Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Legionnaire Disease Town Hall Meeting

   Monday night there was a Town Hall meeting on the recent outbreak of Legionnaire Disease in the Bronx. In the above photo are NYC Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett i\was joined by Dr. Jay Varma Deputy Commissioner for Disease Control, Milton Nunez Executive Director of Lincoln Hospital, Andrew D'Amora Chief of Staff of the NYC Office of Emergency Management, and Anne Bone of the New York State Nurses Association.   
  Each gave a brief speech about Legionnaire Disease trying to calm the packed room at the Bronx Museum which included Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr,. Public Advocate Letitia James, Congressman Jose Serrano, State Senators Jose M. Serrano and Gustavo Rivera, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, and Councilwoman Vanessa Gibson who coordinated the Town Hall meeting. 
  De. Bassett explained that Legionnaire Disease can only be gotten by inhaling contaminated water vapor from cooling towers, and can not be transmitted from person to person. It was explained that in the very hot weather if not properly cleaned and maintained the cooling towers on top of buildings can become breeding grounds for the Legionnaire Disease bacteria. It was stressed that there the NYC water supply was in no danger from the bacteria, because it is only found in the cooling towers that evaporate the heat in buildings to water vapor. 
  Dr. Bassett stressed that there was an incubation period of 2 - 10 days for Legionnaire Disease, and that is why we still see new cases. as of Tuesday morning there were seven deaths, and 81 cases of Legionnaire Disease recorded. She stressed that if you think you may have Legionnaire Disease to seek medical attention immediately. Symptoms are fever, cough, chills, and muscle aches. People who smoke or have lung disease, the elderly, and people with diabetes are of the highest risk of catching Legionnaire Disease. 5 percent of all cases of Legionnaire Disease result in death, and that there are 250 - 300 reported cases of Legionnaire Disease each year. This year there have been 256 cases of Legionnaire Disease reported so far. 
  This recent outbreak of Legionnaire Disease in the bronx started on July 12th, Since then 22 buildings were visited, 17 cooling towers in all were inspected, and 5 cooling towers were found to be contaminated and have been disinfected already by the city. The health commissioner said that there could be any one of many reasons for Legionnaire Disease bacteria to grow, and that the city council would be looking into legislation to address the matter. 
  There were many people who lined up to ask questions, and got little if any other information that was already said. People wanted to know why this happens over and over, and why do people have to die from it. I was able to question City Council Speaker Melissa Mark=Viverito on her way out and ask her what the city council plans to do as per what the city health commissioner had said.. Speaker Mark-Viverito said that the council will work with the Mayor and Health Department to come up with legislation that will address the problem of Legionnaire Disease. Exactly what she could not say, but she did say that the matter will be investigated, and whatever legislation that is needed will be put into place.   

Above - You can see on the wall that 22 buildings were visited, 17 cooling towers inspected, and 5 cooling towers tested positive for Legionnaire Disease.
Below - You can see the packed room, and long line of people with questions.

Above - Bronx BP Diaz had afew questions of his own after he tried to calm the audience.
Below - BP Diaz is joined by Councilwoman Vanessa Gibson, Deputy BP Greene, Public Advocate James, and out of the photo are Congressman Serrano and State Senator Jose M. Serrano along with City Council Speaker Melissa Mark- Viverito. 


Before the Town Hall meeting BP Diaz greeting and thanked many of the people on the long line for coming to the Town Hall meeting ad you see here. 

Saturday, August 1, 2015


  Bronx Assemblyman Luis Sepulveda, applauding police for bringing down a violent drug gang that plied their trade at a major housing project in his district, is calling for a new focus on drug customers.

"These gangs, responsible for so much violence, would not exist if not for the customer base that supports them,"  Sepulveda said  on Thursday, July 30, a day after the gang takedown. 

The assemblyman, who has been a leader in criminal justice issues in Albany, urged a coordinated effort by city agencies and drug rehabilitation programs to target housing projects and other locations under gang influence with education programs and information that drug abusers and addicts can use to find the help they need "to bring them back from the downward spiral of drug use - and diminish the profit motive of  drug gangs."

"The largest number of residents who come to my district office seeking assistance are drug abusers or their families, hoping to find placement in drug rehabilitation programs," said Sepulveda, whose district covers Parkchester, West Farms, Van Nest, Unionport, and Stratton Park.

 "If this gang takedown creates a drought of drugs at these housing projects, it could be a wake up call - and opportunity for drug abusers to seek help," he added.

On Wednesday, July 29, police took down a crew of violent gangsters affiliated with the Bloods gang who trafficked drugs at the Castle Hill Houses and at Co-op City.

In early morning raids, police arrested 23 alleged members of the Untouchable Gorilla Stone Nation and its subset Black Stone Gorilla Gangstas  both factions of the “Bloods.”

Construction on Major Deegan Highway Now Halfway Completed

  The Major Deegan Highway overpass of the Mosholu Parkway is now half completed as you can see the middle third of the overpass has been removed. This project is being done in three parts as the third closest in view has already been removed and replaced by new steel girders.

Above - The last remaining third shows the wear of many years which includes the rusting of the steel beam and pitting of the concrete work that has forced this overpass replacement.
Below - You see the finished product of the first third of the overpass that was removed and replaced with new steel beams and concrete work.

Above - The huge crane that was erected to remove and replace the steel beams can be seen through the hole in the middle of the Major Deegan Highway here.
Below - All that remains to be done on this finished third of the project is to edge off the stonewall. 


   City and state elected officials and AARP New York partnered to host a community shred event today at the Morris Park Community Association in an effort to help Bronxites safeguard  their personal information and protect themselves from becoming victims of identity theft.

