an elite professional development program at the Harvard Kennedy School this June and July. 

GLLI and the David Bohnett Foundation partner each year to send accomplished, mid-career, openly LGBT professionals to Harvard’s Senior Executives in State and Local Government program, which is reknown for its hands-on learning experience designed to help seasoned public officials meet the changing needs of their constituents and communities.

“This program is an investment in our community’s leaders.  LGBT officials and community leaders deserve the best training and professional development available, and the Harvard Kenney School program is the best of the best,” said Chuck Wolfe, GLLI’s president and CEO.

Michael Fleming, executive director of the David Bohnett Foundation and an alumnus of the Harvard program, congratulated the 2011 Bohnett Fellows. “This is one of the strongest and most diverse group of Fellows this program has seen. With each passing year the program has drawn more applications from increasingly impressive leaders. As a funder, the proof is in the pudding.  With alums like Houston Mayor Annise Parker, Campbell, California Councilman Evan Low and Arizona State Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, we have tangible evidence of the calibre of the national leaders we are helping to nurture,” said Fleming.

WNYC - News - City Council Members Fight Parade Arrests

NEW YORK, NY June 18, 2007 --Two City Council members want the police to drop all charges against the more than 200 people arrested at last weekend's Puerto Rican Day Parade. 

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ROSIE Mendez 2013  |  173 Avenue B at 11th Street  |  New York, NY 10009  |  212.260.7353