Friday, February 1, 2013

Statements on the Passing of Ed Koch

RE: Passing of Former Mayor Ed Koch
   “Today the Bronx is mourning the death of a son and one of the city’s greatest and most charismatic public leaders. Mayor Ed Koch was a man of wit and wisdom, a leader who helped lift our city out of the brink of bankruptcy, raising our spirits along the way and securing New York’s place as the capital of the world.

“Mayor Koch was always proud of his Bronx roots. During his administration he helped rebuild the South Bronx, creating a task force that helped restore burned-out buildings while creating new, thriving communities—work that still resonates to this day. He was a man of deep devotion, who after leaving office continued to inspire New Yorkers through his activism and his commitment to a city he fiercely loved.

“While we mourn his loss we honor his legacy, commitment to civil rights and his civic leadership, which will forever live in our hearts and in the millions of lives he touched. On behalf of the 1.4 million residents of the Bronx, I would like to extend our most heartfelt condolences to his family and friends during this very difficult time,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. 

State Senator Gustavo Rivera 33rd S.D.  released the following statement today in response to the passing of former New York City Mayor Ed Koch:

   "I am deeply saddened by the passing of former Mayor Ed Koch. Mayor Koch will be remembered as the quintessential New Yorker as well as for his sense of service to the city he loved. He had a passion that went beyond ensuring government worked efficiently for the people, but also a commitment to service that extended long after his term as Mayor. He was boisterous, outspoken and spirited. His legacy will remain in the hearts of New Yorkers for years to come, and he will be sorely missed."

Statement from Andrew Cohen 11th City Council District candidate on the Passing of former Mayor  Ed Koch:
  “I am saddened to hear of the passing of former Mayor Ed Koch. He was a New York City institution,  and I respect what he was able to accomplish during some very difficult times. He will be missed by all New Yorkers.”


ED KOCH Passes Away This Morning

   Former NYC Mayor Ed Koch most famous for his "How Am I Doing" line during his 12 years as mayor passed away this morning at 2 AM. Koch was pronounced dead due to Congestive Heart Failure at Presbyterian Hospital after reentering the hospital only two days after being released from a previous stay there. Koch had a lone history of health problems that began during his third term in office when he suffered a stroke in 1987 shortly after several scandals which included some of his close friends and allies in politics. The FBI later released a statement about the Koch administration, saying that on FBI tape recordings it was only Mayor Ed Koch that the mob could not influence. Koch would then have several health problems that would increase in severity as time went on.

   Ed Koch was born on Dec. 12, 1924 in the Bronx, and started his political career by joining the Village Independent Democrats while attending NYU that he graduated from in 1948. Koch was elected to the City Council, and then was elected to congress where he served from 1969 - 1977 until he was elected to his first term as mayor of New York City in 1977. Koch beat incumbent Mayor Abe Beame and future Governor Mario Cuomo in the Democratic primary back when the winner of the Democratic primary ment you were elected mayor. Koch and Mario Cuomo would meet again in 1982 running for Governor of the state, but Koch would lose this time to Cuomo. After racial tensions flared up in New York City during his third term the now outspoken mayor was defeated in the 1989 Democratic primary by New York City's first Afro-American candidate who at the time was Manhattan Borough President David Dinkins. 

   After his defeat for a fourth term Koch started his career on T.V. as the first judge for the People's Court. He went on to do a host of other shows with his last gig as one of the three regular "Wise Guys" on NY1's City Hall show.  Koch was a deciding factor in which way the Jewish vote went with his endorsement that was strongly sought after by candidates from all parties such as former Mayor Rudy Guliani, and soon to be former Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Koch continued a busy schedule and work ethic to his final days, and bought a burial plot in NYC five years ago saying that he did not want to leave NYC, even after his death.

Thursday, January 31, 2013


This afternoon former Mayor Ed Koch was placed in the intensive care unit at New York-Presbyterian Hospital. Dr. Joseph Tenenbaum, Mayor Koch's cardiologist and lead doctor, said he wanted to monitor the former mayor more closely.

