Tuesday, August 22, 2017

MAYOR DE BLASIO AND CHANCELLOR FARIÑA ANNOUNCE CONTINUING GAINS FOR NYC STUDENTS ON STATE EXAMS


Since 2013, English proficiency has increased by 54 percent and math proficiency has increased by 27 percent

  Mayor Bill de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña today announced New York City students’ gains on State English and math exams. In 2017, 40.6 percent of students met proficiency standards in English, a 2.6 point increase from 38.0 percent last year. City students outperformed their New York State peers in English for the first time last year, and widened the gap with this year’s results. 37.8 percent of students met the standards in math, a 1.3 point increase from 36.4 percent last year. New York City students’ proficiency in both subjects improved across all ethnic groups. Since 2013, the percentage of students proficient in English in New York City has increased by 54 percent. The percentage of students proficient in math has increased by 27 percent. 

“These improvements over the past four years represent painstaking work – student by student, classroom by classroom, and school by school. It’s steady progress towards a stronger and fairer system for all,” saidMayor Bill de Blasio. “We are focused on building on these gains and others – such as the highest-ever high school graduation rate – to deliver equity and excellence for every public school student across the City, no matter their zip code.”

“Our students’ performance on these exams represents sustained growth across every demographic group and every borough, and it’s one more measure on which New York City schools are the strongest they’ve ever been,” said Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña. “It’s important to celebrate our progress – and thank the educators and school staff, parents and families, and students themselves who made this possible – but we need to keep making progress and pushing towards equity and excellence for all students. We’re hard at work building on our progress to do even better for our students, families, and the City’s future.”

Additional Key Findings

  • For the 4th year in the row, English results improved in each of the City’s 32 Community School Districts across all five boroughs.
  • Last year, for the first time since standardized testing was put in place for all grades in 2006, New York City students eliminated the gap with their New York State peers in English. This year, City students widened the gap with their New York State peers on the English exam, and now outperform them by 1.4 points.
  • New York City students also slightly outgained their New York State peers in math, shrinking the gap from 4.8 points to 4.2 points. 
  • Renewal Schools made outsized gains in English and math – 3.2 percentage points compared to the citywide increase of 2.6 points in English, and 1.5 points compared to the citywide increase of 1.3 points in math.
  • About 3.0 percent of New York City students opted out of English exams and 3.5 percent opted out of math. A total of 17,234 students, or 4.0 percent, out of either exam. Statewide, 19 percent of students opted out of the testing process.  

The sustained progress on State exam results across every single year of this administration reflects unprecedented investments in Equity and Excellence for All at New York City schools, including in leadership and professional development.

In 2014, all superintendents were required to re-apply for their jobs to ensure the strongest leaders were in place, and exam results improved across all 32 of the Community Superintendents’ districts in English, and in 27 districts in math. Since 2014, the City has also made strengthening instruction through high-quality, Common Core-aligned professional development and educator resources a priority, including adding 80 minutes of high-quality professional development each week for teachers across all subjects. 

Overall Results by Grade:

English
Grade 2017 # Tested % 2017 L3+4 % 2016 L3+4 Pct Point Diff.
3 68406 42.6 40.9 1.7
4 69941 42 41.4 0.6
5 67157 36.1 34.1 2
6 64965 32.3 34.7 -2.4
7 63681 43.3 36 7.3
8 63298 47.5 40.5 7
All 397448 40.6 38 2.6
Math

Grade 2017 # Tested % 2017 L3+4 % 2016L3+4 Pct Point Diff.

3 70040 46 41 5

4 71436 40 41.4                          -1.6

5 68373 40.8 37.5 3.3

6 66288 36.1 36.9 -0.8

7 64505 35.9 34 1.9

8 53102 24.2 25 -0.8

All 393744 37.8 36.4 1.3
NOTE: A change in State testing policy, starting in 2014, has driven a decrease in eighth grade proficiency rates. To reduce double testing, most students in accelerated math who took the Algebra Regents exam are exempt from taking the 8th grade State math assessment.

