Friday, May 24, 2013

Ben Franklin Democratic Club Mayoral Forum

  Thursday night the Ben Franklin Democratic Club held a mayoral forum to hear from the Democratic candidates in advance of a planned endorsement vote to be taken on Tuesday May 28th. The club members may choose to endorse one of the now seven Democratic candidates running or may choose not to endorse any of them. In 2005 the Ben Franklin Club endorsed Anthony Weiner, while in 2009 they endorsed Bill Thompson. As for current endorsements in the Bronx, The Bronx County Democratic Organization has endorsed Bill Thompson as has Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. State Senator Gustavo Rivera has endorsed Christine Quinn, Assemblyman Luis Sepulveda has endorsed Bill DeBlasio, and Senator Ruben Diaz Sr. has endorsed Erick Salgado. 
  BFDC President Ellen Feld opened the Forum by saying that it would not be a debate, but that each candidate would speak for 6 minutes, and then have 7 minutes to answer questions from the audience. She mentioned that the club has already endorsed Scott Stringer for City Controller, Ruben Diaz Jr. for Bronx BP, and Andrew Cohen in the 11th City Council race. 
  Current Public Advocate Bill DeBlasio was first up, and praised the BFDC for being a leader in the world of political clubs. De Blasio then sounded like Freddy Ferrer (when he ran mayor in 2005) by talking of a tale of two New York cities. He said that the outer boroughs have been forgotten by the current mayor, and continued to hammer Bloomberg on other items such as Living Wage, Paid Sick Leave, and Stop & Frisk. DeBlasio said that he wants to build 200,000 units of affordable housing and return City Hall to the Democrats. To a question on education DeBlasio called the mayor a dictator, and that he wants to tax the wealthy to pay for additional school programs. After DeBlasio finished current 11th district councilman G. Oliver Koppell was introduced and addressed the audience.
  Former City Councilman Sal Albanese was next up saying that he is the only candidate not taking corporate money, he has 11 years experience as a teacher, poverty is the main issue why many children do not do well in school, he wants to have pediatric wellness centers, and create more jobs. Upon questioning Albanese said that education will be his top priority, as well as affordable housing, and senior programs. 
  Long shot candidate Rev. Erick Salgado was next up saying that he was born in the Bronx, but grew up in Puerto Rico.  He said that he is the only Latino in the primary, and that 15 years ago he opened up the first of 3 churches in Bensonhurst. There was only one question about education where Salgado gave the standard answer of better local control of the schools. He added that he wants to rent out schools to non-profits when they are not being used. Anthony Weiner then came into the room to a throng of camera people following him. 
  Former City Comptroller Bill Thompson was next up. Thompson spoke of his experience as President of the Board of Education saying that more progress was made back in 1999 under Rudy Crew (an educator) was chancellor then a prosecutor (without naming Joel Klein). Thompson went on to slam the mayor and City Council (without mentioning council Speaker Quinn) for changing the term limit law in 2008. He closed by saying that he would be a mayor of all New York City. On a question of education and city worker contracts Thompson said under him there was a Chancellors District that reduced class size and added revenue to failing schools to turn them around. He added that of the 76 announced new schools created by the mayor that only 2 were really new, and the others were only failed schools that were closed. On the subject of city worker contracts Thompson said that he wants to open up the books to see where there is revenue, stop outsourcing jobs, and that to many contracts are expiring due to Mayor Bloomberg not wanting to negotiate with the unions. He closed by thanking the BFDC for their endorsement in 2009 when he came close to winning, and that in 2013 with the clubs help he can win.
  Next up was former congressman Anthony Weiner. Weiner opened up about his grandparents who lived on Waldo Avenue. Weiner then went into how his parents settled in Queens, and that in 2005 the BFDC had endorsed him. He added that the city is now worse off then in 2005. Weiner said that he has ideas to make schools better, and how the city with its vast health related resources can improve health care of the people. Weiner then said that he was sorry for what he had done in the past, the city needs to elect a Democrat, and that he do it in 2013. On a question of mass transit cuts, Weiner said that areas such as Riverdale should have ferry service. In mentioning the high cost of the 2nd Avenue subway line, he said that there could have been ferry service every 5 minutes. He spoke about the lack of mass transit options to get to the airports, and said that he would like to see ferry service to LaGuardia Airport.
  Next up was current City Council Speaker Christine Quinn. Quinn said that she has been speaker of the council for over 7 years, and that she has prevented layoffs, kept fire houses open, and helped tenants. She said that she would like to see 40,000 new units of affordable housing be built, and is proud of the legislation that she has passed. Quinn said that New York can remain the safest city under her as mayor, but belives that there is to much Stop and Frisk currently. On a question of changing the term limit law, Quinn said that in 2008 Councilman Koppell (who had left by then) and thers had supported changing the law to give voters a choice. To a question of a Times article that she is overbearing, Quinn answered that she is tough, pushy, and fights every day for the city. Quinn then ended by saying that she is "One Pushy Broad". 
  Current City Comptroller John Liu was scheduled to be the last speaker.  It was said that he was detained in traffic and could not make it in time to attend.

