Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Treecycle at MulchFest and 20th Annual Bronx Parks Speak-Up:

Treecycle at MulchFest on January 11 and 12, 2014! 

On Saturday, January 11th and Sunday, January 12th, NYC Parks will host the annual MulchFest from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. each day at locations citywide. Bring your holiday tree to one of over 80 designated parks to be recycled into mulch that will nourish plantings across the city or your own garden! Treecycle and help NYC grow!

Recycle your tree at many locations throughout the Bronx.
Pick up free mulch at Brook Park, Co-Op Blvd & Bellamy Loop, Metropolitan Avenue & Unionport Road, Van Cortlandt Park, Poe Park and Soundview Park!

Planning a Mulchfest related event on January 11 or 12? Contact your district Outreach Coordinator for information on Partnerships for Parks can help. 

Bronx Parks: A 20/20 Vision
Saturday February 22nd, 2014    11am-5pm
Lehman College, Faculty Dining Room of the Music Building
For more information, visit www.bronxspeakup.org/ or like on Facebook:  www.facebook.com/BCPGS

 If your group is interested in tabling at the Speak Up, contact: speakuptabling@hotmail.com


  On Saturday, January 4th, State Senator Rev. Rubén Díaz along with Bronx Borough President Rubén Díaz Jr., Assemblyman Marcos Crespo, Assemblyman Luis Sepulveda, The New York Hispanic Clergy Organization and other elected officials, will come together to provide the children of our community a Three Kings Day Celebration.  The first 600 children between the ages of  1- 9 years old, will receive  a toy and a book bag. “There will also be live music and entertainment for the children,” stated Senator Díaz.
This activity will take place : (Children must be present in order to receive a free toy.  At 12:00 pm Saturday,  January 4, 2013 in Public School #5 located at 564 Jackson Avenue (corner of 149th St.)



Gonzalez: Bill de Blasio's choosing Carmen Fariña as schools chancellor will revolutionize city's schools

This comes from The Daily News by way of a member of Mayor Bill de Blasio's Transition Team.

“Teachers and administrators have been maligned,” she said. She vowed to reinstitute professional development and training of teachers, but to do so from within the school system itself.

She repeatedly stressed the need to treat parents as partners.

“She actually sees parents as allies in making the schools better, not as a nuisance to be kept out,” said Javier Valdes, executive director of Make the Road New York, a Brooklyn community group that hailed her appointment.

But the emotional high point of Fariña’s remarks came when she talked of entering city public schools speaking only Spanish, and of facing discrimination from a teacher who refused to learn to pronounce her name.
With Latinos now making up more than 40% of our school population, thousands of pupils from Latin America and other parts of the world continue to face the same kind of problem today, Fariña said. Too often, teachers pressure those children to 

Anglicize their names.

“Your children will be spoken to by the name you gave them,” the new chancellor promised.
Only a lifetime educator could grasp the importance of properly pronouncing every child’s name in the classroom.

Editors Note 

As a member of the Chancellor's Parent Advisory Council when Ms. Farina was promoted to Deputy Chancellor, I beg to differ with the above comments and article. Citywide parent leaders found Deputy Chancellor Farina to be just like Chancellor Joel Klein when it came to parent concerns. The only reason I can find for her appointment as chancellor is her history with Community School Board 15 member and now Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Carmen Farina will be Named New York City’s Schools Chancellor


  As I wrote on December 10th on this blog it appears that Incoming Mayor Bill de Blasio will after all name 71 year old ex-Deputy Chancellor Carmine Farina his new Schools Chancellor. Farina had been on the de Blasio transition team and advised candidate de Blasio on education, and their relationship goes back to when Farina was the principal of the middle school in Brooklyn where the de Blasio children attended. There are rumors however that Farina as Deputy Chancellor retired as an investigation by the Special Investigator for the Board of Education was looking into whether Farina used her position as Deputy Chancellor to allow a Brooklyn Principal and his teacher wife who lived in New Jersey have their child attend Farina's old middle school. The Principal and his wife were forced to pay the city for their child's education and he was fired from his job as principal. The investigation ended with the retirement of Farina as Deputy Chancellor.

  It is widely being speculated that since Farina was on the selection committee for the new chancellor that no one could meet her standards for the job. It was also thought that the previous process was done so Farina would wind up as the only person that would fit the qualifications. Farina is another so called safe decision by incoming Mayor Bill de Blasio with lots of experience in her field. I don't see Farina lasting longer that the rest of the school year, and that is from experience with her at the DOE headquarters at Tweed while she was there. 