The event, spearheaded by the Office of the New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer, allowed Bronx residents to safely dispose documents that contain personal and private information such as credit card charge receipts, insurance forms or bank statements.

In 2014, the Federal Trade Commission reported nearly 16,000 New York State residents filed complaints about identity theft, with 1,767 of the complaints being filed by Bronx residents.    

Above - Jason Laidley of NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer's office loads unwanted valuable documents into a bin to be shredded.
Below - Katrina Asante of State Senator Gustavo Rivera's office loads other documents and papers into another bin to be shred.

Above Left - The bin is in place.
Above Right - The bin is lifted up into the shredding area.
Below - the empty bin is returned down to be filled up again.

De Blasio Seeking to Link Affordable Housing With Rezoning

  Mayor Bill De Blasio is seeking to roll out a new strategy of linking Affordable Housing to rezoning. As the mayor told me two weeks ago The City Planning Commission will increase the heights of new buildings by one floor to allow for more affordable housing to be built. 

   This new plan is a mandate that developers set aside anywhere from 25 to 30 percent of all units to be built for either a 60 percent AMI (about $46,500.00 for a family of 3) or 80 percent AMI (about $62,000.00 for a family of 3) when seeking to rezone land for new developments. The decision would be up to City Planning and the City Council, not the developer, and would have no impact on any application for a 421A tax break. 

   The new plan would need approval from the council with input from the 59 community boards citywide. According to Capital New York Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and a handful of council members have endorsed the plan. Read the entire Capital New York article here.

Friday, July 31, 2015

UPDATE: Petitions BX 668, 669, 670, and 671

Above - You can see the first of 4 petitions submitted by Mr. John Perez that being Bronx Petition BX 1500668 for Judicial Delegates in the 78th A.D., Mr. Perez is duly noted as the contact person, and his address and apartment number is clearly stated on the petition cover sheet which bears the time stamp of 10:59 on July 9th by the Board of Elections. Mr. Perez also submitted Petition BX 1500669 for Judicial Delegates in the 78th A.D., Petition BX 1500670 for Judicial Delegates in the 85th A.D., and Petition BX 1500671 for Judicial Delegates in the 79th A.D. 

  I was not at the petition hearings, because this year being an off year the only race was for Bronx District Attorney where there was no challenger to current Bronx DA Robert Johnson. The other positions to be fought over would be Judicial Delegates, and Alternate Judicial Delegates. I was surprised to hear from Mr. John Perez that his 3 slates of candidates in the 78th, 79th, and 85th A.D.'s were thrown off the ballot by the Board of Elections Commissioners. Mr. Perez had claimed that he never received any communication from the Board of Elections or the contact person for the challengers Election Lawyer Stanley 'King' Schlein. In my previous posting I found the four envelopes that were mailed by King Stanley, but they all lacked an apartment number. I was told that the carrier marked the 4 envelopes undeliverable due to the fact that the apartment number was missing which is a requirement when mailing something certified mail to a multiple unit building. Mr. Perez said there are over 150 apartments, and at least 3 other Perez families in the building. 

  This morning I went to the Board of elections where the original petitions were submitted to try to get some answers. I asked for Mr. Mike Ryan the head of the Board of Elections, I was told he was unavailable. I then asked for Ms. Valarie Vazquez who I worked with three years ago when I was investigating a similar problem. Ms. Vazquez was not in the building I was told, and her assistant Mr. Joshua Giaramita came out to talk to me. He assured me that Mr. Perez had left out his apartment number on all four petitions, and that was the reason that he did not receive any notice from the Board of Elections, and the reason all 4 petitions were thrown off by the commissioners.    

  I was able to obtain copies of all four of Mr. Perez's petition cover sheets, with BX 1500668 the first one handed in pictured above. As you see there is clearly an apartment number listed, and I went back to Mr. Giaramita with this information since he was sure that no petition had an apartment number on it. I then asked Mr. Giaramita if the Board of Elections had gotten the returned mail from the post office since it could not be delivered. He could not answer that question, and said that he would have to get back to me. I informed him that I was told it could be interpreted as mail fraud by the postal service if leaving off the apartment number was done intentionally so the packages could not be delivered. I said that both the Board of Elections and Mr. Stanley K. Schlein (the other contact person) had not placed the apartment number on any correspondence to Mr. Perez. I had earlier showed Mr. Giaramita the photos of Mr. Schlein's packages with the postal carrier's comments that it was undeliverable. 

  I suggested that there be a 2nd call on all 4 petitions since there had been an apartment number on the first petition which should have been the one gone by for an address, and said that the objections should be voided since there was no proof of service since Mr. Schlein had left off the apartment number either by mistake or on purpose. It will be up to Mr. Perez as to what to do if his petitions are not placed back in good standing, and his candidates not placed back on the ballot. A lawsuit of a conspiracy theory by both Mr. Schlein and the Board of Elections, or to make a federal case out of it.



At La Familia Verde Farmer’s Market, Council Member Ritchie Torres will hold a press conference to present food shoppers with Health Bucks coupons redeemable for healthy foods and discuss the importance of healthy food access for Bronx residents.

Council Member Ritchie Torres, New York City Department of Health, Bronx Health Reach, Mary Mitchell Family & Youth Center, NY League of Conservation Voters.

Tuesday, August 4th, at 11:30 AM.

La Familia Verde Farmer’s Market located in front of Tremont Park on East Tremont Avenue and La Fontaine Avenue.

Background: For the second consecutive year, Council Member Torres is providing funds to Health Bucks, an innovative program facilitated by the city’s Department of Health to improve healthy food access for Bronx residents. It provides $2 coupons for fruits and vegetables redeemable at farmers’ markets throughout the Bronx. Council Member Torres allocated $10,000 towards Health Bucks and is the first member of the City Council to fund this program.