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City Council Reviews Operations Of New York's Potter's Field

From Huffington Post:

A City Council oversight committee held a hearing Friday to review the operations of the oft-forgotten cemetery at Hart Island, New York City's potter's field, where some 850,000 people are buried, most of whom are either unclaimed, unidentified or whose families couldn't afford a funeral.

The Council was receptive to the pleas of advocacy groups to improve public access to the island, purportedly the world's largest tax-funded cemetery, particularly for those whose loved ones are buried there and for better record-keeping.

The Vatican meets the Wall Street occupiers

From Washington Post:

By Published: October 26

Will we soon see a distinguished-looking older man in long, white robes walking among the Occupy Wall Street demonstrators in New York’s Zuccotti Park? Is Pope Benedict XVI joining the protest movement?

Well, yes and no. Yes, the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace issued a strong and thoughtful critique of the global financial system this week that paralleled many of the criticisms of unchecked capitalism that are echoing through Lower Manhattan and cities around the world.

The report spoke of “the primacy of being over having,” of “ethics over the economy,” and of “embracing the logic of the global common good.”

In a knock against those who oppose government economic regulation, the council emphasized “the primacy of politics — which is responsible for the common good — over the economy and finance.” It commented favorably on a financial transactions tax and supported an international authority to oversee the global economy.

A Good Approach on Wall Street

from New York Times:

After more than a month of the Occupy Wall Street encampment at Zuccotti Park, the complaints are mounting. Mayor Michael Bloomberg, perhaps reflecting the irritation of his former colleagues on Wall Street, has said “the Constitution doesn’t protect tents. It protects speech and assembly.” And he suggested last week that the city would start enforcing city rules on marches by the protesters unless they have the required permits.

Fortunately, the people most inconvenienced by the encampment, its neighbors, have a more sensible response. Community Board 1, which represents residents and businesses in Lower Manhattan, is expected to vote Tuesday evening on a resolution that endorses the right to protest and opposes “the use of excessive and unnecessary force by the City of New York” or the owners of the park, Brookfield Properties. (The resolution also endorses the extension of the “millionaire’s tax” in New York State to soften cuts to education and other services.)

The community calls on everyone involved, including protesters and elected officials, to address the problems this event has created around the park. The resolution asks for drums, tambourines, bugles, air horns, shouting and chanting to be limited to two hours at midday. That’s not realistic, but it might be a place to start talks about whether the all-night noise must continue.

The resolution, written by Julie Menin, the community board chairwoman, asks the city to arrange for off-site, portable bathrooms to be paid for by local donors. The community board also wants the city’s 311 operators to document complaints about noise or lack of hygiene in the park.

End of subsidy threatens the homeless

Advocates criticize the lack of transitional housing support as NYC cuts programs; Mayor Michael Bloomberg falls far short of goal to slash shelter rolls.

October 23, 2011 5:59 a.m.

from Crain's New York:

Four City Council Members Offer Participatory Budgeting for Their Districts

From Participatory Budgeting in New York City:

New York City is about to experience a new kind of democracy. Over the next several months, we will undertake an exciting initiative to put budgeting decisions directly in the hands of the people those decisions will impact most – the residents of our districts.

Participatory budgeting is grassroots democracy at its best. Residents of four diverse City Council districts from Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx, will come together to decide what to do with the districts' capital funding budget, the part of the budget that is used to repair streets, improve parks, buy school technology, or build bike lanes. Community members will exchange and debate ideas, work together to turn ideas into project proposals, and then decide what ideas get funded at the ballot box. The process will make budgeting more transparent and accessible. It will open up participation to people who have never been involved before. And it will make budgeting more effective, because who knows better what is needed in our communities than the people who live there? 

Four New York City Council Members are launching Participatory Budgeting in 2011:


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