Friday, May 10, 2013









4545 Independence Avenue
(south of West 246th Street)





  Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. once again hosted the largest networking event of its kind in the Bronx, the 15th Annual Bronx Bankers Breakfast. The event is produced as part of Bronx Week 2013 in partnership with the Business Initiative Corporation of New York and the Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation (BOEDC).

This year’s theme was “The New Bronx,” and the event saw more than 400 leaders in the fields of banking, business, real estate and tech come together to attend the breakfast, which is the largest event of its kind.

"Our Bankers Breakfast continued our focus on ‘The New Bronx,’ a theme I highlighted in my ‘State of the Borough’ address. We are seeing tens of millions of dollars currently being spent in the Bronx to develop commercial and residential sites, all of which are creating thousands of jobs in the process. That is certainly something worth celebrating,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. 

This year’s keynote speaker was Benjamin M. Lawsky, New York State’s first Superintendent of Financial Services. As Superintendent, Lawsky is the supervisor of all Insurance companies in New York, all New York State-chartered depository institutions and the majority of United States-based branches and agencies of foreign banking institutions. He also regulates all of New York State’s mortgage brokers, mortgage bankers, check cashers, money transmitters, budget planners, and similar providers of financial services. Entities supervised by the Department number approximately 4400, with assets of about $6.2 trillion.

Superintendent Lawsky led Governor Andrew Cuomo’s initiative to make the Department of Financial Services, which includes the former New York State Banking and Insurance Departments, into a modern unified financial regulator.

Superintendent Lawsky’s objectives for the new Department of Financial Services include three main goals—keeping New York on the cutting edge as the financial capital of the world, protecting consumers better than ever before, and serving as a model of efficient government.

Prior to his current position, Superintendent Lawsky was Governor Andrew Cuomo's Chief of Staff. Previously, he served as the Deputy Counselor and Special Assistant to then-Attorney General Cuomo. Prior to that, Mr. Lawsky had spent over five years as an Assistant United States Attorney in the Southern District of New York, where he prosecuted white collar crime, organized crime, and terrorism cases. He began his career as Chief Counsel to Senator Charles Schumer on the Senate Judiciary Committee and as a Trial Attorney in the Civil Division of the Department of Justice. 
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Van Cortlandt Senior Center to Get Head Start Program

  In what Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz called a "win, win, win for everybody" The Mosholu Montifiore Community Center will open up the Van Cortlandt Child Development center in the two floors of the Van Cortlandt Senior Center that the Department of Education leased for over 10 years, but did not renew after building the new Ampark school one block away. A total of 130 two, three, and four year old children will be attending the Universal Pre-K, Head Start or Child care programs to be offered by the MMCC. In addition to the ten classrooms available an enclosed play area will be built on a currently unused roof of the structure. Dinowitz said that he had secured $345,000.00 for the renovations needed, and thanked city council candidate Andrew Cohen for bringing the MMCC and the VCSC together to find a use for the unused space in the building. Cohen in what is typical of him was very breif by saying that he was glad to have brought much needed services to the area, and to help two great organizations get together to do so. 

  Don Bluestone the Executive Director of MMCC said that his organization is one of 13 groups that is part of the Head Start program, and there are 400 children on the wait list at his center. Robert Gillman President of the VCSC thanked Mr. Cohen, Assemblyman Dinowitz, and MMCC Executive Director Don Bluestone for working out a deal for the empty space in the center that was left when the DOE pulled out. Gillman said however that the center will have to still make up a small shortfall in revenue that will be done with fundraising by the center.

Left - Andrew Cohen candidate for city council, Robert Gillman President VCSC, Don Bluestone MMCC, and Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz.
Right - A view of where the enclosed play area is to be placed.


Left - One of the rooms as was left by the DOE.
Right - A close up view of one corner shows some of the minor work that needs to be done.


Thursday, May 9, 2013

53rd Annual Ben Franklin Democratic Club Dinner

  Last night over 200 Bronx and citywide politically minded people attended the 53rd Annual Ben Franklin Democratic Club Dinner. Elected officials that the club has endorsed included Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. State Senators Jeff Klein, and Gustavo Rivera, Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz, Bronx Democratic County Leader Assemblyman Carl Heastie, Councilman G. Oliver Koppell, several Judges, and Koppell's possible successor Andrew Cohen (who has been endorsed by the club). Four of the top six announced Democratic Mayoral candidates attending were City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, City Comptroller John Liu, Public Advocate Bill DeBlasio, and former City Comptroller Bill Thompson. Other elected officials who came to the dinner were State senators Dan Squadron (candidate for Public Advocate), State Senator Diane Savino, City Council members Dan Garodnick and Mark Weprin.

