Saturday, December 8, 2012

Koppell Plants New Trees and Cleans Graffitti

   We caught up with Councilman G. Oliver Koppell Friday as he was on Riverdale Avenue with North Riverdale Merchants Association Co-Presidents Anthony Fella & Gary Wartels and Long time Riverdale Avenue merchant Patricia Cassiere stand in front of three of the trees trees that Councilman Koppell had planted on Riverdale Avenue in the West 259th Street area. The merchants also described several of the ideas they had such as modernization of the area, a study of the area for traffic improvements, possible movement of bus stops to other locations, and a few other ideas that Councilman Koppell had his ace staffer Andrew Sandler copy down for later review by both. 
   A short time later Councilman Koppell was on the West 235th pedestrian overpass of  Henry Hudson Parkway pointing out some new graffiti to Mr. Bruce Pienkny President of City Solve Graffiti Removal. City Solve does graffiti removal work city wide, and Councilman Koppell was able to have the company do graffiti removal throughout his council district. Below are some photos of each event.

Councilman Koppell (2nd left) stands between North Riverdale Avenue Merchants Association Co-Presidents Anthony Fella and Gary Wartels, as Andrew Sandler (of Koppells staff0 and long time merchant Patrica Cassiere are on the right.

Left - Councilman Koppell points to some graffiti on the wall of the pedestrian bridge over the Henry Hudson Parkway at West 235th   Street.
Right - Koppell paints over another piece of graffiti.

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Friday, December 7, 2012


Audit Finds Department of Education Paid Consultants for Services That Many Parents Say Never Took Place

     City Comptroller John C. Liu announced today that an audit of the Department of Education (DOE) found possible fraudulent billing by consultants hired to provide services for special needs students. 
“There’s just no excuse for this sloppiness,” Comptroller Liu said.  “If the DOE is paying without checking that services were actually rendered, can anyone believe they’re checking on the quality of service?  And how many more students could have been served if money had not been misdirected or misspent?”
Comptroller Liu’s audit determined that the DOE did not monitor consultants’ invoices for special education services, paying bills for services reportedly provided in the middle of the night or for services which parents said their child never received.
The DOE’s failure to catch these invoices opens the door to fraud and abuse of taxpayer money. Comptroller Liu referred his audit findings to The Special Commissioner of Investigation for the New York City School District.
Weak Protections Against Bad Billing
Consultants bill the DOE either electronically through the agency’s Vendor Portal or by submitting paper invoices.  The Vendor Portal is supposed to automatically reject invoices that charge for services at inappropriate or disallowed hours. However, the Vendor Portal didn’t always do this. For example, it did not reject billings submitted for services that were supposedly provided at odd hours (such as 3:00 a.m.) or on Federal holidays (which are not allowed).
Even in cases where the DOE contacted parents to confirm the services and parents wrote back that their child had been on vacation, out of the City, or simply had not received services from a consultant, the DOE still paid the questionable bills.

Possible Bill Padding
In a sample of five consultants who were identified to have received unusually large payments, Comptroller Liu’s audit found three that appeared to have padded their bills.
DOE staff stated that services should reasonably be provided between 3 p.m. and 9 p.m. But the three consultants flagged by the audit, who billed DOE for $34,000 in a one-month period for after-school sessions, claimed $15,000 in payments for services rendered after 9 p.m.  One consultant regularly submitted bills for 15 or 16 hours of work per day. The consultants charged from $31.49 to $41.98 per session.
The audit scope was Fiscal Years 2010 and 2011.

The DOE’s Auditor General acknowledged that the agency needs greater controls over invoices.  Comptroller Liu’s audit commended the agency for its efforts to enact better controls over billing.
Today’s audit is attached and is available for download here:

In addition to today’s audit, two earlier audits by Comptroller Liu’s office also found that the DOE has weak controls over the consultants it hires to provide special needs student services. 
In January 2012, an audit found the DOE failed to provide special education services to as many as 72,000 students — more than a quarter of those children who qualified for physical therapy, speech therapy, or other assistance. That audit is available here:
A May 2012 audit found that a DOE consultant, Champion Learning Center, owed the City nearly $1 million due to questionable bills. That audit is available here: 

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Wave Hill Events December 21–December 28

This week takes us through the holidays, past Chanukah and Christmas and the beginning of Kwanzaa, with new year’s staring us in the face. Resolve to enjoy the last ten days of the year!

