A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006. Now a Popeyes fast food restaurant on Google Maps.

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Entry from June 12, 2005
What the Manhattan borough president does
The revision of the city charter in the late 1980s has made the once-powerful borough president's office rather toothless. We now have a very strong mayor and a strong city council, but borough presidents who are largely cheerleaders with press-release machines.

Other borough presidents' offices have had five million dollar budgets, but Manhattan's had laudably spent only four million in the last fiscal year. Still, the Manhattan borough president has a $4 million budget to distribute $13.7 million in capital grants? And consider the matching funds that the ten Democratic candidates and I will receive, at a rate of 4 to 1. Why not do away with the position altogether and give everyone in Manhattan an extra $25?

I will speak with the other borough presidents. I will tell them, and then the Charter Revision committee, that either the borough president's office be expanded or be abolished.

No other candidate for Manhattan Borough President talks about this. Anyone who doesn't propose a charter change is simply wasting your money for another four years.

Borough Presidents
From NYC.gov: "The Borough President works with the Mayor to prepare the annual executive budget submitted to the City Council, reviews and comments on major land use projects, and proposes sites for City facilities within his jurisdiction. The Borough President also monitors the administration of City services and engages in strategic planning for the economic development of the borough. He appoints a representative to the New York City Board of Education and the New York City Planning Commission. The Borough President also appoints the members of the Community Boards and is the Chairperson of both the Borough Board and the Borough Services Cabinet. Among other distinctions, the Borough President sits on the New York City Off-Track Betting Site Selection Board, and is a trustee of the New York City Employees' Retirement System. The Borough President's Office also houses the Borough's Topographical Bureau, which is responsible for maintaining the borough's official maps, and assigning street addresses."

Current Officeholders
Manhattan - C. Virginia Fields
Brooklyn - Marty Markowitz
Bronx - Adolfo Carrion, Jr.
Queens - Helen Marshall
Staten Island - James P. Molinaro

C. Virginia Fields' Strategic Policy Executive Summary C.Virigina Fields Describes What the Manhattan Borough President Does

I am the chief elected official of more than 1.5 million residents of a diverse and dynamic borough. Some of my powers are spelled out in the City Charter -- New York's Constitution. Others derive from the unique role this office occupies in the political life of the city.

Because of Manhattan's central importance to New York's economy, I also respond to the needs of more than three million people who work, shop and do business in this borough every day. My office works to protect and promote a diverse and stable economy that broadly benefits our people and communities.

The Charter empowers me to advocate Manhattan's needs in the city's budget-making process. I do this, in part, by developing an annual budget statement with the Borough Board -- a group I chair that is comprised of the Manhattan City Council members and the chairs of our 12 Community Boards. I also play an important role during the budget adoption process, lobbying for borough needs and service restorations.

The Charter assigns me direct control over part of the city expense and capital budgets - some $13.7 million in the current fiscal year -- to spend on Manhattan projects and programs. It also gives me oversight and some direct authority over such services as street repair, housing code enforcement and parks maintenance.

Many decisions about what gets built when and where pass through my office. I review all major public and private land use proposals in the borough -- from new office towers to the size and location of daycare centers. I have the opportunity to recommend approval, rejection or change of such projects, and to guide my recommendations through the City Planning Commission and Council. I also work with Community Boards and other local residents in developing new plans and zoning proposals for their neighborhoods. And as the chair of the Borough Service Cabinet, I work to make city services more responsive to community needs. My staff also helps Manhattan residents meet the day-to-day demand of living in this most challenging of cities.

Under the Charter, I appoint a member of the City Board of Education (We now have a Department of Education. Update this site, Virginia! - ed.), a member of the City Planning Commission and a member of the Economic Development Corporation board. I appoint the 600 members of Manhattan's 12 Community Boards, half on nominations from City Council members.

In addition, I name three members to sit on the Hudson River Park Trust board of directors; I appoint members to advisory boards of Manhattan's municipal health facilities, as well as thirty-five additional municipal advisory and tasks forces.

My Northern Manhattan Office, located at 163 W. 125th Street, focuses on expanding economic development and improving city services in the area north of 96th Street. And my Constituent Services Division helps people navigate the complicated channels of government bureaucracy and obtain assistance and information.

Many Manhattan residents also serve as volunteer members of borough advisory boards and task forces; many more collaborate with this office as part of their own endeavors to secure a better life for this borough.

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Manhattan Borough President (2005 election) • Sunday, June 12, 2005 • Permalink

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