Friday, February 21, 2014

Assemblyman Luis Sepulveda 50th Birthday Celebration

   It was scheduled for last week, but had to be postponed because of all the snow. However the celebration  still went on a week later. Family and friends gathered at the Pines on Bronxdale Avenue to help Assemblyman Luis Sepulveda celebrate his 50th birthday. This however was also a fundraising Birthday party for Assemblyman Sepulveda since in a few short months he and all the other members of state government will be up for re-election.
 Assemblyman Sepulveda is a charter member of "TEAM DIAZ" made up of State Senator Reverend Ruben Diaz Sr., Assemblyman Marcos Crespo, and Assemblyman Louis Sepulveda. TEAM DIAZ includes the District Leaders from the 85th and 87th Assembly Districts.
   Assemblyman Sepulveda recently announced that he is sponsoring legislation in the assembly called "Luisito's Law" which State Senate Co-Leader Jeff Klein will introduce in the state senate. So you can see that Assemblyman Sepulveda has become one of the rising stars in Bronx politics.
  Assemblyman Sepulveda has also earned the watchful eye of Bronx Democratic County Leader Assemblyman Carl Heastie who also attended the event. In an election year like two years ago it is expected that the words "The Bronx Democratic County Organization endorses all our incumbent elected state officials" will come from the mouth of Chairman Heastie. It may be that the big birthday surprise may have been one of the guests at Assemblyman Sepulveda's party as you will see in the photo below.
Here are 77th A.D. Male District Leader Benny Cataia (who should become the next assemblyman from the now vacant 77th A. D.), 80th A.D. Male District Leader Kenny Agosto, !5th City Councilwoman Vanessa Gibson (the former 77th Assemblywoman from the 77th A.D.), and 85th A.D. Assemblyman Marcos Crespo enjoying Assemblyman Sepulveda's Birthday Party. 
Here is Assemblyman Luis Sepulveda with what appears to be his choice to run against the current incumbent 33rd State Senator - Bronx Councilman Fernando Cabrera helps Assemblyman Sepulveda celebrate his Birthday. Could it be that the two will be celebrating Cabrera's victory in the 33rd State Senate race soon? 

Thursday, February 20, 2014


Highlights ‘New Bronx,’ Over $5.7 Billion in Total Development Since 2009

  Today, before a packed house at Hostos Community College, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. delivered his fifth annual “State of the Borough” address, highlighting his continued agenda for a “New Bronx” as well as the growth of the borough since he was first elected in 2009.

   As in the past Deputy Bronx Borough president Aurelia Greene opened the program. Ms. Maria Vassallo (of host Hostos College) sang the National Anthem, Rabba Sara Hurwitz (of the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale) gave the invocaton, and Felix Matos President of Hostos College welcomed those in the audience to his institute. 

    After the honored guests were introduced Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. came out to give his 5th State of the Borough Address. In previous State of the Borough addresses Diaz spoke of "One Bronx", but today the theme of the speech was the "New Bronx". 

    As BP Diaz went through the accomplishments on the big screen next to him people saw photos of what he was talking about. The Kingsbridge Armory project brought up former New York Ranger Mark Messier who is a big part of transforming the armory into the Kingsbridge National Ice Center. As Diaz spoke of the new golf course in Ferry Point a photo of Diaz and Donald Trump (who will oversee the golf course) came up. this continued as Diaz mentioned item after item. 

    When it came to education Diaz said that changes are coming, and that it is a new day after 12 years of an education system that dictated from the penthouse. he said that it is time for Mayor de Blasio and Governor Cuomo to come together on the issue of Pre-K.

  Other key statements were "Planning with a Purpose", the 'Diaz Doctrine", and "Think different...Think the Bronx", referring to the new ideas he has. 

   Next was the changing image of the Bronx, as Diaz showed how even foreign countries are no longer looking at the Bronx as it was, but as it now is while articles and various different countries were shown, past and now present. He mentioned the history of the Bronx, and how different peoples came to form the "Great Bronx Melting Pot".

