Friday, March 7, 2014

Upcoming events in the 87th A.D.


As the winter starts to wind down I want to let you know about a few events that will be coming up in the district this month.

The first is on about making homes energy efficient, and will take place on Wednesday, March 12.  This program will be especially useful for anyone who owns a multifamily building but all are welcome.  The discussion will focus around how to retrofit your building so that you and your residents can save money and live more sustainably, comfortably, and efficiently.  The event will occur at Masjid al Iman, 2008 Westchester Ave. Bronx NY, from 4pm-7pm.

The second event will take place right outside my office on Thursday, March 20.  We will be having free mammography screenings for uninsured and under insured females 40 and over.  This event will take place from 9:30am-3:30pm, but appointments are recommended so please call my office to reserve your spot.
If you would like more information on either of these events, or any other issue, please feel free to call my office at (718)-931-2620.  

You can also stop by Monday-Friday from 9am-5pm or Saturdays from 11am-2pm.  
Our office is located at 1973 Westchester Ave. Bronx NY.
We hope to see you at one of these events.

If there are any issues that you find particularly important, I'd love to hear from you.  It's important for me to know what you want me to be working on in Albany.  My email is

Your Assemblyman,
Luis R. Sepulveda

Community News: Street Renaming Park Safety, Street Safety, and Summer Jobs

  This comes in from Comes from Manhattan councilman Mark Levine who is the Chair of the City Council Parks committee.

  Last week was an important first milestone as Council Member Mark Levine led his first hearing as Chair of the City Council Parks Committee. Together, the committee members examined the Department of Parks and Recreation’s plans for tree safety and maintenance during this crucial time following a period of record snowfalls in the region. This is coupled with a large expansion in the number of trees planted across the city, as MillionTreesNYC approaches its goal of one million newly planted trees. In prior years with similar amounts of snowfall, several tragedies occurred where people were either critically injured or fatally struck by falling tree branches. Council Member Levine wanted to address this topic during his first meeting as Chair to shed light on the need to make preparations to avoid future accidents and tragedies.

Earlier this week, Council Member Levine took a trip to Albany with his fellow Council Members and Speaker Melissa Mark Viverito to continue to advocate for universal pre-Kindergarten and middle school afterschool programs and to call for a dedicated funding stream to sustain it.

Our office has also continued to focus on transportation and public safety issues, in alignment with Mayor de Blasio’s Vision Zero plan. Next week at the City Council Stated meeting, an entire package of Pedestrian/Traffic Safety legislation will be introduced to address many problems impacting street safety. One of the items included within this package is a Resolution co-prime sponsored by Council Member Mark Levine calling upon the State to give the City “home rule” authority to install speed cameras throughout the City that will deter drivers from speeding and help to better enforce penalties when they do. If implemented citywide, these cameras have the potential to save many lives over time.

Nothing highlights the need for safer traffic policies more than the senseless death of a child crossing a city street. On Monday, March 10th at 1pm, Council Member Levine will host a street co-naming ceremony on the southwest corner of 97th street and Amsterdam Avenue. The co-naming will be done in memory of Ariel Russo, the 4-year old girl tragically killed by an unlicensed teen driver of an SUV on June 4, 2013. The corner will officially be co-named “Ariel Russo Way (4 years old)”on the day that Ariel Russo would have turned 5-years old. The co-name was made possible by legislation passed by Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito in 2013 who was then the Council Member representing this portion of the district. The Speaker will also participate in the co-naming ceremony along with other local elected officials and all are welcome to attend. 

Apply NOW! The 2014 Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) is accepting applications
The 2014 Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) is accepting applications NOW!  Application period is open from Monday, March 3 – Friday, April 25, 2014.  All youth aged 14-24 who permanently reside within the five boroughs of New York City are eligible and encouraged to apply.
To apply for SYEP, you only need to submit a completed application by going to   

Parks Summer Camp Jobs
The New York City Department of Parks & Recreation (NYC Parks) serves as the steward for over 29,000 acres of land, which includes 1,000 playgrounds, 35 recreation centers, 66 pools and 14 miles of beach. Within the many divisions, Public Programs operates Summer Camp at 19 locations.
To apply, please e-mail resume & cover letter to: 
Notice to Parks applicants – include your ERN on all correspondence.
For more information please visit 

