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Art and Alternatives: 25 Years of Justice Reform at Midtown Community Court.

(MIDTOWN COMMUNITY COURT) Serene Crawford, December 17, 2018 

Thank you for joining us for Art and Alternatives: 25 Years of Justice Reform at Midtown Community Court.

Last Friday, in partnership with the Museum of Modern Art, Midtown Community Court celebrated its success in improving outcomes for both defendants and the community. This success is based on our commitment to partnership, which includes our relationship with dozens of community groups and arts organizations.

Thank you as always for your interest in our efforts to make justice more meaningful. We look forward to working with you in the days ahead to test new ideas, solve difficult problems, and achieve systemic change.
Sherene Crawford

Source: https://mailchi.mp/c6c78749cbb7/thank-you-for-joining-us?e=f7fdd65e9e

Community Wants WIC Participation at Gristedes; Activists and Ownership are Talking

(CHELSEA NOW) Dusica Sue Malesevic, November 13, 2017 — While community activists continue their push for grocery store chain Gristedes to once again accept WIC, the two sides agreed late last week to meet.

John Catsimatidis, owner of Gristedes, and Italo Medelius and Miguel Acevedo, the leaders of the effort, had a conference call on Fri., Oct. 27 (Chelsea Now was also on the call). Catsimatidis said that he wants to take WIC vouchers but he has problems with the way the state runs the program.

Acevedo, who is the president of the Fulton Houses Tenants’ Association, suggested that they work together and meet at his office. The important thing is “these single mothers have the opportunity to use the vouchers,” said Acevedo.

WIC is a supplemental nutrition program for women, infants, and children. The program, which is federally funded but administered by the state’s Dept. of Health (DOH), helps low-income pregnant women, mothers, and children up to the age of five by providing food, such as baby formula, milk, and fruits and vegetables.

Gristedes stopped accepting WIC checks in August 2016. Catsimatidis said that checks from the program were bouncing, and thus he was incurring fees. In an August 17 Chelsea Now article (“Few Options for Chelsea WIC Participants; Petition Demands Change”), Catsimatidis noted there was inadequate reimbursement from the state, saying that they’re “paying us the same prices as people in Buffalo, where the rent is one-tenth” what it is in New York City.

“We want to accept them,” Catsimatidis told Chelsea Now last Friday. “We want the business.”

Jeffrey Hammond, a DOH spokesperson, said in an email that the department has worked closely with Gristedes’ management to listen to concerns and ensure all parties had a clear understanding of the WIC program requirements. Despite these ongoing communications, Gristedes voluntarily withdrew from the program.

Medelius, a Community Board 4 member, has been tackling food access issues in the neighborhood through a subcommittee of the Hudson Guild Neighborhood Advisory Committee. A survey focused on grocery store affordability drew responses about Gristedes not accepting WIC, and a petition was started around mid-July.

Source: Community Wants WIC Participation at Gristles  Activists and Ownership are Talking | chelseanow.com

Midtown Court Solves Problems Instead of Handing Out Sentences

(CHELSEANOW.COM) Dusica Sue Malesevic, July 11, 2017 — For over 20 years, the Midtown Community Court has been giving low-level offenders a second chance.

Called the “problem-solving court,” it offers alternatives to incarceration, Sherene Crawford, project director of the Midtown Community Court, explained.

“The idea behind the problem solving court is that we recognize and realize that there are a lot of different things that bring people into the criminal justice system,” she said. “Oftentimes the folks that are repeatedly entering the criminal justice system are facing issues … of homelessness, substance abuse, [and] mental health. If we’re not addressing those underlying issues, we will continue to see those folks.”

The court, located at 314 W. 54th St. between Eighth and Ninth Aves., is unique as it offers social services right at its building, Crawford said. “So that they can see the judge, come upstairs, and see a social worker and get appropriate services based on individual needs,” she explained at the Midtown South Community Council meeting on June 15.

Founded in 1993, the Midtown Community Court is an “operating program” of the Center for Court Innovation, a nonprofit that seeks to reform the criminal justice system, according to its website. The Center for Court Innovation is a public-private partnership between the New York State Unified Court System and the Fund for the City of New York, according to its website.

