Saturday, July 27, 2013


   Friday night was the ABRAZO DOMINICANO 2013 held by State Senator Ruben Diaz Sr. salute to the Bronx Dominican parade on Sunday. The Honorees included Hon. Dilone Ovalles Governor of Moca, Dominican Republic, Hon. Alexis Perez Mayor of La Vega, Dominican Republic, and Sr. Francisco Quezada President of Macier Industries. as usual there was standing room only as over 800 people packed into the Main Ballroom at Maestro's to sample some fine Dominican food and help celebrate Sunday's parade. 
   As far as elected officials on hand beside Senator Ruben Diaz Sr. there was Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., State Senator Adriano Espialliat, Bronx Assemblymen Marcos Crespo, Mark Gjonaj, and Luis Sepulveda. Democratic Mayoral candidates Bill Thompson and Erick Salgado, Republican Mayoral candidate John Catsimatidis, 15th City Council candidates Rev. Joel Bauza and Albert Alvarez, 86th A.D. candidate Hector Ramirez and Yudelka Tapia, along with various Bronx Democratic Party leaders such as Ms. Iachia Bravo the Executive Director of the Bronx Democratic County Committee, and Ms. Grisel Cuprill-Davis the Outreach Coordinator for NYS Comptroller Tom Di Napoli who stood in for Comptroller Di Napoli.
   Senator Diaz gave the opening remarks, Rev Joel Bauza (candidate for the 15th City Council) gave the invocation Cynthia La Cruz (of Lehman College) sang both the American and Republic Dominica national anthems to a standing ovation. The program then proceeded with Senator Diaz introducing the elected officials on hand, and then presenting awards to the honorees. 

Left - Only one side of the capacity crowd on both sides of the dance floor in the middle.
Right - Rev. Joel Bauza gives the invocation.

Left - The singing of the American national anthem.
Right - The singing of the Dominican national anthem, both by Cynthia La Cruz.

Left - A few parade Princesses.
Right - Bronx Democratic County Committee Executive Director Ms. Iachis Bravo poses between Senator Diaz and Rev. Jeol Bauza.

Left - 87 A.D. Assemblyman Luis Sepulveda brought his son with him.
Right - Republican Mayoral candidate John Catsimatidis was in attendance.

Left - They may be facing each other in the 15th Council race, but here candidates Albert Avarez (left) and Joel Bauza (right) gladly posed for this photo.
Right - 86th A.D. candidate Yudelka Tapia.

Friday, July 26, 2013

6th Annual Allerton Avenue Festival & International Food Show!

International Family Day August 18th

  You're invited to International Family Day, hosted by Assemblyman Mark Gjonaj, taking place on Sunday, August 18, 2013 from 12pm to 6pm at DeWitt Clinton High School, on Goulden Avenue off Mosholu Parkway.
The purpose of this event is to bring the community together to celebrate the cultural diversity that makes our neighborhoods a great place to live, work and play.
The day will feature kid's activities and games, food, clowns, face painting, balloon art, live entertainment, raffles, giveaways, vendors and a special honoree ceremony where almost 200 people from different countries will be honored… truly a one of a kind event!
I invite you to share your culture and traditions from around the world at this year's International Family Day Fun Day, a fantastic, fun-filled FREE annual community event.  
For SPONSORSHIP OPPORTUNITIES contact Jacqueline Acevedo-Villanueva at 917.640.1003/


WHAT: International Family Day
WHO: Assemblyman Mark Gjonaj
DATE: Sunday, August 18th, 2013
TIME: 12PM – 6PM
LOCATION: DeWitt Clinton High School, on Goulden Avenue off Mosholu Parkway
EVENT CONTACT: Jacqueline Acevedo, 917.640.1003

Thursday, July 25, 2013


  Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. announced that his office has provided almost $23 million in capital funding to worthy Bronx organizations as part of his FY2014 capital budget allocations.

In total, Borough President Diaz has provided $22,924,000  in capital funding to organizations across the Bronx, focusing on areas of education, housing, economic development, parks and other areas.