You can tweet @MarkLevineNYC, call his district office at 212-928-6814 OR email him at

Rob Astorino Kicks off Campaign for Governor in the Bronx

  It was a bone chilling frigid morning yesterday by the Bronx Courthouse on the Grand Concourse, but this was the day and place that Republican candidate for governor Rob Astorino choose as his first stop on his campaign. You may ask why did the the Westchester County Executive come to the Bronx to kick off his Republican campaign for governor when there is not even one Republican elected official here. Astorino answered that question by telling of his Bronx roots and attending Fordham University, He then went into all the things that are wrong with New York State and the Bronx. Words such as "the most economically challenged in the state", and "unacceptable" referring  to an unemployment rate in the Bronx that is almost double that of Westchester County.

  As you will see in the photos below Astorino is surrounded by mostly minority people in what he called "New York's Only Minority Latino Borough". Astorino ended his comments by reading from a prepared speech in Spanish while one of his aides held a microphone of a Spanish speaking television station.He then took questions which were of many different subjects including how he can overcome current Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo's lead in mostly every category.

  I was able to say 20 years ago at Mayor Giuliani's inauguration a man was standing behind me saying that he would be the next governor. His name was George, and he beat Governor Cuomo that year. I said with the exception of you running against a Governor named Cuomo times are different now. There is a Democratic Mayor in New York City, the New York City Republican Party is in shambles from the Malcolm Smith fiasco, and here in the Bronx there has not been even one Republican elected official in many years. I then asked are you really running to try to help the Republican state senators outside of New York City get re-elected or even pick up a seat or two? Astorino looked a little shocked at the question, and  then went into his campaign speech again. 

  There were two counter protests going on at the same time. One about Astorino's position on abortion, and one about Astorino's position on gun control. 

Here you see Astorino as he begins his speech as to why he should be elected Governor of New York State. Next to Astorino on the right in the photo is hes wife Shelia, while Bronx Republican Board of Elections Commissioner Mike Rendino is on the left in the photo.

You can see the Spanish speaking television Channel 41 microphone in front of Astorino as he ends his speech in Spanish. One of his aides is holding the microphone.
Here you see some of the protesters from one of the two protests that were going on as Astorino was speaking.

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. issued the following statement today in reaction to Rob Astorino's press event on the steps of the Bronx County Building:

"Before Rob Astorino came to the Bronx to launch a political campaign, he should have had the decency to apologize for having called our residents illegals who 'can't necessarily keep a house.' Such words are divisive, bordering on outright racism.  Despite what Mr. Astorino may think, the people of the Bronx are smart enough to tell when a politician is insulting them behind their back.  If Mr. Astorino has any sincere desire to represent all New Yorkers as he claimed today, he should drop the act and apologize," said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.

All for One and One for All! The Three Musketeers To The Rescue

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

  All for One and One for All! The Three Musketeers To The Rescue

You should know that on March 4, 2014, Albany experienced one of its best moments.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio traveled to Albany to stage what he had hoped to be a show of force to demand Governor Andrew Cuomo’s approval for tax hikes on wealthy New Yorkers to fund Universal Pre-K – believing he could force the Governor into a “jaque mate” – checkmate. That same day, another education battle took place, where CEO and Success Academy Founder and President Eva Moskowitz also traveled to Albany to fight for the right for charter schools to co-exist in public school buildings – something Mayor de Blasio opposes.

You should know that with less than two weeks’ notice, Eva Moskowitz gave her marching orders and mobilized an army of 11,000 parents and students to travel to Albany to counter-attack Mayor de Blasio.  On the other side of the battleground, union members served as Mayor de Blasio’s troops, totaling about one thousand.

The spectacle was unimaginable.

You should know that Mayor de Blasio’s trusted advisors and wartime consigliore seriously underestimated the influence and the power of convocation of “General” Eva Moskowitz.  Her charter school battle caused a huge defeat to Mayor de Blasio, causing him to retreat back to New York City to plan his next strategy.

We all know that this war is not over, and we all know that Mayor de Blasio “will be back.”

