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Borough President Brewer Announces 312 Community Board Appointments, Including 81 New Members

For Immediate Release: April 27, 2016

Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer today announced this year's slate of appointments to Manhattan’s 12 Community Boards. The appointments took effect earlier this month and include 81 new members, more than a quarter of the 312 appointments.

“Manhattan's community boards are at the center of negotiations and decisions on the size and character of new real estate development, how our parks and public spaces are used and cared for, and what government can do for our neighborhoods,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “As our applicant pool continues to grow, we will keep striving to build Community Boards that are fully reflective of our neighborhoods.”

The complete list of Community Board appointees for the 2016-2018 term is available here.

Today’s announcement marks the conclusion of the 2016 appointment process, which saw 785 applicants for Manhattan Community Board seats. Applications for Community Board membership from those not currently serving increased by 12 percent in 2016, while total applications increased by 9 percent.

Following this newest round of appointments, more than 20 percent of Community Board members identify as African-American or black, 16 percent identify as Latino or hispanic, and nearly 4 percent identify as Asian or Pacific Islander.

Community Board members reflect a diverse set of career paths as well. 28 percent of Community Board members report they are self-employed and nearly 10 percent are business owners, while private sector workers (19 percent), nonprofit employees (16 percent), city government workers (12 percent), and retirees (14 percent) each make up a significant chunk of the boards' membership. Read more...

Brewer, Manhattan Borough Board Call on City to Erect Zero Net-Energy Building in Manhattan, Endorse 'Passive House' Green Building Standards for Incorporation in Building Code

For Immediate Release: April 21, 2016

Video of the Borough Board meeting is available here, and the Borough Board resolution can be viewed here.

At a meeting led by Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer, the Manhattan Borough Board adopted a resolution endorsing ‘passive house’ building standards for ultra-energy efficient buildings and called for the city to undertake construction of a public project in Manhattan that complies with passive house standards.

“Manhattan is the center of the universe and our real estate is priced like it – but that means there’s nowhere that investments in smarter, greener construction are more prudent,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “We should promote the newest and best construction methods to lower our energy usage, greenhouse gas emissions, and counteract the urban heat island effect in our city. We can start by building a public ‘passive house’ project right here in Manhattan as an example to the real estate industry and the public that a greener, more energy-efficient tomorrow is possible today.”

Passive house standards are a rigorous set of design standards for buildings that require little to no energy for heating or cooling. The standards can apply to both new construction and renovations of existing structures, and can be adapted to residential, commercial, and other uses. Read more...

NOTICE: Manhattan Borough Board meets Thursday, April 21

The Manhattan Borough Board will meet Thursday, April 21, 2016, at 8:30am in the Manhattan Borough President's Office, 1 Centre Street, 19th Floor South, New York, N.Y. Watch the meeting, livestreamed at 8:30am, here: http://bit.ly/MBPOLivestream
Primary Day Voter Information

April 18, 2016

This Tuesday, April 19, 2016 is the Presidential Primary – the first of four election days in New York this year.

Many polling locations have changed – please double check where you should vote by visiting the NYC Poll Site Locator and entering your address or by calling 1-866-VOTE-NYC. (If you find your polling location has changed, please share this new location with your neighbors!)

For more information on the New York Presidential Primary or the other election days happening this year, visit the MBPO Voter Information webpage.

Once you do vote, please take a few minutes to complete this short survey about accessibility conditions at polling places, created in partnership with the Center for the Independence of the Disabled-NY. The Americans with Disability Act requires that people with disabilities are provided a full and equal opportunity to vote in all elections. The results of this survey will be used to draft recommendations for the Board of Elections to implement in future elections.

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Brewer and Chin Demand Compensation for Loss of Rivington House and Propose Deed Restriction Reform Plan

For Immediate Release: April 6, 2016

This morning, Borough President Gale A. Brewer, Councilmember Margaret Chin, and Community Board 3 Chair Gigi Li called on the de Blasio administration to compensate the Lower East Side community for the loss of Rivington House, a building housing an AIDS patient hospice that has sold for $116 million to a private developer and is likely to be converted to luxury condominiums because of the actions of city agencies tasked with managing and protecting community assets.

Brewer, Chin, and Li were joined by State Senator Daniel Squadron, who fought to keep healthcare beds in the Lower East Side Community, Councilmember Rosie Mendez, and affected community members.

