Friday, March 15, 2013

Bronx Week 2013

Bronx Week StD
We will have more information on these and other events that will be going on for Bronx Week 2013 as they are released. 

DanceBrazil at Lehman Center for the Performing Arts

 Three Decades of Acrobatic Dance and Dazzle

Sunday, April 7, 2013 at 6pm

"There can't be much anywhere to match the strength, flexibility, speed and idiomatic allure of the dancers and musicians of DanceBrazil." —The Washington Post

Bronx, NY – Lehman Center for the Performing Arts proudly presents the triumphant return of DanceBrazil to the Bronx.  Whether in the streets or on stage in the most prestigious theaters, the hot dancers and musicians of DanceBrazil enthrall audiences with the company's unique fusion of Afro-Brazilian movement, contemporary dance and Capoeira – the traditional dance/martial arts form that had its origins in Africa and evolved in colonial Brazil as a means of fighting enslavement. The company performs on Sunday, April 11, 2013 at 6pm at Lehman Center for the Performing Arts, 250 Bedford Park Boulevard West, Bronx, NY.
For over thirty years, DanceBrazil has thrilled audiences across the United States and the world with its dazzling artistry, which is inspired by the cultural tapestry of Brazil. The New York Times recently wrote, “There was enough appreciative whistling to make a construction worker blush…, when DanceBrazil rolled through town with its crowd-pleasing style of high-octane, high-flying, pelvis-swiveling choreography.” 

Founder and Artistic Director of DanceBrazil, Jelon Vieira and the late Loremil Machado were the first artists to bring traditional Afro-Brazilian dance and Capoeira to the United States over thirty-five years ago. He has devoted his life to sharing Afro-Brazilian culture with audiences in the United States and world-wide. In 2008, he was honored for work and awarded a National Heritage Fellowship, the country’s highest honor in the folk and traditional arts.  This spring he will tour a new work, Fé do Sertão, and bring a company favorite, Banguela, to Lehman Center. 

Special ticket price for children 12 and under, $10 any seat
DanceBrazil performs on Sunday, April 7, 2013 at 6pm at Lehman Center for the Performing Arts located at 250 Bedford Park Blvd. W. on the campus of Lehman College in the Bronx.  Tickets cost $40, $35 and $25, and for children 12 and under, $10 any seat.  Tickets can be purchased through 24 hour online access at or by calling the Lehman Center box office at 718-960-8833 open Monday & Wednesday-Friday 10am-5pm (closed on Tuesdays) and beginning at 12 noon on the day of the concert.  Lehman Center is accessible by #4 or D train to Bedford Park Blvd., and is right off several major highways, including the Henry Hudson Parkway, the Saw Mill River Parkway and Major Deegan Expressway.  Low-cost on-site parking available for $5.
Lehman Center is supported, in part, with public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the New York City Council.  The 2012-2013 season is made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, JPMorgan Chase, and through corporations, foundations and private donations.  Special $10 tickets for children are underwritten by Con Edison. 

Thursday, March 14, 2013

City Council Candidate Andrew Cohen Calls for Council Reform

4-point plan includes elimination of lulus and
calls for automatic votes on bills with majority sponsorship

Bronx-City Council candidate Andrew Cohen unveiled his 4-point plan for reforming the New York City Council, through broad new measures that emphasize majority control, support Council committees, equalize funding for community needs, and eliminate Council Members’ subsidy stipends known as “lulus.” The need for reform has recently been highlighted by Council Member Oliver Koppell’s accessible taxi legislation and the renewed battle over the paid sick leave bill, which has stalled in the Council without a vote for three years despite widespread support among City Council Members.
“What we have with paid sick leave is a bill that has 38 sponsors, nearly three-quarters of the entire Council membership, which has been on the agenda since March 2010, and it still hasn’t even been voted on,” Cohen said. “Whether or not you support the legislation, its stagnant history in the face of overwhelming support clearly shows that the lawmaking process in the Council is in need of real reform.”

To reform the process, Cohen proposes establishing a sponsorship threshold whereby a bill sponsored by a majority of Council Members will be automatically heard and scheduled for an up or down vote. 

“Bills with significant support from the majority of the Council should not be denied a hearing or a vote,” said Cohen.

The Cohen reform plan also calls for other measures that would improve the legislative process by strengthening the roles of committees and individual Council Members:

  • Committee Reform: As it currently stands, committee chairs do not have the authority to hire any committee staff, severely handicapping their ability to lead effectively. The Cohen reform plan would allow each committee chair, rather than central leadership, to hire the counsel for the committee. 

