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New MBPO Small Business Report Presents Ideas to Help Manhattan’s Storefronters

March 23, 2015

Small businesses are the economic heart of New York City, especially the street-level retail stores and restaurants that keep things running 24/7 and provide the everyday necessities and comforts New Yorkers rely on. But with high rents, corporate competition, and real estate development, these businesses—what we call “storefronters”—are facing serious challenges over and above the ones small businesses typically grapple with.

To help more small businesses succeed and thrive, the Manhattan Borough President’s Office today released a report—Small Business, Big Impact: Expanding Opportunity for Manhattan’s Storefronters—at the Upper West Side storefront of The Halal Guys, small business entrepreneurs who’ve worked hard to become a stunning success story.

Our report makes recommendations that would help storefronters by taking the pressure off lease renewals, modernizing policies governing street vending, helping established small businesses threatened by rent increases by encouraging “condo-ization” of storefront space, and creating “low-intensity” commercial districts.

I was joined by Council Member Robert Cornegy, our ally in developing small-business-friendly legislation, and Noel Hidalgo, co-founder the NYC Transparency Working Group. We also heard from Halal Guys co-founder Mohamed Abouelenein, who spoke of New York City’s essential role in the expansion of his successful food cart chain into storefronts in Manhattan and around the nation and the world. He and his partners could not have done it anywhere else. Read more.

NOTICE: Manhattan Borough Board meets Thursday, March 19th

The Manhattan Borough Board will meet Thursday, March 19, 2015, at 8:30am in the Manhattan Borough President's Office, 1 Centre Street, 19th Floor South, New York, N.Y.
Virtual Town Hall: 2015 Borough Budget Priorities Survey

Each year, the Manhattan Borough President requests input and recommendations from the public regarding the needs of the borough, to be included in the annual Borough Budget Priorities Report. This year, Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer is holding a “virtual town hall” to find out which issues are of most concern to borough residents. Fill out this short survey by March 17th at 5pm to help create a report that truly reflects Manhattan’s budgetary needs.

See how participants shaped Manhattan’s priorities for Fiscal Year 2015 in the 2014 Borough Budget Priorities Report.

Composting Grant Deadline March 27

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, Citizens Committee for New York City and the Manhattan Solid Waste Advisory Board (SWAB) have partnered to offer grants to start, expand and grow composting programs in all five boroughs of New York City.
Grants of up to $750 are awarded to community groups working on neighborhood composting programs and increasing awareness on composting.  Groups eligible for funding include community associations, community gardens, friends of park groups, housing developing groups, non-profits, schools, colleges and universities, hospitals and private small businesses.  I would like to encourage groups working on composting efforts and initiatives within NYCHA to apply.  Grants can be used to purchase materials to start or expand upon a composting program.
For more information on grant guidelines and to download the application, visit the Citizens Committee for New York City website.

Borough President Brewer Stands with NYC Tour Guides and Condemns Tour Bus Operator's Layoff Threat

For Immediate Release: Tuesday, March 3, 2015
Photos Available: https://flic.kr/s/aHsk8TSEY9

NEW YORK – Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer joined licensed New York City tour guides affiliated with the Guides Association of New York City and Transport Workers Union Local 225 on the steps of City Hall today for a rally supporting live tour bus guides and opposing the Gray Line tour bus operator’s scare tactics in contract negotiations.

In February, the Daily News reported on a leaked internal memorandum from the Gray Line tour bus operator, threatening a “mass layoff” of 150 tour guides on March 11. This layoff threat comes amid contract negotiations between Gray Line and TWU Local 225, which represents the tour guides.

Gray Line, which merged with competitor City Sights in 2009, is also the subject of an antitrust lawsuit filed by the United States and New York attorneys general, alleging the merger violated multiple state and federal antitrust laws, restraining competition and enabling monopolistic price-fixing. Read more...

Statement on the FCC's Decision to Approve Net Neutrality Rules

“Tom Wheeler, take a bow. Yesterday’s net neutrality decision is a huge step that will ensure the internet remains open and accessible for all. Stopping paid prioritization agreements and unreasonable blocking or throttling is essential to a free and open internet.

“With these reasonable regulations in place, the internet can remain an innovative ecosystem for investment and economic development, while protecting consumers and content companies from unfair practices.

