Friday, January 25, 2013

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn Endorses Andrew Cohen For the 11th City Council Seat

   Current City Council Speaker Christine Quinn came up to the 11th council district this afternoon, but not to see the current councilman G. Oliver Koppell. Speaker Quinn came to Louie's Dale Dinner located on West 231st Street in the Kingsbridge section of the 11th council district to endorse Andrew Cohen as her choice to be the candidate to replace the current Councilman, G. Oliver Koppell. Koppell  by the way has already endorsed Andrew Cohen as has local Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz, Congressman Eliot Engel, and State Senator Jeff Klein. Quinn said that she has know Mr. Cohen a long time saying that they had met in 1997. She stresses that candidate Andrew Cohen's community record as a member of Community Board 8, along with his fine law background, and constituent work is exactly what is needed in someone you want to be as your council member. Quinn continued that it is important to be able to get out in the community to do constituent work such as Mr. Cohen has done, but that he can also do the job that is needed at City Hall. 
   After the brief endorsement statement both Quinn and Cohen took questions. There was a question from another newspaper reporter as to why she is endorsing Mr. Cohen and not one of the other candidates, to which Quinn answered "I know Andrew, and I know that he is the best candidate in the race". She added that Mr. Cohen has done a lot of work supporting the local merchants, and that is why the endorsement is being done here on this merchant strip. I asked about the speaker's thoughts on the Kingsbridge Armory, and which of the two latest proposals she prefers. Quinn answered by saying that she is not fully clear on the  Young Woo plan, but wants to consider Councilman Cabrera's thoughts on the armory plans. 
    To my question about if she would reintroduce "Congestion Pricing", while not outright saying yes Speaker Quinn hinted strongly that it could happen as the city will have to look for new revenue in the future. After a few more questions Speaker Quinn had to leave, but on the way to her car I asked one final question. I asked Speaker Quinn with the conviction of former Councilman Larry Seabrook if there was any investigation into her office as to the matter. Quinn said that any investigation was over a long time ago, and that nothing is to come of it. Below are a few photos of the endorsement. 


Left - 11th City Council Candidate Andrew Cohen Greets current City Council Speaker Christine Quinn as she arrives to endorse him for  the 11th council seat.
Right - Inside Louie's Dale Diner located on West 231st Street Speaker Quinn and 11th council candidate Andrew Cohen talk over their old friendship as they make the endorsement announcement of him. 


Left - Speaker Quinn poses with Louie's Dale Diner owner Steve Kathikouisas, Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz (who was on hand for the Cohen endorsement), and 11th council candidate Andrew Cohen.
Right - 11th council candidate Andrew Cohen says good bye to Speaker Quinn as he thanks her for her endorsement of him.



Senator Rivera Becomes Ranking Member of Senate Health Committee

Bronx, NY - State Senator Gustavo Rivera (D-Bronx) was today named ranking member of the New York Senate's Health Committee.  As a member of the Senate Democratic Conference, Senator Rivera will be representing the interests of the conference on issues of health.

"I am proud to represent the people of the 33rd Senate District as well as the Senate Democratic conference as the ranking member of the Senate health committee," said Senator Rivera. "The issues that will be addressed in the health committee in the coming years are of particular interest to the individuals I represent. The Bronx is unfortunately the unhealthiest county in the state, and yet also looks to the healthcare industry as an economic engine, employing a great deal of my constituents. "

"Senator Gustavo Rivera is an outstanding choice to serve as Ranking Member on the Senate Health Committee," said Assembly Member Richard Gottfried, Chair of the Assembly Committee on Health. "He brings knowledge, passion, and dedication to the many health care challenges facing New York.  I look forward to working with him to build a progressive health care policy for our state."

"I congratulate Sen. Gustavo Rivera on his appointment as a ranking member of this important committee," said Dr. Steven Safyer, President of Montefiore Medical Center. "The Senator is a true leader whose passionate commitment to health and healthcare is an inspiration to our community. I look forward to our continued partnership."

"I congratulate my friend, State Senator Gustavo Rivera, on his appointment as the ranking member of that body's health committee. Gustavo and I have done great work through the Bronx CAN-Changing Attitudes Now-health initiative in the Bronx, and I know firsthand that he has what it takes to develop a robust agenda on health for the entire state," said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.

"I congratulate Senator Rivera on his new appointment," said Dr. Scott Cooper, President and Chief Executive Officer of St. Barnabas Hospital. "He has always been a passionate advocate on behalf of the St. Barnabas Hospital community, and I look forward to continuing to work closely with him in his new capacity."

