Monday, July 24, 2017

MAN SENTENCED TO 18 YEARS-TO-LIFE FOR EAST HARLEM SHOOTING THAT STRUCK MTA BUS AT RUSH HOUR


  Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., today announced the sentencing of DERRICK WHITE, 35, to 18 years-to-life in state prison for firing multiple gunshots on an East Harlem street corner, injuring a 31-year-old victim and striking the side of an MTA bus. On June 8, 2016, a New York Supreme Court jury found the defendant guilty of two counts of Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Second Degree and one count each of Assault in the Second Degree and Reckless Endangerment in the First Degree.
“As prosecutors sworn to protect the most densely populated streets in America, we continue to hold gun offenders fully accountable,” said District Attorney Vance. “Derrick White endangered the lives of countless New Yorkers as he opened fire in the direction of a city bus at the height of rush hour. It is a miracle that nobody died or sustained serious injuries. On city streets and sidewalks, gunfire does not discriminate between intended targets and random bystanders. Thanks to my Office’s prosecutors, this defendant will serve a lengthy prison sentence for these remarkably reckless acts of gun violence.”
As proven at trial, at approximately 5:10 p.m. on April 20, 2015, WHITE was standing on the east side of Madison Avenue between East 103rd and East 104th Streets when he fired at least three gun shots at the victim — one of which struck the victim’s foot. Two other bullets hit an MTA bus traveling northbound on Madison Avenue, striking a panel on the bus’s exterior and a window on the passenger side. The bullets did not strike the passengers or driver of the bus. The defendant immediately fled to a residential building on East 104th Street.
NYPD responded to a 911 call and identified WHITE, a violent predicate felon, as a suspect after reviewing video surveillance footage. The defendant was apprehended two days later on April 22, 2015.
Assistant District Attorneys Michele Bayer, Deputy Chief of Trial Bureau 60, and Justin Tatham handled the prosecution of the case under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Charles Whitt, Chief of Trial Bureau 60, and Executive Assistant District Attorneys David O’Keefe, Deputy Chief of the Trial Division, and John Irwin, Chief of the Trial Division. Assistant District Attorneys William Mahoney, Counsel to the Conviction Integrity Unit, and Yuval Simchi-Levi also assisted with the prosecution of the case.
District Attorney Vance also thanked Investigator John D’Alessio of the Manhattan DA Squad and the following members of the NYPD for their assistance with the investigation: Detective Leonardo Moscoso of the 20th Precinct Detective Squad; Detectives Facelis Turner and William Dunn of the 23rd Precinct Detective Squad; and Officers Matthew Vantress and Jonathan Perez of the 23rd Precinct.
Defendant Information:
DERRICK WHITE, D.O.B. 04/18/1982
Bronx, NY

Convicted:
• Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Second Degree, a class C felony, 2 counts
• Assault in the Second Degree, a class D felony 1 count
• Reckless Endangerment in the First Degree, a class D felony, 1 count

Sentenced:
• 18 years-to-life in prison

DAVID BARIL SENTENCED TO 22 YEARS IN PRISON FOR ASSAULTING POLICE OFFICER AND STRANGERS WITH HAMMER


Defendant Attacked Three Victims Over Three Days Before Assaulting Police Officer

  Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., today announced the sentencing of DAVID BARIL, 32, to 22 years in state prison for using a hammer to attack an NYPD officer and three other victims during a three-day series of assaults. On May 22, 2017, the defendant pleaded guilty in New York State Supreme Court to Attempted Aggravated Assault Upon a Police Officer and Assault in the Second Degree.
 
“For two full days in 2015, New Yorkers were gripped with fear as a hammer-wielding man was on the loose in Manhattan,” said District Attorney Vance. “David Baril randomly attacked three strangers in three separate, public locations in the span of a few hours on a single day. Two days later, the heroic actions of two police officers brought his spree to an end, but not before the defendant turned his hammer on one of the officers. On behalf of all New Yorkers, I would like to thank those officers for their bravery, as well as the prosecutors in my office for bringing this defendant to justice.”  
 
