Saturday, December 15, 2012

Tree Lighting on White Plains Road

   Not only did newly elected 80th A.D. Assemblyman Mark Gjonaj bring a Chanukah menorah to White Plains Road and Pelham Parkway, but Friday night was the lighting of the White Plains Road Pelham Parkway Christmas Tree courtesy of Mr. Mark Gjonaj for the first time. As you will see in the photos below State Senator Jeff Klein, Assemblyman Mike Benedetto, representatives of Congressman Joe Crowley and Councilman Jimmy Vacca, local community leaders, and hundreds of people came to see the work of Assemblyman Mark Gjonaj, and he is not officially in office yet. When i asked why he was doing this for the community, Assemblyman Gjonaj said " I am only happy to do this for the people of the community". Some of the photos may appear a little dark as it was night time when they were taken. 

Left - You can see both the Chunakah  menorah and Christmas tree on the corner of White Plains Road and Pelham Parkway both provided by newly elected Assemblyman Mark Gjonaj.
Right - White Plains Road BID Director Joe Thompson adds the final touches to the tree before the ceremony

Left - Children from PS 108 sing a few Christmas songs for the crowd.
Right - Assemblyman Gjonaj is between the Columbus Campus Dance, Step, & Cheerleader team. 

Left - You can see the crowd looking for Santa to arrive.
Right - The horse drawn hayride also provided by Assemblyman Gjonaj is coming down Pelham Parkway, as it looks like Santa is getting down from the drivers seat. 

Left - Santa poses for pictures by the light of the Chunakah menorah, with the White Plains Road elevated subway in the background.
Right - Assemblyman Gjonaj and Senator Klein are joined by Santa as 80th A.D. State Committeeman Joe McManus is at the mike. 

Assemblyman Gjonaj, Senator Klein, and everyone watches as the White Plains Road Christmas tree is lit.

Friday, December 14, 2012


   Comptroller Rejects Contract That Violates Civil Rights

City Comptroller John C. Liu today officially rejected the so-called Taxi of Tomorrow, writing to Mayor Bloomberg that the contract may violate the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and increase the City’s exposure to costly lawsuits.

“City Hall’s refusal to provide wheelchair-accessible cabs to people with disabilities is inexplicable and we believe it violates the ADA," Comptroller Liu said.  “We should not go ahead with a so-called Taxi of Tomorrow that perpetuates a shamefully separate and unequal cab fleet for another decade.”

Comptroller Liu’s letter to the Mayor details his refusal to register the Taxi of Tomorrow agreement on the grounds that it may not only violate the civil rights of wheelchair users, but also puts the City at significant risk of lawsuits.

The Taxi of Tomorrow plan has been met with outrage and objections and is currently the subject of a lawsuit that seeks its demise.

“Tens of thousands of disabled New Yorkers and visitors are inconvenienced by our inaccessible taxi system,” said James Weisman, Senior Vice President and General Counsel of the United Spinal Association. “The Taxi of Tomorrow was a chance to solve this problem. Instead Taxi and Limousine Commissioner David Yassky and the Mayor have chosen to perpetuate it at great cost to taxpayers. Access-A-Ride and Medicaid transportation costs would be reduced substantially if the taxi system were accessible to wheelchair users.”

“The City’s decision to adopt a non-accessible Taxi of Tomorrow puts many New Yorkers at risk,” said Chris Noel, lead plaintiff in the lawsuit Noel, et al. v. Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC).  “Many
disabled and elderly people were left stranded during Superstorm Sandy because most forms of transportation weren’t accessible until things were up and running again.  In an emergency, getting an accessible taxi could be a matter of life-and-death for wheelchair users. Mayor Bloomberg has missed a major opportunity by neglecting the disabled population’s taxicab needs.”

“It is unfathomable to me that the Mayor and the City of New York are trying to proceed with an inaccessible Taxi of Tomorrow program,” said Paul Tobin, LMSW, President & CEO United Spinal Association. “Discrimination in any form, against any protected class, should never be tolerated — especially by our elected officials.”

