Saturday, October 29

"Town Hall" The New School's Monthly Run Down

At Wednesday's Town Hall meeting a large audience of faculty, students and affiliations of the New School sat down to hear the happenings, goals and University's plans for the future.
The Student Senate along with the Faculty Senate gave brief summaries of their duties as advisory bodies within the New School and talked briefly about their success in coming together to create a student and faculty response to Occupy Wall Street. The highlight of this part of the agenda in my ear was that the Student Senate is a funded advisory body which welcomes requests from students who would like funding for events and student groups...who knew? 
There was a brief moment of attention given to the new bell schedule which was described as "complex but beautiful"; it was my understanding that efforts behind the creation of the bell schedule were supposed to simply class times, making it so university wide classes we're all happening at the same time. This part was a bit unclear.
As it would be expected budget was a topic on the agenda, a true piece of news came to us in the fact that the number of new student applicants this year was lower than expected, a trend the new university president  David E. Van Zandit says is Nation wide, with all time lows being the incoming number of graduate students. Zandit stressed the importance in current harder economic times that university has "an obligation to show that [higher education] is worth it."
The true highlights of the meeting came in the form of audience participation.
There was a great deal of time spent talking about the New School's need to create an environment that fosters diversity (a topic brought up by the dean of civic engagement at Parsons) a great response was made by another member of faculty who said that the diversity in student population wouldn't change unless it changed elsewhere in the university "there's no excuse for not having diversity on committees," she said.
Other members of the faculty brought up the potential for more cross-disciplinary mingling in academics university wide. Talk of educating grad student on grant writing was an expressive topic, and a faculty talked about the university's avoidance of 10year for teachers.

Thursday, October 27

Bangkok Underwater

The Atlantic's In Focus recently published a series of photos of the heavy monsoon rains that have flooded Bangkok. I found the photos to be very powerful, and the captions that went along with them to be clear and informative. More here.

University Town Hall

President David Van Zandt and Provost Tim marshall conducted the university town hall meeting on Wednesday, where university faculty, staff, and students came together at Wollman Hall to see the current and upcoming changes that has and will affect the New School.

The university faculty senate began the meeting, followed by the student senate. Nargis Virani and Melissa Holmes explained the purpose of the senates, which I found very beneficial. As a student, I was especially interested in what Holmes had to say--how the senate's purpose is to serve the students and their aim is to get students active in making changes.

After the brief introduction of the senates, President Van Zandt took the stage and presented the new changes that have been approved, like the new course catalog, which has been changed from seven separate college catalogs to one university wide catalog, a new bell schedule that will allow cross-divisional registrations, and the successful e-mail switch from GroupWise to Google Apps. Provost Marshall focused on explaining what most university members are mainly concerned about--the financial situation. Both Van Zandt and Marshall explained how the institution is tuition-based which explains why the cost to attend The New School is so high. There is a slim chance that the tuition will lower, but Van Zandt is aiming to keep the increasing of tuition to a minimum.

What I found most exciting was the Q&A session. When Tony Whitfield, associate dean of Civic Engagement at Parsons, expressed his disappointment in the diversity within the university, it sparked a huge discussion with other faculty members. As a minority in both racial and social class, I found myself satisfied that the issue of diversity was brought up. Many faculty members suggested ways to expand diversity, like recruiting prospective students in towns and cities where the minority population is more prominent. Another suggestion was to have courses that focus on explaining the importance of diversity.

In an hour and thirty minutes, the second university town hall meeting came to an end, but I could tell there was a lot more to be said.

University Town Hall (October 26th, 2011)

At the Town Hall meeting, which took place in Wollman Hall President David Van Zandt and Provost Tim Marshall gave presentations about their progress in serving the New School community. The new bell schedule, which will be implemented in Fall 2012, will allow for cross-divisional registration. "Students will be able to take better advantage of the whole university," said Marshall. President Van Zandt then discussed the construction progress of the new University Center, which will open in Fall 2013. He then presented statistics about the New School's financial status. Of the New School's $330 million dollar budget, 80% of the revenue comes from tuition and fees, 10% from student services (health, dining, and housing). The university's enrollment did not increase, which Van Zandt cites that it is a national trend. He then suggested that the university's "dependency on enrollment growth is not sustainable."

