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Van Bramer Issues Report Card: Visibility and Social Media are Key to His Results


Jan. 28, 2016 By Christian Murray

It’s 6:30 a.m. and the notoriously bad 7 train is down again. The MTA says it’s signal problems.

“My phone blows up, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, it’s all going crazy,” Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer remembered.

“People are waiting for the train, they’re cold and justifiably upset and they Tweet me,” he said. “They are outraged.”

Van Bramer said that when there are problems with the 7 train, or any other issues in the district, he gets an avalanche of Tweets and Facebook messages.

“My constituents reach out to me through social media,” he said, often by Tweeting a photo of a crowded subway platform or a pot hole that needs to be filled.

Van Bramer said that social media has helped him respond to more constituent concerns than ever before and it has helped transform his operation. He has 8,000 Twitter followers, a number that is up 2,000 in the past year.

Every January, Van Bramer releases his annual report card—a self assessment, of sorts—providing details as to what he did in the prior year. It is a rare concept, since few– if any– other council members do it.

“I like people to know what I’m doing,” Van Bramer often says, who believes that his constituents have the right to know. “I don’t ever want anyone asking, ‘What does he do?””

Page three of his 15-page report states in large font: “20,821 and counting,” referring to the number of constituent cases Van Bramer and his staff have handled during the six years he has been in office.

Furthermore, it says that in 2015 he served on six committees—including as chair of Cultural Affairs and Libraries–and had a “96 percent attendance record.”

Last year, according to his report, Van Bramer’s office assisted 4,267 constituents, the highest total since he came into office in January 2010.

Van Bramer said that residents feel comfortable reaching out to his office, often at the suggestion of one of their friends.

Van Bramer at Sunnyside 1 mile run

Van Bramer at Sunnyside 1 mile run

“I think we have a highly visible office… and I go to a lot of events and stop to talk to people all the time, whether it’s in a supermarket, drycleaner or in one of the local pubs,” he said.

Van Bramer also credits these high numbers to his staff, many of whom are in their 20s and are eager to please.

“My office is aggressive when it comes to social media,” Van Bramer said, adding that he and his staffers use it like few other elected officials. “We take and respond to constituents’ complaints on Twitter and Facebook all the time [just like we do over the phone].“

The Councilman also uses social media to address city or state agencies. Van Bramer once got into a Twitter war with MTA spokesman Kevin Ortiz over 7 train service.

Van Bramer said that 2015 was the year many projects he has became a reality.

“It was my best and most productive year in the city council,” he said. “We saw things that we have been fighting for years come to fruition.”

The $2 million revamp of Thomas P. Noonan Park—located at the intersection of Greenpoint Avenue and 43rd Street– was completed in April; design plans for a $1.8 million revamp of Big Bush Park, located near the Big Six towers in Woodside, were unveiled in October; an additional $320,000 was allocated toward Hart Playground (Broadway and 37th Avenue); and $500,000 was allocated toward upgrades at Windmuller Park.

The councilman plans to hold a public meeting about the Windmuller Park upgrades in March.

Van Bramer said one of his biggest achievements has been bringing schools to the district.

A Woodside elementary school, P.S. 361, opened at 39-07 57th St. in September, the first new school to be built in Woodside in 60 years. The school has the capacity to seat 470 students.

Meanwhile, a 600-seat annex is being built at IS 125, located at 46-02 47th Ave., which will lead to the removal of several dilapidated trailers. It is scheduled to be completed by 2017.

PS 11, located at 54-25 Skillman Ave., is currently undergoing a $90 million expansion that is scheduled to be completed next year. The expansion will add 350 seats.

“I will continue to build schools… and invest in our parks,” Van Bramer said.

Just last week, Mayor de Blasio announced that there would be funding for an additional school in Sunnyside/Woodside, which Van Bramer said he would like to see used for the construction of a middle school.

Van Bramer said many of his constituents reach out to his office about traffic safety and driving conditions. According to his report, 16 percent of constituent cases deal with transportation issues.

He said that he has been a big advocate for the Queens Boulevard redesign and noted that in 2015 there were no deaths on the boulevard for the first time in more than 20 years.

“I support bike lanes but the redesign of Queens Boulevard was never just about bike lanes—it’s just part of keeping everyone safe,” he said. “We should do whatever we can to prevent a death, particularly that of a child.”

He said the Queens Boulevard redesign is a work in progress and wherever adjustments can be made to improve it—for motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists– they should be taken.

Van Bramer’s office also allocated $1 million in capital funds to the Department of Transportation, which will be studying and improving the traffic conditions surrounding IS 125 in Woodside. This comes a year after he brought slow zones to Sunnyside and Woodside.