“A week after the U.S. Senate failed to ratify a U.N. treaty promoting civil rights for people with disabilities, City Hall seems determined to tell disabled New Yorkers to wait another decade to be able to hail a cab,” said Edith Prentiss, Chairperson of the Taxis for All Campaign.

“From the Ground Zero mosque to gay marriage, the Mayor has always been about freedom for all,” said Dr. James Post, a Bronx physician who uses a wheelchair and is an advocate for accessible taxis. “I don’t understand his stubborn resistance to having taxicabs accessible to all New Yorkers.  Why is he comfortable allowing New York to be second rate when it comes to equal access to transportation?”

“Comptroller Liu’s actions today should not be viewed as a rejection of the Taxi of Tomorrow,” said Assembly Member Micah Z. Kellner, “but as an opportunity for the Bloomberg Administration to start anew and ensure New York City’s iconic yellow taxis are accessible to everyone for the next decade.”

“I applaud the Comptroller’s decision to reject the proposed ‘Taxi of Tomorrow’ contract between the City and Nissan, which would require medallion owners to purchase the NV-200, an inaccessible van, for the next ten years,” said Council Member Oliver Koppell.  “As chair of the NYC Council committee with oversight on disability services and the  lead sponsor, along with 36 of my colleagues,  of legislation that would mandate an all-accessible taxi fleet, I find the Mayor’s decision to select the NV-200 completely deplorable. Not only is the inaccessible van design a slap in the face to wheelchair users, I strongly believe that it violates the Americans with Disabilities Act.  New York should be like other world class cities, such as London, which has a 100% wheelchair accessible fleet, and not treat our residents and tourists with disabilities like second-class citizens.”

“I support Comptroller Liu’s rejection of the Taxi of Tomorrow contract with Nissan,” said Council Member Jumaane Williams. “Mayor Bloomberg had an opportunity to approve of an agreement with a company that would have built 100% ADA-compliant vehicles in the borough of Brooklyn with homegrown labor. Instead, he opted for a plan that disadvantages the already disadvantaged in our city. It also fails to address the exorbitant costs we pay for Access-a-Ride and ambulette services, which could be mitigated by a fleet of wheelchair-accessible taxis. Let’s take this opportunity to go back to the drawing board and make a contract that makes sense for all New Yorkers.”

“The City has a major decision to make on a taxi of the future, and we must consider the future of all New Yorkers including those with disabilities,” said Council Member Daniel Holloran. “Further, one manufacturer has promised not only to create taxis that are accessible to disabled New Yorkers, but to manufacture them
locally, bringing jobs and new industry to the City. This is a proposal that represents the future in more ways than one.”

 “I want to applaud Comptroller John Liu for demanding that the City of New York adopt an accessible Taxi of Tomorrow,” said Council Member Gale A. Brewer. “We cannot waste this tremendous opportunity for the City to provide all New Yorkers equal access to a vital form of transportation.”

“With the new contract, we ought to harness the opportunity to ensure that all New Yorkers have access to taxis as an efficient transportation option,” said Council Member Stephen Levin. “Instead of retrofitting taxis, we should seek a model that is already wheelchair-accessible. I applaud the leadership of Comptroller Liu and my colleague, Council Member Koppell, for their efforts in making our city more accessible for New Yorker residents and visitors alike.”

“I believe it is incredibly significant that the greatest City in the World provide transportation alternatives for people with disabilities,” said Council Member Sara M. González. “There are people with disabilities who are well-educated, extremely capable, well-positioned and employed, but their productivity is diminished by the fact that they cannot readily hail a taxi to get to a last minute meeting or conference. They are often not able to work late because getting home would be a problem.  People with disabilities face unreasonable obstacles when their transportation needs are limited to pre-scheduled arrangements whether their destinations are related to employment, medical, scholastic or social concerns.  I believe therefore that there is a fiscal impact to not providing accessible taxicabs, as well as an effect on tourism, when other major cities, like London, have a 100% accessible fleet.”

“I support taxis for all, not just taxis for some,” said Council Member Daniel Dromm.  “We need a fleet that serves all New Yorkers.  Halfway measures are inadequate.  Our disabled community deserves full access.”

