Saturday, July 24, 2010

Where are the Voices of Reform and Accountability Now?

   Senator Reverend Ruben Diaz (D-Bronx) released the following statement regarding the upcoming investigation of New York Congressman Charles Rangel.
   "We know from published reports that a House Committee offered a deal but Congressman Rangel refused to admit any wrongdoing. The only news coverage so far has been about Rangel saying more or less: "Bring it on, I am ready" - which is his right. Meanwhile, the New York Democratic Party and its Executive Director Charlie King remain silent. Where are the voices of reform and accountability now?"
   "When the details of the House Ethics Report and charges against Congressman Rangel are released next week, can we expect that Charlie King, and New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo will decry this betrayal of the public trust and ask that Congressman Rangel be removed from the Democratic Party as they did for Senator Pedro Espada? Or can we expect that these crusaders for justice will insist that judgment be withheld until all the facts are in and a final determination made by the US House of Representatives before they revisit the issue of Rangel's fitness to be considered a Democrat. Maybe Senator Pedro Espada should expect the same kind of temperance and reserve before Democratic leaders like Andrew Cuomo or Charlie King rush to judgment and try to deprive Senator Espada of membership in the Democratic Party."

Friday, July 23, 2010

CDEC 10 Holds July Meeting-No Parents Attend

   The replacement for school boards Community District Education Councils that were to have increased parent involvement have done the exact opposite. School Board 10 in the Northwest Bronx would draw hundreds of parents and School District 10 personnel to a school board meeting. Community District Education Council 10 the replacement for School Board 10 held its July meeting last night, and in the audience was not even one School District 10 parent throughout the entire meeting. School District 10 has over 45,000 students not counting high school students. There were two children of one council member, two translators for the one non-english speaking council member (who alternated every 30 minutes), one staff member from a district 10 high school, and myself in the audience. The CDEC meeting started at 6pm and ended at 7:25PM, and the reason the meeting took so long was that the DOE template of by-laws for the Education Councils were read aloud (all 7pages) with blanks left to be filled in at each District Council and be voted on to comply with the revised education law.
   Even District 10 Superintendent Ms. Sonia Menendez was not present, and the CDEC president marked her absent without notice. It must also be said that there are two parent vacancies on District 10 CDEC that have not been filled for several months, because no district parent is interested in serving on CDEC 10.
   This was an important meeting as there were elections of officers for the council, and passage of the council budget, which amounts to $20,000.00 per council. When you factor in the costs of having to open school buildings, translation, security, and other monies it takes to run CDEC's, one has to wonder how many millions of dollars are not going into the classroom citywide
   Years ago when School Leadership Teams had budgets of thousands of dollars, I personally told Chancellor Joel Klein to do away with them to put more money into the classroom. Chancellor Klein told me "SLT's are state mandated, and if we don't pay the staff to attend they won't". Chancellor Klein later cut the SLT budgets to only the stipends for the members. I would tell Chancellor Klein to cut out CDEC's as parent involvement is now at ZERO, but he will say again that CDEC's are state mandated. I must add that on the SLT's the principal has the final say as to what to do at the school, because the principal can be held accountable, and I was told that we can't fire the parents. Chancellor Klein has the final say as to CDEC's, as he can remove or keep off anyone he wants.
   My question to the state legislature is then why are you mandating things that take away money from the classroom, and why did you renew mayoral control when you knew it was wrong? The changes you instituted only have made things worse.

Could Charlie Rangel Be in Big Trouble?

   It is being reported that the congressional trial of Manhattan Congressman Charlie Rangel could start as soon as the day before the Democratic Primary in September. Rangel could face a host of charges including  misuse of his office, questions of his four rent stabilized apartments and the use of one as a campaign headquarters in the past, also there are questions of possible under reporting of income. Rangel could face being expelled from congress if found guilty, the last person to be expelled was former Congressman James Traficant in 2002.
   Comments from Congressman Rangel were that he was glad that he would get a chance to publicly rebut charges first made in 2008. Rangel gave up being chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee in March of this year, and has spent nearly 2 million dollars to clear himself.
   Manhattan Democratic County Leader Assemblyman Keith Wright is standing by Rangel, while others say he is out of touch with the district he represents. This year Rangel faces a tough challenge by Assemblyman Adam Clayton Powell IV, and could also face a tough November election if he defeats Powell in the Democratic Primary.

