Saturday, March 3, 2012

Gas Line Repairs by Amalgamated Houses

  Gouverneur Avenue was closed  Thursday, and Con Edison crews were working feverishly at the corner with Van Cortlandt Park South to replace an old rotting gas pipe. One could smell the odor of gas slightly for about a half  block radius of where the work was going on. 

  An unidentified Con Edison worker said that the old rotting metal gas pipe was being replaced by a new plastic one. You can see in the pictures below the old rotting metal pipe that was taken up by Con Edison workers, and them holding the new plastic pipe. 

Friday, March 2, 2012

Koppell Sponsored Medical Marijuana Bill


At its meeting on February 29, 2012, the Council passed a Resolution co-sponsored by Council Member Oliver Koppell, Chair of the Committee on Mental Health Mental Retardation, Alcoholism, Drug Abuse and Disability Services, urging the NYS Legislature to pass legislation, introduced by Assembly Member Richard Gottfried and Senator Thomas Duane, that would legalize the medicinal use of marijuana. If the legislature adopts the proposal, New York would be the 17th state to legalize medical marijuana.
A joint hearing of the Mental Health Committee and the Subcommittee on Drug Abuse on November 11, 2011 examined the efficacy of medical marijuana, the implementation of laws that remove criminal sanctions for it use, eligibility for such use and means of access.  At the hearing, doctors, and researchers testified in favor of legalizing medical marijuana.  Among these, was Dr. Adam Karpati, Executive Commissioner of the DOHMH, who testified that “in fact there’s a lot of evidence…. that smoking marijuana is superior to the known therapeutic agents for the conditions for which it’s contemplated.”
The Resolution reflects these opinions stating that:
·        Proponents of medical marijuana point to a large body of reports and journal articles that support the therapeutic value of marijuana;
·        Written works address the ability of marijuana to treat a variety of disease-related problems, including relieving nausea, increasing appetite, reducing muscle spasms and spasticity, relieving chronic pain, reducing intraocular pressure and relieving anxiety;
·        Multiple public health and advocacy organizations support this legislation.
The proposed New York State medical marijuana bill would require a doctor’s recommendation and certification that the patient suffers from a debilitating or life-threatening condition.  Home cultivation would not be allowed under the act and dispensaries would be registered with, and regulated by, the State.
“Koppell said, “I have been a longtime proponent of legalizing medical marijuana as a humane and medically effective means of relieving the suffering of people with severe illness.  Currently, there are sixteen states that have legalized the use of marijuana for medical purposes. I believe that residents of New York State should have the same access as people living in these localities.” 

Wave Hill Events Mar 16–Mar 23


Sock Critter/Calcetines y animales
Do you have a lonely sock or mitten? We show you how to crop it into a puppet, or stuff it and remake it into a cute critter with cool button eyes. Free, and admission to the grounds is free until noon.

Matthew Jensen introduces an investigative approach to Wave Hill's gardens. Participants explore the act of collecting and the structure of typologies as tools for communicating concepts and notions of place. They photograph as they walk, using these images to create and present a collection based on their findings. Bring a digital camera. Children ages 12 and older accompanied by an adult. Registration is recommended , online at, by calling 718.549.3200 x305 or at the Perkins Visitor Center. Free with admission to the grounds.

In March, the Palm House is jam-packed with a wonderful array of colorful and fragrant plants from around the world. Don’t miss the chance to see our annual display of South African bulbs and other rare and unusual greenhouse plants, with Horticultural Interpreter Charles Day. Free with admission to the grounds. Takes place Thursday, March 15 as well.

Sock Critter/Calcetines y animales
Do you have a lonely sock or mitten? We show you how to crop it into a puppet, or stuff it and remake it into a cute critter with cool button eyes. Free with admission to the grounds.
Artist Cameron Rowland leads an interactive discussion of the role of documentation, language and site in the process of making and viewing art. Participants create a booklet using images and text inspired by the conversation in the space, while developing an awareness of the documentary object in everyday life. Be sure to bring your digital camera! Children ages 16 and older are welcome with an adult. Registration is recommended due to space limitations. No groups larger than five people may register. Free with admission to the grounds.

Join us for an hour-long tour of seasonal garden highlights. Free with admission to the grounds.

