Saturday, June 1, 2013

Sen. Klein Visits with Students Participating in College Trip Program at Riverdale/Kingsbridge Academy

College trips made possible with funding from Senator Klein

  New York State Senate Co-Leader Jeff Klein visited with high school students, guidance counselors and school administrators at MS/HS 141 Riverdale/Kingsbridge Academy in Riverdale to learn from students about their experiences on college trips made possible with funding Senator Klein provided through Project BOOST. Along with Senator Klein were Mr. Larry Greenbush ( who oversees the 12 schools of Senator Klein in Project Boost), and Mr. Carl Vinci (who is the director of the 82 school program). This funding comes through the State Education Department, and is made possible to help aid students see just what is involved in going to college after high school. 

  During a question and answer period with students who participated in the Project Boost program Senator Klein learned from the students just what they experienced on their visits to different colleges in New York. Some students visited colleges on Long Island while others went upstate to visit SUNY colleges. The senator briefly gave his recollection of going to Bronx schools, college, graduate school, and then Law school. When asked if he went to school  to be a senator, Klein answered that he was always involved in student government and his first job was working in a congressman's office. Klein ended by saying that when he went to Columbia Unversity in the 1980's tuition was $10,000,00 a years back then. He said that it is now over $65,000.00.

  Senator Klein said, “Hearing directly from the students at the Riverdale/Kingsbridge Academy about their experiences traveling to college campuses - many for the first time - confirmed exactly the reason why I support programs like Project BOOST. 120 students from the high school went on college visits where they got to see, first hand, what the experience of being independent, taking responsibility for your schedule and actively thinking about your future looks like. I am proud to have made this opportunity possible for students at MS/HS 141 and will continue to do what I can to support access to academic and cultural experiences outside of the class room for students in my district.”


Left - Senator Klein listens to RKA students talk about their experiences about visiting different colleges.
Right - Senator Klein and RKA Principal Laura O'Mara (on the senators right) talk with staff members about the students trips.

Senator Klein and RKA Principal O'Mara stand amid the students who participated in this Project Boost program.

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  Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., FreshDirect CEO Jason Ackerman and Marlene Cintron, president of the Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation expressed their satisfaction today after learning that the lawsuit in opposition of FreshDirect’s impending move to the Harlem River Yards has been dismissed.

“I am thrilled to learn that the plaintiff’s legal efforts to thwart FreshDirect’s relocation to our borough have been stopped, and their lawsuit has been dismissed,” said Borough President Diaz. “My office has, since day one, understood that this project is crucial to the future economic health and vitality of the Bronx.”

Borough President Diaz noted that this project will create 1,000 new jobs while also relocating 2,000 jobs to the Bronx from Queens. Already, FreshDirect has displayed their commitment to the Bronx through hiring initiatives that have led to Bronx residents getting jobs at their existing Queens facility, the impending greening of their delivery fleet, the expansion of their services to the entire borough and their efforts to expand their services to EBT users.

“In short, FreshDirect is now and will continue to be a great asset to the Bronx. I look forward to seeing this project come to fruition,” said Borough President Diaz.

“We're very happy that the Court has recognized that the environmental review was proper and in accordance with the law.  We are eager to move forward with our plans to bring thousands of jobs to the Bronx and make it easier for people to get fresh food.  We look forward to working with our Bronx neighbors,” said FreshDirect CEO Jason Ackerman.

“Our belief in the justice system has been reinforced by this decision. Now we can get to the serious work of bringing 3,000 much needed jobs to the Bronx as soon as possible,” said Marlene Cintron, President of the Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation. 

