Saturday, June 4, 2011

Senator Klein Kicks Off Summer Safety Program

Senator Jeffrey D. Klein, announced the kickoff of the “Stay Safe with Senator Klein” program, a joint initiative with NY Life aimed at helping children stay safe, and alerting residents to potentially dangerous sex offenders in their neighborhood
During the program, Senator Klein and staff members, using Internet-equipped laptops, will be visiting summer festivals and street fairs throughout the 34th Senate District in order to sign people up for New York's Sex Offender Alert System. NY Life will also be on hand to issue child identification cards.
Those who sign up for the alert system, which was created last year via legislation that Senator Klein sponsored, will be able to have information about Level 2 and 3 sex offenders who move into your community delivered via text message, email, or fax.
I don't think there is a single person who doesn't want to know the moment a potentially dangerous sexual predator moves into their neighborhoods,” Senator Klein said. “I'm proud of my law that brought New York's Megan's Law into the 21st Century, and I'm working hard to make sure that everyone is able to take advantage of this very important tool.”
Members of the public can access this information at local police stations or via a toll-free telephone number. Level 2 and Level 3 offenders are also listed on an internet sub-directory at the state Department of Criminal Justice Services Web site.  However, the information changes constantly as new offenders are added and existing registrants update their information. NY-alert updates would proactively allow New Yorkers to keep tabs on a specific geographic area, such as where they live or where their children attend school, without having to constantly visit the subdirectory website.
The “Stay Safe with Senator Klein” program had a successful kick off at the recent Westchester Square street fair. There, NY Life issued 120 identification cards, and 60 people signed up for sex offender alerts.
"Our company has been doing this nationwide for quite some time to help customers protect their children free of charge." said Darin Fass, New York Life Managing Partner for Westchester County.  "New York Life's Core Values are around safety and security and it ties in perfectly with the Senator's legislation."
The program will also have a table at the Woodlawn Heights Fun Fair on June 11th, the Throggs Neck Sidewalk Sale on June 18th and the Allerton Avenue Homeowners and Tenants Association Picnic on June 26th.
Future dates will be announced on Senator Klein's website:, and his Facebook account:
To sign up for the NY-Alert system for sex offenders, log onto:
To view the Sex Offender Registry, log onto http://criminaljustice.state.ny


Assemblyman Dinowitz & State Senator Klein introduce bill to help stop theft of car wheels

Vehicle Identification Numbers would aid law enforcement in tracking stolen wheels
Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz (D-Bronx) and State Senator Jeff Klein (D-Bronx/ Westchester) have introduced new legislation that would finally give law enforcement a tool to track down vehicle wheel thieves. The measure would require that vehicle identification numbers be engraved on the wheels of all motor vehicles sold in New York.
This measure would help deter the theft of alloy wheels, which account for more than 20 percent of all felony thefts in some police precincts in New York City. Current law offers law enforcement no tools to track this type of crime, as vehicle wheels have no identification. Valued anywhere from $1,000 to $3,000 for a set of wheels from even a modestly priced vehicle, wheels are the most valuable item that can be removed from a vehicle with relatively little effort. By design, these wheels are easy to quickly remove with standard tools.
Similar measures have been implemented to prevent airbag and stereo theft and have proven widely successful, leaving wheels as the last frontier of accessory theft. This measure would allow citizens to report their wheels stolen and subsequently enable law enforcement to return the stolen goods to their owners. Currently, this is nearly impossible, due to the lack of identification on vehicle wheels. This bill will correct this problem and was crafted in direct consultation with the New York City Police Department to ensure it will accomplish its goals.
“This legislation will give law enforcement another weapon in its arsenal of crime fighting laws and will help make a major dent in one of the most common crimes in New York. It will save money and grief for thousands of people, and the only ones who will pay are the thieves,” said Assemblyman Dinowitz. “This legislation lets the people of the Bronx, New York City, and New York State as a whole know they can rest assured law enforcement has the tools they need to protect our citizens from would-be criminals.”
“This wave of criminal activity cannot be dismissed as petty thefts,” said State Senator Klein. “This legislation will make it tougher for thieves to profit from their crimes, as well as protect residents from having their property taken from them.”

The bills, A.7646 and S.5414, have been referred to the Transportation Committee in both houses. “We hope to see action before the end of this legislative session,” Assemblyman Dinowitz added.