“The ‘New Bronx’ is rapidly changing and our economy is growing. What better way to continue positively enhancing our Borough than by awarding our worthy organizations the funds to improve the lives of residents from all corners of the Bronx. These funds will help towards our common goal of making the ‘New Bronx’ the epicenter of economic progress and prosperity, beautifying our borough and building new infrastructure in the process,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.

The largest portion of this year’s budget allocation—roughly 31 percent of the budget for a total of $7.1 million—went towards funding Bronx parks. This includes funds for the Phase I Lower Plaza construction at Roberto Clemente State Park, reconstruction of the basketball and handball courts at Millbrook Playground, funds towards an exercise station at the playground at Pelham Parkway, the installation of a new fence at Joyce Kilmer Park and money towards Phase II reconstruction at Playground 52.

Borough President Diaz also threw a significant portion of his funding—23 percent—to the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA). This includes nearly $5.3 million towards seven public housing developments in the Bronx. Projects include the renovation of the senior center at the Monroe Houses and security enhancements at the Eastchester Houses, McKinley Houses, Ft. Independence Houses, Marble Hill Houses, Middletown Plaza and Bailey Houses.
“The safety and security of our residents is of great importance to me. Enhancing security at our public housing developments is a tool that can deter crime and improve the quality of life of NYCHA tenants,” said Borough President Diaz.
Borough President Diaz also funded a total of 26 projects related to the borough’s education institutions, providing funding for smart boards and computer equipment at P.S./I.S. 224, for technology upgrades at the Bronx Academy of Health Careers,  laptop computers for The Young Women’s Leadership School of the Bronx and smart boards for P.S./M.S. 279, among other public school projects.

Borough President Diaz also funded several important higher education projects, including the construction of the new Allied Health & Science Building at Hostos Community College, HVAC replacements at Bronx Community College as well as iCloud services at Lehman College.

“Education at all levels remains an important focus of my administration, and my office will continue to provide the necessary funding that Bronx students at all levels need to succeed,” said Borough President Diaz.

Borough President Diaz also funded libraries, health providers and other important institutions in this year’s capital budget, such as the restoration of the Reptile House at the Bronx Zoo, a transformative, mixed-income housing development at 810 River Avenue, construction at the Kingsbridge Heights Community Center and computer upgrades in libraries across the Bronx.

“Each of these projects, in its own way, will contribute to the continued revitalization of our borough, and I am thrilled to have played a role in so many exceptional new developments,” said Borough President Diaz.

For a complete list of projects funded by Borough President Diaz, visit:

Movie in the Park this Saturday Night

This came in fromt the Kingsbridge Riverdale Development Corporation.
Please plan to come!!  Our next movie night will take place this Saturday, July 27th and it will take place in Vinmont Park, Mosholu Avenue at 255th Street. Plan to come at around 8pm (earlier to stake out a good spot!). Pre-movie festivities include Live Music performed by Guitarist, Jostein Gulbrandsen and Capoeira by ABADA-Capoeira Bronx, sponsored by Kidaroo.  We will begin the movie, "Mr. Popper's Penguins," at dusk.
This event is part of a series of movies in the park scheduled for the summer of 2013.  The movies are hosted and organized by KRVC and largely funded by a grant provided through State Senator Jeff Klein's office.  Admission is FREE!
Another fun event of note:
FREE Open House Carnival at Bedrock Preschool
Sunday Aug 11th 10am-12pm
3220 Arlington Ave Riverdale, NY 10463
Step right up under the big red tent and join us for some fun festivities: bean bag toss, duck pond “fishing,” face painting, music time, bouncy castle, bubble machine, and more!   Open to the public for ages infants through 6 years old.  RSVP required.  Please indicate full name and age of child  Refreshments available. Free giveaways and swag bags.  KRVC is participating in this event as part of our "Biz Boosters" program.  KRVC has sponsored a clown for the event and arranged for a "Story Time with our State Legislators!"  State Senator Jeff Klein and Assemblyman Jeff Dinowitz will read a book to the children as part of this event.
Last but not least be sure to mark your calendars for KRVC's next two Block Festivals!
Sunday, September 29th, 12-4pm, South Riverdale Ave,, 236th-238th Street
Sunday, November 10th, 12-4pm, Johnson Ave., 235th - 236th Street

Also, at all our upcoming KRVC events, check out KRVC's new signature exhibit - BLOCKS - where kids (and adults) can create and build. KRVC's logo has featured three blocks for three decades and we are celebrating that with this new, interactive exhibit. BLOCKS was launched at last month's RiverFest and demonstates how, in many ways, we can come together and:  Build a Better Community 1 Block at a Time! 