Left - Current Public Advocate Bill DeBlasio at the podium. 
Right - Former councilman Sal Albanese at the podium as BFDC President Ellen Feld is seated.

Left - Long shot Candidate Rev. Erick Salgado at the podium.
Right - Former congressman Anthony Weiner waiting his turn to speak. On the right is 11th City Council candidate Cheryl Kelling standing, and what appears to be a Weiner supporter next to him.

Left - Anthony Weiner at the podium.
Right - Bill Thompson at the podium.


Left - Christene Quinn at the podium as BFDC President asks for a question from the audience.
Right - A question for Ms. Quinn.

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Albany Legislation

   The first item came in from Senator Jeff Klein, and the second from Assemblyman Luis Sepulveda. It should be noted that even though the State Senate or Assembly will pass legislation, it must be passed by both legislative bodies and then signed by the governor to become effective. 

Senate Passes Klein Bill Toughening Child Pornography Laws 
The New York State Senate passed legislation to impose harsher penalties against child pornographers, including increased prison time by way of consecutive sentences, as well as changing punishments from felonies to first degree crimes.  The bill also extends protections to all children under the age of 18. Senate Co-Leader Jeff Klein is the prime sponsor of the legislation.

The legislation (S2266), would amend current law with the following measures:

1) Ensure that criminals face longer periods in prison when charged with multiple crimes by imposing consecutive sentences; 

2) Provide additional protection to minors by increasing the age benchmark of a child from 16 to 18 and;

3) Increase punishments from felonies to first degree crimes for:

  • Acts committed against children under 12 years old;
  • Use of a child in sexual performance and;
  • Promoting obscene sexual performances by a child.

Senator Jeff Klein said, “Those who seek to profit from the sexual exploitation of children must feel the full weight of our laws. Right now, New York’s penalties against child pornographers  simply aren’t enough. By imposing powerful penalties such as these, we’ll be doing much more to keep these dangerous predators off our streets and out of our communities.  My legislation gives criminals what they deserve and most importantly keeps them where they belong—securely behind bars.”


NYS Assembly takes action to keep people from losing their homes

I'm pleased to announce that my colleagues and I in the New York State Assembly, have recently passed two bills that seek to protect homeowners from unscrupulous business practices in the mortgage industry. In light of what's occurred in the last few years concerning minorities being targeted for questionable financing of loans by this industry, the implementation of such legislative initiatives are critical to protecting us from the insidious seizures of our assets.

One bill (A.5582), would require lenders to utilize the appropriate legal mechanisms to validate their intent before any actions can take place to foreclose on a property. The other bill (A.7395), would render it illegal for any employee acting on behalf of a mortgage company to perpetrate any sort of administrative fraud in an effort to foreclose on a residential property.

Given minorities being disproportionately  affected by foreclosures, these legislative enactments will ensure that we will have additional recourse to prevent the properties that we've worked so hard to acquire, to be taken from us without due process.

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

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Fordham Fever Friday’s Get Fit & Healthy Event on June 7th

  The Fordham Road Business Improvement District (BID) invites you to the Fordham Fever Friday’s Get Fit & Healthy event, taking place on Friday, June 7th from 11am – 4pm at Muller Park & Pedestrian Plaza at East Fordham Road & Creston Avenue.

We invite you to join us for a unique day of culturally diverse, health related, fun-filled activities, giving shoppers and families a delightful experience while visiting one of the busiest shopping districts in the Bronx. Shoppers can take a break from bargain hunting and get free mammography, diabetes, cholesterol, and blood pressure screenings.

