Thursday, March 31, 2011

  This came in from Senator Ruben Diaz Sr. which talks about "Conference of Somos Uno" , the annual function for Hispanic legislators to meet, and discuss ways in which they can use their power to defend political abuses and resolve the disadvantages they have as Hispanics. This ends by saying that the black and hispanic elected officials whom voted yes on the budget turned their backs on their communities, to win favor with Governor Cuomo.

     Are We One or Are We the Shame?

This weekend, the Legislative Conference known as Somos Uno or “We are One”, which is comprised of all the Hispanic Legislators of the State Legislature, will gather in Albany, the State Capital to find ways in which Hispanic elected officials can protect, defend and stand up for the Hispanic community all across New York State.

This Conference of Somos Uno began its’ annual functions more than 30 years ago under the name Somos el Futuro or “We are the Future,”  under the guidance of the late Assemblyman Angelo del Toro.

This weekend, from Friday to Sunday, all will gather in Albany where there will be workshops and conferences to discuss ways in which we can use our power to defend political abuses and resolve the disadvantages we have as Hispanics.

The problem  is that these same elected officials were the first ones to give up and trade our community, sometimes for a pittance.

Last night, those same legislators, almost all, voted in favor of the budget which will practically devastate our people.

If all the elected officials, both Hispanic and African-American, would have come together in favor of the poor, the elderly, the children and the needy, we would have defeated the budget and forced the Governor to include the Millionaires Tax and/or extend Rent Control.

Yes my dear friends, we have the power to morally send a message, with our “No” vote,  Governor Cuomo will not be able to continue cutting services to the people that we are supposed to defend.

Instead, one by one, our own legislators and those who will meet this weekend to try to form new methods to defend our people, were the first to fail and lost the opportunity to tell Governor Cuomo “enough is enough.”

Some of them may tell you that they had no other alternative, that if they did not it would cripple the government, or they would have offered some other type of political spin to defend their actions.

I say that there is always an alternative. The alternative to vote with courage and determination. The alternative to defend our community and not say one thing publicly and do another privately with the Governor.

I am afraid that this is not the first nor the last time our elected officials will turn their backs on our community to win the favor of the Governor.

I am afraid that this is not the first time that We are One or We are the Future has become “We are the Shame.”

I am Senator Reverend Rubén Díaz and this is what you should know.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Lawmakers Spar over Taxing the Rich

  Bronx Assemblyman Jose Rivera (78th A.D.) said "stop talking sh*t" about the fight over state aid between NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Governor Cuomo. Rivera added that certain people should stop whining. 
  Over in the state senate meanwhile, Senator Gustavo Rivera (no relation) questioned the Republican Senate Finance chairman on the millionaire's tax, trying to get Senator De Francisco to say that it was a tax break for the rich by letting it expire. 
  And then there was Senator Ruben Diaz Sr. who accused Governor Cuomo of eyeing the White House, instead of doing what's right for New Yorkers. See the entire article "Lawmakers Spar Over Taxing the Rich" here , including the 5 1/2 minute video of Senator Diaz announcing the Cuomo for President campaign.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Pedro Espada Jr. and Son, Hit With New Federal Charges

  We said months ago that we thought that Pedro Espada would be hit with charges of tax evasion, and that is just what the U.S. Attorney has done. You can read the entire 30 page indictment here where tax evasion charges have been added to other charges against Pedro Espada Jr. and his son Pedro Gautier Espada.
  Both Espadas are currently out on $750,000 Bail, and their was no comments on the new charges.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Assemblyman Dinowitz declares victory in fight to save senior centers

Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz (D-Bronx), Chair of the New York State Assembly Committee on Aging, has applauded the restoration of Title XX funding in the budget, part of which is used to fund senior centers in New York City.  Governor Cuomo’s Executive Budget cut Title XX funding, causing Mayor Bloomberg to threaten to close 105 senior centers in New York City.  There is now a three-way agreement among the Governor, the Assembly, and the Senate to restore this funding.

“Restoration of Title XX funding was my number one budget priority as Aging Committee Chair.  New York City colleagues joined with me in insisting that this crucial funding be restored.  Speaker Silver strongly supported this restoration, and the Assembly budget resolution included a full restoration of Title XX funding,” said Assemblyman Dinowitz.

“I am pleased that Governor Cuomo, the Assembly, and the Senate are now all on the same page in supporting continued funding of our senior centers.  This huge victory means that thousands of New York City seniors will not be closed out of their senior centers.  I call upon Mayor Bloomberg to rescind his hit list of senior centers to be closed as soon as the budget is passed and signed.  Now that there will be no state funding cut to New York City senior centers, I call upon Mayor Bloomberg to pledge not to close even a single center,” said Assemblyman Dinowitz.