During this busy holiday season, take a moment to release stress, breathe and reconnect with your inner self. Whether sitting on the floor or a chair, learn simple meditation techniques, training your mind to be more focused and aware. Each session includes instruction in simple techniques like watching the breath, mantra repetition, and awareness-training followed by 20 minutes of meditation. Led by Yoga for Bliss director Neem Dewji and instructor and long-time meditator Lea Tenneriello. $15 Member/$23 Non-member. All levels welcomed. Registration recommended, online at, by calling 718.549.3200 x305 or onsite at the Perkins Visitor Center. Drop-ins will be accommodated as space permits. This series concludes December 22.

Glittery Gift Baskets/Cestas de regalo brillantes
Make a basket from unusual materials for a lovely, seasonal container or work of art.  We’ll show you how to transform and recycle an ordinary carton into something fantastic using sparkles, gems and more. Free, and admission to the grounds is free until noon.

During this busy holiday season, take a moment to release stress, breathe and reconnect with your inner self. Whether sitting on the floor or a chair, learn simple meditation techniques, training your mind to be more focused and aware. Each session includes instruction in simple techniques like watching the breath, mantra repetition, and awareness-training followed by 20 minutes of meditation. Led by Yoga for Bliss director Neem Dewji and instructor and long-time meditator Lea Tenneriello. $15 Member/$23 Non-member. All levels welcomed. Registration recommended, online at, by calling 718.549.3200 x305 or onsite at the Perkins Visitor Center. Drop-ins will be accommodated as space permits.  Final session in this series.

Glittery Gift Baskets/Cestas de regalo brillantes
Make a basket from unusual materials for a lovely, seasonal container or work of art.  We’ll show you how to transform and recycle an ordinary carton into something fantastic using sparkles, gems and more. 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.

Closed to the public.

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

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

Visitors to Wave Hill can take advantage of Metro-North’s one-day 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

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Finally, The Four Amigos Have Been Vindicated

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

You should know that in 2008, the Four Amigos formed and had real power in the New York State Senate. Former Senator Carl Kruger was elected to Chair the Senate Finance Committee. Former Senator Pedro Espada was elected to Chair the Senate Housing Committee and was the first Hispanic minority ever to serve as the New York State Senate Majority Leader.  Former Senator Hiram Monserrate was elected to Chair the Senate Consumer Affairs Committee, and I was elected to Chair the Senate Aging Committee.

You should also know that we got the first Hispanic ever to be appointed to serve as the Secretary of the State Senate.  Also, every Black and Hispanic Senator got a Committee for the very first time in the history of the New York State Senate.  We all got all of the lulus that come along with being Chair of a Senate Committee, and I got to stop gay marriage for 2 years.

For that, we were burnt.

Editorial boards, columnists, reporters and pundits called us all kind of names.  They called us opportunists and extortionists.  They said we were the example of quid pro quo.  They never once gave us credit for what we achieved for the minority community during that time.

Since the Senate Democrats lost the Majority, the only Democratic Senators in the State Senate who have become Chair of any Committee – and get lulus and benefits for their offices – have been the four Members of the Independent Democratic Conference (IDC): Senator Jeff Klein, Senator Diane Savino, Senator David Valesky, and Senator David Carlucci.

Aside from these four Senators, Jeff Klein, Diane Savino, David Valesky, and David Carlucci, during the past two years there have been no Democrats and I repeat no Democratic Senator – no Blacks, and no Hispanics – in any powerful positions in the New York State Senate.  None are Chairs of any Committees.

When these IDC Senators Jeff Klein, Diane Savino, David Valesky, and David Carlucci broke away from our Democratic Conference, their main issues for doing so were because they claimed that they wanted good government and because they opposed the hanky-panky in the Senate.  They even attacked Senator Malcolm Smith because he was being investigated about dealings with the Aqueduct Racino along with Reverend Floyd Flake and U.S. Congressman Greg Meeks.  Senators, Jeff Klein, Diane Savino, David Valesky, and David Carlucci insisted that they wanted to be clean and far away from any hanky-panky.

They never said they wanted power to Chair Committees. They never said they wanted lulus.  They never said they wanted better offices or more money for their offices and NO ONE ever attacked or questioned them about any of those realities.

