Saturday, March 23, 2013

Sen. Klein Hosts 18th Annual Easter Bunny Breakfast

   State Senator Jeff Klein joined over 300 children and their parents for his 18th annual Easter Bunny Breakfast. The breakfast included activities for children, including a magic show, face painting, a “build-a-bunny” station and photos with the Easter Bunny. Families from Senator Klein’s district were invited to attend. 
Below left - Senator Klein's aides hold up Build a Bunny children received. 
Right -  Jalyssa, Joel, and Seiss take a photo with the Easter Bunny.



Left - Senator Klein, the Easter Bunny, and children with their parents.
Right - The crowd of children who watched magician Candini The Great.

Left - Candini pulls a rabbit out of his hat.
Right - The rabbit wants to go back into the hat.

Left & Right - Are a few children who came up to help Candini do his magic tricks.

Left - After the magic show children came up to see and pet Candini's rabbit Harvey.
Right - Candini, Harvey (in the hat), and the Easter Bunny wish everyone a Happy Easter.

Cliff Stanton Picks Up Endorsement Outside of PS 8 in 11th Council Race

  On Friday afternoon outside PS 8 in the Bedford Park section of the Bronx, candidate for the 11th Council District Cliff Stanton officially picked up the endorsement of a group called NW Bronx Democrats. The group leader of what he has called his "Hired Mercenaries" Mr. Anthony Rivieccio and members of his group officially endorsed Mr. Stanton for the 11th council seat. Mr. Ricieccio said that residents of Bedford Park and Norwood are angry that they have not been supported by the elected officials in the council and state assembly. He said it was the same group that supported current term limited councilman G. Oliver Koppell in 2005 & 2009, but they are going to support Cliff Stanton in 2013. The Bedford Park/Norwood area is represented mostly by Councilman G. Oliver Koppell, and to a small part by Councilman Joel Rivera. The area is served in most in part by Assemblyman Jose Rivera, and in a small part by newly elected Assemblyman Mark Gjonaj who beat the former Assemblywoman Naomi Rivera. Naomi Rivera and Joel Rivera are children of Assemblyman Jose Rivera who is also a former Bronx Democratic County Leader.
   In 2012 Mr. Rivieccio and members of his group worked for two assembly candidates Mr. Mark Gjonaj in the 80th A.D., and candidate Ricky Martinez in the 78th A.D. They endorsed Mr. Gjonaj in the 80th A.D., and in the 78th A.D. supported Mr. Martinez and his opponent Assemblyman Jose Rivera. You can see all of Mr. Riciecio's endorsements in the 2012 Democratic primary here . Below are photos of the endorsement.
  Candidate Stanton is on the right in the photo standing with members of NW Bronx Democrats.
After the announcement on a very cold day candidate Stanton is about to leave.


Friday, March 22, 2013


   Co-New York State Senate Leader, Senator Jeff Klein joined children taking part in an after-school program at the Riverdale Neighborhood House for a performance of Disney Live! Mickey's Music Festival.
 Pictured with Senator Klein are children taking part in an after-school program at Riverdale Neighborhood House stand with Mickie and Minnie Mouse, stars of the Disney Live! Mickey’s Music Festival performance. 
Our guess is that the characters on either side of Senator Klein are two of Senator Klein's Independent Democratic Conference members, but just which two we can not be sure of. Minnie seems to be holding Senator Klein's arm tight, while Mickey pats Senator Klein on the shoulder for doing another good job of bringing the cheese to the district.