Crawford said that over time the court has evolved with the community in Midtown and “all for the better in being able to have additional types of programs and resources at the court.”

“We have one judge there everyday hearing the cases, which means she gets to know the defendants who are coming through the court,” she said. The court works closely with the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, partners with a range of community-based organizations, and “one of our most important partners is the community along with the New York City Police Department,” Crawford said.

The Midtown Community Court has a catchment area, she explained, that includes Midtown South, Midtown North and the 10th and 20th precincts. The cases the court sees are summons, violations and misdemeanors, not felonies or serious violent crimes, Crawford said.

The court does have a couple specialized parts, one of which is focused on human trafficking, she said. The cases involve prostitution, and “we find that if we’re able to treat them more as victims than offenders and offer them services and resources that is to everyone’s benefit,” she said.

Source: Midtown Court Solves Problems Instead of Handing Out Sentences | chelseanow.com

JCC Offering Enrollment Assistance For the IDNYC cards

(JCC) Whitney Chapman, June 10, 2017 — Starting Monday June 5, JCC Manhattan, in collaboration with the Synagogue Coalition on the Refugee and Immigration Crisis and City Council Members Helen Rosenthal and Mark Levine, will be hosting a pop-up enrollment site for obtaining IDNYC cards. Registration will take place this and next week from 10 am to 6 pm in the Membership Office lounge.

The card is a government-issued photo identification. IDNYC benefits every city resident, including those belonging to the most vulnerable communities–the homeless, undocumented immigrants, and others who may have difficulty obtaining other government-issued IDs. The card provides access to a variety of city services, free one-year memberships to many NYC museums, as well as discounts on CitiBike, Broadway tickets, and more.

Any NYC resident 14 or older can apply for the card by presenting proof of NYC residency and identity. Appointments are recommended and can be made by visiting www.nyc.gov/idnyc  or calling 311. When booking online, select “make an appointment” and enter your contact information and preferred appointment time. The website will then provide you with a list of location options (click Manhattan–JCC is the last item on the menu–then “search” for available times). We encourage all who are eligible in our community to take advantage of this opportunity and book a registration appointment today!

City Axes ‘Fair Fares’ Subsidized MetroCards From Budget

(DNAINFO)  Gwynn Hogan | June 10, 2017 — The city budget failed to include a $50 million proposal to subsidize MetroCards for low income New Yorkers Tuesday, the City Council confirmed, because the mayor said the governor should fund it.

While the City Council had requested $50 million to launch a pilot program that would start funding the “Fair Fares” program to offer half-priced MetroCards to New Yorkers living on around $24,000 a year for a family of four, Mayor Bill de Blasio wouldn’t budge on his insistence that Gov. Andrew Cuomo ought to foot the bill.

“The proposal is a noble one but the mayor has been very clear: the MTA is the responsibility of the state and they should consider funding the program,” said de Blasio spokesman Freddi Goldstein, who added that city already chips in $60 million to fund rides for elderly, youth and disabled subway riders.

Source: City Axes ‘Fair Fares’ Subsidized MetroCards From Budget – Civic Center – DNAinfo New York

The Red Hook Peacemaking Program | Center for Court Innovation

(CENTER FOR COURT INNOVATION) April 24, 2017 — Peacemaking is a traditional Native American approach to justice that focuses on healing and restoration rather than punishment. This video shares the experiences of those involved in an experiment at the Red Hook Community Justice Center to adapt peacemaking to a community in Brooklyn, N.Y. The video includes impressions from the Justice Center’s presiding judge, volunteer peacemakers, and those who have resolved their conflicts through the program.

Source: The Red Hook Peacemaking Program | Center for Court Innovation

Mayor de Blasio Appoints Lorelei Salas as Commissioner of the Department of Consumer Affairs

(DCA) May 31, 2016 — Mayor Bill de Blasio today announced the appointment of Lorelei Salas as Commissioner of the Department of Consumer Affairs, the largest municipal consumer protection agency in the country. Salas in the past has been nominated by President Obama to be the Wage Hour Administrator at the U.S. Department of Labor and has long been an advocate for immigration, housing and employment services. In her new role as Commissioner, she also will oversee the Office of Labor Policy and Standards, a new division within DCA.