As admitted in the defendant’s guilty plea, at approximately 1:45 p.m. on May 11, 2015, BARIL approached a group of people on the street near West 35th Street and 6th Avenue and struck a 20-year-old man in the back of the head with a hammer. The defendant immediately headed south on 6th Avenue, and several hours later, used the same hammer to attack another person in Union Square Park, hitting a 28-year-old woman on the side of the head. No more than five minutes later, he attacked a third victim on West 17th Street, approaching a 33-year-old woman from behind and using the hammer to strike the back of her head. BARIL was identified as a suspect using surveillance footage, eyewitness accounts, and other means. 
 
Two days later, at approximately 10:00 a.m. on May 13, 2015, Police Officers Lauren O’Rourke and Geraldo Casaigne recognized BARIL on the corner of West 37th Street and 8th Avenue, and approached him. The defendant then removed a hammer from his pocket and repeatedly struck Officer O’Rourke’s head and body before Officer Casaigne drew his gun, fired multiple shots at BARIL, and struck him four times—including once in the back. The defendant dropped the hammer, which was later recovered at the scene.
 
Assistant District Attorneys Courtney Groves, Lisa Franchini, and David Drucker handled the prosecution of the case under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Lisa DelPizzo, Chief of Trial Bureau 30, Assistant District Attorney Warren Murray, Chief of Trial Bureau 50, Assistant District Attorney Eugene Porcaro, Senior Supervising Attorney of the Trial Division, and Executive Assistant District Attorney John Irwin, Chief of the Trial Division.
 
 
Defendant Information:
 
DAVID BARIL, D.O.B. 7/27/1984
Bronx, NY
 
Convicted:
  • Attempted Aggravated Assault Upon a Police Officer, a class C felony, 1 count
  • Assault in the Second Degree, a class D felony, 3 counts
 
Sentenced:
  • 22 years in state prison
  • 5 years’ post-release supervision

Acting U.S. Attorney Announces Filing Of Motion To Dismiss Pending Charges In United States V. Javier Martin-Artajo And Julien Grout


  Joon H. Kim, the Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced today that the Office has filed a proposed order to dismiss the outstanding charges against JAVIER MARTIN-ARTAJO and JULIEN GROUT, two former derivatives traders at JPMorgan Chase & Company(“JPMorgan”).  MARTIN-ARTAJO and GROUT were indicted on September 16, 2013, for their alleged participation in a conspiracy to hide losses in a credit derivatives trading portfolio at JPMorgan.  MARTIN-ARTAJO, a Spanish citizen, and GROUT, a French citizen, have not appeared on these criminal charges.  On April 23, 2015, a court in Spain rejected the Government’s request to extradite MARTIN-ARTAJO, and a prior determination had been made that attempts to extradite GROUT from France would have been futile.  The motion to dismiss is subject to the approval of United States District Judge Lorna G. Schofield.

As set forth in the proposed order, the Government sought charges in this matter based in part on the Government’s anticipated ability to call as a trial witness Bruno Iksil, a former colleague of the two defendants at JPMorgan.  Based on a review of recent statements and writings made by Iksil, however, the Government no longer believes that it can rely on the testimony of Iksil in prosecuting this case, even if the defendants appeared.  Based on these developments, among other factors, the Government has decided not to keep these charges pending, but rather to seek their dismissal at this time.

A.G. Schneiderman Announces 15-Year Prison Sentence For Leader Of Large-Scale Drug Trafficking Ring