Upcoming special events at JASA Van Cortlandt Senior Center for April 2013:

   Commemorate the Holocaust with Sol Rosenkranz from the Museum of Jewish Heritage Speakers Bureau on Tues. Apr. 9th at 1:00 PM. Mr. Rosenkranz survived internment in 6 concentration camps. We will also light memorial candles and serve refreshments.
   Celebrate March and April birthdays on Wed. Apr. 10th with Bobby Liggio, dynamic one man band who will play a varied program of dance and listening music. Lunch served at 12:15 PM followed by party at 1:00 PM.
   JASA Art Salon with Amy Gottlieb, poet/writer, will meet on Mon. Apr. 15th at 12:40 PM followed by Michael Ferris Jr.’s Narrative Portrait class.
   Join us on Sunday, April 28th for a delectable lunch followed by an ethnic dance presentation by members of Kalpulli Huehetlahtolli, a Native American group, at 1:00 PM. Performers will share customs and values of their ancient Mexica culture.
   Senior contribution of $3.00 for the meal and $2.00 fee for the event is recommended.  Non-senior fee is $5.00 for the meal and $3.00 for the event. Kindly reserve with the center office at 718-549-4700 by Thurs. Apr. 25th.

Trips: Derfner Judaica Museum on Thurs. Apr. 11th at 10:30 AM. Sands Casino on Thurs. Apr. 18th at 8:45 AM. Fee for the Sands Casino trip is $25.00. For reservations and information, please call the center office at 718-549-4700.
    The center also offers day trips to area casinos, movie theaters and     shopping. For information and reservations, please contact Maritza Silva at 718-549-4700.
    JASA Van Cortlandt Senior Center offers Senior Fitness on Mon., Movement on Tues., Meditation on Tues. afternoon, Gentle Exercise and Tai Chi on Wed., Yoga on Thurs. and Tone & Stretch on Fri. Call the center at 718-549-4700 for specific dates and times of these classes.
    All meals at JASA Van Cortlandt Senior Center are catered by Mauzone  (kosher) Meal Service. We offer a daily alternate choice of main dish.
    We are located in the Van Cortlandt Jewish Center at 3880 Sedgwick Ave. off of Van Cortlandt Ave. West on the Bronx #1 or #10 bus routes. For more information, please call the center office at 718-549-4700.
    JASA Van Cortlandt Senior Center is funded by NYC Dept. for the Aging, UJA- Federation of NY and by special grants from Council Member Oliver Koppell and other NYS representatives. 

BP O'Diaz Irish Heritage Celebration

   In what gives him great joy Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. became Ruben O'Diaz for the BP's celebration of Irish Heritage Month. It was a grand old evening at the Rambling House in the Woodlawn section of the Bronx as BP O'Diaz honored three fine Irish Bronxites. The honorees were Ms. Noreen Lydon O'Donoghue, Mr. James McQuade, and Mr. Frank Walsh. On hand also was the Consul General of Ireland in New York Mr. Noel Kilnenny, Mr. Michal Fogarty (who sang the Irish National Anthem), and recording artists Shanna Mahoney & Laurence Broderick (who sang the American National Anthem & their song "The Irish Blessing"). The Mistress of Ceremony was WPIX TV Reporter Magee Hickey. As you will see from the photos below a good time was had by all who attended.

Left and right BP O'Diaz poses for some photos with honorees and friends outside the Rambling House. On the left note the New York State Courts Pipes & Drums unit as they prepare to open the celebration.


Left - You can see the crowd in the new party room at the Rambling House, with Mistress of Ceremonies Magee Hickey in the front row facing the camera.
Right - Mr. Michael Fogarty sings the Irish National Anthem. In back of the photo are BP O'Diaz (by the American flag), local Assemblyman Jeffrey O'Dinowitz, the BP's Communications Director John DeSio, and the Counsel General of Ireland in N.Y. Mr. Noel Kilnenny.


Left - Shanna Mahoney & Laurence Broderick as Ms. Mahoney  sings the American National Anthem. 
Right - The Duo are singing a second song, "The Irish Blessing".

Left - Irish Counsel General Noel Kilnenny (left), BP O'Diaz (center), and Mr. Joe Carty owner of the Rambling House (right).
Left - Honorees Frank O'Hara (left), James McQuade, BP O'Diaz, MS. Noreen Lydon O'Donoghue, and Assemblyman Jeffrey O'Dinowitz.