Is Governor Cuomo Backing Dan Garodnick for City Council Speaker

 According to Fred Dicker of the New York Post New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is secretly working with Bronx Democratic County Leader Assemblyman Carl Heastie and Queens Democratic County Leader Congressman Joseph Crowley to line up support for Councilman Dan Garodnick to be the next speaker of the city council. Dicker writes that it is not in the interest of the governor to have Melissa Mark-Viverito as the speaker to Mayor Bill de Blasio because both are of the left leaning thought.

  Another reason for not wanted Mark-Viverito as speaker would be that it would be a serious defeat for incoming Mayor de Blasio and would weaken his perceived power base. De Blasio wants Cuomo to raise taxes to pay for pre-k and after school programs, while Cuomo wants to lower taxes in an election year not raise them.   You can read the entire New York Post Fred Dicker article here.


The Four Amigos, the IDC, and Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito: How things change … or are They Just Double Standards?

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

The Four Amigos, the IDC, & Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito: How things change … or are they just double standards?

You should know that back in 2009, when it came time to elect a new President in the State Senate, there were many candidates for the Democrats to choose from.  This was when the Four Amigos – Senators Carl Kruger, Pedro Espada, Hiram Monserratte, and I – got together and talked about how we could unite to get leadership in the Senate and make a difference.

You should know that at the time, in order for someone to become the Democratic Senate Leader, it required 32 votes, and it was a tight race.

In our planning, the Four Amigos decided what to do about each issue that each Amigo wanted to take care of.  Senator Pedro Espada wanted to be the first minority New York State Senate President Pro Tem.  Senator Hiram Monserratte wanted to Chair the Senate Consumer Protection Committee.  Senator Karl Krueger wanted to Chair the Senate Finance Committee.  And I wanted a promise that the gay marriage bill would not come to the Senate Floor for a vote.

Because of our success, the reaction to the Four Amigos was labeled a “coup” and a “scandal.”  We were vilified as the “Four Banditos.”  We were branded as being traitors, corrupt,
blackmailers, thieves, slimy, crooks, extortionists, deadbeats, selfish, greedy, shameful, stooges, clowns, opportunists - and accused us by saying the whole thing was some kind of "quid pro quo."  We were called all kinds of disparaging names.  Former New York State Governor David Paterson publicly professed that we were “disingenuous” and that we were engaged in “very nefarious practices.”

As of today, we have not recuperated from those attacks, in part because of the unfortunate personal affairs of my three colleagues – none of which were related to the demands we made in 2009.

Since that time, when another chance arose to elect a new Senate President, a different group of four Senators got together and (copied us) forming what is known as the Senate Independent Democratic Conference – the IDC.  The IDC is led by Senator Jeff Klein, and is comprised of three Senators: Diane Savino, David Carlucci, and David Valesky.  Their power-grab was formed, they claim, because they were fed up with the “selfish antics” of their leaders.

It is well known that the IDC clearly and openly made political demands, which were met by Republican Senator Dean Skelos, who agreed to share the leadership of the State Senate with Senator Jeff Klein.  The IDC Members were given Senate Committee leadership – AND a separate budget containing millions of dollars!

Those four IDC State Senators have been routinely praised for their coup/breakaway. The IDC members have been labeled as progressive leaders, virtuous, smart, bold, power-sharing and thoughtful.  They have been commended by unions, by the Governor, by editorial boards and reporters … almost everybody praises them because of what they did.

Now I am reading a column written by Michael Gartland in the December 29, 2013 edition of New York Post titled, “BLAS A ‘MARK’ MAN - Council-boss IOUs” casually listing the demands, deals, payouts and “plum paychecks” that are being made in the New York City Council in order for certain concessions to be made so that Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito will get the 31 votes she needs to be in control as the New York Council as Speaker.

According to Mr Gartland, there are many Council Members who have been promised Committee Chairmanships and other fabulous prizes if they vote for Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito to be the Speaker.

For example - and if that happens - Mr. Gartland mentioned how Council Member Julissa Ferreras will get to be the Majority Leader and receive an extra $23,000; Council Member David Greenfield will get to be the Chair of the Land Use Committee and receive an extra $18,000; Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer will get to be the Chair of the Finance Committee and receive an extra $18,000; and either Council Member Danny Dromm or Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez will get to be the Chair of the Education Committee and get an extra $10,000.  If Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito gets to be the the Speaker, she will get an extra $28,500.

My dear reader, please keep in mind that “Committee chairmanships carry generous taxpayer-funded stipends over and above the $112,500 base salary council members get annually.”

