Saturday, June 18, 2011

How Come That Kid Who Lives Outside New York City Got My Seat In The Charter School?

   A little known fact was brought out last night about the two New Visions Charter High Schools that will replace the current Kennedy High School starting next school year. Since the two new charter schools are SUNY authorized the admission criteria if different than that of a regular New York City run public school. Of the seats available in each new charter school first preference is given to current students, second preference is given to siblings of those enrolled students, next comes students from the local school district, after that comes students from the entire city school district, and finally all students from any where in New York State have preference on any seats that may still be open.
   Since the application process is over for the two new charter high schools it was reported by New Visions how students were chosen for the two new schools. Since more students applied than there were seats the admission process criteria went into effect. Since this is the first year of the two new charter schools there were no returning students, and there were no siblings of enrolled students either. All district 10 students who applied were given seats, and since there was more demand than seats the remaining seats went to students from the other school districts in the Bronx and other boroughs outside of the Bronx. 
  In a particularly strange note New Visions said that several applicants for seats lived in the city of Yonkers, but because all seats were taken by New York City students the Yonkers residents were not accepted. When questioned the SUNY representative confirmed that according to New York State Charter School regulations it would be possible for out of city students (anywhere in New York State) to attend New York City charter schools.  The City of Yonkers has one charter school located on Warburton Avenue that is a K-8 school, and it could wind up that some of those graduates could find seats in the two new charter high schools that replace Kennedy High School in the future.
   As the State Education Law states that that local school districts fund local charter schools, your New York City tax dollars could wind up paying to educate students from outside of the city. Even worse is that your child may not get a seat in a New York City charter school because the sibling of a child who may live outside the city could wind up with that seat.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Assemblyman Castro Passes Child Care Provider Protections through Assembly

          Assembly Member Nelson L. Castro (D- Bronx County) announced the passage of Assembly Bill A.8243.  This legislation amends the current anti-retaliation laws to add the operation of a group family day care home or family day care.  This bill adds group family day care home and family day care home to the list of protected activities that a landlord is prohibited from targeting a tenant for.


            Current state law established by statute and judicial precedent allows for the operation of group family day care homes and family day care home within a residential property.  Landlords are already prohibited from retaliating against tenants that engage in rights protected by New York State Law. 

“This bill will bring a peace of mind to this industry which provides an essential service that enables men and women to continue working for their families and feel secure that their children are well taken care of,” said Tammie Miller, Chapter Chair, UFT Home Day Care Providers.  “We are grateful and pleased that this legislation has passed its first hurdle and we hope that our partners in the Senate will do the same and ultimately Governor Cuomo will sign it into law.”

             “Child care providers have been unprotected and targeted.  Once this legislation passes the Senate and is signed by the Governor, this industry will have a tool to conduct business without fear of harassment or retaliation,” said Assembly Castro.  “Currently there are more than 25,000 child care providers in New York, majority owned and operated by women.  For the past 15 years this industry has made significant contributions to our great state and should receive all the rights and protections afforded to similar establishments.”

This legislation will apply to day cares operated pursuant to section 390 of the social service law, which requires licensing or registration with the Office of Children and Family Services.  The day cares must also be operated out of dwellings that are in compliance with New York State Building and Fire Prevention Code.  


Mayor Bloomberg: Worse for Gay Marriage than Me

By Senator Reverend Ruben Diaz Sr.

New York State Senator Reverend Ruben Diaz (D-Bronx) has released the following statement:

"New York City's Mayor Michael Bloomberg has been spending a lot of time and money in Albany to show how much he wants New York’s marriage laws redefined.

If we want to document the facts, one of the biggest impediments to same sex marriage rights in New York has been by Mayor Bloomberg.

In a Manhattan Court in 2005 Justice Doris Ling-Cohen ruled that gay marriage was legal in New York.  At the time this ruling was celebrated as a victory for gay marriage rights advocates.

New York City's Mayor Michael Bloomberg decided that gay marriage was wrong for New York and ordered New York City's attorneys to appeal this decision.  That appeal resulted in New York's highest court ruling that there is no right to marriage for same-sex couples under the New York State Constitution.  That litigation has caused a lot of fighting and has cost a lot of money.

Now this year, because Mayor Bloomberg sees that Goveror Andrew Cuomo and other leaders are getting close to a victory on gay marriage legislation, he has been spending a lot of his money to make people forget what he did.

I believe that Mayor Bloomberg must be credited as having done a lot more than I have done to prevent gay marriage from being legal in New York."