In 2017, 19,485 8th-graders took the June Algebra Regents, a 15 percent increase from 2016, when 16,972 8th-graders took the exam.

Overall Results by Demographic:

English
Subgroup 2017 # Tested % 2017 L3+4 % 2016 L3+4 Pct Point Diff.
Asian

71739


61


58.8


2.2
Black

90316


28.9


26.6


2.3
Hispanic

163590


29.7


27.2


2.4
White

63800


61


58.9


2.2
Current ELL

48169


5.6


4.4


1.2
Ever ELL

59652


49.1


43.2


5.9
SWD

83986


10.7


9.3


1.3


Math

2017 # Tested % 2017 L3+4 % 2016L3+4 Pct Point Diff.
Asian 71285 67.8 67.2 0.7
Black 88.22 20.7 20 0.7
Hispanic 164130 25.3 24.3 1
White 62391 59 57.8 1.2
Current ELL 57612 14.7 13 1.7
Ever ELL 57293 49.7 46.8 2.9
SWD 82675 11.8 11.4                 0.4

EDITOR'S NOTE:

If you look at columns two and three you will notice that L 3 + L 4 are only listed. There are four levels that the state testing places students. 
Level 4 is the highest level noting above average grade work
Level 3 ranges from average to above average.
Level 2 ranges from below passing to slightly below average.
Level 1 is all students who are not passing.  
Mayor de Blasio and Chancellor where are the figures for Level 1 and Level 2 students?

These are poor results of fifteen years of Mayoral control with the same results if not lower results if School Boards still existed. That was what the United Federation of Teachers said to former Mayor Bloomberg for ten years. What changed the mind of Mr. Michael Mulgrew and the UFT? 
A new hefty contract when Bill de Blasio became mayor.


14 Members Of Bronx Drug Trafficking Organization Charged In Manhattan Federal Court With Narcotics And Firearms Offenses


   Joon H. Kim, the Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, James J. Hunt, the Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration (“DEA”), James P. O’Neill, the Police Commissioner of the City of New York (“NYPD”), and George P. Beach II, the Superintendent of the New York State Police (“NYSP”), today announced the unsealing of an Indictment charging 14 members of a drug trafficking organization (“DTO”) that sold large amounts of heroin, cocaine, and crack cocaine in and around the Bronx, New York.