Now, Senator Malcolm Smith sees an opportunity to do a little quid pro quo of his own with the Republicans and instead of being honest enough to just say, “I want the Republicans to support me so I can run for Mayor of New York City on the Republican line,” he just broke away from the Democratic Conference and joined the Independent Democratic Conference claiming that he is doing so for better government and to do better for the people of New York.

During these past few weeks, Senators Jeff Klein, Diane Savino, David Valesky, and David Carlucci are on record saying that the IDC wants to pass three pieces of legislation: raising the minimum wage, the Reproductive Health Act – which will make the already staggering numbers of abortion in New York’s Black and Hispanic communities soar even higher – and the Marijuana Bill.  They claim that they maintain their allegiance with the Republican Conference to help them to bring these bills into to law.

The IDC Senators Jeff Klein, Diane Savino, David Valesky, and David Carlucci don’t say that those three bills are in fact Democratic issues, and they don’t explain why they need to go to the Republican side for support to pass those bills.  Even assuming that I wouldn’t vote for the pro-abortion or marijuana bill, there would still be more than enough Senate Democrats to pass those bills.

What these IDC Senators Jeff Klein, Diane Savino, David Valesky, and David Carlucci don’t say – and what no one is holding them accountable to even admitting – is the power they are getting.
You should know that when the Senate Session resumes, Senator Jeff Klein will get to be the Senate Leader every 2 weeks, trading off with Senator Dean Skelos and the other three will be getting good perks.

I have to say that I believe what these Senators Jeff Klein, Diane Savino, David Valesky, and David Carlucci are doing is a lot worse than what the Four Amigos ever did!  And please don’t think I am overlooking the fact that Carl Kruger, Pedro Espada, and Hiram Monserrate were indicted – but NOT because of what they did in as Amigos in the Senate.  For that, of course there is a difference, but the quid pro quo and the wheeling and dealing that is happening now in the State Senate is so much worse than all of that.

You should also know that in 2008, I was honest enough to say to my colleagues that I would not support anyone who would bring gay marriage to the Senate Floor.  Since the beginning that is what I said and I made it clear that that was what I wanted.

And so I must put this question out there to all of the editorial boards and all of the media and pundits who went after the Four Amigos: What are you saying now? What are you saying to and about the Independent Democratic Senators Senator Jeff Klein, Senator Diane Savino, Senator David Valesky, and Senator David Carlucci – and about Senator Malcolm Smith? What about Simcha Felder? What happened to concerns of cleanliness and not being associated with certain Democrats?  What are you saying about power sharing? What about quid pro quo? Are they extortionists? Are they selfish? That is for you guys to find out.

If this is not a text book example of quid pro quo and if this is not a personal power struggle with such personal power and benefits equal to what the Four Amigos were accused of – or worse – then you tell me what it is.

In closing, I really have to thank Senator Jeff Klein, Senator Diane Savino, Senator David Valesky, and Senator David Carlucci because by doing and creating this power sharing movement they are vindicating the names of the Four Amigos.

So now you know the rest of the story: finally, the Four Amigos have been vindicated.

This is State Senator Reverend Rubén Díaz and this is what you should know.



Bronx "Good Scout" Award Reception



     Deadline for Journal Ads is December 7, 2012
         (Click on the the above to enlarge it.)

NYS to Hire 5000 New Yorkers for Sandy Cleanup

    New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo has announced that the state has secured a $27 million federal grant that will help put more than 5,000 unemployed New Yorkers to work helping clean-up communities still recovering from Hurricane Sandy.

The funding - provided by a National Emergency Grant - will be provided to communities hit hard by the storm so they can quickly hire young people and the unemployed to help with clean-up efforts in affected counties, including the Bronx, Kings, Nassau, New York, Orange, Putnam, Queens, Richmond, Rockland, Suffolk, Sullivan, Ulster and Westchester. The State Department of Labor, which is administering the funds, will work with communities to identify cleanup areas and deploy workers to job sites.

In addition, Governor Cuomo today announced that the state has partnered with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to launch a local hire program to replace FEMA employees, often from out of state, with New Yorkers. The goal is to hire upwards of 700 New Yorkers.


The Department of Labor will assist local communities to identify and hire workers. Individuals who are interested in applying for a job under this grant are encouraged to contact the Department of Labor at 1-888-4-NYSDOL (1-888-469-7365) or by visiting Individuals can also visit their local Disaster Recovery Center or One-Stop Career Center.

