MTA’s Sham Meeting Was a Disgrace

Last night’s MTA public meeting on planned M14A/D service cuts was not what we were expecting, and not what this neighborhood deserves.

The MTA had no program or presentation, refused to put out more than six chairs for scores of seniors who showed up, and claimed the room was at capacity in order to keep even more people waiting outside in the cold. If we hadn’t been there to see it, we wouldn’t have believed it.

This wasn’t outreach, this was a disgrace.

What’s worse, it was clear that decisions have already been made to cut local bus service while actively discouraging any meaningful input by our affected community. This is a neighborhood that needs more bus service, not less. The MTA doesn’t want to hear it.

You can see what the MTA is planning on its website.

  • We welcome the addition of Select Bus Service (SBS), which will make longer trips to Union Square and the west side quicker. All-door boarding in itself is a big plus.
  • But by eliminating 40% of our local stops entirely, the MTA is creating unnecessary new challenges for seniors, people with disabilities, parents with small children, and kids who use the bus to get to and from school.

We need to make sure that the MTA and our elected officials know how we feel about these local service cuts right away if we are going to have any chance to keep the service we need. While we try to get another meeting scheduled — a real meeting this time — here are three things you can do right now:

  1. Sign this petition started by the Senior Advocacy Leadership Team (SALT).
  2. Leave a comment for the MTA on its website.
  3. Send a tweet to our local elected officials.

We’ll let you know what happens next.

In solidarity,

Caroline Laskow
Lee Berman

Local elected officials ask MTA to restore local service to M14A/D bus routes

Councilmember Carlina Rivera and nine other local elected officials released a statement today urging the MTA to keep local service along the M14A/D routes in addition to Select Bus Service (SBS) to speed travel times on longer trips.

MTA to LES: Drop Dead!

Save Our Bus Stops!
Rally & Press Conference with Councilmember Carlina Rivera

Friday 1:00 pm
Ave. A & East 4th St.

Last week the MTA announced plans to eliminate local stops on the M14A and M14D routes, including four in our neighborhood. Please join Councilmember Carlina Rivera on Friday to say NO to these service cuts.

I’ll give this a little more context, but it still doesn’t make much sense:

The M14 is the second-busiest route in Manhattan, and also the second-slowest in all of NYC, spending 60% of its time in delays or at bus stops. The MTA hopes to alleviate this problem by converting all M14 routes to Select Bus Service (SBS), which means you swipe your card before boarding the bus and can enter the bus at any door.

These are good changes! Pre-swiping will make boarding the bus much faster most of the time. BUT by making all M14 routes SBS, the MTA is also eliminating local stops along the way, creating a huge burden for seniors and passengers with disabilities. This would be the only route in NYC where SBS express buses completely replace local service.

(None of this, by the way, addresses traffic delays, which account for the bulk of that 60% cited above!)

So — if you can in the middle of a work day — please join Councilmember Carlina Rivera on Friday at 1pm to protest these cuts. We’ll be at the corner of Ave. A and E. 4th Street. (You can even take the bus there … for now!)

Sunday 3/24 at Noon: Assemblymember Yuh-Line Niou’s Annual Women’s History Month Event

Assemblymember Yuh-Line Niou’s Annual Women’s History Month Event
Sunday, March 24, 12:00 – 3:00 pm

175 Delancey Street (at Clinton Street)

Yuh-Line Niou

Meet, network, and chat with influential and successful women from all walks of life. The informal networking event at the end of the panel is an opportunity for young women to connect one-on-one with panelists and develop mentorships.

RSVP by emailing or by calling 212-312-1420.

Thursday 3/21 at 6:00 pm: Community Town Hall with Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez

Community Town Hall with Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez
Thursday, March 21, 6:00 – 9:00 pm

Manny Cantor Center, 197 East Broadway

For an update on the 116th Congress and discussion on the important issues facing our nation, including: Healthcare, Social Security, Immigration, Housing, Education, Economic Development, Criminal Justice, Infrastructure, Voting Rights, and the Environment.

Please join our re-election campaign


Just about two years ago, we launched this club and our district leader campaign, determined to encourage and enable accessible, progressive political engagement from the grass roots on up.