   The dinner was opened with a disclaimer about a story in a local Riverdale paper about political clubs which included the Ben Franklin Club. Club President Ellen Feld said the story did not mention any wrongdoings on the part any of the clubs listed, which was later echoed by Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz.   
Mr. Bill Weitz Chief of Staff to Congressman Engel, (who was detained in Washington) presented the Distinguished Institute Award to The College of Mount St. Vincent. Councilman G. Oliver Koppell presented The Lee Heimlich Community Service Award to The Crime Victims Support Services of the North Bronx. Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz presented the Jonathan B. Bingham Award to Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.

  Highlights of the dinner- When I asked Bronx Democratic County Leader Heastie about some Bronx elected officials endorsing four different candidates for mayor already, Heastie said that there is over 60 elected and party officials in the Bronx. "Some are bound to have their own candidates, but the Bronx Democratic County organization will have a significant impact on the mayors race". 
State Senator Jeff Klein on the recent John Sampson corruption arrest and State Senator Huntly conviction said " That is why the Independent Democratic Conference was formed". 
Heard from one UFT rep at the dinner, the UFT will probably endorse John Liu or Bill Thompson for mayor, Quinn would be just like four more years of Bloomberg.


 Left- 81st A.D. Female District Leader Randi Martos greets City Council Speaker Christine Quinn as Quinn arrives at the Ben Franklin dinner.
Right - State Senator Dan Squadron (candidate for Public Advocate) speaks with fellow senators Jeff Klein and Diane Savino before the dinner.


Left - Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. speaks after receiving his award.
Right - Mayoral candidate Bill Thompson speaks with Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz, his son Eric Dinowitz (back to camera), and Bronx Democratic Councty Leader Carl Heastie.


Left - Public Advocate Bill DeBlasio is heads above others as you see in this photo with staffer Paula Chowles.
Right - Councilman Koppell's right hand man seems to have the best seat in the house as he and two friends enjoy dessert and coffee as the dinner winds down.


Wave Hill Events May 23–May 30

  This has truly been been a spring to memorialize—late, blissfully long and cool. We’re open Memorial Day Monday May 27, the perfect opportunity to celebrate the season before we shift gears for summer. Join the free, guided garden walk Monday afternoon for a close-up of all the charms our world-class gardens have to offer.

Button Bouquets/Ramos de botones
Visit Wave Hill’s Wild Garden and flower beds and get inspired to make your own bouquet. Then, use beautiful buttons to add naturally inspired details. Free, and admission to the grounds is free until noon.


Did you know that a variety of snakes, toads, turtles and salamanders reside in Riverdale? Learn about the life cycles, diets, habitats and incredible adaptations of these secretive animals, with an environmental educator from the Hudson Highlands Nature Museum. Meet some live reptiles and amphibians that you might see at Wave Hill if you knew where to look! Ages 6 and up welcome with an adult. Registration recommended, online at, by calling 718.549.3200 x305 or at the Perkins Visitor Center. Free with admission to the grounds.

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, Lynn Koble’s multimedia sculptural installation visualizes a partly scientific, partly whimsical plant classification. Tours take place Tuesdays and Saturdays at 2PM. Free with admission to the grounds.

Button Bouquets/Ramos de botones
Visit Wave Hill’s Wild Garden and flower beds and get inspired to make your own bouquet. Then, use beautiful buttons to add naturally inspired details. Free with admission to the grounds.


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

Wave Hill is open.

Join us for an hour-long tour of seasonal garden highlights on this special holiday Monday. Free with admission to the grounds.

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

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, Lynn Koble’s multimedia sculptural installation visualizes a partly scientific, partly whimsical plant classification. Tours take place Tuesdays and Saturdays at 2PM. Free with admission to the grounds.

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 until noon Tuesdays in  May. 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


Faults Process for Siting Facilities; Offers Vouchers for Families

Mayor Bloomberg’s homeless policies have failed both the homeless and the communities asked to accept homeless shelters, according to policy papers released this week by the office of Comptroller John C. Liu.

