Saturday, February 16, 2013


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

Who is the real leader? Who is in command?

   You should know that when we, Black and Hispanic elected officials go out campaigning to become elected or re-elected, we promise our communities that we will fight, protect and stand against any and all things that will be detrimental to their benefit and goals.
   That was the reason why in 2009, during the four amigos coup in the New York State Senate, I fought and asked that Blacks and Hispanics were appointed and hired to senior staff positions in the New York State Senate Democratic Conference.
   At that time, all Black and Hispanic Senators were made chairs of committees, and Mr. Angelo Aponte was hired as the first Hispanic Secretary of the State Senate. Senator John Sampson became conference leader and he appointed Blacks and Hispanics as senior staff in the Democratic Conference.
   Those were great achievements for our community and our people. Since then, many things have taken place in the New York State Senate, especially in our Senate Democratic Conference. All those achievements are gone and Black and Hispanic influence and power has evaporated.
   You should know that during this month when we celebrate African American History and this weekend when the Black and Hispanic Caucus of Elected Officials comes to Albany to celebrate Caucus weekend, five people of Black and Hispanic descent functioning as senior staff members in the New York State Senate Democratic Conference have been removed from their positions.  The five who received this St. Valentine’s Day Memo are: Alejandra Paulino, Secretary to the Minority, Tonya Cantlo-Cockfield, Deputy Chief of Staff, Matthew Smalls, Special Counsel, Paul Rivera, Special Advisor, and Anthony Thomas, External Relations.  All of them were appointed and hired as part of the Democratic Conference Senior Staff by Senator John Sampson.
   Today under the leadership of Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins, many have gone and the influence and participation of Blacks and Hispanics as senior staff members in our conference has been evaporating little by little.
   You should also know that there was a coup organized by Senator Liz Krueger and Senator Michael Gianaris to substitute Senator John Sampson with Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins. Since then, one by one, our Black and Hispanic staff, little by little have been disappearing forcing me to ask the following two questions: 1) Who is really in control?  2) Who is the real leader of our conference?
   I am State Senator Rubén Díaz, and this is what you should know.

Stringer Endorses Cohen for 11th Council Seat

  On Friday in front of the Riverdale YMHA Manhattan Borough President (and leading candidate for city comptroller) Scott Stringer gave his endorsement to Andrew Cohen for the 11th Council Seat currently held by term limited Councilman G. Oliver Koppell. Stringer who said that he will be part of a new government in City Hall next year, and people like Andrew Cohen in the council are also needed. Stringer while he still has one term left to serve as Manhattan Borough President said that he is running for the position of City Comptroller to deal with matters of importance to the entire city not just one borough. In endorsing Andrew Cohen Stringer said that Cohen will be one of his partners in the new government at City Hall.

  Stringer is no stranger to the 11th council district, as his parents have lived in the Riverdale section for many many years. When asked if this endorsement was the work of his mother (as was the case in Councilman Vacca when he voted to change the term limit law), Stringer replied "this was a non mom decision". Cohen thanked Borough President Stringer for his endorsement, and the two went inside to chat with some of the Y's members as you will see in the photos below.
Left - Manhattan BP Stringer gives his endorsement to Andrew Cohen for the 11th Council District saying why he chose Mr. Cohen over the other candidates..
Right - Mr. Cohen thanks BP Stringer for the endorsement.

Left & Right - BP Stringer and Mr. Cohen meet some of the people inside.

Friday, February 15, 2013

What You Should Know

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

A Gross Disrespect for the Truth

You should know that the law usually allows people to call names and say all kind of things about elected officials and public figures.  You can call them crooks and just about anything – as long as you don't fall into something called a gross disrespect for the truth, or in legal terms, "a reckless disregard for the truth."  This means that if you knowingly state or publish false statements to damage someone's reputation, it can be a liability for individuals and for news media.

In 1993, when I served as a Commissioner for the Civilian Complaint Review Board, my lawyer, Christopher Lynn filed a lawsuit on my behalf against El Diaro la Prensa newspaper, based upon allegations that they committed a gross disrespect and reckless disregard for the truth about me.  The paper published an apology and we settled for an undisclosed amount of money that I am not permitted to state or disclose here or anywhere.

With that in mind, you should also know that there are some people who, when they fall in love or feel envious, may easily feel rejected.  Any real or perceived rejection could bring them to the edge of absurdity.  Sometimes they even become liars.  This seems to be true in the case of Mr. Gerson Borrero, a reporter, who has issues with me. If you read or hear Mr. Borrero’s writings or commentaries about me, you might think this individual has a deep obsession with me.

