Friday, December 9, 2011

Mistrial For Larry Seabrook

  As we told you it looked like Larry Seabrook was going to get off with only "A slap on the wrist", but Seabrook's trial ended in a hung jury. The 8 women, 4 man jury became deadlocked on all counts and could not come up with even one verdict. This means that Councilman Larry Seabrook is now a free man until U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara re-tries him which the U.S. Attornet has said he will do.

  Seabrook was indicted on 12 counts of soliciting bribes, money laundering, and fraud. Many were expecting that Speaker Quinn and Mayor Bloomberg would be called to testify by Councilman Seabrooks defense team. 

That's now two cases in a row that U.S. Attorney Bharara has not won, but it appears that the U.S. Attorney may get Assemblyman Boyland (the first) on other charges. We will have to wait to see the second case against Larry Seabrook if it does come about. This decision has to be only good news for former State Senator Pedro Espada Jr. next up for Bharara.

Bronx CAN Health Initiative Healthy Holiday Party

Senator Gustavo Rivera and Bronx CAN Health Initiative is hosting a healthy holiday party sponsored by Montefiore Medical Center on Sunday, December 18th from 1:00PM TO 4:00PM, located at the Mary Mitchell Family and Youth Center (2007 Mapes Avenue, in the Bronx, between 178th and 179th street). There will be food, drinks, music and all around fun! Kids are welcome and encouraged to attend.

WHO: Senator Gustavo Rivera our Bronx CAN Health Initiative partners
WHAT: Bronx CAN Healthy Holiday Party
WHERE: Mary Mitchell Family and Youth Center - 2007 Mapes Ave.
WHEN: Sunday, December 18, 2011 - 1:00PM - 4:00PM



RE: Proposed School Closures by DOE
“While I understand that the Department of Education must make difficult decisions when public schools underperform, the DOE must acknowledge the fact that these closings have a considerable effect on parents, educators and students. The DOE must ensure that those who remain in these schools during their phase outs are not left behind. I have previously asked the DOE to monitor these students in these schools, which they have agreed to do, and we will continue to monitor that process.

“However, the factors that have led to these proposed closings did not occur overnight. The DOE has not provided these schools and others with the appropriate resources to succeed, and that must change. My office will closely watch these closings to both ensure that the proper process is followed and that the voices of the parents, students, educators and the community as a whole are heard,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.

Thursday, December 8, 2011


  City Comptroller John C. Liu today released the following statement on the City Council’s vote to override a Mayoral veto of Local Law 35:

“Today’s actions will help prevent runaway spending on high priced consultants and other outside contracting. By expanding the universe of City agencies and contract provisions that will be exposed to more scrutiny, the Council has taken a key step towards rooting out waste, fraud and abuse in the contracting process. While the previous system allowed large city contracts, such as CityTime, to balloon due to poor oversight and incessant contract renewals and extensions, these new measures will help protect our workers and taxpayers from further costly boondoggles.”




Council Member Oliver Koppell launched his toy drive this holiday season by distributing over 100 toys on December 8, 2011 to children at the Little Angels Head Start Program on Hull Avenue in the Bedford Park/Norwood section of his district. These toys were among the 300 donated to Koppell  by the Bronx Chamber of Commerce and  Bronx Toys, a toy manufacturer, to give to children in need in his district.
Koppell also selected Mosholu-Montefiore, Marble Hill and  Kingsbridge Heights Community  Centers to be the recipient of toys because many of the families the centers serve are suffering during these harsh economic times and cannot afford to give their children a holiday present.
A   number of children who attend PS 8 live in the nearby homeless shelter and Koppell provided the school with toys to give to these children, who are among the neediest  in his district. 
“I am grateful to the Bronx Chamber of Commerce and Bronx Toys for their generous donation of toys to brighten the holiday season for children in my district, many of whom would go without gifts because of the economic hardship their families are experiencing.”  

If you wish, you can contribute to  Koppell’s toy drive by dropping off a new, unwrapped toy at his district office, 3636 Waldo Avenue, Bronx/Riverdale phone # (718) 549-7300.
RE: Selection of 13 Bronx projects as priorities by
Gov. Cuomo’s Regional Economic Development Council
Today, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. praised the Governor Cuomo’s Regional Economic Development Council for selecting 13 Bronx and borough-related projects as top development priorities for the City and the State. 

More than half of the $66.2 million, almost $37 million, allocated by the Regional Economic Development Council for New York City will go to the Bronx. This includes $29.5 million that will be used for the redevelopment of the Hunts Point Produce Market, as well as smaller grants for other borough projects.

“I am extremely gratified that both Governor Cuomo and our State’s economic development leadership understand the importance of the Hunts Point Produce Market not only as a transformative economic engine for the Bronx, but for the entire region. Investing in the market and building a new 21st century facility will both preserve and create jobs here in the Bronx while also expanding opportunities for upstate farmers.