From Douglas L. York, CEO, Union Community Health Center stated, "Union Community Health Center congratulates Senator Gustavo Rivera on his appointment as Ranking Member of the Senate Standing Committee on Health. There has been no better health advocate for our community. Both personally and professionally, Senator Rivera embodies Union's mission of improving health outcomes in our neighborhoods.  Union Community Health Center looks forward to continuing to partner with Senator Rivera towards a healthier Bronx."

Senator Rivera has served on the health committee since he was elected two years ago. Over the past two years, Senator Rivera has focused on addressing issues of health equity, as well as promoting better nutritional and exercise habits through his Bronx CAN Health Challenge and his partnership with Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.

BP Diaz - Black History Month Celebration



Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.

Invites you to attend his annual  
Black History Month Celebration
Celebrating African-American Culture

Wednesday, February 13, 2013
5:30 pm
Dreiser Loop Community Center
177 Dreiser Loop in Co-op City  

Seating Limited. RSVP required. Please call 718-590-3522 or email

Save the Putnam Trail Asks why a “Conservancy” Would cut down 400 Trees and Pave 1 mile of Nature with Asphalt?

Say NO to "Bloomberg Boulevard"

   A conservancy is “an organization that works to protect animals, plants, and natural resources especially by purchasing and caring for areas of land,” according to Merriam-Webster. The mission statement of Van Cortlandt Park Conservancy (VCPC) is: “to sustain and enhance the park as a vibrant destination for recreation, leisure and the enjoyment of natural landscapes.”

Yet still, the VCPC is doing nothing as NYCParks burns $2.41 million in federal/city taxpayer dollars, to widen and pave over a popular historic trail that runs 1.5 miles through nature preserves, sometimes feet away. The NYCParks plan destroys 1.5 to 2 acres of forest and 400 trees, harming both plant and wildlife thriving there. 

Two wildlife preserves flank the trail - Tibbets Brook/Lake, and the Northwest Forest.* Forever Wild preserves are supposed to receive special protection by the city. The parks dept. describes them at their website: "The Forever Wild Program is an initiative of the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation to protect and preserve the most ecologically valuable lands within the five boroughs."**

Asphalt causes water runoff issues that result in contaminated water and rotted tree roots. The Putnam Trail runs between the Lake and Tibbets Brook, with the lake enjoyed by local fishermen.

An urgent problem: the President of the Van Cortlandt Park Conservancy is also the administrator of Van Cortlandt Park, in other words a parks department employee.  This is clearly a conflict of interest, says SPT. 

Neither the conservancy nor parks dept. is paying attention to the parks department’s poll at their website for Van Cortlandt Park, where 55% of people say if they could visit the park every day for one activity, it’d be to wander the nature trails. Others chose: birdwatching (6%), fishing (9%), golf (6%), horseback riding (25%).***

“When the parks department sends out a spokesman about the Putnam Trail and says, `well, the conservancy supports our idea,’ that’s nonsense,” said SPT.

Please write a note to Mayor Bloomberg and make him aware of this conflict of interest and that his legacy will always be associated with the destruction of 1 acre of land, 400 trees and unwanted asphalt on the Putnam Trail in Van Cortlant Park.

Tell Mayor Bloomberg it's his choice and that the Putnam Trail can forever be referred to as the "Bloomberg nature walk" or if current plans go through the "Bloomberg asphalt raceway". (Bloomberg Boulevard)


Webster’s New 20th Century Dictionary, Unabridged, defines conservancy: 
"The act of preserving; conservation; preservation from injury or improper use.”

Van Cortlandt Park, the city's fourth largest, has many recreational outlets including multiple ball fields, bocce and basketball courts, fitness equipment, pools, ice skating rink, etc.***