Public Advocate DeBlasio Introduced "Borough Bias" Study

   Thursday morning at the corner of Walton Avenue and East 183rd Street New York City Public Advocate Bill DeBlasio addressed the issue of what he is calling "Borough Bias" report in the number of inspections, violations, and higher fines by the New York City Health and Consumer Affairs Departments of small businesses in the four outer boroughs. DeBlasio came complete with charts of information showing that over the 11 years of the current Bloomberg administration inspections, violations, and fines have increased in the outer boroughs while decreasing in the borough of Manhattan. 
   From the year 2002 - 2012 DeBlasio claims that small businesses in Manhattan have seen a net decrease of 14%, while the four outer boroughs have seen a net increase with the Bronx as the high with an 8% net increase of the categories from the Department of Health. When it came to the Department of Consumer Affairs the net decrease of fines was 18% in Manhattan while all four outer boroughs experienced an increase of fine by the DCA with the Bronx again leading the way with an increase of 7%. 
   The report also detailed how the number of inspections by the DOH has gone up from 33,254 in 2002 to 98,176 in 2012. The number of violations has increased from 130,279 in 2002 to 311,465 in 2012. The increase of total fines went from 12.6 million dollars in 2002 to 66.2 million dollars in 2012. In the end the DeBlasio Report shows that in the past three years that DOH inspections went up by 55%, violations up by 73%, and revenue from the fines up by 90%. Figures for the DCA were higher at inspections up by 66%, violations up by 153%, and revenue from the fines up by 102%. 
   The DeBlasio Report also quotes Bronx Assemblywoman Vanessa Gibson as saying that the city needs to administer a fair system for all five boroughs, and our small businesses need all the fiscal support they can get without having to worry about how to pay fines. A quote from Councilman Fernando Cabrera says the practice of the city making profit at the expense of small business has to stop. The city should be a facilitator of economic stability rather than eventually pushing entrepreneurs out of business. Assemblywoman Gibson was in Albany, and the event was held in Assemblyman Nelson Castro's district who was also in Albany, but Assemblyman Castro did have his Chief of Staff attend the event. There was no one from Councilman Cabrera's office at the event.


Left - Assemblyman Nelso Castro's Chief of Staff is dwarfed by Public Advocate DeBlasio as she stands next to him with a group of local business people, and merchant association leaders.
Right - DeBlasio points to an enlarged chart of the escalating amount of fine collected during the Bloomberg administration.

Left - DeBlasio points to the decreased percentage of inspections to businesses in Manhattan.
Right - DeBlasio points to the increased percentage of inspections in the Bronx.

Thursday, March 21, 2013


Assemblyman Crespo’s proposal to ensure State’s health and safety infrastructure has power during emergencies is included in State’s budget deal

ALBANY, NEW YORK – (03/21/2013)  ---  New York State is a step closer to protecting its critical health and safety infrastructure thanks to legislation (A. 4862A/S.3845) proposed by Assemblyman Marcos A. Crespo earlier this year and included in the budget deal reached with the Governor and the Legislature (A3008D). The proposal, set to become state law, will begin the process of including microgrids in emergency planning to protect vital infrastructure with an eventual full roll-out of the technology when recommendations required by the proposal are funded and implemented.

According to Assemblyman Marcos A. Crespo, member of the Assembly Standing Committee on Energy, “Had New York State constructed microgrids to protect hospitals, first responder headquarters such as police and fire stations, emergency shelters, schools, water filtration plants, sewage treatment plants and other infrastructure, the extent of the damage caused by Super Storm Sandy would have been tremendously mitigated.”

He added, “In New York, hospitals, police stations, fire stations, sewage and water filtration plants all lost power rendering inoperable critical health and public safety infrastructure. This loss of power threatened the lives of hospital patients and elderly and harmed our environment when tons of untreated toxic waste was released into waterways and neighborhoods.”

Microgrids are a group of interconnected loads and distributed energy resources within clearly defined electrical boundaries that act as a single controllable entity with respect to the grid. They can connect and disconnect from the grid to enable them to operate in both grid-connected or island-mode.