Bronx Informational Forum RE: School Bus Strike-February 5, 2013

The Office of Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.
In partnership with the
Citywide Council on Special Education,
District 75 Citywide Council on Special Education,
Resources for Children with Special Needs, and
The Bronx Borough President’s Disability Advisory Council
Invite Bronx Parents impacted by the NYC School Bus Strike
to attend an Informational Forum
Tuesday, February 5, 2013
@ 6:00 p.m.
Bronx Library Center
310 East Kingsbridge Road
Bronx, NY 10458
For Details Call: 718-590-6012

Wave Hill Events February 15–February 22

     Early snowdrops have suddenly sprung up on the hillside below my second-floor window in Glyndor House, making me yearn for spring. (Enjoy yesterday’s snapshot of a charming cluster of snowdrops in the Wild Garden, the first attachment here.) That primed me for Anne Raver’s lovely tribute Tovah Martin today in the Times, another “Home” section cover story. We’re longtime admirers of both of these writer/gardeners. And what better way to encourage us to focus on what’s growing indoors in winter? It also happens to make for a perfect invitation to join the “Behind-the-Greenhouse” tour that Wave Hill gardeners are providing this Saturday. And spending Sunday afternoon―or any Sunday afternoon—on an hour-long, free walk in the gardens and Conservatory with one of our Garden Guides will keep your enthusiasm simmering nicely till spring.

To families we offer an extra-special treat on Tuesday, President’s Week target Free Day, when we offer two free programs, indoors and out, for school-age children. We’d planned a whole week of family programs, by the way, and then Hurricane Sandy happened, and kids were sent back to school Wednesday through Friday. And if you live in the Bronx, take advantage of free admission to the grounds for more than a weeek, starting February 16!

Spend an afternoon or a week at Wave Hill. On Tuesday, special programs are geared to families with children between the ages 5-10. Registration is recommended. Admission to the grounds is free for Bronx residents throughout this 10-day period. Please note that Wave Hill is closed Monday, February 18, as is customary.

A Desert under Glass/Un desierto bajo vidrio
Take a visit to Wave Hill’s Cactus and Succulent House and leave winter behind. Spend some time sketching and painting the exotic desert dwellers, then, using sand and paint, make a desert mirage. Free, and admission to the grounds is free until noon.

A Desert under Glass/Un desierto bajo vidrio
Take a visit to Wave Hill’s Cactus and Succulent House and leave winter behind. Spend some time sketching and painting the exotic desert dwellers, then, using sand and paint, make a desert mirage. 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.

Join Yoga for Bliss instructors for a one hour session of fun movement activity learning simple stretching, yoga, and breathing techniques indoors followed by active walking, jumping and playing outdoors. This program is geared to families with children between the ages of 5 and 10.
Registration recommended. Free, and admission to the grounds is free to all visitors today, thanks to the generous support of Target. Due to a change in the calendar for New York City schools following Hurricane Sandy, family programs on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday have been cancelled.

Express yourself with an array of creative art projects led by Family Art Project Leader Ilse Murdock and staff and/or Wave Hill’s Guest Winter Workspace Artist. This program is geared to families with children between the ages of 5 and 10. Free, and admission to the grounds is free all day, thanks to the generous support of Target. Due to a change in the calendar for New York City schools following Hurricane Sandy, family programs on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday have been cancelled.

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


Comptroller Liu Recommends Reform of Mayoral Control and Strengthened Standards for Top Education Job; Highlights Bloomberg’s Failures