This past year, Van Bramer also came out in support of the MoveNY program, which would bring tolls to all East River bridges including the Queensboro Bridge. While the program is controversial, it is Van Bramer’s view that it would ease congestion in the district and provide the MTA with additional funding.

Given the controversial natural of the issue, many politicians have refused to disclose their opinion on the matter.

Van Bramer said even some seemingly small victories mattered in 2015. He cited a traffic light was installed at the corner of 51st Street and Skillman Avenue.

“We fought for years to get that light,” he said, adding that the DOT had gone to the intersection in the past and claimed that a light was not needed.

Furthermore, he received citywide attention for strengthening his “Justice for Hit and Run Victims Act,” which now imposes additional penalties on drivers who repeatedly flee the scene of an accident.

The new law also requires the NYPD to make data dealing with hit and run crashes available to the public, such as when and where each incident occurred.

Van Bramer said that the law also requires more stringent reporting from the NYPD about hit-and-run crashes, which injured about 4,000 people during the first 11 months of 2015.

Van Bramer, who is chairman of the cultural affairs and libraries committee, said that bringing back six day library service throughout New York City was a big victory.

He said it was especially important for the residents of Woodside, whose library had been closed on Saturdays for five years. It reopened Saturdays in December.

Van Bramer is entering his seventh year in office and plans to run one last time for council in 2017, before term-limits kick in.

“I will run again…this is the most meaningful job you could have,” he said.

Van Bramer is ambitious and does not hide it. He has expressed interest in the speakership position.

For a copy of his report card, click here

email the author: [email protected]


Click for Comments 

Hey Massaro What exactly does this statement of yours mean? “They have moved a construction barrier almost 12 feet into 54th Street making a two way street almost a safety hazard.” ??? No wonder the proper authorities view you as a crack pot (as do most of your neighbors) and refuse to deal with you…You’re an absurd loud mouth..

Joe at the Berkley

@Gennaro This is classic Gennaro double talk ” We have written letters, I’ve personally invited him to come view the site numerous times and he has never made one attempt to see it. His staff always tell me that they have looked but I doubt that is truthful since I had to call his Chief Of Staff Matthew, nuverous times and he finally had the location right after about 10 calls and letters.”. Did someone from Van Bramers office come to the site or not? You’re claiming both. This is why so many people refused to sign the skateboard petition concerning Windmuller Park. Yes the the petition you would use to as a reason scream and shout at people about in the lobby of the building. Somebody who behaves like you shouting in public, intimidating people who don’t agree with you and distorting the truth as you just demonstrated the quote extracted from your current rant belongs in Queensbridge Houses.


I live in the building Gennaro is talking about and everyone here knows he’s a right wing jerk obsessed with JVB. Only Gennaro could complain about a brand new school JVB built in Woodside and use that as an example of him not paying attention to us. And read between the lines folks. The reference to Queensbridge, Ravenswood and Woodside Houses? Really Gennaro? Shame on you. We are better than that.

Gennaro D. Massaro

Jimmy Van Bramer is the invisible man. He has shunned the people of 39th Drive, 52nd Street, 54th street and Skillman Avenue near the construction site who have been effected by the construction of the annex of PS 11. They have taken away almost 35 parking spaces from residents. They have moved a cnstruction barrier almost 12 feet into 54th Street making a two way street almost a safety hazard. There is not enough room on the block for traffic in both directions. Why do these people given the right to take the entire sidewalk, 15 feet and an additional feet into 54th which totals 27 feet from the construction site of the annex? They should be made to move those plywood barricades back to the curb making the street useful for the people traveling in both directions. We have written letters, I’ve personally invited him to come view the site numerous times and he has never made one attempt to see it. His staff always tell me that they have looked but I doubt that is truthful since I had to call his Chief Of Staff Matthew, nuverous times and he finally had the location right after about 10 calls and letters.

If the people of Queensbridge, Ravenswood or Woodside houses had been effected he’d have run there in a flash. He cares nothing about the almost 1000 families that are being effected by this work site every day.

Also, it no states that they are going to be working at PS 11 until May of 2019 since they are doing an entire overhaul of the original school once the new annex is up and running. Does that mean that it takes 4 years to complete an annex and a renovation? the two new schools on 43rd street and 58th Street both took less than 1 year to build. The Empire State building all 102 floors only took 11 months. The highest suspension bridge over the Royal River Gorge in Colorado only took 6 months. Leave it up the the politions of New York to screw up a neighborhood building a school for 4 years when it should be done in half that time. Van Bramer is the Marie Antionette of Woodside/Sunnyside. He says let them eat cake. He couldn’t care less of the people in this part of the neighborhood. .