Juan Ramos Sentenced To 15 Years In Prison For Shipping Hundreds Of Thousands Of Dollars Of Narcotics From NYC To Capital Region And Beyond
Schneiderman: We Will Aggressively Prosecute Criminals Who Fuel The Cycle Of Addiction
   Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman announced today that Juan Ramos, of Brooklyn, was sentenced in Albany County Court to 15 years in state prison, followed by five years of post-release supervision, based upon his prior plea to Criminal Sale of a Controlled Substance in the First Degree, a class A-I felony. Ramos was the leader of a large-scale narcotics trafficking ring that moved hundreds of thousands of dollars of heroin, cocaine and illegal prescription medication from the Bronx and Brooklyn, to the Capital Region and beyond, taken down in the Attorney General's Operation Uptown Red Alert. The defendant was sentenced today by Supreme Court Justice Thomas A. Breslin.
The sentences follow the launch of Attorney General Schneiderman’s Suburban and Upstate Response to the Growing Epidemic (“S.U.R.G.E.”) Initiative, a crackdown on New York’s growing heroin, opioid, and narcotics trafficking networks. The S.U.R.G.E. Initiative targets gangs and individuals who deal heroin and opioids and commit acts of violence in suburban and upstate communities across New York State. The Attorney General's Organized Crime Task Force has collaborated with all levels of law enforcement to arrest more than 1010 individuals in metro areas across the state since 2010, working closely with federal, state, and local law enforcement to investigate, arrest, and prosecute those criminals who target suburban and upstate areas.
In the past four months, Attorney General Schneiderman’s Operation BricktownOperation Un-WiseOperation Gravy TrainOperation BloodsportOperation Pipeline and Operation Wrecking Ball have resulted in 240 traffickers and dealers being taken off the streets throughout New York State. 
“We have no tolerance for dangerous drug trafficking rings like the one Juan Ramos was running,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “As New York grapples with this devastating opioid crisis, my office will continue to aggressively prosecute those criminals who fuel the cycle of addiction.”
Juan Ramos was the leader of a drug trafficking ring that trafficked hundreds of thousands of dollars of heroin, cocaine and illegal prescription medication from New York City to the Capital Region, and also to the States of Maine and Pennsylvania. During the underlying investigation, more than two pounds of bulk heroin were seized, capable of being packaged into 50,000 bags of heroin to be sold on the street, giving the heroin an approximate street value of $500,000. Also seized during the investigation was more than a pound of bulk cocaine with an approximate street value of $50,000, a homemade heroin kilogram press, 1,067 Oxycodone pills, over $21,000 in cash, two shotguns and one handgun. During the investigation, Ramos utilized his $120,000 BMW to deliver narcotics to customers.
The investigation, conducted by the Attorney General’s Organized Crime Task Force, the City of Albany Police Department and the New York State Police, led to the indictment of 27 people, all of whom have now pled guilty with the exception of two defendants that still have active warrants for their arrests. The charges against those defendants are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
In addition to prosecuting major drug trafficking rings, the Attorney General has taken numerous steps to combat the opioid crisis in New York. In June of 2011, Attorney General Schneiderman introduced state legislation for I-STOP, an online Prescription Monitoring Program or a “PMP,” that enables doctors and pharmacists to report and track controlled narcotics in real time. The OAG has also aggressively enforced laws that require parity in health plan coverage of mental health and addiction treatment, reaching agreements with six companies. Attorney General Schneiderman also announced national agreements with Cigna and Anthem, who both agreed to remove prior authorization requirements for medication-assisted treatment nationwide. The office has also reached agreements with Purdue Pharma and Endo Pharmaceuticals Inc., to ensure that these opioid makers engage in responsible and legal marketing.

TWO BRONX MEN INDICTED ON ASSAULT AND OTHER CHARGES FOR PELTING DELI CLERK WITH AVOCADOS


Victim Suffered Broken Eye Socket And Blurred Vision For Days After Attack

  Bronx District Attorney Darcel D. Clark today announced that two Bronx man have been indicted on Assault and other charges for throwing avocados at two deli clerks, inflicting serious injuries, including fracturing a victim’s eye socket. 

 District Attorney Clark said, “Surveillance video of the vicious attack shows a senseless and immature act against two men who were simply trying to make a living. No one should be made to feel terrorized in their workplace.” 

  District Attorney Clark said the defendant, Brad Gomez, 28, of Gerard Ave., has been indicted on second-degree Assault. He was arraigned today before Bronx Supreme Court Justice George Villegas. Gomez and co-defendant Jestyfer Henriquez, 25, of Walton Ave., have each been indicted on third-degree Assault, fourth-degree Criminal Mischief, and two counts of second-degree Menacing. Henriquez was arraigned on July 17, 2017. Both men are due back on October 30, 2017. Gomez faces a maximum of 7 years in prison and Henriquez faces a maximum of 1 year in jail if convicted of the top charge.