Participate in one or all of several a special activities, including a yoga session by Love Bronx Yoga, resistance band demos by New Delightful You, a Tru Esencia Dance & Wellness Workshop by Wandee, and a fitness class by area gym 24-Hour Fitness.

Attendees will also enjoy live performances by Prime Example Performing Arts Program and professional Belly Dancer Nahla, and much more!

Save the dates for upcoming Fordham Fever Friday events including an Independence Day Cookout on July 5th, Back to School theme on August 2nd, Football Season Kick Off on September 6th, and a Continental Food Show on October 4th, 2013.

For more information about this event or any of our other programs, events or services, please contact the BID office at (718) 562-2104 or visit the BID website at

About Us
The Fordham Road BID is a non-profit corporation under contract with the City of New York to provide supplementary services to the community. The BID focuses on sanitation, beautification, promotion and overall advocacy of the Fordham Road area – striving to make the district a more attractive and dynamic locale in which to shop, work and visit. The BID boundaries extend from Third to Jerome Avenues along East Fordham Road and also includes the commercial areas on select side streets.  The district is comprised of approximately 80 buildings and almost 300 businesses ranging from nationwide chains to locally owned independent shops. 

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Thursday, May 23, 2013

Wave Hill Events June 7–June 14

Child and parent or caregiver practice fun yoga poses that build strength, increase flexibility and relax body and mind in this one-hour class taught by Catherine McGibney, an instructor at Yoga for Bliss. Recommended for ages 3–5. Sessions are held outdoors only and are weather dependent. Call 718.549.3200 x245 by 8AM on the day of the class for program updates. Member $15/Non-member $23. Session fee includes one adult and one child, $5 each additional child. Registration opens onsite at 9:30AM.

Touch a Rainbow/Toquemos el arco iris
Join visiting artist Ash Ferlito as she guides us in collecting translucent and opaque materials. Arrange them in an invented spectrum hinting at the refracted colors of the rainbow. Free, and admission to the grounds is free until noon.

Quiet like a mountain, moving like a river, Tai Chi is a sequence of gentle movements based on images found in nature. In this beginner-level class, Irving Yee, an active member of the William CC Chen Tai Chi School, will introduce students to the internal martial arts and promote an awareness of their health benefits. Sessions are held outdoors only and are weather dependent. Call 718.549.3200 x245 by 8AM on the day of the class for program updates. Session fee: Member $15/Non-member $23. Registration opens onsite at 9:30AM.

Glyndor Gallery closes at 2:30PM for a private function. Today’s gallery tour is also cancelled; tours resume Tuesday, June 11. Free with admission to the grounds.

Naturalist Gabriel Willow contributes his extensive knowledge of diverse bird species and their ecology and behavior on these captivating walks among the gardens and woodlands of Wave Hill. Ages 10 and older welcome with an adult. Birders of all levels welcome! Severe weather cancels. For weather-related updates call 718.549.3200 x 245 by 8AM the day of the walk. Free with admission to the grounds. (NYC Audubon Members enjoy two-for-one admission.) Registration recommended, online at, by calling 718.549.3200 x305 or at the Perkins Visitor Center.

Touch a Rainbow/Toquemos el arco iris
Join visiting artist Ash Ferlito as she guides us in collecting translucent and opaque materials. Arrange them in an invented spectrum hinting at the refracted colors of the rainbow. Free with admission to the grounds.

Find refuge from city life by practicing seasonal yoga. Decrease stress and increase your energy by focusing on your posture, breath control and meditation. Classes are led by Neem Dewji, certified in Hatha and Therapeutic Yoga by The Yoga for Health Foundation in Bedfordshire, England, and The Integral Yoga Institute in NYC. All levels welcome. Sessions are held outdoors only and are weather dependent. Call 718.549.3200 x245 by 8AM on the day of the class for program updates. Session fee: Member $15/Non-member $23. Registration opens onsite at 9:30AM.

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 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 multi-media, sculptural installation explores her idea of classification systems as a point of intersection between people and nature. Tours take place Tuesdays and Saturdays at 2PM. Free with admission to the grounds.

