Friday, June 14, 2013

Smart Boards inside, Speed Cameras Outside PS 81

  State Senator Jeff Klein stopped by PS 81 in the North Riverdale Section of his district to drop off a check for $25,000.00 to the school for the purchase of several "Smart Boards". Klein went into a classroom to see just how one of the Smart Boards are helping the students. PS 81 Principal Anne Kirrane thanked Senator Klein for giving the school the Smart Boards saying "It is an unbelievable tool for the students". She added that it is good teaching and engages the children in what is being taught. Several students gave Senator Klein a demonstration by using the Smart Board to solve a math problem.

 Senator Klein is joined by Principal Kirrane (to his left), other staff members and students of PS 81 who are holding the check to PS 81 from Senator Klein.

  A little later Senator Jeff Klein outside of PS 81 on Riverdale Avenue near West 256th Street was joined by NYC DOT commissioner Janette Sadik Kahn and the Co-Presidents of the school Parents Association to push for speed cameras in front of PS 81.

  Senator Klein had statistics showing that on May 17th 2013 from 9:30 - 11 AM that 46 percent of the drivers were driving over the speed limit of 30 MPH in front of PS 81. On May 22nd from 11 AM - 1 PM Senator Klein's statistics showed that 71 percent of drivers were driving over the speed limit of 30 MPH. This report was done by Senator Klein's office after the NYCDOT released a study in March that showed on Riverdale Avenue outside PS 81 there were 96 percent of the drivers speeding. 

  Klein said "The results are clear: speeding on Riverdale Avenue is a real threat to the safety of students, teachers and members of the Riverdale community. But that doesn’t need to continue. Research shows that when people know they might be caught, they slow down. That’s critically important in school zones, where even five miles per hour can make the difference between life and death for a child. I’m pleased to stand here with Commissioner Sadik-Khan today so that we can encourage my legislative colleagues to approve the use of these speed cameras right away.”

  “There is no passing grade for people speeding near our schools and putting our children’s lives in danger,” said NYC DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan. “We need to bring the rampant speeding that occurs near our schools every day to a screeching halt, and I join Senator Klein and call on his colleagues in Albany to move full speed ahead on this life-saving legislation."

   When questioned about the lack of enforcement by the police department of the speeding, Senator Klein answered that a police officer can not be stationed outside every school. 


Left - Senator Klein speaking about the issue of speeding outside of PS 81 on Riverdale Avenue. NYCDOT Commissioner Sadik-Khan is to his right while the PA Co-Presidents are to his left.
Right NYCDOT commissioner Sadik-Khan goes over statistics of the result of the severity of injuries to people as a cars speed is higher.


Thursday, June 13, 2013

Items From City Comptroller John Liu


Schools Rejected Students Who Should Have Been Considered for Entrance,
Gave Seats to Some Who Didn’t Meet Standards, Audit Finds

An audit of the Department of Education’s (DOE’s) high-school placement process determined that the process often reached arbitrary and unfair results: It denied many students an opportunity to be matched to seats in certain highly competitive programs even when the students met all eligibility requirements, while offering seats to other students who had not met the criteria.
“Our audit confirmed what many frustrated parents and students have long suspected: the City’s high-school placement process is often unfair and deeply flawed,” Comptroller Liu said. “Applying to high school is an important and stressful enough experience for students and parents, and it must not be left to a sloppy and random system like the one our audit found. We are pleased that the DOE has agreed to adopt our recommendations to ensure a fairer and sensible system.”

The audit examined student placement for the 2011-12 school year at five schools considered among the most competitive for entrance in their respective boroughs. The schools are Hostos-Lincoln Academy of Science (Bronx), Baruch College Campus HS (Manhattan), Midwood HS Medical Science Institute (Brooklyn), Tottenville HS Science Institute (Staten Island), and Townsend Harris HS Intensive Academic Humanities (Queens).

Students can apply for up to 12 schools, which they rank in their order of preference. The DOE then enters the students’ choices into its Student Enrollment Management System (SEMS). Students who apply to a screened school, like those the audit examined, must meet certain selection criteria in order to be ranked for possible enrollment by the schools.  