Wave Hill Events August 9–August 16

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 on-site at 9:30AM.

Spray a Garden/Rocia el jardín con acuarelas
Paint the colors of summer into a garden made without brushes. Combine mists of watercolor and blossoms fashioned from color-soaked coffee filters into a blooming vision. 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.

Join a curatorial fellow for a tour of Wave Hill’s summer exhibition, Bronx Calling: the 2nd AIM Biennial, which features the cutting-edge artwork by NYC-area emerging artists, as well as an installation in the Sunroom Project Space, where Jarrod Beck translates geologic processes into drawing. Mounted sculpturally, these large-scale works create an immersive environment. Tours take place Tuesdays and Saturdays at 2PM Free with admission to the grounds.

Stroll the grounds with a designer’s eye to see how containers can enhance the overall design of a garden. Horticultural Interpreter Charles Day shares colorful and dramatic containers planted in artful and playful combinations at the Pergola, Café Terrace, Aquatic Garden and other locations throughout the
grounds.  Free with admission to the grounds.

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

Spray a Garden/Rocia el jardín con acuarelas
Paint the colors of summer into a garden made without brushes. Combine mists of watercolor and blossoms fashioned from color-soaked coffee filters into a blooming vision. 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.

This summer, take a moment to release stress and reconnect with your inner self while practicing meditation. Each session includes instruction in simple relaxation techniques followed by 20 minutes of meditation. Led by Yoga for Bliss director Neem Dewji and other qualified instructors. All levels welcome. Session fee: Member $15/Non-member $23. Registration opens onsite at 9:30AM.

Join us for the screening of recent video work by artists exhibiting in Bronx Calling: The Second AIM Biennial. This screening will present various approaches the medium of video. Bronx Calling features work by 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, Wave Hill, and 1285 Avenue of the Americas Art Gallery. The screening will begin at 1:30PM in Wave Hill House. Free with admission to the grounds.

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

Closed to the public.

Join us for a delightful reading adventure as we explore a different, nature-related theme each week with beautifully illustrated storybooks, beloved classics and exciting new selections. Sessions are held outdoors only and are weather dependent.  Ideal for ages 3 and up and their adult companion. Free, and admission to the grounds is free all day.

Join a curatorial fellow for a tour of Wave Hill’s summer exhibition, Bronx Calling: the 2nd AIM Biennial, which features the cutting-edge artwork by NYC-area emerging artists, as well as an installation in the Sunroom Project Space, where Jarrod Beck translates geologic processes into drawing. Mounted sculpturally, these large-scale works create an immersive environment. Tours take place Tuesdays and Saturdays at 2PM. Free, and admission to the grounds is free all day.

Experience summer at its best—an expansive landscape of rolling lawns and gorgeous formal gardens, fresh river breezes, plein-air performances of Bronx Beat Music, yoga, guided walks and cutting-edge art in Glyndor Gallery. Order dinner from exclusive caterer Great Performances, and you have the makings
of a superb summer evening. Gardens open until 8:30PM. The Café at Wave Hill open until 8PM. Glyndor Gallery, Perkins Visitor Center, The Shop at Wave Hill open until 7:30PM. Check for the schedule for Sunset Wednesdays free shuttle service to and from Metro-North and the #1 subway.

Find refuge from city life by practicing seasonal yoga. Decrease stress and increase your energy by focusing on your posture, breath control and meditation. This sunset session is led by Yoga for Bliss instructor Joanne Salomone. 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 a Wave Hill Garden Guide for a mini tour of one of Wave Hill’s magnificent gardens. Tours vary by week―come back on another evening for a glimpse of a different garden area! Free with admission to the grounds.

A high point of each Sunset Wednesday includes live music performed by Bronx musicians on the grassy expanse of the Great Lawn, overlooking the majestic Palisades. Tonight’s performers, Milteri Tucker and Bombazo Dance, mix classical, contemporary and social styles of dance to create a new movement vocabulary that draws on the American and Latino experience. Free with admission to the grounds.

