A borough president is an advocate for their borough in a number of ways.
First, they have a sizable chunk of change at their disposal to fund local initiatives, groups and projects like buying technology for public schools, renovating local parks or spearheading community health outreach. Borough presidents share about 5% of the city budget to fund things in their borough — about $4 billion among them, according to the city’s Campaign Finance Board.
Borough presidents can also introduce bills in the City Council, though they do not get a vote.
They weigh in on land use proposals — in other words, development projects that need public approval — with an advisory vote and written decision. Their input is not binding, but it can be quite influential if they are staunchly for or against a project and lobby Council members or the mayor.
Working with local City Council members, Borough presidents also appoint all members of community boards, the local bodies that weigh in on everything from new bike lanes to liquor licenses for restaurants. With that power, the borough presidents can exert significant sway over neighborhood-level politics and projects.
In addition to their formal powers, the borough presidents play an important role as a champion and booster for their borough, calling news conferences to shed light on issues they believe need attention and making appearances at ribbon cuttings, groundbreakings and cultural events.
Join the Greater Harlem Coalition’s look at the intersection of Harlem and East Harlem’s quality of life issues and the 2021 NYC elections. Click here to learn more tonight.
The person who oversees City Hall’s wallet is called the comptroller, a position currently filled by Scott Stringer.
Four contenders are vying to replace the term-limited Stringer (who is running for mayor). And while the ultra-crowded mayor’s race will undoubtedly steal most of the attention this election cycle, choosing our next comptroller is critical for city voters.
The primary vote is set for June 22 of this year. Given New York’s firmly Democratic lean, whichever comptroller candidate nabs a win then will have a strong advantage heading into November’s general election. A Republican has not been elected comptroller since 1938.
New York City’s comptroller is our municipal auditor and fiduciary.
The Office of the Comptroller does several things, but its chief responsibilities are to prepare audits and oversee how city agencies are spending their money, manage the city’s public pension funds — the largest in the world at $224.8 billion as of October, Stringer’s office says — and issue bonds to help pay for large projects. The comptroller also reviews city contracts.
To do all this and more, the comptroller employs a staff of about 800. The comptroller has another important role: serving as second in line of succession to the mayor, after the Public Advocate.Here’s a comprehensive list of duties from the comptroller’s office.
Benjamin, our Harlem neighbor and State Senator represents Harlem, East Harlem and the Upper West Side. The former investment banker and affordable housing developer pledged to return some donations in early January after THE CITY found donors named in campaign records who said they’d never given money to his campaign.
Parker, a Brooklyn native, is the current State Senator representing Flatbush and surrounding neighborhoods from Ditmas Park to Park Slope. Before taking elected office, Parker worked for local officials, including the then-state Comptroller H. Carl McCall and then-Flatbush Council member Una Clarke.
Weprin, a native of Queens, currently serves as the State Assembly member representing northeast Queens. He previously represented the area in the City Council, worked in the financial services industry and, in the 1980s, served on the state’s Banking Board.
As Seen on 2nd Avenue in East Harlem
Unfortunately, no, the 2nd Avenue Subway isn’t yet in East Harlem. This remnant of an earlier attempt to build the 2nd Avenue Subway is at 117th Street, and was part of the “cut and cover” trenching done in the 1970s
The new 2nd Avenue Subway will incorporate some of this earlier tunneling into the project.
Bills passed by the Council go to the mayor for to be signed into law. The Council can override a veto from the mayor with a vote of at least two-thirds of the members.
The Council also negotiates with the mayor to pass the city budget every year. Each Council member has his or her own discretionary budget to fund local projects and groups. The Council holds oversight hearings through its many committees. And, critically, the body votes to approve or reject development projects that need public approval.
You can think of the Council as like Congress for the City of New York, as this guide from the Council puts it. The city’s Campaign Finance Board created the below video outlining some of the duties and responsibilities of the City Council:
Sumptuous Gifts from a Black Women-Owned Harlem Business
If you want a gift from Harlem to take to a friend’s (now that you’re both fully vaccinated), the Harlem Chocolate Factory on ACP at 139, is a great place to consider.
The City has a great newsletter (below) that details everything you ever needed to know about registering to vote, and how to help register others: your colleagues, friends, neighbors, family, etc.
Can you vote in New York’s June 22 primary election?
We’re officially six weeks out from Election Day on June 22.
But there’s another date you need to mark on your calendar: May 28. That’s the last day you can register to vote in the June 22 primary.