“President Barack Obama deserves our thanks, as does John Oliver and the millions of Americans who spoke out in favor of Title II. This achievement was something that not so long ago seemed impossible. We can only hope that telecom companies will put down their legal pads and avoid costly litigation that will only harm investor confidence in the booming broadband marketplace. Now is the time to come together and ensure the continued vibrancy of this important industry.
Statement on Custom Computer Specialists Contract under Consideration by NYC Panel for Educational Policy (PEP)

“Going forward, there must be a better procurement process for technology in city government -- one which is fully transparent and allows significant public scrutiny.

“One month for RFPs and one WEEK for PEP review is just mind-boggling.

“While the cost of the contract has come down during that period between RFP and final contract, luckily, we don't fully know the details of how and why the costs are reduced.

“The fact is that this project, as advertised, will help get our schools internet services that are far more robust than those available today -- and if we do not approve it now, we will be forgoing tens of millions of dollars in federal e-rate aid that the city is eligible for.

“If we deny this contract, the story would then become about our neglect in obtaining e-rate funds -- and our kids would be waiting even longer for decent internet access, an outcome I can't endorse.” Read more...

More than 700 New Yorkers Apply for Seats on Manhattan Community Boards

Year of firsts for Manhattan boards: 16- and 17-year olds apply, and applications accepted online

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 24, 2015

NEW YORK – Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer announced today that 722 New Yorkers have applied for membership on Manhattan’s 12 community boards in the 2015 appointment round, a 21 percent increase over 2014. Of these applications, 470 were from new applicants, a 43 percent increase over 2014.

“This is a time of big changes, plans, and projects for our city – and community boards will be at the center of it all,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “I am thrilled that so many community members want to volunteer their time, their energy, and their skills to help our borough and our city.” Read more...

Statement on the Death
of Kathleen Grimm

"My friend Kathleen Grimm passed away earlier this week. As the New York City schools’ Deputy Chancellor for Operations, she was an outstanding public servant who made her mark in the lives of a generation of New York City students and educators. In her dedication and her professionalism, she gave all of us in public service a model to aspire to – and as I continue to work on the endless mission of improving our schools, not a day will pass when I won’t think of Kathleen and all she accomplished."
Celebrate Black History Month!

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer invites you to celebrate Black History Month with a networking reception honoring six African American leaders in Manhattan's technology community:

CLAYTON BANKS, Silicon Harlem
KATHRYN FINNEY, digitalundivided
BRUCE LINCOLN, Silicon Harlem

6-8pm on Thursday, February 26 at MIST Harlem, 46 West 116th Street. Space is limited. RSVP below or at http://mbpblackhistory.eventbrite.com.

NOTICE: Manhattan Borough Board meets Thursday, February 19th

The Manhattan Borough Board will meet Thursday, February 19, 2015, at 8:30am in the Manhattan Borough President's Office, 1 Centre Street, 19th Floor South, New York, N.Y.
Brewer Swaps Conventional Speech for Panel Discussion on the Future of Manhattan at Her First "State of the Borough"

Talk show format with community leaders and experts; live cable broadcast and integrated Twitter and Vine components included those outside the auditorium


NEW YORK – Yesterday, Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer hosted her 2015 State of the Borough forum at Columbia University’s Lerner Hall in Morningside Heights.

The event eschewed the format of a conventional political address for a collaborative, bottom-up aesthetic. Following introductory remarks by U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer, Deputy Borough Presidents Aldrin Bonilla and Joseph Garba, and 19-year old Community Board 4 member Austin Ochoa, Brewer led a wide-ranging panel discussion. The panel featured leaders expert in multiple issues facing Manhattan and its residents, including nonprofit leader Jaime Estades, Community Board 3 chair Gigi Li, SUNY Board of Trustees Chair H. Carl McCall, and American Jewish World Service President Ruth Messinger. Subjects of discussion included housing and affordability, education, technology, economic development, health, and more.

“The whole world knows our twenty square miles for our landmarks, our institutions, and our iconic skyline – but it’s also home to 1.6 million New Yorkers,” said Brewer. “The work ahead of us is clear: on education, affordable housing, development, and public space, we must realize a vision of Manhattan’s future not just as the world’s greatest center of business and culture, but as its greatest community.” Read more...

