Career Day for Summer Youth Employment interns at New York City Council

On July 26, the Progressive Caucus of the New York City Council hosted a Career Day for Summer Youth Employment (SYEP) interns at New York City Council. The Progressive Caucus has continuously advocated for youth programming and additional funding for the SYEP program in particular. Youth jobs are one of the most important services we can provide as a city to prepare teens for their future careers.

Students had the opportunity to learn about the role of the City Council in policy making, and hear from staff members about their career trajectories. We want to especially thank Council Members Antonio Reynoso and Ben Kallos for their inspirational words!

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Progressive Caucus Letter to FCC Chairman on Net Neutrality

In a letter to the Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, Mr. Ajit Pai, the Progressive Caucus wrote on behalf of New York City residents to promote and protect net neutrality.

Under the Obama administration, regulations were instituted to keep internet service providers from having the ability to offer faster internet speeds to those companies willing to pay more. The term “net neutrality” supports the idea that the internet should be treated as any other utility, and internet service providers should not be able to give preferential treatment to those companies and consumers that can pay more for it. The Trump administration plans to roll these regulations back.

“We as representatives of America’s largest city recommend maintaining strong net neutrality regulations to preserve what remains of an Open Internet with freely transmitted ideas. We recommend transparent information, preservation of the Internet free speech that has revolutionized our communications and necessary protections, and enforcement from the FCC.

“New York City has enormous diversity and we cannot risk leaving these diverse communities behind as corporations gain yet more power to manipulate the free flow of information and ideas. In order for New York City to remain a hub for innovative start-ups and individuals striving for their piece of the American dream, a Free, Open Internet is a necessity.”

The full letter can be viewed here.

New York City Council Passes Right to Counsel Legislation

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New York, NY — On July 20, 2017, the New York City Council passed legislation that will provide legal counsel for low-income tenants who are subject to eviction, ejectment or foreclosure proceedings. The right to counsel legislation is a part of the Progressive Caucus’ ADVANCEMENT policy platform. Championed by Progressive Caucus Member Mark Levine, ensuring the right to counsel will allow more low-income New Yorkers to remain in affordable housing and stabilize communities across New York City. Unlike in criminal court, there is no right to counsel in housing court, leaving tenants without resources to fend for themselves. Today, only about 20% of those facing eviction are represented by an attorney–compared to nearly 100% of landlords. This groundbreaking legislation will level the uneven playing field that has historically been disastrous for tenants. In 2015 alone, nearly 22,000 New York City families were evicted, with thousands more forced from their homes mid-way through eviction proceedings.

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Progressive Caucus Statement on Rent Guidelines Board Rent Increases

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Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez, Member of the Progressive Caucus, rallies with tenants at the June 27, 2017 Rent Guidelines Board hearing.

New York, NY – The Rent Guidelines Board voted yesterday in favor of rent increases for rent-stabilized apartments, with 1.25 percent raises for one-year leases, and 2 percent raises for two-year leases. The New York City Council Progressive Caucus is disappointed at this outcome following a successful two-year rent freeze for one-year leases. While this increase may not seem like much, for tenants living on minimum wage salaries or Social Security, this will further squeeze their limited incomes and may ultimately force people out of their homes. Additionally, while we respect the obligations of the board to evaluate rental adjustments for over one million rent-stabilized units that house working-class New Yorkers, we also acknowledge that tens of thousands of these units have been lost and deregulated due to unscrupulous landlords, illegal transient use and tenant harassment. There is a housing crisis in our city that is worsening, and diminishing rent-stabilized units, as well as increasing rent, are only farthing the issue.

We remain optimistic, however, that tenant rights and the importance placed on affordability are being acknowledged, as over the past four years, we have seen the lowest guidelines in history. We will continue to fight for a fairer and more just New York, especially for the most vulnerable.

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NYC Council Progressive Caucus Urges de Blasio Administration & NYPD to Take Action against Remaining Officers Involved in Ramarley Graham Killing

New York, NY –The New York City Council Progressive Caucus is urging the de Blasio administration to take action against the remaining officers involved in the killing of Ramarley Graham, in a newly released letter sent earlier this week to the mayor and police commissioner.

“We request immediate action from your administration to hold the remaining officers responsible for Ramarley Graham’s killing and its related misconduct accountable in a transparent manner,” the Progressive Caucus letter states. “NYPD trial dates should be scheduled for the two other officers charged (Sergeant Scott Morris and Officer John McLoughlin), who were charged by the department in the same year (2012) that Graham was killed. We urge you to publicly release the departmental charges that these officers face, along with start dates for their trials, without any further wavering.”

The letter can be accessed here.

The Caucus also expressed disappointment in the handling of the disciplinary process related to Graham’s killing, including the department’s allowing Richard Haste to resign rather than be terminated.

“It is disgraceful that after more than five years since killing Ramarley and subsequently accruing pay raises and overtime, Richard Haste was not immediately suspended when Deputy Commissioner Maldonado’s draft report was provided to the department,” the letter asserts. “The NYPD’s failure to take swift action against Haste allowed him to resign. It was a failure of accountability and must not be repeated for the several other officers involved in Graham’s killing.”

The letter also urged the NYPD to comply with state Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) by releasing information requested by Graham’s family via FOIL. The NYPD’s withholding of information in response to the FOIL has forced the family to file a lawsuit to access information about Graham’s killing.

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