You should know that as soon as I started writing my What You Should Know column – and Mr. Borrero saw how well my column was received – he immediately started writing a column under the title Para Que Lo Sepas (For You to Know). You should also know that Mr. Borrero’s column went straight to the bottom of the heap, while my What You Should Know is flourishing! Many people ask me to put them on my email list so they can receive it.  Columnists even tell readers to get on Senator Diaz’s email list.  It seems like everywhere you go, my What You Should Know is being talked about!

Mr. Borrero’s envy of and obsession about me has taken him to the extreme.  He’s clearly in the pits, and he can’t seem to stop himself from throwing poison darts at me. He refers to me as Satan, as Lucifer, as a viper, and has even asked if I am homosexual.  Whoever listens to him might get the impression that he is in love with me.

This past week, Mr. Borrero traveled all the way to the Senate Chamber in the State Capital in Albany with a group of people and reporters from the city to show their support for the nomination of Ms. Jenny Rivera, a Puerto Rican woman whom Governor Andrew Cuomo nominated to fill a vacancy in the New York State Court of Appeals.

Ladies and gentlemen, you should have seen Mr. Borrero.  Not only is he trying to imitate me in his column with his writings, but also – walking through the New York State Senate hallways with a cowboy hat perched on his head – he’s now trying to imitate my dressing style! I guarantee you that his obsession with me made him the laughing stock of Albany when everyone in the Senate came running to me to tell me:  “You have to go outside and see for yourself how Borrero is trying to be like you!” and “Borrero’s trying to imitate you by wearing a cowboy hat!”

Finally, my dear readers, you should know that Mr. Borrero has reached one of his  lowest points of desperation (and absurdity) when he – with full knowledge and premeditation – lied straight into the TV camera this week, directly into the eyes of the public who were watching the NY1 program Road to City Hall.  This past Wednesday, February 13th, Mr. Borerro not only called me a viper, but also lied on two times about me during that segment.

First, he said that in my speech during the Senate Confirmation hearing for Ms. Jenny Rivera, that I named some Hispanic judges who were better prepared than Ms. Jenny Rivera, and that I did not mention a single woman – that I only mentioned men.  (I, in fact, mentioned several qualified women.) Mr. Borrero was there, he listened to my speech, and I am including a youtube link to my speech so you can judge for yourself and see what a liar this guy has become. (

As for lie number two for that day, Mr. Borrero said that I was the only Democrat who voted against Ms. Jenny Rivera.  In the official Senate video, I never said that I was voting against her.  She won, and since the vote was a voice vote, nobody knows who voted for and who voted against. There is a clear difference between a voice vote and a roll call vote.  It’s time for someone to try to educate Mr. Gerson Borrero and tell him that it was a voice vote and not a roll call vote, and suggest to him that the next time, he should pay less attention to his obsession with me, and more time to what I actually say, and what I write.

My advice to Mr. Gerson Borrero and to some news media that allows this kind of thing to happen in their newspapers and other forms of media, be careful!

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


Assembly Amends Bill to Increase Minimum Wage to $9 Per Hour

Change mirrors President Obama’s proposal to increase the minimum wage and index it to inflation

Over a year ago, the Assembly Majority introduced legislation to raise the state’s minimum wage from $7.25 per hour to $8.50 per hour and index it to the rate of inflation in order to help hardworking South Bronx families get ahead. In his State of the Union address on Feb. 12, President Obama announced a proposal to increase the federal minimum wage to $9.00 per hour and, like the Assembly Majority’s plan, index it to inflation. In light of this development, the Assembly amended its legislation (A.38-A) to match the president’s proposal.
The amended bill calls for the minimum wage to increase to $9.00 per hour in January 2014. Beginning in 2015, the minimum wage will be indexed, requiring an increase each year to adjust for inflation according to the Consumer Price Index (CPI). The measure also sets wages for food service workers who receive tips at $6.21 per hour.
While the national attention to this vitally important issue is encouraging, it is essential that we do not wait for Washington to take action. With overwhelming public support to increase the minimum wage here in New York State, we have to act now.
For too long, families living on minimum wage salaries have been forced to make do with inadequate wages. New Yorkers are working harder than ever for pay that makes it difficult to put food on the table or keep a roof over their families’ heads. By increasing the minimum wage, working families will see a rise in their purchasing power and are likely to spend the money from their hard-earned paychecks at local businesses, helping strengthen our economy. 
Currently, the District of Columbia, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont and 16 other states have higher minimum wages than New York State. In addition, 10 other states have already passed legislation indexing the minimum wage to inflation. The minimum wage in New York has increased just 10 cents per hour in the last six years and was raised with the most recent federal minimum wage increase from $7.15 to $7.25 an hour in 2009. That is simply not good enough.
It is time to get this done for hardworking South Bronx families and help provide them with a better quality of life. I urge our partners in state government to work with the Assembly Majority to pass a robust minimum wage increase into law as soon as possible – and index it to inflation. As always, please feel free to contact me about this or any other important community issue at 718-893-0202 or via email at
This has come from New York State Assemblyman Marcis Crespo of the Bronx.