Screened schools use their own criteria — such as seventh-grade report cards, standardized tests, and attendance records — to screen students. Students who meet the criteria are ranked on a list for possible enrollment, although the DOE does not require screened schools to rank every single student who qualifies because of the overwhelming number of applicants. Finally, SEMS matches students’ preferences against the schools ranking.  When a student’s top pick school ranks them high there can a match and the student would be offered a seat at the school.

The five schools received 21,315 applications for 828 seats. 
·         5,702 students appeared to meet the screening criteria.
·         The programs ranked 4,075 students.
·         The audit found 1,946 unranked students, many of whom actually scored better than those who were ranked. 
·         319 (8 percent) of the 4,075 students who the programs ranked appear NOT to have met the criteria. Of these 319 students, 92 were offered seats at the schools, and 60 were enrolled.

The audit is attached and available for download here:

Other Findings
Comptroller Liu’s audit also determined that:
·         The five schools failed to maintain adequate records. Auditors asked the schools to produce documentation explaining the rankings of certain applicants, but only one school, Townsend Harris HS Intensive Academic Humanities, provided any records documenting its decisions. The other four had not kept such records, as they are required to do by the New York State Education Department.
·         DOE does not require high schools to have written procedures to explain the methodologies they use to rank students. For example, Midwood HS Medical Science Institute states that students need report card grades of 90-100 in seventh-grade English, math, social studies, and science classes, but does not let students and parents know that it gives the math and science grades greater weight than English and social studies grades, which is part of its ranking formula.
·         The DOE did not oversee the placement process in order to ensure that it ranked students fairly and consistently.
·         Middle schools are not keeping high-school applications, as required. The DOE could provide student applications for only 14 out of 150 randomly selected students, so there was no assurance that guidance counselors accurately recorded students’ choices.

The DOE generally agreed with the audit’s nine recommendations. It agreed to:
·         Review the ranking practices at the four schools the audit report determined had questionable rankings in order to ensure that the schools are following their own published screens and DOE policy for student selection.
·         Require high schools with screened programs to document their ranking formula and processes.
·         Review screened schools’ ranking criteria, especially for those schools in high demand, in order to ensure that they are ranking students fairly and consistently.
·         Ensure schools keep records of their ranking of the students applying to their programs, as required by the State Education Department.

The DOE manages two different high-school placement processes. The first, known as the high-school application process, is for eighth-grade students applying for the ninth grade and first-time ninth graders applying for the tenth grade. Schools in the application process select applicants by using one of seven admission methods: (1) test, (2) audition, (3) educational option, (4) limited unscreened, (5) screened, (6) unscreened, and (7) zoned.  Three-quarters (215,556) of the City’s 284,513 high-school students on register as of October 2011 had been placed at their schools through this placement process. Comptroller Liu’s audit focused on screened programs because they are one of the most popular for student applicants. For the 2011-2012 school year, 30 percent of the programs chosen by students were screened programs.  Screened programs comprised 25 percent of student matches.  However, because the schools themselves establish and oversee the ranking criteria and actually rank the students, the screened programs are also especially vulnerable to potential manipulation.

The remaining 68,957 students were placed in their respective high schools through the second process, known as the over-the-counter process, which is for (1) new students, (2) students returning to New York City public schools, and (3) New York City public high school students transferring between high schools.


City Comptroller John C. Liu stated the following today on reports of the Department of Justice’s recommendation for an independent monitor for the NYPD:

“The possibility of an independent monitor for the NYPD’s stop and frisk program should be a sobering wake-up call for Mayor Bloomberg and Commissioner Kelly. Stop and frisk is out of control, has split communities from the police, and may be contributing to significantly higher claim costs. Simply abolishing stop and frisk would alleviate concerns about management of the NYPD. In its place, the NYPD should embrace community policing, especially the proven strategy of focused deterrence.”


