Thursday, May 12, 2011

           Council Member Oliver Koppell strongly condemned misleading statements made by members of the Bloomberg administration regarding a preliminary report on the impact of living wage legislation Koppell has introduced. 
“While the Mayor’s staff has made grandiose statements about the dire consequences of my proposed bill, a close reading of the ‘Key Findings’ summary while significantly flawed, portrays a different reality,” said Koppell. 
Koppell noted, “The analysis erroneously focuses on New York’s Industrial and Commercial Abatement Program (ICAP) as-of-right tax abatement program under which many small projects in the outer boroughs receive subsidies.  However, the legislature has not authorized the city to regulate ICAP and it would accordingly not be captured by the proposal.  This misreading of the bill has resulted in much of the modeling being concentrated on projects that would not be covered.  Nor was it the sponsors’ intent that ICAP subsidies would be considered for the purposes of this legislation.  The study should have focused on the large mixed use developments that receive the lion’s share of the city’s discretionary subsidies and which are the target of the proposal.”
“The report,” said Koppell, “even with its faulty analysis, had some positive findings and conclusions with regard to living wage legislation.”  For example, it projects that 34,000 – 62,000 workers would receive increased wages.  It states at several points that living wage mandates actually “reduce urban poverty.”  This finding should be given prominence because it is based on actual experience with living wage ordinances in other cities, not on models based on questionable data.
Another conclusion in the report was that the overall impact on the economy would be de minimis. In great part this is due to the fact that the future jobs that would allegedly not be created, according to the report, are the result of vastly overstated concerns about potential lawsuits by individuals to obtain lost wages at the higher living wage rate and enforcement actions against recalcitrant employers which would be conducted by the City Comptroller under the proposed law.  Additional losses to the economy, according to the report, can be found in its projection that 6,000 – 13,000 jobs would not be created if the living wage law was to be enacted.  Proponents of the legislation do not accept the premise that a living wage mandate will cause a reduction in jobs created.  Nonetheless, it is significant that the report only projects such a small amount of job loss.
Koppell said, “I look forward to a full hearing on the Fair Wages for New Yorkers Act on Thursday, May 12, 2011 at the Council.  We will be hearing from a variety of stakeholders and interested parties, including retail workers, economists, unions and clergy.  It will provide us with an opportunity to get the facts straight and moving us closer to passing this important bill.”

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Living Wage Rally and City Council Hearing
Hundreds to Speak Out and Attack Bogus Bloomberg Study
Thursday, May 12. Rally at Noon, Hearing at 1 p.m.

At a time when far too many working people struggle to survive, members of a growing citywide movement will demand living wage jobs for all New Yorkers at a public City Council hearing. Elected officials, community members, faith and labor leaders from the Living Wage NYC coalition will demand passage of the Fair Wages for New Yorkers Act, popular legislation supported by a majority of City Council that will ensure taxpayer subsidies create more living wage jobs. Bloomberg’s biased and rigged anti-living wage study will also be challenged.

Thursday, May 12, 2011
12:00 p.m. – Press Conference & Rally, City Hall Park (Broadway & Park Place.), NYC.
1:00 p.m. – Hearing on the Fair Wages for New Yorkers Act, 250 Broadway, 16th Floor, NYC.