“The Taxi of Tomorrow presented the City with an opportunity to finally afford disabled New Yorkers with full access to our city’s yellow cabs,” said Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito. “Unfortunately the administration instead dismissively chose a design that continues to limit these New Yorkers’ ability to hail a taxi. This is unacceptable. I thank Comptroller John Liu for holding firm and rejecting this contract. I also thank Council Member Koppell who has been a consistent and strong voice on this issue.”

The so-called Taxi of Tomorrow cannot accommodate wheelchair users unless a medallion owner opts to spend an estimated $14,000 — half the cost of the car —to install a wheelchair ramp in the trunk, leaving
room for just one additional passenger.

“It is baffling that the City continues to miss this opportunity to once again demonstrate that New York City is a leader when it comes to inclusion and the protection of individuals rights,” Comptroller Liu said.  “We must not allow New York’s yellow taxi fleet to become a symbol of exclusion that tramples the rights of wheelchair users.”

In 2009, Mayor Bloomberg recommended that the Taxi of Tomorrow “provide universal accessibility for all passengers, including passengers in wheelchairs.” The recommendation was made in a City Hall report, “Age Friendly NYC: Enhancing Our City’s Livability for Older New Yorkers.” The full report can be downloaded here:

In May 2012, Comptroller Liu requested Mayor Bloomberg and the TLC amend the proposed Taxi of Tomorrow design to require it be wheelchair accessible cabs before sending any agreement for registration.
Comptroller Liu’s May 2, 2012 letter to the Mayor is here:

On Nov. 16, 2012, the TLC sent the Taxi of Tomorrow agreement to Comptroller Liu for registration. Comptroller Liu had 30 days to register or reject the agreement.



December 14, 2012

Honorable Michael Bloomberg
Office of the Mayor
City Hall
New York, NY 10007

RE:      Nissan Taxi Marketing, N.A., LLC
            Contract Number: 20135400961

Dear Mayor Bloomberg:

On November 16, 2012, the Department of Citywide Administrative Services submitted to the Office of the Comptroller for registration a contract for Nissan Taxi Marketing, N.A., LLC (“NTMNA”) to serve as the mandatory source for all new vehicles, the so-called “Taxi of Tomorrow,” for the New York City taxi fleet. Following a thorough review by the Office of the Comptroller, I am rejecting this contract, because it ignores the civil rights of those New Yorkers who use wheelchairs by failing to require a wheelchair accessible vehicle. This failure is inexcusable and an affront not only to the disabled community, but to all New Yorkers who believe in fairness.  Moreover, given pending lawsuits that directly and indirectly challenge this contract, it is clear to me that its implementation raises significant risk to the City.

First, a newly-filed lawsuit, Committee for Taxi Safety v. City of New York, Index No. 104315/2012 (Sup. Ct. NY Co., Nov. 29, 2012), raises serious legal concerns that the contract award by the Taxi and Limousine Commission (the “TLC”) to NTMNA for the model NV200 taxi was arbitrary and capricious in light of: (1) an outmoded vehicle design; (2) unsuitability for City road conditions a sole source for parts and replacement vehicles.

Second, in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, mandating a taxi that is not wheelchair accessible raises a grave risk that people who use wheelchairs will not be able to evacuate safely. Indeed, the U.S. District Court in Manhattan recently set for trial a class action lawsuit alleging that the City’s disaster planning unlawfully fails to provide adequately for persons with disabilities, in part because of the lack of wheelchair accessible taxis.  Brooklyn Center for Independence of the Disabled v. Bloomberg, 11 Civ. 6690 (S.D.N.Y. Nov. 7, 2012).  The TLC’s non-accessible Taxi of Tomorrow only worsens the serious storm risks faced by people with impaired mobility.