  • Member Item Reform: Every year, Council Members are allocated discretionary funds known as member items to be used for improvements in their districts; however the amount of these funds varies widely among Council Members. As a result, member items often reflect the needs of central leadership, not the needs of the constituency. To reform this process the Council needs to move toward greater transparency and evenhandedness when dealing with member items. If he is elected, Andrew Cohen has already committed to setting aside a portion of his budget for participatory budgeting, which would give members of the community a chance to directly affect how his member items are spent. But that isnt enough. To ensure that each member has an equal opportunity to respond to his or her constituencys needs, and to treat our communities equitably, each Council Member, who by law represents a district with the same number of New Yorkers as any other, would receive the same amount of discretionary funds.

  • Elimination of Lulus: Lulus are stipends in addition to salary, doled out to certain members who hold leadership positions in the Council. Unfortunately, like member items money lulus are often tied to loyalty, rather than to the effectiveness of the legislator. If elected to the City Council, Andrew Cohen promises that he will not accept any lulus and will fight to have them eliminated altogether.

Wave Hill Events March 29–April 5

Enjoy discounts of up to 70% off at this seasonal clearance event on jewelry, accessories and beauty products; delicacies; and books, gifts and children's toys. Purchases of $50 and up will be rewarded with a free gift. And enjoy free onsite parking when you make purchases totaling $40 or more per visit. As always, 100% of the proceeds of your purchases supports Wave Hill. Cash only; no additional discounts.

Make sheets of paper from pulp, and turn them into an array of free-form or object-based three-dimensional sculptures, like a vase, bowl or animal, adorned with ribbons, lace and other paraphernalia, with renowned papermaker Randy Brozen. Geared for children between the ages 5 to 10 and a parent or caregiver. $15/Member/$23 Non-member per session includes one child and one adult.  Additional child or adult $10. Registration required, online at, by calling 718.549.3200 x305 or at the Perkins Visitor Center. Space is limited.

Eco Fair/Feria Ecologica
Celebrate nature by making arty, nature-inspired crafts from a variety of recycled materials. Make a plastic flower, make a cork animal or decorate an Earth Day pin to display your care for our planet in this fun fair. Free, and admission to the grounds is free until noon.

Eco Fair/Feria Ecologica
Celebrate nature by making arty, nature-inspired crafts from a variety of recycled materials. Make a plastic flower, make a cork animal or decorate an Earth Day pin to display your care for our planet in this fun fair. Free with admission to the grounds.

Enjoy discounts of up to 70% off at this seasonal clearance event on jewelry, accessories and beauty products; delicacies; and books, gifts and children's toys. Purchases of $50 and up will be rewarded with a free gift. And enjoy free onsite parking when you make purchases totaling $40 or more per visit. As always, 100% of the proceeds of your purchases supports Wave Hill. Cash only; no additional discounts.

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

Closed to the public.

Join us for an hour-long tour of seasonal garden highlights. Free, and admission to the grounds is free all day.

Session 1
Relying on memory and direct observation of Wave Hill’s plant collection and architecture, create beautiful plein-air watercolor paintings with artist Carrie Beckman. Moving from pencil sketches to watercolor, participants create both large and small paintings and experiment with abstract and representational styles. $90 Member/$105 Non-member. Limited supplies provided. Registration required, online at, by calling 718.549.3200 x305 or at the Perkins Visitor Center. Space is limited. Continues April 10 and 17.

Session 1
Explore the natural, planted and built aspects of Wave Hill with artist Paul Lambermont. Using the gardens and Glyndor Gallery as inspiration, participants experiment with drawing, text, collage and photography to develop a mixed-media work that reflects the interdependence of nature, horticulture and architecture. All levels welcome. $90 Member/$105 Non-member. Registration required, online at, by calling 718.549.3200 x305 or at the Perkins Visitor Center. Space is limited. Continues April 11 and 18.