Thursday, June 16, 2011

Congressman Anthony Weiner Resigns

   Its now official, Congressman Anthony Weiner has resigned after three weeks of trying to stay in his congressional seat. The final blow may have come from his wife Huma when she returned yesterday from an overseas trip with her boss U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. 
   According to the United States constitution when a vacancy occurs in congress the governor of the state must call a special election within 70 to 80 days after the vacancy occurs. The special election for the 9th Congressional  District could wind up happening on Primary Day September 13th, since the poll sites are in operation on that day. 
   Wiener's resignation announcement came at the same senior center that Weiner announced his candidacy for his first public office of City Council in 1992.
   Names that are being bantered about to replace now former Congressman Anthony Weiner include former City Council members Eric Gioia and Melinda Katz, and current City Councilman Mark Werprin. On the Republican side there is Councilman Eric Ulrich who could be backed by former mayor Rudy Giuliani.

Sen. Rev. Rubén Díaz and Thousands of Evangelicals Will March in the Evangelical Children’s Parade
   State Senator Rev. Rubén Díaz states that with more than 50 floats, marching bands, and displays of biblical passages, thousands of Evangelical Christians will march in The Evangelical Children’s Parade which will be held this Saturday, June 18 at 12:00 pm throughout Third Avenue, from 97th Street to 118th Street in “El Barrio”, the heart of the Hispanic community.

Men, women and children will march in support of their moral, traditional and family values.

“It is important that every pastor, congregation and fellow believer join me in this parade to show our community and our state that we will continue to defend our faith in the midst of all the negativity in the world,” stated Senator Díaz.

A platform will be located on 3rd Avenue, between 116th Street and 117th Street, where dignitaries and different personalities will observe the parade.

Senator Rev. Diaz Calls Upon Colleagues to Vote on Rent Regulation Laws Before Any Gay Marriage Vote 

New York State Senator Reverend Ruben Diaz (D-Bronx) released the following statement regarding the New York Rent Regulation laws that are set to expire at midnight on June 15th:

"I am calling upon my colleagues in the Senate to withhold their votes on gay marriage until New York's Rent Regulation laws – which are set to expire tomorrow – are in place.

Even though my colleagues have made their commitments to vote on gay marriage, I urge them – especially the Black and Hispanic Senators – to be strong and withhold their votes until Governor Cuomo protects the State's housing laws.  New York's rent regulation laws protect housing for 2.5 million New York residents – many are poor and needy, and most are Black and Hispanic.  Without these laws in place this week many people will be left in crisis situations.

Before Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Budget was passed, I urged my colleagues – especially the Black and Hispanic Senators – to be sure that Governor Cuomo included New York's rent control and rent regulation laws in the Budget.  I asked them if Governor Cuomo refused to include it, NOT to vote for the Budget.  They decided not to embarrass the Governor who needed our votes and voted for his Budget.  Only Senator Tom Duane and I refused to vote for that Budget because it did not have rent regulation laws in place.

Today, I once again call upon my colleagues – especially the Black and Hispanic Senators – to have the courage to learn from that mistake and to force Governor Cuomo to protect rent regulation laws before they give him their votes for gay marriage.

Once the Governor gets the rent regulation laws in place, then the Senate can vote on the gay marriage law. But the top priority in Albany this week should be to first protect the New York’s 2.5 million residents who will suffer tremendously if our housing laws are not extended."

Lawsuit Payouts Declined by 7% in FY 2010, But City Agencies Can Do More to Save Taxpayers Tort Claims Payments Once Again Topped Half a Billion Dollars

   New York City Comptroller John C. Liu today released his Claims Report for Fiscal Years 2009 and 2010.* The report, the first under Comptroller Liu’s tenure, provides a comprehensive examination of data regarding claims filed against the City and analyzes recent trends.

Comptroller Liu’s report shows that in FY 2010 the City paid out $520.6 million in personal injury and property damage tort settlements and judgments; seven percent less than FY 2009, when the City paid $559.9 million.

“City agencies generally work hard to serve our residents, but we need to collectively minimize and prevent costly settlements that continue to hover at a half-billion dollars annually.” Comptroller Liu said. “My office will continue to work with Corporation Counsel to reduce the overall cost of litigation and settlements while being fair to people who have been harmed.”

In the Mayor’s Fiscal Year 2012 Executive Budget, the City has budgeted $655 million for the settlement of claims.  Comptroller Liu testified last week that an analysis by his office deemed that number overestimated potential payouts by roughly $50 million.

Tort Claims Detail:

The report found that the New York City Police Department (NYPD), Health and Hospitals Corporation (HHC), and the New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) accounted for 67 percent of total tort claims paid in FY 2010. 