A total of 11 defendants were taken into custody today; three remain at large.  During the arrests and execution of various search warrants earlier today, law enforcement officers recovered a significant amount of currency, as well as firearms and narcotics.  The 11 defendants who were arrested will be presented and arraigned before U.S. Magistrate Judge Henry Pitman later today.  The case is assigned to U.S. District Judge Kimba M. Wood.  An initial conference is scheduled for September 12, 2017.
Acting U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim said:  “Today, we charge 14 members of a drug trafficking organization allegedly responsible for trafficking large amounts of heroin, cocaine, and crack cocaine in the Bronx.  As alleged, this case demonstrates the close connection between drug dealing and gun crimes.  We remain committed, along with our partners at the DEA, NYPD, and the New York State Police, to ridding New York’s neighborhoods of drug trafficking.”
Special Agent in Charge James J. Hunt said:  “The alleged crimes committed by this organization show the inescapable connection between drug trafficking and violence. This organization allegedly ran rampant throughout New York City, distributing kilogram quantities of cocaine and heroin. Allegedly supplying drugs to other trafficking organizations throughout the Northeast, they made a profit by feeding on others’ drug addiction.”
State Police Superintendent George P. Beach II said:  “I am proud of the dedicated efforts of our members and law enforcement partners which resulted in the indictments of these individuals, seizures of drugs and firearms, and the end of this organization’s alleged operations.  New York State will not tolerate the sale of these drugs, or the violent crimes that are associated with narcotics distribution.  This sends a strong message of our dedication to clearing our communities of these dangerous substances.”
According to the allegations contained in the Indictment[1] and other documents in the public record, and statements made in court:
Between August 2016 and August 2017, GABRIEL GUILLEN, a/k/a “Toti,” EDWARD JIMENEZ, a/k/a “Buzzy,” ZORAIDA RAMIREZ, WILSON GUILLEN, JOEL TAPIA, a/k/a “Emelio Vasquez,” MATTHEW VASQUEZ, a/k/a “Cabeza,” YEISON SALDANA, a/k/a “Jay,” JASON LLANES, a/k/a “Jay Murder,” GABRIEL CARRION, a/k/a “Gaby,” MOISES SUERO, RICHARD JOSE, a/k/a “Kiki,” JHOAN PICHARDO, a/k/a “Flaco,” RAFAEL RODRIGUEZ, a/k/a “Rafi, and CARLOS PEREZ, a/k/a “Los,” conspired to distribute and possess with intent to distribute one kilogram and more of mixtures and substances containing a detectable amount of heroin, five kilograms and more of mixtures and substances containing a detectable amount of cocaine, and 280 grams and more of mixtures and substances containing a detectable amount of crack cocaine in the Bronx and elsewhere.  The defendants also used and possessed, or aided and abetted each other in using and possessing, firearms in furtherance of their drug trafficking crimes.
GABRIEL GUILLEN, 33, JIMENEZ, 27, RAMIREZ, 49, WILSON GUILLEN, 35, TAPIA, 40, VASQUEZ, 25, SALDANA, 27, LLANES, 30, CARRION, 24, SUERO, 33, JOSE, 38, PICHARDO, 27, RODRIGUEZ, 47, and PEREZ, 25, are each charged in one count of distributing and possessing with intent to distribute one kilogram and more of heroin, five kilograms and more of cocaine, and 280 grams and more of crack cocaine, which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison and a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison; and one count relating to the use and possession of firearms during and in relation to their drug trafficking crimes, which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison and a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison.
The maximum potential sentences in this case are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencings of the defendants will be determined by a judge
Mr. Kim praised the investigative work of the DEA, the NYPD, and the State Police, and thanked the United States Marshals Service, U.S. Probation, and the NYPD Narcotics Bureau Bronx for their assistance.
The charges contained in the Indictment are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
 [1] As the introductory phrase signifies, the entirety of the text of the Indictment and the description of the Indictment set forth below constitute only allegations, and every fact described should be treated as an allegation.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s Office Closes Federal Criminal Investigation Into The Death Of Mohamed Bah


  Joon H. Kim, the Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced today that there is insufficient evidence to pursue federal criminal charges in connection with the fatal shooting of Mohamed Bah.  Mr. Bah was killed during an encounter with police officers from the New York City Police Department (“NYPD”) on September 25, 2012.  The Acting U.S. Attorney met today with Mr. Bah’s family and their counsel to inform them of this decision.

The New York County District Attorney’s Office investigated Mr. Bah’s fatal shooting, and on November 26, 2013, a Manhattan grand jury voted not to bring criminal charges against any officer involved in the shooting of Mr. Bah, finding that the use of deadly force was not unlawful.  Nevertheless, after following the progress of the civil litigation relating to Mr. Bah’s death, receiving documents from Mr. Bah’s family’s counsel in October 2015, and the unsealing of a ballistics report, this Office began to conduct an independent review into the death to determine whether a federal civil rights crime could be proven.
As Mr. Kim informed Mr. Bah’s family today, the only determination the Office made was whether a federal crime could be proven under the standard applicable to criminal cases, which is proof beyond a reasonable doubt.  The Office did not reach any conclusions on any other issue, nor did it evaluate the officers’ actions under any other standard.  The Office expresses no view regarding any claims made against any party under the standard applicable to civil cases, which is proof by a preponderance of the evidence. 
After conducting a review of the evidence, including physical and documentary evidence, as well as grand jury and civil deposition testimony, this Office has determined that there is insufficient evidence to meet the high burden of proof required for a federal criminal civil rights prosecution.  To prove a violation of the federal criminal civil rights statute, prosecutors must establish, beyond a reasonable doubt, that a law enforcement officer willfully deprived an individual of a constitutional right, meaning that the officer acted with the deliberate and specific intent to do something the law forbids.  This is the highest standard of intent imposed by law, and is different from and higher than the intent standard under the relevant state statutes.  Neither accident, mistake, fear, negligence, nor bad judgment is sufficient to establish a federal criminal civil rights violation. 
In reaching this determination, the Office considered, among other things, testimony from the only eye witnesses to the events (law enforcement officers) that Mr. Bah was holding a knife and lunged at the officers, the fact that vests worn by officers at the scene have slashes consistent with penetration by a knife, and the lack of video evidence of the incident.  The Office also considered the testimony of officers present that non-lethal force, including Tasers, was used before lethal force was deployed, and that shots were fired virtually simultaneously only after non-lethal force was used.  Finally, the Office considered the autopsy report prepared the day after the shooting and conducted an independent ballistics analysis.  After reviewing such evidence, the Office made the determination that it could not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that any officer willfully violated Mr. Bah’s constitutional rights.
Accordingly, this Office’s investigation into Mr. Bah’s death has been closed.
Mr. Kim expressed his deep sympathy to the family of Mr. Bah for their tragic loss.