Closed to the public

Session 3
Explore the visual language and fundamentals of drawing through observation and rendering of images found in the natural landscape. Participants will work with contemporary artist Wennie Huang to develop observational skills rooted in traditional drawing media and experiment with various drawing techniques and concepts such as proportion, composition, gesture, contour, perspective, cross contour, and positive negative shapes. All levels welcomed. Series fee: $180 Member/$210 Non-member. Registration required, online at, by calling 718.549.3200 x305 or at the Perkins Visitor Center. The series continues March 28, April 4, 11.

Landscape architect Thomas L. Woltz, a partner of Nelson Byrd Woltz, has led designs for institutional and corporate projects here and abroad, as well as private gardens and farmland in a dozen states and New Zealand, worked in Venice for five years and has taught in the University of Virginia’s School of Architecture. He was instrumental in establishing his firm’s Conservation Agriculture Studio for best conservation management practices. An ongoing series hosted by the Friends of Horticulture. $20 Member, Student/$25 General. Reservations recommended, online at or by calling 718.549.3200 x220. This is the final lecture in the 2012 series.


A 28-acre public garden and cultural center overlooking the Hudson River  and Palisades, Wave Hill’s mission is to celebrate the artistry and legacy of its gardens and landscape, to preserve its magnificent views, and to explore human connections to the natural world through programs in horticulture, education and the arts.

HOURS  Open all year, Tuesday through Sunday and many major holidays: 9AM—4:30PM. Closes 5:30PM, March 15—October 31.  Please note that we are now beginning the longer visit day—till 5:30—on March 15, instead of April 15, thanks to daylight savings.

ADMISSION  $8 adults, $4 students and seniors 65+, $2 children 6—18. Free Saturday mornings until noon. Free all day Tuesdays in March.  Free to Wave Hill Members and children under 6.

PROGRAM FEES  Programs are free with admission to the grounds unless otherwise noted.

Visitors to Wave Hill can take advantage of Metro-North’s one0day getaway offer. Purchase a discount round-trip rail far and discount admission to the gardens. More at

DIRECTIONS – Getting here is easy! Located only 3o minutes from midtown Manhattan, Wave Hill’s free shuttle van transports you to and from our front gate and Metro-North’s Riverdale station, as well as the 242nd Street stop on the #1 subway line. Limited onsite parking is available for $8 per vehicle. Free offsite parking is available nearby with continuous, complimentary shuttle service to and from the offsite lot and our front gate. Complete directions and shuttle bus schedule at

Information at 718.549.3200. On the web at


Senator Rivera Honors the Late Tony DiGiovanna, 
Community Affairs Officer from the 48th Precinct 

State Senator Gustavo Rivera (D,Bronx) today introduced and passed Resolution J3305, honoring Officer Anthony "Tony" DiGiovanna, a Community Affairs police officer from the 48th Precinct in the Bronx who recently and suddenly passed away. Officer DiGiovanna's family was present in Albany when the resolution passed the State Senate unanimously. In the audience, Officer DiGiovanna's family was represented by his wife, Joanna, his four daughters: Jessica, Melissa, Rebecca and Sabrina.

"Officer DiGiovanna was very committed to his work in the Bronx and to the community he served in West Farms and East Tremont," said Senator Rivera. "As a Community Affairs officer for the 48th precinct, Tony always made everyone feel very comfortable and was always extremely responsive. He referred to the community members he worked with in the Bronx as his "second family" and I know he is very much missed by that second family.

Tony was a local hero - as one of the first individuals to volunteer as a first responder on September 2011, he spent the first 20 hours after the attack at Ground Zero. Like many others who worked at Ground Zero, Officer DiGiovanna was diagnosed with respiratory difficulties and a rare form of cancer in 2002. He fought off cancer and returned to the 48th precinct to continue to serve the people of the Bronx."

Senator Ruth Hassell-Thompson (D-Bronx, Westchester) also spoke on the resolution and has part of the 48th precinct in her State Senate District.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

JASA Presents: The Annual Volunteer Ventures Expo for New Yorkers 50+

JASA, New York’s largest agency serving older adults in the New York Metropolitan area, is pleased to announce the annual JASA Volunteer Ventures Expo, a free conference and volunteer opportunities fair for adults 50+. The expo will take place on Wednesday, March 7, 2012 from 10 am to 2 pm at UJA-Federation of New York, 130 E. 59th Street.

This event is being produced in association with UJA-Federation of New York, New York City Department for the Aging, NYC Service, New Yorkers Volunteer/State Commission on National and Community Service, Retired Senior Volunteer Program/Community Service Society of New York, The Transition Network and Coming of Age NYC.