Finally, serious concerns remain that the Taxi of Tomorrow violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (the “ADA”) and the related regulations of the U.S. Department of Transportation.  The ADA and those regulations require that when a public entity controls private taxis as pervasively as if they were the public entity’s program, the taxis used must be wheelchair accessible.  Here, the TLC has put into effect a strict program requiring that all taxi owners must purchase only one specific vehicle that, as built, is not wheelchair
accessible.  At best, a clumsy optional retrofit of the Taxi of Tomorrow  results in a potentially dangerous condition, whereby a person in a wheelchair must enter into the rear of an idling taxi in the road, rather than from the side of the taxi at or near the curb. The City has mandated a taxi that the disabled cannot use, and the owners would not choose.

The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, while ruling in June 2012 that the City’s existing taxi fleet rules did not violate the ADA, noted that the TLC could violate the ADA if it were to mandate a taxi that was not accessible:

Plaintiffs suggest that the Taxi–for–Tomorrow Initiative violates Title II (A) by effectively preventing medallion owners from using an accessible vehicle. . . The current model of the NV200 is not accessible, but the model that would serve as the standard taxi is still being developed. . . We decline to decide now issues that might arise in the future as the project goes forward.  Noel v. New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission, 687 F.3d 63, 72 n. 7 (2nd Cir. 2012).

That has now happened: The TLC has ordered New York City taxi drivers to buy a taxi that is not wheelchair accessible, and cannot be easily adapted to provide safe and dignified wheelchair access.

In short, by mandating a “Taxi of Tomorrow” that is not wheelchair accessible, the City has disregarded the civil rights of the disabled community and put City residents at unnecessary risk, and so I reject this improper contract.


John C. Liu

Upoming Events - Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez

P.S. 2013: Shaping the Education Agenda for our Next Mayor
Wednesday December 19th, 8:30pm
P.S. 132 Juan Pablo Duarte (182nd and Wadsworth ave.)

In 2013, New York City will elect a new mayor for the first time in 12 years. In the past decade, massive reforms have transformed NYC schools, but without the gains in student achievement that communities want. We know what works and what is not working. 2013 is the first chance in 12 years to take NYC public schools in a new direction. 

Museo Del Barrio's 36th Annual Three Kings Day Parade
Friday, January 4th, 2013 9:30am
1230 5th Avenue (104th St.)

Take part in the Three Kings Day festivities with el Museo Del Barrio as we march through the streets of El Barrio. A great way to get involved and interact with the community!

The Inauguration of Assembly Member Gabriela Rosa 
Sunday, January 6th, 2013 3:00 pm
P.S. 48 4360 Broadway (bet. 186th & 187th st.)

Come out and support our newly elected Assembly Woman, Gabriela Rosa at her swearing-in ceremony. Gabriela will represent the 72nd Assembly Election District in Washington Heights and Inwood. She is a progressive fighter for social justice, quality education and affordable housing.

For more information email:

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Wave Hill Events December 28–January 4

   At Wave Hill we take our cue from Mother Nature as the new year arrives: She looks serene and still, but don’t let that fool you into forgetting that even now, deep below the surface, she is thinking ahead to spring. A walk through the gardens and, if you’re lucky enough to have youngsters in tow, a Family Art project, will encourage you to get in touch naturally with the unique delights of this season.
Create Your Year―Hello 2013!/¡Feliz Año Nuevo! Crea tu proprio calendario de 2013
Envision the year ahead, design your seasons and capture their delights with beautiful, Wave Hill-inspired images to create your very own hanging calendar for the new year. Free, and admission to the grounds is free until noon.

Create Your Year―Hello 2013!/¡Feliz Año Nuevo! Crea tu proprio calendario de 2013
Envision the year ahead, design your seasons and capture their delights with beautiful, Wave Hill-inspired images to create your very own hanging calendar for the new year. 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 and January. 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

NYC Teacher Pension Fund Pledges $1 Billion to Investments in Post-Sandy Reconstruction and Other Critical Infrastructure

