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Hundreds Rally for the Right to Refuse Stop and Frisk

In 2013 Mayor Bill De Blasio was voted into office with pledges to reign in police violence and stop-and-frisk policing targeted at blacks and latinos. (Remember that emotional video about needing to have stop-and-frisk conversations with his son, Dante?) And since he took office, street-stops have continued on a downward trend–there were about 24,000 stops last year, a far cry from the peak of 685,000 in 2011 under Bloomberg.

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Participatory Budgeting Time! Tell the City Where, Exactly, It Can Stuff Your Tax $$s

(Map via NYC City Council)

(Map via NYC City Council)

As Participatory Budgeting has been adopted here in New York City over the last few years, residents of each participating district can now vote on how to allocate a minimum of $1 million of the city budget to the local improvement efforts they they care most about. In North Brooklyn, the budgetary contenders chosen by neighbors include projects in schools, parks, playgrounds, transportation, and public housing. (Sorry, Lower East Side and East Village– you’re left out again this year.)

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Is the Future of Williamsburg Industry Worth Betting for an ‘Experiment’?

Rendering of 25 Kent Avenue, Toby Moskovits's waterfront office complex (Image via Steelblue Consulting / Heritage Equity)

Rendering of 25 Kent Avenue, Toby Moskovits’s waterfront office complex (Image via Steelblue Consulting / Heritage Equity)

Already ground zero for some of the city’s most dramatic rezonings, Williamsburg is facing yet another contentious development: an eight-story, 480,000-square-foot office complex known as the Brooklyn Generator. On Tuesday, Community Board 1 met to vote on whether or not to support the creation of a special mixed-use zone that would allow developers to move forward with the massive project. And they didn’t take the matter lightly. “This is going to affect us for the rest of our lives,” CB1 chairperson Dealice Fuller said of the board’s decision.

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In About-Face, Bushwick Could Accept Towers For More Affordable Housing

Affordable housing advocates protesting last fall (Photo: Nicole Disser)

Affordable housing advocates protesting last fall (Photo: Nicole Disser)

Bushwick council member Antonio Reynoso was among the many who challenged Mayor de Blasio’s affordable housing plan last week, but that doesn’t mean he’s ready to shoot it down entirely. Upzoning (i.e. rezoning certain areas to allow for higher buildings) is one of the more controversial aspects of the the mayor’s plan, and something that Bushwick residents have vehemently protested against in recent years. But in a report released earlier this month, Reynoso concludes that the mayor’s Mandatory Inclusionary Housing program, which would require a share of those taller buildings to be permanently affordable, represents the chance to address “missed opportunities” in North Brooklyn housing development.

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City Council Grills Mayor’s Affordable Housing Plan, Fearing Williamsburg-Style Gentrification

(photo by Kavitha Surana)

(photo by Kavitha Surana)

City Council members pushed Mayor de Blasio’s new rezoning plan to prioritize deeper affordability during a hearing yesterday on a key pillar of his effort to add 200,000 new affordable units over 10 years. If passed, Mandatory Inclusionary Housing would require new constructions in certain neighborhoods to set aside 25-30 percent of the units as permanently affordable.

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Tenants Marched to City Hall to Boost Bills Aimed at Fighting Harassment

Tenants rally in Chinatown to protest construction harassment with Stand for Tenant Safety Coalition (Photo by Nicole Disser)

Tenants rally in Chinatown to protest construction harassment with Stand for Tenant Safety Coalition (Photo by Nicole Disser)

Tenants and activists who are part of the Stand for Tenant Safety Coalition (STS) rallied outside of 90 Elizabeth Street this morning before marching to City Hall to show their support for a package of bills that would address construction-related harassment. Today marks an important landmark for the coalition’s fight against landlords who are taking advantage of a lack of oversight and toothless fines.