New York City Comptroller John C. Liu issued the following statement in response to questions concerning the NYC Pension Funds’ presentation at Wal-Mart’s annual meeting in Fayetteville, Arkansas today.

“Low prices are good, but it is Wal-Mart’s responsibility to ensure that it is not passing to its customers savings bought with abusive labor practices,” Comptroller Liu said.  “Wal-Mart can and should do much more to hold its suppliers accountable for protecting human and workers’ rights.  Wal-Mart can’t claim to be that bright yellow smiley face that we see around the world if its global suppliers don’t protect their workers from abuse or intimidation.”

The NYC Pension Funds’ shareholder proposal calls on Wal-Mart’s board to require that the company’s suppliers publish reports on their compliance with internationally recognized standards of human and workers’ rights.  Kalpona Akter, a labor rights leader in Bangladesh and former garment worker, presented the proposal to Wal-Mart’s board of directors at the invitation of Comptroller Liu and the Funds.

The NYC Pension Funds hold 5,696,055 shares of Wal-Mart, Inc. valued at $305,023,745.25 million as of 6/2/2011.

Friday, June 3, 2011


Council Member Oliver Koppell has scheduled a tax lien assistance outreach session at his district office, 3636 Waldo Avenue, Riverdale on Monday, June 13, 2011 from 10:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. for constituents whose tax liens are on the list to be sold. 
This sale is the transfer of the lien to a single authorized buyer who hires a collection agency.  It is not a sale of the property, but if the taxes and/or charges are not paid or resolved, the lien holder can begin a foreclosure proceeding in court.
A representative from the NYC Department of Finance will be available at the June 13th session in Koppell’s office to meet one-on-one with homeowners with tax liens to help them avoid the Lien Sale by discussing eligibility for exemptions from the sale or ways of resolving the lien.
 In order to prevent the sale of a lien on property, the debt must be resolved by August 1, 2011 through one of the following methods:
  •   Pay your outstanding debt in full; 
  •  Enter into a payment agreement;
  •  Apply to receive an exemption that will exclude the property 
 from the Lien Sale; 
  • Dispute the charges by filing a formal dispute with DEP or Finance.
Individuals in Koppell’s district who have been sent a legal claim against their property for unpaid taxes, or whose property was on a published lien sale list, are encouraged to attend this outreach session to obtain advice and to take the necessary steps to  prevent the sale of their lien  The Finance representative will provide assistance in  developing  payment agreements, resolving billing disputes and helping complete Exemptions applications for those who qualify.
Koppell said, “My office has sent out invitations to this session to those of my constituents whose tax liens are in danger of being sold. I strongly urge these individuals to come to the session in order to obtain the help they need to avoid the sale, which can have serious consequences in the future.”
 If you plan to attend, it is necessary to RSVP to Drew Gabriel in Koppell’s district office, (718) 549-7300 or  to schedule an appointment.

Senator Klein to Subpoena Makers of Four Loko

Senator Jeffrey D. Klein, chairman of the New York State Senate Standing Committee on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse, today announced the issuance of a legislative subpoena  against the makers of Four Loko as part of the Committee's ongoing investigation into high alcohol Flavored Malt Beverages and their availability to minors. 

The subpoenas to Chicago-based Phusion Projects will be seeking information regarding the manufacturing, distribution and marketing of Four Loko.

Senator Klein had sought this information from Phusion representatives during an April 12 hearing on this issue. During that hearing, the Committee heard testimony from public health officials, law enforcement representatives, community representatives, trade organizations, and marketing experts. The findings related to the hearing can be found in a preliminary report issued today by the Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Committee.

The end result of the investigation is to craft legislation that will help crack down on the access of 'alcopops' by minors, without putting unintended burdens on other brewers and drink makers.  However, the Committee inquiry remains on-going due to the lack of participation by Phusion and other representatives of  high alcohol Flavored Malt Beverages manufacturers.

“This company makes a product for sale in New York that's cheap, tastes sweet and packs a six-pack punch in a 22-ounce can,” Senator Klein, (D-Bronx/ Westchester), said. “We believe that their information can greatly inform our efforts to keep Four Loko and similar 'alcopops' out of the hands of minors. Given Phusion's lack of cooperation, this committee has no choice, but to use the tools at its disposal to obtain the facts that we need.”

Senator Klein has the authority to issue a subpoena under section 62-a of New York State Legislative Law.