“JASA recognizes the immense talent and experience that older adults bring to nonprofit organizations,” said Alexandra Collier, JASA’s Director of Volunteer Services and Special Projects. “The JASA Volunteer Ventures Expo provides older adults with the opportunity to find dynamic and engaging volunteer and civic engagement programs in their communities, and connects New York City nonprofits with talented and experienced older adult volunteers.”

At the JASA Volunteer Ventures Expo, adults 50+ from across the New York Metropolitan area will meet with representatives from top New York City nonprofit organizations. Volunteers and staff members from a wide variety of nonprofits including, advocacy, arts, environmental, faith-based and cultural organizations, will answer questions about volunteering with their organizations.

In addition to the Volunteer Opportunities Fair, attendees can choose from 3 workshops on strategies for finding the right volunteer opportunity, volunteering with children and youth, and creating individualized volunteer opportunities.

Admission to the Volunteer Ventures Expo is free for adults 50+, but advanced registration is required. Download registration form online at or contact Larissa Belcic: 212-273-5222; Organizations interested in sponsoring a table at the Volunteer Opportunities Fair should also email Larissa Belcic at or register online at

Since 1968, JASA and its affiliates with its 3,000 staff and volunteers, have provided social, recreational, health, housing, cultural and educational programs for 53,000 older adults per year -- regardless of their race, religion, or ethnicity -- to help sustain them in their homes and communities and to offer opportunities for a better quality of life.  Services are available in Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, Bronx, Nassau and Suffolk Counties.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Statement from Borough President Diaz RE: City Council's approval of the Westchester Square BID


“I am extremely happy to hear that today the City Council has approved the establishment of the Westchester Square Business Improvement District.  As I mentioned in my recent “State of the Borough,” my administration has thrown its support behind this BID and its commitment to make this area a premier shopping district.  Westchester Square is one of the most important commercial strips in the Bronx, and each day it brings thousands of residents, students, and visitors to its confines to shop, eat, and converse with their neighbors.  

“I want to thank the members of the BID Steering Committee, property owners, and merchants for their commitment to the Bronx in establishing this BID and look forward to working with them to insure the future vibrancy and economic vitality of this commercial district,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.


Giant Flea Market

The Bedford Mosholu Community Association is sponsoring a Giant Flea Market on Saturday, March 10th at St. Mary's Orthodox Church of India (Corner of Bedford Park Blvd. & Decatur Avenue) from 10:00AM-3:00 PM.
Admission is free. For additional information call #718-367-2230.

Senator Ruben Diaz, Community Leader Luis Sepulveda and District Leader Julia Rodriguez to hold Rally at I.S 125


Senator Ruben Diaz along with Community Leader Luis Sepulveda and District Leader Julia Rodriguez will be holding a rally with the parents of both P.S. 119 and I.S. 125 protesting the overcrowding at the schools and the Board of Education's intent to add another school at I.S. 125 located at 1111 Pugsley Avenue in the Bronx.

According to Senator Diaz, "the schools are compelled to share space.  The teachers are forced to share resources.  The average class size exceeds 25 students. The teachers are stressed.  This is not a conducive environment to teach our children. The plans of the Board of Education to add more students to the building is absurd and baffling.  The parents are up in arms about this plan and I will not stand for this."

According to Mr. Sepulveda, "at I.S. 125, there is one bathroom for 600 students.   On a daily basis, throughout the day, because of lack of space, kindergarten and first grade children are moved like cattle between P.S. 119 and I.S. 125. This is unacceptable. Would the Mayor and Chancellor Walcott tolerate this teaching environment for their families?"

Julia Rodriguez, a long-time advocate for education in the community, also helped organize the parents.  For over a month, she has met with them and documented their complaints.

The rally will take place tomorrow, Thursday, March 1st, 2012 at 3:00 PM at 1111 Pugsley Avenue between Haviland and Watson Avenues in the Bronx.

For more information, please contact Brendaliz Candelaria at 718-991-3161 or Community Leader Luis Sepulveda at 347-582-1173.

A Street Co-Naming in Honor of Dr. Betty Shabazz


NEW YORK, NY 10032


Tuesday, February 28, 2012

STATEMENT FROM BOROUGH PRESIDENT DIAZ RE: Congressional Redistricting Plans & The Bronx


“For months, there has been countless speculation and innuendo concerning the future of our City’s Congressional districts. Almost all of this discussion has revolved around carving up the Bronx in order to benefit other counties.

“Over the past few years, the political leadership of the Bronx has been united as never before, and we remain united on the issue of redistricting. We will not stand for any Congressional redistricting plan that dilutes the voting power of the Bronx for the benefit of another county.