  Diaz finished his State of the Borough with these words. “They will look back and see a time when the people of this borough—regardless of race, gender, creed, sexual orientation—came together with a common cause, a common dream, and worked as ‘One Bronx’ to develop the ‘New Bronx.’ Our Bronx.    
 The National Anthem sung by Ms. Maria Vassallo (of host Hostos College)
 The invocation by Rabba Sara Hurwitz (of the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale)
BP Diaz during the State of the Bronx address.

Left - After the speech BP Diaz spoke to some of the attendees, like Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer.
Right - Diaz talks to former Bronx Assemblyman Steve Kaufman.



  On Wednesday, the office of New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer settled a pre-litigation claim for $6.4 million with David Ranta.  Ranta filed a claim against New York City in May 2013 for damages related to his wrongful conviction and imprisonment of over 22 years for the 1990 murder of Rabbi Chaskel Werzberger. 

“After a review process and negotiations, my office was able to reach a settlement with Mr. Ranta that is in the best interests of all parties and closes the door on a truly regrettable episode in our City’s history.  I am pleased that my office was able to move quickly to resolve this claim.”

Under Chapter 5, Section 93 of the New York City Charter, the Comptroller has the authority to settle any claims against the City.

Wave Hill Events March 7–March 14

  Wave Hill is as much a place for absorbing—the world of nature, the world within oneself—as it is for self-expression. For most of us, the time for both comes on weekends, when there is time and space, we hope, for a deep inhale and exhale. See what I mean this weekend, with a birding walk, a magnificent piano duo in performance in Armor Hall, a family-focused Family Art Project suited to all generations or a quiet spell of tai chi, yoga or meditation. Can you afford not to come?

Make a family album featuring your family’s global roots and the branches of your lineage. See and sketch trees from around the world and make a collaged, hand-made book of your sketches, bound with a found twig. Bring family photos, if you like, to adorn your album. 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, a member of the William CC Chen Tai Chi School, introduces students to the internal martial arts and promotes an awareness of its benefits. March sessions are held indoors. Session fee: $25/$15 Wave Hill Member. Register online and, day of, onsite at the Perkins Visitor Center. (Reservations may not be made by telephone.) Online registration closes at 8AM on the day of the session. Cancellations must be made by 3PM the Friday before; after that, refunds will not be made.  Drops-ins will be accommodated as the limited space permits. Participants must present a Member’s ID card or a printed program registration form at the front gate.

Trellises perform double-duty by supporting rambling vines and serving as ornamental garden features. With master carpenter and Wave Hill Director of Facilities Frank Perrone as your guide, construct your own vertical trellis to spruce up a wall indoors or out (vines optional). No previous carpentry skills required. Space is limited. $60/$50 Wave Hill Member. Registration required, online at, onsite at the Perkins Visitor Center or by calling 718.549.3200 x251.

Gain insight into Winter Workspace artist Whitney Artell’s creative process and explore the winter landscape as a source of inspiration.  The artist will show examples of natural imagery in textiles. Participants will then use recycled materials to create compositions that examine the relationship between pattern, texture and materiality.  The greenhouse and grounds of Wave Hill will serve as direct inspiration for these pieces. Art materials are provided unless otherwise noted. Workshops are open to all visitors ages 12 and over when accompanied by an adult. Registration required, online at, onsite at the Perkins Visitor Center or by calling 718.549.3200 x251. Free with admission to the grounds.

Naturalist Gabriel Willow contributes his extensive knowledge of diverse bird species and their behavior on these captivating walks through the gardens and woodlands. Observe the plants, insects and habitats at Wave Hill that make it an appealing destination for a wide variety of birds. Ages 10 and older welcome with an adult. Birders of all levels welcome! Severe weather cancels. Free with admission to the grounds. (NYC Audubon Members enjoy two-for-one admission.) Registration recommended, online at, onsite at the Perkins Visitor Center or by calling 718.549,3200 x251.