I don’t see anybody calling Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito or anyone involved in these dealings crooked or deadbeats - or requesting any investigation about possible ethical wrongdoings, or being accused of engaging in any type of "quid pro quo."  On the contrary, outgoing Council Member Lew Fidler is calling this a "standard."  He said: “No speaker has taken that job since I was there without discussing committee assignments with possible supporters.  This is standard.”

Now it is a standard thing for all City Council Members to partake in the practice of "quid pro quo" so Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito can be the Speaker of the New York City Council and in return, give back to the Council Members whatever they want or demand.

My dear reader, how things have changed!

Are we sure this is now a standard, and not a double standard?  How come it was not a standard for Senator Espada, Senator Monserrate, or Senator Kruger to ask for leadership posts?  How come it was not a standard for me to ask for the gay marriage not to come to the Senate Floor?

For us, it was considered corruption - but when I read about how Mr. Frank Seddio, the Chair of the Brooklyn Democratic organization is going around and asking and demanding (according to Mr. Gartland’s article) that “de Blasio promise his allies several city marshal’s jobs” – I have a few questions.

What would have happen if it weren't Kings Democratic Chair Frank Seddio demanding these appointments and political favors, but instead, if Bronx County Democratic Chair Carl Heastie was the one making these demands?  I can assure you that everyone under the sun would be calling for an investigation.  I can assure you that my very best friends, Gerson Borrero and Bob Kappstatter, along with the editorial boards of El Diario la Prensa and other publications would be accusing Carl Heastie of serious wrongdoing.  Where are you guys now? Why are you being so quiet? Where are all of my friends in the media who seeks purity and truth? Where is the outrage about all of the backroom dealings and threats that are going on right now?

I also have to ask myself, what ever happened to Curtis Sliwa who likes to talk about the leadership of Bronx County, and now he is keeping his mouth shut about Mr. Frank Seddio and the Brooklyn Democratic organization?  What about Governor Andrew Cuomo's Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE), and what about the Honorable Eric Schneiderman who is New York State's Attorney General?  Ladies and gentlemen, where are the subpoenas and the investigations - and the press conferences?

I have to say that, at least to me, that this is much, much worse than what we were accused of doing.  And I ask myself: Is this how things have changed … or is it just a gross case of double standards?

I am State Senator Rev. Rubén Díaz, and this is what you should know.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez Swearing in With Future Speaker in Attendance

  Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez was officially sworn into office for his second term as the New York City Council Member for Council District 10 (Washington Heights, Inwood and Marble Hill). Council Member Rodriguez was joined by expected City Council Speaker, Melissa Mark-Viverito, State Senator Adriano Espaillat, Assembly Member Gabriela Rosa, as well as community leaders in the area. City Clerk Michael McSweeny administered the oath of office and Councilman Rodriguez paid the $9.00 Fee for the swearing in. 
  I asked Councilwoman Mark-Viverito about her future plans since she will only have one term of four years left, while the Mayor, City Comptroller, and Public Advocate will be incumbents running for their second terms when she is term limited out of office. Future Speaker Mark-Vivirito said "That not why I am in this game". We also spoke about the Bronx Democratic County Leader Assemblyman Carl Heastie supporting her opponent Councilman Dan Garodnick. The answer to that was Councilman Ritchie Torres is her favorite Bronx Council Delegation member, and Councilwoman Mark-Viverito just smiled when I repeated the Bronx Democratic County Leaders name.

Left - Council members Rodriguez and Mark-Viverito go over a few things before Councilman Rodriguez is sworn in for a second term. 
Right - Councilman Rodriguez has only high praise for his choice to be the next Speaker of the City Council Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito.


Left- State Senator Adriano Espaillat gets to say a few words before the swearing in.
Right - Councilman Rodriguez is being sworn in to his second term in office.


Left - City Clerk Michael McSweeny signs that he has administered the oath of office to Councilman Ydinas Rodriguez.
Right - Councilman Rodriguez also signs as the city clerk counts the $9.00 fee paid.


Left - Future Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito tells the crowd that she is proud to have Councilman Rodriguez on her side.
Right - Councilwoman Mark-Viverito and the city clerk go over their schedules to see what day both have open so he can swear her in.

Friday, December 27, 2013

De Blasio Promising Committee Chairs to Queens Council Members?