All individuals must be unemployed to be eligible. Once hired, workers will earn approximately $15 per hour to work on short and long-term projects. The work will include cleaning and repairing damaged public structures and property in each of the nine counties declared disaster areas.

In addition to offering benefits and on-the-job experience, each worker will be given assistance in finding their next job. Eligible youth will also be certified in the Governor's New York Youth Works program.


Individuals interested in applying for a job with FEMA should visit Governor Cuomo's Jobs Express website at

The full-time, temporary positions range from Community Relations Specialists providing outreach to the disaster-stricken communities, to administrative assistants.


Governor Cuomo has directed the Department of Labor to immediately contact local public officials in affected localities to identify areas in need and dispatch cleanup and rebuilding crews. Local public officials may also submit information on projects and project sites to the Department of Labor by emailing:

The State Department of Labor with its reemployment services and one-stop career centers throughout the impacted areas will work aggressively to connect unemployed New Yorkers to additional jobs. Following Hurricane Sandy, storm related unemployment insurance claims have risen to nearly 50,000. 


    Congressman Eliot Engel issued the following statement after the House Democratic Caucus voted by acclamation to make him the Ranking Member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee for the 113th Congress.  He has been the top Democrat on the Western Hemisphere Subcommittee since January 2007.
 “I feel honored and privileged to receive the backing of my colleagues, and I am excited to embark on this new challenge.  I look forward to working with members of the committee – from both sides of the aisle – as we address the many international issues facing our country today.  For the last several years, Congressman Howard Berman has been an outstanding leader on the Committee, and I hope to carry on in his tradition.  His vast knowledge of foreign affairs will be missed in Congress, and I will seek his council whenever it is needed. 
 “I plan to provide a steady, consensus-driven style of leadership reflective of all voices in our party, and to work in a bipartisan manner whenever possible. The Democratic Party can be proud of the leaders it has chosen to lead our committees, and I will be working closely with my Democratic colleagues to forge a strong consensus. 
 “Our committee needs to be focused on promoting American values and interests around the world, and I look forward to working with Chairman Ed Royce in the coming year to achieve those goals.  I am positive we can find many ways to work together in a bipartisan manner.
“I want to thank my colleagues for their trust and belief in my leadership, and I look forward to getting to work as soon as possible.”
The Full Committee is responsible for oversight and legislation relating to:
  • foreign assistance (including development assistance, Millennium Challenge Corporation, the Millennium Challenge Account, HIV/AIDS in foreign countries, security assistance, and Public Law 480 programs abroad);
  • the Peace Corps;
  • national security developments affecting foreign policy;
  • strategic planning and agreements;
  • war powers, treaties, executive agreements, and the deployment and use of United States Armed Forces;
  • peacekeeping, peace enforcement, and enforcement of United Nations or other international sanctions;
  • arms control and disarmament issues;
  • the United States Agency for International Development;
  • activities and policies of the State, Commerce and Defense Departments and other agencies related to the Arms Export Control Act, and the Foreign Assistance Act including export and licensing policy for munitions items and technology and dual-use equipment and technology;
  • international law;
  • promotion of democracy;
  • international law enforcement issues, including narcotics control programs and activities;
  • Broadcasting Board of Governors;
  • embassy security;
  • international broadcasting;
  • public diplomacy, including international communication, information policy, international education, and cultural programs;
  • and all other matters not specifically assigned to a subcommittee.
The Committee has jurisdiction over legislation with respect to the administration of the Export Administration Act, including the export and licensing of dual-use equipment and technology and other matters related to international economic policy and trade not otherwise assigned to a subcommittee and with respect to the United Nations, its affiliated agencies and other international organizations, including assessed and voluntary contributions to such organizations. The Committee may conduct oversight with respect to any matter within the jurisdiction of the Committee as defined in the Rules of the House of Representatives.


Tuesday, December 4, 2012


Establishes New Governing Model for NY State Senate,
Ensures Unprecedented Progress for NY

Senator Dean G. Skelos, leader of the Senate Republican Conference, and Senator Jeffrey D. Klein, leader of the Independent Democratic Conference, today joined together to announce an historic bipartisan partnership to continue the tremendous progress that has been achieved over the past two years in New York State.  This new bipartisan governing coalition guarantees a fiscally responsible, fully functional Senate that will continue to produce positive results for all New Yorkers.    