A.G. Schneiderman Announces Settlement With Nation's Largest Mall Operator To Stop Anticompetitive Tactics At Woodbury Common Outlet Center


Simon Property Group, Inc Has Agreed To Stop Anticompetitive Tactics That Blocked Competition From New Outlet Centers In NYC
Simon Will Also Pay $945,000 To New York State
  Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced a settlement with Simon Property Group that prohibits Simon from using anticompetitive tactics to thwart the development of competing outlet centers in New York City. These restrictions have impeded new outlet centers from opening, harming retailers and consumers that would have benefited from outlet locations in New York City. Simon has agreed to immediately modify contractual restrictions that have prevented retailers at its flagship Woodbury Common center from opening outlet stores in New York City locations. Today’s settlement will finally allow for the opening of outlet malls in Brooklyn, The Bronx, Queens and Staten Island, creating competitive choice for retailers and consumers while boosting the New York economy. 
“No business should be allowed to stifle an entire industry at the expense of consumers—but for years, that's exactly what Simon Property Group did to New Yorkers,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “Simon's anticompetitive conduct blocked competition and drove up prices for New York consumers. That ends today. I am pleased this agreement will allow for new shopping outlets to finally open within New York City, and make affordable shopping more accessible for residents across the region."
The Attorney General’s investigation into Simon’s practices at Woodbury Common indicated that Simon had monopoly power in the market for retail space in outlet centers in the New York City area. The investigation also confirmed that many retailers at Woodbury Common wished to open additional outlets in New York City, but were largely prevented from doing so by so-called radius restrictions in their leases at Woodbury Common. These clauses typically restrict retailers (by threat of a substantial penalty) from opening a second store within 60 air miles of Woodbury, creating a vast 11,000 square mile zone in which Simon faced little effective competition from other outlet centers.
The investigation also revealed that several developers had attempted to develop outlet centers in New York City, but were thwarted in signing up the necessary retailers due to the Woodbury Common radius restrictions. There are over 200 outlet centers across the US, but one outlet center—Woodbury Common—dominates the New York City area.
Elsewhere in the country, outlet development has thrived and outlet centers have been moving closer to city centers. Unlike New York City, other major cities such as Chicago and Los Angeles have several competing outlet centers. Opening up New York City to competing outlet development will create new choices for consumers and retailers, along with potential new investment, infrastructure, and jobs. In addition, competition among outlet centers is likely to lower overhead for retailers, maximize retailers’ opportunities to reach more price-conscious consumers, and deliver better value to New Yorkers seeking discounts.
The settlement announced today by Attorney General Schneiderman has two main elements, in addition to a $945,000 monetary payment to New York State:
  • Ending exclusive agreements with retailers.Simon has agreed to revise existing leases to remove radius restrictions that would otherwise prevent outlet center development.
  • Prohibiting future interference with outlet retail. For the next 10 years, Simon has agreed to cease using radius restrictions, or other exclusionary tactics, that might deter retailers from opening additional outlet stores.
These two commitments ensure that Simon’s competitors will be able to compete on a level playing field to develop new outlet centers in New York City. Simon has also agreed to the appointment of an independent monitor to ensure compliance with the terms of the settlement. Attorney General Schneiderman’s office will oversee the monitor, and work to maintain an outlet retail market free from anticompetitive restrictions.
This matter was handled by Assistant Attorneys General Bryan Bloom, James Yoon, Jeremy Kasha, Mariya Naulo, and Marc Foto, as well as Deputy Bureau Chief Elinor Hoffmann, Bureau Chief, Beau Buffier, and Executive Deputy Attorney General for Economic Justice Manisha M. Sheth.
A copy of the settlement can be found here.