  The Queens Tribune reports that in exchange for guaranteed support to Councilwoman Mellissa Mark-Viverito for speaker that several Queens council members have been promised key City Council committee positions.
  The Tribune writes that Councilwoman Julissa Ferraras (East Elmhurst) would be named Majority Leader, Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (Woodside) would be named Finance Committee Chair, and that Councilman Daniel Dromm (Jackson Heights) would be the new Education Chair. Two other Queens Councilmen Daneek Miller and Donovan Richards have been promised undisclosed committee chairs. The Tribune even has Republican Eric Ulrich (Ozone Park) promised a chair of a committee if he supports Mark Viverito for Speaker. 

  The Tribune also says that Brooklyn Councilman David Greenfield has been offered the Land Use Committee to help sway the rest of Brooklyn to support Mark-Viverito. While the Tribyne says that the speaker's selection is not in the bag yet, and that there could be a surprise when the vote comes on January 8th. The full Queens Tribune article can be found here.
Among the promises made to the Queens delegation, Julissa Ferreras (D-East Elmhurst) would be named Majority Leader. Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Woodside) would head up the Finance Committee and Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights) would get the Education Committee. - See more at: http://queenstribune.com/committee-chairs-found-under-the-tree/#sthash.OZppexCa.dpuf
Among the promises made to the Queens delegation, Julissa Ferreras (D-East Elmhurst) would be named Majority Leader. Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Woodside) would head up the Finance Committee and Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights) would get the Education Committee. - See more at: http://queenstribune.com/committee-chairs-found-under-the-tree/#sthash.OZppexCa.dpuf

Mayor Bill de Blasio Looking for New Comunications Director

  Just days after it reported that Mayor elect Bill de Blasio's communications director Liz Smith was seeing former Governor Eliot Spitzer The New York Post has reported that Ms. Smith is out as communications director. In its first story the Post reported that De Blasio described it as having been blindsided by the news of the relationship, and said at a press conference Monday that he hadn’t decided whether he would keep her on staff.

   The Post reports that Smith was absent Thursday from her usual position with de Blasio, and that aids have interviewed several possible replacements. De Blasio backed Spitzer's opponent in the Democratic Primary Scott Stringer for Comptroller, and had been critical of Spitzer, who resigned in 2008 over a prostitution scandal.

   The exposure of Spitzer and Smith's affair led to Spitzer and his wife Silda announcing that their marriage was finally over. The Post reports that the next day after the announcement Smith brought Spitzer to a Christmas party at her parents home in Bronxville. The entire Post article can be found here.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Wave Hill Events January 10–January 17

  This week, we celebrate the return of concerts to Wave Hill House’s magnificent Armor Hall, after a two-year renovation of the house. Glyndor Gallery comes alive as well, as the 2014 Winter Workspace artists settle into their residency in the galleries. This week, by the way, begins the first of a number of free workshops that Winter Workspace artists will offer, wonderful opportunities for visitors to learn about the artists’ studio practices. Reservations are required for both the concerts and for Winter Workspace workshops—and space is limited.  Outdoors, there is plenty to inspire, from birding walks to a stroll with our dapper Charles Day, horticultural interpreter extraordinaire, who introduces us to some of the stately trees in our landscape that date back to Toscanini’s tenure here at Wave Hill in the 1940’s. The Family Art Project this week also resonates with Toscanini as we continue to pay homage to Wave Hill’s illustrious, historical residents. Hats off to all this creativity!

According to Russian painter Wassily Kandinsky, “music is the ultimate teacher.” Together we’ll listen to the music of former Wave Hill resident and conductor Arturo Toscanini and explore the emotions, colors and even animals behind the music. Find your inner resonance with color, music and tempera paint. Free, and admission to the grounds is free until noon. Illustrious Residents event.

Quiet like a mountain, moving like a river, Tai Chi is a sequence of gentle movements based on images found in nature. In this beginner-level class, Irving Yee, a member of the William CC Chen Tai Chi School, introduces students to the internal martial arts and promotes an awareness of its benefits. Winter sessions are held indoors. Session fee: $25/Wave Hill Member $15. Registration opens online and onsite at the Perkins Visitor Center. (Reservations may not be made by telephone.) Online registration closes at 8AM on the day of this session. Cancellations must be made by 3PM the Friday before; after that, refunds will not be made.  Drops-ins will be accommodated as the limited space permits. Participants must present a Member’s ID card or a printed program registration form at the front gate.

Gain insight into Winter Workspace artist Aron Louis Cohen’s creative process and explore the winter landscape as a source of inspiration. The artist gives an introduction to making paper in your home from the plants around you. Then learn which plants are suitable for growing or gathering, how to process them and the basics of sheet forming. Each participant will take home their own handmade paper. Art materials are provided unless otherwise noted. Workshops are open to all visitors ages 12 and over when accompanied by an adult. Registration required, online at www.wavehill.org, onsite at the Perkins Visitor Center or by calling 718.549.3200 x251. Free with admission to the grounds.