To help make sure that as many New Yorkers as possible participate in choosing our next leaders, we’re going to break down who has the right to vote in New York, how to register and how to help someone register to vote.
If you’re already registered to vote, feel free to share this with others. As we’ve said what seems like a million times, these elections will be momentous in shaping the future of the city.
Who has the right to vote in New York?
To be able to cast a ballot in New York, you need to be a U.S. citizen who has lived in the city/state for at least 30 days, not currently incarcerated for a felony conviction and at least 18 years old.
If you turn 18 on or before June 22, you’ll be able to vote, so make sure you register now. And remember, all 16 and 17 year olds can pre-register to vote, which means you automatically become a registered voter the day you turn 18.
Can I vote if I am an immigrant?
If you have become a naturalized U.S. citizen since moving here, you can vote.
Otherwise, you can’t vote in New York… yet. A coalition of nonprofit organizations has been pushing to expand city voting to nearly 900,000 immigrants across the five boroughs, including green card holders, DACA recipients and people with certain work permits.
Paul Westrick, senior manager of democracy policy at the New York Immigration Coalition, said: “It’s a huge population of New Yorkers who may not have the piece of paper that they’re a citizen, but they’re New Yorkers. We have folks who are woven into the fabric of New York City and who are being taxed but not represented.”
The expansion has broad support in the City Council, among a few borough presidents, numerous local state and federal elected officials and even from some mayoral candidates, but it will not pass before the 2021 elections. If the measure passes later, it would mean non-citizen immigrants with certain statuses could vote in New York City municipal elections, but not in statewide or national contests. Keep your eyes out for 2023.
What if I’ve been convicted of a felony?
Big news: Just last week, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a law that gives people back their right to register to vote as soon as they’re released from prison. That includes everyone still on parole or probation, even those convicted of a felony.
“Anyone who has been formerly incarcerated and is now out in the community has the right to vote. There’s no sort of question or anything like that,” said Nick Encalada-Malinowski, Civic Rights Campaign Director for VOCAL-NY.
In 2018, Cuomo issued an executive order that granted the right to vote to most but not all people on parole through a pardon process. It was a little confusing, so the new law clears it up and makes the right permanent for anyone who has been formerly incarcerated.
Once again, because there is a lot of confusion and misinformation about this: State law now says if you were incarcerated and now you’re out, you have the right to register to vote.
When someone is released from prison, they do need to *re-register* to vote, even if they were a registered voter before they were incarcerated.
What if I’ve moved? Do I need to re-register?
If you’ve moved from out of state, you need to re-register, but if you’ve moved from somewhere else in New York, you just need to file a change of address request with the BOE/Post Office/DMV so you can vote in your current district. You can do that here.
How do I register to vote?
You have a few options…
If you have a New York driver’s license or state ID from the Department of Motor Vehicles, you can register online using a tool from NYC Votes and TurboVote, here.
If you don’t have a New York driver’s license or state ID, the law requires that you sign an actual form and mail it to the Board of Elections office.
You can use this site to have the forms mailed to you, or you can download and print the forms yourself to fill out and mail in. If you request to have them sent to you, they come with a pre-addressed envelope to send them back.
You will be asked to plug in your name as it appears on your state ID. If you don’t have one, that’s ok. Just put how your name appears on official documents.
If you need language access or you want to help someone register to vote in another language, you can download the registration forms and FAQs in a bunch of languages here.
You can also request voter registration forms in various languages by calling 1-866-VOTENYC.
Lastly, you can pick up voter registration forms at any library branch, any post office or any city agency office.
After you fill them out, mail them to the BOE’s main office:
Board of Elections 32 Broadway, 7 Fl New York, NY 10004-1609
And make sure it’s postmarked by May 28.
Other materials needed: If you don’t have a state ID, you will need to provide the last four digits of your social security number.
To vote in the June 22 election, you have to register with a party.
If you want to vote in the primary election next month, you need to register with a party. This is because New York has what’s called a closed primary.
For example, to choose from the 13 Democratic candidates for mayor, you need to be registered as a Democrat. If you’re not affiliated with a party or you’re registered as an independent, you can’t vote in the primaries.
According to city Campaign Finance Board officials, there are nearly 5 million registered voters in New York City as of March. Of those, about 3.3 million are registered Democrats and eligible to vote in the Democratic primaries. There are just under 500,000 registered Republicans in the city who may vote in Republican primaries. About a million voters are either registered with a third party or have no party affiliation, so they can’t vote in the primary. So if you’re planning on voting June 22, check your party.
The deadline to switch parties was Feb. 14, so it’s too late to change your party before the primary.
Don’t miss the deadline!
Once again, you have to register by May 28. New York does not have same-day registration. If you aren’t already registered and you don’t apply either online or send your forms in postmarked by May 28, you will not be able to vote in the June 22 primary. Remember: Early voting starts June 12.
What are *your* election questions?
If you have any questions about the election process, the candidates or any other information when it comes to voting in New York, let us know by replying to this email or sending a note to [email protected].
To subscribe to The City’s awesome newsletter, go to:
You can join the virtual Rat Academy, put on by the Department of Health on May 24th and sponsored by the amazing MMPCIA. Learn about preventing rats, and dealing with rats if they arrive. It’s a great and very informative program. Highly recommended for the rat-curious and it certainly falls into the news-you-can-use category of time spent.
The deadline to register to vote is Friday, May 28 and early voting begins on Saturday, June 12. The deadline to request an absentee ballot is June 15.
Free Concerts in Marcus Garvey Park this Weekend
National Black Theatre is partnering with the New York Philharmonic to bring NY Phil Bandwagon 2 to Marcus Garvey Park in Harlem!
NY Phil Bandwagon 2 is a series of four weekend-long festivals across New York City, May 7–30, 2021. Performances will feature Philharmonic musicians and more than 100 New York artists, which span artistic disciplines from reggae, jazz, and opera, to dance, poetry, theatre, film, and visual art. All performances will take place on a customized, mobile, 20-foot shipping container featuring a foldout stage and LED video wall.
The final list of NYC Comptroller Candidates is in:
Dr. Thelma Davidson Adair is 100-years-old and has mobility issues but inside the Jackie Robinson Education Complex, Dr. Adair got right to it. With the help of her son Robert, she checked in and she voted.
Dr. Thelma Davidson Adair has lived through many elections. She was born a century ago during a pandemic, and now she is living through another.
She is a retired college professor, a religious and community leader, who likes to lead by example.
“I wanted people to recognize that this is the person that we can be in our lives at this moment. Also, to reaffirm the structure of our society,” said Thelma Davidson Adair.
Dr. Adair’s family asked her if she wanted to mail in an absentee ballot this year. That was not an option for her.
“I was filled with power. This is my way of speaking,” she said.
Metro North Boards Up
Let’s all make sure this effort by Metro North turns out to be wasted.
The Queen Says VOTE!
Beyoncé expressed her support for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris in an Instagram video posted Monday, November 2nd, the day before the 2020 elections.
The musician posted a boomerang clip in which she wears a Biden/Harris face mask and tips her hat. The caption — “Come thru, Texas! #Vote” — was specifically targeted at voters in her home state, which has a decent chance of flipping to the Democrats for the first time in a presidential election since 1976.
Census Data from 1661: Multicultural and Multilinguistic Dutch New Haarlem
The first European colonists to arrive and settle in Harlem were strikingly diverse. The Dutch West Indies company that settled the village that would become New York City, focused on the robust accumulation of wealth as a primary objective and not on a monocultural populace. The earliest record of Harlem residents shows a variety of ethnic origins:
Jean Le Roy
Francois Le Sueur
Simon De Ruine
David Du Four
Jan De Pre
Michiel Janse Muyden
Aert Pietersen Buys
Jan Pietersen Slot
Nicolaes De Meyer
Jan Laurens Duyts
Jacob Elderts Brouwer
Monis Peterson Staeck
This list, of course, only itemizes white, European men. Children, women, Indigenous People, and African slaves, were not included in this 1661 census.
The Met announced the discovery of a painting by esteemed American artist Jacob Lawrence that has been missing for decades. The panel is one of 30 that comprise Lawrence’s powerful epic, Struggle: From the History of the American People (1954–56), and it will be reunited immediately with the series, now on view at The Met through November 1 in Jacob Lawrence: The American Struggle. Titled by the artist There are combustibles in every State, which a spark might set fire to. —Washington, 26 December 1786, the work depicts Shays’ Rebellion, the consequential uprising of struggling farmers in western Massachusetts led by Revolutionary War veteran Daniel Shays; it protested the state’s heavy taxation and spurred the writing of the U.S. Constitution and efforts to strengthen federal power. The panel is number 16 in the Struggle series.
The painting has not been seen publicly since 1960, when the current owners purchased it at a local charity art auction. A recent visitor to The Met’s exhibition, who knew of the existence of an artwork by Lawrence that had been in a neighbor’s collection for years, suspected that the painting might belong to the Struggle series and encouraged the owners to contact the Museum.
