Friday, June 8, 2012

New Woodlawn Weekend Van Service

  From left to right are , New York City Taxi & Limousine Commissioner David Yassky, Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz, Mr. Carl Gromes (owner of the van service) State Senator Jeff Klein, Monsignor Barry of Woodlawn is behind Senator Klein, Ms. Christine Sheridan (President of the Woodlawn Taxpayers Association), and Mr. Jim Ellis of the Woodlawn Cemetery  who are  standing in front of the new "Woodlawn Weekend Group Ride Van Service".

  "This all came about when the MTA cancelled the weekend bus service on the BX34 bus to Woodlawn in 2010" said Senator Jeff Klein. He added that in conjunction with NYC TLC Commissioner David Yassky, and the Dorcel Edenwald Bus Service that the weekend van service would operate on the weekend where the BX34 bus use to. The van service will run every half hour between 9 AM and 9 PM with a fare of $2.00.

  Mr, Gromes of the van service said that his company came into existence ten years ago during a similar circumstance when the old BX14 bus was eliminated. He added that the van can carry up to 14 passengers, and that there have already been requests that he extend the service up Bainbridge Avenue past the #4 train to the D train on East 205th Street. Check the local stores for the schedule of the new van service. 

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Wednesday, June 6, 2012


-Additional funds available to provide budgetary relief -  

  Due to the $997 million General Obligation bond refinancing set to be finalized on June 7th and lower than expected interest rates for the current year, the City will gain more than $100 million in additional funds to help close gaps in the Fiscal Year 2013 budget, according to City Comptroller John C. Liu.

Liu will provide the information, which has not yet been included in the Mayor’s Executive Budget, today when he testifies before the City Council Finance Committee.

Comptroller Liu said that lower than expected interest rates will yield $33.6 million in savings which could be rolled over to FY 2013; while the  refinancing, which was announced on May 23rd by the Comptroller’s Office and Mayor’s Office of Management and Budget, would produce savings of $67.8 million in FY 2013 and  $68.9 million for Fiscal Year 2014.

“By successfully navigating the bond market, we have been able to save more than $100 million which can now be used to provide budgetary relief,” Comptroller Liu said.  “As our national and local economies remain fragile and we are facing a number of risks to the City’s bottom line, we must continue to aggressively identify savings and recoup every single dollar the City is rightfully owed.”

Comptroller Liu also reiterated his call for the City to recoup as much as $163 million from Hewlett Packard as a result of overbilling and underperforming on the contract to upgrade the City’s 911 call system, which was uncovered as a result of a recent audit.

Some other aspects of Liu’s testimony and budget report, which can be found at include:

·         The budget relies heavily on one-shots to close the gap, specifically an estimated $1 billion for the sale of taxi medallions that may not materialize
·         The settlement from CityTime and $1 billion in funds from the Retiree Health Benefit Trust are being used to close gaps
·         Events outside the City’s control such as the Eurozone or a stalemate in Washington D.C. should spur the City to institute a Capital Acceleration plan to foster job growth and address  the high unemployment rate
·         The potential cost as a result of City Hall’s failed negotiations with the United Federation of Teachers and Council of School Supervisors and Administrators could be as high as $2.5 billion in FY 2013

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Statement by Council Member Annabel Palma:

In Response to Mark Page's Testimony on EarlyLearn


   Last fall, my colleagues and I sent a letter to the Administration highlighting a number of concerns related to the EarlyLearn RFP, which at the time had not yet awarded contracts to child care providers.  Among the concerns laid out in this letter were that the RFP would result in a significant decrease in child care capacity and that the reduction in per child rates would place thousands of child care providers at risk of losing their jobs or benefits. 
Despite the concerns we expressed in the letter, as well as in subsequent committee hearings and meetings, the Administration is moving forward with only minor changes to the original RFP and the Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) awarded contracts to providers this spring. 
The release of these contracts has made clear that our concerns were well-founded and our predictions were accurate. EarlyLearn’s impact on the child care system will be devastating for providers, workers and a number of New York City’s children and families.
This morning, Office of Budget Management Director Mark Page came before the City Council’s Committee on Finance to present his annual budget testimony and, during this appearance, I took the opportunity to once again highlight the Council’s concerns over EarlyLearn.  While it is clear at this point that the Administration and the Council are at odds over the implementation and consequences of EarlyLearn, Mark Page, as steward of the City’s finances, has an obligation to look beyond ideology and focus on the fiscal impact of these reforms. 
Slashing child care services and the jobs they support will place the City’s fiscal health in jeopardy for many years to come.  I hope the Administration will address the Council’s concerns we push to fix this flawed RFP and ensure that we have a system that works for our children and our City.  

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  Today, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. released a letter to Mayor Michael Bloomberg outlining the potential damage the mayor’s proposed cuts to the Out of School Time (OST) afterschool program would have on the Bronx. In the letter, Borough President Diaz urges Mayor Bloomberg to commit to fully funding these critical programs.