Yes, there are bats in New York City! Hunt for these mysterious creatures of the night with naturalist Paul Keim, the “Batman of Brooklyn”. Participants use eyes and ears— and an echo locator—to search for bats as they skim the dusky sky looking for insects. Ages 10 and older welcome with an adult. Space is limited. $10 Member/$18 Non- Member. Registration required, online at, by calling 718.549.3200 x305 or at the Perkins Visitor Center.

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 on-site 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 all day Tuesdays in August. 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, July 24, 2013


“This vote represents another step forward not only for the FreshDirect project, but the continued expansion of positive economic development in the Bronx. Not only will this project move 2,000 existing jobs to Mott Haven, it will create 1,000 new employment opportunities in our borough, and those are jobs we cannot afford to lose.

“Since FreshDirect announced its move to the Bronx they have expanded their service to the entire borough, developed a pilot program to accept EBT benefits and hired dozens of Bronxites to work at their existing facility in Queens, all while working to convert their delivery fleet to environmentally-friendly vehicles. Today’s vote allows us to continue moving forward on this important economic development project and to bring more jobs to our borough,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.

Items From Comptroller John Liu


 City Comptroller John C. Liu today cast the lone “no” vote on the Industrial Development Agency’s $127 million subsidy for Fresh Direct, which received final authorization. He stated the following:
“This was a bad idea when it was first voted on a year ago, and it’s an even worse one today. New York City needs jobs, particularly in the Bronx, but this is a wasteful way to do business that picks taxpayers’ pockets in order to reward fat cats.
“During the Bloomberg Administration, the Economic Development Corporation has doled out hundreds of millions of dollars in corporate welfare to companies that fail to deliver on their promise of jobs for New Yorkers, and we have no reason to believe this will be any different.
“Even if the EDC’s dubious projections turn out to be accurate, the Fresh Direct deal will go down as yet another Bloomberg big business boondoggle. Spending roughly $127 million to create 964 new jobs—$131,397 per job—just doesn’t make economic sense.


A “perverse incentive” enacted together with the minimum-wage increase in the New York State budget could jeopardize the pay or even the jobs of low-wage workers in New York City, a report released by City Comptroller John C. Liu today is warning. Comptroller Liu renewed his call to implement an $11.50-per-hour minimum wage in New York City, which would make employers ineligible for this harmful tax credit and help many more workers make ends meet in the most expensive major city in the nation.

“State lawmakers did their best to craft a minimum-wage hike that would help workers in Rochester and Buffalo, but a tax credit for employers they included as part of that deal may actually harm low-wage New York City workers,” Comptroller Liu said. “That’s yet another good reason why we need to raise the New York City minimum wage to $11.50 an hour. Not to mention that New York City is just so much more expensive to live in.”

Liu’s report comes out as the United States marked the fourth anniversary of the last rise in the federal minimum wage, which activists have named as a “National Day of Action to Raise Up America,” calling on elected officials and employers to raise wages for the nation’s lowest-paid workers.

The “Minimum Wage Reimbursement Credit” included in the New York State budget gives businesses tax credits if they hire young workers, but employers only get the credit if they pay their workers exactly the minimum wage and not a penny more. Employers would receive a $1.35-per-hour tax credit for each worker between the ages of 16 and 19 earning no more than the minimum wage of $9.00 per hour in 2016. This could jeopardize the jobs and wages of roughly 120,000 New York City workers making between $9.00 and $10.00 per hour, because the state would pay their employers to replace them with workers earning minimum wage.

“New York should be a city where working men and women can afford to make ends meet,” said Comptroller Liu. “If we are serious about helping families with children climb out of poverty, narrowing the wealth gap, and growing the middle class, we need to have the courage to pay all people a livable minimum wage of $11.50. Let’s not ignore the fact that the federal minimum wage created decades ago has not kept up with inflation; if it had, today’s federal minimum wage would be more than $10.50. Contrary to what many in corporate America would have us believe, sound economic research indicates that a New York City minimum wage of $11.50 will help, not hurt, the Big Apple’s economy.”