“Lorelei Salas is well-equipped for this position, having progressive values and being an advocate for immigration, housing and employment legal services programs,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “Her skills and passion will surely be fully utilized as Commissioner of DCA, especially in regards to the new Office of Labor Policy and Standards, which will ensure that labor issues are addressed and that the rights of hard-working New Yorkers are met. I look forward to Salas’ work in DCA.”

“I thank Mayor de Blasio for giving me the chance to serve the city of New York under his administration. The Department of Consumer Affairs plays a critical role in ensuring that New Yorkers continue to flourish as business operators, consumers, and workers. I am committed to building on the Mayor’s agenda of fighting inequality, and making our city a model to be followed nationwide,” said Lorelei Salas.

Source: Mayor de Blasio Appoints Lorelei Salas as Commissioner of the Department of Consumer Affairs | City of New York

Funding to End AIDS

World aids day(COUNCIL MEMBER COREY JOHNSON OFFICE) December 1, 2015 — Lighting the Empire State Building in Honor of World  AIDS Day…

Yesterday, on the eve of World AIDS Day, I was joined by the amazing Whoopi Goldberg and George Takei, New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, and my colleagues in the NYC Council LGBT Caucus, as we lit the Empire State Building’s spire in red to mark this important occasion.

Millions of New Yorkers witnessed the red glow of the world’s most iconic skyscraper, raising awareness of this most solemn day. I want to thank the Empire State Building for agreeing to our request to light the spire in red, and all who joined us for this important ceremony.
Council Details $6.6 Million Funding for Plan to End AIDS

I was proud to announce alongside Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito that the Council has allocated $6.6 million for an initiative that will help New York achieve its goal of ending the AIDS epidemic by 2020. This initiative willfund a city-wide PrEP access network — making New York City one of the leaders nationally in funding PrEP to help combat new infections

These services directly support several recommendations of the statewide Ending the Epidemic blueprint, which Governor Cuomo outlined earlier this summer. The Council will use this investment as an opportunity to take the lead on ensuring that New York City has the resources necessary to reduce new HIV infections

As someone who has been HIV positive for 11 years, it’s incredibly moving to know that we are finally in a position to end this epidemic. Working together, I know we will succeed. (Photo courtesy of Donna Aceto and Gay City News)

Expansion of Pre-Tax Commuter Benefits

Jeremy commuter savings2(MSCC) November 17, 2015 Repost of NYC Mayors Office release of October 26, 2015, “City Gears Up for the Expansion of Pre-Tax Commuter Benefits with Launch of Public Education and Outreach Campaign”

NYC Commuter Benefits Law Saves Employers and Employees Money; Straphangers Can Save up to Approximately $400 a Year on Monthly Metrocards using Pre-Tax Income

Campaign Ads Play on Humorous and Relatable Commuting Situations to Inform Employers and Employees that “There’s a Better Way to Work” with Commuter Benefits

NEW YORK—Mayor Bill de Blasio and Department of Consumer Affairs Commissioner Julie Menin today announced the launch of the City’s public education and outreach campaign to help employers and employees understand their responsibilities and rights under the NYC Commuter Benefits Law. The law, which goes into effect January 1, 2016, requires for-profit and nonprofit employers with 20 or more full-time employees in New York City to offer commuter benefits. Employers can save by reducing payroll taxes and employees can lower their monthly expenses by using pre-tax income to pay for their commute.

“The Commuter Benefits Law is a smart and easy way for both businesses and straphangers to save at a time when affordability is key. New Yorkers purchasing monthly passes can hold onto over $400 a year – which amounts to meaningful savings for working families across our city,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “By expanding pre-tax commuter transit benefits, we make using mass transportation a more affordable option, save companies money and make our city more sustainable.”




NYC sanitation logo2.cgiThe City’s program to collect organic waste is expanding in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island. DSNY is rolling out the voluntary curbside program to additional neighborhoods in May and June. The program currently serves more than 100,000 households in all five boroughs. The expansion will add approximately 35,000 new households. For more info, visit nyc.gov/organics.