At the press conference, Brewer and Chin also proposed a reform plan to prevent similar losses of community assets by creating transparency requirements for city-imposed restrictions in real property deeds.

"Mayor de Blasio has said he'd have blocked the city actions that led to the loss of Rivington House if he'd known about them, and I take him at his word -- but admitting to a mistake is only the first half of owning up to it," said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. "The mayor must make this community whole by investing millions to create a new community facility and replace the beds lost in the sale of Rivington House, and we must all work together to reform how the city handles deed restrictions, so this never happens again." Read more...

Statement on U.S. Women's National Soccer Team Athletes' Equal Employment Opportunity Complaint

For Immediate Release: March 31, 2016

The following statement can be attributed to Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer:

"Last year the U.S. Women's National Team set an emphatic example on the field, proving they're the best in the world. Now, by standing up and demanding fair pay, these five players are setting a critical example off the field as well.

"Gender-based pay gaps exist at every rung of the economic ladder. Whether it's at a leading national newspaper, a big-box retailer, or the most dominant team of athletes our nation has ever fielded, too many women are facing discrimination at work. I fully support the U.S. Women's National Team players in their fight for fair pay, and thank them for their leadership. Our young women need to know it's never wrong to demand fairness.

“The U.S. Women’s National Team is in many ways the driving force of soccer in the U.S. The fact that even these athletes, at the pinnacle of the game, cannot receive fair pay and equal treatment shows there is something wrong with how women are treated in sports. I applaud these players for speaking out.” Read more...

Brewer to Con Ed, AG, City and State Agencies: "Manhattan's Residents Must Have Cooking Gas"

For Immediate Release: March 30, 2016

In a letter to Con Edison, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, and city and state regulators, Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer decried an increase in gas service shutoffs in Manhattan, which has left tenants without the ability to cook for months in many cases.

"I'm hearing from all sides that there's been a spike in long-term gas service shutoffs. What I want to know from Con Ed and our regulators is exactly where, why, and how to fix it," said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. "One building my office is assisting in West Harlem has been without gas for more than eight months. That's unacceptable, and I want to find out why this is happening."

According to Straus Media's reporting, NYC Department of Buildings records indicated that there were only 67 gas shutoffs in 2014, which skyrocketed to 343 total in 2015, and 157 just in the first two months of 2016. In her letter, Brewer cited Straus' and DNAinfo's reporting in addition to the experiences of her office's constituent service staff, who have noted an uptick in gas shutoff complaints and are working with multiple buildings that have been without gas service for months.

"Manhattan's residents -- especially those with low or fixed incomes -- must have cooking gas to feed themselves affordably," wrote Brewer in the letter. "Hot plates are not an acceptable long-term substitute. There must be clear standards and a robust process to ensure...customers' service is restored without undue delay."

Brewer's letter requests a full report of all buildings currently without gas service, the steps that are being undertaken by Con Ed and the relevant government agencies to restore service, and recommendations on additional legislation, regulation, or enforcement actions that could cut down on the number and length of gas service outages. Read more...

Brewer and Amp Up NYC Join Students to Celebrate Return of Music to Washington Heights High School

For Immediate Release: March 29, 2016

With its first student concert in years, the High School for Media and Communications in Washington Heights celebrated the return of instrumental music instruction to its halls. Students and faculty from the school were joined by Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer, representatives of Amp Up NYC, Berklee College of Music, Little Kids Rock, and the NYC Department of Education, as well as State Senator Adriano Espaillat and Councilmember Ydanis Rodriguez.

The school's music room, used for storage and the occasional gym class until recently, is once again serving its intended purpose, as students under the direction of a newly-hired music teacher learn with instruments just delivered by Amp Up NYC, a nonprofit initiative of Berklee and Little Kids Rock. The High School for Media and Communications' program will be shared with the three other high schools located in the George Washington campus.

"After a year of work, I'm thrilled that today we're hearing students playing music in the Heights again," said Borough President Gale A. Brewer. "The discipline it takes to practice, the confidence it takes to perform, and the combination of math and creativity it takes to compose have immense value that translates beyond music and art. Thanks to Amp Up NYC, its parent organizations, and especially Principal Juan Villar, students at these schools now have this vital connection to the performing and creative arts, and they will be working with state-of-the-art equipment."