“The Bronx, through vibrant housing and economic development initiatives, has worked to bring more residents back to our borough.  Past censuses have shown that people were slowly returning to the Bronx and new immigrants were making the Bronx their home. The 2010 census shows that the work that was done has been successful.

“New congressional district lines should mirror the success that has occurred in the Bronx.  Emerging new and well-established communities should not be divided to dilute their growing electoral power.

“We will not stand for any plan that would slice the Bronx into many small pieces. For decades, the Bronx has had at least one Congressional district entirely within its borders, and this should not change.

“With that in mind, our current Voting Rights Act district, represented by Rep. Jose Serrano, must be respected and remain wholly within the Bronx. Both Rep. Serrano and Rep. Eliot Engel are lifelong Bronxites who have represented parts of our borough for their entire careers. If the Bronx were to lose their collected seniority in Washington—and the clout that comes with it—it would do our borough tremendous harm.

“Any attempt to diminish our political power to benefit another borough is an insult to our leadership, our communities, and our years of hard work.

“We speak with one voice on the issue of Congressional redistricting, and our message is crystal clear. The people of the Bronx have a right to be able to determine who their representatives will be. Any attempt to undermine that right through redistricting will be perceived as an effort to set back the considerable gains we have made over the past decade,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.


Senator Ruben Diaz Sr. and Community Activist Luis Sepulveda to Sue the MTA for Handicap Access to the Parkchester Subway Station

  When the #6 line Parkchester subway station was recently redone to the tune 34 million dollars only one escalator was installed for Manhattan bound riders. Senator Ruben Diaz Sr., Community Activist and lawyer Luis Sepulveda, Ms. Margret Walsh (of the Parkchester South Houses), Ms. Beverly Roberts (of the local NAACP), and about 75 others called for the MTA to install elevators so all subway riders could use the Parkchester subway station (one of the heaviest used station on the #6 line). 

   Senator Diaz and Mr. Sepulveda said that when the station was redone the "Americans With Disabilities Act" required that elevators be placed for handicap riders. That was not the case, and only one escalator was placed for the Manhattan bound riders. It was said that you can not get a wheelchair or walker (that many of the elderly residents of Parkchester use to help get around) on the escalator, so this station is inaccessible to up to 200,000 people..

   Mr. Sepulveda said that the MTA is violating the law, and on Friday  he will bring a lawsuit on behalf of the people to have the MTA install the elevators that should have been put in when the station was redone. 

   We spoke to an MTA employee who wanted to remain anonymous, and were told that the station was not high enough for an elevator. We were also told that a study was done, but because of the three tracks and only two platforms in use it could not be determined just where to place elevators without any hazards to the riders. 

  One note is that the #6 line Parkchester subway station is fully accessible to the handicap from the street level to the entrance gates.

Above is District Leader Julia Rodriguez next to Senator Diaz, with Mr. Luis Sepulvada next to Ms. Margret Walsh of the Parkchster South Houses, and others around them.

     Below is the entrance to the Manhattan bound side.

Senator Rivera Hosted Black History Month Celebration,
Honored Senator Ruth Hassell-Thompson

State Senator Gustavo Rivera (D, Bronx) hosted a Black History Month celebration in conjunction with St. Joseph Church on Saturday, February 25, 2012.  Working together with community partners such as St. Joseph Catholic Church and the South Bronx Job Corps Culinary Program, Senator Rivera hosted a celebration that included the honoring of State Senator Ruth Hassell-Thompson, words from a guest speaker, comedian Baratunde Thurston, author of How to be Black, and performances by Nene Ali (spoken word), Aquila Knight, who sang the Black National Anthem and Warriors for Christ Praise & Worship Dance Ministry from Creston Avenue Baptist Church in the 33rd Senate District.

“This month we remember that hard work of those who came before us and helped us bring a stronger sense of justice to our society,” said Senator Rivera. “They taught us that our future should not be predicated by race and external factors, but rather by what we do regardless of race, class, gender, sexual orientation or creed. On Saturday, we honored the memories of African-Americans who have shaped our past and those individuals who are shaping our nation’s and our state’s present and future. Their accomplishments are an integral part of American history and should be celebrated and shared, not just this month, but every day of the year.”

Over a hundred Bronxites attended Saturday’s Black History Month Celebration, including State Senator Ruth Hassell-Thompson, City Comptroller John Liu, City Council Member Leticia James and many other elected officials. The South Bronx Job Corps Culinary provided a traditional AND healthy African-American meal for all those who attended. 