The proposal, which will be adopted as part of the State’s 2013-14 budget, was strongly supported by Senator Malcolm A. Smith, Co-Chair of the Bi-Partisan Task Force on Hurricane Sandy Recovery. Specifically, the proposal requires the Department of Public Service and the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services to collaborate with NYSERDA and report, by April 1, 2014, on how to implement and fund microgrid technologies to protect vital public health and safety infrastructure.

Crespo said, “The extent of severe damage caused by recent storms demonstrates the tremendous benefits of having microgrids in place to protect critical public health and safety infrastructure.” He added, “It is very clear that microgrids are needed in order to fully protect the expensive and extensive public safety and health infrastructure New York has developed.”

“In addition, microgrid technology can serve to save lives by not only protecting the communication systems of first responders but also by protecting the electrical needs of hospitals and nursing homes where patients are connected to life-saving electrical equipment.”

He added, “News accounts documented the life-threatening loss of power to hospitals, nursing homes and residences for the disabled. Infirmed and fragile elderly had to be moved to higher floors and evacuated without access to elevators and life-sustaining electric equipment. Some 4000 nursing home patients needed the help of 1,500 the National Guard to evacuate facilities where power was lost.  My proposal will help prevent such chaos in the future.”

“New York State has started spending $10 billion of the $33 billion in Super Storm Sandy federal disaster relief on repairing the damage to electric circuits and the power grid. But soon loss of power and damage to critical public health and safety infrastructure will be prevented. I am excited that my proposal will be acted upon and New York will take the next steps to prevent the widespread loss of power and damage to critical infrastructure we have witnessed,” declared Crespo.

Wave Hill Events April 5–April 12

Wave Hill is all about connecting people with nature, so a weekend like “Drawn to Nature”, highlighted below, is, well, a natural. Centered around the spring exhibition in Glyndor Gallery—drawings by seven contemporary artists—it invites visitors to get inspired by the early spring landscape. And it’s a Target Free weekend, which translates to free admission and free programs all day, both days.

Experience the landscape through drawing this Target Free weekend with activities for all ages. At the Family Art Project, join artist Ander Mikalson in creating a large-scale line of drawings weaving and winding through Wave Hill. In the afternoon, participate in a collaborative project with guest artists: We provide the tools, paper and natural inspiration; you draw what you experience!  On Saturday, join a guided tour of the spring exhibition in Glyndor Gallery and, on Sunday, a reception with talks by the exhibition artists.
More at Admission to the grounds is free all weekend, thanks to the generous support of Target.

Drawn to Nature/Dibujando la naturaleza
Join guest artist Ander Mikalson as she guides us in creating individual drawing projects. Then, on the Lower Lawn, add yours to form a large-scale, winding line of drawings that will weave its way through Wave Hill. Free, and admission to the grounds is free all weekend, thanks to the generous support of Target.

Join guest artists from the spring exhibition Drawn to Nature in creating a large-scale, winding line of drawings that will weave through Wave Hill. Free, and admission to the grounds is free all weekend, thanks to the generous support of Target.

Drawn to Nature/Dibujando la naturaleza
Join guest artist Ander Mikalson as she guides us in creating individual drawing projects. Then, on the Lower Lawn, add your drawing to form a large-scale, winding line of drawings that will weave its way through Wave Hill. Free, and admission to the grounds is free all weekend, thanks to the generous support of Target.

Join guest artists―workshop leaders this spring―in creating a large-scale, winding line of drawings that will weave through Wave Hill. Free, and admission to the grounds is free all weekend, thanks to the generous support of Target.

Join us for a reception showcasing the group exhibition this spring, Drawn to Nature, which showcases the work of seven artists who use drawing to convey a deep connection to the natural world, and Matthew Jensen’s installation in the Sunroom Project Space, which showcases found objects from the east and west coasts of the Bronx. Artist talks will also take place during the reception. Free, and admission to the grounds is free all day, thanks to the generous support of Target.

Join us for an hour-long tour of seasonal garden highlights. Free, and admission to the grounds is free all weekend thanks to the generous support of Target.

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.