Balanced state budget not painless: State Comptroller DiNapoli 

   While the state economy is making progress, the South Bronx and other parts of New York City won’t see a thaw in the “deep economic freeze” anytime soon. That was the core point made by New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli at the South Bronx Leadership Forum, hosted on April 28 by the South Bronx Overall Economic Development Corp. or SoBRO. “Unfortunately, this year’s State Budget won’t help matters,” remarked DiNapoli, New York’s chief fiscal officer since February 2007.  “On the positive side,” DiNapoli said, the budget “is balanced and on-time for the first time in years, and it doesn’t rely heavily on new taxes. That said, you can’t make $10 billion in cuts without pain.”
            Held at the SoBRO Center in Mott Haven in front of a packed house of community leaders, nonprofit executives and local residents, the forum gave the Bronx audience a first-hand glimpse of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s new Executive Budget which was passed by Albany to mixed reaction from various quarters. Among the budget’s key provisions is the slashing of more than $10 billion in spending, which will not be painless. “Those cuts will be felt in the South Bronx and in communities across the state,” DiNapoli acknowledged.
According to the state’s budget watchdog, $2.3 billion in cuts to Medicaid will have implications for jobs and the purchase of durable medical equipment. Those cuts will impact the bottom lines of hospitals and nursing homes throughout the state. Education will also be hit hard, with $1.3 billion in cuts for public schools.
DiNapoli affirmed that failure in public schools “isn’t an option,” and that the nonprofits such as SoBRO have filled the gaps through education programs that help “thousands of at-risk students succeed in middle and high school, and giving them a chance for college or a career.” The challenge is to sustain the role of public school classrooms as the road to good jobs and better economic opportunities while making better spending decisions. “It’s more critical than ever to make sure that every state dollar – at every agency and every public authority – is spent wisely,” DiNapoli cautioned.
A key ingredient to economic progress is transportation infrastructure. The state comptroller pointed to the current use of tax dollars to build modern roads, bridges, tunnels, subways and trains as “inefficient.” A Transportation Infrastructure Report put out by his office in November 2010 found that New York State has spent $63 billion on capital projects over the last 10 years, “yet 40 percent of our roads and bridges are still substandard or obsolete – a number that’s twice the national average.”
But all is not doom and gloom with the state budget. New York continues to invest strategically to create new businesses and jobs. According to DiNapoli, the New York Business Development Corporation (NYBDC), a state investment vehicle, partners with the Small Business Administration (SBA) to make loans to local businesses for working capital, equipment or real property. “Last fall,” said DiNapoli, “I directed a new allocation of $100 million to NYBDC, bringing the Fund’s total allocation in NYBDC to $400 million.” NYBDC has made 892 loans totaling $264 million to small businesses across the state.
In response to the Census, which reflects increasing numbers of women and minorities in business, the NYBDC Program has a goal of making 25 percent of its loans to Minority and Women-owned enterprises. “I’m happy to report that the program has exceeded that goal, at 33 percent,” DiNapoli added.
In balancing social needs with budget priorities, the role of community-based nonprofits in fueling economic growth cannot be overemphasized, the state’s chief fiscal officer said in closing. That applies in the South Bronx as it does in Oneida, Long Island, Niagara and other corners of the state. “For almost 40 years, SOBRO has focused on removing the causes of economic and social problems here in the South Bronx. But there’s more work to do.”

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

DURING BRONX week 2011
Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. announced that on Saturday, May 14, the Empire State Building will light up in the colors of the Bronx flag to honor the 40th anniversary celebration of Bronx Week. The announcement was made during the official kick off of Bronx Week 2011, a celebration that from Thursday, May 12, through Sunday, May 22, will pay tribute to the continuing revitalization of the borough’s businesses, educational institutions, cultural sites and civic groups. 
 “On May 14, when New Yorkers look up they will see the unmistakable sign that Bronx Week is here. The Empire State Building will help us to invite Bronxites, New Yorkers and visitors from all over the world to join us in the Bronx for our annual celebration of what makes the Bronx a great place to live: our people, places, history and culture,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. “Bronx Week gets bigger and better every year and has something exciting for everyone. There is no better place to be from May 12 through May 22 than right here in The Bronx. I look forward to seeing you all here!”

During the kick off, Borough President Diaz also announced the names of the celebrities and notable Bronxites that will be included on the Bronx Walk of Fame 2011. This year’s inductees are: Chazz Palminteri, an actor who wrote and starred in “A Bronx Tale” and then turned it into an award-winning stage production; Irene Cara, a Grammy Award and Golden Globe winner best known for her performances of the hit songs “Flashdance…What a Feeling” and “Fame;” Joy Bryant, actress and former fashion model who currently stars in the NBC television series Parenthood; and Charles Latibeaudiere, Co-Executive Producer of the popular celebrity news show TMZ.

The kick-off event also featured a performance from the Bronx’ own Steven Oquendo Latin Jazz Orchestra, as well as food from two of the most celebrated establishments in the borough, the Bronx Alehouse in Kingsbridge and the Havana CafĂ© in Throggs Neck. The event also featured samples from the Bronck’s Beer Company and the Bronx Food & Sustainability Coalition.

Borough President Diaz explained that this year,  Bronx Week has also been promoted outside the borough with colorful lamppost banners installed at strategic locations around the city, and that on May 22 neighbors from other boroughs will be able to ride the “El” vintage trains circa 1917 to get to the grand finale festival on Mosholu Parkway. This year’s concert will feature performances by hip-hop legends Big Daddy Kane and the Force MDs, as well as salsa stars Conjunto Imagen.
This year’s Bronx Week highlights include an urban farms tour, a centenarian celebration, a celebration of the Arthur Avenue Retail Market and a hip hop block party, as well as some of the more popular events from past years, such as the Bronx Trolley, which this year is dedicated to the 420th birthday of Anne Hutchinson, the DiVa Spa, the Business Breakfast, the Health Fair and the annual Bronx Parade.  All the events are organized by the Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation and the Bronx Tourism Council.

Bronx Week 2011 is made possible thanks to the support of Montefiore Medical Center, the main sponsor of all the events. The other main sponsors are: the New York Yankees, Con Edison, Affinity Health Plan, United HealthCare Community Plan, Assurance Wireless, Kyocera, the Bronx CUNY Colleges, Health First, Emblem Health, The New York Hispanic Cosmetology & Beauty Chamber of Commerce, Citi, Verizon, BronxNet, Domino’s Pizza, News 12, the Bronx Design Group, and the New York Daily News.