The very next day Sunday February 26th 
Senator Rivera joined Councilman G. Oliver Koppell, and current 80th Assemblywoman Naomi Rivera for another wonderful celebration of Black History Month that was held at Tracy Towers.  

Monday, February 27, 2012

Team Diaz Holds First African-American Abrazo 
in Honor of Black History Month

  Senator Ruben Diaz Sr. along with Assemblyman Marcos Crespo, and Community Leader Luis Sepulveda (aka Team Diaz 2012) hosted the first "African-American Abrazo" in honor of "Black History Month" last week. Joining Team Diaz were Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., Bronx DA Robert Johnson, Councilman Fernando Cabrera, Assemblywoman Vanessa Gibson, and a packed house even with the pouring rain outside that night. The Honorees were Lt. Colonel Floyd J. carter ( of the Tuskegee Air Force fame), Deputy Bronx Borough President Aurilia Greene, Rev. Albert Busch, Ms. Edith Hicks, and Mr. Warren Williams.

  Below are some pictures of the event, the honorees, the NYC Youth Chorus that performed during the celebration, and of course the elected officials.  Click on a photo to enlarge it.

Senator Rev. Ruben Diaz and Community Leader Luis Sepulveda announce intention to begin lawsuit against the MTA for an elevator at the Parkchester Train Station.

According to Senator Diaz, “It is shameful that the MTA spent nearly $89 million renovating the 6 Line but did not spend a dime making it more accessible to our disabled and seniors.  Without an elevator, many of my constituents cannot access the 6 Line and are captives in their community.  My office receives so many calls from the community about this problem and I will take the fight to the MTA to get the elevator installed.”
Community Leader Luis Sepulveda, an attorney organizing the lawsuit indicated that, “according to the Americans with Disabilities Acts, the MTA was required to allocate 20% of the renovation funds making it more accessible to the disabled. How can they justify constructing a new one at the Dyckman Station in Manhattan and not one here in Parkchester? Why the difference in treatment?”
Senator Diaz, Mr. Sepulveda and other community residents will hold the conference at the Parkchester Train Station, tomorrow Tuesday February 28, 2012  at 11:00 am.
For further information contact: Brendaliz Candelaria at 718-991-3161

Sunday, February 26, 2012

What You Should Know By Senator Rev. Ruben Diaz

By Senator Rev. Rubén Díaz 32nd Senatorial District  

Bronx County, New York 

The Bronx is not a colony.
You should know that I am just calling it the way I see it: the way the district lines have been drawn for New York’s Congressional seats indicates to me that there are some people who still believe in colonies.
I respectfully suggest that it is time for Bronx County Chair Carl Heastie and Bronx Borough President Rubén Díaz, Jr. to call for a meeting of all Bronx elected officials – especially the Black and Hispanic officials – to be held in a private room and really find out where people stand.  It is important to find out if anyone in the room is trying to divide the Bronx into parcels.
Even though a new Congressional Hispanic District is among our highest consideration, we should not be blind and just sacrifice the entire borough for one new Congressional seat.  That said, I must insist again that the Bronx already has enough people to have its own Congressional seats without the need for outsiders to intrude in our ability to govern ourselves.
You should know that there are efforts underway to try to extend Congresswoman Nita Lowey’s district from White Plains in Northern Westchester to include parts of the Bronx, and efforts to extend Congressman Charles Rangel’s district from Harlem to include a chunk of the Bronx, and who knows who else!  I'm afraid that Congressman Jose Serrano's seat might even be compromised by these plans.
According to the 2010 Census, the population in the Bronx is booming! And I must repeat this because you should know that the Bronx is booming because of the hard work and dedication of Bronx elected leaders and representatives who created an environment for people to come to live in the Bronx.
No matter what parcel they may be trying to give away to undermine the Black and Hispanic achievements in the Bronx – political and otherwise – we should realize that this tactic harkens back to the Reconstruction Era when gerrymandering was used to dilute the new found political strength of African Americans in the South. What a disgrace to try to impose these efforts - against our will - now as we celebrate Black Heritage Month!
If all of us in the Bronx come together and speak as one, we can stop what they’re trying to do to the Bronx. We all see what they are doing in Queens: while everyone is keeping quiet, the State Senate seat occupied by Senator José Peralta is being thrown to the wolves.
We in the Bronx cannot accept this.  We should not allow it. It is not right, and it should be stopped.
I am Senator Rev. Rubén Díaz and this is what you should know.