Friday, May 6, 2011


New York City Comptroller John C. Liu stated the following in response to questions about Mayor Bloomberg’s FY 2012 Executive Budget:

“While the Mayor’s Budget presents a picture reflective of the lingering effects of the recession, it should be noted that throughout the economic crisis, City agencies have spent billions of dollars on high-priced outside consultants resulting in runaway spending on technology-related contracts.  Unfortunately, the Executive Budget offers no respite. The continued lack of oversight of subcontractors working on City projects has resulted in the City being bilked out of millions of dollars - dollars that could have been better utilized elsewhere.

Although the Mayor has heeded our concerns and acknowledged that more needs to be done to rein in spending on consultants, now is the time to fully rethink the proposed spending plan on IT projects, especially within the Department of Education.  As we have seen in recent months, there are serious gaps in the DOE’s ability to properly keep track of their prime and subcontractors.

Before we commit critical funding towards more technology contracts, we must consider the necessity of these projects when compared to the proposed service and personnel cuts the Mayor has put forth.

As our local economy continues its gradual recovery from the recession, I am hopeful that some of the most painful cuts proposed in the Mayor’s Budget will be able to be mitigated.  I look forward to analyzing the Mayor’s Budget and presenting my findings.  In the meantime, my office will continue to scrutinize and restructure when necessary each contract that comes through our door as well as audit City agencies to find savings.”

RE: Mayor Bloomberg’s Fiscal Year 2012 Executive Budget

“While I understand that these are tough fiscal times, Mayor Bloomberg’s budget will drastically reduce crucial services and have a major negative effect on the quality of life in our city. Certain services, especially our public schools, must be held harmless from budget cuts, and the mayor’s plan to lay off more than 4,000 of our teachers is unacceptable.

“Right now, this city has a close to $3 billion surplus, which Mayor Bloomberg has stated should be seen as a ‘rainy day’ fund. Well, it’s pouring, and that money needs to be used to protect our teachers, and our public school students, from cuts that will increase class sizes and lower their quality of education.

“In addition, I am concerned that the Department of Homeless Services, an agency that serves some of our most vulnerable residents, has been gutted by this budget. I hope that the Bloomberg Administration will rethink these painful cuts to some of our neediest city residents.

“I do agree with the mayor that the State has not done enough for New York City to prevent these cuts, and I join his call for the State Legislature to fulfill its fiscal commitment to the five boroughs.”

“There are some bright spots in the mayor’s budget, and he is to be commended for them. I am happy both that we will not see the closure of firehouses in this budget and that 1,147 new police recruits are slated to join the force. I am also happy that the city has backed off of its plans to eliminate most of the 16,000 day care slots that had been slated for closure,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.

Editors Note*
We add that Scott M. Stringer, the Manhattan Borough President (and possible candidate for mayor in 2013), criticized the mayor’s lack of transparency in releasing his budget. “This document is political,” Stringer  said,  and “This is not the way we should be running the city.”
Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr., and AT&T New York President Hal Lenox Commend Summer Search NYC for Broad Impact on City Youth

Wednesday May 4 the Bronx School for Law, Government and Justice welcomed Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr., AT&T New York President Hal Lenox and Summer Search New York City Executive Director Karina Kirsch to honor the impact the Summer Search program has had on high school students in the South Bronx and across the City. 

Summer Search is a non-profit youth leadership program that provides high school students a unique combination of intensive, long-term mentoring; full scholarships to summer experiential education programs; access to college and financial aid counseling; and a lasting support network, including access to professional development skill-building for alumni. 

AT&T sponsors Summer Search through its “AT&T Aspire” program, a $100 million multi year commitment to confronting the high school dropout crisis and preparing students for continuing education and the workforce.

Summer Search New York City is currently focusing its growth in two of the most underserved areas of the City, the South Bronx and Brooklyn.

 More than 99 percent of students who have participated in Summer Search graduate high school and 85 percent graduate college, as compared to the current 50 percent and 11 percent graduation rates for high school and college, respectively, for South Bronx students.