Thursday, January 24, 2013

MTA Hearing to Increase Non-Peak Service on Hudson Line

    Thursday night the MTA held a hearing to increase non-peak service on its Hudson line of the Metro North to the Irvington (Yonkers), North Riverdale (Bronx), and Spuyten Duyvil (Bronx) stations. No one in the sparsely attended hearing objected to adding increased service, but several asked why the MTA was not adding more rush hour service. After many different types of cutbacks to the rush hour service of increasing headway between trains to eliminating a train here or there, "rush hour trains have become like the sardine packed subways" one rider said. 
   There were 48 seats set up, and with as many as ten Metro North Police officers (in uniform or in plainclothes) along with the ace four legged member of the K-9 squad, several technicians, and the MTA representatives sitting up front, they outnumbered the public in the audience.  
   Former Bronx BP and MTA Vice-Chairman Fernando Ferrer who is now the acting Chairman with the departure of Joe Lhota (to run for mayor) opened the meeting on time. Besides Ferrer the other MTA board member in attendance was Robert Bickford. Mark Mannix (Director of Govt. & Community Relations) gave the presentation, and Robert C. McLarger (VP of Planning for Metro North) was also sitting up front.   
   Mr. Mannix said that this was not to be a question an answer session, and mentioned the three effected stations Irvington, N. Riverdale, and Spuyten Duyvil. He went on to say that non-peak service was to be increased to half hour service from its current larger time difference between non-peak trains. There was no opposition to the added service, but questions of what the added service would do to the homes that surround the stations as to additional traffic. Andrew Sandler represented Councilman G. Oliver Koppel saying that Councilman Koppell thanked the MTA for the additional service to two stops in his district. Whilhelm Ronda representing Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. also spoke in support of the increased service, and added that BP Diaz is awaiting the new East Bronx Metro North Service to four new stations at Coop City, Morris Park, Parkchester, and Hunts Point in the Bronx. 
   The hearing would have been over in less than one hour, but Ferrer called for a half hour recess whereas after the recess two more people decided to voice an opinion. It was mentioned that the new service was from trains that are already in the schedule, but had bypassed the three stations in the past. 

Left - MTA board members Ferrer (far right) and Bickford, with Mark Mannix and Robert C. McLarger of the MTA. 
Right - Is a photo of the sparsely attended hearing.   

 Left - Andrew Sandler of Councilman Koppell's office reads a statement from Councilman Koppell.
Right - Two Metro North K-9 Police officers on hand with their trusty Police Dog, one of many that the MTA has.

Senator Klein’s Statement on Passage of Co-op/Condominium Tax Credit Renewal

   Today, the New York State Senate passed the renewal of the co-op/condominium tax credit with overwhelming support. Senator Klein called the bill critical and commonsense.

“I am very pleased that this critical tax credit for co-op and condominium owners passed with bipartisan support in the Senate. Failure to renew this tax credit would have resulted in drastic and unnecessary tax increases for New York families and seniors. This bill provides co-op owners and condominium owners with concrete assurance that their taxes will not balloon overnight. It provides nothing less than essential financial stability to these property owners. This renewal is long overdue, but I’m pleased to see that this critical measure for Bronx residents is now on it’s way to the Governor’s desk.”

The bill (S2320) extends a tax credit for co-op and condominium owners. The credit corrects flaws in the current property tax system that would otherwise leave co-op and condo owners paying at rates far greater than those who own one and two family homes. Passage of the bill has already been met with support from the co-op and condominium community.

Suneerat Moreno, condominium owner and treasurer of her condominium complex in Bronx Park East, expressed her relief at passage of the bill. “I am a retired senior citizen and this bill helps middle-class owners of condominiums like me. Our building is 87 years old and needs a lot of work. Without the tax credit, we would not have been able to make much-needed repairs, such as leaks and damage-repair from Hurricane Sandy. We are so thankful to Senator Klein for his leadership on this bill.”

Barbara Moye, condominium owner and president of her condominium board in Shorehaven, remarked, “this has been a long-haul for home-owners. For the past two and a half years, our family has had to set aside money in the event that this tax credit would not be passed, which has prevented us from doing any upgrades on our condo. This tax credit directly affects me and I am very thankful to Senator Klein for working to get this done.”

The original tax credit legislation was enacted in 1997.

Wave Hill Events February 8–February 15

   Truly wintry temperatures here in the gardens yesterday and today—as across the region—yet the gardens have rarely been as spectacular and engaging. I nodded all my way through Michael Tortorello’s paean to the winter garden on the first page of the “Home” section of this morning’s New York Times!  The birds are in on this, too, as well as the artists at work in our Winter Workspace residency. Bring your valentine and see for yourselves!

Hearts and Flowers/Corazones y flores
Breathe in the fragrance of greenhouse flowers and enjoy their colorful blooms.  Use them as inspiration to make lovely, lacy, feathery and flowerful Valentine’s Day cards. Free, and admission to the grounds is free until noon.

Hudson River valley hosts an impressive diversity of bird species, even during the winter months. Explore Wave Hill’s tranquil gardens and woodlands with naturalist Gabriel Willow to observe birds in their winter habitats. Ages 10 and older welcome with an adult. 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.

Hearts and Flowers/Corazones y flores
Breathe in the fragrance of greenhouse flowers and enjoy their colorful blooms.  Use them as inspiration to make lovely, lacy, feathery and flowerful Valentine’s Day cards. Free with admission to the grounds.