IDC, Entertainment Unions, Television Artists to Urge Signage and Funding of Film Diversity Tax Credit


Independent Democratic Conference to release report on current lack of diversity behind TV cameras

  State Senator Marisol Alcántara, together with Independent Democratic Conference Leader Jeff Klein, members of the IDC and Assemblyman Marcos Crespo, joined by Beau Willimon, Robin Thede, the Directors Guild of America, the Writers Guild of America East, and entertainment professionals urged the signage and funding of legislation to create the Television Writers’ and Directors’ Fees and Salaries Credit.

If enacted, the recently passed legislation would encourage the hiring of women and minority writers and directors in New York through up to $5 million in tax credits beginning January 1, 2018.

I initially became interested in this bill because as an Afro-Latina immigrant, I knew what it felt like to grow up feeling invisible in American culture. It was so rare to see a character of color on television, and when you did see one, it felt like they were tokenized, stereotyped, or killed off quickly. And while the industry has made some strides on representation in front of the camera, diversity behind the camera is still sorely lacking. I think the overall quality of television, the different kinds of stories that can be told, the overall landscape of the art form will benefit greatly from having opportunities for diverse people to tell their stories. It was a tough battle, but I stuck with the bill because of the future generations of talented women and people of color who would otherwise remain undiscovered, and the inspiration their stories could bring to countless young people and immigrants like myself,” said Senator Marisol Alcantara.

In a report published by the Independent Democratic Conference, “Telling All of New York’s Stories: Expanding Diversity Behind the TV Cameras,” both minorities and women were grossly underrepresented amongst television producers and directors.

The report examined the lack of diversity and the effect is has on the way that stories are told on shows.

“In this city of eight million stories, not enough are being told. This important tax credit will help women and minority writers and directors break into the film industry here in New York City, one of the most diverse places in the world. I thank Senator Alcantara for making this initiative a priority,” said Senator Jeff Klein

“There is no arguing that fiscal policy serves as a tool to create jobs and stimulate economic development.  The television writers and directors tax credit created through this legislation is a job creator that opens doors of opportunity for minorities in an industry very much void of diversity.  This bill walks the talk about fairness and inclusion.  I urge the Governor to sign this bill into law immediately,” stated Assemblyman Marcos Crespo, Chair of the Assembly Puerto Rican/Hispanic Task Force."

“It is time we rewrite the script for minority and female writers and directors in the television industry in New York and make them more visible. Simply put, we need to increase the number of television female and minority writers and directors since they are clearly underrepresented in the industry. I urge Governor Andrew Cuomo to sign legislation into law that will provide credits for expenses related to salaries for more TV female and minority productions. I want to thank Senator Alcantara, Klein and Assembly member Crespo for their efforts to increase the number of female and minority writers and directors in TV in our state,” said Senator Jose Peralta.

"Diversity represents a key New York human resource. I'm proud that our state will act as a catalyst for helping an important creative sector take full advantage of our diversity. This $5 million tax credit will provide additional opportunities into television writing and directing. This Television Diversity Tax Credit builds upon the successes of the New York State Film Tax Credit. New York must continue to be the hub of our nation's creative industries, and we must work to build a more inclusive sector that fully reflects the diversity of our communities,” said Senator Jesse Hamilton.