“It is a disgrace that in a City where luxury abounds nearly 21,000 children go to sleep in a shelter each night,” Comptroller Liu said. “The Mayor’s disastrous homeless policies exclude communities from having a real voice in the shelter siting process and waste millions of taxpayer dollars each year. We desperately need a new approach to address the record homelessness in our City.”

A report released by the Comptroller’s office, “Down and Out: How New York City Places its Homeless Shelters,” details how the City is not meeting the goal of early and open public consultation required by the so-called Fair Share siting process, and makes recommendations for making the process fairer and more transparent. In an accompanying brief, Comptroller Liu recommends the creation of a Strong Families Rental Voucher Program that would provide housing vouchers for up to 10,000 families living in the City’s shelters at a substantial budgetary savings to taxpayers.

“Our report found that homeless shelters tend to be clustered in the poorest neighborhoods. The siting of the shelters in these neighborhoods may permanently condemn these areas to poverty,” Comptroller Liu said. “Moreover, there needs to be complete transparency and significant community involvement in this process. That is not happening.

“Homeless families need concrete rental assistance that will enable them to have stable residences and join their communities. Our proposal is a win-win for homeless families and taxpayers alike,” said Comptroller Liu. “Struggling families will be empowered and given an opportunity to start over, and, at the same time, taxpayers could save as much as $237.5 million annually.”

As of May 3, 2013, the Department of Homeless Services reported that there were 11,890 families in the City’s shelters, representing 18,108 adults and 20,668 children. The number of families has increased 60 percent under the Bloomberg Administration, from an average of 7,100 families in FY 2002 to an average of 11,500 during the current Fiscal Year. The rental assistance program proposed in this report would cost about $11,000 a year per family, compared to the current cost of sheltering a family, which is about $35,000.

All told, 275 of the City’s 370 homeless shelters are located in Brooklyn and the Bronx, many in struggling neighborhoods.
“When communities are excluded from prior discussion about the siting of shelters and given little or no notification of the City’s plans, the consequences for both the homeless and the neighborhood are dire. Buildings owners make large profits at inflated cost while providing poor services; local food pantries are swamped with new clients; families do not feel welcome; permanent residents are victimized; neighborhoods become polarized and resentful, and policy makers are prevented from working together to avoid these problems. The Comptroller’s sound and reasonable recommendations can help us house the homeless properly and advise and protect affected residents and neighborhoods,” said Council Member Gale Brewer of the Upper West Side.

“The Comptroller’s report shows that the Bloomberg Administration is failing both homeless families and New York City's communities.  As a result of the Administration's policies, homelessness is at an all time high, shelters are more concentrated in low-income communities of color, and contracts regularly bypass good-government protections against corruption and fraud.  It is time for a change," said Council Member Brad Lander of Brooklyn.

“The Partnership for the Homeless believes planning and transparency are critical for effective solutions to homelessness.  We are concerned that equitable access to resources is not being taken into consideration when distributing homeless shelters.  The report’s findings reinforce our organization’s work and raise important issues for communities, advocacy groups, and City leaders alike,” said Roksana Badruddoja, Vice President of Research for The Partnership for the Homeless.

“The health, mental health, and emotional well-being of New York City’s almost 21,000 children living in homeless demands that the City take action today.  Citizen’s Committee for Children supports the creation of a rental subsidy program that will assist families in leaving shelter to permanent housing,” said Jennifer March-Joly, Executive Director of the Citizens’ Committee for Children of New York.

“The 2010 canceling of rent subsidies by the City and State is a leading factor in the skyrocketing number of homeless families and individuals in New York City – to levels not seen since the Great Depression almost 80 years ago.  Right now, more than 50,000 men, women, and children are staying in shelters when many could be living in homes.  New York City must invest in a rental subsidy program to halt the growth of the homeless population and to provide a path out of homelessness for those already mired in the shelter system,” said Allison Sesso, Deputy Executive Director of the Human Services Council.