During the question-and-answer session, faculty and students raised issues regarding the lack of rigorous discourse in diversity, which they attribute to intrinsic structural issues of the university. "It is not expressed in the curriculum," said on faculty member. Another suggested that diversity has in fact decreased in the faculty body. An MIT graduate and new professor to the New School applauded the President and Provost's transparency and openness in holding the meeting and advocated for more collaborative research opportunities for faculty and students. He sees research as a tool for the university to generate additional revenue. It seemed as if professors across the New School's divisions were interested in exploring the potential of interdisciplinary and inter-divisionary research.

Who Should Play Robert Moses In Oliver Stone's New HBO Movie "The Power Brokers"?

Affordable Housing Continues To Be A Scarce Commodity

image credit:

While the cost of renting in Manhattan continues to rise, renters looking for cheaper rents and more space move to the outer boroughs, a plight not new to New York. According to the U.S. department of Housing and Urban Development, although housing development continues to increase it does not keep pace with the growing population and increase in household size, which means that the availability of low-cost and affordable housing is steadily shrinking. 
Crown Heights is a neighborhood situated in central Brooklyn with a history of wealth, poverty, racial tension and ethnic diversity.  Improvements in safety have brought about growing business and the attention of new residents along with a whole new set of issues. Like other New York neighborhoods that were once home to immigrant communities and large populations of low-income residents (think Williamsburg), old time residents now face higher rents, higher property taxes and more difficulties holding on to their homes. 
“It’s sad to see the neighborhood get whited out” Vanessa Falor, a screen writer and two year resident of Crown Heights said.
It’s not just the loss of cultural diversity that’s alarming it’s that when low income
 residents are forced out of their existing homes the options for new places of residency are slim. According to most the recent Housing and Vacancy survey released by The New York City Housing and Neighborhood Information System, between 2002 and 2008 New York lost nearly 200,000 units of affordable apartments.
 Affordable housing is defined by the U.S. department of Housing and Urban Development as 30% or less of a household’s total income; data from the 2008 Housing Vacancy Survey shows that half of New York households pay more than 30% of their income and almost one third of households spend half of their entire income on rent. 37.3% of Crown Heights residents receive some form of income support.
The government response to the ongoing need for affordable housing is “The New Housing Marketplace,”  Mayor Bloomberg’s 10 year and $8.5 billion initiative to “create and preserve” 165,000 units of affordable housing by 2014. In order to accomplish the initiative the city has invited both public (federal funded and government agencies) along with private investors and developers to participate. For their participation in the city’s affordable housing plan private developers and investors receive a tax deduction, and the benefits of rezoning in exchange for constructing buildings that contain at least 20% affordable units.
According to the Pratt Center that looked at Bloomberg’s initiative 2008 deadline for construction, of 271 residential sites where construction was initiated and should’ve totaled in more than 7,800 units of new housing as of 2010  2,219 units were completed and the remaining 148 sites were still vacant,. 
Those critical of Bloomberg’s plan say that while many sites of construction have been financed few have been completed with the majority of success being waterfront real-estate in Williamsburg. Critics say the combination of luxury & affordable housing is not serving the right communities or creating enough new housing for the ones its displacing and even if the initiative is successful in creating 165,000 new units of housing affordable housing will still be a scarce commodity.

Wednesday, October 26

Profile: Cassie Castro and her love for Kpop

Cassie Castro quietly sits across the table from me. In the five minutes of our luncheon at Ichiumi, not much has been said. It doesn’t help that this is our first time meeting, so I’m unsure of how to start a conversation, but Castro beats me to the punch.

“Is it hot in here or is it just me?” Castro asks.