New Funding is Progress in Meeting a $10 billion Clinton Global Initiative Commitment to Action to Invest in American Infrastructure
New York – In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, the New York City Teachers Retirement System has pledged $1 billion to new investments in infrastructure projects, including improvements to transportation, power, water, communications, and housing in New York City and throughout the tri-state area.
While all projects will be rated on the basis of their return and the fund’s fiduciary standards, potential investments could range from repairing bridges to rebuilding housing destroyed by the hurricane. In addition to repairing and upgrading facilities used by hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers, the infrastructure fund could create thousands of jobs.
This pledge is part of a multi-year Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) Commitment to Action made by the AFL-CIO, American Federation of Teachers (AFT), and partners at the inaugural CGI America meeting in June 2011. The AFL-CIO, AFT, AFL-CIO Building and Construction Trades Department, Union Labor Life Insurance Company, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, AFL-CIO’s Housing Investment Trust, AFL-CIO Working for America Institute, and other partners committed to encourage both workers’ capital and skilled labor to contribute to large-scale investments in the reconstruction of America's built environment. Working with money managers, asset consultants, pension funds, developers, and federal, state and local governments, the Commitment to Action will finance the construction and repair of quality public infrastructure which will result in at least $10 billion in workers' capital invested in this area within five years. The CGI Commitment also includes a pledge to invest $10 to $20 million in energy efficient retrofits and an effort to train 40,000 new apprentices and 100,000 mid-career construction workers in the skills necessary to work on 21st century infrastructure projects.  To date, the commitment has reached more than $2.7 billion of its total goal.
At a press conference this afternoon, President Bill Clinton, Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development and point person for the Obama Administration’s long-term Hurricane Sandy recovery effort Shaun Donovan, UFT President Michael Mulgrew, Comptroller for the City of New York John Liu, and AFT President Randi Weingarten announced the $1 billion allocation, which will not only create jobs, but also strengthen infrastructure so New York is better prepared to protect vulnerable populations from the rising sea levels, droughts, and increased frequency of storms that coincide with climate change.
“Together the work will benefit our future not only in terms of more efficient buildings and reducing the threat of climate change, but also in the lives of teachers, construction workers, and in lowering energy costs for people all over America,” said President Clinton. “This is a remarkable commitment. It represents a very significant step forward in meeting the entire AFL-CIO CGI commitment to bring Americans back to work, to bring inefficient buildings up to speed, and in this case, to putting us on the path to a sustainable future for New York City.”
“The critical commitment of the Teachers Retirement System at this early stage is one that I hope will inspire and encourage others,” said Secretary Donovan. “This infusion of private capital is like seed money that will allow us to address not only the recovery from Sandy but also the underlying infrastructure challenges that our communities face.”
UFT President Michael Mulgrew said: “We have been working for months to create an investment strategy for the teacher pension fund that will help meet New York’s pressing needs for repairing and updating our roads and bridges, our water and power systems, and middle-income housing. Hurricane Sandy has brought those needs into keener focus, and I am happy to stand here today and say that the teachers of New York City are taking a leadership role in helping to rebuild our city and state.”
“New Yorkers prove their determination and ingenuity in times of adversity,” said New York City Comptroller John C. Liu.  “Sandy hit us hard, but the superstorm will not keep us down. This innovative plan could help us rebuild the City, create jobs, and yield solid returns on our pension funds. Together we can produce great projects that are also sound investments.”
“This investment is another example of America’s educators stepping up to not only educate and care for our children but to also revitalize our communities, create jobs, and strengthen our economy,” said American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten. “New York City Teacher Pension funds have always taken a lead in tough times to rebuild our city, from buying city bonds to avert bankruptcy in the 1970s to investing hundreds of millions in the stock market to bolster the economy after 9/11when economic activity had pretty much stopped in lower Manhattan. This investment continues that tradition in the wake of superstorm Sandy and budget cuts that have stifled investment and is part of a broader effort by labor to invest in America’s future and create jobs. I couldn’t be prouder of my home city, my home local, of the labor movement, and to be doing this with President Clinton and the Clinton Global Initiative.”
