Friday, June 21, 2013


   On Thursday, June 20, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. presented the second annual John F. Wade Memorial Award to Stuart Appelbaum, president of the Retail, Wholesale & Department Store Union (RWDSU), at the third annual Bronx LGBTQ & Allies Award Ceremony.

The award is given in memory of John F. Wade, a former staff member for Bronx Borough President Fernando Ferrer, well-respected New York City political activist and leader in the LGBT community who passed away in 2011. The award honors an individual who exemplifies the spirit, commitment and dedication that Mr. Wade brought to his advocacy, to politics and government, and to the City of New York.
 There was a question of just who were standing next to BP Diaz and Mr. Appelbaum. Appolonia Cruz (far left) and Tyra Allure Ross (far right), both of whom served as Mistresses of Ceremonies at the event are included in the photo above.

  Keep the comments clean or they will not get posted.


Lhota Calls on Silver to Step Down as Speaker

Calls on Mayoral Candidates to Join him in Unified Front Against Albany Sex Abuse Cover-up

Censorship Tactics Last Straw in Sheldon Silver Matter;
Speaker Has to Go

Former Deputy Mayor Joe Lhota today called the muzzle tactics exhibited by embattled Speaker Silver the last straw in the Albany sex abuse cover-up and called on him to immediately resign his speakership. 
“Whether its victims of sexual assault or his duly-elected colleagues, Speaker Silver seems to think he can get away with misdeeds by trying to silence everyone around him,” said Mr. Lhota. “He has repeatedly demonstrated a gross abuse of power and has proven that he is incapable of ethical leadership. He must resign his speakership immediately.”
Mr. Lhota blasted the Speaker’s conduct repeatedly covering up sexual assault and harassment against young, female Assembly staffers at the hands of his political colleagues.
“I’m urging all of the other candidates in the race--Democrat and Republican--to join me in showing a unified front against sex abuse cover-ups in state government. Let’s put politics aside to show the public that this behavior won’t be tolerated so that integrity can begin to be restored in our elected officials.”
Mr. Lhota, who earlier in the campaign laid out a sweeping ethics reform plan, also called on the City Council to immediately pass legislation prohibiting candidates who violate the public’s trust to participate in the New York City Campaign Finance Board’s public matching funds program.
He continued, “I am urging the City Council to swiftly pass legislation that would prohibit Vito Lopez and any other candidate--Democrat or Republican-- who violates the public trust from running for office using the public’s hard-earned tax dollars.”

The New York State Assembly Passes the Women's Equality Act

  All ten reforms points of the Women's Equality Act that Governor Cuomo had requested have been retained, and passed by the New York State Assembly.

The ten reforms are: 
  1. Protect a women's right to make decisions about her own body: Codifies existing federal law to protect a woman’s right to obtain an abortion prior to 24 weeks, or when necessary to protect her life or health
  2. Achieving pay equity: Eliminates the ability of employers to justify pay disparities based on gender and instead requires that their pay decisions be based on legitimate reasons
  3. Stopping sexual harassment in the workplace: Protects all employees by banning sexual harassment in every workplace, regardless of the number of employees
  4. Strengthening human trafficking laws: This legislation creates the “Trafficking Victims Protection and Justice Act,” which will strengthen New York’s existing human trafficking laws
  5. Empowering domestic violence victims: Creates a pilot program to allow domestic violence victims to seek temporary orders of protection through electronic means rather than having to appear in person
  6. Ending housing discrimination for victims of domestic violence: Prohibits landlords from discriminating against victims of domestic violence
  7. Ending family status discrimination: Prohibits employers from denying work or promotions to employees simply because they have children
  8. Ending pregnancy discrimination: Creates a specific protection that requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations for pregnant employees  
  9. Removing legal barriers to fighting discrimination: Allows successful plaintiffs to recover attorney’s fees in employment or credit discrimination cases based on gender 
  10. Ending source-of-income discrimination: Creates a task force to study the impact of source of income on access to housing  
    Several Assembly members have said "As a legislative body, we believe that the actualization of these initiatives denoted within this bill will provide women with more equal footing in our great state. We could not be more in favor of such a grand agenda. It's now up to our colleagues in the New York State Senate.
    Our governor is waiting to sign, the Assembly has done its part. It's now up to the Senate...