Her round cheeks are completely flushed. Without waiting for me to answer, Castro decides to remove her oversize grey knit cardigan, revealing a sapphire blue t-shirt with a large graphic image of Super Junior, a popular South Korean boy band. As Castro ties up her dark-brown wavy hair into a ponytail, she catches me staring at her shirt and shyly covers the image with both of her hands.

Castro is currently in New York City to attend SM Town Live, a six-hour long concert that includes performances by some of South Korea's top artists. Organized by SM Entertainment, one of South Korea’s largest entertainment companies, this year marks the third SM Town Live tour, but the first that includes a North American stop. With the high possibility that this may be the first and only chance Castro will get to see Super Junior with many of the members having already left to serve their mandatory military service, the sold-out Korean pop concert is an opportunity Castro could not pass up.

"Ever since I started listening to [Super Junior] and learning about them individually, I found out that they are the hardest working artists," Castro said. "They impacted me by looking at the positive side of things."

Born and raised in Chicago, Illinois, Castro was always an avid pop listener. From Backstreet Boys to NSYNC, Britney Spears to Christina Aguilera, Castro enjoyed listening to the cheesy, romantic lyrics. But as the dominance of boy bands began to fade, so did Castro’s interest with pop music.

After moving to El Paso, Texas, Castro began listening to indie music. With the help of her older brother, he introduced her to The Strokes and The White Stripes, and on her own, would discover the sounds of Franz Ferdinand, Bloc Party, and The xx. But, the indie artists were not completely doing it for her.

“I really like indie and rock music, but it just does not excite me the way pop music does,” Castro said.

It was not until this past summer that Castro was able to feel that excitement once again.

While watching a Spanish music video countdown one Sunday morning, a 13-member boy band caught her attention. Aside from the unbelievably large number of members, Castro was more so surprised by the fact that a South Korean boy band beat out Lady Gaga, Beyonce, and Belinda for the number one spot. After listening to the catchy electronic pop tune and watching their creative dance moves, Castro was able to understand why and Super Junior became Castro’s latest obsession.

As a result, Castro did not hesitate to spend over $1,000 on a ticket, airfare, and hotel to attend the SM Town Live. While people may think Castro is crazy for what she is doing, she begs to differ.

“I know that a lot of people will say it’s childish of me to still be listening to boy bands at my age, but is it any different from someone spending the same amount of money to go see Radiohead or Madonna?” Castro asked.

As the luncheon comes to an end, Castro puts her cardigan back on and with the unexpected New York City cold weather, she has no choice but button up her cardigan and having to cover up her Super Junior t-shirt. But, in a few hours, Castro will be able to reveal it again.

As we make our way out of the restaurant, Castro says one last thing to me. "People just have different interests.”

With that, Castro and I part ways.

University Town Hall Write Up

            I think the most important issue that was discussed at the meeting was the lack of increase in student enrollment each semester.  A woman stood up and asked, “I’m a senior, and my name is Patty, and I’m encountering that the pool of academic intellectual makeup is a little disparate.”  Patty continued to express her concern about undergraduates in her class, having an apathetic attitude towards learning, and the possibility of them being accepted into the New School just because they can afford the tuition. In response, Tim Marshall pointed out how they are trying to help this with things like the Bell Schedule, which allows cross-divisional registration. 
The question of enrollment then raised the question of racial diversity within the New School, one man asked “how are we moving forward if we don’t even talk about it?”  The President seemed kind of put off by the question, claiming that the economic situation also aids to this but adds that he thinks “its very important to train students to work in diverse environments.”  Once again, Tim Marshall offered examples of student programs that speak to the issue of diversity.  He claims that the New School is trying to recruit students of diversity, as well as getting them to stay and graduate.