Make a family album featuring your family’s global roots and the branches of your lineage. See and sketch trees from around the world and make a collaged, hand-made book of your sketches, bound with a found twig. Bring family photos, if you like, to adorn your album. Free with admission to the grounds.

Reduce stress, increase your energy and bring strength and flexibility to mind, body and spirit with a yoga practice. Classes are led by Yoga for Bliss director Neem Dewji and other certified instructors. Ms. Dewji is certified in Hatha and Therapeutic Yoga from The Yoga for Health Foundation, England, and The Integral Yoga Institute, NYC. All levels welcome. Sessions are held indoors until May. Session fee: $25/$15 Wave Hill Member. Register online and, day of, onsite at the Perkins Visitor Center. (Reservations may not be made by telephone.) Online registration closes at 8AM on the day of the session. Cancellations must be made by 3PM the Friday before; after that, refunds will not be made.  Drops-ins will be accommodated as the limited space permits. Participants must present a Member’s ID card or a printed program registration form at the front gate.

This spring, take a moment to release stress and reconnect with your inner self while practicing meditation. Each session includes instruction in simple techniques followed by 20 to 30 minutes of meditation. Classes are led by Yoga for Bliss director Neem Dewji and other certified instructors. All levels welcome. Sessions are held indoors. Session fee: $25/$15 Wave Hill Member. Register online and, day of, onsite at the Perkins Visitor Center. (Reservations may not be made by telephone.) Online registration closes at 8AM on the day of the session. Cancellations must be made by 3PM the Friday before; after that, refunds will not be made. Drops-ins will be accommodated as the limited space permits. Participants must present a Member’s ID card or a printed program registration form at the front gate.

Stellar pianists Soyeon Kate Lee and Ran Dank offer a concert of solo and duo works that includes a four-hand arrangement of Stravinsky’s landmark Rite of Spring. Reviewing the duo’s recent performance of this work at Le Poisson Rouge, The New York Times declared it was “a tour-de-force account of the stunning piano piece.” One hour, no intermission. General Admission Tickets $32, $28 Senior, $18 child (ages 7 to 18); Wave Hill Members $22; child $12. Order online, onsite at the Perkins Visitor Center or by calling 718.549.3200 x251.

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

Closed to the public.

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 15October 31.  
ADMISSION  $8 adults, $4 students and seniors 65+, $2 children 6—18. Free Saturday mornings until noon. Free all day on Tuesdays in March. 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, February 19, 2014

Sen. Jeff Klein and Luis Sepulveda Announce Anti-Gun Legislation

  In the pouring rain State Senator Jeff Klein and Assemblyman Luis Sepulveda announced new legislation they will propose in the state senate and state assembly that would stiffen jail sentences for gunmen who injure a child or discharge a firearm near playgrounds and schools called "Luisito's Law".
  This legislation has come about after 3 year old Luis Oyola Jr was shot by a stray bullet while playing in Vidalia Park. Luckily, the brave toddler survived the August 30, 2013 shooting after being rushed from the park to St. Barnabas Hospital.
   Klein and Assemblyman Sepulveda, who are proposing legislation that would toughen minimum sentencing requirements for anyone who discharges a weapon near a playground, children’s park or school and/or injures a child under 10-years-old. Under “Luisito’s Law,” named for Oyola, Jr., who was struck by a stray bullet in the arm, a class E felony assault charge would become a higher class D felony. The little boy's shooter would have faced a minimum 5-to-25 years behind bars if this law existed instead of 1 ½-to-4 years on an assault charge.
  Assemblyman Luis Sepulveda lives two blocks away from where the shooting took place. He said that he and his wife often bring their two year old son to this park where the shooting occurred.  Senator Klein said that he was not going to allow our playgrounds to become shooting galleries. 
  On hand was Councilwoman Maria Del Carmen Arroyo who said that she had just picked up this area in the latest redistricting, and agrees 100 percent with Senator Klein and Assemblyman Sepulveda on this legislation. Also speaking was Councilman Fernando Cabrera who chairs the City Council Juvenile Justice Committee, and Senator Ruben Diaz Sr. Senator Diaz said that he will co-sponser this legislation in the State Senate. Diaz made it a point to add that more people like Senator Jeff Klein are needed in the State Senate.