   The State Senate has said that it can not pass item #1 about the right to an abortion at any time, and several senators including Senator Jeff Klein and the IDC are taking heat for it. The senate has said that they will pass items # 2 through 10, but not item # 1.

   It will have to be seen who wins this showdown in Albany.


Thursday, June 20, 2013


Comptroller Returns $90M Central Park Conservancy Contract; Asks Mayor to Revise Agreement, Level Playing Field for Parks

  City Comptroller John C. Liu has returned a contract that would enrich the privately funded Central Park Conservancy (CPC) by $90 million in City funds, asking Mayor Bloomberg to revise the agreement in order to more equitably distribute revenue to the many parks and playgrounds that don’t get the same attention or service as Central Park.  Comptroller Liu’s office is also reviewing another CPC contract, this one for $60 million in City capital construction funds, with the same purpose in mind.

“Central Park is very important to New York and is indeed an icon of our City. However, the City should do more to ensure that parks across the five boroughs are being funded adequately and equitably,” Comptroller Liu said.  “The City should provide funding for basic maintenance and much-needed capital projects across all parks before sending this much-needed taxpayer money to a well-funded private organization. Let’s work together to maintain Central Park and provide equity among all of our parks.”

On Monday, June 17, Comptroller Liu returned a $90 million operations contract between the NYC Parks Department and the CPC because of insufficient information. Comptroller Liu then wrote Mayor Bloomberg asking that the structure of the contract be revised to provide a more equitable distribution of resources. Comptroller Liu suggested that the City:

·         Eliminate or reduce the CPC’s revenue-sharing agreement, which gives the CPC substantial funding based on City concession and special events income unavailable to most other parks. 
·         Reallocate capital funds to higher-needs parks.
·         Require greater financial transparency from the CPC.
·         Encourage the CPC to do more to help support other area parks.



June 19, 2013

Honorable Michael R. Bloomberg
City Hall
New York, NY 10007

Dear Mayor Bloomberg:

My office has returned the ten-year, $90 million Central Park Conservancy contract submitted by the NYC Department of Parks & Recreation and is currently reviewing an additional $60 million capital contract with the Conservancy.

I write to ask you to reflect on the wide disparities that exist among parks in the five boroughs.  For example, St. Nicholas Park, located just a few blocks north of Central Park in Harlem, recently received a score of 77 out of a possible 100 points from New Yorkers for Parks because of trip hazards, litter, and out-of-service drinking fountains.

The Parks Department can and should amend both Conservancy contracts so that they help provide more equity among parks.  These modifications should also take into account the exceptionally strong financial condition of the Conservancy.

We recommend that the following changes be made:

·         Eliminate or reduce the Conservancy’s revenue-sharing agreement.  Currently 50 percent of the estimated approximately $12 million Central Park net concession and special event revenue is distributed to the Conservancy. In contrast, very few if any other City parks have such a beneficial arrangement.
·         Reallocate capital funds toward higher-needs parks.  If we are serious about equitably distributing scarce resources, we need to reallocate a portion of the City’s capital contributions for Central Park to parks with higher needs that are over-reliant on discretionary funds.
·         Increase financial transparency. The Conservancy’s 2011-2012 tax filings show revenues of $47 million.  Other public sources indicate that the Conservancy has a workforce of approximately 300 employees, ranging from seasonal grounds technicians paid $18,228 to the President and CEO, who received total compensation of $456,319.  Like the Parks Department and every other City agency, the Conservancy should publish spending and payroll data on Checkbook NYC, the City’s financial transparency website. Mandatory federal tax filings do not provide adequate transparency.
·         Encourage expanded support of area parks. The Conservancy should work with the Parks Department to identify struggling parks throughout the five boroughs that would benefit from the Conservancy’s operational and development expertise.  Such a collaboration could help mitigate some of the widespread concerns that public-private partnerships favor only a handful of elite parks. 

According to its most recent tax return, the Conservancy has more than $215 million in assets. This staggering number does not take into account the recently announced $100 million private donation.