“Enhancing diversity in television writers’ rooms is essential, not just as a matter of social justice, but also for the industry's long-term economic health.  To continue to prosper and to provide good jobs, the industry must offer shows that capture the attention of increasingly-diverse audiences.  What's more, our members tell us that writers’ rooms that include people from a variety of backgrounds, with different experiences and perspectives, create the most compelling stories and television shows. This tax credit legislation will make the industry better and stronger, and will create opportunities for more New Yorkers.  We thank Senators Alcantara and Klein and Assemblyman Crespo for their forward-thinking leadership on this vital issue, and we join them in encouraging the Governor to sign and fund this important initiative,” said Lowell Peterson, Executive Director of the Writers Guild of America, East.

The report looked at data from the Writers Guild of America, East, and the Writers Guild of America, West. Over the past five years, of all the individuals hired to be credited writers in television series in the area they represent, which includes New York, only 27% of the individuals were women and only 14% were minority members, the WGAE found. These numbers are in line with findings from the WGAW concluded. A study from the Bunche Center found that for the 2014-15 television season, a majority of television productions had writing staffs where minority writers made up less than 10% of the writing staff.

The Directors Guild of America found a similar lack of diversity among the individuals hired to direct television episodes in the 2015-16 season. The Guild’s latest Episodic Television Director Diversity Report showed that Caucasian males directed just over two-thirds of all television episodes shown that year. Minority males directed just 16% of episodes, Caucasian females directed 14% and minority female directed just 3% of television episodes that year. An IDC staff examination of the data for series examined filmed entirely in New York found that New York productions also lacked diversity behind the director’s camera. Of the 328 episodes of television filmed for the 22 New York filmed television series examined, Caucasian males directed 70% of episodes, minority males directed only 11% of episodes, Caucasian females directed 16% of episodes, and minority females directed only 4% of episodes.

The Television Writers' and Directors' Fees and Salaries Credit aims to balance behind the scenes talent by covering salary and fees paid for employing eligible writers or directors. For costs to be eligible the individual hired must be a woman or a member of a minority community who is not a profit participant in the television production.

To be an eligible writer, an individual must be responsible for writing or revising scripts, screenplays, teleplays, dialogue, etc., and they have to report to the writers’ room.  To ensure that the incentive applies to regular working writers and directors, the bill has detailed caps on eligible earnings on a per-episode and a per-season basis, and writers and directors who are also profit participants are not eligible.

The entire value of the credits is capped at $5 million per tax year, with eligibility for credits determined by date of filing if the demand exceeds this allowed amount. Any production that filed later and thus is denied the credit would have their application carried forward to the following tax year. Eligible productions would be able to start claiming the credit for eligible expenses incurred starting in tax year 2018.

BP DIAZ CELEBRATES PAKISTANI INDEPENDENCE DAY


  On Monday, August 21, 2017, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. met with the Bronx Community Council, a Pakistani advocacy organization, and the Consul General of Pakistan, Raja Ali Ejaz, to celebrate Pakistan’s Independence Day.
 
The gathering was held to commemorate the country’s declaration of independence from the British Raj in 1947.
 
“Our country is great because of our diversity and our growing Pakistani community not only adds to a different flavor to The Bronx, but also makes our great borough a better place to live and work in,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. “I want to thank Shabbir Gul, founder of the Bronx Community Council, whose organization does so much for Pakistanis and Muslims around The Bronx, as well as Consul General Raja Ali Ejaz, for helping build bridges between our communities.”
 
“I think it’s a great opportunity for Pakistanis living in The Bronx to come and celebrate Pakistan’s Independence Day with the Borough President of The Bronx, Ruben Diaz Jr.,” said Raja Ali Ejaz, Consul General of Pakistan. “I talk with many Pakistanis from the great borough of The Bronx and they hold Mr. Diaz in very high esteem. And this was amply proven today, he spoke from his heart. Pakistanis from across the borough give this gentleman great accolades for what he is and what he is doing for our community. I’m very proud to be a part of this event, very proud to be celebrating Independence Day in The Bronx and we look forward to celebrating this event in future days.”
 