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—5:30PM. Closes 4:30PM, November 1—March 14.  
ADMISSION  $8 adults, $4 students and seniors 65+, $2 children 6—18. Free Saturday mornings until noon. Free all day Tuesdays in March and April. 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

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Senator Jeff Klein Joins TV Star Padma Lakshmi and Students from JHS 141 in Riverdale to Kick-off Teen Health Awareness Campaign

Launch of New Online Survey for Teens, and Education Fund Announced

   At the State Capitol on Wednesday, Padma Lakshmi, host of Bravo TV’s Top Chef and co-founder of the Endometriosis Foundation of America, joined Senator Jeff Klein (D-Westchester/Bronx) and members of the Senate’s Independent Democratic Conference to kick-off a Teen Health Awareness Campaign.  The campaign focuses on reducing adolescent obesity, educating students about the health consequences of short and long-term alcohol and substance abuse, and raising awareness among young women and health professionals about endometriosis, an often undiagnosed but debilitating disease.  March is Endometriosis month.  

Senator Klein was joined at the press conference by seventh graders from JHS 141, a middle school in the Riverdale section of the Bronx. Following the press conference, the students received a private tour of the Capitol.

As part of the awareness campaign, the Independent Democratic Conference launched a new online survey, www.TeenHealthNY.Com, which encourages young New Yorkers to “weigh-in” on how much they know about these important health issues. will provide policymakers with input straight from the source about where additional educational resources may be needed.  Additional educational resources for these three health areas will be provided through a newly created Healthy Teen Awareness and Education Fund.  The IDC, which included the Fund as part of this year’s Senate budget resolution, is hoping to raise as much as $1 million for the Fund’s programs through voluntary taxpayer donations, beginning next year. If enacted in the state’s final budget package this year, the Healthy Teen Awareness and Education Fund will appear as a “check-off box” on all future state income tax forms. The check-off box will enable New Yorkers to make donations directly on their tax form.

Senator Klein said, “Focusing on our teens’ health is critical to New York’s future.  By learning more about where our current health education is lacking, we can more effectively and efficiently distribute these additional resources. The purpose of the Teen Health Fund is simple -- we want to give kids the tools they need to make smart choices about their health. By creating this fund and directing resources where they’re needed, we can ensure that New York students are being given a full spectrum of health education. I am thrilled that seventh graders from JHS 141 in my district were able to come and show their support for this initiative right at the start of the campaign. With student support and the past success of our Cyber Bully Census, I am also excited to launch the online survey today. I believe this will be a very powerful tool for kids and lawmakers. ”

Padma Lakshmi, co-Founder of the Endometriosis Foundation of America and award winning author said, "We must educate our children in a broader, more comprehensive manner. If we are to prepare our youth for a bright future we must ensure their physical and emotional well being is addressed before we can raise their academic levels and intellect. This focus on health should include sex education that openly speaks about issues such as endometriosis to both genders at a critical time in a young person's life. The value of such education helps not only these adolescents but whomever their lives should touch."
Assemblyman Marcos Crespo (D-85th District) said, "Senator Jeff Klein's relentless work on chronic illnesses now taking a heavy toll on our residents and stressing our health care delivery system is welcomed leadership that will force positive change in the way health care is delivered in our State.  To combat alarming rates of obesity, asthma, cardiovascular diseases, and substance abuse we must focus our efforts on problems which can no longer be ignored for the sake of our families, as well as to protect the financial stability of our health care system.  I'm proud to join Senator Klein in his effort to reshape healthcare in New York," stated Assemblyman Marcos Crespo, member of the Assembly Standing Committee on Alcohol and Drug Abuse. 

32BJ SEIU Endorses Tish James for NYC Public Advocate

  Councilwoman Letitia “Tish” James’ campaign announced that she has earned the endorsement of 32BJ SEIU, one of the most influential labor unions in New York, in her bid for Public Advocate. The announcement marks the first major endorsement of the campaign season and a significant show of support for James, who currently serves as a City Councilwoman from Brooklyn.

“I am honored to earn the support of 32BJ SEIU, a great union whose members are a crucial part of the larger labor movement that has built our city. I am running for Public Advocate because New York’s working men and women need a strong voice fighting for them in government,” said James. “As a City Council member I have led the way on passage of the Safe Housing Act which helps improve conditions for tenants in some of the toughest buildings, fought to improve our schools, preventing cuts to after-school programs, and worked to bring good-paying jobs to our city. I’ll be a Public Advocate with the same passion and vision who will fight for New Yorkers from every part of our great city.”

In announcing the endorsement, Hector Figueroa, president of 32BJ SEIU said: “For years, Tish James has demonstrated a deep commitment to the working people of our city. She has worked hard to help improve the lives not only of our 70,000 members in New York City but for all working families in New York. In addition, she has strongly supported initiatives to improve our transportation and educational systems through her committee work."