The City should ensure that parks across the five boroughs—and not just Central Park—are being funded adequately and equitably. When the City is unable to provide funding for basic maintenance and much-needed capital projects, one must question whether it is appropriate to provide our wealthiest park with $150 million of new resources.

Let’s work together to maintain Central Park and provide equity among all of our parks.


John C. Liu

City Comptroller John C. Liu called on the Department of Education today to invalidate the four Regents exams – Living Environment, U.S. History, Global Studies, and English – that have been outsourced to McGraw-Hill for help with grading and have encountered numerous problems and delays, according to published reports.

“It is unconscionable that students, families, and schools should suffer through fake graduations because their Regents grades are unknown. The more than $3 million paid to McGraw-Hill should be returned to the City immediately, the grades students received on their regular final exams in these subject areas should be substituted for the Regents, and normal graduations should go on starting today and through the rest of the school year.”


“Serious glitches with electronic grading delay Regents scores,” Gotham Schools:

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Opera Event at JASA Van Cortlandt Senior Center on June 26th


JASA Van  Cortlandt Senior Center

Join us for an evening of fine dining
and entertainment:

The Bronx Opera Ensemble will present a varied program of classical and Broadway favorites at 6:30 PM.
A delectable dinner of salmon w/tomato sauce, potato puff, zucchini Provencal and dessert will be served at 5:30 PM followed by the concert.

Recommended senior donation is $3.00 for the meal
and $2.00 for the event.

Non-senior fee is $5.00 for the meal
and $3.00 for the event.

Please call the center office 718-549-4700
to reserve for the meal and event
by Friday, June 21st.

Cultural Arts Event:

Wed. June 26, 2013

JASA Van Cortlandt Senior Center    |  3880 Sedgwick Ave. Bronx, NY 10463    | 718-549-4700
Funded by NYC DFTA and by grants from CM Oliver Koppell and BP Ruben Diaz Jr

What You Should Know

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

  Senator Klein is Eating all the Candies

  As you know, back in November, 2012 the Democrats won the majority of Senate seats in New York State, but at the time, there was a serious rift between Senators Jeff Klein and Mike Gianaris.

Senator Jeff Klein had served as the Senate Democrat’s top political strategist heading the Senate Democratic Campaign Committee – until Senator John Sampson threw him into the dust and appointed Senator Mike Gianaris to fill that role.  This was a big slap in the face to Senator Klein, and since that time, we have to wonder if that wound has ever healed.

When the 2012 election results gave a victory to the Senate Democrats to become the Senate Majority, we all knew that we needed to bring Senator Jeff Klein and the rest of his Independent Democratic Conference Members - Senator Diane Savino, Senator David Valesky, and Senator David Carlucci - back into the fold.

We all knew that Senators Savino, Valesky and Carlucci would side with Senator Jeff Klein, and whatever he said, they would follow.

I, for one, was advising everyone that we should give Senator Jeff Klein everything he needed or wanted in order to bring him back to our side. However, there were those certain macho men and macho women in our Democratic Conference who decided that they knew better, and as a result, there was no way Jeff Klein could come back and join with the Democrats.

Among those macho men and women were Senators Gustavo Rivera, Liz Kruger and Mike Gianaris.

The most vociferous of them all was Gustavo Rivera.  He ever used the "f" word when he referred to Senator Jeff Klein.  The big-shots knew and proclaimed how much better off they were without Senators Klein, Savino, Valesky and Carlucci, and how those four Senators would someday have to come crawling back to us.

Ladies and gentlemen, you should know that Jeff Klein gave us ample time and many opportunities to extend an olive branch to him.  You should also know that instead, we decided to follow the big-shots of our Democratic Conference and offer nothing at all to bring Jeff Klein back.  We decided to follow the macho men and women and instead, we allowed them to solidify the Independent Democratic Conference and its successful alliance with the Republican Conference.

Now, lo and behold, everybody is crying foul.

Little by little, day by day, Senator Jeff Klein and the Members of the Independent Democratic Conference have been gaining ground and have been becoming stronger and stronger.  They have reached a point that Senator Diane Savino, a staunch union follower and ardent supporter of women’s rights, has even dared to challenge them.  She has shown great courage and incredible faithfulness to Senator Jeff Klein and the Independent Democratic Conference.

