October 28, 2013
By Stephanie West
New York, NY – On Saturday, October 26, hundreds of District Council 37 activists gathered for the union’s 38th Annual Legislative Conference to set the union’s budgetary and legislative priorities for the New Year. DC 37 Associate Director Oliver Gray welcomed the activists on behalf of DC 37 Executive Director Lillian Roberts.
“This year is especially important because in 10 days we will elect our new boss – Bill de Blasio for Mayor and Letitia James for Public Advocate as well as Scott Stringer for Comptroller. “This city-wide leadership team along with 51 members of the City Council and our Borough Presidents will have a part to play in the legislative process that begins with you today,” Gray told the enthusiastic crowd. “Today, our focus will be on the conditions of the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) and our plan and program for its sustainability and vibrant renewal.”
DC 37 Director of Political Action & Legislation Wanda Williams underscored the call for union members to vote in the November 5th General Election: “That is the key to creating the change we seek. Your vote will affect every aspect of your life".
“NYCHA: Past, Present and Future” was the subject of a panel discussion featuring, NYCHA Clerical Local 957 President Walthene Primus, Health Service Employees Local 768 President Fitz Reid, NY Social Service Employees Local 371 President Anthony Wells and Eugene Woody a representative of Community Voices Heard (CVH). Speakers tackled a range of controversial issues about NYCHA: NYCHA’s crumbling infrastructure, failure to make timely repairs, flawed policing and sanitation, threatened layoffs, and the city’s explosion of homelessness. “We need to educate, organize, agitate, negotiate and fight back,” Wells said to thunderous applause.
A follow-up panel, “NYCHA Residents Roadmap – a Conversation,” featured union members who live in NYCHA housing. The union members passionately painted a graphic picture of the challenges of life in one of the nation’s largest public housing complexes.
Other discussions included the union’s state and city legislative proposals including – affordable child care and after school programs, continued civilianization of the NYPD, and ending privatization.
Closing the program was keynote speaker, NYS Assembly woman Vanessa L. Gibson (77 A.D.-Bx). Gibson is also a candidate for the City Council's 16th C.D.