City Comptroller John C. Liu today called on the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) to open its operations to the public as well as reject a plan to raise $750 million in a new bond issue, amid grave concerns over a deepening crisis that threatens the Authority’s finances and operations.

Formal comments were submitted earlier this week, with Liu raising key concerns at tonight’s NYCHA public hearing on its Annual Plan for Fiscal Year 2014.

Comptroller Liu’s full submission to NYCHA can be found at:

Comptroller Liu noted that there are even questions about the legitimacy of the current NYCHA board, given that Mayor Bloomberg has not yet appointed new board members as required by a new state law.

“The Mayor’s refusal to act is tantamount to vetoing legislators’ actions and demonstrates his contempt for the legislative process,” Comptroller Liu said. “In the meantime, it is unconscionable that NYCHA is holding just one public hearing in light of its fiscal woes, significant issues of crime and safety, and literally groundbreaking plans to offload 14 parcels of valuable land in Manhattan to be used for luxury housing.”

Comptroller Liu also questioned NYCHA’s plan for a new bond issue. “As it is, the Authority is sitting on about $700 million in unused capital funds and clearly lacks the capacity to spend the new funds it is seeking. NYCHA should postpone any new bonds until the new board has an opportunity to assess NYCHA’s financial condition. In order to restore public faith in its finances, NYCHA also should accept our longstanding invitation to join Checkbook NYC, our financial-transparency website.”


 With a deadline looming on the Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC)-CBS Corporation (NYSE: CBS) contract negotiations that could cause service disruption, City Comptroller John C. Liu is offering his boardroom as a venue and his staff as facilitators in order to help the parties iron out their differences.

“More than a million New York City TWC customers may experience a blackout of CBS and Showtime beginning tomorrow morning if an agreement is not reached, barring them from watching their favorite television shows even as they continue to pay for the programming,” Comptroller Liu wrote in a letter Wednesday to Leslie Moonves, president and CEO of CBS Corporation, and Glenn A. Britt, chairman and CEO of Time Warner Cable. “It is time to stop using the customers as leverage in these disputes.  TWC and CBS must come together now. My office stands ready to host or assist in facilitating a meeting of the parties in order to help resolve this dispute quickly and without disruption of service.”

Comptroller Liu sits on the New York City Franchise Concession and Review Committee, which authorizes the television franchise agreement between New York City and Time Warner Cable and provides TWC access to New York City customers.