Bike Share Program in New York City Anticipates its Opening

October 24th in Washington Square, next to the arch, several bikes were in a line, locked to a steel structure with a small solar panel and a little screen. All of the bikes were the same model, with a bold front and two wheels covered in plastic. A Melbourne bike, a Montreal, a Minneapolis and a D.C, a London and a Portland. Two volunteers with green shirts saying 'I bike smart' wandered around the structure answering questions until 3pm. A volunteer, Al Silvistri takes the bike out showing that, unlike the Velibs in Paris, these bikes will stay to their ports.
The event was one of several demonstrations taking place around the city in the preparation for a new bike share system in New York City. According to their site, the privately sponsored system will have 10,000 bicycles and 600 stations throughout the city starting the summer of 2012. This is significant next to Montreal's 5000 bikes and DC's 1000. New York City is the last of the large, cosmopolitan and high demographic cities in the world that is adopting the bike share system. Bike sharing began in Amsterdam in the 1960's and has slowly infiltrated the world.
For New York City, the program will involve a membership to the company Alta Bike Share. Annual membership will cost $94 with options for less long term time as there has been complaint about using the bikes in the winter time. The first half hour is free, "most people won't have to pay more than the annual fee because most commutes in the city are less than 2 miles" said Silvistri. In 2010 there were 17,491 cycling commuters in New York City. Alta Bike Share hopes to raise this, "people don't have places to store their bikes" Silvistri said, which would make having bikes outside more convenient.
The issues involved in the bikes occur when there is theft or vandalism, poorly maintained docking stations and people not wearing helmets, according to Portland Oregon's website on bike sharing.
Regulation in New York City will be implemented financially by holding credit card information. This Contrasts with the Velibs in France where there is no annual fee, but a hold of 200 Euro on the Credit Card in case the bike breaks during the voyage. The bikes are also equipped with GPS chips in each. Silvistri demonstrated the lock, there is a lock at the front of the bike that connects to a titanium hook in the dock so that people are not able to wrench the bike from a more exterior lock, which has often occurred in France.
All of the docks are steel structures placed on the sidewalks so that there is not need for construction on the site.
25% of all accidents on the street involve pedestrians or bicycles. Concern over biking in New York City will be addressed as soon as there are more bikes on the road, "there is safety in numbers" Silvistri said, "people will start policing each other." There is more to bike safety than just helmets and density of bikers though, The BMJ organization of health went even further to say that, according to their studies, cyclists that mimic cars and car behavior, by obeying traffic laws and staying at a high speed, will lessen chances of injury.
According to Bikes Belong a site that studies biking trends in the United States, biking in cities like Chicago, Minneapolis and New York have expanded significantly or doubled since 1990.

The project has not yet decided where the bike stations should be. There is an interactive page on their site allowing the public to choose their most convenient locations. The stations are marked in Manhattan, Brooklyn, the Bronx, Queens and on Staten Island.
"This whole city could be a biking city." Said Silvistri as he locked the Montreal bike back into its dock.