This is not at all what the macho men and women of the regular Democratic Conference expected … they were sure that when Senators Klein, Savino, Valesky and Carlucci would come under pressure, they would have to bend.

But surprise, surprise: they are not bending.  They are eating the candies, and I am afraid they will never come back. I am also afraid that if we ever want to become the Majority, we will all have to join the Independent Democratic Conference!

This week, as we are about to finish our Session for 2013, we are watching the Independent Democratic Conference get hit from the left, from the right, from the center, from above, and from below.  They have been picketed, blasted, cursed, threatened, and they have been marked for destruction in the next election.

But they are not bending, not yielding, and not giving up.  On the contrary, they are getting stronger and stronger – and stronger.

It is my hope that by the end of this Session, when all of this is said and done, and when Senators Jeff Klein, Diane Savino, David Valesky and David Carlucci finish eating the candies, I hope they will leave some crumbs for us.  Like an old saying goes, "Even the little ones feed on the crumbs which fall from their masters' table."

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


Outer Borough Campaign Group (OBCG)

   Past 80th Assembly District candidate Robert Giuffre and Mr. Hal Levy today announced the formation of the Outer Borough Campaign Group (OBCG). This will be a political consulting firm that will be distinguished by its exclusive focus on community-centered NYC candidates and campaigns.  OBCG specializes in direct mail services — targeting, designing and executing mail campaigns that reach frequent “prime” or receptive voters — and the ballot qualification process, in addition to generalized consulting work.  OBCG’s staff allows the firm to offer previously expensive services to city-level campaigns at more accessible prices than the small group of Manhattan or Albany-based political consultants who currently serve few city candidates.
  “It’s our goal to take on clients who have well-developed campaigns, but would rather spend their time out in the community instead of organizing logistically difficult mail operations or navigating city politics. We believe every NYC candidate can have a la carte access to these tools instead,” said partner Rob Giuffre.
  As of now OBCG has two clients — Cliff Stanton for Council of District 11 in Riverdale, Bronx, and an additional unnamed Bronx candidate. OBCG expects to partner with several other clients during the 2013 and 2014 elections.
  Levy and Giuffre have each worked in various managerial capacities on over a dozen campaigns, before formally founding an independent consulting firm.  Levy studies human rights at Columbia University, and Giuffre is a teacher at NYC public schools.
For more information on the Outer Borough Campaign Group, visit

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Upcoming Events

This came in from KRVDC about some upcoming events.

Saturday, June 22nd - Movie in the Park!, Festivities begin at 8pm and Movie will begin at Dusk, Indian Field, VCP East and East 233rd Street, Woodlawn – The Incredibles!
Event will include a "Meet the Merchants" movie as a preview!! This event kicks off our Summer 2013 Movies in the Park series.
Sunday, June 23rd - Kidaroo's One Year Anniversary Party!, 1-4 pm, 3603 Fieldston Road, Bronx, NY 10463
Party will feature yoga, a preschool of rock concert, scribble art and more!  KRVC is participating as part of our new biz boosters program with a Stiltwalker, Adam Auslander, who will stroll along the Avenue to promote the party.  Senator Klein will also be at the event to cut the One Year Anniversary cake.
Sunday, June 30th - Riverdale RiverFest, 12:00 - 6:00 pm at the College of Mount St. Vincent, Riverdale Avenue and 261st Street, Great Lawn Overlooking the majestic Hudson River Celebrating the River and the Greenway in Riverdale
Event Highlights:  ♦ Local musicians and entertainers  ♦ Arts and crafts  ♦ Food  ♦ Medieval Battle demonstration ♦ Fun, river-oriented environmental education programs and featuring...The John J. Harvey Fireboat! & The Hudson River Sloop Clearwater!
 Many, many, many volunteers are needed for this event.  You can volunteer by contacting me directly or by registering on the Riverfest website:
See you at these great events - Tracy
Tracy McCabe Shelton
Executive Director
Kingsbridge-Riverdale-Van Cortlandt Development Corp./KRVC   917-570-9027

Monday, June 17, 2013

Senator Rev. Ruben Diaz Supports Senator Jeff Klein's Women's Equality Act

   The Senate Independent Democratic Conference put out its women’s equality agenda that strips a provision to strengthen of abortion rights from the governor’s 10-point plan. 