A new report by the office of Comptroller John Liu recommends that all future New York City Schools Chancellors have substantial educational credentials. All three Schools Chancellors named by Mayor Bloomberg required state waivers because they failed to satisfy basic education requirements for the job.
“When people are asked if the Schools Chancellor should be an educator by background, they commonly answer, ‘Of course! In fact, it ought to be the law,’” Comptroller Liu said. “Well, it turns out it is State law. The Chancellor should be an educator, pure and simple. Waivers should not be routinely sought.”
The report, “No More Rubber Stamp,” makes recommendations for reforming the Panel for Educational Policy (PEP), which was intended to provide a check and balance to the Mayor’s overall control, and sets out 15 common-sense educational, managerial, and personal criteria for the Chancellor position. The criteria build from the present City standards for school-district superintendents, envisioning the Chancellor as a “superintendent of superintendents.” Download the report here:
“A more substantive PEP can only strengthen school governance to improve the quality of education. A PEP that is not merely a rubber stamp will restore the accountability that was always the goal of mayoral control,” Comptroller Liu said.
The report points out that current Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott and former Chancellors Cathleen Black and Joel Klein each lacked crucial educational credentials, such as prior experience in running a large city school district and at least 10 years of successful experience as an educator.
The report, part of Comptroller Liu’s “Beyond High School NYC” initiative, also looked at the Mayor’s interactions with the PEP and proposes changes in the way members of the PEP are selected so that the panel is less of a mayoral rubber stamp and more responsive to community and educational stakeholders. It proposes the creation of a PEP nominating committee, fixed and secure terms for PEP members, stipends and staff support for the PEP, a PEP veto on Chancellor nominations, and an end to the State waiver of unqualified Chancellor selections.
“It’s clear that the current form of centralized mayoral control under Michael Bloomberg has not worked.  There are many approaches we should consider to create more checks and balances, and this report puts forth some creative suggestions that could help make the system more democratic and more responsive to parents,” said Michael Mulgrew, President of the United Federation of Teachers.
“‘No More Rubber Stamp’ is another thoughtful education report from the Comptroller’s office, this one exploring much needed improvements to the PEP. It recommends possible steps that might add legitimacy and independence to a potentially important panel that currently has no muscle at all,” said Ernest A. Logan, President of the Council of School Supervisors and Administrators.
“The New York City Parents Union has been at the forefront of the fight to reform the Panel for Educational Policy, including introducing legislation to change the PEP’s composition.  We thank Comptroller Liu for recognizing the undemocratic nature of the PEP and applaud his efforts to include parents and communities in his recommendations.  These PEP reforms will put the public back in public education,” said Mona Davids, President of the New York City Parents Union.
“There is the widespread concern about the functioning of the PEP, and this report starts the discussion with an interesting proposal. It is a very important discussion that needs to be had,” said Joseph P. Viteritti, Thomas Hunter Professor of Public Policy and Chair, Department of Urban Affairs & Planning at Hunter College, CUNY.
“It’s clear that John Liu believes and respects the value of parent and community voices when it comes to education in New York City. He has engaged in a thoughtful proposal that would offer a larger voice to those constituents, much different than what we are currently experiencing,” said Zakiyah Ansari, Advocacy Director, Alliance for Quality Education.
“This study has essentially solved the dilemma of how to conduct mayoral control of education in a fair and democratic manner.  There is always more that can be done, but restructuring the PEP to be an independent, education-oriented body is essential, and that is what has been done here,” said Chris Owens, Brooklyn education advocate and former President of Community School Board 13.
The “Beyond High School NYC” initiative seeks to increase the proportion of New Yorkers with a college degree to 60 percent by the year 2025 through strategic investments in public education. It consists of “No More Rubber Stamp” and two earlier reports:
·         “The Power of Guidance,” which shows that a critical impediment for students seeking success in higher education is the lack of quality counseling, advising, and mentoring programs in New York City public high schools, and makes five recommendations to enhance student support systems to help overcome the obstacles to obtaining a college degree. Information and a link to the report can be found here: and here:
·         “Beyond High School: Higher Education as a Growth & Fiscal Strategy for New York City” found that New York City, which regards itself as the intellectual capital of the country, is actually only in the middle of the pack of major cities based on the percentage of the working-age population with an Associate’s Degree or higher, and shows how that hampers the City economically. Information and a link to the report can be found here: and here:
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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Senate Co-Leader Jeff Klein and Bipartisan Group of Senators Propose Tax Credit for Businesses Hiring Young Returning Veterans

Local Business Owners Voice Support for Bill
        Seeking new and effective ways to spur job creation and address perennially high unemployment rates amongst New York’s returning combat veterans, Senator Jeffrey D. Klein, alongside fellow IDC member Senator David Carlucci (D-Rockland) and a bipartisan group of Senators from across New York, introduced legislation yesterday providing major tax credits to private employers hiring veterans discharged after 9/11. The legislation is named “Jobs for Heroes.”