Donations to the school arranged by Amp Up NYC and its partners included seven classical guitars, five keyboard synthesizers, three Les Paul electric guitar packs including amplifiers and accessories, a Toby electric bass pack with amplifier and accessories, a drum set, a PA system, multiple microphones, cables, and other sound equipment. In addition, Little Kids Rock board member Nadine Levitt donated a new Yamaha Mini Grand Piano. Read more...

Statement on Mayor's Opposition to Court Decision That Protects Kids at P.S. 163

For Immediate Release: March 25, 2016

The following statement can be attributed to Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer:

"Mayor de Blasio's decision to file an amicus brief in support of this dangerous construction project next to a school baffles me.

"The mayor is weighing in on behalf of an expensive private facility and against public school children. He's taking the side of those arguing this project should go ahead without a full and thorough environmental review, after the first review was so botched that a state court ordered it redone.

"The Supreme Court decision cited inadequate consideration for everything from hazardous materials in the soil to noise that could make it impossible for students to learn. I had hoped the mayor would at least agree with me that if this project went ahead at all, it needed to do so with full consideration for these problems and whatever mitigation measures are needed to ensure P.S. 163's students have a safe and productive learning environment.

"The mayor's intentions here may be good, but his conclusion is wrong and pits students against seniors." Read more...

Statement on Passage of Mayor's Affordable Housing Zoning Proposals

For Immediate Release: March 22, 2016

“Since I was elected Borough President, I’ve called for two things: affordable housing included in every new residential development in Manhattan, and major revisions to the city’s opt-in affordable housing programs. The process that’s concluding today is a big step forward on both goals.

“The mayor’s Mandatory Inclusionary Housing plan isn’t perfect, but it has the potential to put a big dent in the city’s housing crisis. Starting now, any new residential development that benefits from an upzoning or a special permit will create new affordable housing. What’s more, all but the smallest projects will include affordable housing units on-site. And because of my efforts, the administration has committed to study and propose revisions to the deeply flawed Voluntary Inclusionary Housing and R10 programs, which have given away too much to developers in Manhattan in exchange for too little.

“I thank the mayor for his efforts, and congratulate my colleagues in the Council for further improving on them. Now we must look ahead, and get to work fixing our opt-in affordable housing programs as soon as possible.”

In December, Borough President Brewer delivered her formal recommendations on the mayor's Mandatory Inclusionary Housing and Zoning for Quality and Affordability zoning text amendments.

More Than 700 Seniors Get Brain Health Answers and Tips at "Up With Aging" Event

For Immediate Release: March 21, 2016
Photos Available

Up With Aging: Successful Aging & Your Brain
More than 700 seniors packed the CUNY Graduate Center's auditorium and event space for "Up with Aging," an informational event focused on aging and brain health hosted by Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer.

Borough President Brewer moderated the event's panel discussion on brain health and aging, which featured Dr. Matthew E. Fink, neurologist-in-chief at New York-Presbyterian Hospital and Weill-Cornell Medical Hospital, Prof. Wendy A. Suzuki of New York University's Center for Neural Science, and Dr. Scott Small, professor of Neurology and Columbia University Medical Center's Taub Institute on Alzheimer's Disease and the Aging Brain.

A senior expo following the panel included information, services, activities, and exhibits from more than 20 presenters, including government entities, medical and research institutions, and a range of nonprofit service providers. Participants were able to see real brains, view brain cells through a microscope, learn about cutting-edge brain research, practice memory exercises, pick up tips for a good night’s sleep, learn about the latest in Alzheimer’s treatment and prevention, and participate in activities like yoga, drumming, zumba, and tai chi.

The "Up with Aging" event occurred during Brain Awareness Week, an international effort to raise awareness of the benefits of brain research. Borough President Brewer's office partnered with the Dana Foundation, the Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives, and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to sponsor the event.

Participating exhibitors included the Dana Foundation and Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives, the Robert N. Butler Columbia Aging Center, the Neuroscience Outreach Group at New York University Langone Medical Center (NOGN), the Department of Neurology at New York-Presbyterian Weill Cornell Medical College, Mount Sinai Beth Israel Hospital, DOROT Programs for Seniors, and the Senior Planet Exploration Center's Older Adult Technology Services (OATS).

Brewer Raises Concerns About Citywide Ferry Service Operator Selection in Letter to NYCEDC President

For Immediate Release: March 16, 2016

In a letter to NYC Economic Development Corporation President Maria Torres-Springer sent today, Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer raised concerns about the de Blasio administration's selection of an out-of-state operator for the planned citywide ferry service.