  According to the investigation, on the early morning of May 29, 2017, inside Stadium Gourmet Deli on E. 161st St. and Walton Ave, Henriquez and Gomez were involved in a dispute over a food order. Gomez hurled several avocados at clerks Amr Alzabide and Essam Girgis, breaking Alzabide’s eye socket and causing the victim’s eye to be swollen shut for several days, later requiring surgery. Both defendants also damaged several shelves and merchandise. The defendants fled the establishment and were apprehended due to surveillance footage of the incident.

  District Attorney Clark thanked Detective Jorge Mergeche of the 44th Precinct as well the District Attorney’s Crime Victims Assistance Unit for their hard work. 

An indictment is an accusatory instrument and not proof of a defendant’s guilt.

Which candidate ensures every inch of City Hall will work for you?



Elvin Garcia - Democrat for City Council 

Friends,

It takes real leadership and experience in coalition building to ensure every inch of City Hall is working for the Bronx. 

And for nearly 3 years as Mayor de Blasio's Bronx Borough Director, I was grateful to have been the Bronx leader in:
  • the greatest expansion of Universal Pre-K the borough has ever seen
  • the foundation for the first-in-the-Bronx ferry terminal right here District 18
  • the expansion of resources for Women and Minority Owned Businesses
  • the launch of a comprehensive community policing program -- including the 43rd Pct in District 18
One of the most common questions we get from voters is:

"what are you going to do for our community?"

Our response speaks to our longstanding investment in the community:
"Let me tell you what I have already done for the neighborhoods in District 18, and what I plan to do next on...."

I'm the only candidate in this race who's ensured 
every inch of City Hall has worked for District 18. 


Best,

Elvin Garcia
Candidate for City Council - District 18

EDITOR'S NOTE:

I have left out the contribute buttons that 
were on this page, but could not on 
the links above.
This is in no way to be taken as any 
support of the above candidate 
or any other candidate in this race.
This is for informational purpose only.

NYC Council Announces Hearing on Summer Subway Woes


Hearing will examine the current state of New York City’s subway system and provide the Council with an opportunity to fully review the agency’s 30 Day Reorganizational Report

  New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Transportation Committee Chair Ydanis Rodriguez and the City Council today announced the Council’s Committee on  Transportation will convene an oversight hearing to examine the state of the subway system. The hearing will be held on August 8th at 10:00 AM in Council Chambers and will provide the Council with an opportunity to explore and examine solutions to help address safety and efficiency issues that have plagued straphangers in recent months. The hearing will also provide the Council with an opportunity to review and conduct close oversight of the  30-day reorganizational report slated to be released by the MTA later this week.
 
“Millions of New Yorkers rely on the subway each and every day to go about their everyday lives,” said Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. “The countless delays, unreliable service and numerous safety issues that  have cropped up in recent months has made clear our subway system cannot remain the status quo. The MTA must do right by New Yorkers – and that means committing to funding much-needed improvements to its nearly century-old infrastructure and working with all levels of government to put an end to these issues. I look forward to the Council’s Transportation Committee hearing and thank Chair Rodriguez for his dedication as we work together to help make  our subways safer and more reliable for all New Yorkers.”
 
“The failures of our public transit system have reached a breaking point,” said Council Transportation Chair Ydanis Rodriguez. “It is time for an open airing of what has led to these issues and what we are going to do to solve them. As we look forward to the 30 day report from the MTA this week, I expect to have a wide-ranging discussion on this plan, digging into the details to help riders understand what is coming, and to ensure we are up to the challenge. After months of mounting delays and derailments, our city needs action now, lest we continue to bear the severe economic and human costs of a system in disarray. I thank Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito for spearheading this effort with me, to best account for how we are addressing the number one crisis facing our city today.”
 
 
WHO: Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito Transportation Committee Chair Ydanis Rodriguez
Council Members, MTA Officials, Members of the Public.
 
WHERE: Council Chambers, City Hall.
 