Four Hour Wait to Save $42

To acquire standing room tickets for a Friday 8:00 PM showing of “The Book of Mormon,” my two friends and I began standing in line at four. At 7:00 PM they would start sales for 24 tickets costing $27 each. As time passed, the line grew to around 30 people—the last six purely hopeful. Mezzanine J-L tickets, the seats right in front of where I stood, cost $69. Standing room tickets are only available when the show is sold out, but “The Book of Mormon” is sold out everyday.
Joan Wong, my “Book of Mormon” companion and a senior at Parsons The New School for Design, has watched about 30 different Broadway shows (all musicals except for two plays) and, if you count repeated shows, she’s watched 50. Ms. Wong paid full price for only one—“Lion King”. She acquires discounted tickets mostly through student or general rush and also by joining ticket lotteries and waiting for standing room tickets to sold out shows.
Student and general rush policies vary depending on the show; “Follies,” a revival that opened on Sept. 12 and due to its popularity has extended its engagement to Jan. 22, offers 30 student rush tickets ($37 a ticket) per performance. According to a box office employee, there are always “More people than tickets…Hard to gauge, about fifty per performance.” “Wicked,” which celebrates its eighth anniversary on October 30, 2011, has a lottery for 25 front row seats prior to each performance. The lottery winners pay $26.50 for seats that could cost up to $312.25 for a Saturday night showing. The “Wicked” box office employee said at least a hundred people join the lottery per performance. Ms. Wong has won the lottery for different shows about 10 -15 times. “If I had to put a percentage on it, it would be probably be 75% of the time…It’s weird.”
There may be over a hundred people at the Gershwin Theater hoping to get lucky and see “Wicked” for a steep discount, but there are also about four hundred to a thousand people waiting in line at the tkts booth everyday. Every ticket sold there is discounted at 50%, 40%, 30% or 20%. Jordan Feltner and Mark Curry, tkts representatives working at the Times Square tkts booth, said the majority of people in line are tourists. According to Mr. Feltner, he “fields a lot of questions…What are people in line for? What are people doing? Two-thirds get in line afterwards.” The general rush and lottery tickets offered by theaters are typically cheaper than the prices tkts offers. “In general, of course tourists don’t know,” Mr. Curry responded, “We do tell people. They think instead of worrying about that, maybe we’ll just stay here. They’re not that knowledgeable about how the theater system works.”
Still, the popularity of waiting for discounted tickets through rush, lottery or for standing room has grown. Ms. Wong said, “Even if they start selling when the box office opens, I used to be able to get rush tickets in the late afternoon. But now, there are lines for hours before the box office opens for almost every show that offers rush.” Her conjecture as to how people are growing aware of these opportunities is, “Word of mouth? All these discounts are still kind of a “new” thing…I mean the people who do this are usually students and young people are likely to talk more.” The “Follies” box office employee suggested, “Websites…They have their own kind of thing. I get that feeling sometimes.”
There is, in fact, a website for Broadway goers with message boards. Some of the forums discuss discount tickets for shows. The “ANYTHING GOES Rush” forum has 24 replies and 13,165 views. User ColorTheHours048 (a reference to “Spring Awakening”) posted on August 4, “Rushed this morning. Got there at 6:20 and was first in line. The line picked up steadily from 6:40 on.” The “Anything Goes” box office opens at 10:00 AM. Deciding whether or not waiting for rush tickets, joining a lottery, or hoping for standing room is worth it is a question of whether you want to save time or money.

Tuesday, October 25

K2: Harmless Marijuana Alternative?

Paul Smith, a 19–year-old student from Greenwich, Connecticut, came downstairs on Christmas morning to open presents with his family. Right away, his mother sensed that something was wrong with her son, and steered Paul into the kitchen.

“My mother tried to help my drink a class of water and it spilled out of my mouth, like I was paralyzed,” Paul recalls, “My family was terrified, but I thought I was fine. I thought they were overreacting… it must have been scarier for them to see me like that than it was for me.”
However, Paul had not taken any hard drugs, or even an illegal drug. Instead of Marijuana, Paul had started using a new synthetic form of cannabis known as Spice, or K2. A psychoactive herbal and chemical product, Spice is a designer drug created to affect the body in a similar way to cannabinoids – the natural chemical found in cannabis, such as THC.