In the letter, Brewer highlighted the potential loss of up to 200 jobs created by New York Water Taxi, which sent a memo to its employees stating it may need to shut down its existing operations in the face of subsidized competition from a citywide ferry service. Brewer also cited the negative impact New York Water Taxi's shutdown could have on local businesses and organizations, such as the South Street Seaport Museum, which receives crucial operating support from the service through its lease of Pier 16.

"Does EDC have a financial plan to prevent the Museum from closing its doors as a result of lost revenue? You know how hard we are all working to support this institution, and a loss of income such as the one from this lease is devastating," wrote Borough President Brewer. "While I certainly support increasing ferry service, the predicted loss of jobs and the foreseeable harm to New York Water Taxi and to the Museum must be addressed."

Brewer has been an active supporter of the planned citywide ferry service, which is scheduled to launch in 2017. Last month, she and Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams co-authored an op-ed in Crain’s New York Business outlining the need to connect ferry landings with the greater transit system, including existing networks servicing the East and Hudson rivers, as well as the need to expand service to Southern Brooklyn and the Manhattan's West Side.

Brewer's letter is available for pdf download.

Brewer Ensures Manhattan NYCHA Residents Make Their Voices Heard in Albany

For Immediate Release: March 16, 2016

Manhattan public housing advocates at the state capitol
Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer sponsored a bus to Albany today, helping dozens of Manhattan public housing residents and leaders participate in Public Housing Advocacy Day at the state capitol.

During the day trip, participants will meet with legislators to discuss NYCHA's pressing need for state funding.

"Cuts in federal and state aid have produced literal gaping holes in tenants' walls and ceilings. Renewed state funding will be a crucial part of getting NYCHA back on track -- and I know that no one can speak to that better than NYCHA residents and tenant leaders themselves," said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. "Our city, state, and federal governments have made a commitment to provide more than half a million New Yorkers clean, safe, affordable housing through NYCHA, and the city cannot make good on that commitment without help."

Brewer greeted and thanked participants traveling to Albany at the Harlem State Office Building this morning. Tenant association presidents and vice presidents from more than six public housing developments in Manhattan were part of the group traveling on the bus sponsored by Brewer.

The state's budget process is nearing its conclusion. The majorities in both houses of the legislature presented their "one-house" budget plans earlier this week, a first step toward the final negotiations. The budget deadline is April 1.

NOTICE: Manhattan Borough Board meets Thursday, March 17

The Manhattan Borough Board will meet Thursday, March 17, 2016, at 8:30am in the Manhattan Borough President's Office, 1 Centre Street, 19th Floor South, New York, N.Y. Watch the meeting, livestreamed at 8:30am, here: http://bit.ly/MBPOLivestream
One Building, Four Schools, No Library: Brewer Highlights Shortchanged
Public Schools

For Immediate Release: March 9, 2016
Photos Available

Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer held a public hearing on school overcrowding and facilities needs in Manhattan's public schools Tuesday evening at P.S. 125 in West Harlem.

"Overcrowding and underfunding have put New York City's public school students at a disadvantage," said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. "Last night parents, students, educators, and community leaders spoke out, highlighting areas where better planning could make a difference, and major resource gaps where the governor and legislature must step up and give New York City's children what they're owed."

Under this year's proposed state budget, New York City could receive hundreds of millions in increased school aid, and New York City is still owed billions under the Campaign for Fiscal Equity court case settlement.

Borough President Brewer called on New Yorkers to help answer the question of what Manhattan's schools need most at her office's hearing, organized with the help of the Alliance for Quality Education. Witness panels featuring experts, parents, students, and community leaders offered testimony on class size and the city schools' capital plan, state funding levels and the schools' programmatic needs, space utilization, and the need for special-purpose spaces. These panels were followed by testimony from the public. Read highlights from the hearing...

At "School of Data" Conference, Brewer Announces She Will Bring Data Science Curriculum to NYC High Schools

For Immediate Release: March 5, 2016
Photos Available

Today at BetaNYC’s NYC School of Data conference, Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer announced she will bring data science classes to New York City high schools, making public that her office is forming a task force to develop a data science curriculum and implementation plan.