An album of photos from the event can be viewed at https://flic.kr/s/aHsm2KkLyg.
 

COALITION OF ASSEMBLYMEMBERS CALL FOR MTA BUS MASTER PLAN FOR NEW YORK CITY WITHIN SIX MONTHS


Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz and NYC Assembly colleagues call on MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota to support bus service improvements.

  Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz, Chairman of the Committee on Corporations, Authorities, and Commissions with oversight of the MTA, circulated a letter among his colleagues calling for bus service to be included in plans to address the transit crisis. The letter was signed by 45 members of the New York State Assembly, and has support from a variety of transit advocacy organizations as well. Included are requests for an accelerated implementation of transit signal priority, the adoption of all-door boarding technology, and a collaborative effort between NYCT, DOT, and respective communities to reexamine bus routes and street-level infrastructure such as dedicated bus lanes and bus islands.

“Two and a half million New Yorkers depend on buses to get around every day, especially those with accessibility concerns and those in outer boroughs with limited transit options. I want to make sure that the concerns of all New Yorkers are heard, even if they don’t get the same amount of media attention,” said Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz. “Transit signal priority and all-door boarding are no brainer changes that could reduce bus travel times by 25% for minimal investment. Let’s not delay any more, and bring our bus system into the 21st Century.”

NYCT and DOT recently announced they would expand use of transit signal priority to 10 additional bus lines, but not until the year 2020. Average bus speed in New York City is seven miles per hour, even slower in high congestion areas, which lags behind most major cities in the United States. Bus ridership has steadily declined over the past decade despite a record population in New York City, as riders are forced to reckon with buses that are both slow and unreliable. Of notable exception is Select Bus Service, which has seen ridership increases of up to 30% after implementing changes that reduced travel times by over 15%.

"The Summer of Hell has made the dire state of the subway obvious, but that's just one part of the public transit meltdown riders face: buses have been in a state of slow-motion crisis for years," said Nick Sifuentes, Deputy Director of the Riders Alliance. "Fortunately, we know our state and city elected officials can fix bus service for millions of daily riders--and do it quickly and for a fraction of the cost to repair our subway system. We're glad that Assembly Member Dinowitz and his colleagues are prioritizing bus service, because riders need buses to work now more than ever."

“While the MTA recently presented new strategies to revamp citywide bus service, there is no timeline or work plan for implementing them. A top-to-bottom review, similar to what was undertaken for our ailing subway system, that examines operations, routing and technology is necessary to stop the decline in bus ridership,” said Veronica Vanterpool, executive director of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign.

"Buses are an integral part of our transit network, carrying millions of New Yorkers to work, school and appointments every day," said City Council Transportation Chair Ydanis Rodriguez. "After a major drop in ridership over the past decade, we cannot ignore the slow and unreliable service the majority of bus routes provide. Luckily we have the solutions in hand: all-door boarding, transit signal priority and off-board fare payment can speed up commutes and bring New Yorkers back to buses and away from cars and cabs. This can be a big win for the MTA and New York City as a whole."

Bronx Borough President Summer Concert Series


Monday, August 21, 2017

Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz Requests City Comptroller Review and Reject 5731 Broadway Shelter Contract Between DHS and Praxis



  
Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz has asked NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer to review and reject the contract between Department of Homeless Services (DHS) and Praxis Housing Initiatives Inc., the operators of a transitional housing shelter located at 5731 Broadway in Kingsbridge.

The city comptroller is able to object to a city contract’s registration within 30 days of it being filed with the comptroller’s office under certain grounds.

DHS informed Community Board 8 and elected officials that the facility at 5731 Broadway would be made into a homeless shelter less than 30 days before it was scheduled to begin operating by Praxis, whose CEO, Sven Jorgensen, admitted during a CB8 Land Use Committee Meeting that they had been in negotiations for some time to make the facility a shelter and had, in fact, been approached by Adolfo Carrion and Stagg Group, the building developers, months before DHS alerted the community. This allegedly occurred even as representatives of the Stagg group held meetings with CB8 and community committing that the facility would not become a shelter.

