Melissa Mark-Viverito

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Melissa Mark-Viverito


Melissa Mark-Viverito , age 44 in 2013 , is co-chair of the New York City Council Progressive Caucus.

Background

Born and raised in Puerto Rico, she moved to New York at age 18 to attend Columbia University, then received a master’s degree at Baruch College. After college she worked at a couple of non-profits then as a researcher and strategist for SEIU. She was an early supporter of Bill de Blasio, backing him in June and was often seen by his side throughout the campaign. [1]

Immigration protest arrest

With 109 arrests, New York is playing a lead role in a growing national movement of nonviolent civil disobedience for immigration reform. Recent civil disobedience actions also have taken place in Chicago, Washington, Los Angeles, Tucson, Detroit, San Francisco, and Seattle. Participants said their actions carry on the great tradition of peaceful non-violent resistance in the face of grave injustice, as practiced by Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr.

The series of civil disobedience actions began on May 17th 2010, when 16 New Yorkers were arrested. The following week, 37 were arrested in a similar action. Several elected officials were arrested in those actions: City Council Members Ydanis Rodriguez, Jumaane D. Williams, and Melissa Mark-Viverito, and State Assembly Member Adriano Espaillat.[2]

Native Nations March on Washington DC

Melissa Mark-Viverito spoke at the Native Nations March in Washington D.C. on March 10, 2017
Melissa Mark-Viverito spoke at the Native Nations March in Washington D.C. on March 10, 2017. Other speakers included Faith Spotted Eagle, Fawn Sharp and a musical performance by Gabriel Ayala. Organizers included Dallas Goldtooth, Tom Goldtooth, and Kandi Mossett.

March 10, 2017 Tribal leaders, indigenous rights advocates, and members of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe held a rally in Washington DC, to oppose the Trump administration’s approval of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines and to support Native American tribal land rights. Musical performers included the Akwesasne Mohawk Women Singers, Prolific the Rapper, and Taboo from the Black Eyed Peas.

Speakers were Dave Archambault, Chair Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, Gabriel Ayala, Classical Musician, Candi Brings Plenty, Director Equi Institute, Lisa DeVille Activist Mandaree, Maria DeVille, Vice President Modern Day Warriors, Peggy Flanagan, Member White Earth Band of Ojibwe, Tulsi Gabbard U.S. Representative [D] Hawaii, Mayda Garcia Representative, , Society of Native Nations, JoDe Goudy Chair Yakima Nation Tribal Council (Washington), Kim Howe, Activist, Judith LeBlanc, Native Organizers Alliance, Melissa Mark-Viverito Speaker New York, NY City Council, Xiuhtezcatl Martinez Hip Hop Artist and Activist, Alice Brown Otter, Activist, Prolific the Rapper, Fawn Sharp, President Quinault Indian Nation, Faith Spotted Eagle, Activist, Wes Studi, Actor and Film Producer, Taboo, Rapper, Ulali, Activist, Eryn Wise, Activist, Eagle Woman, Activist North Dakota, Royal Yellow Hawk Representative Rosebud, South Dakota-Rosebud Sioux Tribal Council.[3]

Wealth

“We are the 99 percent. We represent the 99 percent,” Mark-Viverito proclaimed during one Occupy Wall Street protest.

She doesn’t know about those difficulties first hand because she’s part of the 1 percent and reportedly worth as much as $1.8 million.

Mark-Viverito is a part owner in several condos in her family’s native Puerto Rico with a value of up to $1.4 million. She also owns a three-family home in East Harlem that was built as part of an affordable housing program for low-income New Yorkers. As of May, the property had an estimated market value of $1.2 million. Yet in a City Council debate this year, Mark-Viverito said she felt that she could be “priced out” of her neighborhood.