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Friday, May 31, 2013

NYLCV To NYC Mayoral Candidates:

Solid Waste Management Plan Must Be Comprehensive

   The New York League of Conservation Voters, which works to make environmental sustainability a top political priority in New York, today called on all New York City mayoral candidates to support the comprehensive approach to solid waste as embraced in the current Solid Waste Management Plan.
Passed in 2006 with strong support from New Yorkers, city leaders and environmental organizations, the Solid Waste Management Plan revolutionized the way New York handles its garbage. Prior to the plan’s implementation, the overwhelming majority of the city’s garbage was trucked into low-income and minority neighborhoods outside of Manhattan. For decades, those communities faced disproportionate environmental burdens including noise, reduced air quality and odors.
The Solid Waste Management Plan addressed this environmental injustice by requiring each borough to handle its own share of waste. The plan also helped clean the air and reduce quality-of-life complaints by establishing a system of marine transfer stations to reduce truck traffic and transport waste more efficiently. The locations of the marine transfer stations were carefully selected after exhaustive studies and community input.
“The strength of the Solid Waste Management Plan is its comprehensive nature. If one marine transfer station in Manhattan is eliminated, the burden simply shifts back to other stations and other boroughs – undermining the success of the entire effort,” said NYLCV President Marcia Bystryn. “Environmental and environmental justice organizations fought for the current Solid Waste Management Plan for many years. New York must not go back to the polluting and unfair ways of the past.”

The New York League of Conservation Voters (NYLCV) was founded in 1989 as a nonpartisan, policy-making and political action organization that works to make environmental protection a top priority with elected officials, decision makers, and voters by evaluating incumbent performance and endorsing and electing environmental leaders to office in New York State.


Croton Filter Plant - Croton FMC Agenda

Croton Facility Monitoring Committee Meeting

Thursday, June 6, 2013 – 7:00 PM
DEP Office – 3660 Jerome Avenue, Bronx NY 10467 - (718) 231-8470

I  Welcome                         Bob Fanuzzi, Chair

II Consider, Adopt June CFMC Agenda        CFMC Representatives

III Consider, Adopt 3/21/13 Meeting Minutes    CFMC Representatives

IV Update on Jogging Path Construction          DPR            
    At Jerome Park Reservoir

V Discuss DEP Responses regarding            CFMC Representatives
    SSE Performance                                         
Croton Site-wide Emergency Generator                 and DEP

VI Discussion about CFMC Request for Tour      CFMC and DEP
    of Jerome Park Reservoir

VII Croton Construction Update & Croton         Bernard Daly, DEP
    Costs Report

VIII CFMC Discussion.  Confirm Date for         CFMC Representatives
September 19, 2013 CFMC Meeting

IX Adjourn


Certified Diamonds from Blue Nile

Advocates and Lawmakers Call for State Senate and Governor to Toughen Laws to Protect Immigrants

Assemblyman Marcos Crespo, Senator Ruben Diaz and immigrant advocates concerned that with federal immigration reform on the horizon immigrants will be victims of mass fraud without immediate State action

   Immigrant advocates and policymakers today called for tougher measures to discourage rampant immigrant assistance service fraud.  Federal immigration reform proposals are moving quickly in Washington DC and both the US Senate and House of Representatives are scheduled to pass the legislation in June and August respectively.  “Passage of immigration reform will open flood gates of immigrants seeking assistance with federal requirements and fraudulent immigration services providers are already lining up to strike thousands of victims,” stated Assemblyman Marcos A. Crespo, Chair of the Assembly Task Force on New Americans. In the spring of 2011 a sweep by federal and New York City law enforcement agencies found over 220 immigration service providers operating outside the limits of the law and issued over $288,000 in fines.  Surveys on this type of fraud in other major US cities have found that over 40% of immigration assistance services operations are fraudulent.

According to Crespo, “Immigration assistance services fraud is a serious problem facing the more than two million New Yorkers who are non-citizens, including some 800,000 who are considered undocumented immigrants.  Many immigrants looking for assistance with federal immigration matters have been defrauded and have lost their lifes savings trying to navigate our immigration system.” 

Senator Ruben Diaz, Sr. stated, “I am proud to be the Senate Sponsor of this important bill and I thank my co-sponsors Senators Parker and Sampson for having the courage to put their names on this legislation. The Federal Government has taken long-awaited steps to improve the lives of millions of undocumented immigrants.  The time has come for New York State to do everything in its power to protect these immigrants who live all throughout our great State, from the eastern shores of Long Island to Niagara Falls and everyplace in between.  Now that the Assembly has passed this bill unanimously for the second time, I am calling on the Senate leadership to bring this bill to the Senate floor for a vote before the legislative session ends.”