Naturalist Gabriel Willow contributes his extensive knowledge of bird species and their behaviors on these captivating walks. Wave Hill’s garden setting overlooking the Hudson River flyway provides the perfect habitat for native and migrating birds. Ages 10 and older welcome with an adult. Birders of all levels welcome! Severe weather cancels. For weather-related updates call 718.549.3200 x245 by 8AM the day of the walk. Free with admission to the grounds. (NYC Audubon Members enjoy two-for-one admission.) Registration recommended, online at www.wavehill.org, onsite at the Perkins Visitor Center or by calling 718.549.3200 x251.

According to Russian painter Wassily Kandinsky, “music is the ultimate teacher.” Together we’ll listen to the music of former Wave Hill resident and conductor Arturo Toscanini and explore the emotions, colors and even animals behind the music. Find your inner resonance with color, music and tempera paint. Free with admission to the grounds. Illustrious Residents event.

Reduce stress, increase your energy and bring strength and flexibility to mind, body and spirit with a yoga practice. Classes are led by Yoga for Bliss director Neem Dewji and other certified instructors. Ms. Dewji is certified in Hatha and Therapeutic Yoga from The Yoga for Health Foundation, England, and The Integral Yoga Institute, NYC. All levels welcome. Winter sessions are held indoors. Session fee: $25/Wave Hill Member $15. Registration opens online and onsite at the Perkins Visitor Center. (Reservations may not be made by telephone.) Online registration closes at 8AM on the day of this session. Cancellations must be made by 3PM the Friday before; after that, refunds will not be made.  Drops-ins will be accommodated as the limited space permits. Participants must present a Member’s ID card or a printed program registration form at the front gate.

This fall, take a moment to release stress and reconnect with your inner self while practicing meditation. Each session includes instruction in simple techniques followed by 20 to 30 minutes of meditation. Classes are led by Yoga for Bliss director Neem Dewji and other certified instructors. All levels welcome. Winter sessions are held indoors. Session fee: $25/Wave Hill Member $15. Registration opens online and onsite at the Perkins Visitor Center. (Reservations may not be made by telephone.) Online registration closes at 8AM on the day of this session. Cancellations must be made by 3PM the Friday before; after that, refunds will not be made.  Drops-ins will be accommodated as the limited space permits. Participants must present a Member’s ID card or a printed program registration form at the front gate.

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

Wave Hill’s concert series returns with signature, site-inspired programs that take advantage of Armor Hall, Wave Hill’s unique performance space, as well as the garden landscape. Wave Hill’s concert series returns with signature, site-inspired programs that take advantage of Armor Hall, Wave Hill’s unique performance space. In the opening performance of the season, the Sinfonietta of Riverdale, a string orchestra of 16 players performs in Armor Hall under the baton of maestro Mark Mandarano. The program is a tribute to Arturo Toscanini, an illustrious former Wave Hill resident. Hear works by Beethoven, Rossini and Toscanini’s arrangement of Verdi’s String Quartet in e minor for larger string ensemble.  The Verdi Quartet is also heard later this season, when the Enso String Quartet performs it as originally scored for two violins, viola and cello. Two hours with intermission.  Illustrious Residents event.
Special pricing for this concert: General tickets $45, $40 senior, $35 Wave Hill Member. Tickets on sale starting November 26, online, onsite at the Perkins Visitor Center or by calling 718.439.3200 x251
Two hours with intermission. Illustrious Residents event.

Closed to the public.

When Arturo Toscanini resided at Wave Hill House in the 1940’s, he would have enjoyed a landscape that included many of the trees that define the garden today. Bundle up for a brisk winter walk with Horticultural Interpreter Charles Day to see some favorite trees from Toscanini’s tenure here. This walk repeats January 18. Free with admission to the grounds. Illustrious Residents event.

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 on Tuesdays in January. Free to Wave Hill Members and children under 6.

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

Visitors to Wave Hill can take advantage of Metro-North’s one-day getaway offer. Purchase a discount round-trip rail far and discount admission to the gardens. More at http://mta.info/mnr/html/getaways/outbound_wavehill.htm

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 www.wavehill.org/visit/.

Information at 718.549.3200. On the web at www.wavehill.org.

Assemblyman Dinowitz Calls on Sanitation to Change Holiday Recycling Collection

  For some New Yorkers recycling during the holiday season can be a hassle.  One New York State Assemblyman wants to change that.

Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz (D-Bronx) is calling on the New York City Sanitation Department to change their recycling collection schedule for the end of December and beginning of January.  He points to the fact that Christmas Day and New Year’s Day, both federally recognized holidays, annually fall on the same day of the week which causes recycling collection to be suspended on those days.  This means that collection does not exist for some New York City residents between December 18th and January 8th.

“This is simply too long for recycling collection to be suspended, a significant inconvenience for too many,” stated Mr. Dinowitz.  “Three weeks in-between recycling collection is too lengthy, particularly during the holiday season when families gather for numerous celebrations,” he added.

This time frame of suspended collection overlaps with Sanitation’s Christmas Tree Recycling Program which takes place from December 30th through January 15th.

Assemblyman Dinowitz also has a suggestion which would ease the burden on both City residents and the Sanitation Department.  He recommends that recycling collection can be picked up on the next active collection date after one of the two suspended dates.  For example, Sanitation could pick up collection that would have occurred on Christmas Day or New Year’s Day on December 26th or January 2nd.

“This seems like a common sense solution that will benefit both the City and its residents,” explained Mr. Dinowitz.  “Residents would not have to hold onto collectibles for almost a month while Sanitation would not have to pick up a heavy collection once service resumes after three weeks.”

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

A Very YEP Christmas

Left and Right - Are the toys that were brought to the Eastwood Manor earlier today for the 2013 Sharing and Caring party held by Councilman Andy King and the Bronx Youth Empowerment Program that he started several years ago. Yes that is Santa Claus on the right watching over all the toys to make sure that deserving youngsters received them.
  The Eastwood Manor and Councilman Andy King hosted a Christmas Party for deserving children in his district, and got a lot of help from some of the youngsters in his Bronx Youth Empowerment Program which was started several years ago by Mr. Andy King.
  Mr. Jemine Antonelli a youth pastor dressed up as Santa Claus, and he had more fun than the little children that sat on his lap. Mr. Antonelli also gave the invocation (in full Santa suit), and was only one of the many YEP volunteers who helped Councilman King make this Christmas Party a huge success. By the way Santa Antonelli said that he wants a new Booster Sleigh as his present for Christmas as the reindeer are getting old.
  Councilman King and his wife are sharing all year round, and he wants to remove barriers to move forward. It is one of the reasons he has done so well in his short stint as a replacement for former Councilman Seabrook (who was removed from office), and the reason that Councilman Andy King was re-elected with an overwhelmingly majority of the vote this past primary and general election.
  I was able to draw Councilman King away from the crowd long enough to ask him about the speakers race where on January 8th he and all of the 51 council members will vote in a new speaker of the council. Councilman King said that he has committed his vote to the Bronx Council delegation to vote with the delegation as a block. I told him of the night before where Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito was with Councilman Elect Ritchie Torres who is the only Bronx delegation member committed to her for speaker. I then asked Councilman King if he received any phone calls from the incoming mayor who he supported over the Bronx Democratic County organization's candidate, and he said yes he did but that he was still committed to vote with the Bronx Council delegation. 

Left - Councilman King introduces the members of YEP who were helping him.
Right - A photo of all of the volunteers with Councilman King.

Left - Sofia sits on Santa lap, and tells him what she wants for Christmas.
Right - Other youngsters were dancing.

Left - The Jamccar Ekklispe steel drum band were one of the performers at the party.
Right - Councilman King's parents Bernice and Andy King Sr. enjoy the party.
 The Bronx Youth Empowerment Program. What it is all about.

Chiara de Blasio Opens Up About Her Depression And Substance Abuse

 This comes from the Daily News Blog by Celeste Katz.

  The entire article can be found here, which includes a 5 minute video by Mayor de Blasio's 19 year old daughter has revealed that she has battled substance abuse, depression, drugs, and alcohol including how she won out over all of them. She begins the video by disclosing she’s battled depression nearly “her entire adolescence” and that her substance abuse flowed from that struggle.

  Chiara de Blasio attends college in California 3,000 miles away, and sought help here in New York City. In a surprise e-mail the incoming mayor and his wife "As parents, our instinct has been to protect our daughter and privately help her through a deeply personal struggle," they wrote. The video also was posted on YouTube, under the heading, "Chiara de Blasio tells her story."

  For her part, Chiara de Blasio simply encouraged people to watch the short video. “I hope that everybody watches the video," she said. "I think that it speaks for itself."