   While other Democrats in the State Senate are against the IDC plan, New York Senator Rev. Ruben Diaz (D-Bronx) has announced his support for the IDC's own Women's Agenda legislation that has been introduced on Sunday by Senator Jeff Klein (IDC-Bronx).

   Senator Rev. Diaz stated: "I salute Senator Jeff Klein and his IDC colleagues, and applaud their efforts to bring the nine measures included in the IDC's Women's Agenda package. As a Democrat, I will vote for this bill when it comes for a vote. Governor Cuomo's abortion expansion agenda measure was a distraction and does not belong in this effort to promote much needed equality for New York's women. The abortion battles may continue, but not at the cost of these real goals. After the bill passes, we will all have to wait and see if Governor Cuomo will sign it into law."

From Controller John Liu

Mayor Needs to Act Ahead of June 30 Budget Deadline

City Comptroller John C. Liu stated the following today on the federal budget cuts hitting the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA):
“With the City’s June 30 budget deadline looming, the Mayor needs to act now to shore up NYCHA. The consequences of the federal budget cuts hitting NYCHA will mean increasing rents for residents, the elimination of vital support services (including the closing of youth and senior centers), and the reduction of operation and maintenance services.  All of these things risk a further deterioration of our public housing.  The City should immediately provide NYCHA on an emergency basis with the funding necessary to avert these draconian cuts and rent increases. NYCHA residents are among the most vulnerable New Yorkers. We need to help them, not hurt them. If NYCHA’s management is looking for cuts, they should look to consulting contracts and executive staff.”
July 2012 comments on NYCHA’s Draft Annual Plan for FY 2013:
July 2012 testimony and press release on NYCHA’s Draft Annual Plan for FY 2013:
City Comptroller John C. Liu stated the following today after the Mayor’s announcement that high school graduation rates have held steady:

“Graduating from high school is not enough. In today’s economy, a college degree is vital, and research from the Comptroller’s office shows that four out of five New York City public high school students do not graduate from college. If we are serious about preparing students for the 21st-Century economy, we need to make smarter investments in education – including increasing the number of college counselors in our high schools, using early intervention systems to keep kids on track for college, building partnerships between high schools and colleges, and investing in summer programs to make sure high school graduates matriculate.”


Comptroller Liu’s “Beyond High School NYC” initiative seeks to increase the proportion of New Yorkers with higher education to 60 percent by the year 2025 through strategic investments in public education.

“Beyond High School: Higher Education as a Growth and Fiscal Strategy for New York City”:
“The Power of Guidance: Giving High School Students the College Counseling They Need”:
“No More Rubber Stamp: Reforming New York City’s Panel for Educational Policy”:



This x=came in from Councilman Oliver Koppell's office

  On June 12, 2013, the City Council approved a bill, co-sponsored by Council Member Oliver Koppell, a member of the Transportation Committee, which would deactivate muni-meters when parking rules are not in effect or receipt paper is not available. Since muni-meters have universally replaced single-space meters throughout the city, motorists have increasingly complained that they have lost money at these meters. This occurs when drivers who are unaware of, or who misunderstand, meter regulations pay the meter at times when parking meter rules are not in effect. The muni-meter accepts the payment even though the driver was not required to pay for parking at that time, causing him/her to lose money unnecessarily.
  Drivers may also lose money when the meter fails to print a receipt.  Since muni-meters are not equipped to dispense refunds in such a situation, the driver must go to another muni-meter on the block and pay again in order to obtain the required receipt.
  In order to rectify the situation, the Council bill requires DOT to program each muni-meter so that it is unable to accept payment from the last time in a day that parking meter rules are in effect until one hour prior to the next time meter rules are in operation. The measure would further require DOT to program all muni-meters to reject payment when the meter is unable to print a timed receipt.

“The Council has already passed mini-meter legislation that benefits motorists. This bill will create additional protections and help make parking in New York City less onerous.” Koppell said.