Her late father was a doctor and founder of San Pablo Hospital in Puerto Rico who, according to public records, owned a private plane. When he died, he left behind an estate worth over $6.7 million and Mark-Viverito was co-heir to her father’s fortune – which include rental properties in Puerto Rico and the sale of hospital during a $186 million buyout of the company in 1997.[4]

Progressive Caucus

The New York City Council Progressive Caucus was formed early in 2010 to fight for progressive values and combat Bloomberg, a mayor who has often, in the words of caucus co-chair Brad Lander, "undermined grassroots democracy." By June 2010, 12 of the city's 51 council members had joined the caucus. Prominent members include;

  • Brad Lander, caucus co-chair.
  • Melissa Mark-Viverito, a council member who represents East Harlem and who is the caucus's other co-chair.
  • Daniel Dromm, who represents Jackson Heights, Elmhurst and other parts of northwest Queens.[5]

Bolivia trip

Melissa Mark-Viverito traveled to support Bolivian President Evo Morales during an ultimately unsuccessful recall election in 2008. Mark-Viverito, a Democrat, flew to the South American nation to “observe” the vote of Morales “at invitation of government of Bolivia,” according to papers she filed with the Conflicts of Interest Board.

The city’s powerful healthcare workers’ union, where Mark-Viverito worked before her 2005 election to the Council, shelled out up to $5,000 for her airfare and hotel, records show.[6]

May Day rally

Melissa Mark Viverito addressed the 2010 May Day rally in New York, where she heavily criticized Arizona's new immigration law.

What has happened in Arizona is abominable," New York City Council member Melissa Mark Viverito told the rally. "We need to make sure that what happened in Arizona is the exception and not the rule in this country." Viverito, co-chair of the council's progressive caucus, said the federal government should expedite a review of the Arizona law, so it can be rolled back as unconstitutional before it goes into effect.

Calling for a city boycott of Arizona, Viverito said, "We must ask our officials to look at ways we can disinvest our money, our pension money, from corporations in Arizona to send a very strong message about where we stand."[7]

Trayvon Martin case

A majority of New York City Council members, dressed in hoodies and holding Skittles candies and bottles of iced tea, held a press conference in front of City Hall March 29, 2012, to express their solidarity with the family of Trayvon Martin and to express their outrage at the fact that his murderer, George Zimmerman, has still not been arrested.

A resolution expressing the council's outrage was initiated by council members Letitia James, D-Brooklyn, and Melissa Mark-Viverito, D-Manhattan.

Council Speaker Christine Quinn, D-Manhattan, announced that she would be introducing the resolution with Mark-Viverito and James, and that it "will condemn the killing, the weaknesses in its investigation and the lack of an arrest."

"Our resolution," said Quinn, "Will also call for an examination of 'Stand Your Ground' laws nationwide, including their impact on increasing the flow of illegal guns to New York City."

Quinn continued, "Trayvon Martin was killed for his gender and his race. By releasing George Zimmerman, the Sanford police was saying it doesn't matter."

Councilwoman James declared, "The demonization of black men has got to stop."[[8]

New York "progressives"

According to Communist Party USA member Danny Rubin, writing in the People's World;[9]

The possibility for a turn in direction also depends on the outcome of the city council elections, where there is a substantial Progressive Caucus led by Melissa Mark-Viverito and Brad Lander. Viverito will seek election to the powerful post of speaker and has a real shot at it. There are also progressives running with serious shots at victory, such as Letisha James for public advocate and Ken Thompson for Brooklyn district attorney. Robert Jackson is running for Manhattan Borough president. All three are African American.

WFP pre-election gathering

Many high-power politicians–United States Senator Charles Schumer, Mayor Bill de Blasio, Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Public Advocate Letitia James and State Senator James Sanders–fired up a hundreds-strong crowd of supporters of the labor-backed Working Families Party 9/9/2014 with speeches vowing to keep Republicans from controlling the State Senate, to raise the minimum wage, to create a public financing system for state elections and to organize low-paid fast food and airport workers.

The crowd, a mix of union members and activist groups like Vocal-NY and New York Communities for Change, crammed into the basement of Manhattan’s Saint Vartan’s Armenian Cathedral for the event, entitled “Justice for Workers.” The evening started with a reading by poet Maria “Mariposa” Fernandez, who read a piece detailing the difficult life of a Hispanic service worker that simultaneously railed against pollution, an America “ruled by warmongering men,” “U.S. colonialism and imperialism” and the Atlantic slave trade.