The NYPD surpassed HHC in total claims payouts for the first time in 30 years.  The City paid $135.3 million in FY 2009 and $135.8 million in FY 2010 on behalf of the NYPD.  By comparison, claims against HHC cost the City slightly less, totaling $134.9 in FY 2009 and $134.4 million in FY 2010.

Comptroller Liu cited HHC’s success in risk and litigation management and noted that in addition to the NYPD, the DOT and Department of Education (DOE) may benefit from a pilot program replicating the HHC model of proactive management to reduce the costs incurred by the City.  The Comptroller also suggested the Mayor’s Management Report track and publish agency claims data.

“This would better highlight agency efforts with regards to claims and civil litigation, and identify areas where greater risk management is needed,” Comptroller Liu said.  “By posting this information the City will increase fiscal accountability.”

Non-Tort Claims:

The Comptroller’s Office also settles non-tort claims.  These claims include disputes between contractors and City agencies, salary claims, and Department of Education tuition claims. In FY 2010, non-tort payments jumped to $165.1 million, up from $94.5 million the year before. The primary cause of this increase is DOE tuition reimbursement settlements, which totaled $132.9 million in FY 2010.

DOE tuition reimbursement claims arise when the City is unable to provide the necessary resources to special needs students. As a result, these students attend private schools for instruction and the City pays the tuition after a claim is filed.  Comptroller Liu has recommended that the DOE take a more proactive view of their risk management programs to help drive down these costs. 

Additional Findings:

§  The Comptroller’s Office early settlement of claims is estimated to have saved the City $17.2 million in FY 2009 and $18.2 million in FY 2010, by working in cooperation with other City agencies and streamlining processes.
§  In FY 2010, 2,286 defective sidewalk claims were filed against the City, the lowest number in a decade.  As a City Councilman, Comptroller Liu authored and was the prime sponsor of Local Law 49, which amended the City Administrative Code in relation to liability for sidewalk claims.  As a result of the legislation, the City has seen a significant decrease in the amount of taxpayer funds paid out to settle these claims. 
§  The Comptroller’s Office re-evaluated its agreement with Cybersettle, an electronic settlement program, and determined that the same goal could be accomplished more efficiently by in-house staff than through an outside consultant — saving the City $600,000 annually.
§  The Comptroller’s Office collected a record $1.3 million as part of its Affirmative Claims program, in which the office pursues monetary reimbursement from companies who damage City property.
§  Personal injury claims accounted for 98 and 99 percent of tort settlements in FY 2009 and FY 2010 respectively.
§  The cost of civil rights claims increased 67 percent in FY 2010 to $78.7 million, largely due to a December 2009 class action settlement of $33 million that challenged strip search procedures in Corrections Department facilities.
§  Working with the State Attorney General, the Comptroller’s Office was able to secure $95,000 for a crime victim under the Son of Sam Law, which allows crime victims the opportunity to receive portions of monetary settlements awarded to those convicted of the crime.

Filing an eClaim:

As a result of legislation signed into law on March 24, 2010, the City is required to accept Notices of Claim via electronic means.  As a result of the legislation, the New York City Comptroller’s Office successfully designed, developed and implemented the “eClaim” system within six months of the law, which allows a claimant to electronically file a claim and attach all necessary supporting documentation.


Under the New York City Charter, the Comptroller is responsible for settling and adjusting claims for and against the City.  The report on claims data is published every two years.

*Data may not include all claims against the City that will ultimately be settled due to a time lag between when a settlement occurs and when settlements and updates are entered into the claims database. For the purpose of this report, “settlement and judgment costs,” liabilities,” “expenditures” or “amounts paid” are used interchangeably with “recorded settlements and judgments.”

Comptroller Liu credited Deputy Comptroller for Legal Affairs and General Counsel Ricardo Morales, as well as the Bureau of Law and Adjustment for their efforts in compiling the report. 

The full report can be viewed at

    Comptroller John C. Liu issued the following statement today:

  “My office’s review of the CityTime project, which defrauded taxpayers of millions of dollars, has not interfered with the ongoing criminal investigation, nor have we been informed that it has.  We applaud the U.S. Attorney for charging seven people and recovering $28 million to date.  We are committed to working cooperatively with all law enforcement agencies.”