“Alcopops,” or High Alcohol Flavored Malt Beverages, are sweetened and flavored malt-based drinks with high alcohol content. They are generally sold for $2 to $3 for a 22 ounce can, have very similar packaging to non-alcoholic energy drinks. The price point and the packaging are both very appealing to minors. Four Loko, which has 12 percent alcohol, is the most popular drink in this category.

Senator Klein launched the committee investigation  following a series of incidents in his district, where local youths were sent to the hospitals after drinking Four Loko. This was followed up by a series of undercover police stings in New York City last March, 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.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Gov. Cuomo's Decision on the 'Secure Communities' Program Brings Comments by Local Officials

   The federal Secure Communities program was presented by the Department of Homeland Security as a means to apprehend and deport undocumented immigrants convicted of serious crimes.  However, the program has come increasingly under fire from law enforcement leaders, elected officials and community leaders alike, as government statistics revealed that over 60 percent of immigrants deported under the program were never convicted of any crime or involved in low-level offenses, like traffic violations.  When local police are forced to take on immigration enforcement, trust between law enforcement and the community suffers, compromising effective crime-fighting.

   In recent weeks, Gov. Patrick Quinn of Illinois terminated his state’s participation in Secure Communities, California’s Assembly recently passed the Trust Act, which would allow counties to opt out of the program, and DHS’s own Office of the Inspector General announced it will launch an investigation into the program and the government’s claims.
   Late Wednesday, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the suspension of New York’s participation in the controversial Secure Communities Program, pending an investigation into the federal program. Gov. Cuomo’s leadership in challenging Secure Communities is the latest in a growing outcry due to the program’s overreach and dangerous implications for public safety. 

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. had this to say-

“I applaud Governor Cuomo for suspending New York State’s participation in the ‘Secure Communities’ program, pending a review of the program’s goals and methods. While supporters of the program claim that it will improve public safety, such assertions could not be farther from the truth. Simply put, the ‘Secure Communities’ program would push undocumented immigrants further into the darkness, making them less likely to cooperate with police officers and other government officials.

“‘Secure Communities’ would actually make our neighborhoods less safe, and I thank Governor Cuomo for suspending our great state’s involvement in this destructive program,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.

33rd State Senator Gustavo Rivera added the following-

“I’m very proud to be a New Yorker right now,” said Senator Gustavo Rivera (D-Bronx), New York State Senator, “Because of the Governor's actions, today victims of domestic violence in counties where Secure Communities was had been implemented will no longer have to be afraid to report a crime committed against them. Because of this important decision, witnesses of crimes will have no reason to hesitate about whether to go to law enforcement if they saw a crime take place. I applaud Governor Cuomo for taking action and declaring that New York will not stand for policies that separate our families and make our communities less safe."



Recently-Adopted Pension Reforms Will Significantly Reduce Future Expenses

A new report from Comptroller John C. Liu’s Retirement Security NYC initiative shows that City pension costs will peak in 2016 before they begin a gradual, steady decline. From 2016 through 2040 and beyond, pension costs will grow at a slower rate than the City’s economy, using up significantly less of its budgeting resources.

The report titled, “Sustainable or Not? NYC Pension Cost Projections through 2060,” finds the long-term decline in pension costs is primarily due to the introduction of new, less expensive benefit plans that took effect between 1995 and 2009.

“Poor market performance over the past decade means we still have a
few tough years ahead as those investment losses catch up to us. However, significant reforms already implemented in recent years will drive down costs for decades to come,” Comptroller Liu said.

The study, which makes use of long-term projections by independent
actuaries, produced three key findings:

1)      City pension costs will increase nominally through FY 2016, after
which they will decline as a percentage of the City’s expenditures and revenues.

Note: In FY 2012, pension cost is $7.3 billion or 11.1 percent of the
City budget. By FY 2016, pension cost will rise to $8.3 billion or 11.4 percent of the city budget. The increase in pension cost through 2016 would not be materially impacted by new benefit changes or tiers that are applicable only to new employees.

2)      Current discussions use a 30 year time period and the study shows
by FY 2040, City pension costs as a percentage of the City’s budget will decline from 11.4 percent in FY 2016 to:

       5.1 percent, assuming an 8.0% rate-of-return; or

       5.5 percent, assuming a 7.5% rate-of-return; or
       6.0 percent, assuming a 7.0% rate-of-return.