My dear reader, it was incredible to witness the scene of 11,000 people dressed with yellow t-shirts (over their winter coats) taking over the streets of Albany, drawing great admiration and deep sympathy from almost everyone who saw them.  11,000 Black and Hispanic parents and children braved Albany’s cold weather in desperation and with determination to protect and fight for justice for the children’s education.  This was all the result of the announcement that Mayor de Blasio wanted to stop their progress in charter schools and basically thrown them into the streets.

It is important for you to know that charter schools are mainly located in minority communities and that these schools are mainly attended by Black and Hispanic children.  Charter schools and school vouchers were instituted to give parents of minority children help so they could give their children a good and decent education.

I remember back to those years when Reverend Floyd Flake from Queens, Reverend Wyatt Tee Walker from Manhattan, and I got together to fight with our minority legislators so they would establish and pass laws to create charter schools in New York State.  I was not even an elected official when we created the Canaan Charter School in Harlem.  Since that time, I have remained a staunch advocate and a defender of charter schools and school vouchers. I believe they are a godsend to our communities.

It is heartbreaking for me to see a Democratic Mayor, along with some Democratic elected officials, trying to stop progress and educational opportunities that charter schools give to Black and Hispanic parents so their children can get a good education.  Instead of stopping this progress, I believe we Democrats should be fighting to open more of them to be sure that every child gets that opportunity.

You and I know that for many years, we complained about how the system and culture only gave opportunities to others, while our children were left behind.  Now that opportunities have been given to our children, this progress should be expanded.  You don’t stop progress – especially when that progress has been given to our Black and Hispanic children!

As you all know, I have been a loud critic of Governor Andrew Cuomo, mainly because I did not agree with the way he treated our communities and I did not see him protecting the people in our communities.

However, after seeing Governor Andrew Cuomo step into the cold on March 4th to stand among the 11,000 parents and children from the City of New York, and to promise us all that he will be sure that none of them are thrown into the streets and none of them will stop getting a good education, I have to say loud and clear: Thank you, Governor Andrew Cuomo.  I also have to take my hat off to Senate Leaders Dean Skelos and Jeff Klein.
Ladies and gentlemen, those three leaders came out like the Three Musketeers, with their swords and fists in the air, fighting for the honor and dignity of our minority students. They gave all those parents hope and let them know that the trip to Albany was not in vain.
Out of the Three Musketeers I, have yet to find out which one is Athos, Porthos and Aramis, but time will tell.

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

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Wave Hill Events March 21–March 28

  Could there possibly be a bright side to the weather we’ve endured this winter?  In a word, yes—if you are a plant growing in a garden. Our Director of Horticulture describe for me yesterday how the snow acts like a blanket, protecting our much-loved plants from the wind and extended low temperatures of the season. Moreover, with no major storms to damage our trees, and no branch breakage from the snowfall, he would describe this as a winter that’s been “kinder” than what’s blown through over the last few years. His perspective was a comforting one, and reminded me how important it is to listen to Mother Nature. I invite you to come to listen, too. Wander the gardens as spring makes its stealthy approach, or join a guided walk or one of the workshop or wellness sessions planned. Bring friends or family for the brunch on Saturday, or to hear the “glorious sonorities” of the Enso String Quartet on Sunday, and enjoy a delightful boost to your winter-worn spirits.

Use simple shapes found in nature, like the outline of a flower or a leaf. With an easy printmaking method using tempera paint and a few simple gestures, make large-scale, bold mono-prints. 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.

Presented by Wave Hill's long-time partner and exclusive caterer Great Performances, New York City’s premier catering and events company, this very special brunch in historic Wave Hill House’s Armor Hall features a beautiful spread of unique twists on classic brunch presentations and is perfect for welcoming the spring season. Seatings will be offered at 11:00 and 11:30AM.  Wave Hill’s Welcome Spring Brunch is $45 per person excluding tax and gratuity—and Wave Hill Members enjoy a 10% discount. Please note that payment will not be accepted day-of and must be received by noon on March 20.  Reservations may be made online or by calling 718.549.3200 x395. Guests will be provided with a secured credit card payment link to purchase tickets online at

Use simple shapes found in nature, like the outline of a flower or a leaf. With an easy printmaking method using tempera paint and a few simple gestures, make large-scale, bold mono-prints. 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.