Thursday, July 22, 2010


   Residents of the Fort Schuyler Houses senior center no longer have to deal with an eyesore, thanks to State Senator Jeff Klein. During a visit to the center on Monday, July 12th, Klein heard repeatedly from residents that an abandoned lot across from the center was being used as an illegal dumping zone. Garbage had been piling up continually and large objects like furniture were also being left at the site during the past several months.
   Immediately following the visit, Klein’s office reached out to the NYC Department of Transportation to see whether they could clean up the site. Within days of Klein's visit to the center, the Transportation Department had fully cleared the site of all trash and debris, to the delight of Fort Schuyler residents.
   “Whether it is litter or graffiti, we will not tolerate the tarnishing of our neighborhoods. I’m very pleased that we were able to resolve this matter so quickly and improve the quality of life for Fort Schuyler residents,” said State Senator and Deputy Majority Leader Jeffrey D. Klein (D-Bronx/Westchester).
   “We’ve had this problem going on a long time. People even throw out furniture there, and they never clean it up. Senator Klein came that one day and then it was done, God bless him. I told everyone it was cleaned up because of Senator Klein,” said Ann Marie Abruzzi of the Fort Schuyler Houses Senior Center.  


   Following the deaths of David Luccioni and Crystal Reyes, two teenagers who drowned in an off-limits area of the Bronx River on Sunday, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. is urging Bronx families to use caution this summer and swim in pools and beaches operated by the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation.
   “Everyone wants to cool off in the heat, but the tragic deaths of David and Crystal should remind us that we have to be safe. The Bronx River is beautiful, but it is a natural area with uncertain depths and no lifeguards on duty, making it too dangerous for swimming. We are fortunate to have numerous options for safe swimming in the Bronx, most of which are free, and I encourage Bronxites to take advantage of them,” said Borough President Diaz.
   Borough President Diaz’s office is making available a list of beaches and pools that offer safer swimming options in the Bronx, a copy of which is attached. Information on water safety and other summer swimming programs can be found at the Parks Department’s website,

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Ben Franklin Club Endorses in 33rd State Senate District

   Last night members of the Ben Franklin Democratic Club held an endorsement meeting for the 33rd State Senate District that was put off from the previous endorsement meeting in late May. Three of the four candidates were present, and gave short presentations as to why the Ben Franklin Club members should cast a ballot for them over the other candidates. Incumbent 33rd State Senator Pedro Espada Jr. was a no show, and Councilman G. Oliver Koppell was adamant in saying that Pedro Espada Jr. must be defeated in this years  election.
   Candidate Dan Padernacht was up first, and said that he was a product of the local schools, he is a lawyer, is a member of Community Board #8 where he now chairs the Traffic and Transportation Committee. When asked he said that he gave in 4,672 signatures and has raised $20,000.00 so far with none of it coming from any unions, and had the endorsement of his mother.
   Candidate Gustave Rivera was second, saying that the 33rd district is ill served by the current senator, Pedro Espada Jr.  Rivera said that jobs, economic development, rent stabilized apartments (of which he said he lives in one), and health care are his priorities, and that he would have voted for increasing the cap on charter schools. Mr. Rivera said that he handed in 6,200 signatures, and has raised $63,000.00. He rattled off several supporters, but when asked about a former employer State Senator Andrea Cousins Mr. Rivera said that he would not expect her to endorse against a fellow sitting State Senator. 
   Candidate Fernando Tirado was third and last to speak. Tirado said that he was asked by the community to run, has a grass roots organization, is a man of integrity that looks at the needs of the people, and that he belives in democracy.
   There was a fifth option open to the Ben Franklin Club members, that being to check off the No Endorsement line on the ballot. 
When  the  53 voting  members  present  cast  their  ballots  the  results  were- Pedro Espada-0, Dan Padernacht-8, Gustave Rivera-43, Fernando Tirado-0, and No Endorsement-2.
   While this was a club endorsement, it must be noted that over 90 percent of the 53 members who voted do not reside in the 33rd State Senate District. 
   Also on hand was Bill Samuels of the New Roosevelt Initiative (which has endorsed candidate Gustave Rivera) who said that "If we don't beat Pedro Espada it will send a bad message to the voters". Samuels added that the three items on the NRI agenda is 1- to build the best state party, 2- to have the best legislature, 3- to have the best state constitution, all while saying that the Cuomo agenda is right on the target. 
  It looks like Mr. Gustavo Rivera will be standing side by side with Andrew Cuomo in the campaign to oust Pedro Espada from the 33rd State Senate seat, and maybe the Democratic Party?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