 Summer Search New York City participants Ashley Gonzales, Kyabell Glass, Annell Ovalles, Laurin Ellis, Marjorie Abreu, Kassandra Cardona, Alex Williams, Nikarly Santiago, Erika Marte, Kattery Guzman and Tiga Anderson meet with AT&T New York President Hal Lenox (fifth from left) and Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. (seventh from left) at a Summer Search reception held at the Bronx School for Law, Government and Justice May 4.



Thursday, May 5, 2011


City Comptroller John C. Liu uncovered dangerously long waits for women in need of mammograms at some City hospitals, according to an audit released today.

The audit examined the ability of nine HHC hospitals to provide two types of mammograms: screening and diagnostic. Screening mammograms are initial checks for cancer, usually for women age 40 and older. Diagnostic mammograms however are more urgent and are scheduled when a
lump or other potential sign of cancer is found.

At some City hospitals women had to wait more than three weeks for the  next available diagnostic mammogram appointment.  At Elmhurst Hospital in Queens, patients faced a wait of 50 working days.

“For years, City policy has emphasized the need for women to get mammograms. Unfortunately, significant shortfalls and lapses at City hospitals have undercut that intent and worse yet placed women in jeopardy,” Comptroller Liu said.  “The HHC has performed admirably in the wake of private hospital closures, and shrinking budgets and reimbursements. This audit nonetheless uncovers problems that require attention and resources so that women’s lives and health are not put at risk.”

50 working days  Elmhurst Hospital  Queens

28 working days  Woodhull Hospital  Brooklyn

21 working days  Kings County Hospital  Brooklyn

20 working days  Gouverneur Hospital  Manhattan

17 working days  Bellevue Hospital  Manhattan

“For a woman who is worried she might have breast cancer, a 50-day wait for a diagnostic mammogram can be agonizing and could delay urgently-needed treatment,” said Lois Uttley, co-founder of Raising Women’s Voices for the Health Care We Need, a national initiative based in Manhattan. “Many of the women who depend on HHC facilities are uninsured and cannot afford to go somewhere else for a mammogram.”

“The real danger and focus of greatest urgency needs to be on women who present with a suspicious finding and don't receive a diagnostic mammogram immediately.  This is where lives can potentially be saved,” said Alice Yaker, Executive Director, of SHARE: Self-help for Women with Breast or Ovarian Cancer, a survivor-led 35-year-old breast and ovarian cancer organization.  “While controversies about efficacy surround the screening of healthy women, there is no controversy about the need for a diagnostic mammogram in a woman who presents with a lump in her breast, for example.  This requires our urgent attention, budget cuts and hospital closings notwithstanding."

The HHC currently has no guideline on how quickly a woman with potential breast cancer symptoms should receive a diagnostic mammogram appointment.  It does have a guideline of 14 days for a screening mammogram.  Nevertheless, patients at three HHC facilities had to wait more than one month for a screening mammogram appointment.


148 calendar days  Elmhurst Hospital  Queens

49 calendar days  Queens Hospital  Queens

41 calendar days  Woodhull Hospital  Brooklyn

Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death after lung cancer and in 94% of cases is diagnosed in women ages 40 years and older, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  Early detection through breast cancer screening saves lives, reducing the risk of death by 17 to 30 percent the CDC has determined.

Long waits for a mammogram carry an added patient risk because the longer the wait, the higher the odds they will miss their appointment, according to the National Institutes for Health.  Auditors noted a high number of missed mammogram appointments at Elmhurst Hospital, where the waits were the longest.

Officials at Queens Hospital and Elmhurst Hospital said that several hospital closures in recent years and budget cuts have left them overwhelmed and unable to meet the HHC’s 14-day guideline.   In addition to having the longest waits, Elmhurst Hospital also conducted the most mammograms: 11,425.  Queens Hospital performed 10,544 mammograms, the second highest of HHC facilities.

The remainder of the nine HHC hospitals in the audit did offer prompt mammogram appointments during Fiscal Year 2009.  The audit also determined that HHC radiologists read and interpreted mammogram exam results in a timely manner.