A Brooklyn native, Tish James has been a long-time public servant. Prior to being elected City Councilwoman in 2003, James was a top-level aide to members of the State Assembly, where she played a crucial role in bringing resources to some of New York’s most vulnerable communities. In the City Council, James has been an outspoken advocate for economic and social justice.



Bronx Assemblyman Marcos Crespo Calls for Senate Action on Legislation requiring study of Emergency Plans of Local & State Governments in Communities Near Six Nuclear Reactors, National Expert, Riverkeeper, NYPIRG, Clearwater Join Call to Examine Emergency Plans 

  Two years after one of the worst nuclear power plant catastrophes on the planet and almost one year after the Assembly passed legislation mandating a comprehensive review of emergency plans in communities within 50 miles of New York’s six nuclear reactors, Assemblyman Marcos A. Crespo is calling for the State Senate to take action on his proposed legislation (A.2303/S1338).

According to Assemblyman Crespo, member of the Assembly Standing Committee on Energy, “There are serious questions as to the ability of local, state and federal government agencies to communicate and react to a nuclear emergency. In fact during Super Storm Sandy, three nuclear power reactors had to be shut down because of safety problems caused by the storm.  It is time that New York review the evacuation and emergency preparedness of communities near the six nuclear reactors located outside New York City, Syracuse and Rochester.” He added, “My legislation requires such an examination so that New Yorkers will be better prepared in the event of a major release of radiation due to an accident or an act of nature.”

According to Doctor Irwin Redlener, Director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness, Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, "Safe operations of a nuclear power plant must include detailed response plans that will protect the public in the event of a catastrophic emergency.  The Indian Point facility does not satisfy this very basic requirement because, among other problems, should there be a large-scale radiation release, the evacuation plans designed to move people out of harms way are inadequate to the extreme.  Evacuation planning for Indian Point remains inconsistent with a real understanding of population density, likely area of contamination, human behavior expectations, transportation realities or readiness of host communities. "

According to Crespo, “As scrutiny of nuclear energy facilities across the nation grows and with the revelation that the Indian Point nuclear power plant is located over fault lines that make it vulnerable to a strong earthquake, the public is entitled to know that New York has in place a comprehensive and well-prepared plan that can save the lives of tens of millions of New Yorkers, including those downwind of the Indian Point nuclear power plant.” 

“The Bronx is 24 miles from Indian Point and all of New York City’s 9 million residents are within 50 miles of those nuclear reactors. In addition, two other nuclear reactors are within 50 miles of the City of Syracuse and its 145,000 residents. Another nuclear reactor is within 21 miles of the City of Rochester with its 210,000 residents.  That reactor is one of the oldest nuclear reactors in the nation, going online in 1970. Combined over 70% of the entire population of New York State lives near these reactors,” declared Crespo.

"The Fukushima crisis clearly demonstrated that radioactive releases from nuclear plant accidents can have significant impacts well beyond the 10-mile zone currently covered by emergency planning requirements," said Dr. Edwin Lyman, senior scientist in the Union of Concerned Scientists' Global Security Program.  "Computer modeling performed by the Union of Concerned Scientists in 2004 predicted that a severe accident or terrorist attack at Indian Point could expose New York City's children to high levels of radioactive iodine and could even trigger the need for the evacuation of Manhattan.  The NRC needs to overcome its pervasive attitude of denial and take action now to protect the millions of people who are being exposed to needless risk."

Hudson River Sloop Clearwater shares Assemblyman Crespo’s concern. “Given the fact Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant is located at the intersection of two earthquake faults, as identified by a 2008 study by Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, and that ’spent’ but still highly radioactive fuel rods are stored on-site in unprotected fuel pools, a much more robust emergency plan is needed," said Manna Jo Greene, Clearwater's Environmental Director. "In addition to the chaos and gridlock that would rapidly ensue throughout the greater metropolitan area, our emergency medical response system would quickly be overwhelmed in the event of a radiological disaster,” she added.

“We cannot wait until a potentially deadly catastrophe involving the accidental release of radiation by any nuclear power plant before we realize that New York State does not have available the first-line-of-defense resources that can save the lives of millions of our fellow residents, including millions of children,” stated Assemblyman Crespo.

Phillip Musegaas, Hudson River Program Director at Riverkeeper, stated, "Riverkeeper joins Assemblyman Crespo in demanding better for New Yorkers. The 10-mile emergency plan New Yorkers have in case of a disaster at Indian Point is wholly insufficient and gives no meaningful thought to the 20 million of us who would be affected. Assemblyman Crespo is right to call out the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to develop a real plan for evacuation, an issue that the agency won't even allow into Indian Point's relicensing hearing."