“As the largest employer in the Bronx, Montefiore has a deep and abiding commitment to our community,” said Steven M. Safyer, MD, President and Chief Executive Officer of Montefiore.  “That’s why we’re delighted to be a principal sponsor of Bronx Week again this year. We’re proud to join the celebration of what makes the Bronx a great place to live and work. Because Montefiore is so concerned with the health and wellness of all the people in the Bronx, we are particularly pleased that a number of Bronx Week activities, such as the Health Fair and the Urban Farms Tour, are geared toward promoting a healthier environment for our residents.”

“The New York Yankees are proud supporters of Bronx Week and are honored to partner with the Office of the Bronx Borough President to showcase the rich resources of our great borough,” said Brian E. Smith, Senior Vice President, Corporate/Community Relations, New York Yankees.

Cinco de Mayo Celebration

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. is joined by State Senator Jeff Klein , as  they helped celebrate Cinco de Mayo on Saturday May 7th with El Grupo Unidos, on Crescent Avenue and East 197th Street.

Then on Sunday May 8th BP Diaz was with his father Senator Ruben Diaz Sr. to cut the ribbon for the grand-reopening of Sabrosura Restaurant located at 1200 Castle Hill Avenue. Sabrosura Restaurant "The Pride of Chino Latino Cuisine" that opened in 1982 added  sidewalk seating for 27 more customers in a fully weather proof air-conditioned enclosure. 

Pictured are co-owner Tat Cheung, Bronx BP Ruben Diaz Jr., co-owner Nelson NG, and Senator Ruben Diaz Sr. in the new seating area.

Monday, May 9, 2011


Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. has blasted a study, released by the Bloomberg administration, which states that the “Fair Wages for New Yorkers” Act—a bill that would require developers that receive heavy taxpayer subsidies to pay their employees a “living wage”—would harm the city’s economy.

“We have known all along exactly what this report would say, so I am not surprised,” said Borough President Diaz, who noted when the study was commissioned that it would likely be skewed against the bill. “Not only did the City choose a company that is hostile to the idea of a ‘living wage’ to conduct this study, but the mayor has made it crystal clear for months that he does not support this bill. The mayor wasted $1 million of taxpayer funds on this study, simply to provide trumped-up evidence for their pre-determined conclusions on the ‘Fair Wages for New Yorkers’ Act.”

Borough President Diaz noted that there is a host of evidence contradicting the City’s report, and added that a “living wage”—currently defined as a modest $10-an-hour plus benefits—would lessen the financial burden on taxpayers by lowering dependence on government programs such as welfare and food stamps.

“The ‘Fair Wages for New Yorkers’ Act is sound economic policy, and fiscal conservatives should support a ‘living wage’ because it lowers dependence on the anti-poverty programs they so often vilify. If mega-corporations do not want to pay a ‘living wage,’ then the answer is simple: do not beg for a taxpayer handout. As I have said in the past, if you want charity, you must be charitable,” said Borough President Diaz.

The “Fair Wages for New Yorkers” Act, which was introduced into the City Council at the behest of Borough President Diaz, would require developers that receive heavy taxpayer subsidies to pay their employees a “living wage.” The bill, which was introduced by Council Members Annabel Palma and G. Oliver Koppell on behalf of the borough president, currently has 30 City Council co-sponsors. A City Council hearing on the bill will held on Thursday.

“I look forward to testifying in favor of this bill and leading the citywide charge for fair development and good salaries. ‘Living wage’ is the right thing to do, and it is time to get it done,” said Borough President Diaz.


 City Comptroller John C. Liu stated the following in response to questions about a recently completed study commissioned by the NYCEDC, “The Economic Impacts on New York City of Proposed Living Wage Mandate.”

“The EDC’s claim that a living wage kills jobs shows just how distorted the agency’s operations have become.  The proposed living wage would be a requirement on new projects that are heavily subsidized by taxpayers.  It may curtail the number of new minimum wage jobs, with the hope that these new jobs would then pay a decent wage.  The claim of job losses is rhetoric at its worst.”

Assemblyman Castro and Councilman Cabrera Join Senator Rivera for First in Series of Town Hall Meetings
Senator Gustavo Rivera will hold a Townhall Tour of the 33RD Senate District over the next month, visiting with community leaders from throughout the district. The first in this series of town hall meetings will be held on Wednesday, May 11 from 6:30pm to 8:30pm at the Bronx Works Morris Senior Center. 80 E 181 St. Bronx, NY

Senator Rivera will be hosting additional town hall meetings on the following days:

-          Sunday, May 15 from 2:00PM-3:30PM – Kingsbridge Heights Community Center - 3101 Kingsbridge Terr. Bronx, NY

-          Wednesday, May 18 from 6:30PM-8:00PM – Twin Parks Southwest Community Room - 1800 Valentine Ave. Bronx, NY