Kingsbridge Heights Neighborhood Improvement Association Dinner Dance APRIL 30th

This Year Honoring

SR. Mary Cleary
Our Lady of Angels School

7 PM – 11 PM

Lehman College-  East Dining Room
Make your reservations early as seating is limited for this very special occasion.

TICKETS: $25.00      Info/718-618-7550

The Kingsbridge Heights Neighborhood Improvement Association, Inc.
2805 University Avenue, Suite B
Bronx, N.Y. 10468
Tel- 718-618-7550       Fax: 718-618-7549

Plight of Working Poor Inspires Citywide Call for Living Wage

On Anniversary of Dr. King’s Death, New Yorkers Rally in Two Boroughs

Brooklyn and Bronx City Council Members, Faith Leaders, and Many Others to Demand Living Wage Jobs
On April 4, 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was killed while fighting for living wage jobs. This April 4th, Brooklyn and Bronx rallies will honor his legacy as part of the growing citywide movement for a living wage at a time when far too many working people continue to struggle to survive, despite working full-time hours. Through story, song, and sermon, they will convey a sense of crisis and rally for action.

On this historic occasion, elected officials from Brooklyn and the Bronx will join faith leaders, labor leaders, community leaders, and local residents in pushing for swift passage of the Fair Wages for New Yorkers Act, popular legislation that will help create more living wage jobs.
Bronx - The event is co-hosted by the following Bronx elected officials: Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.; Bronx City Council Member G. Oliver Koppell; and other elected officials, faith leaders, labor leaders, community leaders, and local Bronx residents will participate.
Monday, April 4, 2011, 7:00 p.m., Bronx Pentecostal Deliverance Center 1755 Watson Ave. Bronx, NY (6 Train to Lawrence)

Sen. Klein & Public Health Advocates Unveil Plan to Combat Underage 'Alcopop' Abuse

  State Senator Jeff Klein (D-Bronx/Westchester), chairman of the Senate Alcohol and Drug Abuse Committee, was joined by public health advocates from across New York Sunday to unveil plans to crack down on easy access that minors have to Four Loko and similar high-alcohol malted beverages.

This strategy came as result of recent undercover police stings in New York City, as well as a survey of hospitals and colleges across New York State. The results all showed that these beverages – and their dangerous consequences – continue to be easily within the reach of underage drinkers.

“The results of these investigations clearly show that 'alcopops' like Four Loko- or any other type of these deceptive drinks- are still too easy for teens to get their hands on. It is time for us to take the necessary steps to get these dangerous cocktails off the shelves of convenience stores and bodegas in order to save our teens from any further injury or harm,” Senator Klein said.

“Alcopops,” or High Alcohol Flavored Malt Beverages, are sweetened and flavored malt-based drinks with high alcohol content (Four Loko has a 12 percent alcohol content, while a normal beer generally has a 4 to 5 percent alcohol content.) They are generally sold for $2 to $3 for a 22 ounce can, have very similar packaging to non-alcoholic energy drinks, and have a history of being aggressively marketed to minors.

Senator Klein's plan includes:
  • Moving alcopops out of the corner store and restricting their sales to liquor stores
Liquor stores, which are more highly regulated, are not frequented by minors, and are the more appropriate place to purchase a product with such a high alcohol content. Senator Klein was introduced legislation (S.4221) to make this change. This measure was draft as Phusion Projects, announced that it would be packaging its High Alcohol beverage Four Loko in bottle form with the specific goal to further increase its presence in grocery and convenience stores. According to the bill, a High Alcohol Flavored Malt Beverage is classified as defined, under this bill, as a beverage with a combination of 6 % alcohol by volume and 1 % sugar that also includes the addition of flavorings. Such flavorings can be fruit juices or fruit flavor additives, or herbs, nuts, or spices, such as chocolate, licorice or vanilla or stimulants such as guarana, ginseng, or taurine.
  • Once and for all banning caffeinated alcopops in New York
Police recently discovered a caffeinated version of Four Loko – which that Federal Food and Drug Administration has deemed to a public health concern – still being sold in a gas station in Pelham. This is despite an agreement that the State State Liquor Authority secured with Phusion Project to stop selling that version of Four Loko in New York, and a seperate agreement that the SLA forged with the state's largest beer distributors to stop selling any alcoholic energy drinks that contain caffeine and other stimulants. Senator Klein has introduced legislation (S.3889) that would make it illegal to sell these caffeinated alcoholic beverages. This legislation is slated to be voted on by the Senate Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Committee on Monday.
  • Holding the first-ever statewide hearing on underage alcopop abuse
On April 12, at 11:30 am, the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Committee will be holding a hearing on the dangers, rising trend of underage drinking, direct marketing targeting minors, college campus prevalence, law enforcement, and legislation on dealing with alcopops. The goal of the hearing is to raise awareness of the issue and to shape pending and future legislation dealing with the regulation of High Alcohol Flavored Malt Beverages.

