East Harlem Councilwoman Gets A+ on Human Rights
By Jeff Mays
HARLEM — A non-profit anti-poverty organization released its New York City Council Watch: 2010 Human Rights Report Card last week and East Harlem councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito topped the list, while Speaker Christine Quinn only got a C+.
The Human Rights Project at the Urban Justice Center honored uptown lawmaker Mark-Viverito for her stance and voting record on such issues as a prevailing wage law, housing reform and the recently shelved paid sick leave bill.
"It was clear that her thinking on government's role in protecting the basic rights of New Yorkers is advanced," said Ejim Dike, director of the Human Rights Project.
Mark-Viverito was one of two council members to receive an A+ ranking, along with Jumaane D. Williams of Brooklyn. Last year, she ranked third.
Mark-Viverito criticized the recent shelving of the paid sick leave bill by Speaker Christine Quinn, saying it would hurt low-income workers. She also introduced a prevailing wage bill and legislation that would require the city to count its vacant properties.
"I am proud of my legislative record since being elected, having sponsored a number of progressive pieces of legislation that aim to expand tenants' rights, tie City subsidies to job standards and foster greater government transparency," Mark-Viverito, who is co-chair of the Progressive Caucus, told DNAInfo.
"I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues to adopt more local laws that promote human rights in our city," she added.
Other Manhattan council members who scored well on the report card include the Upper West Side's Gale Brewer and Inwood/Washington Heights Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez, both of whom snagged A's.
Quinn, however, scored the lowest amongst the Manhattan council members, with a C+ overall. Quinn got a D when it came to housing and a C for justice issues.
Council members Daniel Garodnick and Inez Dickens both shared mediocre B- grades, with Dickens getting a D- when it came to justice issues. Garodnick scored the same grade for health issues.
Dike said that the report card can be an important tool for voters.
"We are hoping that New Yorkers use the report card to hold their council members responsible," said Dike.
"Bread and butter issues like housing and work are human rights issues and we expect the City Council to work to advance these issues," he added.