Large and complex combinations of these cannabinoids are used in an attempt to avoid laws, which make cannabis illegal. Sold under various brand names, Spice can be found online, in head shops, and in the occasional gas station.
“It’s like playing Russian Roulette,” said John W. Huffman a Professor of organic chemistry and the first to synthesize many of the cannabinoids used in synthetic cannabis. “You really don’t know what it’s going to do to you.”
Huffman created the K2 compound in the mid-1990s while studying cannabinoid receptors. Unsure of how his research spread, Huffman recalls learning that in China and Korea people were selling the compound as a plant growth stimulant. Later Huffman’s book,Enantioselective Synthesis of Methoxy, Deoxy, and Tetrahydrocannabinols, was published and had a chapter on the JWH-018 compound he had created. The long-term goals of his research are two-fold and include the potential development of new pharmaceutical products. Huffman also used his research to explore the geometry of the cannabinoid brain and the peripheral receptors in the brain.
Using K2 as a Marijuana alternative first started in Europe, during the late 2000s. The first known distribution of the product was found in Germany, and was sold with the brand names Spice and K2.
However, many users find the drug to be a legal alternative that’s cheap and completely safe to inhale. “I don’t think K2 is such a big deal. Honestly, I would prefer the real stuff, but at least I know I’m not going to end up in jail by the end of the night,” Mayne Ecay, a student at New York University explained. “My main goal is to stay in school…it’s good to know that I won’t be kicked out if caught smoking K2.” Ecay continued to explain that he has never had any negative effects after smoking Spice and that most of his friends smoke it as well. Ecay and his friends also talked of how easy it is to acquire, often walking to Saint Marx Place and buying three grams for the price of one gram of weed.
Some States are beginning to crack down on this substance, however, on April 22 the Department of State Health and Substances outlawed all Marijuana-like substances, including Spice and K2, in the state of Texas. Though Kansas was the first state to ban the drug, in March 2010, Texas has some of the strictest rules in enforcing it. Placed in Schedule 1 of the Texas Schedules of Controlled Substances, K2 has been put in the most restrictive category, making it illegal to distribute, manufacture, possess or sell the synthetic compound. The penalties for any one of these crimes are a class A or B misdemeanor. In addition to Texas, 11 other states in the U.S. are in the process of banning the compound.

#4 Train Stops Suddenly Under East River

A reported 457 Brooklyn-bound commuters were trapped for nearly two hours on Monday night between the Bowling Green (Manhattan) and Borough Hall (Brooklyn) subway stations.  Passengers onboard the #4 train described what sounded like an explosion followed by a sudden halt of the fast moving train.
“I’ve never experienced anything like it,” said Jaime Verroccio, who has made the daily inter-borough commute since 2006. “I’m never surprised when something delays the train, but this! and underwater!”
The tunnel in which the train was stopped filled with smoke immediately following the explosion sound.  Train conductors attempted to keep passengers calm, using the intercom system as a means of communication.  Their voices, however, went unheard due to poor, static-like sound quality.  According to Verroccio, the messages being   communicated from the intercom speakers were “impossible to make out.” 
Some of the smoke entered the cars through the ventilation systems, which had turned off when the train stopped, and through the front and rear doors, which were being opened and closed continuously by uneasy passengers and MTA conductors. 
“…I don’t think it was the amount of smoke that worried people,” said Timothy Robbins, Verrocio’s boyfriend. “At least for me, it was the idea that I was in the middle of…a terrorist attack of sorts that scared me most.”
The MTA has, since, released minimal information regarding the incident.  Although the FDNY was called upon to investigate the scene beneath the East River, no official statement has been produced addressing the cause of the explosion sound and subsequent smoke. 
An MTA spokeswoman told The Village Voice: “Last night at approximately 9:24 p.m. a smoke condition occurred on a number 4 train, just south of the Bowling Green Station… The cause is still under investigation..”
The vagueness and lack of information angered not only passengers onboard the 4 train, but New Yorkers who find the subway system to be unreliable. 
“That’s one thing I don’t miss about New York,” said Alex Amini, former student (2011) at The New School.  “When I heard about this it reminded me of all those times in the train when I had to wait and had no idea what was going on because they wouldn’t tell us anything.”
After FDNY concluded their investigation, the train was removed from the tunnel and normal #4 service resumed at 11:18 p.m.


Monday, October 24

Whose Nutritional Advice Would You Take?

“You have to walk the 3 miles from Yankee Stadium to Central Park to burn off the calories from one 20oz. soda,” read one of the posters in a New York City subway car.

In an attempt to offset the obesity epidemic, the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene has installed such posters to urge New Yorkers to be mindful of their consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages.