WHEN: August 8th, 2017 at 10:00 AM

NYC COUNCIL TRANSPORTATION CHAIR YDANIS RODRIGUEZ HAILS EXPANSION OF TRANSIT SIGNAL PRIORITY


  Today the NYC DOT announced that they will expand the use of Transit Signal Priority, allowing buses to move quicker through key intersections. This measure was found to increase bus speeds by 18% for the five routes using the technology. The expansion, if approved, will add the feature to 11 more routes by 2020. Council Transportation Chair Ydanis Rodriguez issued the following statement in response to the announcement:

"With our subway system vastly over capacity right now, buses should be handling some of the load, yet riders feel they cannot rely on this service when it can be faster to walk than to take the bus sometimes. With MTA buses shedding over two million annual riders over the past decade, it is clear the system needs improvements. There are known solutions out there, we just need a plan to move them forward. Transit Signal Priority is one of the most crucial parts of improving bus service across the city. Steps like this are how we will regain riders trust that buses are a fast and efficient option. 

Going forward, we should see a stronger effort from the MTA to add all-door-boarding and off-board-fare payment to more routes in the city. When riders are forced to enter the bus single-file to pay, it eats up valuable time and dissuades New Yorkers from choosing this option. While Transit Signal Priority is just one step in the larger effort to fully transform bus service, I am pleased to see DOT doing its part and it's great news."

Engel Alerts Constituents About Salmonella Outbreak


  Congressman Eliot L. Engel released the following statement on the outbreak of Salmonella Kiambu infections linked to Maradol papayas:

“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are currently investigating an outbreak of Salmonella Kiambu infections. Investigators believe that Maradol papayas have caused the outbreak. Sadly, 47 people in 12 states – including 13 in New York – have fallen ill. One person in New York City tragically died from the illness.

“The CDC is advising that ‘that consumers not eat, restaurants not serve, and retailers not sell Maradol papayas until we learn more.’ I urge the people of NY-16 to heed that recommendation, and to visit the CDC’s website for more information.”

For additional information regarding the outbreak, Maradol papayas and Salmonella Kiambu infections, visit the CDC’s website at https://www.cdc.gov/salmonella/kiambu-07-17/index.html.

NEWS FROM ASSEMBLYMAN JEFFREY DINOWITZ,


Dinowitz Applauds DOT for Measures to make West 230th Street Corridor Safer

  After months of continued urging from Assemblyman Dinowitz to implement changes on the West 230th Street corridor, the Department Of Transportation(DOT) has agreed to implement a left turn signal at the intersection of West 230th Street and Broadway. According to the 50th precinct, the traffic corridor has one of the highest traffic incident rates in the area including incidents with serious injury and occasionally deaths. In total 131 independent incidents occurred in 2016 with 61 of those occurring on or near the exit/entrance ramp to the Major Deegan Expressway. Several weeks ago, a pedestrian was struck on Broadway and West 230th Street as she crossed the street and she later of her injuries.

The intersection of West 230th and Broadway has been particularly problematic given the awkward configuration of the intersection as it joins in an irregular shape with Exterior street making it difficult to navigate safely for drivers and pedestrians alike.

Assemblyman Dinowitz has called on the DOT to review the entire West 230th Street corridor from Riverdale to Bailey Avenue. Just last week, the Assemblyman asked DOT to make specific changes at West 230th Street and Broadway including possibly adding a “no left turn sign” for northbound traffic.

“While the change made is not a “no left turn sign” this is certainly a big improvement. I believe the entirety of West 230th Street needs to be reexamined. Residents from all over the Bronx use the street to gain access to the Major Deegan and many of them deal with this hazardous situation daily. What happened on Broadway and West 230th street was a tragedy that must never be repeated,” said Assemblyman Dinowitz. “While it is good that DOT has finally begun to take pedestrian safety on West 230th and Broadway more seriously, the entire traffic corridor, not just that one intersection, must be examined and safety improved in order to prevent further senseless deaths.”

Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz Applauds DOT/MTA Expansion of Transit Signal Priority, But Asks for More and Sooner

DOT and the MTA say they will add Transit Signal Priority to 550 intersections and 10 bus routes by 2020, and that TSP decreases travel time by 18%. Assemblyman Dinowitz says, “Let’s do more routes and get it done sooner.”

   Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz, Chairman of the Committee on Corporations, Authorities, and Commissions, responded to the NYC Department of Transportation’s Green Means Go: Transit Signal Priority in NYC report with both applause and a request to expand their initiative. The move reflects a request from Assemblyman Dinowitz and his colleagues in Albany contained in a letter to Governor Andrew Cuomo dated May 10, 2017 to implement two basic changes that would dramatically improve service: expansion of Transit Signal Priority (TSP) and all-door cashless boarding technology. Transit Signal Priority enables communication between traffic signals and buses to extend a green light or shorten a red light by a few seconds to reduce the amount of time a bus is stopped along its route.

“I am glad that NYC DOT and the MTA arrived at the conclusion that Transit Signal Priority improves bus service. I am glad that they have decided to expand this great program to more routes and more intersections. I do not know why it needs to take until 2020 to make this change, and I do not know why only 10 routes were selected for expansion. Perhaps only 10 routes meet the criteria indicated in their report, but I find that hard to believe,” said Dinowitz. The DOT report said that TSP works best on two-way streets and intersections that do not have complicated cross traffic patterns in addition to streets with existing bus lanes.

Dinowitz added, “It’s good to see the beginnings of change happening in our bus system, which is so important in outer boroughs like the Bronx. Many people rely on buses to get around because they have difficulty using the subway system due to accessibility concerns. I hope that DOT looks at how to accelerate Transit Signal Priority implementation more quickly than 3 years for 10 routes, given that we already have a lot of the required infrastructure installed in our traffic signals.” The DOT report indicates that a new TSP system has been developed using the NYC Wireless Network and new signal controllers, as well as existing GPS technology on buses.

WHAT NEW YORK CITY RIDERS DESERVE FROM GOVERNOR CUOMO'S SUBWAY TURNAROUND PLAN


The following comes from the office of Mayor Bill de Blasio.

  By July 31, Governor Cuomo has ordered that MTA Chairman Lhota present a plan to stop the dramatic slide in subway performance, improve predictability and reliability, and restore New York City residents’ faith in their transit system.

Riders have every right to be frustrated. Over the last five years, subway delays have more than doubled, from around 28,000 per month in 2012 to more than 70,000 per month today. Only 63 percent of trains are now running “on-time,” a drop of more than 15 percent since 2012, meaning longer waits and less-reliable travel times.

The City looks forward to a comprehensive plan to improve the operations of the subways and address this emergency. As subway riders, here are a few of the items that New Yorkers deserve to see in a credible subway turnaround plan:

(1) Immediate relief for riders. The MTA needs to articulate and quickly implement changes that can improve service and reliability now. Long-term steps will also be essential in the future, but long-term promises will mean little if the MTA cannot demonstrate to riders it can manage its own affairs.

(2) Public performance goals and standards. The MTA should make clear what riders should expect from their system and frequently report actual performance against those standards. These should include simple operating measures – how long riders have wait for a train during rush hour, how many times a train is too crowded to get on – and some service standards – no train should fail to have air conditioning in the summer, no station should be unattended in case people need help, and riders should never be stuck in trains for more than a few minutes as a result of maintenance issues, especially without knowing what is happening. These goals and standards should be based on best-practice performance metrics from peer systems in cities around the world, like the London Underground’s “Excess Journey Time” and “Lost Customer Hours” measurements, and be reported on frequently and clearly.

(3) Clear accountability for continual improvement. The MTA should measure performance against these metrics by line and station for rush hour and non-rush hours, and, like CompStat, hold managers accountable for their performance. The MTA should be consistently pushing to improve reliability and expand service frequency.

(4) An efficient and fair MTA budget and a reallocation of resources towards core needs. The MTA should fund new measures first by accelerating the usage of available resources from every source of funds. If additional funds are needed, the MTA should re-allocate resources from less-critical investments, including funds being made available to it for lights on bridges, any primarily aesthetic portions of station enhancements, or bureaucratic staffing that does not impact customer service. And the MTA, which has among the highest operating and capital construction costs of any major transit agency in the world, should be rigorous in making its operations and capital project delivery as efficient and cost effective as possible before sending yet another bill to the hard-working taxpayers and riders of New York City. A fair plan would also involve ensuring New York City subway and bus riders get a larger share of resources already available to the MTA. New York City subways and busses carry 93 percent of all MTA riders, and there should be investments and operating support commensurate with this ridership.

