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At 2014 Inauguration, Brooklyn Rises Within NYC Political Circles

January 2, 2014

By Michael Randazzo

With their respective swearing-in ceremonies on New Year’s Day at City Hall, two Brooklyn politicos ascended to the peak of New York City government: Mayor Bill de Blasio, who hails from Park Slope, and Public Advocate Letitia James, who lives in Clinton Hill, a community she represented on the City Council for the last 10 years.

The “Brooklyn in the House” sentiment was displayed early and often throughout the day’s festivities. A large contingent from the borough made the commute to City Hall Park to join the assembled throngs grooving to the sounds of Alicia Keys/Jay Z’s “Empire State of Mind,” while the Mayor-elect and his family disembarked at the MTA’s Brooklyn Bridge/City Hall station, unmistakably suggesting that the new mayor is both a son of Brooklyn and a man of the people, riding the subway like millions of other New Yorkers.

The inauguration capped a stunning reversal of fortune for Mr. de Blasio, who, as little as four months ago, was given long odds on capturing the Democratic mayoral nomination. With an introduction by former President Bill Clinton, who stated that he shared Mr. de Blasio’s desire for a city that offered all its residents “shared prosperity, shared opportunities,” New York City’s 109th mayor—and first from Brooklyn since Abraham Beame—lauded the city’s rich progressive history that informs his thinking.

Promising that “The spark that ignites our unwavering resolve to do everything possible to ensure that every girl and boy, no matter what language they speak, what subway line they ride, what neighborhood they call home—that every child has the chance to succeed,” de Blasio laid out an agenda that was both ambitious and a dramatic departure from the policies of his outgoing predecessor, Mayor Bloomberg.

Mayor de Blasio was measured in his inaugural speech, but he firmly outlined the themes that have elevated the former New York City Councilmember and Public Advocate to the highest ranks of progressive politicians.

In declaring that a de Blasio administration won’t wait to attack the inequalities present in what Harry Belafonte in his opening remarks termed a “Dickensian justice system,” the new mayor promised to expand paid sick leave, find funding for universal pre-school education for children as well as after-school programs for middle school students, and reform controversial stop-and-frisk policies that fall disproportionally on African-American males.

Quoting iconic Mayor Fiorello H. La Guardia, the “Little Flower” beloved by Progressives, Mr. de Blasio countered the conservative ideology of trickle-down economics epitomized by the notion of the “rugged individualist” making his own success: “I, too,” said La Guardia, “admire the ‘rugged individual,’ but no ‘rugged individual’ can survive in the midst of collective starvation.”

Mr. de Blasio also cited Jacob Riis, Al Smith, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, whose Bible he swore the oath of office on, Roosevelt’s wife Eleanor, and others as “New Yorkers who challenged the status quo, who blazed a trail of progressive reform and political action, who took on the elite, who stood up to say that social and economic justice will start here and will start now.”

In closing, the man who is mayor of America’s largest city and is now clearly identified as progressivism’s standard-bearer promised that “… no matter what your story is—this is your city. Our strength is derived from you. Working together, we will make this One City. And that mission—our march toward a fairer, more just, more progressive place, our march to keep the promise of New York alive for the next generation. It begins today.”

In her inaugural speech, Ms. James, the first woman of color to hold city-wide office, was emphatic regarding her Brooklyn roots. She was prominently accompanied by Dasani, the petite heroine of the recent New York Times series about one family’s profound challenges in the NYC homeless shelter system. Dasani—who gained national prominence as a result of Andrea Elliott’s reporting—held the Bible that Ms. James was sworn in on by the Reverend Anthony Trufant of Emmanuel Baptist Church in Clinton Hill.

In her remarks, Ms. James was scathing in her assessment of the previous administration’s priorities, advocating “government that cares more about a child going hungry than a new stadium or a new tax credit for a luxury development ”—a clear repudiation both of the multiple sports stadiums (three) that were constructed during the Bloomberg years and the deplorable state of affairs in the NYC shelter system that resulted in Dasani and her six siblings and parents living in squalor at the Auburn Family Residence, a dilapidated shelter in Fort Greene.

Stating “This is the spirit of our city … New Yorkers get up each day and fight and when they’re knocked down they get up again and fight some more,” Ms. James added that “This is the tenacity it will take for our government to strike a blow against inequality and injustice and make our city work for working people again.”

The city’s new Public Advocate brought the house down with a brash Brooklyn warning of the consequences of New Yorkers not working together to create a more progressive and equitable vision for their city. “Of course, if working people aren’t getting their fair share, if our government isn’t securing the reforms New Yorkers were promised, you better believe that Dasani and I will stand up—that all of us will stand up—and call out anyone and anything that stands in the way of progress.”

Certainly that’s a message that resonates with all inhabitants of New York City, including those native to the home to its most powerful politicians.