Rachel Knopf, the Health Educator at the New School and a registered dietitian, has mixed feelings about the effectiveness of these posters. “I think there is a fine line between knowledge and fear tactics, which don’t work,” she said. According to Knopf, the Student Health Service’s has a “health at every size” approach to making nutritional advice. By recognizing that diets only work in the short term, she argues that the focus should be to alter one’s actions and eating habits rather than fixating on one’s size. Furthermore, Knopf believes in giving nutritional recommendations based on individuals’ economic means.

“One major issue is that many college students do not know how to plan meals or to make time to shop and cook,” she said. Instead, students often rely on eating prepackaged foods or eating out. For a year and a half, Knopf spearheaded the “Beyond Ramen” program to try to teach New School students how to cook. Though the events themselves are only two hours long, the preparation work for the food demonstrations took up eight hours of her time. In the end, the program was discontinued. “No one showed up,” said Knopf.

However, the Student Health Services is still pushing its efforts in providing students with the skills needed to lead a healthy lifestyle. Last month, they hosted a cooking demonstration in the basement of the Stuyvesant Park dorms, and students learned how to make seafood paella and smoothies.

On a Sunday night, Shannon Swimm, a freshman at Eugene Lang College, finally found the time to go grocery shopping and cook for herself. She spent $30 on groceries at Trader Joe’s and made herself lasagna and salad. Swimm finds it hard to have a well-balanced diet, and she usually eats what is the most “quick and filling.”

“For breakfast, I just drink tea,” Swimm said, “but by lunch time I’m starving so I’m willing to go wherever to eat whatever.” She has no time to prepare food at dinnertime either, for she has to do homework.

Swimm finds the posters about the health threats posed by sugar-sweetened beverages a little ridiculous. “I try not to pay attention to them and take it at face value,” she said. Swimm would rather take nutritional advice from the New School nutritionist than from the Department of Health because she feels that a nutritional would cater specifically to the individual and their needs and goals.

magic highway

Brad Lander and the 39th District - Edit


RE: Councilman Daniel Garondnick: the Masonic District EDITS

City [UPPER CASE] councilman Daniel R Garodnick[,]OMIT COMMA was born in raised on the East Side, and elected to the New York City Council on November 8, 2005.  Located in the East Village and the Lower East Side, Garondnick’s district is known as the 4th Manhattan Masonic District. SHOULD THIS LAST BIT OF INFORMATION BE IN QUOTES?
[NEW PARAGRAPH] With a background in education advocacy and civil rights, Garodnick was a representative for the Partnership of New York City in the Campaign for Fiscal Equity lawsuit.  Before he joined the city council, Garodnick was the director of New York Civil Rights Coalition's "Unlearning Stereotypes: Civil Rights and Race Relations Programs" in 42 different public schools in Manhattan.  [Here] WORD CHOICE he taught students non-violent [ways to fight back] USE MORE SPECIFIC LANGUAGE against racial discriminations and how to use government to affect social change.  Additionally, Garodnick represented 13 same-sex couples in search of marriage equality in the state of New York and sought and received funding to rebuild African-American churches in Georgia and Virginia burned by racially-motivated arson.
            Within Garodnick’s first year in council, the New York Times praised him for being a “champion of smarter redevelopment along the East River and a fighter for increased funding for the city’s public school students.”  In [just] OPINIONATED one year of being on the Council, Garodnick had established himself as the head-front in the fight for more affordable housing in Manhattan.  With a $4.5 billion tenant-backed bid, Garondnick’s first sign of success what his purchase of Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village. YOU ESTABLISH RACE AS CENTRAL/THEMATIC IN YOUR PIECE. I WOULD BE CURIOUS TO KNOW THE COUNCILMAN’S RACE AND MAYBE SOME BACKGROUND ON WHY HE IS SO INVESTED IN THESE CAUSES. GOOD QUOTE IN THIS GRAPH.
            Latley, Garondnick has been working on the increase of food venders at the city’s street fairs.  Responding to a Daily News report about the three “street fair kinds” who run two-thirds of the city’s fairs, Garondnick said:
“There’s a value to lett[er]OMIT ing pedestrians take over the streets, but there should be more for residents than row after row of vendors selling the same thing” 
            Proposing a package of bills in an[d] OMIT effort to force the fairs to change their acts, Garodnick’s bills requires all street fairs to draw at least 20% of their venders from the local community.  Any fair operators who exceeded the 20% minimum would receive a discount on city fees.
            In addition, [the bills aim to improve] AWKWARD the way the city announces street closers, and outlines a program to test fairs with booths running [down the cent] ??? of the street. I LIKE THIS SPECIFIC DETAIL. IT STRENGTHENS YOUR PIECE.
            “We’ve got to ask ourselves what we’re getting out of big corporate street fairs,” Garodnick told the Daily News, “and unfortunately, the answer is not enough.” THIS LAST QUOTE WOULD BEST SERVE THE PIECE IF IT CAME SOONER. ALMOST SEEMS TACKED ON HERE AT THE END.