“With federal immigration reform on the horizon and a rush of huge number of immigrants seeking to qualify for the new Registered Provisional Immigrant (RPI) status, it is anticipated that mass scale immigration services fraud will be committed. Tougher measures at the State level to discourage and punish immigration services fraud are needed and should be in place prior to the enactment of federal immigration reform,” declared Crespo.

The legislation (A.158/S.786) which passed the Assembly on May 29, 2013 via a unanimous vote increases fines, requires qualifying criteria to be able to be an immigration assistance service provider and requires such providers to be registered with the New York State Department of State and requires that they prominently display their State certification.

"Comprehensive Immigration Reform is a very real possibility, and immigrant New Yorkers will be seeking assistance to determine their best options," said Wayne Ho, Executive Director of the Coalition for Asian American Children and Families.  "Immigrant New Yorkers deserve reliable, credible immigration assistance services.  Service providers should not take advantage of immigrants who will be making important decisions that impact the well-being of not only themselves but also their children and families.  Immigration services fraud should not be tolerated, especially in New York."

“Immigrants living in New York City who could applying to legalize their immigration status need more than ever a law that guarantees a qualified assistance to fulfill  a complex immigration application process. Therefore LULAC Queens Council 23047 supports the bill proposed made by Assemblyman Crespo concerning: "Immigrant Assistance Service Enforcement Act." The bill propose increases fines imposed upon those who violate laws regarding immigrant assistance services; requires certain immigrant assistance service providers to be registered with the Department of State.  I invites our Latino community to support it to prevent deceptive actions of people and organizations who are not following the  laws, rules and procedures, causing serious consequences for the applicants,” stated Sylvia Mata, President of the Queens Chapter for League of United Latin American Citizens.

"The NYIC commends Assemblyman Crespo and the New York Legislature for addressing the need for consumer protections against the unauthorized practice of immigration law and the provision of incompetent or unscrupulous legal services.  It enhances penalties for fraudulent services; establishes a registration system for immigration legal providers and requires that they meet clear criteria for registration and renewal of registration; and imposes penalties for providers who fail to register,” stated Chung-Wha Hong, Executive Director of the New York Immigration Coaliton.  “Two key elements remain to be addressed: a robust public education campaign funded by the state to increase consumer awareness so that immigrant communities know how to protect themselves against unscrupulous providers; and a clear mechanism for reporting incidents of unscrupulous and incompetent practices to ensure both enforcement and restitution, as appropriate.  We look forward to working with Assemblyman Crespo and the New York Legislature to make this bill as effective as possible.”

According to Alfred Placeres, Esq., Legal Director for Casa Puebla, "This bill will help to expose those unscrupulous immigrant service providers who continue to  plague our community. Protecting our New Americans from getting ripped off as they travel down the path to citizenship is something we can all support.

“Last year, my organization published a report that relied on community led research where we documented that Immigration Service Providers are routinely violating the law and engaging substandard, predatory and fraudulent practices.” says Valeria Treves, Executive Director of New Immigrant Community Empowerment, “In clear contravention of the law, none the ISPs visited by the our ‘mystery shoppers’ had a required “not an attorney” sign posted, up to a quarter of them advertised that they provide legal advice; and a quarter of them falsely identified themselves as an immigration attorney office. Furthermore, 23% of mystery shoppers received legal advice on the spot and one in three ISPs visited by the mystery shoppers guaranteed success in their applications for immigration benefits, which also forbidden by law. The consequences of an immigration services scam can range from the loss of money (sometimes thousands of dollars), to immigration consequences (including deportation) to social and emotional trauma.”

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Thursday, May 30, 2013


John Liu has been an ally in our union’s campaign against wasteful contracting out and a good friend to New Yorkers we serve in communities citywide.
  On May 28, the 300-member Delegate Assembly of District Council 37, New York City’s largest public employee union representing 121,000 active members and its Retirees Association, representing 50,000 members, voted unanimously to officially endorse New York City Comptroller John Liu for Mayor. The union’s endorsement was announced at a news conference on the steps of City Hall on May 29.