 Left - Senator Klein opens the discussion as to why "Luisito's Law" was being proposed.
Right - Assemblyman Sepulveda is saying how he lives only two blocks from the park where the shooting took place, and that he and his wife bring their two year old son to this same park to enjoy. 


Left - As he stands on the side, the grandmother of Luis Oyola Jr. tells of the nightmare that she went through. She hopes that this legislation will prevent others from going through the same horror.
Right - Councilman Cabrera speaks about the importance of the law, and that the parks and playgrounds need to be safe for our children. 



  New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer presented his office’s analysis of New York City’s Preliminary Fiscal Year 2015 budget in the context of the local and national economies at the Municipal Building in Lower Manhattan. 

“We are at a moment of great transition in our City,” Stringer said.  “Mayor de Blasio’s Preliminary Fiscal Year 2015 Budget strikes a prudent balance between funding vital programs while putting aside money for future needs. However, we still face some big unknowns that must be resolved between now and the end of the fiscal year on June 30th.”
As the City’s Chief Fiscal Officer, the Comptroller has a charter-mandated duty to comment on the financial condition of New York.  Today’s analysis focused on the economic and fiscal trends affecting the City such as weak wage growth, bright spots in the local economy – including the city’s burgeoning tech sector – and the importance of resolving more than 150 expired labor contracts.
“Negotiating contracts with the City’s workforce is a complex and daunting task, but it is critical that we resolve these contracts if we are going to achieve real balance,” Stringer said. “We have always faced budget challenges in this city and we have overcome those challenges by working together.  I am confident that we will find ways to keep the City growing, ensure workers are compensated fairly and maintain New York’s status as the greatest city in the world.”
Stringer noted that unlike most years, the budget was balanced for FY 2015 prior to the release of the Preliminary Budget, which allowed Mayor de Blasio to prudently set aside new revenue – $1 billion into the Retiree Health Benefits Trust Fund, and $300 million to the general reserve.  The budget also provides for important new policy initiatives, including a municipal ID system, relieving NYCHA of the burden of paying for its own police protection and capping rental costs for those with HIV/AIDS who live in city-supported housing.
Stringer presented ten strategies for discussion that could potentially generate revenue or create the savings needed to support our budgetary needs:
1.    Restoring revenue sharing to New York City
2.    Collecting education funds due to the City under the Campaign for Fiscal Equity
3.    Drawing down federal Medicaid funds for special education services
4.    Claiming New York City’s share of the $8 billion federal Medicaid waiver
5.    Producing agency savings from efficiencies that don’t reduce services or hurt vulnerable populations
6.    Achieving savings through productivity and benefit reforms including health care costs
7.    Reforming tax expenditures
8.    Generating additional savings in FY15 debt service through aggressive refinancing
9.    Recognizing FY14 resources from prior year payables that are not needed
10.  Realizing savings from ending the budget dance and member item reform.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Teachers Union Looking for Retroactive Pay Also

  The United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew said that the 100,000 member teachers union members have been working for a long time without a pay raise. Mulgrew added that back pay or retroactive pay will become a big issue in negotiations with the de Blasio administration. Estimates of over 3 Billion dollars have been calculated as to what it could cost the city if the UFT demands were met for back pay to the teachers union.

  This comes one day after the DEP Police union scored a new contract with retroactive pay of $50,000.00 for its 200 members. The UFT would be requesting somewhere near two-thirds of that settlement for its members amounting to over 3 Billion dollars. 