“Infrastructure investments are critical to maintaining our economic security, as has been brought into stark relief by Hurricane Sandy,” said Gary LaBarbera, president of the Building and Construction Trades Council of New York.  “Today's announcement of a $1 billion investment by the New York City Teachers Retirement System in our infrastructure underscores the leadership role that organized labor, working with the Clinton Global Initiative and our friends in business and government, can play in bringing the level of resources to bear that are needed to collectively meet this challenge and create thousands of jobs.”
Investments in infrastructure have the potential to provide enhanced fixed-income returns, while creating jobs, enhancing our nation's competitiveness, and addressing the threat of climate change and foreign energy dependence. Recent estimates of the number of jobs created directly or indirectly by infrastructure investment vary from 18,000 jobs per $1 billion invested (American Public Transportation Association 2009 study) to 36,000 jobs per $1 billion invested (University of Massachusetts at Amherst 2009 report). 
The Teachers Retirement System infrastructure investments could take the form of bonds purchased by the fund from owners of the projects, or in partial ownership of the projects themselves. Recommendations about actual projects or the form of investment in them will be made by investment professionals on the Comptroller’s staff to the trustees of the TRS, who will make the final decision. The Trustees of the New York City Teachers’ Retirement System (TRS) are: Chairperson Melvyn Aaronson, United Federation of Teachers; Sandra March and Mona Romain, United Federation of Teachers; John Liu, New York City Comptroller; Kathleen Grimm, New York City Department of Education; Carolyn Wolpert and Frieda Foster, Mayor’s appointees. The New York City Teachers Pension Fund manages assets of approximately $46 billion for approximately 110,000 in-service members and nearly 80,000 retirees.  
About the Clinton Global Initiative
Established in 2005 by President Bill Clinton, the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) convenes global leaders to create and implement innovative solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges. CGI Annual Meetings have brought together more than 150 heads of state, 20 Nobel Prize laureates, and hundreds of leading CEOs, heads of foundations and NGOs, major philanthropists, and members of the media. To date CGI members have made more than 2,300 commitments, which have improved the lives of over 400 million people in more than 180 countries. When fully funded and implemented, these commitments will be valued at more than $73.1 billion. 
President Clinton established the Clinton Global Initiative America (CGI America) to address economic recovery in the United States. CGI America brings together leaders in business, government, and civil society to generate and implement commitments to create jobs, stimulate economic growth, foster innovation, and support workforce development in the United States. Since its first meeting in June 2011, CGI America participants have made more than 170 commitments valued at $13.4 billion when fully funded and implemented. To learn more, visit
About the American Federation of Teachers
The AFT represents 1.5 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators. 
About the United Federation of Teachers
The United Federation of Teachers represents approximately 200,000 members, including approximately 75,000 teachers and 19,000 classroom paraprofessionals, along with school secretaries, attendance teachers, guidance counselors, psychologists, social workers, adult education teachers, administrative law judges, nurses, laboratory technicians, speech therapists, and other employees, along with more than 28,000 New York City family child care providers.  The union actively supports policies, legislation and programs that promote attaining educational equity, closing the academic achievement gap and assuring parent and community voice in school governance. 
About the Office of the New York City Comptroller
New York City Comptroller John C. Liu serves as the investment advisor to, custodian and trustee of the New York City Pension Funds. The New York City Pension Funds are comprised of the New York City Employees’ Retirement System (NYCERS), Teachers’ Retirement System (TRS), Police Pension Fund (POLICE), Fire Department Pension Fund (FIRE) and the Board of Education Retirement System (BERS) and are collectively valued at $127 billion as of 9/30/2012. 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Bronx BP Diaz Endorses Stringer For Comptroller

  Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. today met Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer for breakfast at the Riverdale Diner to endorse Stringer's candidacy for New York City Comptroller.

Elected Bronx BP in 2009, Diaz previously served with Scott Stringer in the New York State Assembly. As borough presidents, Diaz and Stringer have worked together on a number of issues, including reforms to  Community Educational Councils to increase parental engagement in public education, and protecting residents from fraudulent schemes related to Section 8 housing vouchers. 
 "Scott Stringer has the experience and leadership skills to be a strong reformer for our city," said Diaz. He added "no one is more qualified than Scott be New York City's next comptroller, Scott Stringer has always stood up for working families and I know he will continue to fight for all of our city's diverse communities."

"I am honored to have the support of my friend and fellow borough president," said front running New York City Comptroller candidate Scott Stringer. "Ruben has fought tirelessly to protect New York's immigrants and working families and will be an invaluable partner in serving our city". "I look forward to continue working with BP Diaz in promoting economic development and making sure that all residents have the same opportunity to succeed."

Scott Stringer has represented Manhattan as borough president since 2006. During this time, Stringer has been a champion of working families and small businesses, and has worked to help parents combat classroom overcrowding. Stringer has made transportation and infrastructure a major priority, hosting large conferences to examine and discuss possible solutions to ensuring a real five borough transportation agenda, including the creation of infrastructure banks and innovative public-private partnerships.

Stringer has also made immigrant rights a top priority of his office, establishing an Immigrant Rights Task Force starting his first year in office and producing the city's first Immigrant Rights and Services Manual, a comprehensive resource on the legal rights and public benefits and programs available to immigrants.

In both photos - Bronx BP Diaz and Manhattan BP Stringer hash out ideas over breakfast.  

 Left - Breakfast is over, and both Diaz and Stringer get ready to answer questions from the media.
Right - Bronx BP Diaz holds up the arm and points to who he thinks will be the winner of the NYC comptroller race in 2013.

For more information on Scott Stringer's candidacy for New York City Comptroller, please visit

Annual Bronx County Chanukah Menorah Lighting

   The official Bronx Borough Chanukah Menorah lighting at Borough Hall took place today. New York Yankees Broadcaster Ms. Suzyn Waldman was the Mistress of Ceremony, as both the Israeli national anthem (Hatikvah) and United States national anthem (The Star-Spangled Banner) were sung by Dafna, Shir Fun. Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. then welcomed the assembled  crowd, and spoke of how one of the most enjoyable things about being borough president is hosting events such as this menorah lighting. 
   After greetings by Rabbi Michael Miller (of the Jewish Community Relations Council of NY) and William Papfogel (CEO of the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty) there was a musical tribute to Chanukah by the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale Community Choir. Rabbi Israel Greenberg of the Bronx Jewish Community Council then assembled the elected officials to light the Bronx County Chanukah Menorah. Below are a few photos of the event.


Left - a photo of the crowd as music is played before the menorah lighting.
Right - Mistress of Ceremony Suzyn Waldman opening the menorah lighting ceremony.

Left - the elected officials sit in the front row with Ms. Walden.
Right - Rabbi Greenberg has the elected officials join him by the Chanukah Menorah.

Left - The traditional Chanukah prayer is said by Rabbi Greenberg.
Right - The menorah is lit on the fifth day of Chanukah. Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz, Ms. Waldman, Rabbi Greenberg, Bronx BP Rubrn Diaz Jr., Deputy BP Aurelia Greene, and newly elected Councilman Andy King line the front row in the photo on the left.





Monday, December 31st              Tuesday, January 1st
9:30 pm to 12:30 am                   2:00 pm to 4:00 pm
Dinner and Festivities                 Ice Skating in Van
@ Yo Burger                                Cortland Park
3726 Riverdale Avenue                Broadway @ 242nd Street 
New Year's in Times Square 
RSVP for either event (or both!) by Dec. 25th:


NEW YEAR'S EVE minimum               SKATING minimum 
$50/person or $100/family             $30/person or $60/family
Includes dinner - BYOB                    Includes skate and locker rental
                                                        $50/person or $100/family

 Or... suggested donations: $100 $175* $250 $500

*Contributions up to $175 are matched by the NYC Campaign Finance Board at a $6 to $1 rate!




Senator G. Rivera, will join MARC Academy and Family Center as well as South Bronx Job Corps this Friday December 14, 2012 at 11:00 AM at 2105-2111 Jerome Avenue for a special presentation and tasting of healthy foods to eat during this holiday season. 
WHO:        NYS Senator Gustavo Rivera,  Assembly Member Nelson Castro, MARC                               Academy and Family Center and South Bronx Job Corps.
WHAT:       Presentation/Food demo on Healthy Eating During the Holidays

WHERE:    MARC Academy & Family Center
                   2105-2111 Jerome Avenue, 
                   Bronx NY 10453
WHEN:       Friday, December 14, 2012 at 11:00 AM
MARC Academy and Family Center, Inc. is a non-profit EarlyLearn NY program providing quality early childhood education, Family Day Care Network and school age support programs to children in the Bronx.