Wave Hill Events March 1–March 8

Just a reminder that our hours change on March 15: Starting that Friday, we are open until 5:30pm, taking advantage of the increasingly long, lovely days of spring.

Family Roots and Branches/Ramas y Raices Familiares
Make a family album featuring your family’s global roots. See and sketch trees from around the world and use your sketch in a collaged, hand-made book bound with a found twig. Bring family photos, if you like, to adorn your album. Free, and admission to the grounds is free until noon.

Isabel Lopatin grows orchids in her home and exhibits her exceptional plants at shows throughout the northeast. Discover the system she calls “strategic orchid growing”—a technique for getting the best results for the least work—and find out how to select and care for orchids that will thrive in your home.  A range of interesting orchids, especially suitable for indoor culture, will be for sale in The Shop. Free with admission to the grounds.

Family Roots and Branches/Ramas y Raices Familiares
Make a family album featuring your family’s global roots. See and sketch trees from around the world and use your sketch in a collaged, hand-made book bound with a found twig. Bring family photos, if you like, to adorn your album. Free with admission to the grounds.

Visitors gain insight into Winter Workspace artist Lina Puerta’s creative process and explore the winter landscape as a source of inspiration. The artist demonstrates how she creates images of the environment using natural materials such as mud and beeswax sourced from the site. Using these techniques, participants will make their own drawings of the local landscape. Art materials are provided unless otherwise noted. Workshops are open to all visitors ages 12 and over when accompanied by an adult. Space is limited, so registration is recommended. Drop-ins will be accommodated as space permits. Free with admission to the grounds. This program also takes place on March 12.

Can you tell a catbird from a cowbird? New and experienced birders are invited to join us to learn proven techniques for simple bird identification using visual and audible clues. Ages 10 and older welcome with an adult. 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.

Visitors gain insight into Winter Workspace artist Naomi Reis’s creative process and explore the winter landscape as a source of inspiration. Participants will create collages of imaginary landscapes by adding tracings and drawings of plant life to photographs of existing buildings at Wave Hill. Art materials are provided unless otherwise noted. Workshops are open to all visitors ages 12 and over when accompanied by an adult. Space is limited, so registration is recommended. Drop-ins will be accommodated as space permits. Free, and admission to the grounds is free all day. Reis is offering a second, different workshop on March 9.

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 and March. 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


Becomes Largest Pension Fund in the Country to Divest Since Newtown Tragedy

City Comptroller John C. Liu today announced that the New York City Teachers’ Retirement System (“TRS”) has divested its publicly traded commercial gun and ammunition manufacturers. The move follows a thorough review process of the fund’s exposure to such investments in light of recent gun-related tragedies.

The school shooting in Newtown, Conn., and the continued prevalence of gun violence across the country prompted TRS’ Board of Trustees to request an evaluation of the system’s investments in the gun industry. The analysis concluded that divestment would be consistent with TRS’ fiduciary standards and overall investment process.

“There is no need to support these companies, whose products can destroy lives and shatter communities in the blink of an eye,” said Comptroller Liu. “Our investment portfolio gains nothing by doing business with these firms, and this is a sound decision that sends an important message about our commitment to addressing the plague of gun violence in every possible way.”

“This is the right thing to do,” said Michael Mulgrew, President of the United Federation of Teachers. “After the tragedy at Sandy Hook, we, as educators, had to make sure that guns were not part of our holdings.”

The five companies TRS divested from are: Alliant Techsystems Inc. (NYSE: ATK), Olin Corporation (NYSE: OLN), Forjas Taurus SA (IBOV: FJTA4), Smith & Wesson Holding Corporation (NASDAQ: SWHC), and Sturm, Ruger & Company (NYSE: RGR).

The $46.6 billion fund is the nation’s largest pension fund to divest its gun industry holdings since the school shooting in Newtown, Conn., on December 14, 2012. Similar reviews are under way at pension funds across the country.