Two years ago, Independent Democrats and Senate Republicans put partisan differences aside to end the dysfunction, gridlock and reckless fiscal policies of the previous Senate leadership.  This partnership returned function and order to the Senate Chamber, restored fiscal integrity, and produced remarkable accomplishments that have benefited all New Yorkers.  Today’s agreement marks a bold new chapter in this partnership that will allow the Senate to continue pushing New York State forward, while ensuring that there will be no returning to the failed leadership of the past.    

Of tremendous importance is the bipartisan coalition government’s commitment to working with Governor Cuomo on progressive policy issues that benefit all New Yorkers in the next legislative session. 

Senator Skelos said, “The Senate Republican Conference has worked closely with the Independent Democratic Conference and Governor Cuomo to bring historic progress to New York.  We’ve brought spending under control, ended Albany dysfunction, and consistently delivered the bipartisan results New Yorkers need and deserve -- even on many of the most difficult issues. Senator Klein has proven to be a thoughtful and effective leader, and I look forward to partnering with him to move this state forward.” 

Senator Klein said, “Over the past two years, members of the IDC and Senate Republicans have shown that the best way to overcome New York’s biggest challenges is by working in a constructive, bipartisan way. Legislating is a deliberative, cooperative process—not a spectator sport. Having dedicated the past two years to a serious, policy-driven agenda, this agreement delivers on the IDC’s pledge to become a permanent third conference within the State Senate and to have a major voice in all policy decisions moving forward. Having worked together over the past two years, I know that Senator Skelos is not only an effective leader, but is as committed as I am to delivering major bipartisan results for all New Yorkers.”

Under the unprecedented agreement, the Independent Democratic Conference will be formally recognized as a third, permanent Senate conference. Senator Klein and Senator Skelos will assume the roles of Conference Leader for their respective conferences and will administer joint and equal authority over (1) the daily senate agenda (a/k/a the “Active List,” which lays out which bills will be voted on each day), (2) the state budget, (3) appointments to state and local boards, and (4) leadership and committee assignments for their respective conferences.  Under the agreement, coalition leaders will need to work together to lead the Senate forward. The new agreement will also provide for a process by which the title of Temporary President will alternate between the two conference leaders every two weeks. Therefore, the role of the temporary resident will be constitutionally fulfilled at all times.

 This partnership will be memorialized in the Senate’s rules for the upcoming legislative session. The two conferences, which will form the governing coalition, will be recognized in the 2013-2014 Senate Rules as the Senate Majority Coalition.

Senator Tom Libous (R-C-I, Binghamton) said, “Today, we are taking steps to formalize our existing partnership through a new Senate Majority Coalition, which we believe is the best, most effective way to ensure that true bipartisanship and meaningful progress will continue in Albany.  My constituents want Democrats and Republicans to work together to achieve real results that improve their lives, and that's what we are going to do in cooperation with the IDC.”

Senator Diane Savino (D-Staten Island/Brooklyn) said, “Two years ago, we realized that in order to serve our constituents effectively, we needed to take the politics out of policymaking. That’s what we’ve done since forming the IDC and that’s what we’ll continue to do as part of the new coalition government. Our constituents, particularly mine, cannot afford the type of political gamesmanship that has, in the past, overrun a healthy and functioning legislature. We’re here to accomplish the people’s business and that’s why we’ve formed this historic bipartisan coalition.”

Senator George D. Maziarz (R-Newfane) said, “Today is a great day for all New Yorkers as we move forward and announce the new Senate Majority Coalition.  I can work with anyone to get things done for the people of my district and am excited to continue on the path to move New York forward -- and doing so in a bi-partisan fashion.”

Senator David Valesky (D-Oneida) “Today is a great day for government in New York State. By building a bipartisan coalition of Senators from across the state, we will remake the New York State Senate with a bold new model, where partnership is valued over partisanship, and a focus on important issues will be at the forefront. This coalition will enable stability, functionality and a wide-ranging legislative agenda that will benefit the people of New York. I look forward to working with my colleagues in a productive legislative session that will hopefully serve as an example for governance.”

            Senator John A. DeFrancisco (R-C-I, Syracuse) said, “My constituents are looking for a bipartisan government to get things done.  We’ve had great success working with the Independent Democrat Conference over the past two years to pass on-time budgets that reduced state spending, lowered taxes and helped create new private sector jobs.  The new coalition will allow this team that has worked so well together to continue the progress we’ve made for the benefit of all the people of this state.”