"There are a number of alcoholic beverages like Four Loko that are marketed specifically to our youth. These drinks often are the ones that get younger teens started drinking," said New York City Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley. "When young teens drink alcohol they experience alcohol-related harms and increase their risk for lifetime problems of alcohol dependence or abuse. Senator Klein's bill is an important first step toward protecting our young people from these alcoholic beverages."

Earlier this week, Senator Klein asked the NYPD's Bronx Borough Command to look into whether teens were gaining easy access to alcoholic beverages, including Four Loko and other alcopops in the Bronx portion of the 34th Senate district, which he represents.

Following Klein’s request, an undercover investigation was launched in the three principal precincts of his district: the 45th Precinct (serving Throggs Neck, Pelham Bay, Co-Op City, Country Club, Westchester Square and City Island), the 47th Precinct (serving Wakefield and Woodlawn which Klein represents as well as Baychester, Edelwald and Fishkill) and the 49th Precinct (serving Morris Park, Van Nest, Allerton, Ollinville, and Pelham Gardens).

The operations were led by the Borough Inspector. An undercover volunteer - under the age of 18  - went into several businesses attempting to buy Four Loko and other alcoholic beverages. Out of the 23 businesses visited, 17 sold alcohol to the minor without asking for ID. The types of locations that were part of the investigation were a combination of bodegas and convenience stores.

The breakdown is as follows:
The 45th Precinct investigated 10 stores, 7 were issued violations
The 47th Precinct investigated  7 stores, 5 were issued violations
The 49th Precinct investigated 6 stores, 5 were issued violations

In addition, Senator Klein and the Independent Democratic Conference released the results of a survey taken in the past week of hospitals and law enforcement across New York State regarding incidents involving beverages with high alcohol content.

The results were startling.

In the past week, four minors were rushed to the Elmhurst Hospital Emergency Room in Queens with alcohol poisoning due as a result of consuming Four Loko and Joose.

On March 17, 2011 - St. Patrick's Day - police were called to an underage party in Eastchester involving the consumption of Four Loko. The survey also unveiled that a gas station supermarket in Pelham is still selling Four Loko in its caffeinated form.

In a third survey of colleges conducted by the Independent Democratic Conference, many campus security officers knew of the beverage, were concerned of the high level of alcohol and had policies in place to deal with not only these products but underage drinking as well.

Since January, Canisius College reported 10 cases involving underage consumption of Four Loko - both on and off campus.

In addition, the University of Buffalo reported a number of 821 alcohol violations in 2009, many included Four Loko, of both underage and of age, in the residence halls. Since January 2011, there have been total of 16 overdoses due to alcohol.

The Independent Democratic Conference also learned through their survey so far this year, the Downstate Poison Control Center has received 7 calls reporting 7 separate cases of people being hospitalized after consuming Four Loko. 5 of those 7 individuals were under the legal drinking age.

“The New York Alcohol Policy Alliance commends Senator Klein for his commitment to the young people of New York State by proposing to greatly restrict access to these sweetened, high-alcohol ‘binge-in-a-can’ drinks. We believe that this legislation represents an important first step toward protecting our kids from alcopops – highly sweetened ‘starter drinks.' We look forward to participating in Senator Klein’s upcoming hearings on the matter, so that the people of New York can take effective action to thwart the alcohol companies who are irresponsibly marketing these products to our youth,” said Robert Pezzolesi, CEO of the New York Center for Alcohol Policy Solutions.

"Marin Institute applauds Senator Klein's leadership to help get this dangerous products out of the reach of youth. We are seeing a disturbing trend of high-potency, sweetened alcoholic beverages that needs to be stopped, " said Michele Simon, Research and Policy Director, Marin Institute.

“Four Loko is clearly marketed to seduce our young people, due to its high sugar content and flavoring. It is not the type of beverage that would be attractive to adults. All underage drinking is harmful, and we are grateful and supportive of Senator Klein’s position, in order to protect our youth,” said Joan Bonsignore, Executive Director, National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence/Westchester, Inc.

"On behalf of prevention providers and parents, I applaud Senator Klein's efforts to keep kids safe. By taking these dangerous beverages out of convenience stores and supermarkets it will be less likely that a store cashier will mistake them for non-alcoholic beverages and therefore less likely that youth will be able to obtain them," said Ellen Morehouse, Executive Director of Student Assistance Services of Westchester County.