   “Today’s statements from both State Education Commissioner David Steiner and Daniel Koretz, a testing expert and professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, all point to the reality that previous data used by the City’s Department of Education showing record improvement in our public schools is, in many cases, unreliable. While the City will point to these rising test scores as evidence that the system is working, the results of the National Assessment of Education Progress indicate that achievement in our schools is stagnant at best, and that our State scores are skewed too high".
   “Today’s findings show that the State’s assessment test, as it is currently constituted, is a poor measure of the achievement of our students. This is a very important first step in truly realizing where our students really are academically, and how we can best prepare them to compete in today’s global economy".
   “Also, as we raise the standards for our students let us as at the same time raise the level of support as well.  As standards are raised more students will need additional academic interventions, and we must as a State and City provide those resources to our schools and students.  Raising standards is not in itself the sole answer, we must also give our schools the needed resources, options and supports to give our students the world class education that they deserve,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr"

Dinowitz Sets up Meeting to Talk Padernacht Into Dropping out

    Our friend Bob Kappstatter (of the Daily News) reports today in his column that Riverdale Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz set up a meeting between 33rd State Senate candidate Dan Padernacht, State Democratic Committee Executive Director Charlie King, 1199SEIU Political Director Kevin Finnegan, and Public Advocate Bill DeBlassio to try to talk Padernacht into dropping out of the 33rd State Senate race to rally behind candidate Gustavo Rivera.
   I asked 33rd State Senate candidate Dan Padernacht about the meeting, and he said that he was not dropping out of the senate race, and that there were three different challenges to his petition. Fernando Tirado the fourth candidate that is in the 33rd State Senate race has had his petitions challenged also. 
   The appearance of heavy handed tactics to have other candidates drop out can come back to haunt candidate Gustavo Rivera, who has put out a campaign literature suggesting that since 60 percent of the 33rd State Senate district has an assembly member named Rivera (Jose in the 78th A.D., and Naomi in the 80th A.D.) so the voters should also vote for him since his name is Rivera. There is speculation that Gustavo Rivera is connected to a Bronx blogger that reported a story on the fifth candidate so damaging that the candidate  not submit petitions
   By the way Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz is also the Bronx Democratic County Committee Chairman, who has been asked by the State Democratic Committee to expel current 33rd State Senator Pedro Espada Jr.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Committee of 100 Democrats Free Comunity Barbecue was a big success

   Hundreds of people came from throughout the borough of the Bronx, but most were from the 33rd State Senate District. The Committee of 100 Democrats honored State Senate Deputy Majority Leader Jeff Klein and Assemblyman Jose Rivera, both long time friends of the Committee of 100 Democrats and very hard workers for their constituents and the people of the Bronx. 
   State Senator Pedro Espada Jr. (33rd district)  scheduled to appear missed an opportunity to mingle with the many voters of the 33rd State Senate District, but all three opponents (as of now) Mr. Dan Padernacht, Mr. Gustavo Rivera, and Mr. Fernando Tirado were on hand to meet and greet those voters of the 33rd district that were enjoying the festivities.
   As usual at a Committee of 100 Democrats barbecue there were Brazilian Dancers, several different live musical bands, lots of free food, and a good time for all.
Senator Jeff Klein and Assemblyman Jose Rivera practice their musical skills with the one of the musical groups that performed at The Committee of 100 Democrats Free Community Barbecue Saturday July 17th.

Bronx Borough President, Ruben Diaz Jr. and the Woodlawn Cemetery Introduce English and Spanish Audio Tours of the Historic Cemetery on Seventh Anniversary of Death of Queen of Salsa Celia Cruz

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. and The Friends of The Woodlawn Cemetery introduced English and Spanish audio tours of the historic Woodlawn Cemetery, so that visitors can enjoy self guided tours of the historic 147 year old Bronx cemetery.  The audio tour was unveiled as part of a commemoration of the seventh anniversary of the passing of "La Guarachera de Cuba” the “Queen of Salsa”, Cuban Born salsa singer, Celia Cruz who recorded twenty-three gold albums.
“Woodlawn Cemetery is one of our most important cultural institutions and is a rich source of information on people who helped shape our city and country,” said Borough President Diaz.  “This audio tour will make it more inviting and manageable for tourists, as well as locals, to fully appreciate the historical treasure it represents.” 
The audio tour which will cost five dollars will also highlight the architectural works of acclaimed architects Charles McKim, William Rutherford Mead, Stanford White, John Merven Carrère, Thomas Hastings and John Russell Pope who designed some of Woodlawn’s 1700  significant monuments and mausoleums. The Woodlawn Cemetery features 400 acres of rolling hills, spectacular trees and shrubbery, mausoleums and memorials of historic and artistic significance and a natural fauna/flora sanctuary.  
 Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. showing the map and the device visitors will receive to enjoy the Woodlawn Cemetery tour.