Senator David Carlucci (D-Rockland) said, “In order to bring meaningful results to New York families and businesses, we need to break down party barriers and work across the aisle. This bipartisan agreement will help us do exactly that. By taking the politics out of policymaking, I know that we’ll achieve big things for all New Yorkers.”

Senator Martin Golden (R-C, Brooklyn) said, “The new bipartisan coalition will be an effective way to ensure that we continue to move New York forward.  The people of this state want their representatives to work together to address the issues that impact their lives and, particularly important to the people of my district, work with other state and federal leaders to help us recover and rebuild from the devastation of hurricane Sandy.”

        Senator John Bonacic (R,C,I-Mount Hope) said, “The recently formed coalition between the Senate Republican Conference and the Independent Democrat Conference is good news for the hardworking people of our great state.  The coalition, which has been working together for the past two years with Governor Cuomo, will ensure a functional and productive Senate working in a bipartisan way to provide solutions to the great challenges we all face in the coming year.”

IDC Gets Fifth Member

Senator Malcolm Smith (D-Queens) announced that he has joined the Independent Democratic Conference as its fifth member.

     Senator Smith said, “I’m thrilled that today I’m not only joining the IDC, but I’m becoming an immediate part of this historic and bipartisan governing coalition. Our state’s biggest issues are too important to address on a narrowly focused, partisan basis. Over the past two years, Senator Klein and his colleagues in the IDC have shown that they’re driven by policy, not politics. They have delivered on an impressive bipartisan agenda, have stayed true to their Democratic principles, and have laid the groundwork for an historic bipartisan model of governing. I would like to thank Senator Klein and all of my new IDC colleagues for welcoming me into the conference and for committing to move New York forward in an exciting, bi-partisan, and common-sense way. We have made tremendous strides over the past two years, but as we all recognize, there’s plenty of work still to be done. I’m very confident that the new governing model we’re announcing today is the best way to get the results that New York’s families and businesses need.”

Monday, December 3, 2012

Riverdale Avenue Street Festival

   Riverdale Avenue was closed to traffic from West 236th to West 238th Streets Sunday from 12 - 5 PM for a street festival that was attended by many of the local residents from the area. A stage was set up at the W.238th Street end for various entertainment which included the Riverdale Kingsbridge Academy Middle School Chorus (led by teacher Ivan Salnas), an Elvis impersonator, Irish music, and speeches by the local elected officials. At the West 236th Street end was information, and a petting zoo and pony rides were in between on Riverdale Avenue. Local Riverdale Avenue merchants set up tables to sell the many different types of food that is available to the many other items available in the local stores. Just click on any photo to enlarge it to see what you enjoyed or missed.

Left, and right above, and left below were some of the animals in the petting zoo on Riverdale Avenue. Right below is the pony ride.

Two new stores to Riverdale Avenue. Left - Tiny has a full menu on the board, not just those delicious candied  apples. 
Right - Ha Makolet offers some kosher food for sale.

Left - the MS 141 School Chorus performs. 
Right - State Senator Jeff Klein (left), Councilman G. Oliver Koppell (Right) pose with Mario Curanaj the owner of Yo Burger and Salvatores of Soho, one of the main sponsors of the event.

2013 is the last year in office for term limited Councilman Koppell.
Left - City Council candidate Cliff Stanton talks to what he hopes will be a voter for him.
Right - City Council candidate Andrew Cohen has the help of Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz as they talk to three potential voters.

Left - At the end of the day the hay that was used for the animals had to be cleaned up. 
Right - And so did some of the palm cards given out by City Council candidates Stanton and Cohen.

Croton Filter Plant - CFMC Meeting on December 6th

Croton Facility Monitoring Committee Meeting
Thursday, December 6, 2012 – 7:00 PM
DEP Office – 3660 Jerome Avenue, Bronx NY 10467 - (718) 231-8470

I  Welcome                         Paul Foster, Chair

II Consider and Adopt the Meeting Agenda -
     CFMC  Representatives   

III Consider, Adopt 9/20/12 Meeting Minutes =  
      CFMC  Representatives

IV Croton Construction Update, including work   Bernard Daly,        On Sedgwick Ave,                                        P.E., DEP
V Construction Schedule & Costs Report  Bernard Daly, P.E., DEP
VI Croton Jobs and Bronx Purchases    Mark Lanaghan, DEP