Join a curatorial fellow for a tour of Wave Hill’s spring exhibition, Drawn to Nature, which features the work of seven artists who use drawing to convey a deep connection to the natural world. In the Sunroom Project Space, Matthew Jensen’s installation showcases found objects from the east and west coasts of the Bronx. Tours take place Tuesdays and Saturdays at 2PM. Free, and admission to the grounds is free all day.

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 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


5th Ann. "Fair @ The Square" - Saturday, May 11!


Saturday, May 11, 2013 ~ 11AM – 6PM

   The Westchester Square Merchants Association, in partnership with the Bronx Council on the Arts and NYC Dept. of Parks & Recreation, announces the 5th Annual “Fair @ The Square”. Sponsored by The Westchester Square Business Improvement District, this event takes place Saturday, May 11th from 11am to 6pm along the streets of Westchester Square between St. Raymond and Westchester Avenues.             
The purpose of this FREE street festival is to promote the diversity in the commerce, culture, and community of Westchester Square, one of the busiest areas in the Bronx, traveled through by over 80,000 commuters daily, all coming together to celebrate the "rebuilding of a great area for a great future."
This multi-cultural event, which attracts thousands of fair-goers throughout the day, will feature an all day concert series hosted by Rhina Valentin "La Reina del Barrio" of BronxNet's OPEN Show and Dennis "Dion" Nardone of WVOX 1460AM Radio, as popular NY artists take the stage, including Alive N Kickin' ("Tighter, Tighter"), one of the premier event bands in the Tri-State area, Freestyle sensations Soave ("Cryin' Over You") and Fascination ("Why You Wanna Go"), Top 10 Billboard Songwriter Ron Rogers performing his worldwide #1 hit song "Deputy of Love" and giving us a sneak peak at his upcoming show production "Cowboys & Gangsters", returning artists -- Gene DiNapoli with his new Bronx Bombers Show featuring songs by Bobby Darin, Tony Orlando and many others, the new voice of Hip Hop and Italian Hip Hop Movement artist SALESE, the BHARATI Dance Academy, International Recording Artist Veronica Kole, W.R.A.T.H. and many more performers and dancers... a show not to be missed!
This year’s Fair will feature the Bronx Council on the Arts’ annual Art Walk showcasing the works of local Bronx artists and artisans, an MTA Antique Bus, and a Kid’s Activity Area featuring face painting and arts and crafts by the Westchester-Zerega Improvement District, FDNY Smoke House and Antique Fire Engine, magician John Turdo, all sorts of games, exhibits and other fun activities as scores of merchants and vendors display their products, wares, and services, and great restaurants offer up great food.
We hope you will join us at this FREE, fantastic, fun-filled, community event, which is held as part of Bronx Week 2013.  
For Vendor Opportunities, Please Contact MAS at 718.828.2880 or via email at
For Sponsorship Opportunities, Please Contact Angela Porcelli at 718.283.4081/ or Jacqueline Acevedo-Villanueva at 917.640.1003/

Name: 5th Annual “Fair @ The Square”
Date: Saturday, May 11, 2013
Time: 11am-6pm
Location: Westchester Square from St. Raymond Avenue to Westchester Avenue 

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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Chancellor Walcott Town Hall Meeting