Yudelka Tapia Fined By COIB

  The Conflicts of Interest Board has fined Yudelka Tapia almost $5,000.00 for using her computer in her  office as a city employee for the City Comptrollers office to advance her failed city council campaign and successful campaign for Female District Leader in 2009,. The COIB fined Ms. Tapia $4,480 for using the city computer for sending out political e-mails and for other political campaign uses while on city time. 

  Ms. Yudelka Tapia also ran this past year in the 86th Assembly special election when the seat became vacant after 86th A.D. Assemblyman Nelson Castro resigned.  Castro wore a wire for federal prosecutors for five years in a sting operation to root out corrupt Bronx elected officials that netted only a freshman assemblyman after Castro was indicted for election fraud in 2008. It was not said if this fine was connected to this years campaign for the assembly by Ms. Tapia, only the 2009 City Council and District Leader positions.

Monday, December 23, 2013

New Speaker Comes to Bronx North Association of Resident Councils Inc.

  It was the meeting and installation celebration of the newly appointed Executive Board members of the Bronx North Association of Resident Councils Inc. Lilithe Lazano as the Chair, Walter McNeil as the Vice Chair, Mildred Mcelveen as the Treasurer, Sandra Gross as the Secretary, and Harvey Butler as the Sergeant of Arms. The swearing in of the new executive board was by Councilman Elect Ritchie Torres, and Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito who should be the next speaker of the City Council was also on hand as you will see in the photos below. State Senator Ruth Hassel-Thompson and many others were in attendance to see the installation of the new executive board. 


Left - That's 80th Assembly State Committeeman Joe Mcmanus on the left, Newly Elected 15th Councilman Ritchie Torres in the center, and soon to be new Chair Lilithe Lozano on the left before the ceremony.
Right - State Senator Ruth Hassel-Thompson chats with on of the Captains from the 49th Precinct.


Left - Ms. Lazano speaking to the audience on the tasks of being the Chair of the Bronx North Association of Resident Councils Inc., and her dedication to the task.
Right - 15th Councilman Elect Ritchie Torres introduces his choice for the next speaker of the City Council Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito.

Left - Councilman Elect Torres swears in the new Executive Board as his future speaker looks on.
Right - The five new board members pose with Councilman Torres and future City Council Speaker Mark-Viverito.

In what may be the best photo of things to come in the City Council, here Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito almost 100 percent sure of being the new speaker poses with her favorite (and only) announced Bronx council supporter Councilman Elect Ritchie Torres of the 15th council district.
After talking with the future speaker she hopes that other members of the Bronx delegation will vote for her as Councilman Torres will. As to what lulus the Bronx delegation members will get, right now look for only Councilman Torres to share in the spoils of the victory leaving the rest of the Bronx delegation out in the cold. 

A Great City Council Speaker for New York

This comes to us from Councilman Elect Mark Levine, and we wonder what committee Councilman Levine will be chairing for this letter of support.

Mark Levine

After the mayor, the most powerful position in New York City government is the speaker of the City Council.  A strong majority of the new Council has now made their selection for this critical leadership post: Melissa Mark-Viverito.  

I have come to know Councilmember Mark-Viverito well, and I am confident she will be an outstanding leader for the Council and the city.  She is a movement progressive who has long been a powerful voice for social and economic justice.  She is a smart, hard-working, and inclusive leader who will be able to skillfully marshal critical policies through the new Council--in support of affordable housing, public education, low-wage workers, and more.

Melissa arrived to New York City from her native Puerto Rico at the age of 18. Over the years she has risen from labor organizer to community board member to being elected the first Latino to represent East Harlem. In the Council she serves as chair of the Parks Committee and founding co-chair the Progressive Caucus. Throughout her career she has shown an exceptional ability to bring diverse people together towards a common purpose. (If you haven’t read it already, don’t miss this week’s profile of Melissa in the New York Times.)

And as speaker, Melissa will make history as the first person of color in that critical post, and the first Latino to hold any city-wide elected position.

I couldn’t be more excited to be part of the diverse coalition, with members from all five boroughs and across the political spectrum, which has come together to elect Melissa Mark-Viverito as the next Speaker.

I hope you will join me in welcoming Melissa into her critical new role.   


Mark Levine
Mark Levine

Councilmember-elect, 7th District  



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

Governor Andrew Cuomo Just Did it Again to Get Even with Me and Assemblyman Marcos Crespo  

  You should know that on Monday, December 16, 2013, the leaders of the New York State Republican Party, Chairman Ed Cox, New York State Senate Republican Conference Leader Dean Skelos, Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino and others, at the request of myself and Assemblyman Marcos Crespo, came to the South Bronx to distribute 2,000 toys to our needy and poor children for my annual event “Christmas In The Bronx.” You should have seen the excitement that radiated from the faces of all these children!