Liu Statement on Proposed Reforms to Stop and Frisk, May 2012:

Liu: New Claims Against Police Keep Rising, June 2013:

Comptroller Hosts Stop & Frisk Town Hall – Queens March 13, 2013:

City Comptroller John C. Liu made the following statement in response to today’s news conference on thwarting smartphone theft:

“We welcome Attorney General Schneiderman’s and San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón’s common-sense initiative to take a stand against the rapidly escalating problem of cell phone theft. The Attorneys General, with cooperation from the world’s largest manufacturers of cell phones, are tackling a growing problem. In the time it takes you to read this statement, more than 200 smartphones will be lost or stolen in this country. In New York City alone cell phone robberies increased 40 percent in the past year.
“The cell phone thefts in New York City too often involve violence. Tragically last year a 26-year-old chef at the Museum of Modern Art was killed for his iPhone. The manufacturers must quickly come up with the technology to make stolen smartphones useless. When that happens, stealing a smartphone will be a waste of time.
“We note that the City pension funds have a substantial investment in the largest manufacturers of cell phones, all of which are taking part in today’s conference. We urge these companies to make fighting the theft of cell phones their number-one priority.”
As of June 12, 2013, the NYC Pension Funds held a combined 2,333,996 shares of Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) valued at $1,008,729,731.24; 660,409 shares of Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) valued at $575,863,439.82; 19,078,143 shares of Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) valued at $667,735,005.00; and 254,903 shares of Samsung (KOREA SE: 005930) valued at $311,460,657.26.


Mount Hope Housing Company 8th Annual Legislative Breakfast

Wednesday, June 12, 2013


City Comptroller John C. Liu stated the following today on Mayor Bloomberg’s climate-change plan:

“We applaud the Mayor for laying out this comprehensive report. Climate change poses serious risks to our City and, as the report pointed out, to our old building stock.

“Our proposed Green Apple Bonds are the perfect way to finance the $1.2 billion in old building stock resiliency upgrades in the Mayor’s plan. Together, we can help finance the retrofitting of old buildings to improve resiliency or reduce our carbon footprint and save taxpayer money from reduced energy costs. We look forward to working with the Mayor to raise the necessary funds and to make sure that we use this opportunity to create more jobs for New Yorkers, especially those who have been left behind.”


Support Growing for Green Apple Bonds, March. 19, 2013:

Green Apple Bonds Are Building Momentum, Dec. 12, 2012:

Comptroller Liu Proposes Innovative “Green Apple Bonds,” Nov. 30. 2012:
Vows to Get to Bottom of Crashes Afflicting Emergency Dispatch

City Comptroller John C. Liu today commenced an audit in order to look into what may have caused the City’s Emergency 911 system to crash repeatedly in recent days. The audit follows two years of the Comptroller’s close scrutiny of and repeated warnings about problems with the project.

Comptroller Liu drew a parallel between the City’s mismanaged implementation of the E911 system and the implementation of the troubled CityTime time-keeping system.

“The E911 system’s problems comprise an even greater management debacle than the scandal surrounding CityTime,” Comptroller Liu said. “Taxpayers were for bilked for CityTime, but the $500 million was recouped eventually. In the case of CityTime, system failure at worst meant delayed paychecks. In this case, system failure would have far more disastrous consequences. How can it be that $2 billion has bought an E911 system that must resort to pen and paper? What happens if an extended heat wave taxes the system?”

The audit will examine whether the Mayor’s Office of Citywide Emergency Communications is successfully monitoring the integration and implementation of the Computer Aided Dispatch System into the Emergency Communications Transformation Program (ECTP).

Press reports have detailed a series of chaotic events at E911 as computers have failed in recent days, with personnel having to use “runners” to relay paper messages to dispatchers. Some reports have raised questions about whether computer problems contributed to the slow dispatch of an ambulance after a 4-year-old girl was struck by a vehicle in Manhattan on June 4. The girl died. Officials have blamed the delay on “human error.”

Liu faulted Mayor Bloomberg for shrugging off the E911 crashes.

“The Mayor’s response to the E911 problems, blaming the crashes on unspecified computer bugs, is cavalier to the extreme,” Comptroller Liu said. “Lives are at stake. New Yorkers need an E911 system that works, and they need it now. My office will do its utmost to ensure that happens.”