3)      The primary reason for declining pension costs is the phasing-in of
new employees whose benefits are significantly lower than those offered to municipal workers in the past.  Police and Fire Pension Funds will experience the most significant costs decreases over the next 30 years.

       Police will decrease from 65.1 percent of salary in FY 2010 to
between 39.2 to 33.4 percent of salary in FY 2040.
       Fire will decrease from 83.1 percent of salary in FY 2010 to between 46.6 to 41.5 percent of salary in FY 2040.

“While we cannot predict the precise economic cycles that will occur
over the next 30 years, historical trends allow us to make reasonable assumptions about how pension obligations will affect the City’s future budgets.” Comptroller Liu said. “Retirement Security NYC will continue to bring objective research to bear on the public policy debate surrounding retirement issues that affect all New Yorkers.”

“The impact of any pension reform takes time to have an effect,” said
Teresa Ghilarducci, Director of the New School’s Swartz Center for Economic Policy Analysis, and a national expert on public pensions and
retirement issues. "This study demonstrates that, over the long-term, New York City's pension funds provide a secure retirement for firefighters, police officers, teachers, and other City employees at a reasonable cost to taxpayers.”

Download the “Sustainable or Not” Report, Summary and Fund Projections

About the Independent Actuaries

The long term projections in this study were conducted and certified by independent actuaries, the Hay Group. The Company is a global management consulting firm that works with organizations across all
areas of human resources, with more than 7,000 clients in 47 countries.  Hay Group's benefits practice was founded in 1911 and is one of the first organizations in the US to provide independent actuarial consulting services.

About the New York City Pension Funds

The New York City Pension Funds include: the New York City Employees’ Retirement System, the Teachers’ Retirement System, the New York City Police Pension Fund, the New York City Fire Department Pension Fund, and the Board of Education Retirement System.

About Retirement Security NYC

Retirement Security NYC is a major initiative launched by Comptroller John C. Liu to protect the retirement security of public employees while ensuring the City’s financial health.

This report marks the third in a series produced by the initiative. The first report, “Municipal Employee Compensation in New York City,” found that wages paid to public employees are less on average than
those received by their private sector counterparts, especially for highly-educated workers.

The second report, “The $8 Billion Question,” examined the growth in
New York City pension costs over the past decade. It found that the rise in pension expenses was due primarily to poor market performance between 2000 and 2010.


Wednesday, June 1, 2011

New agreement between the City and the Hunts Point Produce Market to Keep it in the Bronx for the Next Three Years.

   The New York City Economic Development Corporation and the Hunts Point Produce Market Merchants have reached a deal that will keep the market at Hunts Point, for at least the next three years. Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. gave the following statement about the deal to keep the Hunts Point Produce Market in the Bronx.
“After months of negotiation, I am thrilled to see that the City and the merchants of the Hunts Point Produce Market have reached a deal that will keep the co-op in the Bronx, where it belongs, for at least the next three years. During the coming months, we will continue to work with this administration and the merchants of the co-op on a long-term deal that will ensure that this tremendous hub of economic activity, one that provides jobs to thousands of Bronxites, remains in the Bronx for decades to come. I am confident that such a deal will happen and that the market will remain in Hunts Point for the foreseeable future.

“I would like to thank not only the Bloomberg administration but the New York City Economic Development Corporation, Governor Andrew Cuomo and the Empire State Development Corporation, Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, our Congressional, City Council, State Senate and Assembly delegations; as well as the Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation for their hard work on this issue. Bronxites owe them all a debt of gratitude for their efforts,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.

Upcoming Events

June 11- Taste of the Latin Caribbean: Puerto Rican history in the Bronx
Join us as we highlight the agricultural contributions of the Puerto Rican community and culture in NYC on the eve of the National Puerto Rican Day Parade. Enjoy an organic lunch incorporating some of the native flavors of the island. Bi-lingual tour guide will be provided. 
    Tour activities include:
“Get Dirty" gardening session - Discover Taino culture through gardening, growing practices and common crops! Taste some sprouted arroz con frijoles, a healthy spin on this traditional Latin dish.
Salsa dancing lesson and live music jam session
Learn the basics of composting and raising chickens
Complimentary lunch provided to trolley riders