   New York City public schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott held a town hall meeting at the Walton Campus last night. The chancellor by the Mayoral Control law must have a town hall style meeting every two years in each school district according to Community District Education Council 10 President Marvin Shelton. Due to the poor outreach in organizing this town hall meeting there were few parents in the audience which included DOE staffers, teachers, and principals (as you will see in one photo below).
   Walcott opened up by saying that he prefers schools of choice, in 3-4 weeks students will be taking the state Math and English tests, and even with Hurricane Sandy and a bus strike the schools have come out all right. Walcott answered (or had some DOE personal) answer questions that ranged from ELL & immigrant learners, chronic overcrowding, budget cuts, IEP'S, The recent incident at MS 80, when the Walton pool would reopen, and what goals set up by the mayor that have not been reached. Answers ranged from that a new 665 seat school would be opening on Webster Avenue in 2014, the failure to reach an agreement with the teachers union, the reopening of the Walton pool in April, and in 2001 there were 1250 schools whereas now there are 1750 schools. Walcott added that many larger schools have been closed and broken down into smaller schools where the common areas are assigned by the individual school enrollment and worked out by each principal when questioned by Assemblyman Dinowitz (who was in the audience).
   It was brought up during the meeting by members of the audience that a town hall meeting is an open forum to ask questions, and not to have to write them on a card that then gets edited. CDEC 10 President Shelton lamented that the original procedures put in place when the education councils were put into effect to replace the school boards are now not being followed by the DOE, giving the example of zoning. Walcott answered by saying that was good feedback and that he would look into it. Walcott then went on to speak on how he took 2-3 buses to get to junior high school, and 3 buses to get to high school. he ended by saying that he wants to give every student a choice of a good school, and not just have to go to the local school. 
   After the town hall meeting Chancellor Walcott was interviewed by two television station reporters who asked about the recent incident that took place at nearby MS 80. Walcott answered that the incident was under investigation, that the DOE has a discipline policy in effect for such incidents, and that the parent has a right to a safety transfer for her child. When I asked if the incident was gang related as has been in some cases in the past, Chancellor Walcott said he did not think or know of any gang problem at the school.

Left - Chancellor Walcott opens the meeting (CDEC President Marvin Shelton is seated behind Walcott).
Right - Walcott watches as Interim Superintendent Melodie Mashel answers a question, as CDEC President Shelton looks for the next question.

There were lots of empty seats at this Town Hall meeting due to lack of getting the information about the meeting out to the parents and public.

Left - Chancellor Walcott is challenged by two of the attendees on the procedure of a town hall meeting.
Right - Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz addresses Chancellor Walcott.

What You Should Know

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

Rossana and El Diario La Prensa, Here is Your Great Opportunity

   You should know that Ms. Rossana Rosado has held the esteemed position of Publisher and CEO of El Diaro la Prensa for more than ten years. You should also know that this year, El Diario la Prensa is celebrating 100 years of existence. There have been many activities and special events planned to recognize and celebrate the largest and oldest Spanish-language newspaper in the country. These events in honor of El Diario la Prensa include a dinner by New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo.

As you know, El Diario la Prensa credits itself as a publication that protects and fights for the rights of the immigrants, and criticizes anyone who is not in favor of the immigrant. El Diario la Prensa’s famous motto is El Campeón de los Hispanos which means "the Champion of the Hispanics." They have been demanding that the Dream Act become law, to the point that their March 18, 2013 editorial, Unity on the NY Dream Act, asks for all of the Hispanic Senators in New York State NOT to vote for the Budget if it does not include the Dream Act.

I would like to take this opportunity to call on Rossana Rosado, the Publisher and CEO of El Diario la Prensa, to see this as her great opportunity to put up, or shut up.

I have to believe that if El Diario la Prensa has the courage and commitment to ask the Hispanic Senators not to vote on the Budget if it does not include the Dream Act, then we should expect for Rossana Rosado and El Diario la Prensa to bring it to the Governor this Friday when Governor Andrew Cuomo will be honoring Rossana Rosado and El Diario la Prensa in Albany.

It would have been better if, instead of accepting the Governor’s invitation for a dinner celebration to recognize El Diario la Prensa, they could have said, “Governor, we will not accept it because of the way you have been treating our community and our immigrants, and we don't want the Dream Act to be shelved once again." THAT would have sent the greatest message of all, and everybody and every newspaper would have said that El Diario la Prensa truly IS a champion to refuse an invitation from Governor Andrew Cuomo, all because the Governor refused to include the Dream Act in New York State's Budget.

However, due to the fact that El Diario la Prensa has accepted Governor Andrew Cuomo’s invitation – and they will be coming to Albany on Friday – they can still make a difference. During that dinner, Rossana Rosado can use the opportunity to say publicly – with the same insistence El Diario la Prensa used to ask for New York’s Hispanic Senators to vote "NO" on the Budget – that El Diaro la Prensa demands for New York’s Governor Andrew Cuomo to stop ignoring the immigrants and to put the Dream Act into the Budget.