Senator Klein called the bill (S.3043) a win-win for business and veterans: “With this bill, we’re tackling two major issues head-on. Not only are we incentivizing job creation, but we’re also putting our returning soldiers at the front of the employment line.” Jobs for Heroes marks a culmination of work on veteran employment issues for Senator Klein, including hosting a veterans job fair and holding “Thought Raisers,” small roundtable discussions comprised of veterans, veterans groups and business leaders.

Business leaders from across the state also came out to support the proposal. These leaders included Tim Rooney, the Owner of Yonkers Raceway and Empire City Casino, and Chuck Tobin, the CEO of Focused Technologies in Albany. Both business owners regularly seek out and employ veterans for critical jobs at their companies.

Also in attendance was Bronx small business owner, Bob Bieder, who expressed his support of the bill. Mr. Bieder said, “As a small business owner, finding hard-working, dependable employees who I can invest in can be challenging at times. American veterans have been put to the test time and time again and Jobs for Heroes makes it possible for me to hire returning servicemen and women as my business grows.”

New York State is home to more than 8,000 unemployed post-9/11 veterans. The unemployment rate among these veterans is a startling 10.7%, according to statistics released today by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Under the proposal released today, business owners who employ a post-9/11 war veteran to a new, full-time job will receive a state tax credit equal to 10% of the new employee’s gross annual salary. The tax credit can be up to $10,000 for each non service-disabled veteran and up to $15,000 for each newly hired service-disabled veteran. Employers may apply the tax credit towards each and every new veteran that they hire for a qualifying job, without limit.

Senator Carlucci is the prime sponsor of the legislation.


Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez Responds to Mayor Bloomberg's Preliminary Budget Proposal

The preliminary budget proposed by Mayor Bloomberg this morning focuses way too heavily on cuts when there are clear opportunities to recover revenue. However, it is on the mayor to realize those opportunities by coming to the table with unions and the city council.

As it stands, Mayor Bloomberg's refusal to sit down with the UFT to develop a plan that works for all parties will end up costing the city $724 million in state aid over the next two years and $1 billion in the out years. This means we will immediately lose 2,500 teachers from our classrooms; vital hours of school aides and substitute teachers; 700,000 hours of after school programs, crucial for struggling students; key services for bullying prevention, conflict resolution, professional development and technology in the classrooms; and countless supplies such as textbooks and basic classroom necessities.

Additionally, because of his refusal to meet with council members to develop a new home taxi plan for the outer boroughs the city projects to lose $190 million in revenues. But the city is capable of securing the full $790 million in taxi medallion sales, currently in jeopardy in the courts, should the mayor decide to come to the table and work out a plan with council members.

Mayor Bloomberg's decision to act unilaterally on these issues will cost the city close to $1 billion in revenue over this year and the next, which will now be cut from our children's education, the most important aspect of our city's future.

I ask the mayor to come together with the respective parties to secure this much needed revenue. Collectively we can come up with new and creative revenue streams that will ensure the budget is not balanced on the backs of the middle and lower class families and our city's children.

Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez. 



   City Comptroller John C. Liu stated the following on the Mayor’s FY 2014 Preliminary Budget:

“In order to make up the budget shortfall resulting from City Hall’s failed negotiating strategy on teacher evaluations, the Mayor has decided to scapegoat our City’s public school teachers. The real fault, however, lies with his own misguided ideology, which could cost our children over $720 million this year alone.  He should look to the DOE’s runaway consultant spending rather than make cuts to the classroom.

“This budget illustrates the Mayor’s continuous refusal to negotiate contracts with our City’s workforce, which he is leaving for the next administration. His reliance on one-shots and a ‘my way or the highway’ negotiation strategy has led us here, and, sadly, our kids will pay the price.”

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Monday, January 28, 2013

NYC Hispanic Chamber of Commerce 7th Annual Women's History Month Luncheon

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What You Should Know

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

What is it, Senator Adams:
Ignorance, Vengeance or Pure Greed?