Gain insight into Winter Workspace artist Shanti Grumbine’s creative process and explore the winter landscape as a source of inspiration. Responding to the grounds and greenhouses, participants will use disparate collage materials, paint and paper-cutting techniques to transform existing books into a series of personal and formal impressions. Without having to face a blank page or commit to one image, participants will learn how to alter existing content to explore and reflect their immediate experience. 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.

Described by The Washington Post as playing with “glorious sonorities,” the Enso String Quartet shares a program that features Puccini’s elegiac Chrysanthemums and Verdi’s String Quartet in e minor, as originally scored for two violins, viola and cello. 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. Illustrious Residents event.

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, March 5, 2014

Council Member Andy King's State of the District Address

Bronx Waterfront Planning & Design Guidelines, Mar 19, Manhattan College

Bronx Council for Environmental Quality
 Annual Membership Meeting and Water Conference

Bronx Waterfront Planning & 
Community Environmental Design Guidelines
Wednesday, March 19, 2014
3 p.m. to 7 p.m
Manhattan College
Leo Engineering Building
3825 Corlear Avenue at 238th Street, Bronx NY
The program invites the community to join the discussion in order to create a report at the end of the year; and includes a plenary session and three workshops.  Main speakers will be NY/NJ HUD Sustainability Coordinator, the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance, and the Bronx River Alliance.  Other groups (HEP, ALS) doing work to protect waterfront edges and water bodies will host one of three geographical workshops:  South Bronx Rivers, Bronx Harlem River, and the East Bronx Rivers.  Free and open to the public, we thank Con Edison for their support & refreshments for this conference.


  New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer testified about his office’s analysis of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Preliminary FY 2015 Budget and Financial Plan for FY 2014-2018 before the New York City Council Finance Committee this afternoon. 

“My office expects tax revenues to be slightly higher than City Hall’s forecast in the coming years, driven primarily by additional property tax revenues,” Stringer said.  “But we identified additional risks as well, including higher than expected overtime spending and lower than projected Medicaid reimbursements. This is a prudent budget given our City’s economy, but, as I’ve said in the past, its Achilles heel remains the City’s expired labor contracts.”    

The February Financial Plan presents a City budget with a stronger economic outlook and relatively small out-year gaps.   According to the Comptroller’s office, these gaps are projected to be smaller than the City’s estimations in each of the fiscal years. For FY 2014 and 2015, Stringer’s office projects $860 million in additional tax revenues, about 1% higher than Mayor de Blasio’s outlook. For FY 2018, it is $1.823 billion higher, a difference of 3.3%.
Stringer’s analysis identified expired labor contracts as the major risk to the budget.  In addition, the Comptroller identified two additional risks to the City’s budget: Uniformed overtime spending will exceed the projected amount by $128 million in FY 2014, $122 million in FY 2015 and $100 million annually beginning in FY 2016. Also, lower than estimated Medicaid reimbursements in the Department of Education could mean a liability of $30 million in FY 2014, $110 million in FY 2015 and $140 million annually beginning in FY 2016.
Stringer suggested several potential sources of revenue and savings to be considered to meet our budgetary demands:
1.      Restore revenue sharing to New York City
2.      Collect education funds due to the City under the Campaign for Fiscal Equity
3.      Draw down Federal Medicaid Funds for Special Education Services
4.      Claim New York City’s share of the $8 billion federal Medicaid waiver
5.      Produce agency savings from efficiencies that don’t reduce services or hurt vulnerable populations
6.      Achieve savings through productivity and benefit reforms including health care costs
7.      Reform tax expenditures
8.      Generate additional savings in FY15 debt service through aggressive refinancing
9.      Recognize FY14 resources from prior year payables that are not needed
10. Realize savings from ending the budget dance and member item reform

Bronx Assemblymen José Rivera stars in raunchy Dominican Video

  A video from 2005 of Bronx Assemblyman Jose Rivera ogling women while on vacation in the Dominican Republic has surfaced. The Daily News reports that Assemblyman Jose Rivera posted and then deleted the 2 minute video of himself and former Assemblyman Adam Clayton Powell Jr. flirting with different women. Assemblyman Jose Rivera is seen asking women for their measurements, their name, and even asks one if she has a little sister. Rivera is then seen joking with a street vendor about a concoction made of rum and other things said to be an aphrodisiac. Rivera then joke with the street vendor about the strength of the brew, and the article quotes Rivera as saying "is strong enough to get laid with all those young ones".