Comptroller Liu’s report on shelter siting and its accompanying fact sheet:

Comptroller Liu’s rental assistance proposal:

January 28, 2013 testimony by Comptroller Liu submitted to the New York City Council in support of Int. No. 193, which would require that agencies notify the City Council of emergency procurements:

August 21, 2012 letter from Deputy Comptroller for Contracts and Procurement Geneith Turnbull to Department of Homeless Services Commissioner Seth Diamond, raising concerns about the proliferation of emergency contract requests made by the agency:
March 25, 2010 audit published by Comptroller Liu finding that DHS paid out millions of dollars to non-contracted service providers based on an “honor system” of unwritten agreements, invented rates, and duplicate client lists:

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 



  Here is a comment from Public Advocate and candidate for mayor Bill DeBlasio on the Paid Sick Leave Bill in the City Council.

   “I commend the Paid Sick Days Coalition for its hard-fought victory. Today is a step forward, but it’s one that has come years late because of Speaker Quinn’s obstruction. Every New Yorker deserves the protection of guaranteed paid sick leave—including the 300,000 workers still left behind. I’ll continue fighting until all families have this fundamental right.”

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Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Diaz endorses Thompson For Mayor

   On the steps of City Hall Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. holds up the hand of his choice for mayor this year former City Comptroller Bill Thompson. He touted Thompson’s vision for New York City that includes economic development that benefits working-class people, an education system that focuses on quality education for all of New York’s students, a commitment to the development of small businesses throughout the five boroughs, and one that uses government as a partner, not a barrier in economic expansion. 

    “I have known Bill Thompson for two decades. He was the right man to lead our city as mayor four years ago, and he remains the right man today. In his time as both our comptroller and the leader of our city’s school system, Bill developed the knowledge and experience to lead our city. Bill has laid out a vision for New York City that includes economic development that benefits working-class people and small businesses of all types; an education system that focuses on quality and student improvement, not just test scores and school closures; and a commitment to look beyond Downtown Manhattan and focus on all five boroughs, Bill has been a longtime friend of our city’s Latino community. But I know that my friend, Bill Thompson, will be a mayor for all New Yorkers, regardless of their race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, or financial status. I encourage everyone to support my friend, Bill Thompson, and join me in voting for him as our next mayor,” Diaz added.
   “Creating economic opportunity is what creates a strong city. I will put New Yorkers back to work by focusing on economic development in all boroughs, expanding successful industries, identifying new business opportunities, and ensuring that all New Yorkers have the professional skills needed to find a well-paying job,” said former-Comptroller Bill Thompson. “I’m running because New Yorkers want a leader with the experience, vision, and ability to transform our economy so that we can guarantee the City works for every community in every neighborhood.”

    Thompson closed by saying "Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. is a champion for working families in the Bronx. Diaz is a tireless advocate for justice, equality, and civil and human rights, and a champion for small businesses".


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Tuesday, May 7, 2013

West Bronx Green Mayoral Forum

    Monday night the West Bronx green Mayoral forum took place at the Riverdale YM-YWHA. While there were high hopes for this forum only four of the many mayoral candidate confirmed attendance for this event those in attendance were current City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Current City Comptroller John Liu, former City Councilman Sal Albanese, and former Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion Jr. Ms. Marcia Bystryn moderated the forum, and the three panelist were Mr. Barry Wildner (Riverdale Nature Preservancy), Ms. Yale Levy (Riverdale Riverfest), and Mr. Eric Goldstein (attorney for the NRDC).
     In this forum the candidates appeared separately, but were given the same questions. 1- About the Bronx Greenway link, 2- The Special Nature Area of Riverdale and its zoning, 3- The closing of the Indian Point nueclear power plant. Candidate Sal Albanese was first up who spoke about the Brooklyn waterfront where he is from. He supports the Riverdale zoning, and phase out Indian Point cutting down on trucks for cleaner fuels. Albanese closed by saying that he wants top make NYC even safer and educate all the children.
    City Council Speaker Christine Quinn was next up and said that she wants to make the city a better place to live in. She then recognized Councilman G. Oliver Koppell seated in the audience. Quinn was given the same questions and answered as follows. 1- Quinn spoke of the city turning its back on waterfront areas outside of Manhattan, but would not totally commit on the Bronx greenway link. 2- Again she was non committal saying that as part of the Land Use process she would have to hear both sides first. 3- Said that she is in favor of closing Indian Point, but also that power rates could go up if it is closed. Quinn closed by saying that the 100 year old mass transit system needs to be upgraded, and was proud of up zoning the rail yards in Manhattan for development. Spoke about Hurricane Sandy and how she would like to see the power lines underground, and then quickly left.
    After a short break City Comptroller John Liu was on stage. Liu spoke of the many millions of dollars of waste and inefficiency that he as comptroller that he has saved NYC. He added that he wants to cut back on the sunbathing that is currently on some of the plazas using Broadway as an example. Lius answers to the questions were. 1- He is in favor of connecting the Bronx to the entire Hudson Greenway. 2- Liu said that he attended the Bronx High School of Science and spent some of his high school time in Riverdale and Van Cortlandt Park.He praised the rezoning of Riverdale and would continue to support it as mayor. 3- Liu said that he would like to close Indian Point mentioning that his wife was a safety inspector there while she was pregnant with his son, but NYC gets 25% of its energy from Indian Point. He said a pipeline under the city was not the answer and said that he is not a politician but has a degree in mathematical physics. He closed by saying that he would like to see more express buses to serve areas like Riverdale. Liu spoke of his fundraising problem, and after a 4 year investigation that he has done nothing wrong as proven. He added that he is not leaving the race for mayor.
    Last was former Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion. As Carrion began his opening speech people began to leave. on the questions 1- Carrion said as BP he was committed to the plan and still is. 2-He did not know what the Hebrew Home proposal was in the Special Nature Area, and thought the proposal was for affordable housing. 3- he had no position on Indian Point. Carrion closed by thanking those who stayed for the bottom of the 9th.