Audit Recommendations:
§  Create a guideline for the number of days in which women will receive diagnostic mammogram appointments
§  Ensure all facilities provide screening mammogram appointments within 14 days
§  Ensure all facilities send patients reminders of scheduled appointments

HHC Response:
§  HHC is reviewing the creation of a performance standard for offering diagnostic mammograms appointments with a target date of September 2011  
§  HHC is currently reviewing its 14-day performance standard for offering screening mammogram appointments and seeking to improve the wait time where it is able
§  HHC facilities are individually reviewing their ability to place appointment reminder calls to patients with a target date of June 2011

Comptroller Liu credited Deputy Comptroller for Audit H. Tina Kim and the Audit Bureau for presenting the findings.  The full report is available at

Spring Festival of the Arts, May 15th on South Riverdale Avenue!

The South Riverdale Avenue Merchants Association is celebrating spring and our community with its first annual Arts Festival. 

The event, First Annual Spring Festival of the Arts, will take place on Sunday, May 15, 2011 from 11 am to 4 pm along South Riverdale Avenue from 235th Street to 238th Street and down 238th Street. 

The Day will include:
  • Art displays from Derfner Museum (at Hebrew Home), Elisa Contemporary Art, Riverdale Artists Association, local schools and Riverdale Neighborhood House
  • Live music performances by the PS 24 glee club, Jazz Trio featuring Eric Alexander on sax, Joe Farnsworth on drums, and David Croce, and Riverdale Rising Stars (others to be confirmed)
  • Readings and Story time by top Children book authors including Maryrose Wood at the Page Turner
  • Special children's activities including a clown, face painter, art projects by Melissa Bulman and Hudson River Arts Workshop and  a Scavenger Hunt
  • Pet Parade at Popcorn Pawz, Product Display at Salon Zoe, Flower Display at John's Botany Bay and More.
  • Food
  • Shopping and so much more.
We'll also have the Bronx Culture Trolley making stops to and from the festival to other local locations. Schedule available at

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Senator Reverend Ruben Diaz’s May 15th Rally to Protect Marriage

New York State Senator Reverend Ruben Diaz (D-Bronx) released the following statement about his May 15th Bronx Rally to protect New York State’s traditional marriage laws:

"It's wonderful to know that thousands of New Yorkers plan to attend the May 15th Rally in The Bronx to oppose legislation to redefine marriage in New York State.
Everyone should realize that we're not hiring Ricky Martin or Elton John or Rosie Perez to attract people to our event. There won't be any paid superstars or celebrities to draw crowds. Whoever joins us will do so because they support traditional marriage.
It's important to know that whoever comes to this rally will be there because they support the growing movement in New York to protect marriage and to oppose proposals to redefine the definition of marriage to include homosexual marriage.
I'd also like to clarify some loathsome accusations about our May 15th Rally coinciding with the New York AIDS Walk. Our Rally for Traditional Marriage will include thousands of New Yorkers who support AIDS programs and AIDS victims.  No one has the right to accuse people who attend our rally of opposing AIDS victims or programs that help AIDS victims and their families.
It is also essential to correct disgraceful lies that are being made about me and my ongoing support for AIDS programs. Each year that I have served as New York State Senator, I have allocated $100,000 from my member item funds to Bronx AIDS services in the South Bronx.  I will continue to support the war against AIDS, and I will vote to increase funds against AIDS.
As the President of the New York Hispanic Clergy Organization, my fellow ministers and I have been and will remain committed to caring for AIDS victims and for their families.  Any statements to the contrary are lies.
Also, I will continue to encourage people to participate in the March Against AIDS.  AIDS is a terrible plague and those who commit themselves to join the war against AIDS are certainly part of this noble cause. However, it has to be made clear that everyone who participates in the March Against AIDS is not necessarily in support of gay marriage. There is a huge difference between the March Against AIDS and our Rally. One has nothing to do with the other."