I think half of the residents of this neighborhood would be happier living in one gigantic parking lot.


Are you jimmys mom and is Mac his dad? Mac sure is obsessed with Fox News ! He needs a better social life


@luvu2 “In a time of universal deceit – telling the truth is a revolutionary act.”
George Orwell You’re obviously not one for truth fact or history. Your mommy and daddy didn’t educate you.


Ah…vintage Mac at his most incoherent. Is Luvu2 telling the truth? HeyNow? (What a revolutionary truth he posted) Fox News? George Orwell?


I think he needs to start focusing on Woodside. All he cares about is his neighborhood in Sunnyside. Roosevelt Ave is an eyesore. There are no business and shops being brought in to revitalize the neighborhood.

Gardens Watcher

Sunnyside has a few too many 99 cents stores, is that what you’re missing? What kind of businesses does Woodside need?


@Just Curious As history has shown you should be more curious of the Fox analysts as mentioned in Gabriel Sherman’s biography of Roger Ailes.”The Loudest Voice in the Room”. Use of multiple social media id’s and posting ID’s on sites with comment streams to shout down opposing views using specific “talking points” and respond to and support absolutely nothing. Ailes calls it “popular conservatism”. Make people believe your opinion is the popular opinion (you know like Romney winning by 90%) then any with opposing opinions or on the fence will “just follow the crowd.” Thanks “Curious”


No, Mac is just a paranoid wacko that thinks a cabal of Fox News anchors in a cave in Antarctica are plotting to get him. Just try to avoid getting his rhetorical foam and froth on your shoes.

skills man

There is more positive in our area than ever before – JVB is taking care of business. He’s around town 24/7 – he’s always quick to offer a hello and take a minute to listen. The new schools are great, takes cares of the parks and libraries (we’re back on Saturday as a result) and he’s all over the speeding and the proposed building on Barnett. And his support for local business is great – he had the mayor at aubergine last week for the snow problem. great for business. Keep it up….can’t say enough good about him and his team.

John Z

I would like to see more done about the homeless that reside in sunnyside. Especially “change” who is a problem. I haven’t seen him since the snow, but I’m hoping he doesn’t come back.


@john z Homeless who reside in Sunnyside? Aren’t homeless those without a residents? Thus the term homeless? I see “change” up by borough hall panhandling as well as Sunnyside.

Melanie R.

We needed schools. They’re getting built. We needed a traffic light at 51st Street. We got it. We needed safer streets. It’s happening. I like Jimmy. He’s on the ground and everywhere. Can’t deny that. There isn’t a week that goes by that I don’t see this neighborhood getting better. Stop hating on a good thing guys.


@Melanie How dare you post facts and truth…Notice the stupid Republicans posting to this stream with “dislikes”. Just further evidence that truth facts and history don’t matter to those idiots..It’s all veiled racism.


Look at Mac with a new cry de guerre. First it was Fox News, then it was idiots, and now Republicans and racism haunt his tiny little mind.

Shaun "The Woodside Guy"

Anyone remember that guy Goia? Yeah thought so. He was the last elected official that held office before jimmy did. Goia did absolutely nothing for this neighborhood. Jimmy gets things done period. The facts don’t lie.


i would not be opposed to tolls if it were limited to rush hours, say 6am-4pm going into Manhattan,


why the negative ive been here since before 9/11 and very seldom do i need to drive in the city during the day……oh the tolls would only be monday -friday and no holdays


I have a lot of concerns about the Queens Library. The corruption scandal that seems to have mysteriously disappeared from the news and the general poverty of its collections compared to BPL and NYPL are distressing. Getting branch libraries open additional days was a good step. But there’s no doubt we come up last, by FAR among the 3 city systems.

Since Van Bramer is head of the library committee and indeed used to work for QPL before becoming a councilman, I’d like to hear how he plans to clean up the library upper management (which he was recently part of)and expand the collection.

Grim Reaper

I’m sure all the developers that have him in their pocket gave him an A+ !!!
He turned into the biggest sell-out this neighborhood has ever had as a so called “leader”


Most informed or educated people would be able to provide a reason as to why they feel something is a waste of tax payer money or bad policy but not this baseless idiot posting under Trump. Issues and facts just don’t matter.


It isn’t hating to express concerns and criticisms, even of a politician who’s doing a relatively good job. Perhaps this community has a fairly good councilman precisely because it has high rates of civic engagement and is vigilant about its interests?

Dan O'Brien

I see Jimmy all the time on Skillman Avenue, he’s super responsive, especially with the snow storm. Sunnyside has never looked better.


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