In addition to Comptroller Liu, who also serves as investment advisor to the fund, the New York City Teachers’ Retirement System trustees are Mayoral Representative Carolyn Wolpert, Deputy Chancellor Kathleen Grimm, New York City Department of Education; and Sandra March, Melvyn Aaronson (Chair), and Mona Romain, all of the United Federation of Teachers.

Visit for the latest news, events, and initiatives.
Follow Comptroller Liu on Twitter. To receive Twitter updates via text message, text “follow johncliu” to 40404. View the latest Comptroller’s office videos on YouTube.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Comments on Mayor Bloombergs Final State of the City Speech

 City Comptroller John C. Liu today made the following statement in response to Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s State of the City address:


“Obviously, Mayor Bloomberg can point to some accomplishments after 11 years, especially in improving New Yorkers’ health through reductions in smoking. But his selective retelling of history leaves out some troubling facts: near record unemployment, record numbers of homeless, record income disparity, record stop and frisks, record claims against the NYPD, record numbers of school closures, and a failed education record that has only one in five high school students graduating from college.  How can we be satisfied with that? No one can say that New Yorkers of all walks of life shared equally in the accomplishments he claims as his legacy.  Bloomberg’s third term was a great mistake, and this entire City is paying the price for that act of hubris.”



RE: Mayor Bloomberg’s ‘State of the City’ Address
“I congratulate Mayor Bloomberg on both his final ‘State of the City’ address and his promise to not only rebuild those communities that were devastated by Superstorm Sandy but to do so in a matter consistent with his 12-year commitment to making all of New York City cleaner, greener and more sustainable.

“I also thank Mayor Bloomberg for his continued push for federal gun and immigration reform, bold environmental initiatives and his commitment to continue to work with my office on the responsible redevelopment of the Kingsbridge Armory.

“I agree with the mayor’s echo of President Obama’s call for greater technology education opportunities in our City, and I urge that one of these new tech schools be opened right here in the Bronx. I am also happy to hear that the mayor has proposed a new health careers high school in the South Bronx. The children of the Bronx need access to lucrative career training, and this high school is a great first step towards that goal.

“However, the mayor’s insistence that the police department’s ‘stop and frisk’ program is perfect and needs no reform is unfortunate. As I have stated in the past, I believe that the NYPD’s ‘stop and frisk’ program, as it is currently constituted, needs considerable reform, so that the police can keep our streets safe while also respecting the constitutional rights of our citizens.

“We must return to the ‘stop, question and frisk’ policy of years past, and I remain prepared to work with the police department and this administration on meaningful reform of these policies, provided they are ready to do that work as well,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.





Highlights of Mayor Bloomberg's Final State of the City Address

This is taken in part from the State of the City speech given by Mayor Bloomberg earlier today at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

“Over the past eleven years, we have beaten the odds, and the obstructionists, over and over again, not just here in Brooklyn, but in neighborhoods all across the city. For instance, back in 2002, we were told that you couldn’t bring crime down any further without locking up more people. But today, murders and shootings are at new record lows – and, so are incarceration rates.

“Back then, we were told businesses would flee the city after 9/11. Today, there are a record number of jobs in our city – and Lower Manhattan is more full of life than ever.

“Back then, we were told the school system could never be fixed. Today, graduation rates are up by 41 percent – compared to just nine percent in the rest of the state.

“Back then, we were told that Manhattan would always be the prime driver of job growth. But today, job growth is happening fastest outside of Manhattan, and it exceeds the national average in all five boroughs.

“Again and again, we have defied the conventional wisdom. We’ve gone from having the sixth highest poverty rate among the 20 largest cities to having the eighth lowest – and we’ve reduced the welfare rolls by 22 percent. We went into the recent national recession later than the rest of the country, and we came out sooner and stronger. We’ve added more than 750 acres to our parks and turned New York City into an international leader on green growth and climate change.

“We’ve raised life expectancy to record highs – far outpacing the national average – and we’ve cut teen pregnancy to record lows. We’ve reduced fire fatalities and traffic fatalities and emergency response times to record lows. And we’ve built the largest and most sophisticated counter-terrorism operation of any police department in the country.

“As a result of all this work, even though we’re still recovering from the most devastating natural disaster in our entire history, each of the five boroughs is better off today than ever before and the state of our city has never been stronger!

“But as far as we’ve come, our work is not done. We have unfinished business – and only 320 days to complete it. As the countdown clock in City Hall says: we’re going to Make Every Day Count.