DC 37 Executive Director Lillian Roberts said, “DC 37 members and all New Yorkers face a critical mayoral election this November, which could bring a truly great mayor who will end the current favoritism toward the wealthy 1% and restore government ‘for the people’— the poor and working-class people of New York City. A mayor who makes New York City’s neglected communities and the public workers that serve them a priority. With last night’s vote by our Delegates, DC 37 officially endorsed New York City Comptroller John Liu as the candidate best qualified to be that mayor.”

DC 37’s endorsement came after a process of careful deliberation and evaluation of mayoral candidates seeking its support, which included an evaluation and recommendation by the DC 37 Screening Committee and the Delegates. Earlier DC 37 also held a Mayoral Forum on May 16, co-sponsored by 15 labor/community partners, where candidates seeking the union’s endorsement had an opportunity to speak and answer questions on issues of importance to DC 37 and its labor/community partners before an audience of hundreds of members.

“We evaluated Comptroller Liu’s answers to tough questions — both at our Mayoral Forum and from the DC 37 Screening Committee — regarding issues of importance to District Council 37 and the communities our union members serve,” said Roberts. “We also looked at his consistent track record of actions to curtail contracting out, overspending and waste of taxpayer dollars throughout his tenure as Comptroller. DC 37 members have been able to count on John Liu’s support during our fight to protect vital services and our jobs. 

"With DC 37’s endorsement of Comptroller Liu,” Roberts continued, “comes a pledge to work diligently on his behalf with our powerful, sophisticated field operations to get out the vote. This union has a proven record of successfully supporting our endorsed candidates. We look forward to putting DC 37’s mighty army of volunteers into the field to help elect New York City Comptroller John Liu as New York City’s next mayor — a mayor who truly believes in government for the people.”

District Council 37 is New York City’s largest public employee union, with 121,000 members and 50,000 retirees.

Bird walks

  This came in from our friend 80th A.D. Male State Committeeman Joe McManus.

Mr. McManus writes- 

On June 8 th, 22nd and 29th of June , I will be leading bird walks in Van Cortlandt Park in conjunction with the NYC Audubon Society.
The walks are free and sponsored by  Van Cortlandt Park.
Time : 8-9:30 AM
Meeting place: Nature Center- between the Mansion and the Tennis courts.
No registration is needed.
for info: 718-548-0912
Children will have a good time!
Parking is available in the entrance off Van Cortlandt Park South. Follow the signs to the Golf  entrance.The parking is to the left before you reach the Golf house.
Please bring binoculars, field guide if available, bug spray and water.
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Wave Hill Events June 14–June 21

  Please note the art workshop on Sunday. Many of our workshops are multi-session series, so the Creative Action offerings are especially attractive if you are looking for that one topic or one day you feel like devoting to explore your creative side. But I recommend registering now since this small class will fill quickly.

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

T’s for Dad and Me/Franelas pará Papa y yo
Think of an animal to represent you and one to represent Dad, and draw them together as a tribute to the two of you. With fabric markers and special crayons, decorate a summer T-shirt with your animal pair. Use a T-shirt we provide or bring your own. 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.

Discover the fascinating history of the gardens, buildings and the people who once called Wave Hill their home, with historian and Wave Hill Garden Guide Deirdre LaPorte. 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.

T’s for Dad and Me/Franelas pará Papa y yo
Think of an animal to represent you and one to represent Dad, and draw them together as a tribute to the two of you. With fabric markers and special crayons, decorate a summer T-shirt with your animal pair. Use a T-shirt we provide or bring your own. 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.

Reconsidering Weeds through Watercolor
Engage in a creative dialogue with your surroundings guided by professional artists working in various media. Try something new―all skill levels welcome! In this session, investigate invasive or “undesirable” plants growing in and around Wave Hill with Drawn to Nature exhibition artist Ellie Irons. Turn each plant into pigment using a method derived from the production of watercolor paints, then experiment with the new pigments while painting forms drawn from the landscape. Take home a sample of pigment. $20 Member/$30 Non-member each session. Space is limited. Registration required, online at, by calling 718.549.3200 x305 or at the Perkins Visitor Center. Drop-ins accommodated as space permits.

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

Closed to the public.

Spend the day exploring two very different gardens set in the rolling hills of New Jersey horse country with Assistant Director of Public Programs Laurel Rimmer and Horticultural Interpreter Charles Day. At the Leonard J. Buck Garden in Far Hills, wander the woodland trails where ferns, wildflowers, bulbs
and rare alpine plants enhance the stream valley and natural outcroppings. Just a few miles away in Pottersville, visit the inspirational garden of Andrea Filippone and William Welch, described in Elle Décor magazine as “a lush and romantic haven richly layered with artifacts and artistry.” $50 Member, includes admission, tour fees and transportation; lunch additional. Registration required, online at, by calling 718.549.3200 x305 or at the Perkins Visitor Center. Space is limited.

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

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


Wednesday, May 29, 2013

BFDC Endorsement Meeting

   Last night the Ben Franklin Democratic Club held an endorsement meeting for the two positions of Civil Court Judge in the Bronx, the position of Public Advocate, and for Mayor. Club President Ellen Feld opened the meeting by saying that there was national news coverage of the BFDC Mayoral Forum that was held last week. She added that Sunday at the BFDC headquarters (4-6 PM) will be the kick off for the Cohen for Council campaign with several BFDC already endorsed candidates such as BP Diaz, Comptroller candidate Stringer, and others to be in attendance. 
   81st A.D. Male District Leader Bruce Feld announced that petitioning begins on June 4th, and that the club will have its own petitions available the day before for members to pick up. 
   President Ellen Feld said tonight's meeting was for endorsement of 2 judges, Public Advocate, and Mayor should the club choose to endorse which included the option of no endorsement also for any of the positions. First up was current Acting Supreme Court Justice Larry Schachner running for Civil Court Judge. Second was Acting Supreme Court Justice Julia Rodriguez also running for Civil Court Judge in another capacity. Both Judges had been endorsed before by the club, and were overwhelmingly endorsed again this time.
   Next came the position of Public Advocate, where there seemed to be a split in the club. President Feld said that there were four candidates running, and that there was also the choice of no endorsement calling for a vote to endorse or not. Councilman G. Oliver Koppell stood up to ask that "the club vote not to endorse for the position of Public Advocate, but also vote to not endorse for Mayor tonight". Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz said that he disagreed with Koppell on not endorsing. He suggested that the club vote for Public Advocate even though the club may not vote to endorse for Mayor. He added "There are seven candidates now for mayor and only four for Public Advocate". 
   Discussion continued on the subject with one member asking that the candidates appear again which can not be done said President Feld who added that the club has already heard from the candidates. State Committeewoman Helen Morik said that she agrees with Councilman Koppell's position of no endorsement for both Public Advocate & Mayor. Former State Committeewoman Marcia Alina stated that if there is no endorsement the club would look like it is not being a part of the races. A voice vote was taken to decide to endorse for the position of Public Advocate or not was to close so that a show of hands had to be taken.       The vote was to endorse for Public Advocate where as several members of the club spoke on behalf of the candidates running. this vote was taken by written ballot that was announced later after all the votes were counted. 
  It was time to endorse or not for the mayors race. Club parliamentarian Bruce Feld explained from the section in the clubs by-laws that stated that a candidate must win with more than 50 percent of the vote cast. Then the top two candidates and the option of no endorsement is voted on, and then the top candidate and no endorsement which will provide the answer. He said that this happened four years ago when the club voted and endorsed for mayor and not for Public Advocate. A question of the club having a quorum was answered with "Yes there is a quorum present" by President Feld. 
   Club member Mike Heller suggested that the club not endorse for mayor now as until the numbers change as it is to close right now. Club Vice-President Paul Ellis agreed on waiting, especially since the entry of Anthony Weiner into the mayors race. Member David Kornblau said that in 3-4 weeks the bloodletting would be done, and then the club could endorse a candidate. By a voice vote of over 2 - 1 the BFDC voted not to endorse any candidate for mayor, but the executive committee could bring the endorsement vote back on the agenda at the next meeting. 
   The results of the vote to endorse for Public Advocate was won by current State Senator Dan Squadron with 34 out of 53 votes cast. It was also mentioned that the petitions of all mayoral candidates would be at the BFDC if the candidates would leave them for club members.

