Saturday, December 14, 2013

E. 233rd St. & White Plains Rd Merch. Assoc. Announces the 1st Ann. Meet Santa Holiday Event

  The East 233rd Street & White Plains Road Merchants Association invites you to their 1st Annual Meet Santa Holiday event on Thursday, December 19th from 5 to 7pm at Bronx Community Board 12 Town Hall located at 4101 White Plains Road, Bronx, NY.

The purpose of this FREE community event is to promote the East 233rd Street and White Plains Road commercial corridor and to help make this Holiday Season a special one for children and families by bringing them toys and a chance to meet Santa Claus.

This event is presented by the East 233rd Street and White Plains Road Merchants Association and made possible through the support of the New York City Department of Small Business Services and Mosholu Preservation Corporation, a support corporation of Montefiore Medical Center.

The East 233rd Street and White Plains Road Merchants Association looks forward to welcoming you to the 1st Annual Meet Santa Holiday Event and to the community's continued support for the improvement of this Bronx business corridor.

Friday, December 13, 2013


  In his annual report on the State of the City’s Economy and Finances, City Comptroller John C. Liu warns that the unresolved contracts with every one of the City’s municipal unions pose a great financial risk to the City in the coming years.
Currently all of the City’s municipal unions are working under expired contracts. If the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) and Council of School Supervisors and Administrators (CSA) alone are awarded retroactive pay raises, it could cost the City $3.495 billion in FY 2014.
“The City’s budget is not truly balanced until this issue is resolved,” said Comptroller Liu. “This is a problem that will not go away simply by ignoring it, as the outgoing administration has done.”
On the positive side, the comptroller anticipates robust growth with tax revenues in the current fiscal year, exceeding the mayor’s forecast by $724 million.  The estimate for personal income tax (PIT) receipts exceeds the mayor’s forecast by $528 million.
The report shows that more than 300,000 jobs have been added in New York City since the worst of the recession, with strong growth in the health, technology, and education sectors. The City’s total private-sector employment now stands above its pre-recession peak.  At the same time, even with record levels of employment, the City’s unemployment rate remains unacceptably high at a seasonally adjusted 8.7 percent and wages have not kept up with inflation. Many fully-employed families are less well off than they were five years ago.
This annual report on the State of the City’s Economy and Finances is due from the comptroller each Dec. 15, as mandated by the City Charter. Comptroller Liu will publicly present his State of the City address on Tuesday, Dec. 17 at 10 a.m. at the Emigrant Bank Building, 49-51 Chambers Street.

Christmas Tree Lightings With Assemblyman Mark Gjonaj

Please Join Us!

Tuesday, December 17  
Christmas Tree Lighting on Allerton Ave

Bronxwood Ave, Boston Road & Allerton Ave

Warm Refreshments, caroling & small gifts

Christmas Tree Lighting 

with Senator Jeff Klein

Wednesday, December 18,    

Peace Memorial Plaza

Warm refreshments, caroling



Pelham Parkway South & White Plains Rd

Warm refreshments, caroling & small gifts

Special Appearance by Santa Clause

Horse & Carriage Rides

Thursday December 19,  5:00 PM

Warm Refreshments, small gifts, caroling by the students of the New York Institute of

Christmas Tree Lighting by the Christmas House

Westervelt Ave & Pelham Parkway North

Special Education and a special appearance by Santa Clause

For more information: (718) 409-0109

District office of Assemblyman Mark Gjonaj

1126 Pelham Parkway South

Bronx, New York 10461


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


You should know that I applaud Mayor-elect Bill DeBlasio's selection of Lilliam Barrios-Paoli as his Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services. I especially applaud him for taking time during that announcement to talk about the 11-year old girl, Dasani, who has been highlighted in recent New York Times series about homeless families in New York City's shelters. These families include more than 20,000 children.

The New York Times' December 2013 series of articles, Invisible Child, Dasani's Homeless Life, written by Andrea Elliot, focus on many aspects of the incredibly disturbing legacy left by outgoing Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The series details the shameful lack of compassion that Mayor Bloomberg had for desperate families in New York's shelter system. At Brooklyn's Auburn Family Residence, where Dasani lives, these injustices include: "[i]nadequate food, inadequate medical attention, a leaky roof, moldy rooms and bathrooms with broken sinks and doors ... insufficient security and fire safety protections, fetid odors, and leaks from waste containers."

While there is nothing in these articles that can be ignored, I cannot help but ask myself how, under Mayor Bloomberg's fiscal stewardship, millions of New York City taxpayer dollars were allegedly being spent annually to operate just one family shelter building - where Dasani and so many other children languish in filth and trauma.