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Jeter Meter Update

  It appears that the calf injury to Derek Jeter is more serious than was first thought as he has been placed on the 15 day DL. This will mean that Jeter will be inactive and not play until at least June 28th when the Yankees conclude a six game home stand with three games against the Milwaukee Brewers. As July begins the Yankees play three games against the Mets in Citi-field. Then there are six more games until the all star break, three games away in Cleveland and then Tampa Bay for three games at Yankee Stadium.
  The Question now is can Derek Jeter get that now elusive 3,000 hit before the all star break, and will it be hit in New York?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Jeter Meter Update

    Derek Jeter got one hit (#2994) in yesterdays game against the Cleveland Indians, but had to come out of the game in the fifth inning limping off the field. An MRI was taken that showed Jeter had suffered  a calf strain, which should keep him at least out of the rest of the home stand.
    The Calf injury should not be serious enough to put Jeter on the 15 day DL. The question then is will Derek Jeter get hit #3,000 before the all star break?

Independent Democratic Conference

Historic Ethics Reform Legislation Passes Senate with Independent Democratic Conference Support

Senator Jeffrey D. Klein, (D-Bronx/ Westchester), and his fellow members of The Independent Democratic Conference joined their colleagues in the Senate and the Assembly today to pass a comprehensive ethics reform package that strengthens oversight of the State Legislature, increases transparency, and helps restore the public's faith in their state government.
The legislation includes many parts of an ethics overhaul package the IDC proposed earlier this year. These elements include:
  • Creating a strong watchdog system that does not hinge on legislators sitting in judgment of each other;
  • Shining the light on legislators' outside activities by creating additional disclosure requirements on outside income and outside clients;
  • Stripping public pensions from public servants convicted of using their positions to violate the public's trust.
Taken together, these measures will help root out and punish Albany's bad actors, and put an end to the scandals and the corruption that have plagued state government for far too long,” said Senator Klein. “When we formed the Independent Democratic Conference, we said that passing comprehensive ethics reform was one of our top priorities. Today, I am proud to say that we have advanced legislation that fits the bill and will help New York once again become the Empire State.” 
The legislation, called the Public Integrity Reform Act of 2011, includes:
Greater Financial Disclosure: Financial disclosure statements filed with the new Joint Commission on Public Ethics from elected officials will now be posted on the internet and the practice of redacting the monetary values and amounts reported by the filer will be ended. The Act also includes greater and more precise disclosure of financial information by expanding the categories of value used by reporting individuals to disclose the dollar amounts in their financial disclosure statements. The Act requires disclosure of the reporting individual’s and his or her firm’s outside clients and customers doing business with, receiving grants or contracts from, seeking legislation or resolutions from, or involved in cases or proceedings before the State as well as such clients brought to the firm by the public official.
Increased Access to Who is Appearing Before the State and Why: The Act establishes a new database of any individual or firm that appears in a representative capacity before any state governmental entity.
Additional Disclosures for Registered Lobbyists: The bill expands lobbying disclosure requirements, including the disclosure by lobbyists of any "reportable business relationships" of more than $1,000 with public officials. It also expands the definition of lobbying to include advocacy to affect the "introduction" of legislation or resolutions, a change that will help to ensure that all relevant lobbying activities are regulated by the new Joint Commission.
Forfeiture of Pensions for Public Officials Convicted of a Felony: Certain public officials who commit crimes related to their public offices may have their pensions reduced or forfeited in a new civil forfeiture proceeding brought by the Attorney General or the prosecutor who handled the conviction of the official.
A New Joint Commission on Public Ethics: The Joint Commission on Public Ethics will replace the existing Commission on Public Integrity with jurisdiction over all elected state officials and their employees, both executive and legislative, as well as lobbyists. The bipartisan Joint Commission will consist of 14 members:
  • Six appointed by the Governor and Lieutenant Governor, at least three of whom shall be enrolled members of the major political party that is not that of the Governor
  • Eight appointed by the legislative leaders.
The Joint Commission will have jurisdiction to investigate potential violations of law by legislators and legislative employees and, if violations are found, issue findings to the Legislative Ethics Commission, which will have jurisdiction to impose penalties. Significantly, if the joint commission reports such a violation to the Legislative Ethics Commission (with full findings of fact and conclusions of law), that report must be made public along with the Legislative Ethics Commission’s disposition of the matter within strict time frames. The Joint Commission will have jurisdiction to impose penalties on executive employees and lobbyists. Any potential violations of federal or state criminal laws will be referred to the appropriate prosecutor for further action.
The Joint Commission will also conduct mandatory ethics training for executive and legislative officials, except instances where such training already exists, and track the status of compliance and make it available to the public.
Clarifying Independent Expenditures For Elections: The Act requires the state board of elections to issue new regulations clarifying disclosure of Independent Expenditures.
Increased Penalties for Violations: The Act substantially increases penalties for violations of the filing requirements and contribution limits in the Election Law, and provides for a special enforcement proceeding in the Supreme Court. The bill also increases penalties for violations of certain provisions of the state’s code of Ethics that prohibits conflicts of interest.