(5) A meaningful State commitment to the needs of subway riders. The plan should return the more than $450 million of operating funds diverted from the MTA to the State general fund since 2011 and provide a clear accounting of how and when the additional $1 billion of State funds announced by the Governor will be available.

These are basic steps that are required of public agencies everywhere: set high standards, report on performance, use every available dollar wisely, and hold managers accountable. It's time for the MTA to level with its New York City riders. 

MAYOR DE BLASIO TRAVELS BY SUBWAY FROM PARK SLOPE TO THE JAY STREET-METROTECH STATION


  Mayor Bill de Blasio: You've heard a lot of fiction the last few days, so I'm going to give you some facts. The State – the State and the MTA are responsible for the operations of New York City's subways. It's been that way for decades. The State of New York is responsible for making sure our subways run. Again, everyone knows this – it's been decades and decades that the Governor of the State – whoever the Governor is – has named the head of the MTA and has effective control over the MTA. The law that started the creation of the MTA goes all the way back to 1953. If you talk to people who have been involved for decades with the MTA, they say consistently that the State has had responsibility. 

No one questions, for example, whether I have responsibility for making sure the city is safe and for how the NYPD is run or how our schools are run. But when it comes to the MTA, in the last weeks, we've heard all sorts of different explanations. There's only one explanation – the State of New York is responsible for the MTA, period – for the expense budget, for the capital budget, for the whole thing. The expense budget is almost $16 billion a year, the capital budget is $32 billion over five years. Here's the truth – they're not even spending their capital budget. There's a huge amount of money sitting there, including the money the City gave them. We gave them $2.5 billion a couple years ago. Almost 90 percent of that money is just sitting there. 

So this is not about the MTA needing more money right now. This is the MTA needing to use its money the right way, spend its money properly on the things that matter. What people of the city want is for the subway to show up, for it to run on time, for these horrible delays to end, and these breakdowns to end. That's where the State should be putting its focus and the MTA should be putting their focus, not on other matters that are not as important. That's the bottom line.

So they have money. They need to spend that money on what matters. We need to see a plan immediately that will fix the problems that riders face every day. 

Also, remember – the State of New York has used the MTA as a piggy bank. They have taken almost half a billion dollars in money out of the MTA to use for the State budget. That money needs to come back to the MTA, so it could be used for the needs of everyday riders. 

So there's lots to be done, but the resources are there. It's about the MTA and the State of New York stepping up, taking responsibility, coming up with a real plan, and fixing things. It's as simple as that. 

Happy to take your questions.

Question: Mr. Mayor, you at one point said that you thought that Joe Lhota was a good choice for MTA Chair. He came out and said the City owns it and made some claims that you would dispute. Do you still think that he's a good choice –

Mayor: I think he's a good choice. 

Question: Did you take public transportation when you were traveling to Germany?

Mayor: Did I take public transportation in –

Question: When you were traveling in Hamburg – 

Mayor: I don't remember taking the public transportation there. Next question.

Question: Is Andrew Cuomo lying to New York City residents, do you think?

Mayor: He needs to just take responsibility. That's the simple answer. What he said and what the Chairman said over the last few days just is fiction. He needs to take responsibility for the MTA. He's done it at different points. He was certainly doing it on New Year's Eve. He should just do it again. Say look – I'll look you in the face and say I'm responsible for the NYPD, I'm responsible for the DOE, I'm responsible for the Fire Department, I'm responsible for the Sanitation Department. If something goes wrong, it's on me. If something goes right – great, I'll take credit. It's that simple. The Governor and Chairman Lhota simply need to get in front of everyone and say – we're fully responsible, we have to fix the problem. They have the resources. They have the resources. There's no doubt about it. Now give us a plan that will fix the problem.

Question: And if you have your druthers, how would this end? What's the best case scenario?

Mayor: It's very simple. Use the money you have. Look it – we have it on a fact sheet. Look at the past amount of money that has not been spent, including the money the City of New York gave. 90 percent of the money we gave them two years ago hasn't been spent.

Question: So you'll just say no?