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Bronx Week 2013 Kickoff

    Monday May 6th in the rotunda of the Bronx County building Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. kicked off the activities for Bronx Week 2013. Bronx Week 2013 will take place from Thursday, May 9th through Sunday, May 19th, and will conclude with the induction of Latin music composer and businessman Miguel Angel Amadeo, political and civic leader Robert Abrams and award-winning actress Ellen Barkin to the Bronx Walk of Fame.

“Bronx Week is a great time for Bronxites and Bronxites at heart, to come rediscover all that this wonderful borough has to offer. Bronx Week is ten full days of celebration, and I invite everyone to come celebrate with us,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.

This year’s kickoff event was held at the Bronx County Building’s Rotunda, and featured an appearance by 2013 Bronx Walk of Fame honoree Miguel Angel Amadeo, an award-winning Latin music composer and longtime Bronx resident and business owner.

The launch event also featured a “Best of the Bronx” festival, which included live music, food and fun. Numerous borough businesses, including Babalu, B Blossom Garden, Bronx Ale House, Bronx Brewery, Delicioso Coco Helado, DuFour Pastry Kitchen, Flantastic, Landin Macaroni & Cheese, Lloyd’s Carrot Cake, Tirado Distillery and United Pickle provided samples of their product to the nearly 200 individuals in attendance. The event included a live performance from Latin jazz combo Yuka Seka and a showcase of merchandise by Mainland Media.

Bronx Week will close with the annual Bronx Parade and Food & Arts Festival on Mosholu Parkway on Sunday, May 19, 2013. In addition to dozens of food and arts vendors, as well as the borough’s biggest parade showcasing “Bronx Pride,” the annual concert will feature performances by hip-hop legend Biz Markie, renowned salsero Lalo Rodriguez as well as reggae and reggaeton pioneer Notch.

This week of amazing Bronx events is organized jointly by the Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation and The Bronx Tourism Council. For more information on Bronx Week 2013 and a full calendar of events, visit

Left - Bronx Borough President enjoys some of the Bronx food offered at the Bronx Week 2013 Kick off.
Right - Diaz holds one of the local Bronx products, Bronx Beer.

Left - Lloyds carrot cake sample cup cakes were sampled.
Right - Delicioso Coco Helado is sampled.

Left - The Bronx Beer Company table, is next to the Bronx Ale House table.
Right - Bronx made whiskey by Tirado Distillery is tasted.

Left - There was musical entertainment from the Bronx.
Right - BOEDC Head Ms. Marlene Cintron welcomes everybody, as Ms. Olga Luz Tirado of the Bronx Tourism Council waits to introduce Bronx BP Ruben Diaz Jr. and Congressman Charles Rangel.
Bronx Chamber of Commerce President Lenny Caro with Miguel Angel Amadeo one of the three 2013 Bronx Walk of Fame honorees who was in attendance. The two other 2013 honorees are Ellen Barkin and Robert Abrams.