“Our goal is not to spend the year cutting ribbons. It’s much bigger than that: Our goal is to advance projects – and start new ones – that will keep our city on the right course for decades to come. And to do that, we’ll take on the toughest jobs – and the most politically difficult jobs.

“The special interests and campaign donors have never had less power than they’ve had over the past 11 years. And this year, we’re going to show just how true that is.

“That’s why 2013 will be our busiest – and most important – year yet.

“Today, I’d like to share our plans for how we’ll keep New York City on course for a brighter future. And this is the perfect place to do it, here at Atlantic Yards – the largest development project in Brooklyn’s history.

“The Third Water Tunnel is just one of many big projects that are supporting our economy, growing our tax base, and making our communities better places to live. On Staten Island, thanks to support from Borough President Molinaro and Minority Leader Oddo, we’re building the largest new park since the 1930s at Fresh Kills.

“At Ocean Breeze on Staten Island, we’ll finish construction of one of the largest track and field complexes on the East Coast – and our largest PlaNYC recreational center.

“Across the bay in Lower Manhattan, next to the National September 11th Memorial and Museum, the Port Authority is completing 1 World Trade Center, the tallest building in the
Western Hemisphere.

“In midtown, we’re helping the New York Public Library build the largest circulating and research library in the world.

“At Hudson Yards, the MTA will finish construction on the Number 7 train extension, the first new subway track to be funded by the City in 50 years – and the catalyst to the most ambitious development ever undertaken in our City.

“Next door, the High Line – once slated for demolition – will complete its third leg next year.

“All of these projects will strengthen our economy and our communities. All over the city, we’re renewing our landscape in ways that create good jobs for New Yorkers today, and position us to lead the innovation economy of tomorrow.

“In West Harlem, we’ve set the stage for Columbia University to build an entirely new campus, which will increase the size of its engineering faculty by 50 percent. And we’ve helped New York University, Fordham University, and the City University of New York all embark on major expansions of their campuses.

“Never before in our city’s history has there been so much university expansion and never before has there been so much scientific investment. This year, we’ll finish construction on the next phase of the BioBat Center at the Brooklyn Army Terminal. We’ll open a $50 million Genome Research Center in Lower Manhattan. At the East River Science Park, not only will we complete the next major phase of construction, a major pharmaceutical company, Roche, will move 200 research jobs from New Jersey there. And we’ll move forward with our plans for a state-of-the-art cancer treatment facility and a new health science center for CUNY’s Hunter College. All of this university and scientific investment is generating jobs – not only for those who will work in the labs, but for all those who will build and operate them and for all of the small businesses that will surround them.

“In the Bronx, we’ll work with Borough President Diaz to bring new life – and good jobs – back to the Kingsbridge Armory. In Queens, we’ll work with Major League Soccer to bring soccer back to our city for the first time since the Cosmos left in 1977.

“At Willets Point – ignored by the City since Robert Moses failed to turn it into parkland – we’ll work with Borough President Marshall to begin the process of cleaning it up and bringing jobs and open space to the community – and down the road, hopefully even a convention center.

“In Manhattan, we’ll bring to life two projects that have been on the drawing boards for decades: redeveloping the South Street Seaport and developing the sites around Seward Park on the Lower East Side, and I want to thank the community board and the local elected officials for their great work on that project.

“In Brooklyn, we’ll begin creating a new community called Greenpoint Landing – with more than 5,000 new homes, parks and open space, a marina, a public school and shops. Just a little south of there, we’ll move forward with a plan to turn the old Domino Sugar Plant into new housing and we’ll create the commercial space that Brooklyn’s growing tech community needs.

“At the Brooklyn Navy Yard, we’ll work with the State to help Steiner Studios begin creating a 50-acre new media campus. The campus will eventually provide 2,500 good jobs in film, television and tech – two of the fastest-growing industries in our city.

“We’ve already turned the Navy Yard into the most successful urban industrial park in the country, but it still has dozens of unused acres with crumbling historic buildings. This media campus will preserve many of those buildings – while also creating the jobs we need for our future.

“We’ll take the same approach to the single most important piece of unfinished business that lies ahead of us in 2013: rebuilding the communities hit hardest by Hurricane Sandy – and creating a more resilient and sustainable city.

“Forty-three New Yorkers lost their lives in that storm, and it’s up to us to do all we can to prevent that from happening again.

“After the storm passed, it was clear that the houses and businesses most damaged by Hurricane Sandy were built decades ago, while those that were built in the last few years, or are now being built, held up pretty well.

“That was no accident. Our administration has fundamentally changed the way we conduct waterfront development. But Sandy raised the bar – and now we must rise to the occasion.