I have to ask how, in 2009-2010, New York City's Department of Homeless Services spent $8 million dollars in a capitol renovation project to replace all exterior windows in this one homeless shelter with new energy efficient windows.

Yes, my dear reader: as part of Mayor Bloomberg's legacy, $8 million dollars was spent to replace windows in the Auburn Family Residence’s 10-story building. These were not stained glass windows, and the families who live in that building after the repairs still sleep in layers of clothing and prop mattresses against the new windows to keep out the cold. Another example of Bloomberg’s fiscal irresponsibility.

You should know that during the very same time that $8 million dollars of our public resources were spent to replace 10 stories of windows, the Empire State Building spent about half of that - $4.6 million dollars - to refurbish its 6,514 windows.

With this in mind, it is even sadder to re-read the part of the Times article that describes how Dasani would sit at her window and "see all the way across Brooklyn to the Empire State Building, the first New York skyscraper to reach 100 floors. Her gaze always stops at that iconic temple of stone, its tip pointed celestially, its facade lit with promise."
Is there anyone who thinks that if I had allocated $8 million dollars to replace the windows in any single building that there would not be a full blown investigation about what was really going on with that money? Is there anyone who thinks this isn't the tip of the iceberg of how the Bloomberg Administration grossly mismanaged New York's tax dollars on the backs of the poor and needy?

As the Bloomberg era finally comes to an end, I am hopeful that there will be an outcry for justice for all involved in this $8 million dollar window debacle, and the millions allegedly spent by the Department of Health and Human Services on improving a deteriorated system. I hope this outcry will take place not only in the court of public opinion, but in the courts of law as well. I am hopeful that reporters and editors will investigate this incident and many more that remain ignored or have fallen through the cracks.

As the Christmas Season draws closer, I ask for everyone to keep Dasani and her family and all homeless New Yorkers in their prayers.

And ladies and gentlemen, I also ask you to keep Deputy Mayor Lilliam Barrios-Paoli and Mayor-elect Bill DeBlasio in your prayers because they have a very big mess to clean up.

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


Bronx Democrat Board of Elections Commissioner Naomi Barrera Stepping Down

  In what has been a turbulent year at the New York City Board of Elections Bronx Democratic Commissioner Naomi Barrera will be stepping down as of December 17th. Barrera is only one of the BOE Commissioners that has left this year. JC Polonco the colorful Republican Bronx Commissioner was replaced early in the year with Mike Rendino after Bronx Republican Leader Jay Savino was replaced by John Greaney after a scandal. Also Staten Island Republican Commissioner JP Sipp left the BOE also earlier this year.

  Barrera had been mentioned as a candidate to fill the vacant executive director's seat of the BOE, but that went to Staten Island Democratic Commissioner Mike Ryan. Naomi Barrera was the choice of newly elected Bronx Democratic County Leader Carl Heasie five years ago, and while Heastie praised Barrera for her stint as Bronx Democratic Commissioner he said that the selection of her replacement has not begun.

  There should be a lot of potential candidates to replace Naomi Barrera as Bronx Democratic Elections Commissioner including a few term limited council members. The job however will go to a county loyalist such as Barrera had been, and will be up to Bronx Democratic County Leader Carl Heastie to choose her replacement.

Thursday, December 12, 2013


Audit Finds Questionable Budgeting Badly Underestimated Incoming Revenues Even As Rates Surged

   An audit by City Comptroller John C. Liu of the New York City water and sewer system found doubtful accounting and chronically low forecasts of annual revenue, that may have led to increasingly high water rates for New Yorkers.  Comptroller Liu’s audit also found that the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) failed to collect $27 million in delinquent water and sewer bills.

Every year the NYC Water Board and the NYC Municipal Finance Authority (collectively NYW) forecast the amount of surplus revenue that the DEP will collect from water bills, which will go to pay for its debt obligations.  Over the last four fiscal years, NYW issued extremely conservative forecasts for their surpluses, which may have caused rates to be set increasingly higher.   When revenues came in, however, the actual surpluses exceeded NYW’s estimates by 24 to 41 percent, in amounts that ranged from $71 million to $120 million each year. 

“The results of this audit indicate that rising water rates may have soaked New Yorkers more than necessary,” Comptroller Liu said. “DEP and the Water Board need stronger accounting of their revenues so that they can keep any rate increases to a minimum.”