“Today’s announcement brings us one step closer to maintaining and growing one of the largest industries of the Bronx.” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.

Other projects selected include $1.125 million to the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation for the St. Mary’s Recreation Center “Green Streets & Green Roots” project, as well as $1 million each for the Praxis affordable housing development on White Plains Road and an affordable housing development on East 144th Street.

“These grants today show just how important the State considers the Bronx and the role our borough will play in the future economic growth of New York State. I look forward to continuing to work with the City and the State to foster positive economic development in the Bronx,” said Borough President Diaz.

Tax Reform Plan Passes; Puts More $ in Middle Class Pockets 

Reform Package to Spur Job Creation; Includes Klein Initiative to Help Parochial Schools
Senator Jeffrey D. Klein,  last night voted to bring a more fair and progressive tax system to New York that will cut taxes for middle class taxpayers and have the wealthy pay their fair share.
This plan puts more money in the pockets of hard-working middle class New Yorkers and creates a common-sense tax structure where a billionaire will no longer get taxed at the same rate as his butler,” Senator Klein said. “The other members of the Independent Democratic Conference and I are proud to have worked with our partners in government to place progress over partisanship and help put New York back on the right track.”
The new tax structure – which is similar to a plan Senator Klein developed in 2009 – was part of a larger reform package aimed at getting New York's economy moving again.
Part of this initiative includes Senator Klein's legislation to put parochial schools on equal footing with public schools by holding them harmless them from the MTA payroll tax.
The tax plan includes a tax break for some 4.4 million middle class taxpayers. A breakdown is below:

Income Level
Previous Tax Rate
New Tax Rate
$40,000 to $150,000
$150,000 to $300,000
$300,000 to $2 million
7.85% - 8.97%
Over $2 million

Among other elements, the plan includes:

  • Creating New York's first-ever infrastructure fund to inject more than $1 billion in job creating investment.
The accelerated state funding will leverage $10 billion in direct capital investment to create thousands of direct jobs by rebuilding roads and bridges; parks, dams and flood control projects; upgrading water systems and educational facilities; and investing in energy efficient improvements to commercial and residential buildings. The plan will focus on projects that support regional Economic Development Plans in the transportation, energy, environment and public facilities sectors. The accelerated infrastructure fund investment is within the state's debt ceiling. 
  • Enacting an Inner City Youth Employment Program and Tax Credit
    The Governor and the legislative leaders agreed to create an inner-city youth employment program and a $25 million tax credit for employers who hire unemployed youth between 16 and 24 years of age over the first six months of 2012. The program and credit would be available to employers in businesses such as clean energy, healthcare, advanced manufacturing and conservation. Eligible employers would receive up to $3,000 for a six month training period and an additional $1,000 if they retained their workers for an additional six months. 

    Nearly $37 million in funding will be provided to critical jobs programs for inner city youth. This includes $12 million in support grants to youth providers for work readiness training, occupational training, placement or job matching, workplace mentoring and follow up services to increase retention. Participating youths will be provided with up to three monthly stipends of $300 each to cover costs associated with transitioning into the workplace. An additional $25 million will be appropriated for workforce skills training and support programs including digital literacy, basic education and occupational training, summer youth employment, job search and placement, and facilitated child care enrollment. 

  • Reducing the MTA Payroll Tax

    The payroll tax would be eliminated or reduced for 294,900 taxpayers overall. The tax would also be eliminated from an additional 415,000 taxpayers by raising the self-employment income exemption.
In addition, private elementary and secondary schools, as well as parochial schools, would be exempt from the tax. The State would compensate the MTA for the $250 million in lost revenue.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011



Today, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. and the Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation honored ten Bronx businesses as part of the 2nd annual “Tribute to Bronx Businesses” luncheon.

Borough President Diaz awarded the businesses with proclamations in recognition for their achievements and contributions in helping drive economic success in the borough.

The businesses honored included Bronx Brewery, the Bronx/Manhattan North Association of Realtors, Dufour Pastry Kitchens, G.A.L. Manufacturing Corp., Gabrielli Truck Sales, Johnson Security Bureau, Just Bagels, Paper Enterprises, Skyline Windows, and the Anheuser-Busch Companies.

“Our businesses are what drive our borough’s economic engine, and each of these companies has displayed a strong commitment to helping build up the Bronx and work toward a stronger future for our borough. I am proud to have acknowledged these business leaders for their hard work not only to strengthen their own businesses but our entire borough as well,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.

We are glad to honor these businesses. The BOEDC has been providing great assistance and financial support to our local businesses. I am delighted to see how hard our business community is working towards helping us build a brighter economic future for The Bronx," said Marlene Cintron, president of the Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation.

The luncheon was held at F & J Pine Restaurant on Bronxdale Avenue in Morris Park.

 BP Diaz with all the honorees. Click the photo to enlarge.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Rangel On 2012 Primary: ‘It’s On!’