Ms. Mark-Viverito–whose Progressive Caucus in the Council is closely tied to WFP–issued a harsh warning to the State Senate’s five-member breakaway Independent Democratic Conference which in 2012 formed a power-sharing arrangement that allowed the minority GOP to retain control of the upper house of the state legislature. Liberals have blamed the IDC for the state’s failure to pass many of the WFP’s initiatives, and the splinter faction agreed in June to reunite with the mainline Democratic conference next year–though some claim the new deal will not hold.

“Those of that renegade coalition in the Senate that have made a commitment that they will stand with all of us need to know that they are being watched. That we are not going to allow them to end-up the progress that we need to make in this state. That we are going to raise the minimum wage, that we are going to pass the DREAM Act. That women’s reproductive rights are not going to be compromised,” Ms. Mark-Viverito said. “They are being watched. They are the ones that are between us and that progress.” [10]

"A Progressive Vision for New York City"

Community Voices Heard Power organized "A Progressive Vision for New York City" panel discussion, June 19 2014.

Panelists were Melissa Mark-Viverito, Speaker of the NYC Council, Afua Atta-Mensah, Esq., Director of Litigation, Safety Net Project at the Urban Justice Center and CVH Power Board Member, Brad Lander, City Council Member (District 39, Brooklyn), Co-Founder of the Progressive Caucus, Deputy Leader for Policy, Carlos Menchaca, City Council Member (District 38, Brooklyn), Member of the New York City Council Progressive Caucus, Estela Vasquez, Executive Vice President 1199SEIU, United Healthcare Workers East, Health System 6, Marvin Holland, Political and Legislative Director, Transport Workers Union Local 100. Moderator:

Dr. Christina Greer, Assistant Professor of Political Science at Fordham University.[11]

Endorsed AAFE 2016 Banquet

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Melissa Mark-Viverito endorsed the 2016 Asian Americans for Equality annual banquet.

LeBlanc connection

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Remembering Vito Marcantonio

Melissa Mark-Viverito, center

On Sunday afternoon, December 17 2017, a crowd of about 50 people gathered for a ceremony marking the renaming of the NE corner of 116th Street and Lexington Avenue in New York as “Vito Marcantonio Lucky Corner.” Vito Marcantonio, who represented East Harlem in Congress for seven terms from 1935 to 1951, would, like his mentor and close friend Fiorello La Guardia before him, wrap up his political campaigns with a rally on this corner.

This street-naming not only has been a long-term goal for the Vito Marcantonio Forum (VMF) but also was a goal of the outgoing NYC Council speaker, Melissa Mark-Viverito, who was instrumental in making it happen.

The event was emceed by Mark-Viverito herself who, in her opening remarks, emphasized the importance of naming this particular corner in honor of Marcantonio. She said he was “a champion for all the people,” who not only was a fighter against Jim Crow, but also a champion of Puerto Rican independence.

Referring directly to Marcantonio as one of her role models, the speaker said, “I have remembered those who have come before me and guided me as I moved forward representing East Harlem and the South Bronx: Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., Evelina Lopez Antonetty, and Vito Marcantonio —all champions of the working class.” Also in her remarks Mark-Viverito gave a nod to her deputy chief of staff, Diana Ayala, who will be taking her seat on the city council.

Also addressing the crowd was a special guest, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, who came to the event even though she was not on the program.

Mark-Viverito and Brewer were directly followed by a reading of Gil Fagiani’s poem, the “Litany of San Vito,” which he wrote in tribute to Marcantonio. The poem was read in English, Italian, and Spanish by Chris Bell, Maria Lisella, and Gloria Quinones, respectively.

Frank Marcantonio, the son of Vito’s brother, spoke for the family, remarking that although he never met Vito Marcantonio, he was influenced by him.

Attorney and community activist Gloria Quinones, who played an important role in speaker Mark-Viverito’s political career, spoke of Marcantonio as a source of guidance and inspiration for today’s leaders.

Gerald Meyer, co-chair of the VMF, spoke briefly about the historical significance of the renaming of the corner. He noted that the dedication of Lucky Corner reminds the progressive community that it needs traditions and memorials associated with a “people’s history.” He also said the Vito Marcantonio Forum looks forward to memorializing other sites associated with the life and work of this great spokesperson of all those who had been left out of the American Dream.