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This Anti-Garbage Meeting in Bushwick Got Pretty Steamy

(Flyer Via Cleanup North Brooklyn)

(Flyer Via Cleanup North Brooklyn)

“You really have to be quick crossing the street, or they’ll totally run you down,” a friend of mine laughed. “I’m actually really scared that someday they’ll catch me not paying attention.” He was right– even after dark last night, garbage trucks were still rumbling down Thames Street periodically, past his apartment and toward the Brooklyn Waste Transfer Facility, which neighbors are saying is a particularly devious garbage deposit. I was on my way to a community meeting that brought together activists, workers, residents, and local business owners– all of them concerned about waste inequity– inside La Luz, a storefront and pop-up venue space.

To get to the meeting, I had to cross directly in front of the garbage processing warehouse where, per usual, the massive doors were wide open (which activists and residents say is the case several times an hour), revealing voluminous mounds of stinky refuse. I picked up the pace, realizing suddenly that I was in the crosshairs of an enormous white trash truck and a frantic bulldozer– I felt the distinct possibility that I could be mistaken for a passing ant. Had it been summer, my friend assured me, this experience would have been a more nauseating one.

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Spice Is Vice: Mayor Passes New Laws Aimed at Ending ‘Plague of K2’

(Screenshot via YouTube)

(Screenshot via YouTube)

The Mayor signed a series of laws today criminalizing K2, part of the City’s continuing effort to crack down on the use and sale of synthetic marijuana. The drug, which Mayor de Blasio and Police Commissioner Bratton both referred to as “poison,” is a liquid substance manufacturers spray on herbs. It has been marketed as incense, spice and, perhaps the most hilarious departure from its actual use, bath salts.

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Bushwick Task Force Aims to ‘Clean Up’ (Literally) Area Plagued By K2

The intersection at Myrtle-Broadway is K2 central (Photo: Nicole Disser)

The intersection at Myrtle-Broadway in Bushwick is K2 central (Photo: Nicole Disser)

“I have a really high tolerance for people doing stuff on the street,” said G Lucas Crane, a member of the Silent Barn collective. “I’m from Brooklyn, I just wanna see people do their thing, I don’t want to call anybody out– but when it gets to this level of saturation, the community needs to do something about it.”

The Silent Barn sits just a block from the intersection of Myrtle-Broadway, a hotbed for K2 and other synthetic cannabinoids that have been targeted by city officials. Now, a coalition led by Council Member Antonio Reynoso is bringing a new kind of attention and care to this bustling but problematic corner.

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Anti-Construction Harassment Coalition Rallies at City Hall For Tenant Safety

(Photo: Nicole Disser)

(Photo: Nicole Disser)

A group by the name of Stand for Tenant Safety, consisting of tenant groups and eleven City Council Members (including Rosie Mendez from the Lower East Side, Stephen Levin from Williamsburg, and Antonio Reynoso of Bushwick) rallied on the steps of City Hall this morning. Never mind the rain. The coalition is named for a new report, released today by the Urban Justice Center, that coincides with the introduction of a legislation package that would protect tenants from landlords and developers who carry out neglectful and malicious construction projects. “My tenants have rain coming down in their apartments, so this is nothing,” said CM Rosie Mendez of the Lower East Side.

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Two Big Chances to Tell Local Pols How to Spend Your Tax Ducats

Screen Shot 2015-04-10 at 4.54.49 PMSure, your first priority this weekend probably involves lying in the grass with a margarita blender, but don’t let the lurvley weather keep you from doing your civic duty. Between an epic town hall on the Lower East Side and the launch of Participatory Budgeting in North Brooklyn, in the next days you’ll have some choice opportunities to bend the ears — and pull at the pursestrings — of the city and state’s power players.

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Council Member Stages a Sit-In to Try to Save North Brooklyn Community Centers

The Borinquen Plaza Senior Center, which isn't in danger. (Photo: Natalie Rinn)

The Borinquen Plaza Senior Center, which isn’t in danger. (Photo: Natalie Rinn)

This evening, Council Member Antonio Reynoso is planning to sit with seven others in the middle of Ainslie Street with the intention of getting arrested. “This is not something we would have wanted to have done at all,” says Jennifer Gutierrez, a spokesperson for Reynoso’s office. “We’re just frustrated.”

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