"Moving these "binge in a can" products from convenience stores to liquor stores makes sense.  The Eastchester Communities That Care coalition supports initiatives that keep alcohol out of teenagers' reach,” said James Genova, Project Director for Eastchester Communities That Care.


(Photo Attached: James Genova, Project Director for Eastchester Communities That Care, Ellen Morehouse, Executive Director of Student Assistance Services of Westchester County, Tanya Cooper, NCADD - Westchester Chapter, Senator Klein and Robert Pezzolesi, CEO of the New York Center for Alcohol Policy Solutions)

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Geraldine Ferraro Passes Away

  The first woman to run for Vice-president on the Democratic line, (shown here with presidential running mate Walter Mondale)  Ms. Geraldine Ferraro has died at the age of 75, from  complications from multiple myeloma, a blood cancer she had been battling for many years. 

  The New York Times goes into detail about her political career here. The tributes for her are coming in from all over, as we will print some of our local elected officials who have sent out statements about the unfortunate passing of Ms. Ferraro. 


   City Comptroller John C. Liu stated the following in response to questions about the passing of Former Vice Presidential Nominee Geraldine Ferraro:
“Geraldine Ferraro was an extraordinary New Yorker and American who set new standards of public service and shattered the glass ceiling for women in our nation. All the while, she never forgot her values of fairness and equal opportunity, and never forgot her roots in NYC and Queens. Geraldine Ferraro leaves behind a great legacy.”
  Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. stated the following.
“As a Bronx native, Geraldine Ferraro was an icon not just in the City, but across the entire nation. Her contributions to the civic and political life of the United States are immeasurable, and the thoughts and prayers of the entire Bronx are with her family during their time of grief. We have lost a true legend in Geraldine Ferraro, and she will be sorely missed,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.
  Senator Gustavo Rivera, 33rd State Senate District  issued the following statement.
“Today I join with my fellow New Yorkers and Americans in mourning the loss of former Queens Congresswoman Geraldine Ferraro, a role model and inspirational leader. Geraldine Ferraro certainly made her mark on this country and our history as the first female candidate for Vice President, but long before becoming a household name, Geraldine Ferraro made her own mark on New York as a public school teacher, an assistant district attorney in the Special Victims Bureau and as a Queens Congresswoman. Throughout her career, Geraldine focused on issues impacting women, especially the economic rights of women, whether it be wages, pensions or retirement plans. She will be remembered throughout the country, but especially here at home in New York, as a hero, dedicated public servant and trailblazer.”

  We are sure all of our elected officials are deeply saddened by the loss of Ms. Geraldine Ferraro, and expect more statements to come in from them.  

Senator Reverend Ruben Diaz Urges His Colleagues to Oppose Any Budget without Rent Control

New York State Senator Reverend Ruben Diaz (D-Bronx) has released the following statement calling upon all of his Black and Hispanic colleagues in the Senate and in the Assembly to vote against any budget that does not include rent regulation.
“I am calling upon all of my colleagues in the Senate and the Assembly – especially my colleagues who are Black and Hispanic – to refuse to vote for any Budget without rent regulation protection. These protections limit rent and rent hikes that landlords can charge on more than a million apartments in New York.
I urge my colleagues to learn from Senator Liz Krueger, follow her lead and support her one key Budget issue – rent regulations – which are set to expire on June 15, 2011.  We all know that rent regulations effect our constituents, and how essential it is for rent control to be included in the Budget. 
It will be a pure hypocrisy for any Black or Hispanic Senator or Assemblymember to vote for any budget that does not include rent regulations.  A vast majority of our constituents depend on these rent regulation laws, and if we do not address it in this Budget, millions of working and middle-class New Yorkers will be in immediate risk of losing their homes.
We must not let the Governor hijack New York’s Budget and omit rent regulations in it.  Our constituents rely upon us to represent them in Albany, and we must not abandon them.”


Tell Cuomo: No Justice, No Peace
Occupy The Capital March 30th in Albany

Buses from New York will leave at 11 AM from Hunter College (68th St and Lexington Ave) and Penn Station
Visit for the exact location of the Penn Station bus
One bus will return to New York Wednesday evening, the other will return Thursday morning (or later)
Please email to reserve a seat on the Hunter bus and for the Penn Station bus

Governor Cuomo is balancing his budget on the backs of the most vulnerable New Yorkers, all to give a massive tax break to the very wealthy. If his budget is passed, Cuomo will have perpetrated the largest transfer of wealth from regular New Yorkers to the wealthy in the history of our state. Cuomo’s budget isn’t just bad for regular New Yorkers and the most vulnerable—it’s bad for the future of our state.  Cuomo’s budget makes no sense.  His cuts aren’t cuts—they’re scars that will destroy communities while impeding growth, and make our state less attractive to anyone that would want to move here and add to our economy.  He is, in effect, creating a larger deficit and more cuts to pay for a tax break for the wealthiest New Yorkers.