At the end of the dedication, actor and VMF co-chair Roberto Ragone, did a dramatic interpretation of excerpts from several of Marcantonio’s speeches, including an extract from a speech he gave on that very corner in 1950, during his campaign for mayor.[12]

Women's convention

Women’s March announced that U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) will open the Women’s Convention’s Friday evening program, which will take place in Detroit from Friday, October 27 to Sunday, October 29 2017.

Rep. Brenda Lawrence (D-MI), Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI), Wendy Carrillo, and [Erica Ford] will also join the roster of over 60 women speakers, femmes, and allies of all backgrounds who will join thousands for a weekend of workshops, strategy sessions, inspiring forums and intersectional movement building. The theme of the Convention, “Reclaiming Our Time,” will honor U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), who will be headlining the Convention on Saturday evening.

“It was amazing to be part of the Women’s Marches and witness democracy in action...I fully expect to see that same turnout, passion and energy here in Detroit, and I look forward to speaking with women leaders from across the country,” said Senator Debbie Stabenow.

The growing list of speakers include: Angela Rye, Amber Tamblyn, Symone Sanders, Piper Perabo, Sally Kohn, Nomiki Konst, Leah Greenberg, Lilliana Reyes, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Rebecca Cokley, Nina Turner, Stephanie Schriock, Ai-jen Poo, Aida Hurtado, Lenore Anderson, Stephanie Chang, Raquel Castaneda Lopez, Melissa Mark-Viverito, Sarah Eagle Heart, Rashida Tlaib, Brittany Packnett, Winnie Wong, Stosh Cotler, and the Women’s March co-chairs Bob Bland, Carmen Perez, Linda Sarsour and Tamika Mallory.[13]

Cuba

Melissa Mark-Viverito insert c Washington Blade by Michael Key.jpg

New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito attends an International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia march in Havana on May 13, 2017.

People's Climate March endorsements

According to their website:[14]

"Here are some of the leading artists, athletes and influencers helping to spread the word about the People's Climate March, including Melissa Mark-Viverito."

References

  1. http://nypost.com/2013/11/10/nyc-politician-pals-with-anti-american-bolivian-president/NY Post, NYC politician pals with anti-American Bolivian president By Beth DeFalco November 10, 2013]
  2. NYIC New York City (Tuesday, June 1, 2010) 56 Arrested in Third and Largest Round of Civil Disobedience for Immigration Reform in New York
  3. [https://www.c-span.org/video/?425181-1/members-standing-rock-sioux-tribe-hold-protest-white-house C-Span MARCH 10, 2017 Native Nations Rise March and Rally]
  4. http://nypost.com/2013/11/10/nyc-politician-pals-with-anti-american-bolivian-president/NY Post, NYC politician pals with anti-American Bolivian president By Beth DeFalco November 10, 2013]
  5. [1] NY Progressive Caucus demands: Tax the rich, Dan Margolis, Peoples World, June 23 2010, accessed June 23 2010
  6. http://nypost.com/2013/11/10/nyc-politician-pals-with-anti-american-bolivian-president/NY Post, NYC politician pals with anti-American Bolivian president By Beth DeFalco November 10, 2013]
  7. [2] Peoples World May 4, 2010, "New York reclaims May Day"
  8. http://peoplesworld.org/new-york-city-council-calls-for-justice-for-trayvon-martin/PV, New York City Council calls for justice for Trayvon Martin, by: Jarvis Tyner, March 29 2012]
  9. PW, New York City elections hold promise of change, by: Danny Rubin, March 21 2013
  10. Observer, Working Families Party Hosts Pol-Studded Pre-Election Pep RallybBy Will Bredderman | 10/09/14
  11. [ https://cvh.ourpowerbase.net/civicrm/mailing/view?reset=1&id=309 "A Progressive Vision for New York City"]
  12. [https://www.peoplesworld.org/article/overdue-recognition-for-a-champion-of-the-people-vito-marcantonio/PW Overdue recognition for a champion of the people: Vito Marcantonio December 20, 2017 2:34 PM CST BY GABE FALSETTA AND GARY BONO]
  13. Debbie Stabenow To Give Opening Remarks At Women’s Convention In DetroitAJ Williams, Michigan Chronicle City.Life.Style Editor October 17, 2017
  14. Accessed April 26 2018