Crespo added, “New York must learn from the tragic events that have taken place in Japan and examine recent storm’s impact on nuclear power facilities in our own state so that we can ensure the safety of all our State’s residents.”

According to Crespo, “While current federal requirements mandate a 10-mile radius action plan in the case of an emergency at the nuclear power plant, New Yorkers are absolutely unaware of any such plans. Simultaneously, logic and historical precedence dictate that the proliferation of any radiation potentially released will not be limited to 10 miles of a nuclear power reactor.”

In fact, within 5 days of the nuclear catastrophe in Fukushima, Japan, dangerous levels of radiation had traveled 160 miles and hovered over Tokyo, prompting the United States military to issue potassium Iodide pills to armed forces and their families and ordering American military ships out of Tokyo ports to avoid contamination.”

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Tuesday, March 12, 2013


   Events Planned for New Yorkers to Air Civil Rights, Security Concerns

   City Comptroller John C. Liu today announced that he would be holding three Town Hall Meetings on the NYPD’s stop & frisk policy and public safety issues, with more planned in the near future so that New Yorkers can voice their concerns on civil rights and security issues.
“Stop and frisk has driven a deep chasm between communities and police, which makes everyone less safe,” Comptroller Liu said. “Furthermore, it diverts police resources from strategies proven to reduce crime in other cities that do not resort to stop and frisk. As stop and frisk has increased, we have also seen a marked increase in lawsuits and claims against the NYPD, bills that taxpayers are on the hook for. These are among the issues we will discuss, with an eye toward promoting greater involvement of the community in policing.”
“When the overwhelming majority of New Yorkers who are stopped and frisked are people of color, it’s hard to avoid calling stop and frisk what it really is — racial profiling.  Being stopped and frisked is not a minor inconvenience; it is deeply humiliating and absolutely offensive when based on skin color.  There’s simply no place for racial profiling, by the police or anyone.  It’s not what New York City is about.”
The meetings are co-sponsored by local elected officials and civic groups, including the National Action Network, NAACP, Legal Aid Society, and the John Jay College Center on Race, Crime & Justice. Meetings will be held:
·         In Queens on Wednesday, March 13, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Greater Springfield Community Church, 177-06 129th Ave. in Jamaica.
·         In The Bronx on Monday, March 18, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Latino Pastoral Center, 14 W. 170th St.
·         In Brooklyn on Wednesday, March 20, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Concord Baptist Church of Christ, 833 Gardner C. Taylor Blvd.
“The police are stopping hundreds of thousands of law-abiding New Yorkers every year, and the vast majority are Black and Latino. More than eight out of 10 stopped-and-frisked New Yorkers have been innocent, according to the NYPD’s own reports. The unusually high number of youths age 14 to 24 (51 percent of stops) that are stopped and frisked by the police will result in these kids having some sort of a record that will affect them in the future,  including obtaining gainful employment,” said State Senator James Sanders Jr. of Queens.
“The practice of stop and frisk has had a disproportionately negative impact on the Latino and African-American communities, especially the youth within these communities.  It is my belief, and the belief of many others, that this has made our communities less safe by creating a wedge of mistrust between law enforcement, whose job it is to protect our streets, and the very people they should be protecting,” said State Senator Jose M. Serrano of The Bronx.
“Stop and frisk has been an unfair practice that has been used against minority communities. Let’s put a stop to it once and for all. Treat all communities with dignity and respect,” said Assemblyman Eric A. Stevenson of The Bronx.
“I am glad to join in efforts to make our City streets safer. From street harassment to gun violence, public safety remains a serious issue on Brooklyn streets and Citywide,” said City Council Member Letitia James of Brooklyn.
“The current stop and frisk procedure initiated by our NYPD undoubtedly is a masked form of racial profiling. This is a tactic that has proven to be unsuccessful and unproductive in producing a better community, in addition to creating more friction between citizens in minority neighborhoods and police officers. New York needs a police structure that understands the respect of the people comes from first giving respect to the people,” said the Rev. Phil Craig, President of the Queens Chapter of the National Action Network.
“Every day, in every borough, front-line Legal Aid Society lawyers and professional staff see New Yorkers who are improperly stopped, questioned, and frisked and who are then wrongfully arrested,” said Steven Banks, Attorney-in-Chief of The Legal Aid Society.
“Innocent New Yorkers have the right to walk the streets free of police interference,” said Delores Jones-Brown, Director of the John Jay College Center on Race, Crime & Justice.
“Communities of color want to live in a crime-free community but the price should not be the violation of one’s civil rights,” said the Rev. Dr. Raymond Rivera of the Latino Pastoral Action Center in The Bronx.