Mayor: I'll – listen, listen to logic – my guys, look – I want to reason here on the subway with you because I've been surprised by this demand for more money when the money they have is not being spent in any rational fashion. One, look at the fact sheet – how much MTA money is not being spent overall, not just the money we gave them, but the money they had from other sources, including New York City residents and taxpayers – they're not spending it. Two, they don't have a plan to address the immediate problems, and that's what they need to focus on – the signals, the electronics, the basics. Show everyone that plan and shift resources to that plan. So why are we talking about more money when we know they have money that they're not spending now? And the State of New York took half a billion out of the MTA budget for its own needs. Give that money back before you talk about anything from the City of New York. 

Question: Does the Governor need to ride the subway more?

Mayor: That's his choice. I've ridden the subway throughout my life for 20 years, I told you guys, 1979 to 1999 – the only thing I did was ride the subway. Chirlane has ridden the subway throughout her life. We have a lot of experience with it. I'll keep riding the subway. I want to make sure straphangers know I'm fighting for their needs, and that means a new plan from the MTA, for the MTA to spend the money they have on the things that matter. 

Question: Mr. Mayor, are you going to play hardball and not provide money to the MTA?

Mayor: We have provided $2.5 billion. I don't know which part of this is not getting across. We provided $2.5 billion. They have not spent 90 percent of it. It's as simple as that. We are not under a legal obligation to provide more. The MTA has a lot of money they're not spending. Read my lips – they're not spending the money they have, and they're not spending it on the right things. Spend it on the signals, spend it on the new train, spend it on the electronic system, spend it on more maintenance. Let's see the MTA come forward with a plan. Let's see the MTA use the money it has. Let's see the State of New York return the half billion they took out of the MTA budget.

Question: Mr. Mayor, you recently called these subway rides cheap symbolism. Why today – 

Mayor: I was talking about a very specific question my friends. I said when I go from Gracie to the gym, my cars go along too. That's what the question was about. Do my cars go with me? And yes, they do. So that's my point. The car's going to be going with me either way, whether I'm in the subway or in the car. 

But now we are in the midst of a crisis over these last couple of months. It's important for New Yorkers to know I'm fighting for these changes in the MTA and I'm out there experiencing what they're experiencing. I'm talking to a lot of people on the subway. I'm going to keep doing it. 

Question: Do you think New Yorkers would be willing to pay more money to support mass transit?

Mayor: I think the money the MTA has is not being spent and is not being spent properly. Let's do that before you talk about anyone spending more money. Let's use the money we have. 

Question: You're on a train right now having a press conference here.

Mayor: Send a message that there needs to be a new plan for the MTA that fixes the problem. Thank you guys.

EDITOR'S NOTE: I was not on the train with the mayor. This is from a transcript provided by the mayor's press office.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

5th Annual International Music Festival in Loreto Park


  There were many events today, but as I have in previous years I went to the 5th Annual International Music Festival in Loreto Park on Morris Park Avenue in the Morris Park area. This event was billed as a three elected official event, and rather than go to other events Assemblyman Mark Gjonaj stayed during the entire time this event went on. 
  
  As is every year traditional Albanian dancers from Rozafati Dance were on hand, along with Ms. Donna Williams who did an excellent impersonation of Nancy Sinatra including the high boots, and many other singers and dancers which included Mindbuilders and Tamicia Dancers. 

  While Assemblyman Gjonaj is running for the term limited 13th City Council seat none of his opponents in the Democratic primary showed up as the high temperature probably kept some of the crowd at home in their air conditioned rooms or at the beach. photos of the event are below.


Above - Assemblyman Michael Benedetto was on hand during the setting up and opening of the event.
Below - Assemblyman Gjonaj smiles as mom and her baby return the smiles. 




Above - It never hurts to have your picture taken with some happy children.
Below - the local talent began.




Above and Below - Ms. Donna Williams does her Nancy Sinatra impersonation, complete with the High Stepping Boots Made For Walking.




Above - Ms. Williams even got a few ladies to join in and dance with her on this very hot afternoon.
Below - It was time for the Rozafati Dancers now in full traditional Albanian dress.




Above and Below - Some more photos of the traditional Albanian dance.




The entire dance team with their instructor in the middle.