“This year, we’ll develop a long-term plan so that when extreme weather hits – we’ll be able to get the lights back on quickly and ensure that the heat keeps working, the gas stations stay open, the hospitals maintain power and the transportation system keeps operating.
“Children in every neighborhood deserve great schools, and no matter who stands in their way, we will fight to deliver for them. We will not give up on any child. One of the reasons we’ve been able to increase graduation and college readiness rates is that we’ve created many more high quality school options.

“We’ve opened 576 new schools over the past 11 years, and we’re on track to have added 100,000 new classroom seats by the end of this year. 149 of those new schools have been charters and yet there are still more than 50,000 children who are still on charter school waiting lists. Those children and their parents have waited long enough.

“This September, we’ll open 26 new charters and we’ll work to approve many more for 2014. Some of them will be located within existing public school buildings even though there are special interests who want to prohibit that from happening.

“As we recycle more plastics, we’ll also tackle New York City’s final recycling frontier:
food waste. We bury 1.2 million tons of food waste in landfills every year at a cost of nearly $80 per ton. That waste can be used as fertilizer or converted to energy at a much lower price. That’s good for the environment and for taxpayers. This spring, we’ll launch a pilot program to collect curbside organic waste from single family homes in Staten Island, for composting. If it succeeds, we’ll develop a plan to take it citywide.

“We’ll also take food recycling in schools citywide. There is no better way to teach the next generation about the importance of recycling than to make it a part of their school day routine. It has been phenomenally successful where we’ve tried it – and I want to thank all the parents who were so supportive. I know some of them are with us today – please stand up so we can give you a hand.

“Now, one product that is virtually impossible to recycle and never bio-degrades is Styrofoam. But it’s not just terrible for the environment. It’s terrible for taxpayers. Styrofoam increases the cost of recycling by as much as $20 per ton, because it has to be removed.

“Something that we know is environmentally destructive, that is costing taxpayers money, and that is easily replaceable, is something we can do without. So with Speaker Quinn and the City Council, we will work to adopt a law banning Styrofoam food packaging from our stores and restaurants. And don’t worry: the doggie bag and the coffee cup will survive just fine.


Four Loko Agrees to Change Misleading Packaging and Labeling

After Years of Pressure by Senator Klein and Health Officials, Four Loko Agrees to Change Misleading Packaging and Labeling
Klein and FDA Hope that Changes will Reduce the Danger to Young Customers

    After over a year of pressure by State Senator Jeff Klein, the Independent Democratic Conference, and other health advocacy organizations, the makers of popular alcoholic malt beverage Four Loko, have agreed to make significant changes to their packaging.  On Tuesday, the Federal Trade Commission said that the creators, Chicago based Phusion Projects, would be required to place an “alcohol facts panel” in the back of their malt-flavored beverages.  The containers will also be re-packaged so they can be resealed, a measure that experts say will reduce the likelihood of customers guzzling down the beverage in one short sitting.

“I am pleased that the makers of Four Loko are finally taking serious steps that will reduce the danger of these products to our country’s children. These regulations have been a long-time coming and I will keep a close watch on Phusion to ensure that they stay true to their word” said Senator Jeff Klein.

Senator Klein has long pushed Four Loko to make changes to these “Alcopops” beverages, also known as High Alcohol Flavored Malt Beverages.  Four Loko’s 12% alcohol content makes a single serving far more dangerous than that of an ordinary alcoholic beverage—in fact, a super sized can delivers the alcoholic equivalent of 4-5 beers. The product’s high alcohol content, cheap price, and colorful and misleading labeling have been identified as key components to Four Loko’s successful marketing campaign for young and underage customers.

In June of 2010, in an effort to identify the extent of medical problems inflicted by alcopop beverage on New York’s youth, Senator Klein conducted a survey of colleges and hospitals across New York State. Senator Klein’s investigation uncovered multiple cases of hospitalization related to alcopop consumption.

At the time, as Chairman of the New York State Standing Committee on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse, Senator Klein issued legislative subpoenas in June of 2011 regarding the manufacturing, distribution, and marketing of Four Loko.  The subpoena garnered wide media attention and was part of the Committee’s ongoing investigation into high alcohol Flavored Malt Beverages and their impact on minors.

On March 2012, Senator Klein passed legislation that included moving these beverages out of corner shops and restricting their sales to liquor stores only.  These drinks are heavily marketed to under aged consumers, who, through an investigation conducted by the NYPD’s Bronx Borough Command in 2011, have been able to easily purchase the drinks at local convenience stores.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

What You Should Know

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

Now it’s the Bronx Borough President’s Time!