You should know that I have been criticizing my colleagues, especially the Black and Hispanic Senators, for being too eager to accept every one of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s invitations to go to his mansion and eat his food and drink his wine, while they get nothing for our community. I would hate to think that El Diario la Prensa and Rossana Rosado are among those who like to publicly write and demand action in favor of our community and of the immigrant, but in private join the Governor in his mansion to eat his food and drink his wine, while nothing is done for our community and the Governor keeps laughing at us.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is a great opportunity for Rossana Rosado and El Diario la Prensa, not only to eat dinner and drink wine in the Governor’s mansion, but to put strong words in defense of what they preach and what they write about the Dream Act.

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

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Sick Pay Bill

Bronx Chamber Logo
 (This comes from The Bronx Chamber of Commerce) 

The City Council will hear testimony on the Sick Pay Bill this Friday.  This will probably be your last chance to call your Council-member to urge him/her to withhold support until the bill is redrafted in a manner that is less destructive to businesses.  The following is yesterday's article in Crains New York Business:

Meet the sick-days police
Gulp: The city's Department of Health would audit businesses.
Crain's Published: March 18, 2013

Been incorporated as a business here for all of 12 months? Congratulations. You must now comply. Multilingual written notice must be given to all employees and similarly worded posters displayed. Personnel manuals and orientation materials must reflect the many provisions of the new law, which include rules governing the swapping of shifts to cover for last-minute employee absences and the accumulation of unused paid sick days into future years.

Interestingly, the sick employee must provide little beyond his or her word. An employer may not demand a physician's note until the third day out. Even then, the note need not specify the nature of an employee's or family member's claimed illness or condition. Naturally, the employer cannot withhold pay or deny the sick days if the worker fails to produce even such minimal documentation.

A fired employee who persuades a DOH-approved tribunal that he or she was wronged by the employer who dared dismiss a ne'er-do-well for abusing the newly prescribed right to call in sick five times a year without a moment's warning, well, he or she can be awarded at least $5,000 and other relief - "including reinstatement and promotion."

Family shop or Fortune 500 HQ, it matters not: The bureaucrats who brought you the beverage ban would have the power to subpoena and examine your employment records. Has anyone outside a union hall actually read this law? Better take a big gulp. DOH investigators can show up at your store or office demanding a compliance audit with no more evidence than a claim of wrongdoing by a kvetcher whose identity you may never learn. Woe to the business that does not have three years' worth of paperwork documenting the hours worked and sick time accrued and taken by each employee-full-time, part-time or even seasonal. Under this law, failure to maintain proper records is presumed to be evidence of a violation. First violation: $1,000. A second violation within the next five years: at least $2,000.

You may have heard something in the news last week about a modest initiative from the New York City Department of Health that called for limiting sales of sugary drinks to 16-ounce portions. Well, guess which city agency would be responsible for enforcing the City Council's proposed paid-sick-days law? That's right: the DOH, which under the latest rewrite of the sick-days legislation is given incredible policing powers over any city business with five or more employees. 


   New Reporting System Will Increase Transparency & Reduce Possibility for Fraudulent Billing 

   Comptroller John C. Liu and Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg today announced that New York City will become the first municipality in the country to establish a comprehensive subcontracting database and publicly report payments made by prime contractors to subcontractors, which will greatly enhance the City’s – and the public’s – ability to monitor billions of dollars worth of contract activity. The new reforms will also strengthen the City’s capacity to detect and address potentially fraudulent billing practices, further ensure the timeliness of payments from contractors to subcontractors and more seamlessly track the utilization of minority- and women-owned businesses on subcontracted City work. The Mayor’s Office of Contract Services and the Comptroller’s Office have been working on this subcontracting initiative for more than a year, and recently began a pilot program with vendors serving as initial testers.