“The families of New York City must continue to have access to quality services and afterschool programming.  We must work to make sure that all of our Bronx students are prepared for success in and out of school and that we provide safe alternatives to during after school hours,” wrote Borough President Diaz in his letter.

The Out-of-School Time (OST) Program provides a mix of academic, recreational and cultural activities for young people (grades K-12) after school, during holidays and in the summer. Programs are free of charge and are located in every neighborhood across the City.

The Bloomberg administration’s proposed cuts would lead to a 43 percent reduction in OST service in the Bronx. In addition, the administration has already announced that the Beacon Program at I.S. 192 in Throggs Neck—which served more than 1,300 Bronx students this past year alone—is also scheduled to close.

“Our working families rely on these programs to provide their children with a safe place to both catch up on school work and socialize after classes. In a down economy—when families need all the help they can to make ends meet—these programs are even more important. Mayor Bloomberg must restore these destructive cuts,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.

A copy of the letter can be found at:

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Tuesday, June 5, 2012


Audit Finds Repairs Not Completed in Required Timeframes
   Comptroller John C. Liu said today that an audit of the New York City Department of Transportation’s response to defects in City bridges found the agency was slow to repair serious structural defects.“The City’s bridges are a vital part of our transportation infrastructure and the public deserves bridges that are being maintained in the best possible manner,” Comptroller Liu said.  “The DOT needs to do more to streamline its response to ensure the integrity and safety of our bridges.”

The agency classifies bridge defects into three categories:

•       A “Red Flag” describes a failure or potential failure of a primary structural component. Red flags are to be remediated within six weeks after notification, although action may be deferred if a professional engineer certifies that the bridge is safe.

•       A “Yellow Flag” describes a potentially hazardous structural conditional that, if not corrected, could present a danger before the next two-year inspection. Yellow flags do not have a specific timeframe for remediation.

•       A “Safety Flag” describes a condition that presents a danger to cars or people. Safety flags do not have a specific timeframe for remediation.

•       Prompt Interim Action is a designation that can be applied to a Red Flag or a Safety Flag that requires attention within 24 hours.

In 2009-2010, 229 bridge defects or flags were identified that were the responsibility of DOT.  Of these, 112 were designated for Prompt Interim Actions and a 24-hour response. The agency handled all but one of these appropriately.

However, there were 122 Red Flag defects, the majority of which were delayed past their timeframe for remediation.  Of these 122 serious structural defects, 71 (58%) were not fixed on time.[1] In none of these cases was there any indication that the flag conditions were being monitored to ensure that the conditions did not worsen.

Among these 122 Red Flags were five that had initially been designated less serious or Yellow but that without repairs had worsened over time. Four of these flags were at the Brooklyn Bridge and were originally flagged yellow by the State Transportation Department in May 2008.  They remained open and unrepaired as of February 2012.  The fifth red flag that had deteriorated from yellow was located at the Manhattan Bridge and was originally flagged yellow in November 2008. It was closed on February 8, 2012, according to DOT.

The four unrepaired Red Flags on the Brooklyn Bridge were among 13 that had yet to be remediated as of February 2012.  Of these 13, the DOT stated that 10 (nine on the Brooklyn Bridge, one on the Manhattan
Bridge) were assigned to capital contracts and will be repaired based on contract schedules.  These 10 flags were reported between May and November 2010 and are roughly two years old.  Another two outstanding
Red Flags on the Belt Parkway in Bay Ridge were routed to the agency’s in-house Bridge Repair department and one unrepaired flag on a Henry Hudson Parkway ramp was assigned for repairs to outside contractors.

The audit made 17 recommendations to improve the DOT’s response to bridge defects. The agency agreed with eight recommendations, disagreed with six recommendations, and contended that three recommendations were already implemented.

Comptroller Liu credited Deputy Comptroller for Audits Tina Kim and the Audit Bureau for their hard work on the report, which can be found here:
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Bronx Chamber of Commerce Trade Show


The full phone number is 718-828-3900



Congressman Engel and Assemblyman Dinowitz March in " Celebrate Isreal Parade"

 On Sunday June 3rd, Congressman Eliot Engel and Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz marched down Fifth Avenue with Students from the Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz in the "Celebrate Israel Parade".
Congressman Engel, Assemblyman Dinowitz, and students from the Kinneret Day School marching in the Celebrate Israel Parade. 
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Monday, June 4, 2012

Bronx Puerto Rican Day Parade

  Sunday June 3rd was the 25th Annual Bronx Puerto Rican Day Parade up the Grand Concourse from West 192nd Street to Van Cortlandt Avenue where the reviewing stand was set up. Even a small down pour midway through the parade that had many running for cover could not dampen the spirits of the thousands of people watching and marching in the parade with dozens of cars, floats, bicycles, a vintage fire engine, and more. The sun quickly came back out as did the people watching the parade.Below are some photos that i was able to get of the parade and marchers. you can click on a photo to enlarge it.