Monday, February 17, 2014

Mayor Bill de Blasio Strikes First Contract Deal With DEP Police - $50K Retro Pay

  With all city labor contract up and waiting to be negotiated Mayor Bill de Blasio has one less headache to worry about as the city has reached an accord with the 200 Department of Environmental Police force. The  DEP police force was the only city union working without a contract from 2005 or for nine years, and they were represented by the Law Enforcement Employees Benevolent Association. Kenneth Wynder the head of LEEBA gave words of praise to the de Blasio administration for its quickness and fairness in the contract.

  The exact details of the contract were not released only that the DEP police will each receive about $50,000.00 in retroactive pay for the nine years without a contract. Robert Linn Mayor de Blasio's new Labor Relations commissioner did not comment on the details that he had worked out with the union. 

State Senate Co-Leader Jeff Klein Releases Disturbing Report on Sex Offender Registry:

Finds pedophiles living close to schools and inaccuracies in address reporting. 

Klein introduces legislation requiring the Commissioner of Corrections and Community Supervision to obtain a quarterly list of schools.

After learning that a Level 2 sex offender, who molested a five year old boy, moved within 1,000 feet of a Bronx school in violation of New York State law, State Senate Co-Leader Jeff Klein launched an investigation into the sex offender registry system and discovered that the incident was not an anomaly.

The troublesome findings of a report released today by Klein’s office reveal that six other Level 2 and 3 sex offenders in New York City have been living within 1,000 feet of schools. In the case of Roland Marrero, the sex offender who prompted this report, the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision and the Department of Criminal Justice Services approved his address within 1,000 feet of P.S. 357, which was constructed in September. The new school was not listed on their database.

Senator Klein introduced legislation, S6600, which would require the Commissioner of Corrections and Community Supervision to obtain a quarterly  list of all elementary and secondary schools in the state to prevent the mistake from happening again.

The analysis also uncovered another alarming error. In over 130 instances registered sex offenders were listed under incorrect zip codes, rending New York's "Sex Offender Alert System" entirely useless. Parents and community members alike utilize the system to receive notification when a sex offender moves into the area.

“These mistakes are leaving entire communities vulnerable to the type of disturbed, dangerous criminals who often strike more than once. There's a reason why the law does not allow pedophiles to live within 1,000 feet of a school. Parents expect those laws to be enforced. That's why I'm committed to passing legislation that will keep a close watch on the Division of Parole and prevent these types of inexcusable mistakes from ever happening again,” Senator Klein said.

New Woodlawn Supermarket Brings out Local Elected Official

  While this may look like many other supermarkets this store is special to the residents of Woodlawn. Several years ago Mayor Bloomberg closed the local firehouse, and two years ago the local supermarket closed. The economic picture was getting bleak for residents of Woodlawn. Last week however this new C-Town supermarket opened up on Katonah Avenue in the heart of Woodlawn. This new supermarket signifies that Woodlawn is turning around. Local elected officials State Senator Jeff Klein, Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz, Councilman Andrew Cohen, and a representative of Congressman Eliot Engel were on hand to cut the ribbon and greet customers.
  All of the elected officials said that they were glad to see this new supermarket, and that now residents of Woodlawn will have a first class supermarket right on Katonah Avenue. The store was enlarged, and many specialty areas have been added. There were lots of taste testing and gifts for the customers as they spun a wheel of prizes. Assemblyman Dinowitz won a new key chain.
 The elected officials cut the honorary ribbon with the store owner.
Another shot of the elected officials and store personal inside the new C-Town Supermarket located on Katonah Avenue in Woodlawn.

Klein Hosts 19th Annual Black History Month Breakfast

  State Senator Jeff Klein hosted his annual Black History Month Breakfast at Villa Barone Manor this past Saturday, honoring local black leaders and featuring a keynote address from Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams. Nearly 300 constituents attended the breakfast. 

  Senator Klein said "Black History Month provides an opportunity to not just reflect and recognize the achievements of civil rights leaders like Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela, but also the contributions made by black leaders in their local communities. At my annual Black History Month breakfast, we do just that - honor the invaluable work of African-Americans here in the Bronx and across New York, while celebrating the rich diversity of our local community."