15th Council Forum Part Two W/Photos

  By now the audience had swelled to about 150 people.
  The next question was to candidate Thompkins on the scatter site homeless policy currently in place. Thompkins answered that legal aid needs more money to fight for the homeless, to build temporary housing for the homeless in empty lots and brown fields. Rebuttal Agosto- need to change the policy at Dept. of Homeless, and blamed Bloomberg, Batista- Need to support local organizations that provide services, Rivera- Developers that build are not from the area and don't care, Torres- City policy "brain Dead" for paying $3,000.00 to house families, Alvarez- some landlords are slumlords who take in and then evict people.
  A question to candidate Agosto on mayoral control, better educational outcomes, and high stakes testing was answered by candidate Agosto that there needs to be a change in culture at the Department of Education, smaller class size, and more interaction & early intervention. Rebuttal Alvarez- Stop 100% mayoral control, currently have a dictator, Teachers see what is going on, Batista- after taking bar exam knows about high stakes testing and the council needs to be involved, Rivera- more parental involvement, Thompkins- need to create more partnerships with community organizations, and cut class size, Torres- excluding parents reduces students to a scan card.
  A question to candidate Alvarez about the lack of Phys-ed in schools was answered by candidate Alvarez that the space needs to be available parking lots & playground areas need to be used used, and need more sports in the schools. Rebuttal Agosto- partner with local businesses, explorers, and the PAL, Batista- look to support new parks and play streets, Rivera- look at new creative ideas such as dancing - "think outside the box", Thompkins hire more teachers, and bring back competitive sports.
  A question to candidate Batista on "Stop N Frisk" and the Inspector General position was answered by candidate Batista that she is against stop n frisk and in favor of the inspector general position, but crime needs to be targeted where it is happening. Rebuttal Rivera- Mentioned that Comptrollers office had town hall meetings citywide, that he was the only candidate to attend them, Thompkins- Said she is on the 46th pct. council, and Legal Aid lawyer that a balance needs to be kept & cops need tools, Agosto- 100% against stop n frisk, and he is a member of the 49th Pct. council, Alvarez- when he grew up prostitutes were on the corner and it was a rough area, Torres- does not understand the controversy around the inspector general position.
  A question to candidate Rivera about making bodega owners our friends not our enemies was answered by candidate Rivera that he met with 500 bodega owners and got to know them. Rebuttal Thompkins- regulations need to be fair & not fine them to much, Batista- bodegas are a necessity some extend credit, live in the community, pay taxes, and provide jobs, Alvarez- Worked with bodega owners before when some were robbed to get cameras in, Agosto- would set up council of small business and bodega owners, 
  As the question period ended next came closing statements by the candidates. Candidate Torres said that he believes in human rights, economic fairness, and sustainability. Candidate Thompkins said that housing, fresh foods, and schools are important such as getting other choices in the bodega than sugary sodas. A need is to move from poverty to prosperity. Candidate Rivera repeated that when he was fighting for the community at town hall meetings none of the other candidates were there with him. Candidate Batista said that the 15th district is in crisis in all categories, and said that the district has the lowest voter turnout. Candidate Alvarez said that he is running because he has lived in the district his whole life, has been fighting for the community, and he knows how to do it. Last was candidate Agosto who stood up to say that the 15th district is #1 in everything. He has 30 years of community work with others, but now he wants to work for the voters and not someone else, Adding that better schools, housing, and many other things are needed in the 15th district. The forum then ended with the hostess thanking everyone for coming.
  My take on this forum- It appeared to be an even forum with no clear winner or loser except for the seventh candidate who did not show up. As for the strengths or weakness that I saw candidate Kenny Agosto wanted to be first to answer every question, gave what was the best closing statement not only by standing up in front of the other candidates, being very passionate, but also very believable in an era when politicians are not trusted. Candidate Alvarez, I expected more from him being the chief of staff to the current councilman for the past 12 years. Candidate Alvarez I felt should have been talking of the experiences of his office, and much more that has been done in the district than he mentioned. Candidate Raquel Batista was very good in her presentation and answers, but I have to believe that being in her ninth month of a pregnancy that she (as it looked to me) had to be very uncomfortable sitting on the stage for over two hours. Candidate Joel R. Rivera seemed to me to try to steam roll over the other candidates by repeating more than twice that he was the only one who attended town hall meeting that the other candidates did not. The voters will have to decide if the aggressiveness of candidate Rivera is good or bad for the district. Candidate Thompkins gave some good answers, but to me showed that she may need more than just a few years of living in a community before running for office. Candidate Torres began the debate well, gave good answers to many of the questions, but towards the end of the forum he seemed to lose interest and had no rebuttal on the last two questions that were asked which was also seen some what in his closing statement.You can click on the photos below to enlarge them.


Left - The six candidates from left to right - Kenny Agosto, Albert Alvarez,  Raquel Batista, Joel R. Rivera, Cynthia Thompkins, and Ritchie Torres.
Right - Candidate Raquel Batista answering a question with candidates Alvarez and Rivera also in the photo.

Left - Candidate Cynthia Thompkins standing between candidates Rivera and Torres.
Right - Candidate Kenny Agosto as he stands up to give his closing statement.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