Edit: Councilwoman Melissa Mark Viverito

Melissa Mark Viverito now in her second term on New York City Council represents district 8 (East Harlem, the Upper West Side, Mott Haven a part of the Bronx, Randalls Island, Wards Island and Central Park in its entirety). what is the lede?/awkward sentence transition Born in Puerto Rico, Viverito moved to New York when she was 18 to attend Columbia University. She describes herself as an “activist” who was always involved in “grass roots efforts and organizing” why are 'activist' and 'grass roots efforts and onganizing' in quotes? are these in yours or someone else's words? and didn’t think of a career in politics till someone in the community approached her with the idea.
Viverito is actively involved in issues regarding housing, park safety, hazardous waste removal, police interaction with minorities and immigrant communities and has actively been involved in passing legislature that effects the rights of tenants directly giving them the right to sue landlords; Most recently Viverito was involved in supporting a law that demands building employees who are receiving any sort of financial assistance from the government receive a living-wage (Int 18). WC/rephrase A few of her recent efforts include locating housing for homeless and low income residents by establishing an annual census for vacant buildings.
In addition Viverito is one of four city council members who uses “participatory budgeting”, a system that gives members of the community the voting power to chose where government money is applied in their neighborhood, differing from the old system where council members reviewed applications for funding from groups and organizations and then passed them on to the mayor’s office. This whole paragraph seems out of place.
While her second term just out of curiosity, how long are the terms? in office (first elected in 2005) suggests Viverito has many supporters there are some who vocally denounce her actions. rephrase/contradictory
Justice in El Barrio explain what JEB is is a group out of East Harlem focused on protesting the displacement of immigrants and marginalized communities by housing developments and other factors of gentrification; the group has targeted council woman Viverito directly “denouncing” her and labeling her a “sell out” again, who is saying this? for her support of plans they feel will uproot the community.

“She says she is for the community but continuously supports bills that displace the community,” a member of Jusice in El Barrio said of the council woman. I want to read/hear more about this!
One plan Justice in El Barrio is referring to is the rezoning of east 125th street that would allow for denser development, critics of the plan say that new development will result in luxury condos uprooting local businesses and longtime residents of the area and that the plan doesn’t consider affordable housing . Another plan the organization calls attention to is the expansion of Columbia University which they feel will displace residents and offer little to the existing community. Want to hear/read more of this since there seems to be a bit of conflict.
“She feels strongly that people are in the street expressing their views” said Joe Teranto, Viverito’s deputy chief of staff and a current student at Milano The New School for Management and Urban Policy.
After asking me if our words were going to be on record he said he’s enjoyed working for the council woman the 2 1/2 years he’s been working for her “I support the issues she stands for...I feel like she does a lot for her district and all of the greater New York.” Could end it better.

The most interesting thing that stuck out to me and wanted to know more about is the ongoing conflict with Viverito and The Justice in El Barrio. More in depth info on the community and Columbia University would help support what they say about her. Also, transition and structure can be improved.