Senator Rivera Applauds Passing of Financial Disclosure, Votes YES on Ethics Reform

 Senator Gustavo Rivera (D,WF) joined by 61 of his colleagues this afternoon in voting unanimously in favor of S. 5679, the Public Integrity Reform Act of 2011. The Public Integrity Act of 2011 included mandatory full financial disclosure for all public officials, which was the substance of S.382, the first bill Senator Rivera introduced during his first week in office.

“The need for meaningful ethics reform and the importance of restoring Bronxites’ faith in state government was one of the main reasons why I decided to run for public office,” said Senator Rivera. “That is why the first bill I introduced focused on government transparency, making it mandatory for all elected officials to disclose all sources of their income. I believe that New Yorkers have a right to know where their elected official’s salaries are coming from, especially if they are being paid by special interests, companies or individuals whose interests are diametrically opposed to the interests of their constituents and their community.”

“I am proud that the ethics package the State Senate voted on and passed today contains financial disclosure in addition to the creation of an independent ethics commission and the stripping of pensions for elected officials who have betrayed the trust of their constituents. By passing this legislation, I believe that we as a legislature are making enormous strides toward renewing New Yorkers trust in their state government. Although there are measures such as independent redistricting and campaign finance reform that I would have liked to have seen included in this package, I believe we are merely beginning an important conversation about ethics reform. I look forward to continuing to work with Governor Cuomo and my colleagues in the Senate and the Assembly in order to put an end to the culture of corruption in Albany.”

The text of the Public Integrity Act of 2011 can be found at

SoBRO's 2011 Job & Career Fair ~ Thursday, June 16

On Thursday, June 16th, SoBRO and the Ambassadors of Change will hold its 2011 Job and Career Fair at the Alfred E. Smith Community Center at 80 Catherine Street in New York City. This career fair is an excellent opportunity for employers and job seekers to meet, network, and make valuable business connections.  
Companies who will be represented at this job fair include: NYC Department Of Aging, Borough Of Manhattan Community College, Reliable Community Care, Henry Street Settlement, The City of New York’s Fire Department, ACCES, New York Urban League, National YAI, Per Scholas, RPCV Dominican Republic (Peace Corps), The City College of New York, Millennium Medical Staffing, Inc., GreenPath, Inc., Los Niños Services, Inc., and New York Life.  
SoBRO and the Ambassadors of Change 2011 Job & Career Fair
DATE:             Thursday, June 16th
TIME:              10am –  3pm
PLACE:          Alfred E. Smith Community Center, 80 Catherine Street, New York, NY 10038
CONTACT:    Alan Ulloa (SoBRO) 718-732-7604,  
                       Loretta White (Ambassadors of Change) 917-771-1136
About SoBRO: SoBRO, a not-for-profit community development corporation, has been serving the South Bronx since 1972.  SoBRO’s programs include adult education and workforce training, real estate and community development, technical and financial assistance for businesses, and an array of programs for youth. For additional information about SoBRO, visit or call (718) 292-3113.  

Monday, June 13, 2011

Assemblyman Dinowitz named Chair of Committee on Consumer Affairs and Protection

    Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz (D-Bronx) has been appointed as the new Chair of the Assembly Committee on Consumer Affairs and Protection by Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.  Assemblyman Dinowitz has served for the past four years as Chair of the Assembly Committee on Aging.

    The Committee on Consumer Affairs and Protection has jurisdiction over consumer-related issues.  Among the many issues on which the committee will be working include consumer and child product safety, food safety, cracking down on unfair practices in the debt management, credit card, mortgage and other financial services industries, protecting seniors against scams, and combating identity theft.

   “I’m thrilled to chair this important committee in the Assembly.  I’ve always been a consumer advocate as the Assembly member representing the 81st Assembly District.  This chairmanship will give me the opportunity to shape legislation and impact consumer issues to benefit people both in my district and throughout the state,” said Assemblyman Dinowitz.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Jeter Meter Update

   By getting two hits in Sunday's game against the Cleveland Indians Derek Jeter is now only 7 hits short of the 3,000 career hit mark. There are four more games left on the current home stand. Monday the Yankees finish up with the Cleveland Indians, and then the Texas Rangers come in for three games. After that the Yankees hit the road so Derek Jeter needs some more multi hit games to reach 3,000 on the current home stand. 

   Don't forget to be on 161st Street when Jeter hits his 3,000th hit for the festivities.