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.

Our 2013-2014 New York State Budget Propsal

By Assemblyman Luis Sepulveda 87th A.D.

I am happy to announce that my colleagues and I in the New York State Assembly have passed a 2013-14 state budget proposal that would:
  • Increased education funding
  • Spur job growth
  • Provide economic relief for local governments
  • Protect vital programs that assist New York's most vulnerable residents 
We accomplished this all while managing to close a $1.35 billion (yes, "billion" with a "b") budget gap. The Assembly budget proposal also establishes a considerable reserve to help protect against future budget deficits.
I am proud that I took part in crafting a fiscally sound budget that generally aligns with the governor’s proposal and makes crucial investments in the types of programs and services that hardworking Bronx families rely upon--as an advocate for Bronxites from all walks of life, it was my mission to ensure that our interests were accounted for. As a collective body, we are confident that our budget proposal, if adopted, would ensure that our great state remains economically competitive, while maintaining a sustainable balance between expenditures and revenue. 

Assemblyman Luis Sepulveda-87th District
1973 Westchester Ave
Phone: (718) 931-2620
Bronx, NY 10462

Mayor Bloomberg's Sugary Soda Ban Gets Halted by State Supreme Judge

  On the eve that a new sugary soda ban of sales of over 16 ounces in certain eating establishments, the ban was struck down by Manhattan Supreme Court Judge Milton Tingling. Judge Tingling said that the ban was discriminatory because it only applied to businesses regulated by the city, and did not treat all sugary drinks equally. The ban would not have applied to all establishments only some, and the ban excluded other beverages that have higher concentrations of sugary sweeteners. The ban also had loopholes that defeated its purpose such as no limits on the number of refills.

  Mayor Bloomberg took to the airwaves during the 6 PM newscasts to say that the city will be going back to court to have this ruling overturned. Bloomberg also appeared on the Late Show to discuss his new sugary soda ban, but had to discuss the ruling against the ban further with host David Letterman. Letterman missed what could have been his best line in many years by not saying to Mayor Bloomberg "I guess your soda ban lost its fizz".  Instead Letterman said that he has to agree that people should guide their own destiny not government to which Bloomberg argued that government has a role in it. When Letterman brought up the Mayors infamous fondness for salt (that some want to ban), Mayor Bloomberg argued that the product "Cheese-Its" should not be banned because it is one of his favorite snacks.
  The duo went on with Bloomberg saying that 70,000 people nationwide will die from obesity with 5,000 coming from New York City. Bloomberg added that this is the first year that more people will die from overeating than from starvation. The subject then changed to gun control with Bloomberg saying that there are 50,000 gun dealers and only 14,000 McDonald's. The mayor added that 12,000 people will be killed by handguns, and 19,000 will commit suicide from handguns. Bloomberg concluded by saying that 14 states have tough gun laws, and those are the states with the lowest suicide rates.

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  The New York Knickerbockers community initiative Basketball in the Boroughs presented by Chase will visit and celebrate the Bronx in March. The month will tip-off with a free basketball clinic for 100 youth at St. Mary’s Recreation Center attended by Knicks great Larry Johnson, former St. John’s star Felipe Lopez and Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. As part of the program, the Knicks and Chase will also fund the refurbishment of St. Mary’s Recreation Center, repairing bleachers, making improvements to the scoreboard and resurfacing the gym floor.

What:          Knicks “Basketball in the Boroughs Presented by Chase” Visits the Bronx

Where:        March 13 – Free Basketball Clinic
                 4pm-6pm: St. Mary’s Recreation Center 
                 Appearances by Knicks great Larry Johnson, former St. John’s star Felipe Lopez and
                 Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.