Audit letter to Mayor’s Office of Citywide Emergency Communications:

Liu statement on E911 crash:

Audit: Mismanagement of 911 Upgrade Picked Taxpayers’ Pockets:

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

New York State Senator Reverend Ruben Diaz to March in the 2013 Christian Children's Parade

  New York State Senator Reverend Ruben Diaz Will Join Thousands of Evangelicals to March in the 2013 Christian Children's Parade

This past weekend, the streets of the City of New York was filled with parades: on Saturday, Brooklyn’s homosexual community celebrated their pride with a parade in Park Slope, and on Sunday, the Puerto Rican
community celebrated their pride by marching on Fifth Avenue.

Now it is time for the Evangelical Christian Churches of New York’s Christian Parade, which has taken place in “El Barrio,” the heart of the Hispanic community, for more than 50 years.

On Saturday, June 15, 2013 at 12:00 noon, the Evangelical Christian Children’s Parade will step off at Third Avenue and 97th Street in New York City. Christian churches, pastors, evangelical missionaries, and families
will celebrate this event marching from Third Avenue and 97th Street to 116th Street where the reviewing stand will be located.  Dignitaries and Honored Parade Judges will be looking for the best float, the best performance, and the best message.

“New Yorkers are welcome to join us and line the streets to watch as New York’s Evangelical Children celebrate and uphold our faith and truths,” Senator Reverend Ruben Diaz declared. “Our churches will be on the streets of New York with banners, floats and leaflets, preaching and teaching to let people know that we are growing.”

For further information please call the following numbers: 917-349-2596, 914-776-4485, or 917-939-3233.


This came in from Cathy Guerriero for Public Advocate.

Three More Locals Back Public Advocate Candidate

Cathy Guerriero, candidate for the office of Public Advocate for the City of New York announced that she has earned the endorsements the International Longshoremen’s Association Local 1814, Local 824, and the United Marine Division ILA Local 333.

“These endorsements are especially important to me,” Guerriero said. “My grandfather, Ray Guerriero Sr. worked on the docks for 37 years, after he came back from World War II in 1946.  The ILA took care of him and our family, and opened the doors for my father to work for the ILA Port Watchmen for over 30 years.   Our family owes our solid middle class lives to the ILA.  As Public Advocate, I will fight for NYC’s middle class and the unions who helped build it.”

Louis Pernice, President of ILA Local 1814 (the largest in the five boroughs), said, “In the race for Public Advocate, Cathy Guerriero alone represents the best interests of the working waterfront in Brooklyn.  Local 1814 and every member of our rank and file are solidly behind her. She is the future of NYC.”

Ronald Mesiti, President of ILA Local 824, said “Coming from three generations of union workers - and two generations of longshoremen - - Cathy Guerriero is not only family but represents everything that the union rank and file stand for in NYC.  She is our next Public Advocate - she is THE union candidate of this race - and the International Longshoremen Association Local 824 stands with her proudly.”

Bill Hennessey, Trustee of United Marine Division ILA Local 333, said “Cathy Guerriero understands what is means to get up every day and work hard and fight harder, like every one of my members. UMD ILA stands with Cathy in her fight to be the next Public Advocate.”

The International Longshoremen’s Association, AFL-CIO is the largest Union of Maritime workers in North America, representing upwards of 65,000 Longshoremen on the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts, Great Lakes, major U.S. rivers, Puerto Rico and Eastern Canada.

Guerriero comes from a union family of teachers, police officers and firefighters.  Both of her parents were public school teachers, and for 35 years her father worked two jobs: teacher by day and at night he worked as a longshoremen’s security guard for the Port Authority, helping to provide for Cathy and her five siblings.   

In addition to this latest endorsement, Cathy Guerriero also has the support of the NYC Captains Endowment Association, Lieutenants Benevolent Association, Detectives Endowment Association, Metropolitan Transportation Authority Police Benevolent Association, Bridge and Tunnel Officers Benevolent Association, Superior Officers Benevolent Association, Assistant Deputy Wardens/Deputy Wardens Association, Correction Captains Association, Detectives Investigator’s Association, Port Authority Police Benevolent Association, Port Authority Detectives Endowment Association, Port Authority Lieutenants Benevolent Association, Port Authority Sergeants Benevolent Association, Uniformed Fire Alarm Dispatchers Benevolent Association, ILA Local 920 AFL-CIO, CWA Local 1102, and Amalgamated Transit Union Local 726.

