New York Jazz Greats Ask City Council to Help Them Win Fair Pay [Video]

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Photo by NYC City Council Staff Photographer William Alatriste via Flickr
Jimmy Owens performs for the City Council members.
Many of New York's great jazz musicians are aging into poverty, strained by a lifetime of working in clubs that deny them any benefits, healthcare, or pensions. That was the testimony before a City Council joint committee yesterday from the members of Justice for Jazz Artists , a campaign created to urge the city's legendary jazz clubs, including Blue Note, Iridium, and Village Vanguard, to pay into a pension fund for musicians. One jazz artist, 70-year-old Jimmy Owens, who's been playing trumpet and flugelhorn in New York for the past 60 years, closed his testimony with a heartbreaking and beautiful rendition of "Nobody Knows the Trouble I've Seen."

"This is a spiritual that I play quite often at many of my friends' funerals," he told the joint committee, rising from his seat, flugelhorn in hand.


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Times Square Performers Say New License Law Would Violate Their Civil Liberties

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Image via Facebook
Council Member King poses with a group of performers after the press conference Monday.
In the past few years, there have been several unfortunate, highly-publicized incidents in Times Square involving pervy, anti-Semitic Elmos and pugnacious, cop-punching Spidermen. But a new union representing Times Square costumed performers says a proposed law introduced by City Council Member Andy King yesterday -- which would require performers to be licensed and fingerprinted, and would create fines and jail time if they don't comply -- goes much too far.

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City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito Tweets That She Has High-Risk HPV

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Image via Twitter
City Council speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito used Twitter Sunday night to announce that she's been diagnosed with high-risk human papillomavirus, or HPV, a common sexually transmitted infection. The speaker added that she needs to undergo a biopsy to test for cervical cancer. The announcement immediately generated a wave of headlines, with the Daily News describing it as a "health bombshell".

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Pro-Palestinian Demonstrators Crash City Council's "Stand With Israel" Press Conference

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Photos by Anna Merlan
Demonstrators at the City Hall gates
Here's a question: why would the New York City Council and various other local and state politicians decide to wade into the miserable, never-ending, blood-filled dogpile that is the Israeli/Palestinian conflict? In what way does a press conference on the Middle East dovetail with the actual business of our elected officials here in New York? Could a press conference called "New York Stands with Israel" possibly serve any other concrete purpose except to be a magnet for controversy? Seriously, how could this possibly end well?

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Melissa Mark-Viverito Elected City Council Speaker

Categories: City Council

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Twitter.com/MMViverito

District 8 councilwoman and accused voodoo queen Melissa Mark-Viverito was elected City Council speaker Wednesday afternoon.

Mark-Viverito was an early supporter of Bill de Blasio, and her loyalty was repaid in kind when, after his own election, de Blasio lobbied aggressively on her behalf. His support helped Mark-Viverito secure the crucial endorsements that would solidify her victory over rival Dan Garodnick.


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Gutted Hit-and-Run Oversight Bill Passes City Council

Categories: City Council

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pchurch92 via flickr

Twenty-six bills, a record, were passed in the City Council's final session of the year on Thursday. Friday's headlines, though, were always going to be about just two -- the first proposing a ban on e-cigarettes in indoor public spaces, the second a ban on plastic foam containers.

Among the 24 less buzzed-about pieces of legislation was a bill that would increase oversight of NYPD hit-and-run investigations. Hit-and-runs are up in the New York City in the last several years, according to figures collected by the Department of Motor Vehicles.


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Surprise: Anti-Abortion & Anti Gay-Marriage Groups Are Uniting to Donate Lots of Money Against Gay City Council Candidates

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One of City Action's anti-Torres mailers
The City Action Coalition is an assemblage of conservative religious groups, whose members mostly pop up to oppose abortion and hold rallies against legalizing gay marriage. But this election season, they've also quietly expanded into city politics, holding a mayoral candidate forum at Monroe College in April that Politicker gently described as "peculiar." And while City Action's stated platforms include "religious freedom" and "opposition to racial discrimination," in practice, their PAC, which has just five donors, is mostly throwing money at one thing: defeating three openly gay City Council candidates. They paid for the mailer above, which attacks Ritchie Torres, a 25-year-old candidate who lives in a supportive housing unit in the Bronx.

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The 33rd District City Council Candidates Went At It on Twitter With Claws Out Yesterday

Categories: City Council

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There isn't anything more satisfying than when the curtain gets pulled back on a campaign, and you can see just how much two candidates just hate each other. One such moment came to us last night, when candidates for the 33rd City Council District seat Steve Levin and Stephen Pierson flamed each other on Twitter for over three hours, accusing each other of corruption and libel. We've reproduced the blowout in its entirety here on Runnin' Scared.

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Tabloids Completely Freak Out Over City Council's Vote for More Oversight of the NYPD

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Today's Post cover. Come on, guys.
Yesterday was a particularly historic moment for New York's City Council, which voted to override Mayor Bloomberg's veto of two NYPD oversight bills. The successful override means that an independent inspector general will be appointed to help regulate the department, and that more people will be able to sue for experiencing racial bias at the hands of the police. Or, if you're the Daily News, it means "THERE WILL BE BLOOD."

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The Broadway Democrats Accuse Zead Ramadan of Dirty Politics, Make a Brutal Jim Crow Comparison

Categories: City Council

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Photo Credit: [mementosis] via Compfight cc
This weekend, candidate for District 7's City Council seat Zead Ramadan subpoenaed petition witnesses for Mark Levine and other candidates, who were working with the unaffiliated Broadway Democrats, the local Democratic Club. The subpoenas claim that many of Levine's 8,000 signatures were fake, even though he only needed 450 to get on the ballot. Since the matter is currently the courts, the Ramadan campaign has not commented publicly about its decision to go after Levine's ballot eligibility. But that hasn't stopped critics from condemning the move as a nasty political maneuver.

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