                     March 19 – Chase Branch Visits
                 12pm-2pm: 2126 White Plains Rd, Bronx, NY 10462
                 Appearances by Knicks legend John Starks

                 4pm-6pm: 3775 Riverdale Avenue, Bronx, NY 10463
                 Appearances by Knicks guard Pablo Prigioni and forward Chris Copeland

                     March 20 – Bronx Theme Night at Madison Square Garden: Knicks vs. Orlando Magic
In addition to the free basketball clinic, the Knicks and Chase will host Chase branch visits in the Bronx with appearances by current players, alumni, Knicks City Dancers, and a chance for fans to win exclusive Knicks prizes and tickets. The month-long celebration will culminate with a Bronx Theme Night at Madison Square Garden during the Knicks game on March 20 against the Orlando Magic. The New School for Leadership and Arts Chorus from MS244 will perform the national anthem, while Bronx native Pete Rock will serve as the guest DJ, performing pregame and halftime sets. The night will also feature video recaps dedicated to the borough and a halftime Jr. Knicks game with players from a local Bronx YMCA.

The Knicks, Chase and City of New York Parks & Recreation launched Basketball in the Boroughs presented by Chase in December. The community initiative, which began in Queens, followed by Staten Island and Brooklyn, will serve thousands of youth within the five boroughs.

What You Should Know

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

Hispanic Legislators: Put Up or Shut Up

  You should know that since the last presidential election, the Hispanic vote proved to be crucial throughout the nation, with the Democratic Party being its biggest beneficiary.

Here in New York State, especially in the City of New York, the Hispanic population is growing at such a dynamic pace that any candidates for any public office, let it be City Council, Borough President, Member of the Assembly, Senator, Member of Congress, Mayor, and Governor cannot ignore this fact. I am not afraid to say that without the Hispanic vote, it will almost be impossible for any Governor to win in this state.  However, with all that influence, we are always being taken for granted.  People use our pain and suffering just to promote their agendas and to get our sympathy – and then later play dumb with us.

You should know that in the next few weeks, the Budget for New York State will come before us in Albany for a vote of approval. You should also know there are all kinds of politicians, including many Hispanic leaders and elected officials promoting the Dream Act legislation. Many of them are sending press releases on a daily basis telling the whole world how much they love and care for our immigrant population.  In their press releases, they ask Governor Andrew Cuomo to help our immigrant students and to include the Dream Act legislation in this year’s Budget.

What you dear readers should know is that our “distinguished” elected officials know very well that the Governor will not, and I repeat, WILL NOT include the Dream Act in his Budget.  With their press releases and public posturing these “distinguished” elected officials are trying to show that they support the immigrants, and that they want the Dream Act now.  But, you should know that sometimes and somehow I get the impression that they are just putting on a show with no action to back it up.

You should know that there are six Hispanic Senators in the Senate, and close to fifteen Hispanic Members of the Assembly.  If they really want to fight for the Dream Act and if they honestly want it to be part of the Budget, then let all of the Hispanic legislators – let all of us in the Senate and in the Assembly – come together and take a vote that we will not vote for Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Budget – none of it – not one single part of it – unless it includes the Dream Act. Let the Governor pass the Budget without the Hispanic vote, and let us show our repudiation of him and his Budget plan of ignoring the immigrants.

Now that we are preparing of the yearly event “Somos el Futuro,” let’s once and for all show our community that we really ARE the future.  Let’s show our community that Governor Andrew Cuomo or anybody else cannot continue playing the game of ignoring us – and then invite us to his mansion and with a breakfast or a dinner, think that he can buy our commitment and forsake our responsibility to our community.  Otherwise we will just continue to be not the “Future”, but instead “Somos the puppets.”

Here in Albany, our votes are the only things that we really have to protect, to fight and to defend our community.  Voting for Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Budget without the Dream Act being included, will only be just another act of hypocrisy.

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

Monday, March 11, 2013

Bronx Chamber of Commerce Irish Heritage Luncheon

   Over 100 people were on hand for the Bronx Chamber of Commerce Irish Heritage Luncheon held at the F & J Pines. BCC President Mr. Lenny Caro introduced his newly elected Board of Directors and the officers of the BCC, and then the program began. Tenor Chris Macchio belted out the national anthem (and later Danny Boy). Father Richard Gorman Chairman of Community Board 12 then gave the invocation. after a few speeches the award presentation began.

  Ms. Sandra Erickson (of Community Board # 7) presented the first honoree Ms. Virginia Gallagher her award. Former Councilwoman June Eisland presented Rear Admiral Wendi Carpenter with her award. BCC Chairman Joseph Kelleher presented the next three awards to Congressman Joseph Crowley, 80th A.D. State Committeeman Joseph McManus, and Mr. Larry Hickey Senior V.P. of Fresh Direct. NYC Fire Commissioner Salvatore Cassano presented Bronx Borough Commander Kevin Butler his award. BCC President Lenny Caro presented the last three awards to Kevin McCabe (News 12 anchor), Commissioner Robert Walsh (of the NYC SBA), and James E. McQuade (owner Schuyler Hill). 

