Melissa Mark-Viverito

Central Park South, Policy

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“Christopher Columbus is a controversial figure for many of us, particularly those that come from the Caribbean,” said Puerto Rican-born City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. According to DNAinfo, Viverito is calling on the city to consider removing the Columbus Circle statue of the Italian explorer as part of their larger 90-day review of “symbols of hate.” She first introduced the proposal on Monday at a rally in East Harlem to remove another controversial statue, that of Dr. James Marion Sims, who achieved his title as the father of modern gynecology by performing experiments on slaves without consent and without anesthesia. Columbus, honored for discovering the Americas, is also believed to have enslaved and killed many of the indigenous people he encountered. In response, the Mayor’s office said the proposal will receive “immediate attention.” But of course, not everyone is happy about it.

Both sides of the debate

Design, Policy

justice in design, rikers island, justice hubs

Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and the Independent Commission on New York City Criminal Justice, along with the Van Alen Institute, released a set of guidelines to decentralize Rikers Island and improve city jails in every borough. The “Justice in Design” report outlines recommendations for healthier jails, including interior and exterior design elements, greater amenities, and ways to better integrate the jail with the surrounding neighborhood. As one of the first steps to permanently closing Rikers, these new justice hubs, or decentralized borough-based jails, would be tailored to the needs of detainees, officers, lawyers, visitors and community members.

See the design concepts

Policy

Photo of Rikers Island courtesy of Wikimedia

In April, Mayor de Blasio announced his support of closing the jail complex on Rikers Island after protests and calls from activists and public officials. In a proposal released Thursday, the mayor says closing Rikers will take at least ten years and will require a big decline in the number of inmates there, a drop in crime rates and significant funding. As the New York Times reported, according to the city’s 51-page report, in order to close Rikers within a decade, the population at the complex needs to drop to 5,000. Currently, the daily population is about 9,400, much lower than the average of 20,000 inmates the prison held during the 1990s.

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Policy

Photo of Rikers Island courtesy of Wikimedia

A blue-ribbon commission has recommended that Rikers Island be closed and replaced with several smaller facilities based on a study of the storied jail’s future according to the Daily News. The panel, led by former New York State Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman, has been studying the the troubled 10-jail facility for more than a year. Mr. Lippman and the Speaker of the City Council, Melissa Mark-Viverito, will officially announce the findings on Sunday. A member of the commission said that recommendations include supervised release of some detainees, new smaller jails across the city and an overhaul of the bail system as part of a transition that would take 10 years to complete. According to a recent New York Times report, Mayor de Blasio has shifted his position on the issue and will be announcing his support for a closure plan, possibly at a news conference Friday.

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Celebrities, Midtown

City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and Council Member Dan Garodnick won’t have New York City shafted with the bill for “White House North.” The pair have launched a petition demanding that the federal government pony up whatever cash is needed to keep Trump Tower secure during the president-elect’s term of office. As 6sqft previously reported, Trump hopes to spend weekends and even some weeknights at the Midtown tower over the next four years, particularly as wife Melania will stay put until son Barron finishes school—and more simply because Trump likes waking up in his own bed. It has been estimated that turning Trump Tower into a 24/7 armed fortress will cost New York City taxpayers $1 million a day, and the total bill over the president-elect’s four-year term could swell beyond $1 billion.

more details here

Policy, Technology

Melissa Mark-Viverito, New York City Council

Melissa Mark-Viverito via Wiki Commons

Last week it was announced that the New York City Council was introducing new legislation to alter the landmarks law in favor of historic preservation. But just four days later, after facing scrutiny for proposing already-existing stipulations to the law, the council spoke out that they were in fact not proposing any legislation. Now, Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito has revealed with perfect timing Council 2.0, “a new tech program aimed at familiarizing and engaging residents with the city council,” reports Next City. The goals of the program include making the council’s website more accessible, using social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter to generate feedback on hearings, programs, and proposals and creating a new website called Council Labs to help New Yorkers visualize the budget process.

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