“As the world changes, it’s critical that our schools keep up. That doesn’t just mean putting computers in classrooms – it means offering our students coursework that will help them understand and even shape the world they’re inheriting from us,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “Data science is behind expanding access to parks and playgrounds, the rates MetLife charges for insurance, and which search results Google shows us. It can literally show us how to make our world work better.”

Data science is the interdisciplinary field focused on deriving knowledge insights from data. It exists at the intersection of math, statistics, information science, and computer science, and has growing applications in everything from social and economic research to marketing, data mining, software design, and more. Read more...

Brewer Tours Senior Centers and Delivers Resource Guides Ahead of March 20 Brain Health Panel and Senior Expo

For Immediate Release: March 4, 2016
Photos Available

Today, Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer toured three senior centers, kicking off a citywide effort to distribute thousands of copies of “Age-Smart Manhattan,” her office’s new senior resource guide.

“New York City is home to more than one million older residents, a number that is projected to increase by 45 percent in the next two decades,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “It’s more important than ever before that our seniors have access to services and networks that will help them stay healthy, active, and engaged.”

During the lunch hour, Brewer visited Project FIND’s Woodstock Senior Center in Midtown, the Corsi House Senior Center in East Harlem, and the Central Harlem Senior Center, greeting seniors and personally delivering hundreds of senior guides. Brewer’s effort comes ahead of “Up with Aging,” her upcoming March 20 panel event and senior expo on brain health and healthy aging.

About the Age-Smart Manhattan Resource Guide
The 80-page guide includes information on government benefits and services, housing, medical and long-term care, safety and security, activities and educational opportunities, transportation resources, and Community Boards. The guide also includes sections with resources especially for veterans and LGBT seniors, and is available in both English and Spanish. The guide’s publication was sponsored by MetroPlus Health Plan.

The Manhattan Borough President's Office will be distributing thousands of Age-Smart Manhattan guides over the coming weeks. They will be available at more than a hundred locations across the borough, including every senior center, hospital, library, and elected official’s office. In addition, individual Manhattan residents and community-based organizations can request that guides be sent to them, by calling (212) 669-8300.

Brewer Celebrates New York's Intel Science Talent Search Finalists and Semifinalists at Facebook Headquarters

For Immediate Release: March 2, 2016
Photos Available

This afternoon at Facebook’s New York headquarters, Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer celebrated New York-area semifinalists in the Intel Science Talent Search, one of the nation’s oldest and most prestigious science competitions for high school students.

“Science, technology, math, and engineering are more important than ever before, but the students in this competition have achieved more than academic mastery – they’ve successfully undertaken individual, independent research,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer, who served as the founding chair of the New York City Council’s Committee on Science and Technology and authored New York City’s landmark Open Data Law. “I congratulate every New York-area student who earned recognition as a finalist or semifinalist and a place at today’s event, and especially the thirteen students who live or study in Manhattan.”

Thirteen students who live or attend school in Manhattan achieved semifinalist status. One, Catherine Lai of the Brearley School, earned a place as a finalist and will compete with other finalists in Washington, D.C. later this month. There are 300 semifinalists selected nationwide, and only 40 finalists. Read more...

Brewer Honors Harlem Photographers at Black History Month Reception and Film Screening

For Immediate Release: March 1, 2016

On Monday, Feb. 29, hundreds gathered at MIST Harlem for Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer's Black History Month reception recognizing the work of three Harlem photographers: Shawn Walker, Ming Smith, and Kwame Braithwaite.

"Manhattan is a global center of the arts, and Harlem is a vital part of why that's true," said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. "This Black History Month, it's my privilege to recognize some of Harlem's amazing photographers, who are chronicling the world around them."

A screening of "Through a Lens Darkly: Black Photographers and the Emergence of a People" followed the reception. The documentary is filmmaker Thomas Allen Harris' award-winning exploration of the role of photography in shaping the identity, aspirations, and social emergence of African Americans.

About the honorees:
Shawn Walker continues to shoot and exhibit around the globe more than fifty years after he joined with other photographers to establish the Kamoinge Workshop. Read more...

Ming Smith is known for her informal, in-action portraits of black cultural figures, from Alvin Ailey to Nina Simone and a wide range of jazz musicians. Read more...

Kwame Brathwaite has been considered the ever-present "photo-documentarian" of the Black Arts & Culture movement, the "keeper of the images." Read more...

Black History Month 2016

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