Even as NYW publicly underestimated its revenue from water bills, it put the increasingly higher surpluses toward its projected debt obligations.  For example, in FY 2010 NYW allocated a surplus of $241.6 million toward debt and in 2013, the allocated surplus increased to $451.8 million.  NYW seems to have never considered whether the higher than budgeted surplus revenue could have been used to limit water rate increases. 

The audit also found the NYW failed to conduct proper oversight of DEP’s billing and accounting and may have underestimated DEP’s ability to collect past-due accounts—a factor that can affect the rate-setting process. 

DEP Failed to Collect Millions
DEP, which processes and collects bills for NYW, failed to collect $15 million owed during Fiscal Year 2012.  In addition, DEP failed to collect an additional $27 million from private entities located on City-owned and State-owned properties, and from Housing Development Fund Corporation cooperatives as of June 30, 2012.

The New York City water and sewer system network includes more than 7,000 miles of pipes running from upstate New York to every building in New York City. Until the mid-1980s, the City funded operating expenses through its general fund and financed necessary capital investments by issuing the City’s general obligation bonds.  In 1984, the City obtained state approval to change the way its water and sewer infrastructure was operated and funded and created the New York City Municipal Water Finance Authority and the New York City Water Board. The Authority issues bonds to finance capital construction and infrastructure improvements.  The Board leases the system from the City and sets rates to ensure the system is self-sustaining.  The DEP operates the System and handles billing and collection of water and sewer charges for NYW. 


  Barrios-Paoli will spearhead de Blasio Administration efforts to expand community health care, reduce homelessness and protect the social safety net for vulnerable New Yorkers

  Mayor-Elect Bill de Blasio today announced his appointment of Lilliam Barrios-Paoli as Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services. Barrios-Paoli will oversee City agencies that the Mayor-Elect has charged with moving New Yorkers from homelessness to stable housing, expanding community health clinics and cutting red tape in social services.
  Barrios-Paoli is an experienced leader known for innovating big ideas. She has managed five City agencies under three mayors, where she spearheaded major reforms like the opening of 10 innovative senior centers – including those servicing the visually-impaired and LGBT populations. She also brings a deep background in working with New York’s nonprofit community, which will play a critical role in delivering on the incoming administration’s agenda.
  “Lilliam has dedicated her career to protecting the most vulnerable New Yorkers. No one understands better than she the consequences of this Tale of Two Cities we are living. To lift families out of poverty and to sustain vital services, we need real leaders who can put bold ideas into practice. That’s what Lilliam is going to deliver,” said Mayor-Elect Bill de Blasio.
  “We’re facing a crisis of inequality in this city. Working families live in ever-deeper insecurity. The old safety net, from community hospitals to housing aid, is coming apart. It’s time for big ideas and bold policies that pull together City government, our charities and our vital community nonprofits into a new effort that lifts families up and sustains our communities in every borough,” said incoming Deputy Mayor Lilliam Barrios-Paoli.

Wave Hill Events December 27–January 3

  Could any setting be more inspiring than Wave Hill for contemplating your new year’s resolutions? Let the serene, sweeping vistas, and the sheer beauty of each natural detail, help you clarify what you most hope for in the new year. Combine it with a guided garden walk, or a quiet afternoon tea, and find even greater meaning as you prepare for 2014.

Envision the year ahead, design your seasons and capture their delights with beautiful, Wave Hill-inspired images to create your very own hanging calendar for the new year. Free, and admission to the grounds is free until noon.

Tai Chi resumes January 4.

Envision the year ahead, design your seasons and capture their delights with beautiful, Wave Hill-inspired images to create your very own hanging calendar for the new year. Free with admission to the grounds.

Yoga resumes January 5.

Meditation resumes January 5.

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

Closed to the public.

Closed to the public. Wave Hill reopens Thursday, January 2.

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—4:30PM. Closes 5:30PM, March 15—October 31.  
ADMISSION  $8 adults, $4 students and seniors 65+, $2 children 6—18. Free Saturday mornings until noon. Free all day on Tuesdays in December and January. Free to Wave Hill Members and children under 6.

PROGRAM FEES  Programs 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, December 11, 2013

Has the Bronx Scored a $400M Soccer Stadium

  In a New York Post article after looking at sites in Queens and Brooklyn, a Major League Soccer franchise on Tuesday stood close to a deal to build a 28,000-seat stadium in The Bronx just south of Yankee Stadium. The New York City Football Club is “very, very close” to inking a deal with GAL Manufacturing, an elevator parts company, sources close to the deal said.