You're Invited! Manhattan State of the Borough is February 8, 2015

With her first State of the Borough event for the public, Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer is foregoing the traditional address format to instead hold an interactive community conversation on residents’ most pressing concerns and the initiatives the MBPO is working on to address them.

Borough President Brewer will welcome to the stage four Manhattan thought leaders to talk candidly about affordable housing, education, technology, development in the borough, police-community relations, and other issues topping her constituents’ lists of concerns:

JAIME ESTADES President, Latino Leadership Institute
GIGI LI Chair, Community Board 3
HON. H. CARL MCCALL Chair, SUNY Board of Trustees
HON. RUTH MESSINGER President, American Jewish World Service

Each of the four guests will speak with Borough President Brewer about the issues they feel are most important to quality of life in Manhattan. Collectively, these conversations will address the borough’s diversity of interests and perspectives. Audience members are invited to live-tweet questions and comments using the hashtag #SOTB2015.

Rain or shine (or snow!). Doors open 1pm, program starts 2pm. Please RSVP to attend!

Statement on Department of Housing Preservation and Development Failure to Provide Reasonable Accommodation to Religiously Observant Family Targeted For "Downsizing"


NEW YORK – Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer issued the following statement on the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development’s failure to provide reasonable accommodation to religiously observant families with Enhanced Housing Choice Vouchers (“sticky vouchers”) targeted for “downsizing.” Earlier today, Brewer transmitted a statement in support of one such family’s appeal directly to HPD.

“It is simply ghastly that an agency of the City of New York is in the position of forcing a family to violate their religious practices so that they can continue to afford their apartment, and doubly so when this agency’s action appears to violate federal Fair Housing law,” said Brewer in her statement. “I have written HPD this morning strongly urging them to reconsider the request in this case, and I encourage Mayor de Blasio to review HPD’s policies and procedures in this area.” Read more...

Statement on Affordable Housing Announcements in Mayor Bill De Blasio's State of the City Address


NEW YORK – Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer issued the following statement in response to the affordable housing announcements in Mayor Bill de Blasio's State of the City address, delivered earlier today at CUNY Baruch College in Manhattan:

"I congratulate Mayor de Blasio on his commitment to building affordable housing and the success he has had so far. His ambitious Mandatory Inclusionary Housing initiative will certainly have an impact in the select neighborhoods where it will be implemented – including East Harlem in Manhattan.

"In order for Manhattan to both maintain and build desperately-needed affordable housing, I suggest going even further and implementing the following proposals..." Read more...

B.P. Brewer Issues Conditional Approval of Application for New Tower at One Vanderbilt Avenue in Formal Land-Use Review Process

Brewer announces agreement with developer on additional public benefits to be incorporated in plan

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, January 29, 2015

NEW YORK – Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer today announced her office has issued an opinion conditionally approving an application for zoning text amendments in connection with a proposed tower to be constructed at One Vanderbilt Avenue, across the street from Grand Central Terminal in the heart of East Midtown. This opinion was issued as part of the Borough President’s formal role in the Unified Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) for this project.

In conjunction with this opinion, Brewer announced a slate of additional community benefits that her office has negotiated with the site’s developer, SL Green.

“The heritage of what we now know as East Midtown is rooted in the Grand Central Station transit hub, so it’s only fitting that the redevelopment of One Vanderbilt is giving us the opportunity to achieve major, long-sought improvements for residents and commuters,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “This project is producing up-front commitments to both must-have and wish-list improvements, and I’m pleased that working with the developer, we have been able to secure even more public benefits for everyone living, working, and passing through the magnificent Grand Central neighborhood.” Read more...

NOTICE: Community-Police Forum in Northern Manhattan Postponed Due to Winter Storm

Due to inclement weather, the forum originally scheduled for Monday, January 28 has been rescheduled to Monday, February 2 and 6:00pm.

On Monday, February 2, Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer will host a dialogue on community-police relations at the Alianza Dominicana Triangle Building in Washington Heights.

The event will bring members of the public, law enforcement officers, and community leaders from all walks of life together for moderated small-group discussions on policing, civil rights, and community safety to develop input and policy suggestions from participants of all backgrounds.

“Our city has felt heartache this winter as events in our city have driven a wedge between police and too many of our communities,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “Now it’s time for us to put our heads together and start having solutions-driven conversations. With members of the community, advocates, and law enforcement all together at the table, I hope this event generates positive next steps that we can all get behind.” Read more...

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