VII Select New FMC Chair                CFMC Representatives
    for 2013

VIII  CFMC Discussion & Set Date for Next Meeting
           CFMC Representatives

IX    Adjourn

Bronx Borough President Diaz Holiday Celebrations



Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.
Invites you to
The Annual Bronx Tree Lighting
Wednesday, December 5, 2012    ----       5:30 PM
Bronx County Building
East 161st Street & Grand Concourse
Join Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. and Santa
for hot chocolate, cookies and Christmas caroling with the
Middle School 390 Chorus as they gather with rosy cheeks and joyous voices to light the tree!
Call to confirm you attendance 718-590-3522 or email


Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.
Invites you to join him at the

Bronx Annual Chanukah Celebration 

Mistress of Ceremony
Suzyn Waldman
New York Yankees Broadcaster
Musical Performance
Shir Fun
Recording Artist and Educator
Wednesday, December 12, 2012
Program begins at 1:00 PM

The Bronx County Building
Veteran's Memorial Hall
851 Grand Concourse

Seating is Complimentary and Limited.

Bronx Conservative Party Luncheon

   On Sunday the Bronx Conservative Party held its annual "Holiday Luncheon/Party". In the past this event has drawn 50 - 60 people from the area of Bronx politics, but Sundays luncheon/party had over 100 people in attendance. Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson, 80th A.D. State Committeeman Joe McManus, and former 80th A.D. State Committeewoman Diane Serino attended for newly elected 80th A.d. Assemblyman Mark Gjonaj who could not attend. Others from the world of Bronx politics were discussing how the races in 2013 could go. There was no clear cut choice for mayor. but almost all of the attendees hoped that current City Council Speaker Christine Quinn would not be the candidate of the Democratic Party for mayor. below are a few photos of the event.
                            A bove is a view of the packed room.
Above - Bronx Conservative Party Leader Bill Newmark addresses the crowd. 80th A.D. State Committeeman Joe McManus is closest to the camera. Below - Former 80th A.D. State Committeewoman Diane Serino subs for newly elected 80th A.D. Assemblyman Mark Gjonaj.

Why Not a Senate Conservative Conference?

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

   Why Not a Senate Conservative Conference?
As you know, I have been as unusually, uncharacteristically, uncustomary, and uncommonly quiet as possible during the latest Albany brouhaha about the future of the New York State Senate.

News articles and blogs appear daily about the back and forth bickering and dickering among New York’s State Senators about who will control the Senate and what impact the Senate Independent Democratic Conference will have on the Senate.

Like I said, I’ve remained very quiet as my Senate colleagues step in front of cameras and microphones to posture themselves to promote any number of social issues that can or will be on the Senate floor when Session resumes.

You should all know that I have made it crystal clear that I am a Democrat, that I have always been a Democrat, and that I have no intention of being anything other than a Democrat.

You should also know that people have been whispering in my ear saying that since the breakaway Independent Democratic Conference is thriving, there are some Senators who may be interested in forming another Senate Conference.

To this notion, I think to myself: Why not?  Why not a Senate Conservative Conference? If there are people who are entitled to form a different Senate Conference, why can’t there be a bipartisan Senate Conservative Conference to enhance true coalition government?

According to my count, aside from the already two Conservative Democrats in the State Senate, there must be at least ten Conservative Republicans.

And as far as I know, several hot-button social issues will come before the Senate for a vote in 2013 that will be opposed by both Democrat and Republican Conservatives. These issues include the Woman's Reproductive Health Act, which will most certainly push New York’s already staggering abortion rate even higher, and a controversial bill to legalize the medical marijuana in New York.

With all this in mind, if – and I say “IF” new Senate Conferences are allowed to form, and believe me I’m not saying, “Let’s do it,” but IF this is allowed, then why not form a Senate Conference to fight for traditional values.  Keep in mind that family values proved to be one of the major issues that caused some Senators to lose their Senate seats in this past election.  There’s no denying that several elections in New York State were determined because the incumbent opposed conservative values and because some incumbents were in fact opposed by the Conservative Party.

And so my advice to my Senate colleagues is to think very carefully about approving any Senate Conference outside of the Democrat Conference and the Republican Conference because you just may be opening Pandora’s Box.  Once that Box is opened, what would stop Conservative Members of the State Senate from forming a Conference of their own?

This is State Senate Reverend Rubén Díaz and this is what you should know.