We are the 99%.  We represent New York—unfortunately, our Governor does not.  Ninety-nine percent of New Yorkers would not be effected by keeping our current progressive tax system, but many of us would be severely hurt by Cuomo’s unnecessary cuts and his tax giveaway to the wealthiest.  New Yorkers know that—and that’s why they disagree with Cuomo’s plan to cut taxes for the wealthiest by a two-to-one margin. Join RTTC-NYC and the 99% to demand a state budget that meets these demands:

* Strengthen the Rent Laws and Repeal Vacancy Destabilization*

* Extend the Millionaires Tax*

* Save our children and students from devastating education cuts*

Mr. Cuomo, You've got 5 Days to decide whose side you're on…the 99% or the 1%
 The clock is ticking...and the 99% will not wait in silence...

Friday, March 25, 2011

Will There Be An On-Time State Budget

  The deadline for an on-time state budget is April 1st, and in the past 25 years there been only three years that the budget was on time. It depends on who you talk to, because you will get a different answer each time as we did. 
  We spoke to a state senator who said the budget will not be on time if I have anything to do with it. We spoke to a leading assemblyman who said that the budget was almost signed, sealed, and delivered. Yet when reporters such as Liz Benjamin reports here talk to Assembly Speaker Silver (who has left Albany to observe Shabbos) the answer is "Tomorrow, Tomorrow, Tomorrow its just a day away". Education and health care are two sticking points that may delay the final budget, unless enough elected officials can't live with the budget and vote it down.
Click to enlarge

Senator Rivera and Make the Road New York Call for Restoration of Adult Education Funding, Extension of Personal Income Tax for Wealthiest New Yorkers 

Proposed cuts to GED prep and English classes that enable immigrant parents to achieve economic stability and economic prosperity

Senator Gustavo Rivera (D, WF-Bronx) and Make the Road New York issued a joint statement today calling for the restoration of Adult education funding such as GED prep and English as a Second Language classes in the 2012 Executive Budget.

  Senator Gustavo Rivera stated: “Access to adult education including GED courses and English as a Second Language courses has helped make the American Dream possible for million of New Yorkers. As someone who was fortunate enough to learn English as a second language, I am acutely aware of the doors that are opened by speaking English in order to be successful in the United States. We have to continue to provide all New Yorkers with the opportunity to get a high school diploma and the opportunity to learn English. Under current budget proposals, funding for adult education would be cut. We need to have a budget that is about shared sacrifice and shared responsibility, not one that disproportionately impacts our most vulnerable communities, be it seniors, immigrant communities or working and middle class families who are struggling to make ends meet. I call on my fellow legislators to take a stand and support the extension of the personal income tax for wealthy New Yorkers and restoration adult education funding in the 2012 budget.”

  Ana Maria Archila, Executive Director of Make the Road, stated: “Right now, immigrant communities in New York City are looking at substantial cuts in federal funding from the Community Services Block Grants as House Republicans call for the zeroing out of this funding stream altogether. At a local level, our communities are facing a $350 million reduction in social services. New Yorkers, and especially immigrant communities, cannot afford further cuts to adult education programs that include GED and English as a Second Language courses. Adult Education programs make up the bread and butter of the service infrastructure inside immigrant communities, and cuts to Adult Education will not only reduce the opportunities for immigrants to learn English or earn a GED, they will also decimate the service infrastructure that provides critical support to the newest New Yorkers. That is why earlier today hundreds of immigrants rallied in Queens in support of Senator Rivera’s call for legislators and Governor Cuomo to restore funding for adult education in the 2012 budget and extend the personal income tax for New York’s wealthiest New Yorkers.”