Tuesday, December 11, 2012


   Secures unprecedented transparency and accountability concessions from New York City Economic Development Corporation 

   City Comptroller John C. Liu today announced that the New York City Economic Development Corporation (EDC), the Mayoral-controlled entity that awards corporate subsidies and tax breaks, has instituted unprecedented new measures for transparency and accountability as part of its contract agreement.  Liu made the announcement after his office registered the EDC’s annual $896 million Master and Maritime agreement for the City.  

“Finally we have more light shining into the black hole that has been EDC. They will answer to taxpayers now that we've cracked open their books,” said Comptroller Liu. “These new measures will help EDC be more focused on their responsibility to create real jobs, not simply dole out publicly funded subsidies to private companies.”

As part of the contract parameters, City Hall has agreed to implement unprecedented reforms including:

-          Publication of  all City-funded expenditures on Comptroller Liu’s Checkbook NYC online transparency tool, beginning Feb 1, 2013;
-          Detailed reports on companies that fail to live up to their job commitments along with the enforcement actions, including claw backs, which were brought against them;
-          Certification by the President of EDC that the agency is in full compliance with the terms and conditions of the NY State Attorney General’s agreement to prevent additional illegal lobbying; and
-          Provisions to encourage the hiring of New York City residents for publicly subsidized projects. 


Comptroller Liu has criticized the EDC for its failure to create jobs, while doling out huge corporate subsidies. Even though Comptroller Liu views these reforms as a step in the right direction his office will continue to scrutinize the agency’s finances and incentive programs.

After revelations by the State Attorney General of illegal practices at the EDC, Comptroller Liu’s July 9, 2012 letter urged Mayor Bloomberg to “…finally open the EDC’s books to the public. The EDC’s FY 2013 budget is projected to exceed $800 million.  It’s time to post all of the EDC’s spending online on a daily basis, as other City agencies now do through Checkbook NYC.”

In a letter dated September 26, Liu wrote, “The City cannot afford to miss this opportunity to meaningfully improve the way it promotes economic development and job creation in a more transparent and accountable manner.”

“If the EDC cannot manage its own operations with greater transparency and accountability, produce the number and types of jobs it has promised, and stimulate the City’s economy to a degree commensurate with the public subsidies it receives, then the City must directly reassume those responsibilities,” Liu continued, directly questioning the premise that economic development policy can best be implemented through a quasi-city nonprofit organization.

Some links to past statements/audits are below:

(July 3, 2012)
(March 19, 2012)
(February 14, 2012)
(November 7, 2011)
(Sept. 21, 2011)
(February 9, 2011)
(July 27, 2010)
(April 28, 2010)

Andrew Cohen Fundraiser

    Last Saturday afternoon Councilman G. Oliver Koppell held a fundraiser in his home for Mr. Andrew Cohen, Councilman Koppell's choice to replace him in the City Council. The fundraiser was attended by over 100 people including Congressman Eliot Engel, Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz, Candidate for Public Advocate Letisha James (currently representing part of Brooklyn in the city council), sever Community Board # 8 members, and many others. There were several speeches as to why Andrew Cohen should be elected to the city council. Since candidate Cohen is participating in the campaign finance program the  money collected at the fundraiser (from residents of the council district) will be matched 6 - 1 by the CFB.
Below are a few photos of the fundraiser.

 Left - Councilman Koppell's wife  Lorraine (who played an active role in her husbands campaigns) extols the virtues of candidate Andrew Cohen.
Right - Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz speaks, as Community Board # 8 members Steve Balicer and Xaxia Sanchez are in the photo behind Dinowitz and Koppell. Candidate Andrew Cohen is off to the right in what appears to be a glow of light. 

Left - Public Advocate candidate Letisha James is in the photo,
Right - City Council candidate Andrew Cohen stands between Assemblyman Dinowitz and Councilman Koppell, as Congressman Engel is on the right.