  The $400 million stadium will be located on what now is an empty lot between the Major Deegan and East 153rd Street, where the soccer team with 20% ownership by the New York Yankees would play. Until the stadium is completed in 2018 or 2019 the team would play at Yankee Stadium. 

  The deal has current Mayor Bloomberg's blessing, but is contingent upon the approval of incoming Mayor-Elect Bill deBlasio who has yet to review the plans. The full Post story can be found here. 


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

For Your Information

  You should know that recently, I sent an invitation to friends and colleagues to join me at my 2013 Christmas Party, which will be held on Friday, December 20th from 7pm - 1am at Maestro's Restaurant located at 1703 Bronxdale Avenue in the Bronx.

Once again, it will be my honor to gather in a great spirit of unity to celebrate the Christmas season with so many of my neighbors, constituents, community leaders, elected officials, and dignitaries. I am proud to say that my annual Christmas Party is one of the biggest and best parties in the City of New York.

Each year, the number of guests who attend my Christmas Party continues to grow. I have been told by many that it is the social event of the season - and it is!

This year, I have made arrangements for 400 seats to be available for my party guests who would like to sit and socialize so that we have enough room for everyone who attends to enjoy the night. In previous years we have been faced with situations where some people who join me at my party don't find seats because of the very large crowd. To many, the size of the crowd is great because they get to see how many friends and colleagues come to join me for the night, but it is worrisome to me that I may be unable to provide enough seats for everyone.

It is my prayer and my wish that during this year's Christmas Party, there will be a seat available for everyone who wants one, but please bear in mind that there is a possibility that there may not be enough seats for everyone to sit, and like me, some people will be standing.

You should know that this party is for adults and not children. This year I will be hosting two very special Christmas events for children. My first Christmas celebration for children will be held on December 16 at 4pm where I will be distributing free toys to the first 1,000 children who attend. This event will be held at IS 216 which is located at 977 Tiffany Street in the Bronx. Then, on January 4, I will host my annual Three Kings Day event at PS 5 which is located at 564 Jackson Avenue in the Bronx, where the first 1,000 children who attend will receive free toys.

Ladies and gentlemen, I look forward to seeing you on December 20th, where there will be plenty of music and good food and holiday cheer. I look forward to seeing many children during my Christmas and my Three Kings Day celebrations on December 16th and on January 4th.

I wish all of you and your families a very Merry Christmas.

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

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

"Hit The Ice" at the Kingsbridge Armory

  In a 48 - 1 vote the full City Council voted to approve the Kingsbridge National Ice Center proposal for the Kingsbridge Armory. Only Charles Barrons cast the lone dissenting vote against the KNIC proposal. Councilman Fernando Cabrera left his Mr. Hyde character at home as he was all smiles when he voted yes for the KNIC proposal after doing one about face after another leaving Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. puzzled as to what Councilman Cabrera was doing during the waning days before the final city council vote. 

  Diaz had the following statement about today's City Council Vote to approve the KNIC proposal for the Kingsbridge Armory.
  “After years of hard work and advocacy by elected officials, community organizations, our community board and the people of the Bronx, I am thrilled to see that the redevelopment of the Kingsbridge Armory will finally become a reality.

“Today’s vote of the City Council represents the final hurdle cleared for the Kingsbridge National Ice Center (KNIC), a transformative project that will make the Bronx home to the nation’s largest ice sports center. KNIC will bring tens of thousands of new visitors to the borough, helping to stimulate our economy, while also creating hundreds of living wage jobs for Bronx residents.

“I am especially thankful for the support of our City Council and the entire Bronx City Council delegation, who understood the merits of the project and showed their strong support for it during today’s vote. The KNIC project will be good not just for the Northwest Bronx but for the entire borough, and the strong support of the entire Bronx delegation shows that to be true. I would also like to thank the developer, KNIC Partners, as well as Mark Messier and Sarah Hughes for their tireless advocacy on behalf of this wonderful project.

“This project is a victory for everyone involved, and represents the type of development we can see when everyone works together for the greater good. I look forward to this project’s completion, and the day when the Bronx can officially declare itself to be the premier ice sports destination in the United States, if not the nation,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.

