Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito will call for a system to clear old warrants for nonviolent offenses and for deeper community involvement in citywide rezoning efforts tomorrow in her second State of the City address.
The speech will be delivered at the Samuel Gompers Campus in the South Bronx, and its title, “More Justice,” is borrowed from a quote of his: “We need more justice; less revenge.”
“With our ear firmly to the ground, we’ve identified problems and found solutions,” she will say, according to her office. “We’ve set up communities for success with an unwavering focus on social and economic justice and taken on tough issues that were neglected for far too long.”
Last year, Ms. Mark-Viverito made criminal justice reform a central aspect of her address, calling for a citywide bail fund to prevent low-level offenders from languishing in the city’s jails on Rikers Island, and for allowing some criminal activities to be addressed with summonses rather than arrests.
She will return to the topic this year, this time turning her attention to old warrants that many critics say, like bail that low-level offenders cannot afford, clog up the criminal justice system. She’ll call for a system to clear older warrants for what her office described as “low-level, non-violent” offenses.
She’ll also talk about ways to help residents in high-crime neighborhoods and those with quality of life concerns, her office said.
“We also understand that we must continue the quest for reform,” she’ll say, according to a speech excerpt. “Our support for the NYPD and our efforts to improve the criminal justice system are not mutually exclusive—in fact, they go hand in hand. You can’t have one without the other.”
With Mayor Bill de Blasio’s effort to re-zone the city in pursuit of affordable housing in the news this week, Ms. Mark-Viverito will also address that topic—and the feeling from many at the community board level that Mr. de Blasio did not work with local communities enough on his proposals.
The speaker will outline idea to improve the planning process, calling for the creation of “Neighborhood Commitment Plans” so that communities can track promises the city makes when it re-zones a neighborhood—like housing, schools and infrastructure.
“Planning for the future of our neighborhoods should start from the ground up and infuse the voices of everyday New Yorkers into policy decisions. This process presents a critical opportunity to discuss real neighborhood concerns and needs—from school overcrowding and pedestrian safety to sewers and public transit,” she’ll say. “So the Council proposes that the city develop a Neighborhood Commitment Plan to accompany rezoning proposals, describing and tracking commitments for housing, schools, infrastructure, and other city services.”
Ms. Mark-Viverito will also discuss voter engagement and efforts to empower young women in the address, which will be delivered at noon tomorrow.