Thursday, March 24, 2011

 Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. Celebrates Irish American Heritage Month



  That's Joe McManus, Democratic State Committeeman, 80th A.D.; Brian G. Anderson, Former Commissioner, NYC Department of Records; Margaret Walsh, President of the Board, Parkchester South Condominiums; Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.; Marianne Anderson, Administrator, Pelham Bay Park; Joe McCarthy, Project Hope; Joe Carty, Owner, Rambling House; John Egan, former President, Ancient Order of Hibernians; and Congressman Eliot Engel, who helped Bp Diaz celebrate Irish American Heritage Month 2011. The celebration took place at Rambling House in the heart of Woodlawn, of course. 
 Brian G. Anderson,  Joe McManus, and Margaret Walsh,  were the three honorees, while Marianne Anderson,  Joe McCarthy, Project Hope; Joe Carty, John Egan,  received proclamations from BP Diaz for their contributions to the Bronx Irish American Heritage. 
Senate Passes Klein Bill to Crack Down on Auto Insurance Fraud

Measure Would Increase Penalties for Criminals Who Forge Auto Insurance Cards  

Legislation sponsored by Senator Jeffrey D. Klein (D-Bronx/Westchester) that would impose tougher penalties on those who commit auto insurance fraud, passed the State Senate today.
Klein’s bill (S.578) would make it a felony to forge an auto insurance card or certificate of insurance. In New York State, these documents are necessary to obtain the government issued documents, such as a vehicle registration, that are required to legally operate a motor vehicle.
“Everyone pays the price for auto insurance fraud,” Senator Klein said. “This commonsense measure will help law-abiding New Yorkers from having to pay higher car insurance because of the misdeeds of others.”
Forged insurance cards and documents are often used to fraudulently register cars so that owners may operate them without paying auto insurance premiums. Klein’s bill also makes the selling of 10 or more false insurance cards or documents a felony.
The bill is pending in the Assembly.

Senate Passes Klein Bill to Strengthen Green Markets/ Increase Access to New York Grown Products

The State Senate Tuesday unanimously passed legislation sponsored by Senator Jeffrey D. Klein, (D-Bronx/ Westchester), that would expand local and regional green markets, like those in the greater Bronx area, and increase access to New York State grown fruits and vegetables. 


The bill, (S.627) allows the New York State Urban Development Corp. and the Empire State Development Corp. to be able to provide loans and grants that can be used to build, expand and refurbish green markets that encourage the sale of New York-grown produce. They currently do not have that authority.
“This is a win-win,” Senator Klein said. “My legislation would both expand the availability of inexpensive produce in our communities, while at the same time creating more avenues for upstate farmers to sell their products.”
There are more than 20 green markets in the Bronx, many of which open for the season next month.
The bill is pending in the Assembly.


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Get Ready For The Ed Koch Bridge

  The Daily News reports that after a 6-1  committee vote for renaming the Queensboro Bridge to The Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge  , the matter will now go to the full council for a vote. This comes only three months after Mayor Bloomberg suggested the idea, and said that he will pay for the costs of the name change with private funds. The renaming of the bridge process started on Dec. 20th of last year, when it was introduced and refereed to committee. 
  This comes despite a Quinnipiac University poll that found 70% of Queens residents and 64% of all city residents opposed to the renaming of the bridge. The full City Council vote is scheduled for tomorrow.

Stop Graffiti Day

Stop Graffiti Day:  Thursday, April 7, 11 am at the Riverdale Kingsbridge Academy/RKA, 660 West 237th Street, Bronx, NY 10463.  This will be the third Stop Graffiti Day., and is held in conjunction  with Assemblyman Dinowitz, who funds this graffiti removal program. Detective Luis Rodriguez of the 50th Precinct; and Bruce Pienkny of City Solve, a professional graffiti clean-up organization. are on hand to help.  This day will include graffiti clean-up  in the  community  Assemblyman Dinowitz represents, and an educational presentation for students at RKA.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Did Some City Council Members Skirt Laws, Bend Rules, and Abuse Their Power?

    Here The Daily News reports that some City Council members have skirted laws. bent rules, and abused their power. Check the link to see if your city council member is listed as a tax dodger, deadbeat dad, has outstanding arrest warrants, is swimming in debt, circumvented rules in one way or another, is about to move into a luxury condo building that she used taxpayer money to resole a problem, or is under indictment for varying reasons. We didn't want to name any council members, but the Daily News article does. They mention Speaker Quinn by name as the council member about to move into the luxury condo that she used taxpayer money to resolve a specific problem. 
   With all this abuse coming from the head (or Speaker) down to several City Council members we still would like to know why Speaker Quinn is not in a jumpsuit that matches her hair. Almost every paper quoted her as saying " I told my office to stop doing that, when we found out", referring to a different investigation.


  City Comptroller John C. Liu today announced he has launched audits of two controversial technology programs run by the Department of Education (DOE).  These audits represent a small sample of the many requests for audits of DOE operations that the Comptroller received at his “Audit Town Hall” meetings held in all five boroughs earlier this year.

“We conducted these Audit Town Halls to hear from the public, the customers who are supposed to be served by government,” said Comptroller Liu.  “That New Yorkers are not shy about speaking their minds helps us do our job better, and in the end improves city government."