The Kingsbridge National Ice Center project was announced as the City’s official choice for the Kingsbridge Armory at a press conference in April 2013, which was attended by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Borough President Diaz, Council Member Fernando Cabrera, KNIC Partners LLC Founder Kevin Parker, New York Rangers hockey legend Mark Messier, Olympic Figure Skating Gold Medalist Sarah Hughes, then New York City Economic Development Corporation President Seth W. Pinsky and then Community Board #7 Chairman Paul Foster.
The original press release announcing the project can be read here: Full video of that event can be watched here:

Also in April, Kingsbridge National Ice Center Partners (KNIC) and the Kingsbridge Armory Redevelopment Alliance (KARA) signed a historic community benefits agreement (CBA) to redevelop the Kingsbridge Armory into a facility committed to serving Bronx residents. That CBA represents a multi-million dollar benefit package for the local community.  
For the first time in the history of New York City, a developer has agreed to wall-to-wall living wage jobs for local workers, more than 50,000 square feet of community space, targeted local hiring, opportunities for minority- and women-owned businesses, free ice time for local schools, local procurement, sustainable green development and operation, and a business incubator to facilitate wealth creation for local residents. KNIC also plans to create a foundation to establish free after-school ice sports and academic tutoring programs for disadvantaged youth. The program will be modeled after the Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation in Philadelphia, which has seen considerable academic and athletic success with those students who participate.

Will Carmen Farina be the Next Schools Chancellor?

  It being reported that former Deputy Chancellor Carmen Farina is now the leading candidate to become the next schools chancellor for Mayor Elect Bill deBlasio. The 70 year old Farina goes far back with deBlasio to when he was a member of School Board 15 which hired Farina as their Superintendent. Farina was also said to have been an unofficial advisor to candidate deBlasio, but has said that she was not interested in taking the position of schools chancellor. Her position seems to be changing however with the ever shrinking list of other possible contenders for the position of schools chancellor, and most of those others favoring the school closure model of the Bloomberg administration deBlasio has said he is against. 

  Farina comes with some baggage however. She is thought to have retired in 2006 from the DOE amid controversy that she had allowed a New York City Principal who lived in New Jersey have his child placed in PS 29 (where Farina had once been principal of) before an investigation was completed by the office of the Special Schools Investigator in a story here. The principal was forced to pay the city $19,441,00 for four years of tuition and resigned. Many other stories have been found about Carmen Farina and her rise to power from teacher to principal to District 15 superintendent to Deputy Chancellor of the NYC DOE.

  As a former member of the Chancellor's Parent Advisory Panel When Ms. Farina was appointed to the position of Deputy Chancellor I found Ms. Farina to be harsh, and not a person that was friendly to parents. She may continue the "My Way or the Highway" attitude of her former boss Michael Bloomberg, and it would be a mistake for Mayor Elect Bill deBlasio to appoint her as Schools Chancellor.


Monday, December 9, 2013

Christmas in the Bronx


  Comptroller John C. Liu today announced the results of a new audit which found that Verizon had significantly under reported revenue as required by its cable franchise agreement with the City and underpaid fees owed to the City.  Verizon has agreed to pay the City $1.41 million in additional franchise fees.
“Franchise agreements with the City must be enforced both to deliver quality service to our residents and to ensure that City taxpayers are getting their fair share of revenues from these franchises,” Comptroller Liu said. “Our audit spells out why Verizon owes the City $1.41 million in franchise fees, and I’m pleased that Verizon has agreed to pay up.”
Verizon is required to pay New York City a franchise fee of 5 percent of gross revenue as part of its agreement to deliver cable service throughout the City. The 12-year non-exclusive agreement, via the Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications (DoITT), began in 2008.
This audit by the Comptroller’s office found that from July 2008 to June 2013, Verizon understated advertising revenue on the quarterly reports that it submits to the City by approximately $28.2 million, resulting in underpayment of $1.41 million in franchise fees owed to the City.
Specifically, the audit found that Verizon understated $17.1 million in advertising commissions that should have been included in gross revenue and did not report $11.1 million in foregone revenue from the value of advertising retained for its own use.
The audit called on Verizon to immediately pay the $1.41 million it owes the City, report all revenue as required by its franchise agreement, track the value of its own advertising, and provide DoITT with access to all necessary records. DoITT agreed with the audit’s findings and said it would ensure that Verizon accurately reports its revenue and complies with its franchise agreement.
Verizon disagreed with the audit’s findings, yet has agreed to pay the City the full $1.41 million.  This payment is in addition to the recent $60 million settlement between Verizon and the City for cost overruns caused by the company’s delays on the Emergency Communications Transformation Program project.
Comptroller Liu credited Deputy Comptroller for Audit Tina Kim and the Audit Bureau staff for presenting the findings.

Mayor Bloomberg, Comptroller Liu Announce $60 Million Settlement Agreement With Verizon, Nov. 14, 2013: