Saturday, June 8, 2013

Croton Facility Monitoring Committee Meeting 6/6/13

  Thursday night was the meeting of the Croton Facility Monitoring Committee. Chairman Bob Fanuzzi opened the meeting, and the meeting soon got to the good part. Steve Desnayer representing the Parks Department spoke of the projects that the 200 or 240 million in mitigation funds (money promised by Mayor Bloomberg in 2003 to Bronx parks in order so the elected officials of the Bronx would vote to alienate part of Van Cortlandt Park to build the Croton Water Filtration Plant. Mr. Desnayer noted two projects currently in design one at 233rd Street, and the other for enhancing the area around White Plains Road northbound by Pelham Parkway which was being done in conjunction with the DDC rehabilitation of Pelham Parkway. He then mentioned some more projects adding that to date 151 million dollars has been registered. Gary Axelbank (an opponent of the filtration plant since the early 1990's when it was proposed to be built in the Jerome Park Reservoir) stated "according to MOU signed in late 2003 or early 2004 all park projects were to be done within five years or 2009 at the latest, and here we are in 2013 and they are not yet completed". 
  The next topic was the removal of trees, the construction of the partial jogging path around the JPR, and the replacement of the sidewalk on Sedwick Avenue by DEP and DPR  which had over thirty street parking spaces taken away over the memorial Day weekend while no work was being done. Just an apology by the Parks Department rep was given, and that they will try to take less street parking away in the future.
  Next came the finding of a violation by one contractor that was discussed as to how the DEP found it out, and why the DEP is asking for a waiver to allow not having a back up generator at the plant. It was said that there was a master electrician on site as required, but that the license he had might not have been up to date.The DEP said that they do not regulate that, but it is the responsibility of the Department of Buildings. The letter requesting a waiver was gone over by the committee members, where as DEP said that it is common for that to happen.
  A site visit was requested by Chairman Fanuzzi, and when the DEP tried to stall he said that he wanted it done before the end of the summer or before the next meeting in September not when new members or a new commissioner might be in place.
  Neat came the subject of the demolition of two buildings one of which was the Demo Plant that was built next to the JPR to show how the water would be filtered. DEP said that asbestos had to be removedfrom both buildings, but I asked how could the DEP have used Asbestos in a building that was built around 1990 when asbestos was banned in 1978. The few DEP personal looked at each other and could not answer the question.
  The final topic was the start of construction on the corner of Sedwick Ave. and Goulden Ave. This will force the closure again of Goulden Ave. between 205th Street and Sedwick Ave. and the closing of all but one lane on Sedwick Ave. heading towards Mosholu Parkway. This construction will start as of June 27th and go through August 31st.
  The next meeting of the CFMC was then scheduled for Thursday Sept 12th.


News From Councilman Koppell


Council Member Oliver Koppell hailed the unanimous decision of the state’s highest court to reverse a lower court ruling and allow street hails for car services in the outer boroughs and above 96th Street in Manhattan, where yellow cabs rarely visit.   

Within a month, a fleet of “apple green” livery taxis will be available for street hails in those neighborhoods where livery cabs were formerly not allowed to respond to passengers hailing cabs from the street.  The city will be allowed to issue up to 18,000 “hail licenses” over 3 years for these taxis, which will have a roof light, meters and the capacity to accept credit cards, making their services equal to those of yellow cabs.  One fifth of these cabs will be wheelchair accessible.

Koppell, a longtime proponent of more available and accessible taxi service for all New Yorkers, said, “This decision will bring safe, reliable taxi service to all five boroughs, something people in the outer boroughs, such as the one in which I live, have wanted for a very long time. Further, by ensuring that a fifth of these cabs are wheel-chair accessible, the plan makes taxi service more available to disabled individuals.”

The court ruling further increases taxi accessibility by clearing  the way for the city to auction off 2,000 medallions for wheelchair–accessible yellow cabs, which will command prices of $700,000  to  $1 million, generating as much as $1 billion in revenue.  It is expected that the yellow taxi medallion sale will begin in October.

“The increase in wheel-chair accessible taxis brings us closer to my goal of requiring that all taxis be accessible to disabled individuals. Although I will continue to pursue the goal of an all accessible taxi fleet, I am heartened by today’s court decision that brings livery cab drivers out of the shadows and expands taxi service for all New Yorkers,” Koppell stated.



Petitions for Permanent Funding for School-Based Health Centers
As negotiations between the Mayor and the City Council concerning the NYC budget for the next fiscal year begin,  Member Oliver Koppell, Chair of the Committee on Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities, Alcoholism, Drug Abuse and Disability Services, urged Speaker Christine Quinn to restore and, if possible, to increase the funding for mental health initiatives cut by the Mayor’s Executive Budget.
Koppell specifically urged funding for three mental health initiatives that he considered of prime importance, Geriatric Mental Health Services, the Children Under Five Mental Health Initiative and the Autism Initiative.
“There has been a tremendous demand by users of these services and non-profit providers for additional funding to meet the needs of their clients,” Koppell said. 
Locally, geriatric mental health services are provided by the Riverdale Mental Health Association, in partnership with Riverdale Senior Services.  The Early Childhood Center at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine  has a large Children Under Five Mental Health Program, administered by Susan Chinitz, a Riverdale resident and The Jewish Board of Children and Family Services, in addition to conducting a program for Autistic children and their parents, also provides services to children aged five and younger.
“Given the limitations in funding in the last few years, we have been unable to add any significant number of new providers for these services and existing providers have unmet needs, Koppell said.  “I am, therefore proposing a 25% increase in funding for these three initiatives.”
Advocates for Permanent Funding For School-Based Health Centers
Koppell also requested $5 million in permanent funding for school-based health centers and mental health clinics and the restoration of $937,377 in funding for the four school-based health centers cut in the FY ’14 Executive Budget, one of which is in the Bronx at  the Roosevelt High School Campus. 
“Schoo –based health centers are being recognized at a national level for their critical service to children, especially those from low-income families, and I have seen the benefits to students at schools in my own district,” Koppell said.
With respect to mental health services, studies have shown that by removing barriers to care, school based mental health programs increase student utilization relative to non-school-based programs.  Over 95% of students referred for mental health services in a school setting will follow through compared to only 13% of those referred to community health centers.
“The tragedy in Newtown has made us keenly aware of the need to provide mental health services to young people. School-based health centers play an essential role in delivering these services, and I am urgently requesting that they not be subject to the vagaries of the budget process, but be given permanent funding to assure that they receive adequate support,” Koppell concluded.

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Friday, June 7, 2013

Unfortunate Passings

Joe Mc Manus sent this to us-

Ray Unger our treasurer of Liberty Democratic Association has passed away.
I knew Ray for over thirty years.
He is a great loss to Bronx Democrat's .
Funeral services will be held at the Shalom Jewish Funeral Home at 1528 Castle Hill Avenue, Bronx,New York, at 10:45 a.m. on Sunday, June 9, 2013, under the direction of George Farr (718) 828-1700. Immediately following will be the internment at the Beth Israel Cemetery on US 1 Highway North in Woodbridge, New Jersey. The family will sit Shiva afterward at their home in the Bronx until 8:00 p.m, and on Monday from noon until 7:00 pm at 2430 Seymour Avenue, Bronx, NY 10469.

Joseph A. Mc Manus

Democratic State Committee

80th Assembly District, Bronx NY


William Ludwig of the Wakefield Taxpayers & Civic League sent this to us-

Mary V. Lauro, longtime community activist and President of the Wakefield Taxpayers & Civic League, Inc. for over 25 years passed away on Thursday June 6th 2013.

Funeral arrangements:
Farenga Brothers Funeral Home
920 Allerton Avenue Bx. N.Y. (718-654-0500)
Visiting hours Sunday 2-5 PM, and 7-9 PM.
St. Francis of Rome Church
761 East 236th Street  Bx. N.Y.
A Christan burial mass will take place on Monday June 10th 
at 11 AM in the church.
Internment to follow at 
Gate of Heaven Cemetery    
Hawthorne New York.


Wave Hill Events June 21–June 28

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.

Playful Petals/Pétalos juguetones
With the amazing floral forms of spring as a starting point, let your imagination blossom and give form through unique foam materials into a mixed media sculptural flower. 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.

Bronx Calling: The Second AIM Biennial features cutting-edge work by 73 New York-area emerging artists who participated in The Bronx Museum of the Arts’ Artist in the Marketplace (AIM) program in the last two years. Organized by Gabriel de Guzman, Wave Hill Curator of Visual Arts; Elizabeth M. Grady, guest curator; and Lia Zaaloff, Bronx Museum Curator, the exhibition is presented concurrently at The Bronx Museum of the Arts, Wave Hill and 1285 Avenue of the Americas Art Gallery. A diverse group of artists explores a variety of contemporary issues through a wide range of media, techniques, and approaches to art-making. The exhibition opens at The Bronx Museum of the Arts on Sunday, June 23, and at 1285 Avenue of the Americas Art Gallery on Monday, June 24. Free with admission to the grounds.

Potted succulents make dramatic, low-fuss focal points for a sunny garden or terrace. Assistant Director of Public Programs Laurel Rimmer pairs colorful succulents with quirky containers in this informative planting demonstration. Demonstration is free; after the program, peruse The Shop at Wave Hill to find your favorite succulent plants and planted containers. Free with admission to the grounds.

Playful Petals/Pétalos juguetones
With the amazing floral forms of spring as a starting point, let your imagination blossom and give form through unique foam materials into a mixed media sculptural flower. 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.

Bronx Calling: The Second AIM Biennial features cutting-edge work by 73 New York-area emerging artists who participated in The Bronx Museum of the Arts’ Artist in the Marketplace (AIM) program in the last two years. Organized by Gabriel de Guzman, Wave Hill Curator of Visual Arts; Elizabeth M. Grady, guest curator; and Lia Zaaloff, Bronx Museum Curator, the exhibition is presented concurrently at The Bronx Museum of the Arts, Wave Hill and 1285 Avenue of the Americas Art Gallery. Also on view in this tour, led by Wave Hill’s Curatorial Fellow, is an installation in the Sunroom Project Space, where Adam Frezza and Terri Chiao transform the space into an artificial greenhouse. Free with admission to the grounds.

For Wave Hill Members and accompanied guests!
Join us for a glorious summer evening in our breathtaking gardens. Spread a blanket and unpack your snacks, or purchase dinner at The Café. Head over to The Shop for a midsummer sale and enjoy 15% off your purchase. Onsite parking is free but space is very limited. Shuttles run all evening between Wave Hill, the Metro-North Railroad station and the end of the #1 subway line. Check for menu and shuttle details.

Just for members! Enjoy special access to the grounds on cool summer mornings before we open to the public. Horticultural Interpreter Charles Day leads these early-morning garden walks. Severe weather cancels. Although this event is free for Wave Hill Members, registration is required, online at, by calling 718.549.3200 x305 or at the Perkins Visitor Center. Free, and admission to the grounds is free for Wave Hill Members.

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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“We are gratified that the State Supreme Court, Bronx County ruled in favor of the Comptroller’s office in our suit challenging the Mayor’s practice of establishing shelters and paying for those services without going through required public procurement processes. The practice of cutting backroom deals with shelter operators cannot and should not be tolerated. The administration should have put more effort into planning for housing for the homeless.”

“Special thanks go to outside counsel Gibson Dunn, which worked on the case pro bono for the good of New Yorkers.”


A court has sided with the Comptroller’s office in a suit questioning the legality of the City’s providing homeless shelter at Westchester Square in The Bronx via a “per diem” agreement instead of Procurement Policy Board Rules.

State Supreme Court Judge Geoffrey D. Wright wrote: “I find the attempts at hair splitting by the Respondents to be unpersuasive. To accept their arguments would be to vitiate, if not annul the City Charter. The motion for a declaration that the procedure followed in this instance is contrary to statute is granted. … In sum, then, the Dept. Of Homeless Services circumvented established rules for the funding of its activities without an acceptable excuse. I therefore declare that the practice of entering into housing/service agreements for clientele is contrary to law, and not excused by allegedly exigent circumstances.”


 $1 Million in Commitments from Oracle, CGI, & REI Systems Will Facilitate Rapid Adoption of NYC’s Groundbreaking Financial Transparency Website

 City Comptroller John C. Liu today published the source code for the Checkbook NYC financial transparency website, and announced several partnerships that will enable other governments to rapidly leverage New York City’s investment in order to create similar websites of their own.

Checkbook NYC empowers the public to keep an eye on more than $70 billion in annual government spending with detailed, up-to-date information about New York City’s revenues, expenditures, contracts, payroll, and budget. In January, the U.S. Public Interest Research Group named it the best website of its kind.

“In an era of scarce resources, open source software represents a major cost savings opportunity for taxpayers because it allows government to mobilize the collective talents of developers everywhere,” said Comptroller Liu. “Sharing the Checkbook NYC code with other governments is not a selfless act; on the contrary, it’s a win-win strategy that will enhance the quality of our software at no additional cost to taxpayers.”

The code, which is available for use and modification under the AGPL 3.0 license, can be accessed at GitHub (, an online community where open source code is stored and shared. Comptroller Liu encouraged programmers and governments that adopt the system to contribute improvements and features that can be incorporated into future versions of the source code.

Comptroller Liu made the announcement at the 10th annual Personal Democracy Forum, which explores the evolving relationship between technology and democracy. He thanked two technology giants, Oracle (NASDAQ: ORCL) and CGI (NYSE: GIB), for agreeing to develop “adapters,” in the form of automated data feeds, between their financial management systems and Checkbook NYC. These feeds will enable other state and local governments that use Oracle and CGI solutions to easily share their financial data with the public.

“Oracle is proud to support the City of New York in providing transparency into city spending via the Checkbook NYC application,” said Peter Doolan, Group Vice President & Chief Technologist of Oracle Public Sector. “We believe that open and transparent insight into government spending strengthens the democratic process and provides a framework for fiscal responsibility and accountability.”

“CGI is proud of its partnership with the City of New York, and has long been a believer in the benefit of using IT to improve the efficiency, openness, and accessibility of government information to the public,” said Michael Keating, CGI Senior Vice President and New York Client Executive. “We support the vision of Checkbook NYC and look forward to helping interested governments expand its adoption.”

Comptroller Liu also commended REI Systems, the technology firm that collaborated with the City on the development and open-sourcing of Checkbook NYC, for volunteering to provide Oracle and CGI with the technical expertise and tools to test their new “adapters” and to host “sandbox” development sites for a select number of their state and city financial management system clients.

“We couldn’t be more proud of our association with the Office of the Comptroller of the City of New York and the launch of Checkbook NYC,” said Scott Fletcher, REI Systems Chief Operating Officer. “Checkbook NYC has set a new bar for financial transparency, and the City of New York is taking it to an entirely new level by leveraging this investment for the benefit of other state and local governments across the U.S. What a great opportunity to demonstrate the power of creative and innovative public-private partnerships to improve government operations and transparency.”

Collectively, Oracle, CGI, and REI Systems are estimated to have committed to investing more than $1 million of resources in order to make Checkbook NYC rapidly adaptable by other governments.

The Comptroller credited Deputy Comptroller Ari Hoffnung and Assistant Comptroller Michael Bott for their leadership roles on this open-source project and for taking steps to ensure that Checkbook NYC improves over time.

“Governments serious about reducing costs and inefficiencies must make collaboration a top priority,” said Deputy Comptroller Ari Hoffnung. “We also need to work more closely with our technology vendors to ensure that the tools we purchase are developed in a way that enables government to easily share data with the public and become more financially transparent.”

The Comptroller also thanked several City agencies for their assistance on this project, including the Mayor’s Office of Contract Services, the New York City Council, the City’s Financial Information Services Agency, and the Office of Management and Budget.

“There’s endless potential for excellence in government when it leverages the knowledge of the people and communities it serves,” said New York City Chief Information and Innovation Officer Rahul N. Merchant. “Publishing the source code for Checkbook NYC is an important contribution to the Bloomberg Administration’s ongoing open government efforts.”

A “Checkbook NYC Hackathon,” designed to bring together civic activists, software developers, and entrepreneurs, is being planned for the fall. Discussions are also under way with other governments to form a consortium that would collaboratively manage the Checkbook NYC source code and share costs associated with future enhancements.

“I applaud the City Comptroller’s office for promoting transparency through Checkbook NYC and making important data available to the public,” said New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli. “In 2008, our Open Book New York site gave the public access to state spending in real time. Since then we’ve had more than 2.7 million visits with people searching for contracts, local-government, and state-agency spending, and plan to add more spending data to the site. We invite others to join with us and the City Comptroller to share public data more easily and quickly.”

“With Checkbook NYC, the New York City Comptroller is proving unequivocally that technology can indeed make government more efficient, transparent, and accountable,” said Andrew Rasiej, founder of Personal Democracy Forum and Chairman of NY Tech Meetup. “The open way Checkbook NYC has been strategically designed and deployed further confirms that New York City is ready to move from the era of simple 20th-century E-Government to the reality and benefits of 21st-century We-Government.”

“This is a smart move that will benefit other cities and states seeking to adapt the unrivaled features of Checkbook NYC,” said Phineas Baxandall, a Senior Analyst at U.S. PIRG and national expert on government transparency. “It’s doubly smart because New York City will reap rewards every time other places build improvements and new functions for this platform. It’s a win-win.”

“Opening up the Checkbook NYC source code to the public is a fantastic step toward increasing transparency in government spending,” said Council Member Gale A. Brewer, an author of the City’s groundbreaking Open Data law. “I have been an advocate of Checkbook NYC and government transparency for many years. By opening this code to programmers, we will enable other municipalities to build their own open sites. Checkbook NYC lets citizens track spending and makes government work smarter here and across the country.”

“ is an outstanding example of local government adoption of the open source software model, and with this project NYC has truly stepped up and into the open IT ecosystem,” said Deborah Bryant, Open Source for America co-chair and Director, Open Source Initiative. “NYCs highly evolved approach also increases the benefit of collaboration beyond software code – such as sharing related investments like training, knowledge base, and business rules – exponentially increasing its value to the City and anyone else joining the project.”

“Comptroller Liu continues to enhance transparency of the City’s finances with the latest advancement of Checkbook NYC, the online tool that provides virtual real-time updates of the City’s spending from payroll to contracts,” said Dick Dadey, Executive Director of Citizens Union. “By making publicly available the open source code for Checkbook NYC, Comptroller Liu is ensuring that other cities and states across the country can make known their expenditures in an accessible format to the public. This will help establish New York City as a leader in financial transparency.”

“Congratulations to the team who has delivered,” said Jennifer Foutty, Executive Director, Kuali Foundation. “It is a significant milestone that demonstrates how local government is finding ways to collaborate and use open source technology to provide effective services and drive down costs.  The Kuali Foundation, which produces open source software for higher education through leveraged investment by member institutions, is pleased to see like-minded efforts in local government.”

“Checkbook NYC is a great example of how open data can dramatically improve visibility for citizens and taxpayers into the operations of their government,” said Mark Headd, Chief Data Officer for the City of Philadelphia. “The move to open source the code for this application is a huge victory for government transparency and a boon for other cities that are working to open up spending and budget data.”

“Checkbook NYC has already set a new gold standard for financial data transparency by a major city,” said Andrew Hoppin, 2010 New York State Public Sector Chief Information Officer of the Year and CEO, New Amsterdam Ideas. “Even more laudable is the Comptroller's ambitious plan to release Checkbook NYC as an open-source software project that other cities can benefit from and contribute back to.”

“We’re impressed,” said John Kaehny, Co-Chair of the NYC Transparency Working Group and Executive Director of Reinvent Albany. “Comptroller Liu’s Checkbook NYC team has built a powerful transparency tool for New York City and created an open source process and partnerships that ensure it will keep evolving and improving. This is smart, effective 21st century government, and a new model for New York City technology tools.”

“By making the code for Checkbook NYC open source, New York City Comptroller John Liu is providing cities and towns across the country with a free tool to promote budget transparency,” said Ronnie Lowenstein, director of the New York City Independent Budget Office.

“Governments around the globe will benefit enormously from this contribution to the open data ecosystem,” said Kevin Merritt, Socrata's Founder and CEO. “Socrata will support the Checkbook NYC app by offering it as a turnkey cloud service, and enhancing it with open APIs for developers, and online data analysis and visualization tools for citizens.”

“Opening data and granting better access to public information will only get easier as governments and communities learn from each other’s successes and challenges,” said Ellen Miller, Executive Director and Co-Founder of the Sunlight Foundation. “By making Checkbook NYC open source, New York City is providing a valuable resource to other towns, cities, and states looking to attain greater financial transparency.”

“We applaud New York City and Oracle for the work they are doing to promote financial transparency,” said Montgomery County, Maryland, Controller Lenny R. Moore. “Montgomery County is a leader in open data and is always working to make government spending more accessible and easier to understand for our taxpayers. We are intrigued by the possibility of deploying an open Checkbook.”

“Cities need to share their resources, and innovations in any city should benefit every city,” said Abhi Nemani, Chief of Staff, Code for America. “Checkbook NYC is a flagship example of the emerging ecosystem of interoperable, useful, and reusable civic tools. This is the kind of project Code for America hopes to support in city after city.”

“New York has provided a very easy-to-use transparency portal to gain access to budget, payroll and departmental expenditures, to the point that not only will the citizens of New York benefit, but internal departments will benefit by having easy access to their own information for better management and accountability,” said Steve Reneker, General Manager and Chief Technology Officer, City of Los Angeles Information Technology Agency. “The City of Los Angeles will be looking into leveraging this open source solution to provide similar benefits.”

“Checkbook NYC provides New Yorkers with both the data on how City funds are spent and the tools to take a close look,” said Gene Russianoff, Senior Attorney for the New York Public Interest Research Group. “And now, cities across the nation will be able to do the same, thanks to the New York City Comptroller.”

“Checkbook NYC is by far the most sophisticated city-budget transparency app to date," said Adam Stiles, co-creator of Open Budget Oakland. “By making Checkbook available to cities nationwide, NYC is enabling a common framework to understand city spending that could one day allow, for example, apples-to-apples comparisons of spending across cities.”


Press release: Launch of Checkbook NYC 2.0 (January 23, 2013)

Video: Launch of Checkbook NYC 2.0 (January 23, 2013)

About Oracle:
With more than 390,000 customers—including 100 of the Fortune 100—and with deployments across a wide variety of industries in more than 145 countries around the globe, Oracle offers an optimized and fully integrated stack of business hardware and software systems.

About CGI:
Founded in 1976, CGI Group Inc. is the fifth largest independent information technology and business process services firm in the world. Approximately 69,000 professionals serve thousands of global clients from offices and delivery centers across the Americas, Europe and Asia Pacific, leveraging a comprehensive portfolio of services including high-end business and IT consulting, systems integration, application development and maintenance, infrastructure management as well as a wide range of proprietary solutions. As a full-service systems integrator and managed services provider, CGI has the industry know-how, tools and technologies to address business challenges across the public sector spectrum. CGI provides state and local governments with creative IT solutions that drive efficiencies, effectiveness and cost containment—all while achieving short term needs and maintaining governments’ long-term vision. With annualized revenue in excess of C$10 billion and an order backlog exceeding C$18 billion, CGI shares are listed on the TSX (GIB.A) and the NYSE (GIB). Website:

About REI Systems:
REI Systems, serving Government for over 20 years, is the employee-owned software engineering company that supported the development and implementation of Checkbook NYC, in collaboration with the Comptroller’s Office. REI Systems is an established leader in open government, open data, and transparency solutions, having created a number of engaging and innovative government websites, including,,, and Please visit REI at and follow us on Twitter.



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Thursday, June 6, 2013

PS 24 Springfest

   Yesterday afternoon was all fun, games, and a giant barbecue in the street outside of PS 24. The event was called Springfest which has grown over the past few years, and now spreads out for a full block on West 235th Street along Seton Park. The event is sponsored by PS 24 Parents Association who do all the work arraigning, setting up, and then cleaning up after the event. 
   West 235th Street was closed to traffic at the corner of Independence Avenue, as police officers of the 50th Precinct were on hand for safety reasons. Mr. Cliff Stanton of the PS 24 PA arranged for several inflatable rides, food, and even helped the children hit the bulls eye on the "Dunk Tank". By the way Interim Acting Assistant Principal Manny Verdi was dunked so many times that he spent more time in the water than out of it. By the end of Springfest it was estimated that over 1,000 children and their parents had enjoyed some part of the event. 

Left & Right are two of the many giant inflatable rides that were on site for the PS 24 Springfest.

Left - Interim Acting Assistant Principal Many Verdi sits atop the seat over the water.
Right - Verdi is in the water after someone hit the target.

Left - Cliff Stanton looks for the next child who wants a chance to dunk Mr. Verdi as Verdi sits in the water.
Right - Stanton gives advice on how to hit the target.

Left - Interim Acting Assistant Principal Manny Verdi, PS 24 PA officer & City Council candidate Cliff Stanton, and PS 24 PA Executive Board member Amy Klein who worked the Dunk Tank.
Right - State Senator Jeff Klein chats with incoming PS 24 parent and City Council candidate Andrew Cohen.
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Wednesday, June 5, 2013

What You Should Know

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

Governor Cuomo's Abortion Expansion Plans

  You should know that although Governor Andrew Cuomo's Women's Equality Agenda contains nine provisions that are very good, there is one provision that will expand abortion practice in New York State. Governor Cuomo's bill will immediately permit abortion up to nine months; it will permit
non-doctors to perform abortion; it will eliminate laws that would jail abortionists like Kermit Gosnell.

You should know that much to our disgrace, New York is already known as the abortion capital of our nation. One in every three pregnancies in New York already ends in abortion.  In Black and Hispanic communities, abortion rates are close to 60 percent! Since most New Yorkers want abortion to be
rare, I cannot understand why Governor Cuomo would highlight this sort of legislation to increase abortion in a package of bills that would promote equality for women.

I completely agree with my dear friend, Cardinal Dolan, who stressed: "The direct taking of the life of a child in the womb in no way enhances a woman’s dignity."

There is no legitimate excuse why the nine good provisions of the Women's Equality Agenda, which include gender-based discrimination and pay inequity cannot be voted on as separate legislation.

There is no reason at all why the nine good provisions of the Women's Equality Agenda should be tied to legislation that would decriminalize violence against the unborn - as when abusive men beat up their pregnant
wives or girlfriends so they can miscarry. Under Cuomo's bill, those crimes could go unpunished!

There is no excuse whatsoever for victims of domestic violence or sex trafficking to be held hostage to Governor Cuomo's need to expand abortion in New York State.

Many pregnancies after 24 weeks result in live births where preemies are nourished in intensive-care-units and sent home as cherished newborns. Governor Cuomo's law  would not equally protect these young lives.