Senator Rivera, Community Members Celebrate 33rd SenateDistrict Office Opening

   Senator Gustavo Rivera (D, WF-Bronx) will be joined by community members to celebrate the official opening of the 33rd Senate District Office tomorrow, Wednesday, May 4, 2011. This office was selected due to its location in a central and accessible area of Senate District 33, on Grand Concourse in the Fordham Road area. 

   Wednesday, May 4, 2011 at 6:00PM
   2432 Grand Concourse, Bronx NY – Suite 506
   The phone number for the office will be 718-933-2034.  

Independent Democratic Conference 

IDC Proposes Hospital Ban on Infection Causing Neck Wear; Other Bacteria Carrying Clothing

The Independent Democratic Conference today urged a prohibition on doctors and other healthcare professionals wearing neck ties, jewelry and other items that studies indicate are carriers for potentially deadly hospital-borne infections.

This effort will help save lives, cut down on the number of lawsuits filed against doctors and hospitals, lower insurance costs for care, and – ultimately – lower medical malpractice insurance costs.

What your doctor wears around his or her neck can literally make you sick,” said Senator Jeffrey D. Klein, (D-Bronx/ Westchester). “By making commonsense changes to the way that our health professionals dress in a clinical setting, we can prevent suffering, lower costs, and most importantly save lives.”

Healthcare facilities across the country are grappling with serious infections, such as methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), which are spread through hospital stays and are resistant to sterilization techniques. Nationally, the number of reported MRSA infections skyrocketed from 2,000 in 1993 to 368,000 in 2005, (the most recent available numbers), according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. The number of MRSA-related deaths in 2005 surpasses the number of suspected deaths from HIV/AIDS that year.

Further research has shown that neck ties worn by doctors and other medical personal are likely carriers of infection-causing bacteria. Specifically, a 2004 study at Queens Hospital found that 47 percent of the ties worn by medical staff at the hospital harbored illness causing bacteria. The study also noted that ties worn by doctors and other clinical staff were eight times more infectious than security guards ties.

The IDC has introduced legislation that will help establish a hygienic dress code for medical professionals. Under the legislation, a 25-member advisory council made up of experts appointed by the Commissioner of Health will be charged with developing the codes. Areas of examination would include:

  • Barring the wearing of neck ties for doctors and hospital workers in a clinical setting;
  • Adopting a “bare below the elbow” policy: wearing short-sleeve shirts, cleaning identification badges, avoiding wearing wrist watches and jewelry, and abandoning long white coats;
  • Providing education to patients and practitioners about how the new hygienic policy helps reduce cross-infection;
  • Requiring hospitals to provide an adequate supply of scrubs to medical staff to ensure frequent change;
  • Ban the wearing of uniforms outside of the hospital, or other health care setting.

This legislation will bring experts to the table to address a serious but preventable problem,” said Senator David J. Valesky, (D-Oneida). “By considering ways to decrease
infection and educating health practitioners, we can save lives and ultimately decrease health care costs.

Similar dress codes were implemented in other parts of the country with much success. For instance, a health center in St. Louis saw a 50 percent drop in reduction in infections when a hygienic dress code was provided. Also, a hospital in Indiana - which adopted a hygienic dress code upon opening two years ago - has no reported instances of hospital-acquired infections.

This is the ounce of prevention that is needed to stop these dangerous infections and their potentially deadly consequences,” said Senator David Carlucci, (D-Rockland/ Orange).

This proposal comes at a time when cost-saving measures, particularly those that help to ensure the health of the people of New York, should be welcomed. The costs to all parties involved are minimal, especially compared to the cost of treatment of those patients infected by MRSA and other Multi-Drug Resistant Organisms.

Patients who contract MRSA have average hospital stays that are nearly twice as long and cost almost twice as much, when compared to non-infected counterparts.

New York currently has the highest medical malpractice insurance costs in the nation. Between 1999 and 2004, the cumulative premium increase was 147 percent, a yearly average yearly increase of 27 percent. Those costs, which continue to rise, is the result of jury awards being paid out to preventable medical mistakes, a category that includes hospital-borne infections.

This is a very simple equation,” said Senator Diane Savino, (D-Staten Island/ Brooklyn). “Adopting a hygienic dress code for medical professionals means less infections, less lawsuits, lower medical malpractice premiums and more lives saved.”