The work will be specially featured at The Met and will also join the touring exhibition, organized by the Peabody Essex Museum (PEM), for presentations in Birmingham, Alabama; Seattle, Washington; and Washington, D.C., through next fall.
Seen on the fence of the Fred Moore School – East 130th Street:
Visit East Harlem
The official guide to dining, culture, and shopping in East Harlem is undoubtedly not quite the list residents would create, but that is the nature of lists for the visitor.
NYC Go highlights a number of places that we’d all likely recognize and recommend. But there are some selections that would likely make a resident roll ones’ eyes.
Note how on the map, the Jazz Museum is shown to be in its former East Harlem home, and on East 126th Street. As anyone who’s headed to the 4/5/6 train knows, that block – between Lexington and Park – is not where you’d go to listen to jazz, it’s where you’d go to hang with your friends who just got off the M35 bus, or who just got their methadone from a program in the Lee Building.
The Jazz Museum migrated to West Harlem, on West 129th Street at Lenox.
The rest of the map is problematic, but interesting to explore, if only to find the errors. Note how “East” Harlem stretches over onto Malcom X Blvd, for example. Or, how The Africa Center is listed, but has not opened yet.
Given the sad state of the NYC Go page, I thought I’d offer a 17th century Manhattan promotional text for potential European settlers:
“This land is excellent and beautiful to the eye, full of noble forest trees and grape-vines ; and wanting nothing but the labor and industry of man to render it one of the finest and most fruitful regions in that part of the world.” He then condenses the accounts given by “our countrymen who first explored this river, and those who afterward made frequent voyages thither.” The trees are “of wonderful size, fit for buildings and vessels of the largest class. Wild grapevines and walnut trees are abundant. Maize or Indian corn, when cultivated, yields a prolific return; and so with several kinds of pulse, as beans of various colors, pumpkins,—the finest possible, melons, and similar fruits. The soil is also found well adapted to wheat and several kinds of grain, as also flax, hemp, and other European seeds. Herbaceous plants grow in great variety, bearing splendid flowers, or valuable for their medicinal properties. The forests abound in wild animals, especially the deer kind; with other quadrupeds indigenous to this part of the country. Quantities of birds, large and small, frequent the rivers, lakes and forests, with plumage of great elegance and variety of colors. Superior turkey-cocks are taken in winter, very fat, and the flesh of fine quality. Salmon, sturgeon, and many other kinds of excellent fish are caught in the rivers. The climate differs little in temperature from our own, though the country lies many degrees nearer the equator than the Netherlands. In winter the cold is intense, and snow falls frequent and deep, covering the ground for a long time. In summer it is subject to much thunder and lightning, with copious and refreshing showers. Scarcely any part of America is better adapted for colonists from this quarter ; nothing is wanting necessary to sustain life, except cattle, which can be easily taken there, and easily kept,
Wilhelmus Baudartius, of Zutphen; printed at Arnhem, 1624,
A Feminist Walk Through Harlem: Celebrating Remarkable Women
How do we honor Black and Latina women? How do we preserve their legacy? 2020 marks the Centennial of Women’s Suffrage, but Black women’s contributions to the movement largely go uncelebrated, and most Black women in America could not vote until 1965. As the city and the nation confront issues of representation and equity in public commemoration, and to build on FRIENDS’ discussion of the Women’s Right Pioneers Monument in Central Park, please join FRIENDS of the Upper East Side and Save Harlem Now! for a virtual walk through Harlem. The tour will focus on sites publicly celebrating pioneering Black and Latina women, and issues surrounding the preservation of such sites. Tour guide Leigh Hallingby, of Harlem Walks, will explore the neighborhood murals, mosaics, plaques, and other forms of public commemoration honoring such pioneers as Vivian Robinson, Ella Fitzgerald, Madam C.J. Walker, Billie Holiday, Mother Clara Hale, Ruby Dee, Lois Alexander, Mary McLeod Bethune, Julia de Burgos, A’Lelia Walker, Nicholasa Mohr, and Zora Neale Hurston.
To Find Your Early Voting Location (You can begin to vote on Saturday)
You can (early) vote from Saturday, October 24th, to Sunday, November 1st. Note that your polling place will likely be different than the polling place you are used to. When I keyed in my address, this is what Vote.nyc told me was my early voting site:
To find yours, please go to this site and type in your home address