“People came to the Audit Town Halls with a lot of questions about how the Department of Education spends their tax dollars,” said Deputy Comptroller for Audit H. Tina Kim.  “We’ve seen before how the City’s
IT projects can run up exorbitant fees when they’re not properly monitored.”

AUDIT 1: Achievement Reporting and Innovation System (ARIS) Based on a suggestion received at the Manhattan Town Hall, the Comptrollers’ Office has started an audit of the DOE’s Achievement Reporting and Innovation System (ARIS).  In 2007 the DOE hired IBM to develop ARIS, an $80 million data collection system to track students’ academic records in unprecedented detail. Wireless Generation, an IBM subcontractor, is credited with leading ARIS’ development.

AUDIT 2: iZone
New Yorkers at both the Manhattan and Bronx Town Halls also asked the Comptroller to audit the DOE’s “iZone” project that was intended to increase the use of innovative technologies in classrooms.  Early
reactions to iZone’s efforts have been mixed.

In the coming months, Comptroller Liu will announce additional audits of City agencies that were suggested by residents of the five boroughs.

The Comptroller’s Audit Town Halls were attended by 530 New Yorkers who offered 190 ideas for audits.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Borough President Diaz celebrated Women’s History Month 2011

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., joined by his wife Hilda Diaz, hosted a special breakfast honoring a group of outstanding women in celebration of Women’s History Month 2011.

BP Diaz recognized former Bronx Borough President Freddie Ferrer, calling him # 11 as is his custom now whenever the two are together, and then turned the microphone over to his wife Hilda, the First Lady of the Bronx. Ms. Diaz spoke of the childhood romance between her and a young Mr. Ruben Diaz Jr., her ambition to become a pilot, how marriage to Ruben and their children changed her course of life, and how she is now getting closer to her childhood goal of becoming a pilot.
Women’s History Month started out as Women's History Day celebrated on March 8th. In 1981 congress declared Women's History Week, and in 1987 President Ronald Reagan then issued Presidential Proclamation 5619 proclaiming March 1987 as "Women’s History Month" and calling upon all Americans to mark the month with observances to honor the achievements of American women.
This year the theme of Women's History Month is “Our History is Our Strength”. The first of the three honorees of this breakfast was former first lady of the Bronx Ms. Aramina Vega Ferrer, Ph.D. now affiliated with Mercy College. Ms. Ferrer complimented BP Diaz on the fine job that he is doing as Bronx Borough President, and the extraordinary woman behind him, his wife Hilda. The second honoree was Judge Laura G. Douglas, the Administrative Justice, of the Civil Division of Bronx Supreme Court. The third honoree was Ms. Majora Carter , the founder of “Sustainable South Bronx”.

Caption: (from left) Hilda Diaz, Majora Carter, Aramina Vega Ferrer, Honorable Laura G. Douglas, Deputy Bronx Borough President Aurelia Green, and Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

A Letter to Parks Commissioner Benepe, From Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz, Re: Ice Skating Rink in Van Cortlandt Park.

   March 15, 2011

Commissioner Adrian Benepe
NYC Department of Parks & Recreation
The Arsenal, Central Park
New York, New York 10021

Dear Commissioner Benepe:

I am writing to you with respect to a proposal to locate an ice skating rink in Van Cortlandt Park.  Let me make it very clear at the onset: I like the idea of having an ice skating rink in the Bronx.  Serious questions, however, have arisen as to the process, or lack thereof, being used to make this proposal a reality.

The idea of an ice skating rink in Van Cortlandt Park was discussed at a meeting of the Van Cortlandt Park Conservancy as far back as June 2010—nine months ago.  Yet it did not become known to the public until the Mayor’s budget message last month.

Despite nine months of closed-door discussions, there has not even been one public hearing on this matter.  It is my understanding that there were public hearings before a similar ice skating rink was placed in Bryant Park.  Why are no similar hearings being held in the Bronx?  I am very concerned that meetings of the Van Cortlandt Park Conservancy are not open to the public and minutes are not made available to the public.

The Community Board 8 Parks Committee recently met with representatives of the Parks Department and the Chair of the Conservancy.  They were asked a number of questions regarding specific details of the rink, which they either declined to answer or were not capable of answering.  The Parks Committee was told that the details of the project wouldn’t be available to the public until after a successful bidder on the project is chosen, meaning that details would be available only after it’s too late to have any influence or even express an opinion.

At the moment, the public has not been informed of the size and footprint of the project.  This is still a public park, isn’t it?  Given the way in which the City treated Van Cortlandt Park in its dealings over the Croton Water Filtration Plant (a project which is in excess of $2 billion over budget and counting), I am naturally concerned about the future of this area of Van Cortlandt Park along Broadway.