Left - 80th Assembly candidate Mr. Mark Gjonaj speaks to parade goers gathered at West 192nd Street.
Right - Assemblyman Jose Rivera with his camera filming his daughters opponent Mark Gjonaj.

Left - The beginning of the 25th Annual Peurto Rican Day Parade.  
Right - a vintage fire engine in the parade.

Left - Congressman Charlie Rangel
Right - State Senator Adriano Espiallat.
Both are candidates in the new 13th Congressional District, that the parade went right through.
Congressman Jose Serrano with 78th A.D. State Committeeman Ricky Martinez (waving to the crowd), 80th A.D. Male District Leader Kenny Agosto (on crutches right), and some other local democratic leaders.   

Left - The Jose Rivera banner minus Assemblyman Rivera.
Right - first part of 80th Assembly candidate Mark Gjonaj entry in the parade.

Left - is the second part of 80th Assembly candidate Mark Gjonaj's
parade entry, beautiful colorfully dressed belly dancers.
Right - some of the marchers.

Left - a karate demonstration by some local youths.
Right - The Police Department ends the parade as they started it.

Both photos are just some of the action that took place on the reviewing stand as the parade went by.


  City Comptroller John C. Liu stated the following in response to questions about the board of directors election at Wal-Mart:

“Outside shareholders delivered a stinging rebuke to Wal-Mart’s top leadership by casting more than 30% of our votes against the company’s chairman, CEO and former CEO.  The results are a vote of no confidence that sends a message to Wal-Mart’s entire board, which has ignored our concerns and failed to safeguard the company’s standards of ethical and legal compliance.  It’s up to the board now to restore investor confidence.  Directors need to increase their independence and initiate a truly independent investigation into reports that Wal-Mart executives covered-up widespread bribery in Mexico and hold accountable any executives involved.” 

Comptroller Liu and the NYC Pension Funds encouraged fellow shareowners to vote against five Wal-Mart directors.  Because the Walton family, directors, and officers control 50.12% of Wal-Mart outstanding shares it was understood that a majority vote against re-election of board members was mathematically impossible. 

In order to present an accurate assessment of the board election votes cast non-insiders, we have deducted the 1.7 billion shares owned by company officers and directors, which includes members of the Walton family. Based on the remaining outside shares voted, the five directors opposed by Comptroller Liu and the NYC Pension Funds received the following votes in opposition: Former CEO H. Lee Scott Jr. (38.4% against), Christopher Williams, Audit Committee Chair (32.8% against), Michael T. Duke, CEO (32.2% against), S. Robson Walton, Chairman (31.2% against), Arne Sorenson, Audit Committee Director (9.9% against).


By Senator Rev. Rubén Díaz
32nd Senatorial District, Bronx County, New York 

It Does Not Make Sense

  Mayor Michael Bloomberg  wants  to dictate to us how much soda we should drink.  With this action Mayor Bloomberg confirmed what I wrote a few weeks ago on one of my “What You Should Know” columns, that some elected officials want to create in New York a Nanny State.
  For your information, in case you did not read it before I am including inserts of what I wrote before.
You should know that some Members of the New York State Legislature are pushing hard to prevent McDonald’s and certain restaurants from giving out toys to children when they receive their meals unless those meals meet certain standards.
  Senate Bill 6386, sponsored by Senator Gustavo Rivera, and Assembly Bill 7662, sponsored by Assembly Member Felix Ortiz, both Hispanic and Puerto Rican, are calling for a law to dictate which restaurants may or may not distribute toys or as they call them, “incentives,” to children, especially poor children in our communities, when their parents take them to McDonald’s or any other restaurant to purchase a meal.  Now Mayor Michael Bloomberg has join them in banning the sale and purchase of  any  bottle of sodas of more than 16 ounces.
  It does not make sense and it is disturbing to see these same elected officials fight tooth and nail to give a woman the right to kill an unborn baby, because according to them, it is a woman’s choice to do what they want with their bodies.   Michael Bloomberg, Gustavo, Felix and others have no problem in being pro-choice and giving a woman a right to murder an unborn baby, but they have problems and are willing to take away the right of the mother and father or child to eat whatever they want. 
  Don’t get me wrong, I believe that obesity is a problem and that people should be more careful with what they eat, but if people want to be fat and eat hamburgers or anything they want, it is their right to allow them to eat whatever they want. I think that it is a lot better to be fat than to terminate the life of an unborn, innocent baby. Does anyone believe that people are elected into office to regulate what food and drinks moms and dads can serve their children? 
  Do these same elected officials who fight for any woman to have a supposed right to choose to kill her unborn baby realize that they are way out of line to try to assume authority over moms by telling them what to give her child to eat or drink?
  When pro-lifers like me state the obvious that abortion affects two lives and that the fetus is a life, and that to crack their skulls with forceps or to use saline water to be evaporated, the pro-choice, pro-abortion politicians argue back with that old cliché “my body, my choice”. I’m pretty sure that Mayor Bloomberg, Assembly Member Ortiz and Senator Rivera would stand by their side.  How can those same  officials think they have the right to tell moms how they should feed their children or what to drink?
  Parents struggle to do what’s best for their children, and at least so far, in this country parents are not dictated to by local elected officials about how to feed their children.  If they want to cook at home, they can. If they want to go out and eat and drink 32 ounces of soda, they can.
You should know that there are more important issues before us in the State and City of New York, and we sure don’t need Mayor Bloomberg, Senator Rivera, Assembly Member Ortiz and others  to divert our attention by creating a Nanny State.
I am Senator Reverend Rubén Díaz and this is what you should know.
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Sunday, June 3, 2012