Ladies and gentlemen, I want to be very clear and say that the dignity of women in New York deserves to be promoted, and any legislation that will help to build equality should be supported.  I also want to be very clear that our children are our treasures and their lives deserve to be protected.

Most New Yorkers do not support late-term abortion, and most New Yorkers want abortion to be rare. Any effort by Governor Cuomo or any elected official to promote, expand, or sanction abortion to drive the already staggering abortion rates even higher must be opposed.

We cannot let Governor Cuomo present this agenda as a "take-it-or-leave-it" package so that nine good provisions are sacrificed because they are joined with one heinous piece of legislation to expand abortion.

These government-sanctioned acts of killing innocent babies remind me of the orders given by Egyptian Pharaohs in the Old Testament and of King Herod of Judea in the New Testament.  I am also afraid that through this legislation, by allowing non-physicians and just about any health practitioners to perform abortions, Governor Cuomo will put women's lives at risk instead of actually protecting them.

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


Tuesday, June 4, 2013


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 NYPD Outpaces Other Agencies in Measure of Frustration

   City Comptroller John C. Liu today announced that rising legal claims against the police, especially for misconduct, significantly outpaced other City agencies, which either declined or remained flat. The information came in the Comptroller’s Fiscal Year 2012 Claims Report released today.

“The growing number of new claims against the NYPD will cost taxpayers more money, and is a measure of public frustration with the agency,” Comptroller Liu said. “It’s hard to ignore the link between rising claims and a growing chasm between communities and the police. This disturbing and persistent trend at the NYPD must be addressed by the Bloomberg Administration in order to keep New York truly the safest big city.”

The number of new Police Action claims rose 22 percent in FY 2012 and nearly doubled in the past five fiscal years, rising 94 percent. Police Action claims result from alleged improper police conduct, such as false arrest or imprisonment, shooting of a suspect, excessive force or assault, or failure to provide police protection.
The number of new claims against the NYPD overall rose 7 percent in FY 2012 over the number filed in FY 2011, leading all City agencies. The broader NYPD category includes vehicular accidents, civil liberties, and property damage, among other claims. Over the past five fiscal years, the number of new claims against the NYPD rose by more than half, or 52 percent.

In contrast, the overall number of new claims filed against all other City agencies as a group dropped 19 percent in FY 2012 as compared with FY 2011, and fell 10 percent over the past five fiscal years.

The dollar value of all settlements and judgments paid by the City resulting from claims against the police was $151.9 million in FY 2012.

The Claims Report provides a comprehensive examination of claims filed against and settled by the City.

Six of the nine agencies accounting for the most tort claims in FY 2012 showed decreases in the number of new claims compared to FY 2011. They are: Sanitation, down 62 percent; DOT, down 27 percent; Parks, down 22 percent, FDNY; down 14 percent; DOE, down 2 percent, and HHC, down 3 percent.

The amount that the City paid out in claims, tort settlements, and judgments in FY 2012 was $485.9 million, 12 percent less than the $553.7 million paid out in FY 2011.

Even with the drops in the number of new claims and amounts paid out, the fact that the City is spending nearly a half-billion dollars annually in settlements and judgments is a tremendous burden on taxpayers, Comptroller Liu said.

“My office will encourage City agencies to minimize and prevent costly claims,” he said. “At the same time, we will work with the Corporation Counsel to reduce the overall cost of litigation and settlements while being fair to people who have been harmed.”

New Claims Filed, by Agencies with Highest Claim Costs in FY 2012
FYs 2008 – 2012

Data may not include all claims against the City that will be settled because of a time lag between when a settlement occurs and when settlements and updates are entered into the claims database. For the purpose of this report, “settlement and judgment costs,” “liabilities,” “expenditures,” or “amounts paid” are used interchangeably with “recorded settlements and judgments.”

Comptroller Liu credited Deputy Comptroller for Legal Affairs and General Counsel Valerie Budzik, Assistant Comptroller Karen S. Cohen, and the Bureau of Law and Adjustment for their efforts in compiling the report.

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