  However during his keynote speech Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams mentioned that he would be looking to run for mayor after his 8 years in office are up due to term limits. This could pur the Brooklyn Borough President and our Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. on a collision course if both decide to run for mayor in 8 years. Bronx BP Diaz Jr. has 8 more years to serve as Bronx Borough President, and has expressed desires to be the first Latino mayor of New York City.  below are some photos of Senator Klein's Black History Month Breakfast, and the choir singers children and adult.

  Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams announcing that he wants to run for mayor in 8 years.

 Tiana Von Johnson, President/CEO Gold Star Properties, Barbara Moye, President Harbour Pointe at Shorehaven Condos III, Senator Klein and Cheray E. Diggs, granddaughter of Estella Diggs, the first female African American NYS Assembly Member from the Bronx, who received her award posthumously.

 Senator Klein with former Brooklyn State Senator now Brooklyn BP Eric Adams.  


Sunday, February 16, 2014

Council Member King and Bronx YEP Honor Former Mayor David Dinkins

  It’s not often a person gets to meet a living legend. So, when former NYC Mayor David Dinkins walked into a Bronx high school library Wednesday morning the students marveled at the fact that in their presence was a black man who had made history when he was elected the Mayor of the City of New York.

Many of the students were unaware that at one time the people of New York City had elected a mayor of African-American heritage.

“These children were not born around the time Mr. Dinkins was mayor and brought about a lot of positive changes during his administration. It is a blessing and an honor to have Mayor Dinkins, a living legend, come out and share his story with us,  said Council Member Andy King who co-hosted the second annual “Celebrating Our History” event with the Bronx Youth Empowerment Program (YEP) at Evander Childs High School.

The event brought together more than 300 students from nearby elementary schools and the high school itself, and also members of R.A.I.N Seniors Centers, in a spirit of celebration, awareness and appreciation of the black community’s diversity.

Council Member King and YEP presented Mayor Dinkins with a City Council Proclamation and a specially designed print of African-American heroes in history, with Mayor Dinkins' portrait featured in the print. The print was designed by Cee Lewis, Council Member's Deputy Chief of Staff.

When Mayor Dinkins walked to the podium he decided not to give his prepared speech and, instead, talked to the youngsters about his life growing up, lessons he learned as a child and he encouraged them to stay in school, work hard and “don’t bully others. It’s not cool to be a bully. I was bullied in school when I was a kid because I was small. It wasn’t fun.”

The event included Dr. Hazel N. Dukes, President of the NAACP New York State Conference who also addressed the audience. There were performances by the Williamsbridge NAACP Early Childhood Education Center students, Bronx YEP, International Hip-Hop Opera Singer Marie Claire and Spoken Word Poet NeNe Ali. In addition, there were tables containing information regarding black history and historic black colleges.

Black History Month is a celebration of the contributions of African Americans to American history and culture. The celebration came about when the former son of slaves and University of Chicago and Harvard-trained historian and author, Carter G. Woodson, sponsored a national Negro History week in 1926, choosing the second week of February to coincide with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. President Gerald R. Ford expanded the celebration in 1976 to include the entire month of February. Since 1976, every U.S. president has officially designated the month of February as Black History Month. Other countries around the world, including Canada and the United Kingdom, also devote a month to celebrating black history.

“Ultimately, celebrating the black community needs to be a part of all of our daily routines and not reserved just for the month of February,” Council Member King said. He noted that plans are under way to host three more “Celebrating Our History” programs later this year.

To see more pictures, visit Council Member King's Facebook fan page or Bronx YEP Facebook Fan page.
Council Member Andy King, his wife Neva Shillingford-King, and members of Bronx YEP, present former Mayor David Dinkins with a special print of African-American legends, which features Mayor Dinkins portrait, during a “Celebrating Our History” program held at Evander Childs High School Library.
PHOTO CREDIT: Office of Council Member Andy King