You should know that the Constitution of the United States of America mandates that the President of our Nation, once a year, informs Congress about the current situation of the nation and presents his future plans for the nation.  This event, which is broadcast live for all residents in our nation, is called the State of the Union Address.

It is also important for you to know that this mandate is followed by governors, mayors, city council presidents, and almost every elected official who oversees townships and municipalities.

Here in New York State, practically everyone has already given their State of their respective government or municipality Address.  Starting with Governor Andrew Cuomo, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, and practically every other borough president, the speeches have been given.

Now comes the time for Bronx Borough President Rubén Díaz, Jr., who in more familiar settings is called “Rubencito,” to render his Fourth Annual State of the Borough Address.

You will hear directly from the lips of the President of Bronx County, or as I refer to it: El Condado de Papa Dios.  (Others who used to call it El Condado de la Salsa, now call it El Condado de la Salsa y el Merengue due to the great influx of Dominicans who reside here.)  Bronx Borough President Rubén Díaz, Jr. will be informing us about the Bronx’s economic, housing, labor, educational, health, environmental, transportation, and social services situations.  He will let us know all about his many achievements during his tenure, and share with us what he envisions for the future of this great county.

Yes, my friends, you should all come to this great event on Tuesday, February 19, 2013 at 11:00AM at James Monroe High School located at 1300 Boynton Avenue (on the corner of East 172nd Street) in the Bronx River section of the Bronx, where the Honorable Rubén Díaz, Jr. has invited everyone to come and hear his speech about the State of the Bronx and his plans for our great borough!

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



  City Comptroller John C. Liu issued the following statement in support of President Obama’s call to increase the federal minimum wage:

“New Yorkers should find a lot to like in last night's State of the Union address. President Obama's proposal to increase the federal minimum wage to $9.00 is necessary to rebuild the middle class and help the working poor climb out of poverty.  In order to combat our City’s high cost of living and growing wealth gap, we continue to call for raising the minimum wage in New York City to $11.50 an hour. While we wholeheartedly support the President's proposal, the fact remains that $9.00 goes much further in Oklahoma City and Salt Lake City than in New York City.”

During his December State of the City address, Comptroller Liu called for a New York City minimum wage of $11.50 an hour, to be phased in over five years and then pegged to the Consumer Price Index.

Comptroller Liu’s Minimum Wage Proposal at his State of the City –
December 20, 2012:

Comptroller Liu’s Income Inequality in NYC Report – May 21, 2012:

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Toy Fair 2013

   The New York Toy Fair 2013 was the place to find this Christmas's "next big toy". As you will see from the photos below there could be many big toys this Christmas or Chanukah.

Left - The Power Rangers were out in force at the Toy Fair as usual.
Right - There were bins of ball to be had.


Left - is a variation on the famous board game Monopoly called Old Age-Opoly where John Moran explains that the company has been in business for 28 years.
Right - some other versions of the Opoly game. 


Left - is the old classic small slot racing game on the market for over 25 years that has been updated for better performance.
Right - For a few dollars more one can get a real top of the line much larger home slot car racing game. 

Left - Star Trek space ships, phasers, and communicators from Captain Kirk and Piccard are still being made.
Right - The new breed of robots that do more and cost less. the one on the right or the dinosaur now sell for $79.99 suggested retail.  

Left - Unlike the old hand held robot fighters these are electronically controlled.
Right - Is a wooden Boys action Figure House.


Left - Tom Sempts of Oyo Sports Toys shows off his companies Baseball and Football products that are Lego compatible as you can see on the right.

Left - An assortment of wooden sleds since there was a blizzard the day before the Toy Fair began.
Right - Yoo Hoo from the My Little Pony booth mingles with the crowd. 

Left - In October 2012 two college buddies started a company that makes mustache tattoos, and the company has taken off. The pair have an NCAA licencing agreement now for college teams.
Right - Art Radani another young entrepreneur shows off his Ring Stix of which there are several different varieties.

Left - Brett Outchcunis of Yomega Corp shows his combination move of Double or Nothing & the Eiffel  Tower. While yo yo sales peaked in the late 1990's Yomega produces high performance yo yo's for competition, and sales are still strong. 
Right - Stink Cards from are not only for boys. Girls like the stink cards also.

Left - For Girls is Wild Styles dolls and accessories.
Right -  Sassy Fashion handbags for girls. 

Left - Three friends  who started the Bunnies by the Bay company.
Right - is a company that makes washable color able stuffed toys.