   That is the headline of the story listed here on Capital Tonight  about the fundraiser for his 21st term in congress by Congressman Charlie Rangel. The story goes on to say that one of Rangels opponents has already spent tens of thousands of dollars on polling. That refers to Clyde Williams, a former adviser to President Bill Clinton, and the poll shows only a 35% recolonization of Congressman Rangel. 


    There are many other potential challengers to Rangel next year from his 2010 opponent Adam Powell IV, to Manhattan Democratic county leader Assemblyman Keith Wright, and then some. 

   Also don't forget that the current 15th Congressional District will change by the next election due to redistricting. So who knows what to expect as the district may go up to Mount Vernon or even have the Riverdale section of the Bronx in it.



City Comptroller John C. Liu today issued the following statement in response to questions concerning the announcement of proposed tax reforms:

“The proposed tax reform agreement announced today looks promising, as it would cut taxes for the middle class, retain taxes on the wealthy, and generate new revenue for the State. Under the plan, the State’s income tax would be more progressive in the middle brackets -- making a greater distinction between those earning $40,000 a year and those earning $300,000 -- which is reasonable and warranted. Overall the plan would benefit our State’s working families, whose financial health is vital to our economic recovery. I applaud Governor Cuomo, Senate Majority Leader Skelos, and Assembly Speaker Silver for their leadership on this important issue and look forward to reviewing the proposal further.”

Senator Rivera Issues Statement Following Governor Cuomo's Announcement to Reform New York's Tax System

Senator Gustavo Rivera  issued the following statement in response to Governor Cuomo’s announcement that an agreement has been reached that will create jobs and reform New York’s tax system:

“I applaud Governor Cuomo's for his leadership in taking on tax reform and for acknowledging that New York State can address economic development at the same time that we address economic inequality. After being asked to continuously sacrifice during tough economic times, middle class and working families in the 33rd Senate District in the Bronx will be receiving a tax cut to help them get back on track.  Together, we have brought the tax rate for middle class families to its lowest in 58 years in the state of New York. Once again, Governor Cuomo and the state of New York have taken a lead on creating a more fair and progressive tax system that should be a model for other states and for our federal government.  

Despite lowering taxes, this plan will also bring in $1.9 billion in much-needed revenue to the state of New York that I hope will be used to fund education, health and public safety programs cut over previous years. With more than half of my constituents earning less than $25,000 a year, there is no doubt in my mind that the communities that I represent are hit the hardest by cutting critical human services. I hope that by continuing to work with Governor Cuomo over the coming days and months, we will be able to ensure that communities like the ones I represent are not being asked to sacrifice further and that a sense of fairness is restored to both our tax system and our budget priorities.”


Monday, December 5, 2011


  City Comptroller John C. Liu today announced that an audit of the Department of Parks and Recreation’s controls over recreational, dining, and retail concessions found that better management could have yielded $8.8 million more in badly needed revenue for the City.

Most notably, by allowing the Tavern on the Green restaurant to close without contracting for a new operator, the Parks Department has lost concession revenue of nearly $2.2 million, the audit states. In addition to the lost revenue calculations, the City and State have forfeited nearly $3.7 million in sales taxes with Tavern’s demise, and 500 jobs disappeared, the audit estimates. The storied Central Park restaurant closed nearly two years ago and has not reopened.

“Parks are not just about concessions, but concession contracts should be better managed so that revenue flows to the City without unnecessary interruption,” Comptroller Liu said.

The audit concluded that other concessions could also have been better managed – to the tune of $6.6 million. These include the pushcart licenses in Battery Park, the Central Park tennis courts, the ice skating rink at Flushing Meadows Corona Park, and the snack bar at Orchard Beach in Pelham Bay Park.

Specifically, the Parks Department should have started key contract solicitations earlier and ensured more competition, auditors said. Parks also failed to maintain key documentation supporting contract decisions and preventing conflicts of interest.

The Parks Department, as custodian of over 29,000 acres of City parkland, is responsible for soliciting and awarding concessions for various attractions. Typically, the concession operators pay a fee or a percentage of their total receipts – money that is used to support programs and services.

In Fiscal Years 2008, 2009, and 2010, Parks reported concession revenues of $52.6 million, $46.1 million, and $39.8 million, respectively.

The Parks Department has disagreed with many of the audit’s findings, maintaining that delays in implementing license agreements resulted from discussions made in the best interests of the City. It added that it cannot pursue concession revenue above all other considerations, such as legal obligations and long-term capital investments. The audit stated that Parks could have nonetheless avoided many delays with better planning and without compromising other aims.

The audit made 22 recommendations. Among the findings, Parks should:
•       Track the solicitation and award process to ensure that it progresses in a timely matter;
•       Retain written explanations of rejected proposals that detail why an award is not in the City’s best interest;
•       Examine why it receives a small number of responses to solicitations and initiate corrective action. The scope of the audit was July 1, 2008, through June 30, 2010.

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