What is the cost of this project?  Who will pay for it?  Will there be any ongoing cost to the City taxpayers?  Who will profit?  Who will be allowed to use the rink?  What efforts have been made to determine the impact of this project on the community, whether or not there is adequate parking, or if there are better alternative locations, either in Van Cortlandt Park or elsewhere in the Bronx?

There is much legitimate concern in New York by the public about reform, transparency, and openness in government.  This project is on track to become a prime example of the desperate need for reform, transparency and openness.  It was presented to the community as a fait accompli.  There has been no public input.  There has been no public review.  There was no opportunity for anyone to express their opinion.  It appears that the rink was conceived in the proverbial “smoke-filled room,” and any decisions made with respect to it were and continue to be done in secrecy.

While I think having a skating rink in the Bronx would be great, it was never on the priority list of Community Board 8, and other parks’ projects are languishing in delays.  This project seems poised to jump ahead of every one of the projects that the Community Board and the community have supported, in some cases for many years.

Given the incredibly poor way this issue has been handled and given the many unanswered questions, I ask that a detailed plan be presented to the public and a thorough review and public hearings be conducted before any further action is taken on this proposal.  Democracy, transparency, and good government demand nothing less.  Thank you.


Jeffrey Dinowitz 
Member of Assembly

cc:        Bronx Borough Commissioner Hector Aponte, Department of Parks & Recreation
Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.
Council Member Oliver Koppell
Comptroller John Liu
Mayor Michael Bloomberg

Assemblyman Dinowitz: “Assembly Budget Protects Seniors, Rejects Cuts to EPIC and Title XX”

  The New York State Assembly unveiled it’s 2011 budget plan which included full funding restorations to two of the most vital programs for New York’s seniors, Title XX and EPIC.

  As part of his Executive Budget, Governor Cuomo proposed drastic cuts to both programs: a $36 million dollar reduction in discretionary funding to Title XX, which the City claims would force 105 senior centers to close, and a $34 million dollar cut to EPIC, a program that currently provides over 300,000 enrollees with secondary coverage for prescription drugs.

  Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz (D-Bronx), Chair of the Assembly Aging Committee, led the fight in the Assembly to have this essential funding restored. “While nothing is set in stone, this is an important step in making sure our final budget for 2011 isn’t a cold and callous one,” Assemblyman Dinowitz said. “I know we have a $10 billion budget deficit to close, but doing it on the backs of our seniors is unacceptable.”

  Reductions in funding for both programs would be disastrous for thousands of New York seniors, many of whom are on fixed incomes. As part of the governor’s plan, all EPIC enrollees would be forced to join a Medicare Part D plan, regardless of financial hardship. The Assembly’s proposal also continues the vital “wraparound” coverage for prescription drugs not covered by Medicare, as well as state payment assistance for Part D premiums and deductibles.  Eliminating this aid could cost seniors up to $1,000 or more annually.[1]

  “This cut was short sighted, and we had to reverse it,” Assemblyman Dinowitz said. “We can’t put seniors in a position where they must choose between putting food on the table and the medicine they need. Our budget has to consider the fiscal challenges of our constituents just as much as the fiscal challenges of the state.”

  The battle over Title XX funding was previously waged last year, when then Governor Paterson proposed a similar monetary reduction. After a furious campaign led by Assemblyman Dinowitz made clear the importance of this money, funding was restored first in the Assembly budget and then in the final budget. The Assemblyman hopes for a similar result this time around. This year’s funding was restored in the Assembly budget after Assemblyman Dinowitz sent a letter in February to Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver signed by almost five dozen New York City Assembly Democrats strongly urging that this critical funding be restored. Dinowitz said, “As I’ve stated time and time again, our senior centers are vital to our neighborhoods’ quality of life, and shuttering them would be devastating to the seniors who rely on them, I will not rest until this funding is restored. WE CANNOT CLOSE SENIOR CENTERS!”
Elected Officials and Community Activists to push for immediate action in the 2012 Executive Budget 

   State Senator Jeff Klein (D-Bronx/ Westchester) will join Senator Gustavo Rivera (D-Bronx), other city and state elected officials and community activists to call for the restoration of funds for Foreclosure Prevention Services in the 2012 Executive Budget. Bronx County is currently ranked number two in New York State for the greatest percentages of mortgages that are at least 90 days in default. This funding directly affects more than 120 community organizations and foreclosure prevention services as well as more than 43,000 homes in New York State.
  Press conference pushing for action to restore Foreclosure Prevention funding
  Senator Klein, Senator Rivera, Foreclosure Prevention Legal Service Representatives
  Bronx County Courthouse, 851 Grand Concourse, E. 161Street.