Since then has been kind of a fairy tale: working together with so many of you on local issues; bringing candidates and elected officials to the Lower East Side to listen to your concerns; joining forces with organizations like Sister District and Planned Parenthood to campaign, march, and lobby; and getting out the vote for new Democratic majorities in the N.Y. Senate and the U.S. House.

And now, with sincere gratitude for the indefatigable support you’ve given us since day one, we’d like to officially announce that we are running for re-election as your district leaders, with the endorsement of Grand Street Democrats.

The election calendar this year is somewhat accelerated: We begin petitioning for signatures on Tuesday, February 26 to get on the ballot. (Yes, that’s the same day as the special election for Public Advocate.)

We’d love your help for our re-election campaign. If you’re ready to collect signatures to get us on the ballot, or will pledge to sign our petition at the end of February, please sign up here:

With appreciation for all you’ve done, and all we will continue to do together,

Caroline Laskow & Lee Berman
Democratic District Leaders, AD65 Part A

Grand Street Democrats endorses Ben Yee for Public Advocate

Grand Street Democrats voted this week to endorse Ben Yee for Public Advocate.

Ben is a “traveling civics superhero” who has brought workshops in civic engagement to groups throughout the five boroughs. His platform is aimed directly at engaging citizens, empowering community groups, and punishing bad actors who degrade our civic institutions.

Ben Yee speaking to a packed house at Manny Cantor Center 1/29/19.

We made our endorsement last night after a heavily attended candidate forum at Manny Cantor Center where we heard from 14 candidates running in the February 26 special election. (Many thanks to the other downtown political clubs and community groups that supported the event.)

We will let you know more about Ben in the coming weeks. For now, if you are so inclined, you can contribute to Ben’s campaign. With public matching funds, your small donation is multiplied nine times to make a big contribution to this short campaign:

1/23 at 1:00 pm: City Council hearing on rebuilding East River Park

Councilmember Carlina Rivera has called a City Council hearing for Wednesday, January 23 at 1:00 pm to discuss the East Side Coastal Resiliency project that would completely rebuild East River Park for flood protection.

There are many unanswered questions about the current plan. Anyone interested in the fate of our local park is encouraged to attend and to testify.

Following superstorm Sandy in 2012, federal funds were allocated for flood protection along this stretch of NYC shoreline. Much of the East Village is built up on a flood plain, and, as we learned that fall, is particularly susceptible to rising sea level and tide surges that we should expect more of as climate change makes an impact.

A design process over four years produced a plan that would maintain the park’s primary recreational facilities and protect residential areas with berms and flood walls along the FDR Drive.

Last fall, the Mayor presented a revised plan that would also protect the park itself from flooding by raising the entire park with landfill above the flood line. As presented, the project would close the entire park for the duration of construction, estimated at 3.5 years. This new plan was designed to take less time but cost more money, and for many people in the neighborhood the radical nature of the park reconstruction finally hit home. (The headline in this weekend’s New York Times neatly summarized the crux of the problem: “To Save East River Park, the City Intends to Bury It.”)

You can see the City’s recent presentation deck to CB3 here.

The city council hearing on Wednesday is an opportunity to let the City know how vital this park is to East Village and Lower East Side residents, and raise questions about how the project will impact our lives. Is such a dramatic rebuild really necessary to protect the neighborhood from floods? Is complete closure of the park necessary for construction? How can we believe the City’s accelerated timetable when all other construction projects along the waterfront have been many years behind schedule?

If you are able to come out on a workday for this important hearing, please do.

Alan van Capelle to moderate Downtown Forum for Public Advocate candidates 1/29 at Manny Cantor

We’re pleased to announce that Educational Alliance President & CEO Alan van Capelle has agreed to moderate our forum on 1/29 with candidates for NYC Public Advocate.

Alan runs one of the most significant community organizations in the city, lives right in our neighborhood, and has participated in many important progressive movements in New York and nationally.

As president of Bend the Arc, Alan launched that Jewish action organization to the forefront of the national progressive movement. As executive director of the Empire State Pride Agenda, he helped pave the way for marriage equality in New York State.

Update: Alan was not able to make it on Tuesday, but Joanna Samuels, Executive Director of Manny Cantor Center, stepped in and did a fantastic job moderating the candidate forum.