“Today marks the start of a new era of scrutiny for outside contractors,” said Comptroller Liu. “Giving all New Yorkers the ability to keep an eye on this information will give contractors 8.3 million more reasons to spend tax dollars as prudently as possible. It’s great that the Big Apple is setting another national benchmark for government transparency.”

“From creating a Citywide Performance Reporting tool, which allows the public to track agency performance, to establishing the City’s Open Data Portal, which makes more than a thousand agency data sets available for public use, we’ve worked to make City government more open and transparent,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “These new reporting requirements will help us to continue to lead the way in making government more accessible and accountable to the public.”

“This collaborative process produced an effective, efficient system that will reduce the risk of waste and fraud,” said Vanessa Champion, Chief of Staff and Special Counsel, Office of Comptroller Liu.

“By using the latest technology, we are furthering our goal of enhancing transparency,” said Andrea Glick, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Contract Services. “The new subcontracting database is a win for the City, and we are thankful to our partners for helping ensure its launch.”

Beginning this month, on any new contract valued over $1 million, all prime vendors will have to disclose information on the City’s Payee Information Portal, including the names of subcontractors hired as well as each and every payment to them. In June, the ceiling is lowered to contracts above $250,000, which will ensure approximately 96 percent of all dollars spent on City contracts are captured in this new database. The work to design and develop this new tracking system was completed by CGI, based on a fixed-price deliverable contract for a cost of $1.6 million. In the event a prime vendor fails to carry out their responsibility, the City has the right to withhold payment until all requirements have been met.

The City’s new requirements will create a central infrastructure to improve oversight, further reduce the possibility of fraudulent billing and ensure that the City is meeting its minority and women-owned business enterprise goals. Since Local Law 129 was first enacted in December 2005, certified minority and women-owned businesses have won thousands of contracts – worth billions of dollars in total aggregate value – in prime and subcontracts with the City of New York.

Once these new protocols are established, each payment and data set will be fully integrated with the Comptroller’s Checkbook NYC fiscal transparency website – which was launched with the assistance from the Mayor’s Office of Contract Services – placing never-before-seen subcontract data in the public domain.

The City modeled its groundbreaking reforms on the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act, which was signed into law in 2006 and requires Federal contractors to disclose their subcontractors through a searchable website. Unlike the Federal government, however, the City is the first in the nation to publicly disclose both the names of subcontractors and payments made to them. 

“Citizens Union commends Comptroller Liu and Mayor Bloomberg for working collaboratively to provide more complete information about payments made to subcontractors through the Comptroller’s transparency website, Checkbook,” said Dick Dadey, Executive Director of Citizens Union. “Given the large size of certain contracts, it is important to provide New Yorkers with greater detail regarding those subcontractors who perform services for the city of New York.  This new level of detail will give New Yorkers more information on how their tax dollars are being spent and on whom. Such greater public scrutiny could result in cost savings.”

“This initiative improves transparency of New York City’s operations and is an important step forward for facilitating oversight of the city’s contracting operations,” said Citizens Budget Commission President Carol Kellermann.

“New Yorkers will be getting a much more complete picture of how contractors and subcontractors are spending their tax dollars, thanks to Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Comptroller John Liu,” said Gene Russianoff, senior attorney for the New York Public Interest Research Group.

“Congratulations to Mayor Bloomberg and Controller Liu,” said John Kaehny, Executive Director of Reinvent Albany and Co-Chair of the NYC Transparency Working Group. “Digitizing and reporting subcontractor payments is a huge leap forward in accountability and transparency. Though somewhat dry and esoteric, this new reporting system has big implications for reducing corruption and improving efficiency, and when fully in place, will make New York City one of the most fiscally transparent cities in the world. When the subcontractor data is put into the Checkbook NYC platform, it will become instantly available for the rest of government and the public to use.”

Comptroller Liu and Mayor Bloomberg thanked the members of the Mayor’s Office of Contract Services, including Director Andrea Glick and Deputy Director for Research and Information Technology Ezra Polonsky, the Comptroller’s Office – led by Chief of Staff Vanessa Champion – and Robert Townsend at the Financial Information Services Agency for their efforts on the project.