Left - Councilman G. Oliver Koppell asking the BFDC not to endorse for Public Advocate or Mayor.
Right - Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz disagrees with Councilman Koppell saying that the club should endorse for Public Advocate even if it chooses not to endorse for mayor.

Left - Club member Mike Heller says that the margin is so close in the mayors race that he suggests that the club not endorse any candidate right now.
Right - Club Vice-President Paul Ellis agrees on not endorsing for mayor especially with the entrance of Anthony Weiner in the mayors race.


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Tuesday, May 28, 2013

What You Should Know

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


You should know that while the worst of another Great Depression seems to be over in New York State and our Governor is claiming to have balanced the budget on time for three consecutive years, nonetheless, New York continues to face difficult times and ways of finding revenue to fill its commitments.

To balance the Budget, drastic spending cuts have been made in many government agencies such as the New York State Office for the Aging, The Department of Health and State & City Universities.  The workforce and education of the children continue to suffer, and many non-profit community organizations have either closed their doors or suffered unsustainable cuts.

You should also know that during my ten years of service in the New York State Senate, I have and continue to present, advice and introduce pieces of legislation to help New York State find additional resources without having to hurt the poor and needy.

The problem with my solutions and recommendations is that they will protect the poor and hurt the pocket of the wealthy and powerful, and for some people in power; it is much easier to hit the poor and not the wealthy.

You should know that this is not the first time that I have written about this, but because the Legislative Session is about to end and no one seems to care, I just want to remind you, my dear reader, of my commitment and struggle to find solutions and alleviate the burden that every year is put on the shoulders of the poor and needy of our State.

You should know that there are three pieces of legislation that I have introduced in the Senate, some of which are being introduced in the Assembly by Assemblymen Marcos Crespo, Jeff Dinowitz and Brian Kavanagh.

My “Dead Peasants” or “Janitors” Insurance Senate Bill 5388 and Assembly Bill 3896 introduced by Assemblyman Crespo, deals with abuse or injustices committed by some powerful companies toward their employees and their families.

Despite the current bleak economic picture, corporations are reaping huge financial benefits from life insurance policies they take out on their employees and/or retirees. Corporate-owned life insurance, better known as “Dead Peasants” or “Janitors” insurance, is a life insurance policy that is taken out on low-level employees, often without the knowledge or consent of the employee, and whose families are not named as beneficiaries when the employee or retiree dies.

When the employee or retiree dies, these tax free benefits are collected by the employer. Furthermore, it is believed that companies are frequently using these policies to pay for retirement benefits and other perks for their top executives. Companies that supposedly engage in the practice of purchasing these policies include Wal-Mart, Dow Chemical, Proctor & Gamble and Walt Disney.

One tragic example of this practice is that of a 48 year-old assistant manager at Wal-Mart who died of a massive heart attack. The man’s widow became the lead plaintiff in a class action suit after she learned that Wal-Mart collected $300,000 from a life insurance policy it owned on him.

My bill would impose a 50% tax on all benefits received by companies in New York State who take out life insurance policies on their employees or retirees.

Secondly, you should know that my Senate Bill S5150, introduced in the Assembly as A4066 by Assemblyman Marcos Crespo, and A157 by Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh, deal with taxes collected when purchases  are made with a credit card.

A major source of failure to comply with the New York State sales taxes being remitted to the State from credit card companies who collect such taxes from their customers and instead of sending those taxes to New York State Commissioner of Taxation, the credit card companies send the taxes back to the merchant where the purchase was made.

The current system relies solely on the thousands of vendors to voluntarily remit such sales taxes to the state. It is believed that the state loses more than $800 million dollars every year on these taxes.

My legislation will force the companies to send those taxes directly to the state and not back to the vendors.