15th Council Forum/Debate Part One

   Last night at the Bronx Library Center located on Kingsbridge Road off Fordham Road there was a District 15 Forum on Creating a Healthy Environment. Six of the seven candidates for the 15th council seat attended. Candidates Kenny Agosto, Albert Alvarez, Raquel Batista, Joel R. Rivera, Cynthia Thompkins, and Ritchie Torres were on hand while the seventh candidates Rev. Joel Bauza did not. The New York League of Conservation Voters Education fund, Bronx Health Reach, and Mary Mitchell Family & Youth Center were the sponsors and made up the panel of questioners. Questions from the audience written down on cards were also mixed in during the forum/debate. While there were many empty seats at the beginning of the event those seats began to get occupied as the night went on.
  Candidate Kenny Agosto was first to give an opening statement of three minutes. Candidate Agosto said that he was born and raised in the district as well as the Male District Leader. He told of his 30 years of community activist experience, and 10 years of government experience as Chief of Staff to two assemblymen now working for a state senator also getting in his advocacy for the LBGT community.
  Candidate Albert Alvarez was next. Candidate Alvarez said that he was the Chief of Staff to current 15th Councilman Joel Rivera, and also was born and raised in the district. He seemed a little nervous as he continued with the work of the past 12 years in the district mentioning only a few things that had gotten done by Councilman Rivera and himself. Alvarez later told me that he only had three minutes, and would need much more time than that.
  Candidate Raquel Batista was next. A very pregnant Candidate Batista (nine months she told me later) spoke of her 15 years of work in the community . She added that she was born & raised in the district also coming into this world at Union Hospital. She ended with her work as an attorney on Women's Rights, Tenant's Rights, and said that she would be the strong advocate that the district does not have.
  Candidate Joel R. Rivera was next. Candidate Rivera said that he has been fighting for the community using Stop N Frisk as an example. In 2005 that he started a youth organization, and wants to expand youth programs as more young people wind up in jail rather than going to college.
  Candidate Cynthia Thompkins was next. Candidate Thompkins said that she was from Pittsburg, is a former police officer, and came to the Bronx in 2009 to the Fordham Hts. area. She added that she is a lawyer for civil rights and that violence needs to end.
  Candidate Ritchie Torres was next. Candidate Torres asked if the Bronx is safe when it comes to food saying that there are to many fast food restaurants. He added that to many people live near highways, obesity, diabetes, and asthma are problems in the Bronx, using some family members as examples including himself who as a child had asthma.
  Questions were then asked of individual candidates with two minutes to respond, with a 30 second rebuttal by any other candidate. To candidate Agosto a question of his sustainability priority in his first 100 days was answered with green housing, renters on the rent guidelines board not landlords. Rebuttals were- Alvarez - Schools and asthma free zones, Torres- mold concerns in housing, Thompkins- have children learn about the environment, Rivera- cost of food in the district, Bautista- healthy food initiative.
   To candidate Alvarez the change of funding to youth centers by Mayor Bloomberg was answered that his office has provided monies to the Mary Mitchell Center, but that the mayor wants to do away with smaller providers in favor of larger one that serve more people. Rebuttals were Agosto- all programs need to be looked at and see which ones are working, Bautista- Council needs to have discretionary funding, Thompkins- believes in small community organizations, because she has one, Torres- local organizations know the needs of the community they serve, Rivera- Spoke of the credits to big business, Bloomberg's friends, and City Time scandal.
   To candidate Rivera a question of childhood obesity was answered that some schools have no gyms, and the disgusting food children are served in schools. Rebuttals were Agosto- need more classroom space to open up gyms that are being used for classrooms, Alvarez- Need obesity prevention programs, Thompkins- have phys-ed more than one day a week, Torres teach better eating habits, Bautista- what are the priorities of the schools?
   To Candidate Thompkins a question of the quality of public housing was answered by there heeds to be more green housing, and that NYCHA needs to fix their public housing. Rebuttals Agosto- Grew up in public housing, 5-6 year wait list, and cameras are needed, Alvarez- NYCHA housing is not for luxury development, Rivera- spoke of town hall meeting he attended, Torres- spoke of a murder at a NHCHA unit.
  A question to candidate Agosto about more fresh food in the district to help prevent diabetes was answered by saying that he was a diabetic and it is important to have fresh food. Agosto added that he fought to have low fat milk in schools. Rebuttals Rivera- the fresh food in the district is rotten and no good, Thompkins- Need more green carts, Batista- need to get the food from Hunts Point into the district, Alvarez- more farmers markets, Torres- said that the Bronx is not getting its fair share.
   A question to candidate Batista about rising rents and falling wages was answered that the Bronx is the "Final Frontier" of affordable housing, and that renovations by owners should not be passed on to tenants. Rebuttals Torres- rents are lower, but so is income making housing less affordable, Thompkins- Build green and provide tax incentive's, Agosto- rent guidelines board is made up of landlords not tenants, Alvarez- coll roofs & rent freeze, Rivera- mentioned this years increases by rent guidelines board and said that people have to decide between rent, food or lights.
  A question to candidate Rivera on fast food restaurants was answered that people need to be educated better on food choices. Rebuttals Agosto- limit Popeyes & Walmart, Alvarez- Spoke of his office wanting a ban of them near schools, Thompkins- asked what is needed in the Bronx, Torres- in city hospitals & schools the food needs to be better.