Bronx Democratic County Committee 2012 Dinner

Bronx Democratic County Committee
Assemblyman Carl E. Heastie, Chairman
2012 Annual Dinner
Marina del Rey
1 Marina Drive, Bronx, NY 10465
Thursday, July 19, 2012
Cocktails—6:00pm, Dinner and Program—7:00pm

Join us as we recognize these great honorees for their commitment to the Bronx

Simon Bergson
President and C.E.O.
Manhattan Beer Distributors

Fernando Brinn
Nandicarm, Ltd.

Marlene Cintron
Bronx Overall Economic Development Corp.

Ernest Logan
Council of School Supervisors and Administrators

Kathryn Wylde
President and C.E.O.
Partnership for New York City

Gregory Floyd
Teamsters Local 237

For more information, call (718) 704-7039, or email 


State Senator Rivera & Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. Launch Second Year of Bronx CAN Health Initiative

  State Senator Gustavo Rivera along with Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., Montefiore Medical Center and other community health partners launched the second year of the Bronx CAN Health Initiative on June 2nd at St. James Park. Dozens of Bronxites participated in Saturday's health fair, taking advantage of blood pressure screenings, a free yoga class and the advice of health care professionals.

"As an elected official that represents part of the Bronx, I was extremely concerned to learn that our borough the unhealthiest in the state and that there are higher rates of childhood obesity, diabetes and other preventable diseases in the 33rd Senate District,"  said Senator Gustavo Rivera.  "That is why last year when we launched the Bronx CAN Health Initiative, I pledged to make myself an example, losing over 27 lbs. since last June. This year I have pledged to continue to lose between 10-15 lbs. adhering to long-term goals that will ultimately have an enormous impact on my overall health. I encourage all Bronxites who haven't already joined me, to join me in taking the  Bronx CAN Health Challenge this year so that together we can make the Bronx healthier."

"I am delighted that the Bronx CAN Health Initiative is beginning its second year of education, inspiration and motivation for healthier lifestyles.  This year we will again launch the CAN Health Challenge, led by Senator Rivera, encouraging Bronxites to set some strategic wellness goals for the summer months.  We are also putting the finishing touches on a CAN Retail Challenge that is aimed at educating our Bronx retailers on the minor but significant adjustments they can make to provide healthier food options to their consumers," said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.  

"I am thrilled to join Senator Rivera and Borough President Diaz in the launch of the Bronx CAN Health Initiative" said Steven M. Safyer, MD, President & CEO of Montefiore Medical Center. "Our community leaders set tremendous examples for us, as does the partnership behind this important initiative. Montefiore is committed to furthering these efforts to promote physical exercise and healthier eating-choices crucial to reducing the rates of obesity and diabetes and to advancing the health of our borough.

"The Committee of interns and Residents is pleased to be partnering with the Bronx CAN Initiative for the second year in a row, " said Dr. Yusef Williams, Family Medicine Resident at Bronx Lebanon Hospital.  "As physicians practicing in the Bronx, we understand the importance of community projects like the Bronx CAN Initiative to empower Bronxites to make healthier choices.  We applaud Senator Rivera's and the Borough President's commitment to making the Bronx a healthier borough and we look forward to supporting the initiative."

The Bronx CAN Health Initiative was launched in response to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's study that showed the Bronx as the unhealthiest county in the state of New York. This initiative will tackle issues of obesity, nutrition, exercise and access to preventative health in the Bronx. The month of June and the June 2nd launch on the initiative will be focused on physical fitness and exercise.

Upcoming Bronx CAN events:
  • Saturday, July 7, 2012 - 1:30PM-3:30PM - Health Fair focused on Nutrition
  • Saturday, August 4, 2012 - 1:30PM - 3:30PM - Health Fair focused on Preventative Health & Health Screenings
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