Two days later on December 18, 2013, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed and vetoed over 60 bills. One of his vetoes, Veto #249 to be exact, was the Immigrant Service Enforcement Act (A.158A-S.786A). I am the Senate sponsor of this bill, and Assemblyman Marcos Crespo, who is also the Assembly Chair of the Task Force on New Americans, is the sponsor in that house.

You should also know that on the very next day, December 19, 2013, not one, but two articles were published in the New York Times: Immigration Remakes and Sustains New York, Report Finds and Life Expectancy of New Yorkers Rises With Influx of Immigrants, Study Finds
Ladies and Gentlemen, when the venerable New York Times published not only one, but two articles on the positive impact immigrants bring to New York City, we have a Governor vetoed a bill that would strengthen protections against the rampant fraud to which immigrants are frequently subjected. How could the Governor veto a bill that requires immigrant service providers to register with the State? How could the Governor veto a bill that increases fines against immigrant service providers who seek to cheat the very people they are supposed to serve out of their hard earned money? How could the Governor veto a bill that is essentially a comprehensive consumer protection bill?
This bill is not only about protecting immigrants who speak Spanish. This bill is about protecting immigrants who speak Chinese, Russian, Creole, and even English speaking immigrants from Guyana, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago. Consequently, the Governor’s veto is not only about his failure to protect immigrants who speak Spanish. His veto fails to protect the millions of immigrants who call New York City home.
Since Assemblyman Crespo and I represent communities in the Bronx, our concern is naturally for our constituents who are immigrants and who make their home here. According to the New York Times: “From 2000 to 2011, the Bronx’s foreign-born population increased by about 85,300, the largest growth of any borough.” This growth, however, is not only evident in the Bronx. Again, according to the New York Times, in Staten Island the “immigrant population grew 36 percent, the largest percentage increase of any borough.” 
Ladies and Gentleman, a bill of this magnitude and scope does not get introduced, negotiated, amended and passed, unanimously in the Assembly and one vote shy of unanimous in the Senate, overnight. For three long years, Assemblyman Crespo has been working tirelessly with the legislative leaders in both houses, with the Governor’s office and with New York City’s leading immigrant service providers and advocacy groups, including the Coalition for Asian American Children and Families, the Northern Manhattan Coalition for Immigrant Rights, the Queens Chapter for League of United Latin American Citizens, the New York Immigration Coalition, Casa Puebla and New Immigrant Community Empowerment, to craft a bill that everyone could support. Clearly, this bill had wide-spread community and legislative support.

Even as final negotiations were taking place with the Governor’s office prior to the Governor’s veto, Assemblyman Crespo was willing to amend the bill further to address the Governor’s concerns. Instead of a good faith effort on the part of the Governor, the immigrants who contribute so much to the vitality, health and well being of New York City were given a slap in the face.

You should know that when the Governor vetoes a bill, he is required by state law to issue what is referred to as a “veto message.” The Governor’s veto message in part states:“Unfortunately, this bill fails to achieve its stated purposes, because, among other things, some of its key provisions are preempted by federal law, so they are unenforceable as State law.”
Since when did the Governor of New York State become the lawyer for the Federal Government? Our Governor is not the United States Attorney General. Why is the Governor hiding behind Federal law as an excuse to veto this bill? There is no Federal gay marriage law, yet the Governor pushed that bill through, going so far as to force the Senate leaders to dispense with Senate Rules that govern floor debate. There is no Federal law that allows for the use of medical marijuana or is there a Federal law that decriminalizes marijuana, yet Governor Cuomo seems more determined than ever to make marijuana more readily available in our minority communities. There is no effort on the Federal level to expand abortion the way Governor Cuomo wants to expand abortion here in New York State.
You should also know that this is not the first time that the Democratic Governor who is the head of the State Democratic Party, the Party that is supposed to be the champion of the immigrant, has treated New York City and its residents with such disrespect. Governor Andrew Cuomo’s refusal to include funding for the Dream Act in the State budget and his effort a few years ago to slash funding for senior centers which serve many immigrants, are among two of the horrible examples of how our Governor has treated the immigrant community.
You should know my dear reader, that Governor Andrew Cuomo just did it again and I am afraid that he did it to get even with Assemblyman Marcos Crespo and me for allowing Ed Cox, Dean Skelos, and Rob Astorino to come to the South Bronx to give 2,000 toys to our needy and poor children.
I am State Senator Rev. Rubén Díaz, and this is what you should know.