Response by Assemblyman Dinowitz to Stanton Attack on Him

Statement from Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz Calling Upon
Clifford Stanton to Return Strip Club Money

Council candidate Clifford Stanton continues to attack me, despite the fact that I am not his opponent, in an apparent effort to change the subject from the huge amount of campaign contributions he received from the owner of strip clubs.

Both the Riverdale Press and the Riverdale Review reported that Mr. Stanton received large contributions from the owner of Scores, a strip club in Manhattan.  Mr. Stanton stated he is not a friend of this individual.  Since they’re not friends, why is the Scores owner donating and raising so much money for Mr. Stanton?  I certainly hope that we won’t be seeing strip clubs in our community.  After all, we recently had to deal with the problem of massage parlors in the neighborhood.

The owner of the strip clubs donated or raised thousands and thousands of dollars for Clifford Stanton.  These contributions, if and when matched by the City’s public financing system with taxpayer dollars, totals over $9,000.  That is a lot of money and a significant portion of all of the money that has been reported to the Campaign Finance Board by the Stanton campaign.  

Although Mr. Stanton continues to attack me and one of the newspapers that reported these very questionable contributions, at no time did he deny the accuracy of the reports in either newspaper (including the newspaper against whom he launched a boycott when he first contemplated running for the Council.)  He owes the voters of the Bronx’s 11th council district an explanation for these contributions to his campaign.

It is Mr. Stanton who has repeatedly raised the issue of the impact of a $250 contribution made by a reputable community leader to the Andrew Cohen campaign.  Therefore it’s only fair to question what Mr. Stanton’s obligation is to an individual who helped pump over $9,000 into his campaign and how that would affect the neighborhoods of the 11th Council district.  It is clear what needs to be done.

I call on Clifford Stanton to do the right thing and return all of these questionable campaign contributions immediately.

Weiner Continues Issue Discussions During His Keys to the City Tour with Idea #32

  Anthony Weiner visited Riverdale Senior Services to discuss a proposal from his book, Keys to the City - 64 Ideas to Keep New York the Capital of the Middle Class, that would provide much-needed relief to those who care for the elderly or long-term ill in New York City.
Weiner’s proposal reduces the financial burden on caregivers by providing a city exemption for those who provide care to their loved ones at home. 

Today, there are over 1 million New Yorkers who provide care to older family members with chronic illnesses and about 200,000 of them live with their dependents.  This number is expected to rise as the number of New Yorkers over the age of 65 grows by an estimated 47% between 2005 and 2030.  The average national expenses for family caregivers – on items such as household goods, food, transportation, medical co-payments and pharmaceuticals – is $5,531 a year. 

Idea #32 – Subsidize New Yorkers Who Are Caregivers at Home – By providing a “Caregiver Tax Exemption,” burdens so that families no longer have to make choices between providing care for their family members or the basic life necessities. Weiner’s proposal would:
  • Double the existing federal tax relief for at-home caregivers by providing a $7,800 exemption from the filer’s personal income tax burden at the city level.   
  • Save 104,000 middle-class New Yorkers who provide at home care an average of $250 per year, easing burdens so they can now more easily buy necessities like a tub chair, which costs $280, or a motion sensor, costing $325, to turn off the stove automatically. 

Claimants must receive the Federal Dependent Exemption be a full-time resident of New York City, live with their dependent, and not have an income of over $100,000. Those who qualify would simply check a new box on the state tax form, lowering the amount of income on which the city would levy personal income tax. Weiner’s proposal is expected to have a positive impact on the wallets of over 100,000 New Yorkers

“Many middle class New Yorkers and those struggling to make it are trapped in a vice, caring for children on one end and elderly relatives on the other,” said Mr. Weiner. “As more of us face these realities, the City can send a message that caregivers are providing a valuable service and no longer have to choose between food and medicine.”