3rd Annual Fair @ The Square 2011 Bigger Than Ever on May 14th at 12PM

The Association of the Merchants & Business Professionals of Westchester Square, Inc., the Bronx Business Alliance and the Bronx Council on the Arts, encourage Bronxites to attend the 3rd Annual “Fair @ The Square” on Saturday, May 14th from 12 to 6 PM along the streets of Westchester Square between St. Raymond and Westchester Avenues.  


This multi-cultural event will feature an all day concert showcasing New York City’s best groups performing oldies through today’s great music.  The show will be hosted by Bronx News anchor, Ray Raimundi, of News 12 the Bronx, and Dennis “Dion” Nardone, of WVOX 1460 AM radio. From Doo-Wop to Hip-Hop, you will catch it on the main stage at St. Raymond Avenue. The artist line-up is still growing but, just to name a few performing at the main stage are Latin Sensation Yamilet Mia, Hip-Hop craze Salese & Friends, the legendary Streets of the Bronx Band, the ultimate dance band Just Nuts, the Bronx’s very own Elvis Tribute Artist Gene Di Napoli and a Bangladesh performance by Bahrati Kemraj.  

Kids will enjoy the day at Owen Dolen Park where a full children’s carnival will take place, adults will enjoy dozens of vendors and merchants displaying their wares, and services, and restaurants offering up great food.  Another highlight is the annual Art Walk showcasing local Bronx artists and their works in a variety of spaces and windows and at tables throughout the Square, with scheduled guided tours.  

“Westchester Square has made great strides, in the past few years, and we invite all the residents of New York City to come see what the buzz is about.  This annual fair allows us to showcase the diversity of our commerce, our culture, and our community, and the progress we have made in our neighborhood,” says Mr. Joe Regina, of AMBPWS, “We welcome this opportunity to have thousands of people, who we expect throughout the day, to come and join us as we celebrate the rebuilding of a great area for a great future.” 

This event  is sponsored by The Hutchinson Metro Center, The New York Daily News, Health First, Metro Optics, Rebekah Nursing Home, Verizon, Exit Realty, Bronx Knows, Con Edison, Westchester Medical  Center, BronxNet Television, and News 12 - The Bronx. 



Monday, May 2, 2011

Celebrity Apprentice Trumped by President Obama

   If you were watching the Celebrity Apprentice on NBC last night, minutes before Donald Trump was going announce who he was going to fire on this weeks show NBC News cut in with a special report. You were told that there would be an important announcement from President Obama of national importance. 

   As time went by you were told in a short time, then in ten minutes, then a few minutes while the announcers talked with their reporters on what the announcement was to be that the president was working on. The reporters speculated that it had something to do with Osama Bin Laden, but could not be specific in the early going. As time went on the speculation grew into positive talk that Bin Laden was dead, but the question of how was now being discussed. 

   Finally after a half hour of speculation and discussion President Obama appeared to tell the nation that  indeed that Osama Bin Laden was killed by United States forces after a ten year operation started by former president George Bush. Only minutes after he started, President Obama was finished with his important announcement to the nation. 

   One only has to wonder if the interruption of Donald Trump's highly rated show  was  a coincidence, or could it have waited a few minutes until the program was over, as it took  over a half  hour for President Obama  to begin his announcement.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

May is Older Americans Month

Aging Service Advocates Available for Comment

President Jimmy Carter's 1980 designation, what was once called Senior Citizens Month, is now called "Older Americans Month," and has become a tradition in the United State of America. Older Americans Month is a time to recognize the contributions of past and current older citizens to our country, state, and city.

Experts are available for comment: Council of Senior Citizens Executive Director Igal  Jellinek, and Director of Public Policy Bobbie Sackman are available if media representatives are seeking to speak with an expert regarding the issue of aging services.  

The Council of Senior Centers and Services (CSCS) promotes the quality of life, independent living, productivity, and dignity of mature older adults principally in New York City.  CSCS champions elder rights. For more information visit the CSCS web site at