Dinowitz asked Comptroller Stringer to reject this contract given business practices by Stagg Group that some believe to be dishonest and questionable. The Stagg Group billed and marketed the building to elected officials and Community Board 8 as market rate housing with affordable housing units even as they allegedly made simultaneous efforts to sell it as a homeless shelter to Praxis and DHS. They applied for a 421-a tax abatement on the premise it was to be market rate housing and operated a website where people could apply to live at the building listed as market rate housing.

The building has instead been designated a transitional housing facility for homeless families. Praxis successfully secured a contract from DHS, with exorbitant prices set by Stagg per room and per apartment. According to the Assemblyman’s letter Praxis will be paid over $300,000 per apartment by DHS for services to the families, exclusive of rent. DHS will pay much higher rents for each and every apartment compared to what Stagg would have charged, and the taxpayers will be footing the extra bill, plus Stagg will avoid real estate taxes for years. Why is the City getting such a bad deal? Stagg will not only receive a huge windfall, but they will not have to market the building, be concerned with empty apartments or pay to manage the building. They will receive these great benefits in addition to the huge 421-a tax subsidy.”

In Stagg’s most recent 421-a tax exemption application, belatedly amended as of August 14th, they increased the land costs of claimed 2014 land acquisition by at least a third from the previous application filed in January.

The matter has already been referred to the city Department of Investigations(DOI) by CB8 Land Use committee chair Charles Moerdler given Stagg group’s alleged dishonesty towards the community as well as the Community Board’s status as a chartered city agency and the matter may already be under investigation.

“Regardless of whether you support or oppose a transitional housing for the homeless at this site, I hope we would all agree that there must be honesty and transparency and that the city should make the best possible deal, and not hand a huge windfall to a controversial developer, “ said Assemblyman Dinowitz.

EDITOR'S NOTE:
  Below is from my Riverdale column that will appear in Wednesday's Bronx Voice. It was written August 18th. I guess Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz and I think alike, however read the last paragraph that the good assemblyman may not know.

   Community Board 8  has currently many buildings that were built during the previous building boom, with several having some or many empty apartments. One such new building went up at the corner of West 236th Street and the Henry Hudson Parkway Service Road. A deal was struck with Columbia University to take over the building for staff housing. It was a win for the developer who would have no empty apartments on his hands, and the university who would have the needed housing for its staff.
  Fast forward to this new housing boom of so called market rate housing, because the prices of new coops or condos are out of reach. Add in a developer who puts on a former Bronx Borough President who had appointed many community board members he was to face for 421A tax breaks on market rate housing his developer boss was suppose to build. Throw in a homeless crisis, and you have the perfect recipe for deceit and even more profits. 
  This is what Stagg Developers has done at the 5731 Broadway building site. Eighty-three market rate units for rental. How does one rent all these apartments quickly so another building can be built with the profits. Enter Former Bronx BP Carrion as the CEO of Praxis said to CB 8 was the deal maker for 5731 Broadway. Now something had to be done before the community board could stop this plan. Less than three weeks after the CB 8 Land Use Committee meeting it is announced that there will be a public hearing on this contract between Praxis and the DHS on August 17th. The contract will be effective starting August 15th however for all 83 units for a five year term at a price tag of over $26 million dollars or over $300 thousand dollars per unit. It is not stated just how much Stagg Developers will make on the deal, but at the end of the five year term is another four year option. All this and Stagg Developers will still own the building, and rent out the commercial/community facility space.
 I just happened to see DHS Commissioner Steve Banks at a mayoral event here in the Bronx the day after the contract was signed. I asked him how can you have a public hearing two days after DHS signs the contract. His answer was that the public hearing was a mere formality, and the City Comptroller has to approve the contract now.
  I was able to question a representative of Comptroller Stringers office a few night's later, and was told that unless there is something illegal the comptroller will approve the contract as is done almost 100 Percent of the time.