July 30 - Hip-Hop & Food Historical Tour: Beats and Beets!
Experience the birthplace of Hip-Hop music in a whole new way as we embark on a rhymatic, delicious healthy food journey! Dance, rhyme and eat your way to a healthier lifestyle! Meet legendary Hip-Hop pioneers as they guide you on a tour of hip-hop music, good food and healthy living. 
   Tour activities include:
Hip Hop poetry slam
Old school hip hop music jam hosted by world-famous Hip-Hop pioneers
Healthy food recipe cards
“Get Dirty” - Interactive gardening session
Learn the basics of composting and raising chickens
Complimentary lunch provided to trolley riders

September 10 - Taste of Tuscany: Italian culinary tour from seed to plate!
(Featuring a tour of Mario Batali’s Edible Garden, the Italy Garden and the Bronx’s historic Arthur’s Avenue )
Feel like you’re touring the Tuscany countryside as you embark on a delicious culinary exploration of various Italian herbs and vegetables. Embrace the beauty of the borough’s ecological treasures at some of New York City’s biggest urban farms!
   Tour activities include:
Grape Stomping! Old world wine-making practice! (Feet washing station provided)
Italian herbs tasting at The New York Botanical Garden’s Mario Batali’s Edible Garden.
Cheese-making workshop offered by Mike Greco of the famous Mike’s Deli
Tour of Bronx’s Historic Little Italy (Cheese shops, butcher shops, bread shops & more)
Lunch will not be provided – Many food options available for purchase at Arthur’s Avenue

To register, or for more information, call 718.817.8026 or


Tuesday, May 31, 2011

This Came in From one of our Readers

EASEL - San Diego Art Fair
Sept 2,3,4 2011
HOST - Alexander Salazar Fine Art

1040 7th Avenue, San Diego, CA 92101
To Register Please call 619-531-8996 or 619-531-8988

EASEL - San Diego Art af(FAIR) 2011 is an amazing art fair celebrating local artists. 
This event will showcase San Diego and Guests Artists.  
Located at 1040 7th Avenue, just half a block from Sponsor Alexander Salazar Fine Art. -  
$5.00 for 3 Day Pass - 5,000 Sq Ft of Amazing Art all on Easels
Sept 2-4 - Friday, Saturday, Sunday -  Fair Hours - 11 am to 8 pm
(Set up Sept 1, Break Down Sept 5th) Original Art all priced under $5,000

To Participate -
$100.00 Fee To Participate - Non refundable - by Cash, Check or Credit Card.
One Painting up to 60 tall by 40 wide -  Artist must provide their own easel. 
Full Marketing Provided by Alexander Salazar Fine Art in Newspapers, Radio, TV, and Social Media. All Artwork Fully Insured. In the event of a sale - Alexander Salazar Fine Art will Process All Sales and pay any credit card fees associated with the sale  Payment to artist will be payable within 7 business days.  Each Artist Must complete a I-9 Tax form to receive any funds greater than $200.00 
Artist will Receive 75% of Sale - Gallery will Receive 25% of Sale.
To Register Please call 619-531-8996 or 619-531-8988

N. Y. State Attorney General Eric Schniederman files suit against United States for the people of New York

   In a 34 page complaint listed on Liz Benjamins State of Politics blog New York State Attorney General Eric Schniderman has filed suit against the Army Corp of Engineers, the United States Department of Environmental Protection, Department of the Interior, Department of Fish and Wildlife Service, and the National Park Services for what appears to be a halt to any thought of drilling for gas in the Delaware water basin, home of the majority of New York City's fresh drinking water. 

   New York City Comptroller John C. Liu will host a breakfast meet-and-greet with Trustees of the NYC Pension Funds and Kalpona Akter, a workers’ rights activist and former child laborer from Bangladesh on Tuesday, May 31.

Comptroller Liu, the Trustees and Ms. Akter, who is stopping in New York on her way to Wal-Mart’s annual meeting, will discuss the Funds’ shareholder proposal that Wal-Mart require its suppliers uphold human and workers rights.  The Funds’ hold $311 million in Wal-Mart shares.

On June 3, Ms. Akter, the Executive Director of the Bangladesh Center for Workers Solidarity, will present the Funds’ proposal to Wal-Mart’s board of directors in Arkansas.  The proposal calls on the nation’s largest retailer to hold its suppliers around the globe accountable for their compliance with international standards of human and workers rights.

Kalpona faces years in prison on unsubstantiated criminal charges of fomenting garment worker unrest in Bangladesh.  Eighteen members of Congress have sent letters on her behalf to Wal-Mart and five other U.S. retailers, as well as to the U.S. Trade Representative.