   Traditional corned beef and cabbage was served for lunch with a few F & J Pines specialties added.

Left - Tenor Chris Macchio sings the national anthem.
Right - He belts out "Danny Boy".

Left - The Bronx Chamber of Commerce Eagle given to each honoree.
Right - The Fire Department was well represented as seen in this photo.

Left - Father Gorman (far right) is giving the invocation.
Right - The honorees as they sit with their BCC eagle awards in front of them.

The honorees (holding their awards) along with BCC President Lenny Caro pose for this photo.

What You Should Know

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

Midnight Bus Vigil to Washington, DC

  You should know that on Monday, March 25, 2013 at 12:00 midnight, the New York Hispanic Clergy Organization will hold an all-night vigil on buses bound to Washington, D.C., to join the National Organization for Marriage who is organizing a demonstration on Tuesday, March 26, 2013 at 9:00 AM in front of the United States Supreme Court.

It is important for you to know that the United States Supreme Court will convene that day (Tuesday, March 26, 2013) to address and discuss the future of marriage in our nation. The Supreme Court of the Nation can decide whether marriage should be between a man and a woman or whether to re-define it to include men with men and women with women.

This is a topic of great importance for the entire nation - and for every single Christian, Jew, Muslim, Catholic and people of faith. It is for this reason that I am inviting you to join and participate in this vigil to Washington D.C.  Once we arrive in Washington D.C., we will join people traveling from all over this nation - including Puerto Rico - to bear witness in favor of traditional marriage to remain between a man and a woman.

You should know that the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) has always been in the forefront, throughout the nation, in the struggle to stop same sex marriage. It is also a fact that for many years, NOM has been raising funds, and coordinating every march and demonstration in the state of New York and everywhere else.

You should remember that when Governor Andrew Cuomo used his office and staff to raise money and to orchestrate the passing of gay marriage in the State, it was the National Organization for Marriage among others, who took the fight on their shoulders. With their help, we organized different rallies and demonstrations where thousands of people came together, in front of Governor Cuomo’s office in Manhattan, On the steps of the Supreme court of Bronx County and in many other places.

Now, One more time, NOM is giving us the opportunity to join people from all over the nation, in what could be our last opportunity to deal with same sex marriage once and for all. Due to the fact, and you should know, that with the ruling of the United States Supreme Court, same sex marriage will be legal or illegal in every state in the nation, including Puerto Rico and any other colony of the United States.

That is why, we should all be in front of the United States Supreme Court on Tuesday, March 26, 2013 at 9:00AM.

If you want and can fill a bus of 50 passengers, You should call The National Organization for Marriage at (
888) 894-3604, who will provide it in front of your church, organization, civic or community group.
Here is our schedule of activities for Tuesday, March 26 in Washington, DC:

8:30AM: Gather at National Mall location between 10th Street and 12th Street NW and between Madison Drive NW and Jefferson Drive SW
9:30AM: March to the Supreme Court and then return to the National Mall location

11:00AM: Rally begins at National Mall location (live music, speakers and more)
1:00PM: March for Marriage concludes, return to buses to travel back to New York

I am Senator Rev. Ruben Diaz and this is what you should know.

BP Diaz, Bronx Chamber, MTA to host Metro-North Info Session Today 5:30 PM

“Informational Session on Proposed Metro-North Service to Penn Station”

The Bronx Chamber of Commerce, in conjunction with The Bronx Borough President's Office and MTA Metro-North Railroad will hold an information session regarding a proposal to introduce railroad service in the east Bronx along Amtrak's right-of-way.  On Monday, March 11th at 5:30pm, a seminar will provide Bronx residents with an update on Metro-North's ongoing Penn Station Access environmental assessment, including concepts for four proposed stations that would serve Morris Park, Co-op City, Hunts Point and Parkchester and provide connections to Penn Station, Westchester & Connecticut. We encourage you to attend to hear about reduced travel time and the new rail stations.

   Who:  Bronx Chamber of Commerce

   When: Monday March 11, 5:30 PM

   Where: The Hutchinson Metro Center, Conference Room 
                 1200 Waters Place, 1st Floor Bronx N.Y.10461

  What: Informational Session on Proposed Metro-North Service to Penn Station