For the fourth winter, Glyndor Gallery is transformed into studio spaces for artists to develop new work and offer opportunities for public interaction in the context of the garden. Individual artists share their studio practice with the public on this open studio day. Artists include Manuel Acevedo, Zachary Fabri, Asuka Hishiki, Maria Hupfield, Paloma McGregor and Linda Stillman. Registration not required. Reservations not required for this drop-in event. 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.

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 February. 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

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Borough President Diaz State of the Borough Address


The Honorable Ruben Diaz Jr.
President, Borough of the Bronx
Cordially invites you to
The State of the Borough Address
Tuesday, February 19, 2013
11:30 a.m.
James Monroe High School Auditorium
1300 Boynton Avenue 
The Bronx 


Statement by IDC Leader and Senate President Pro Tempore Jeffrey D. Klein on Governor Cuomo’s 2013 Budget Address

      “As Governor Cuomo recognizes, our number one goal must be to pass a balanced budget that meets the evolving needs of New York families and businesses, without raising taxes or fees. In doing so, the IDC will be advocating for several critical priorities during the budget process.

“To start, our state’s lowest wage workers deserve a raise. Doing so will put more money in the pockets of working class families, while stimulating spending and creating thousands of local jobs. When it comes to filling these new jobs, we want to make sure that New York’s 10,000 unemployed veterans from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars are at the front of the employment line. That’s why, as part of the budget, we will push for a tax credit that rewards business owners who hire one of our country’s bravest men and women. The unemployment rate for veterans in New York State is twice that of the general population. That’s an inequity that we simply cannot tolerate any longer.

“In order to build a better workforce, we also need to ensure that every bright young New Yorker can afford a college degree. That’s why we are committed to enacting a fully funded DREAM Act that will provide all of New York’s smartest and most ambitious students with access to the tuition assistance that they need. Our bill ensures that neither state budget constraints, nor a student’s immigration status, will ever stand in the way of a young student’s college dream.

 “Mandate relief remains a priority concern for members of the IDC. Throughout the budget process, we will continue to identify ways that help push the weight of undue mandates off of New York’s counties, cities, and towns, so that local governments can lower property taxes while still funding all of their essential local needs.

“We can and will accomplish these goals for New Yorkers. The IDC is committed to working on a bipartisan basis to get these things done and to do so with another on-time budget.”

Monday, January 21, 2013

President Obama Inauguration - Differing Views -

Of The Two Candidates in the 11th Council District Race.

   Monday was the inauguration of President Obama once again as President of the United States. Here is a view of what the two candidates for the 11th council district did. 
    Andrew Cohen candidate for the 11th council district went to the Ben Franklin Democratic Club to watch the inauguration of President Obama with club members and fellow Democrats. Everyone at the Ben Franklin Club had their attention on the large television that was broadcasting the inauguration. Just like at the event there was clapping when there was a pause by President Obama in his speech, and when other speakers had finished their speeches. One heard cheers for New York, U.S. Senator Chuck Schummer who was the emcee of most of the inauguration. After the event there was discussion and a light snack. 


Left -You can see the packed crowd at the Ben Franklin Club to watch the Obama inauguration on the big screen T.V. On the left of the T.V. is a life size cut out of President Obama, and you can see that 11th council candidate Andrew Cohen as he turned around for this photo. 
Right - Is a better photo of 11th council candidate Andrew Cohen as he watches the presidential inauguration at the Ben Franklin Democratic Club.

   At the same time at Yo Burger on Riverdale Avenue PS 24 had a Day of Service & Inauguration Party" led by 11th council candidate Cliff Stanton. Children from PS 24 were there with their parents to help make bag lunches for a local food pantry while the T.V.'s at Yo Burger had the presidential inauguration on. 


Left - Children are making sandwiches for a local food pantry. 
Right - 11th council candidate Cliff Stanton moves among the crowd at Yo Burger.

Left - Some more of the crowd at Yo Burger.
Right - These kids were enjoying some of the delicious food at Yo Burger.


Sunday, January 20, 2013

Forget Standardized Tests

According to One DOE High Ranking Employee

    This one comes from the New York Post, where they report on Lisa Nielsen, a high-ranking city Department of Education official recently promoted to the newly created, six-figure position of “director of digital literacy and citizenship.” The Post says that Ms. Nielsen is part of a Facebook group "Opt Out of State Standardized Tests". The Post continues to say that on Friday she recommended that teachers assign students who opt out of the testing to other activities, including reading, writing and drawing or taking a snooze. 

    The Post story continues with other suggestions from Ms. Nielsen that can be done in place of testing, and you can find the entire  Post article here. There have been instances of parents or other people being given high paying jobs at the DOE in order to silence them of their opposition to DOE policy. Usually once the publicity ends so does the position at the DOE.