Child and parent or caregiver practice fun yoga poses that build strength, increase flexibility and relax body and mind in this one-hour class taught by Catherine McGibney, an instructor at Yoga for Bliss. Recommended for ages 3–5. Sessions are held outdoors only and are weather dependent. Call 718.549.3200 x245 by 8AM on the day of the class for program updates. Member $15/Non-member $23.. Session fee includes one adult and one child, $5 each additional child. Registration opens onsite at 9:30AM

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 June. 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
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RE: City Settles PCB Light Lawsuit
“I am glad that a settlement has been reached in the ongoing lawsuit over PCBs in public school light fixtures. I am especially relieved the City will remove toxic light fixtures from our public schools in three and a half years time, rather than the previous 10-year timetable.

“There is nothing more important than educating our children in a safe environment, one where they will not be harmed by environmental hazards such as PCBs. Since becoming Borough President, I have worked aggressively to voice my concerns and have urged the City to do immediate testing and clean all school buildings that may be at risk of PCB contamination.

“I congratulate and applaud the broad coalition of activists and organizations involved in this fight for working so diligently to make sure our schools are safe, as well as this administration for agreeing to move this important process forward.  This deal is a victory for students, teachers, parents and other staff that go to work every day in our public schools,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.


Comptroller John C. Liu stated the following about New York City’s settlement of the New York Communities for Change-New York Lawyers in the Public Interest lawsuit over the toxic PCBs in light fixtures in public schools:
“The settlement of this suit through the City’s agreement to an accelerated timeline for ridding our schools of toxic PCBs is a win all around. We stand ready to work with City Hall to finance the capital projects necessary with Green Apple Bonds, which would pay for the rapid cleanup of these chemicals while saving taxpayers $339 million and lowering the City’s carbon footprint. Now is the time.”
Comptroller Liu’s proposal on Green Apple Bonds:
Video of Green Apple Bonds news conference:

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

11th Council District Forum

  Tuesday night the New York League of Conservation Voters West Bronx Green held a forum for the 11th city council district candidates. The NCLVWBG held a mayoral forum two weeks earlier, but the format for the council forum was much different from the mayoral forum. At the mayoral forum the candidates spoke one at a time and stood alone. In the 11th Council district the format was much different. All three candidates were on the stage at the same time sitting next to each other. The other difference was that on the panel of people asking questions was the former owner (and still listed as publisher) of a Riverdale Newspaper that has been very favorable to one candidate in the race. Below are a few shots of the candidates.


Left- candidate Cheryl Keeling speaks to one of the atendees.
Right Candidates Andrew Cohen (left), and Cliff Stanton (right) work another area for possible votes.
 Here the three candidates await the first question, and give one another a few pointers?

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26th Annual Bronx Puerto Rican Day Parade

Tuesday, May 21, 2013


   The latest New York State Department of Labor statistics indicate that unemployment has dropped in Bronx County, from 11.6% in March to 10.5% in April. Given these new numbers, the Bronx is no longer the county with the highest unemployment rate in New York State, having surpassed both Hamilton County (11.4%) and Lewis County (10.9%).

“What we are doing is, indeed, working,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. “This drop in unemployment is not simply a result of people coming off the unemployment rolls, but also of more people finding jobs and getting to work. During my first four years in office we have worked aggressively to bring new jobs to the Bronx, all while strengthening the businesses that are already here.”

Borough President Diaz added, “My office will continue its efforts to bring new development to every corner of the Bronx. We still have work to do, but today’s number show us that our efforts in job creation are bearing fruit.”

New York State Department of Labor statistics indicate that 485.6 thousand Bronx residents were employed in April 2013, up from 481.7 thousand in March 2013.

The full statistics can be found at

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What You Should Know

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

With Friends Like That, Who Needs Enemies?

You should know that here in Albany, you can find bookies taking and placing bets all over the place. Ever since U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara released the names of six Democratic Senators who were recorded by
disgraced Senator Shirley Huntley, Albany has become an ambulatory casino in New York State.

Senators Ruth Hassell-Thompson, Velmanette Montgomery, Eric Adams, José Peralta, John Sampson and Malcolm Smith were all recorded by Senator Shirley Huntley after she was caught with her hand in the cookie jar.  She tried to save her skin by coming to an agreement with the FBI to wear recording equipment where she secretly, hypocritically invited people who were supposed to be her friends to visit her at her house – just to record them and try to bring them down.

With friends like that, who needs enemies?

It is important for you to know that only their names were released. Nothing concrete and nothing damaging about them has ever been revealed. It is for that reason that all of the bookies and crapshooters are going
around, placing their bets and playing their games.