With former Mayor David Dinkins looking on, and Dasani, the pint-sized heroine of The New York Times‘ “Invisible Child” series, holding the bible, Letitia James is sworn in as NYC Public Advocate by Reverend Anthony Trufant of Emmanuel Baptist Church in Clinton Hill. Credit: William Alatriste

Source: Brooklyn Heights Blog

From the Web


Brooklyn Heights Resident Diane Ravitch: Five Things Mayor de Blasio Should Do About Education

November 9, 2013

The election of Bill de Blasio as mayor of New York is a “major setback” for the polices of Mike Bloomberg and George W. Bush says author/Brooklyn Heights resident Diane Ravitch in a new blog post. Saying that, de Blasio “understands the failure of the Bloomberg education policies,” she outlines 5 things the new mayor should do to make schools better.

They are:

First, he must restore the contiguous community school districts, each of which has a superintendent to oversee the condition and progress of the schools.

Second, the restoration of neighborhood schools would eliminate the byzantine “choice” process that Bloomberg initiated, whereby parents of children applying to middle school and high school visited schools, listed a dozen choices, and hoped for the best.

Third, de Blasio should assemble a team of expert educators—recruited from the ranks of the city’s most respected retired educators—who will take on a double assignment.

Fourth, de Blasio should follow through on his campaign promise to set higher expectations for the city’s charter sector. The policy of co-location does not work.

Fifth, and far from last, the new mayor should de-emphasize testing and accountability.

Ravitch adds that the key to success is finding a chancellor who agrees with de Blasio’s vision. She says that person, “should be an experienced educator who shares the mayor’s view that the needs of children really do come first and that data are far less important than the restoration of respect for learning, respect for educators, and the realization that a new day has dawned for public education in New York City.”

Read the full post here.

Source: Brooklyn Heights Blog

From the Web


Brooklyn Heights Cinema Offers Discount to Furloughed Federal Workers

October 4, 2013

Kenn Lowy, owner of the Brooklyn Heights Cinema, 70 Henry Street (corner of Orange) says he is offering a discount for furloughed federal government employees for the duration of the present government shutdown. If you show your federal employee ID, admission is $10. (The discount doesn’t apply to Friday afternoon matinee showings, for which the regular admission price is $7.)

Source: Brooklyn Heights Blog

From the Web


Judge Baynes To SUNY: Restore Services At LICH, Ditch The Goons

August 17, 2013

Supreme Court Justice Johnny Lee Baynes has ordered SUNY to restore servies at LICH to the levels they were at on July 19. Baynes also said he would name an ombudsman for the hospital and added that the armed and unarmed guards SUNY has employed to patrol the grounds must go.

RELATED: Semi-Homemade Solution: Is Cuomo Looking For Peace With Honor In #SaveLICH Drama?

Brooklyn Eagle: The “standstill order” will keep LICH open for care until discussions between SUNY Downstate and a number of groups working to keep LICH open resolve the matter through negotiation. In his order, Justice Baynes said that he has been advised by the Special Referee “that the parties are engaged in ongoing good faith negotiations and hope to resolve the matter to their satisfaction.”

Twitter was buzzing long into the night with congratulations from patients, staff and representatives who have been working around the clock to keep the hospital open.

Source: Brooklyn Heights Blog

From the Web


Don’t #SaveLICH And The Trip To The Emergency Room Gets Dangerously Longer

July 28, 2013

NYC Public Advocate and Democratic candidate for mayor Bill DiBlasio tweeted out a map detailing the impact on door-to-ER travel time if Long Island College Hospital shuts down permanently.

In the words of a #SaveLICH demonstrator recently, “don’t get sick in this part of Brooklyn.”

Source: Brooklyn Heights Blog

From the Web

Health, News

SUNY Sustainability Plan: Sell or Close LICH

May 30, 2013

SUNY has released its Sustainability Plan, which focuses on preserving its teaching function at University Hospital of Brooklyn while seeking to share or transfer health care responsibilities with or to other Brooklyn hospitals and clinics and to home health care, according to The Wall Street Journal:

The proposal doesn’t guarantee that LICH will remain open, although SUNY officials and a nurses union representative said potential operators had stepped up to take over the struggling Cobble Hill institution. A Wall Street Journal analysis of the plan estimates SUNY would need to spend nearly $130 million for the LICH transfer.

NY1 quotes SUNY Downstate President John Williams as saying they are “talking to…five institutions” that may have an interest in taking over management of LICH. According to an analysis of the Sustainability Plan prepared by the Cobble Hill Association, the first mention of LICH in the Plan occurs in a footnote that says:

SUNY will review all responses received to the request for information and determine the most expeditious and financially responsible course of action to enable Downstate to exit from the operation of the Long Island College Hospital facility.

The Plan must be reviewed by the State Department of Health, which may approve it or send it back for revision.

Update: Homer’s cousin/former Cobble Hill Ass’n prexy Jeff Strabone analyzes the plan here:

Breakdown of the Sustainability Plan

Source: Brooklyn Heights Blog

From the Web

Brooklyn Heights

SUNY Withdraws Application To Close LICH; Will Seek “Sustainability Plan”

April 26, 2013

After mounting community pressure and a unanimous vote from the NYC Council this week to support its existence, SUNY Downstate has officially withdrawn its application the the State Department of Health to close Long Island College Hospital. According to SUNY Downstate’s press release, forwarded to us by City Councilman Stephen Levin:

“The financial conditions at LICH remain unchanged. LICH’s continued financial losses still threaten the viability of Downstate Medical and our world-renowned medical school. We are withdrawing the closure plan so we can work with the State and other stakeholders on a sustainability plan for Brooklyn’s only medical school and to ensure quality medical care throughout the borough. The current legal proceedings prohibit this dialogue,” said Downstate President Dr. John F. Williams, Jr.

We will keep you advised of developments.

And this statement from our man in the NYS Senate Daniel Squadron:

It’s good news that SUNY is withdrawing its closure plan for LICH. Now there’s a real opportunity for a collaborative process that engages the community and local leaders on LICH’s future.
We’ve been making our voices heard loud and clear: LICH is vital to Brooklyn. And it’s clear we’re being heard.
As nearly the entire Brooklyn delegation wrote last week, it’s critical that any decision on LICH’s future includes community and legislative input. I continue to urge the state to form a working group to ensure those voices are a key part of the process.
This is a positive step on SUNY’s part and I urge the state and SUNY to continue to work with us to ensure that the needs of our community and all of Brooklyn are met.

Source: Brooklyn Heights Blog

From the Web

Landmark Preservation, News

St. Ann’s Warehouse Again Seeking Approval to Build in Tobacco Warehouse

April 18, 2013

You may recall the lengthy legal battle over the St. Ann’s Warehouse theater’s attempt to build a new performance space inside the 19th century Tobacco Warehouse in the Fulton Ferry Historic District, which led to a court decision holding that the transfer of the Tobacco Warehouse space from Brooklyn Bridge Park had not been done according to law. This legal obstacle has now been overcome by a transfer of new land into the Park in exchange for the Tobacco Warehouse, and St. Ann’s has presented new plans (see image) for a performance space, community room, and lobby to be built inside the roofless shell of the Warehouse. You can read more about the planned new facility and see more images in Theatermania.

The design proposal by St. Ann’s was considered by the Executive Committee of Community Board 2 at its meeting this last week and will go to the full board on May 8.

Note: This post has been modified since original publication.

Source: Brooklyn Heights Blog

From the Web


Vote For Local Project Funding From Councilman Steve Levin’s Kitty

April 1, 2013

As we reported last October, Steve Levin, who represents our district in the City Council, has $1 million in discretionary funds that may be used to bankroll projects in the area. Back then he had a community meeting to solicit ideas; now he has a list of sixteen “viable” projects and is asking constituents to vote this week for up to five of these projects to receive funding. The top vote getters, totalling up to $1 million, will be funded. A list of projects on the ballot is here.

Of the projects listed, several would benefit Brooklyn Heights or the immediate area. One would provide funds for laptops and smartboards at MS 8, which serves local students. Another would improve lighting in the Atlantic Avenue access to Brooklyn Bridge Park. Two others would improve Cadman Plaza Park; one by rehabilitating a presently closed comfort station, and the other by installing weight-based fitness equipment.

To vote you must be a resident of the district and sixteen or older. You must vote in person at a designated polling place, and bring ID proving age and residence. These are the locations and hours of operation of the polling places in this area:

The Moxie Spot, 81 Atlantic Avenue (between Henry and Hicks), today (Monday, April 1) through Saturday, April 6, 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Borough Hall, 289 Joralemon Street, Wednesday, April 3, 5:30 to 8:30 p.m.

PS 8, 37 Hicks Street (between Middagh and Poplar), Friday, April 5, 7:45 to 9:45 a.m.

101 Clark Street Community Room, 101 Clark Street (between Henry and Cadman Plaza West), Sunday, April 7, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Source: Brooklyn Heights Blog

From the Web

Brooklyn Heights

SUNY Votes To Shut Down LICH

March 19, 2013

The SUNY Board of Trustees voted to close Long Island College Hospital today in a public meeting held in Westchester:

NY Daily News:  Shutting the 150-year-old Cobble Hill facility must be approved by the state Health Dept. and would take at least 90 days to complete. Layoff notices will go out to LICH’s 2000 employees “within days,” an official said.


“We are resource poor. We don’t have the financial sustenance to keep LICH open,” said SUNY chancellor Nancy Zimpher as SUNY trustees voted at the meeting held at state College at Purchase in Westchester.

More than 100 workers and former patients bused to the meeting by the nurses’ union chanted “The vote is fixed. Don’t close LICH” during the meeting.

Top photo via @ErinEBillups

Source: Brooklyn Heights Blog

From the Web