Left - A stencil drawable game called Doodle Art.
Right - Julie Blumberger of Jewish Educational Toys shows off some great gifts and toys for Chanukah.



Save the Date for JASA's Annual Benefit!

2013 Annual Benefit at the Museum of Modern Art


Taxpayers Lost Big Time with EDC’s Outrageous Deal on
Marriott Marquis Hotel Lease, Audit Finds

Comptroller John C. Liu today called on Mayor Bloomberg and the City’s Economic Development Corporation (EDC) to renegotiate a lease agreement with the Marriott Marquis Hotel that could cost taxpayers at least $344.9 million.

“This is one of worst deals since Manhattan was sold for $24,” Comptroller Liu said.  “The EDC betrayed its fiduciary responsibility to act in taxpayers’ interest when it recommended this sweetheart deal to the City in 1998.  The clock is ticking ­— the lease set to expire in less than four years would let the Marriott Marquis purchase one of the hottest pieces of New York real estate for a fire-sale price of $20 million — that’s ten cents on the dollar compared to its value today.”

Comptroller Liu urged the City to renegotiate the lease or find another tenant for this prime real estate. “City Hall needs to reexamine this agreement and do whatever it can to recoup the millions taxpayers have lost in this boondoggle. If Marriott refuses to renegotiate the lease they should vacate the property; after all the land still belongs to the City and there are certainly other luxury hotels that would be willing to pay a fair price for a Times Square location.” 

The Marriott Marquis was built on City land under a 1982 agreement that was fair and beneficial to both the hotel and the City. In 1998, the City’s EDC encouraged City Hall to rewrite the terms and shorten the life of the 75-year lease by 40 years. The new lease drastically cut the hotel’s rent payments and allows the Marriott Marquis to buy a large corner of the Theater District for a song when the lease expires in 2017 instead of 2057.

Comptroller Liu’s audit conservatively estimates that taxpayers stand to lose $344.9 million since the EDC rewrote the Marriott Marquis’ lease with two major changes:

  • Below Market Value Purchase Price (Loss of $173.1 million) – The EDC provided the Marriott with the right to buy the land at Broadway and 46th Street for a bargain basement price of $19.9 million.  The original lease allowed the Marriott Marquis to purchase the land in 2057 for “fair market value,” which today is estimated to be worth $193 million, according the City’s Finance Department records.

  • Rent Forgiveness (Loss of $171.8 million) – The EDC agreed to dramatically reduce Marriott Marquis’ annual rent payments to the City by allowing the hotel to pay off all of its back rent in lieu of current rent. 

EDC’s Excuses
When asked why the agency revised the lease at such a disadvantage to the City, EDC officials responded that the individuals who had brokered the deal no longer worked at the agency and that the EDC had little or no record of the transaction a breathtaking assertion for a deal of this magnitude that is still in effect. In addition, officials pointed to Times Square’s condition and the need to develop it, in contradiction of the fact that, by 1998, Times Square had boomed and hotels and other businesses were pushing to open there.

Missing Documents: Breach of Contract
Under its lease Marriott has to keep financial records for six years. Audits in both 1990 and 1997 uncovered that the Marriott failed to follow this provision.  As a result of these scathing reports, Marriott wrote to the City in 1997 that it “changed its retention policy and since late 1995 every underlying document is stored on CD-ROM” and that it was complying with the six-year retention policy stated in the Lease Agreement.  When auditors last year asked for Marriott to turn over six years of financial records, Marriott stated it only had records dating to 2008, a violation of its contractual obligation. Because of Marriott Marquis’ indisputable contract breach, Comptroller Liu is asking the City to reopen the lease and renegotiate the terms that have left the City at such a lopsided disadvantage.  Moreover, Comptroller City should pursue recoupment of the lost $344.9 million.

Other Findings:
The Marriott Marquis owes the City $3.6 million in Accrued Unpaid Rent interest dating to 1998.  Under its 1998 agreement Marriott was required to pay off back rent with interest. However, Comptroller Liu’s audit found that the Marriott Marquis failed to make an interest payment of $1.8 million at that time. Over time, compounded interest has increased the amount Marriott owes the City to $3.6 million.

A copy of the audit is attached to this e-mail. It is also available for download at

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You're Invited to celebrate Dominican Heritage Month

Dominican Heritage Month

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.
Invites you to join him in celebrating the Dominican culture with traditional music and food on  
Wednesday, February 20, 2013
5:30 pm
Grand Slam, 478 East Tremont Avenue, Bronx

To RSVP Please Call 718-590-3989 or email