Council Member Darlene Mealy's First State of the District Address
After almost 4 years in office, Council woman Darlene Mealy gave her first State of the District Address. Brownsville Academy High School, a state-of-the-art transfer high school in the 41st Council District, hosted the event.
Ms. Mealy said there are many challenges in her district. Topping her list: education, crime, and affordable housing.
On the education front, Mealy said when she was first elected, no one took time to guide her on the workings of the council. By accident, she found out about the member item process – almost too late for her to address district needs that year. She sent out a flurry of messages, asking schools and non-profits for their wish lists. She received plenty of responses; many were amazed. According to Mealy, some respondents said, 'No one asked us ever asked us what we need.' Ms. Mealy said she was proud to announce that as of this year, “95% of the wish list is completed.” All schools in her district have computers, smart boards, science labs, and libraries. In addition, she has provided special support for Episcopal Beacon, a program that keeps 2 district schools open until 8pm.
Mealy asked those in attendance to contact Governor Paterson and ask that education not be cut. “Education,” Mealy said, “should never be on the chopping block. Up to 15,000 teachers will be laid off if the budget is not in place.”
Reducing crime and violence is another priority for Mealy. She said her district is geographically the biggest in the city – covering parts of the 67th, 71st, 73rd, 77th, and 81st Police Precincts, as well as Community Boards 3, 8, 9, 18, and 17. Mealy encouraged everyone to remember, “If you see something, say something.” She said parents should “make sure we know where our children are, especially young men,” who have a high risk of involvement with the criminal justice system. Mealy said she started “Fun Night” in some of the district's worst schools, where adults mentor young people while playing chess and conducting spelling bees. She has established a partnership with Year Up, a program that places 18-24 year olds in internships with large corporations.
Mealy said the Mayor is “building more prisons” in the city; she reminded attendees of her campaign pledge, “Jobs, not jails.” She said she began by working with Jobs to Build On, steering district residents to $26.00/hr union jobs. According to Mealy, the program was so successful, a stipulation was added that required applicants to hold a GED. In response she started offering GED preparation. Legal Aid regularly holds clinics in her district office, providing constituents assistance on issues such as immigration.
The council woman said there are shovel ready projects to build 10,000 units of affordable housing in her district. Mealy said she fought for truly affordable housing in her district, citing the Atlantic Ave. project as an example. Three bedroom apartments are $640/month, 2 bedrooms are $540, and 1 bedrooms are $410. “Now that's what I call affordable,” she said. Mealy said she had a particular issue with a proposed project offering condos for $800,000. She asked, “Who in the district can afford that?” Mealy said she fought to bring prices down to $400,000.
Ms. Mealy announced she was appointed the new chair of the Council's Women's Issues Committee. One primary focus will be contracts to women owned businesses. In addition, Mealy said she will continue “teaching our CBO's how to become 501(c)(3)'s,” so that they can become eligible for funding.
Council member Mealy enthusiastically acknowledged those in attendance, including representatives of police, community boards, elected officials, religious organizations, and district residents. She pledged to continue to address the needs of the district.
Post new comment