Some high-rollers here in the State Capitol are also betting on the odds of Assemblyman Sheldon Silver’s future as Speaker after his secret handling of sexual abuse cases in the Assembly.  It’s hard to walk in any room in Albany without hearing someone discussing the odds of how much time Assemblyman Silver has left.

Friends and foes are going all around the State Capitol wagering about who they think will be the next elected official to go down.  Some are gambling about who they think is going around wearing recording devices.  They’re also placing their odds about who is inviting their colleagues to dinners and parties under the disguise of friendship, just to put them in jail.

With friends like that, who needs enemies?

So far, the biggest surprise of all in this mess was the comment made by a Queens Senator (and Democrat) Tony Avella, to Mr. Ken Lovett from the New York Daily News when he was asked to comment.  Mr. Lovett reported: “Avella said he's not surprised that fellow Queens Democrat Sen. Jose Peralta is among the six sitting senators ex-Sen. Shirley Huntley is said to have met with at her home while wearing a wire for the FBI.”

It appears to me that Senator Tony Avella placed himself in the role judge, jury and executioner to publicly condemn Senator José Peralta to the world.

If Senator Avella does not know about actual wrong-doings by Senator Peralta, then Senator Tony Avella owes a public apology to Senator José Peralta, to Senator Peralta’s constituents, to his Democratic colleagues, to the Hispanic community – and especially to the Dominican community.

In fact, if Senator Tony Avella was bearing false witness to Mr. Ken Lovett about Senator José Peralta, I’d have to say that Senator Avella owes an apology to the entire Borough of Queens since his words may have ruined Senator Peralta’s chances of becoming the Queens Borough President. This could be true even if there are no criminal charges ever brought against Senator Peralta and even if Senator Peralta proves to be the cleanest person on the earth!

If, on the other hand, Senator Tony Avella knows something about José Peralta that I don’t know about, then I will be the one who owes an apology to Tony Avella.

“My friends are my friends with all of their virtues and all of their defects,” my father used to say to my mother when I was young.

My father, Mr. Isaac Diaz Amecquita was well-known in Puerto Rico for his virtues as a carpenter, as a dominoes player, but also by his fidelity to his friends.  To the world, he would defend his friends whenever they were criticized.  He never abandoned his friends, especially when they were down.  These childhood memories cause me to compare how friendships were valued in those days and how they are valued now.  I also remember the old saying: “A friend is a dollar in your pocket, and if the pocket is broken, there is no friend.”

So, ladies and gentlemen, with friends like Tony Avella, Senator Peralta needs no enemies.

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


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Sunday, May 19, 2013

Bronx Week Parade, Food and Music Festival

  It may have rained, enough to cancel the Yankee game, but it didn't rain hard enough to damper the spirits enough to cancel the Bronx Week Parade, Food and Music Festival today on Mosholu Parkway. While some people and a few elected officials stayed away in drier places, there still were over 1,000 proud Bronxites who marched in the Bronx Week Parade on Mosholu Parkway, and then enjoyed the Food and Music Festival. The Parade was co-hosted by Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. and NY 1 Bronx reporter Dean Meminger.
   The Bronx Week Parade started off with the NYPD and NYFD, then came the marchers as the three Bronx Walk of Fame honorees arrived at the viewing stand. Famous actress Ellen Barkin, former NY State Attorney General and Bronx BP Robert Abrams, and musician Miguel Angel Amadeo then went onto the stage to watch the rest of the Bronx Week Parade.  As was the case in last years parade the theme again this year was all about the children and their future. 
   Parade highlights - The "Dynamic Duo" of BP Diaz and NY 1 reporter Dean Meminger, The Bronx Young Democrats, The fact that this event started under then Bronx BP Robert Abrams as "Bronx Day", Councilman Joel Rivera's Chief of staff marching four different times in the parade as was noted by BP Diaz, and of course the hundreds of children marching and performing.

Left - the start of the Bronx Week Parade was with Old Engine # 99.
Right - The 52nd Precinct Explorers  came next.

Left - Then came the dancers with Chief of staff to Councilman Joel Rivera Albert Alvarez (holding the umbrella).
Right - And the Martial Arts exhibition.

Left - Students from PS 94 in Norwood.
Right - The PS 211 Marching Band.

Left - More dancers and yes that's Albert Alvarez again who marched a total of four different times in the parade.
Right - Walk of Fame Honoree Robert Abrams (left), Assemblywoman Vanessa Gibson (center), And Councilman Andy King (right)