New York State cannot possibly audit every vendor and the vendors know this. However, the processors which are paid by the vendors to deal with the issuers of credit and debit cards, and who actually get the monies from the credit card issuers, are far less numerous. They know the true sales and actually get money from the credit card companies which include the sales taxes. It is more efficient to have these processors remit the sales taxes directly to New York State instead of sending the taxes back to the vendors and then relying upon the vendors to timely and accurately submit the sales taxes.

Finally, another piece of legislation that I have introduced in the Senate is S1386 which Assemblymen Marcos Crespo and Jeff Dinowitz are carrying in the Assembly as bill A4003 and bill A308.

You should know that some of the biggest money-making industries in the nation are pharmaceutical companies. The same prescription drugs that we purchase in the state of New York at sky-high prices are sold in Canada at minimum cost. Buying prescription drugs from Canada will save the state close to $1 billion dollars annually.

My legislation is based on a program that has operated successfully in Schenectady County since 2005. Since then, the County has realized savings of over $17 million dollars. Additionally, County prescription drug costs have increased less than 8.9% since the program’s inception. This figure
compares favorably with the average of U.S prescriptions drug programs which have seen prices escalate by more than 12% each year, or 76.2% over five years. Over 90% of Schenectady County’s employees represented by two unions, CSEA and 1199, now participate in the program.

Since prescription drug costs are among New York State’s highest expenditures, one way the State can accomplish this goal is by creating the New York State Prescription Medication Cost Containment Program, which would be voluntary, for participants in the Elderly Pharmaceutical Insurance Program (EPIC) and for New York State civil service employees and retirees.

My advice to New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo is that the State must be more creative in its approach to raising revenue and controlling expenses, without relying on the usual methods of raising taxes and cutting - or in some cases eliminating programs that hurt the poor and needy and balance the Budget on their backs.

Governor Cuomo should take a really good look at my three pieces of legislation. If he feels that they are good for the State, he doesn’t even have to give me credit for them - he can take them and make them his top priority and push for them as he has done for same sex marriage, abortions, marijuana and election reform.

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


Jacobi Hospital Holds Stroke Health Fair May 30th

Specialists and Experts On-Hand to Offer Screenings and Advice

Each year 6,400 New Yorkers die due to a stroke, while thousands more who survive are left with serious long-term disabilities. While stokes are sudden and tragic events, the good news is there are preventable steps everyone can take to reduce their risk. These simple lifestyle changes can make all the difference, possibly saving the life of loved one or your own. They include: eating healthier, losing weight, daily exercise, quitting smoking, and gaining control of your cholesterol, blood pressure and sugar intake. Now New Yorkers can get expert, personalized information on their risk for stroke, along with advice on taking those positive steps – absolutely free.

On Wednesday, May 30th from 10 a.m. to noon, Jacobi Medical Center (Jacobi) will host a Stroke Health Fair. The event will take place at the Rotunda, adjacent to Building 4, on the Jacobi Medical Center campus at 1400 Pelham Parkway South, Bronx, New York, 10461. Experts on hand to provide:

 Stroke Risk Assessments
 Blood Pressure Screenings
 Weight and Body Mass Index C
 Nutritional Counseling
 Guidance on Exercise
 Information on Jacobi’s Smoking Cessation Program

What’s more, after 12 p.m., fair participants can enjoy a musical performance by Slavic Soul Party and Falu. The concert is a part of the ongoing partnership between Jacobi and Carnegie Hall.

When a person has a stroke, every second counts. It is critical when getting a patient to a Stroke Center to receive expert care. Jacobi is a New York State Designated Primary Stroke Center, where highly trained staff provide the latest in treatment for stroke
For further information, please contact the Public Affairs Department at (718) 918-3827.

About Jacobi Medical Center
Jacobi Medical Center is part of HHC’s North Bronx Healthcare Network, which includes North Central Bronx Hospital. Jacobi is a 457-bed teaching hospital affiliated with the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. The facility offers numerous Centers of Excellence including its renowned trauma center, multi-person hyperbaric unit, burn center, surgical intensive care unit, stroke center, regional perinatal center, breast health center and bariatric service. Jacobi’s new Ambulatory Care Pavilion is a stunning complement to its recently constructed inpatient facility and allows staff to provide outpatients with high-quality care in a modern, state-of-the-art environment. 