For more information on the candidacy of Cathy Guerriero, go to

Monday, June 10, 2013

West 230th Street Shopping Center Ground Breaking

  This Morning was the official ground breaking ceremony at West 230th and Broadway for the development of the 133,000 square foot mall to be called Broadway Plaza. Developer Equity One is investing almost fifty-four million dollars to build a two story mall located on West 230th Street between Broadway and the Major Deegan Highway. The 6 - 9 stores when completed will create approximately 250 full and part time jobs, while having had approximately 500 construction jobs. 

  New York City Economic Development Corporation COO Zachary Smith who lives in the area of the new development said "This will ensure that the Broadway Corridor here in the Bronx will continue to thrive into the future". Equity One CEO Jeffrey Olson said that when completed Broadway Plaza will be a wonderful addition to the community both as a generator for economic development, and as a shopping destination and amenity for the residents. He said that the projected opening date for the mall is the fall of 2014.
  Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. said "This is only one of the many new developments Bronxwide that I had visioned when I was elected to be borough president". Diaz added "It is because of new development like this that has taken the Bronx out of having the highest unemployment in New York State". Congressman Eliot Engel said "this is further proof that the Bronx, and especially the northwest Bronx is back and better than ever". Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz and Councilman Oliver Koppell lamented the days of having lunch across the street over ten years ago thinking of a project like the one being done today.

Left - NYC Economic Development Department COO Zachary Smith is speaking as you can see a drawing of what the shopping mall will look like on the far right.
Right - Bronx BP Ruben Diaz Jr. tells of all the other development going on throughout the Bronx.

Left - Councilman Oliver Koppell tells of his vision for the then empty lot when he was elected almost 12 years ago. 
Right - Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation head Ms. Marlene Cintron said "Developers were waiting to see when the Bronx would turn around". "This project and other further up on Broadway were the two first new developments in the Bronx.

Left & Right are Jeffrey Olson (of Equity One), Ms. Marlene Cintron (of BOEDC), Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz, Bronx BP Ruben Diaz Jr., Zachary Smith (NYCEDC), Congressman Eliot Engel, Councilman Oliver Koppell, Bob Fanuzzi (Chair CB8), and Sergio Vilavarde (Chair EDC CB 8).

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Sunday, June 9, 2013

Willie Colon Endorses Bill Thompson For Mayor

  Famous Salsa musician Willie Colon endorsed candidate Bill Thompson for mayor yesterday. Colon who started his career as a musician, then became a civil rights & political activist by the age of 16. Mr. Colon has served as a member of the Latino Commission on Aids and United Nations Immigrant Foundation. He is the President of the Arthur Schomburg Coalition for a better New York, and is on the board of directors of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute. In 1995 Mr. Colon became the first minority to serve on the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) national board. 

  In 1994 Willie Colon ran for congress. In his first try for political office he narrowly missed victory over then four term incumbent Eliot Engel, and since then Colon and Engel have become good friends. Willie Colon has been an advisor and liaison to Latin Media Entertainment Coalition which includes Robert Deniro and Jennifer Lopez. Colon endorsed Hillary Clinton in 2008, and used his music to help campaign against Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez.

   Colon in a statement said that "Billy has always listened to our concerns, and has given us a seat at the table working closely with the Latino community. He understands our values and our cultures, will put policies in place to improve our economy, preserve our communities, advance our education system, and create opportunities for small business. Colon added " As mayor of New York City I know that Billy Thompson has what it takes to overcome any problems our city may face in the future, and I hope you will help me Elect Billy Thompson our next Mayor".                                                                                           
Willie colon.jpg

  Above- An early photo of  musician, Civil Rights and Political Activist Willie Colon. 

 Left - Willie Colon and Bill Thompson pose for photo as Willie Colon announces his support for Billy Thompson for mayor.
Right - Billy thanks his friend Willie Colon for the endorsement.