You should know that the latest bombshell in the saga of what's going on in the New York State Senate has been contributed to by Brooklyn State Senator Eric Adams, who suddenly and unexpectedly jumped ship to accept the Chairmanship of the Senate Aging Committee that was offered to him by Senators Dean Skelos and Jeff Klein.

As you know, even though the Democrats have 33 Senators making them the Majority of the State Senate – and thereby entitling them to be in control of the Chamber – this has been impossible to achieve due to 4 Democratic rebel Senators Jeff Klein, Diane Savino, David Valsesky, and David Carlucci – none of whom are Black or Hispanic.  
These 4 Senators decided to abandon the Democrats and join the Senate Republicans – none of whom are Black or Hispanic  – thereby preventing Black and Hispanic Senators from ruling as the Democratic Majority and obtaining the primary leadership roles in the New York State Senate.

Since that time, the Republicans and Senator Jeff Klein (leader of the rebel Democrats) have been very active trying to find any token Black or Hispanic Senator to join their Coalition, in order to prevent any appearance that their coup was, in fact, against the minority community. In that process, they have been quite successful after luring Senator Malcolm Smith to their side – and this week, they hit a home run by convincing Senator Eric Adams (from Brooklyn) to join them and accept their offer of Chairmanship of the Senate Aging Committee.

You should know that some people have been asking me why a leader like Eric Adams, who is well-respected, has a good reputation, and has been fighting on behalf of his community since his days as a New York City Police Officer and Captain, would allow himself to be used in this manner and give more power to the Republicans.  They want to know how Senator Adams could put a nail into the coffin of the Democratic Leadership in the New York State Senate.

Some of these same people have tried to explain why they believe Senator Adams has done such a thing.  There are those who believe it's because of ignorance; others conclude that it was an act of vengeance; and the rest just say it was because of pure greed.

Here are some of their explanations.

The first group of people understand that these offers by Republicans to certain Black and Hispanic Senators are only to serve in minor Committees, and that this is nothing except window dressing.  They believe that the Republicans would never allow Senator Adams to do anything important or independent because “they” will always control and rule what should be done in the State Senate.  They also say that since Senator Adams is running for Brooklyn Borough President, many Democrats might be inclined to reject him as he has rejected them  … unless he has been instructed by Governor Andrew Cuomo to do this in exchange for the Governor’s endorsement, and for the Governor’s help campaigning and fundraising for him.  If this is so, I’m afraid we’ll have to disregard the reason of ignorance.

The second reason some people offer is an act of vengeance.  You should know that many people believe that when Senator John Sampson was the New York Senate Democratic Conference Leader, it was Senator Adams who was the power behind the throne.  When a coup was organized by Senator Liz Krueger, Senator Mike Gianaris and others to bring Senator Sampson down and install Senator Andrea Stewart Cousins as the Conference Chair, Senator Adams lost all of his power and influence in the Conference – and in an act of vengeance, he is helping to bury what's left of the New York State Senate Democratic Conference and its new leaders.

The third reason, pure greed, has a more complicated explanation by some people about what Senator Adams has done.  You should already know that any Senator who becomes Chair of a Committee receives a “lulu,” and the amounts of these lulus depend upon how important the Committee is.  In the case of Senator Adams, the $12,500 he will now receive as the Chair of the New York State Senate Aging Committee will not make a dent in what he's already receiving.  We already know that Senator Adams is a retired New York City Police Captain, receiving an annual pension of  what is believed to be $92,000 per year.  If you add those figures to the base salary of $79,500 as a New York State Senator, and also add in the per diem stipends Senator Adams receives for daily expenses while in Albany – $171 per full day and $61 per half day – we know that this lulu will not make him much richer. I don't believe that Senator Adams would jump and compromise his principle and his standing in the community for just $12,500, when he doesn't need that.

However, all of these questions – Was it ignorance? Was it vengeance? Or was it pure greed? – that people are asking me and the possible reasons for Senator Adams jumping ship and joining Governor Andrew Cuomo and those working behind closed doors to keep the Republicans in power and us minorities in the back seat of the bus, can only be properly answered by Eric Adams himself.

This is Senator Reverend Ruben Diaz and this is what you should know.
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