Senator Rivera Calls for Greater Asthma Awareness and Support for Legislation As Asthma Awareness Month Comes to a Close

  Senator Gustavo Rivera, the ranking member of the Senate's Health Committee, urges Bronxites to increase their asthma awareness as part of Asthma Awareness Month and urges the passage of legislation that can help prevent or minimize the harm caused by the disease.

"Asthma is a serious, but treatable health issue that affects over 1.1 million New Yorkers, including myself" said Senator Gustavo Rivera. "The lack of awareness surrounding this disease - and people's inability to recognize its causes and symptoms - leads thousands of New Yorkers to suffer unnecessary complications every year. We must work to increase awareness of the causes and effects of asthma and pass legislation that will help reduce the complications that develop from the disease."

Asthma causes approximately 301 deaths per year and 41,797 hospitalizations in New York State. It is also the leading cause of missed school days for children and workplace absences for adults.

Asthma is an even a greater problem in the outer boroughs. The Bronx has one of the highest rates of asthma in city.  For instance, nearly one-third (32.3 percent) of children who made asthma-related emergency room visits in 2010 were from the Bronx.

Asthma attacks can be caused by triggers such as cockroaches, mold, pet dander, dust, pollen, air pollution and, in particular, tobacco smoke. A study by the National Center for Health Statistics of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that exposure to secondhand smoke was associated with an increased risk of having three or more visits to a doctor or emergency room due to wheezing in the past year.

"Tobacco smoke is one of the most common asthma triggers in our society," said Senator Gustavo Rivera. " While we have implemented measure that have considerably reduced New Yorkers' consumption and exposure to tobacco smoke in the past, it is not enough to curb the great number of children and adults who suffer needlessly from asthma related illness." 

Legislation, such as the bill introduced and passed by Senator Rivera that banned smoking within 100 feet from all school entrances, can be effective in minimizing the public's exposure to suffering from an asthma attack.  According to a study published in Circulation, smoke-free laws quickly and dramatically have cut the number of people hospitalized for heart attacks, strokes and respiratory diseases. The study also found that hospitalization for respiratory disease, such as asthma, fell 24 percent after the implementation of smoke-free legislation.

"We need to continue to find ways to discourage unhealthy behaviors and to keep our youth from being exposed to harmful triggers," said Senator Gustavo Rivera. "This is one of the reasons why I continue to make reducing tobacco usage a legislative priority. It is also why I strongly support any effort, such as raising the minimum age to buy tobacco, that will reduce our youth's access to these products."

To support asthma awareness, Senator Rivera is encouraging Bronxities to attend the Asthma Resource Fair at Bronx-Lebanon Hospital Center, 1650 Grand Concourse, Bronx, NY on Thursday, May 30, 2013 from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm. Attendees will be able to interact with health educators about their asthma and receive pertinent information about the disease's symptoms, triggers and treatments. Attendees will also have the opportunity to play asthma-related games and sign a pledge to control their asthma.

To avoid unnecessary asthma related complications, the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene provides the following recommendations:
  •          Encourage parents/caregivers to quit smoking.
  •          Encourage parents/caregivers to talk with landlords about household           problems that may trigger asthma episodes.
  •          Get regular care and know when to seek emergency care for your child.
  •          Take your child to the doctor for regular asthma check-ups, even when no asthma symptoms are present.
  •          Identify asthma triggers in the home and try to reduce or eliminate them.
  •          Tell the school that your child has asthma and provide them with a completed Medication Administration Form from your child's doctor.
  •          Promptly repair leaks, cracks, holes and ventilation problems.
  •          Contain food and garbage so they don't become food for pests.
  •          Use only safe pest control methods when needed.
For information about the Nicotine Patch and Gum Program or for help on how to quit smoking, New York City residents can call 311 or visit the following sites:
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