  While this happened in 2005 there have been many scandals in Albany since then where young women (and in some cases young men) were taken advantage of by elected officials. Several officials have either been forced to resign or have retired over such charges. It is well known that Assemblyman Jose Rivera loves to have a good time, but did he cross over the lines of decency. Go to to see the video and decide if Assemblyman Jose Rivera went to far.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Immigration Forum, hosted by NYS Assemblyman Mark Gjonaj

Friends of VCP's March 2014 Enewsletter

Please join us on Saturday March 29th as the Friends and Bronx CB 8 host an event to highlight a broken link and broken promise in Van Cortlandt Park: a Pedestrian Bridge over the Major Deegan to connect its eastern and western halves and connect the broken Old Croton Aqueduct Trail.  Below is a map which shows the desired location of the bridge (green line with black bars).
bridge location 2
Join us along with community members, our elected officials, and all those who love Van Cortlandt Park as we demand that NYC DEP keep its promise to the Bronx by funding this project.  With the Pedestrian Bridge now part of Van Cortlandt Park's Master Plan (which will be released this spring), the time for action is now!   Also, please take a moment to sign our online petition.

The bridge event will kick off a packed spring season of events in the Park.  Below you will see all of our April events.  Visit our Events Page to see a full listing of spring events.

Hope to see you in the Park!



Friends' April Events
Volunteer Trails Restoration CrewDec12TrailsCrew1
First Saturday of the Month from April to June 2014 from 10am to 3pm
Crew Members will work alongside trails professionals, developing skills in various areas of trail construction while improving the various trails in Van Cortlandt Park.  Projects include building boardwalks, clearing waterbars and drainage swells and installing drainage dips.  No prior trails experience is necessary but encouraged; all training will be offered in an on-the-job format.  All volunteers must register online by April 1st.

Get Active Hiking Series in VCP
Good Stuff 073 2Join us on the Second Saturday of Each Month at 10am for a hike in Van Cortlandt Park.  Please wear appropriate shoes and bring plenty of water and a snack for the hike. 

April 12th, meet at Woodlawn Playground (VCP East & Kepler Ave.):  Family friendly leisurely hike in the Northeast Wood.  Hike will last 60-90 minutes.
May 10th, meet at the Friends Compost & Garden Site (enter the Park at Broadway and Mosholu Ave):  An introductory hike of 2-3 hours on the Northwest Woods of VCP.
June 14th, meet at the last stop of the 1 train: Our longest hike a 3-4 hour, hike to see all Seven Wonders of VCP.

Spring Garden Crew for 6th-12th Graders
Tuesdays from April 29th to June 10th from 4-6pmphoto 2
Garden Crew is a chance to get outside, learn something new, have fun with your friends, and spend time working towards making your community and park a better place.  Any high school and middle school student interested in community service can come out and prepare our garden for the growing season by sifting compost, planting vegetables, weeding and watering the plants as they start to grow.   Applications for Spring 2014 Garden Crew are due on April 25th.

Spring Kickoff Forest Volunteer Event
park32Saturday April 12th meeting at 10am
Join us as we start our spring volunteer season with projects throughout the Northwest Woods of Van Cortlandt Park.  Projects, including tree plantings and invasive plant removal, will take place on the John Muir and Cass Gallagher Trails.  Meet at the Compost Site- enter the Park at Broadway and Mosholu Avenue.

5th Annual Hike-a-Thonhike a thon t shirt (1024x852)
Saturday April 26th, 2014 at 10am
Get out for a hike and help us raise funds for the restoration of Van Cortlandt Park’s spectacular hiking trails.  Similar to a Walk-a-Thon, we are asking you to seek out supporters to sponsors your hike for this rain or shine event.  Participants can choose one of three hiking routes (ranging from an easy 1 mile hike to a strenuous 5 mile hike) the day of the event. $25 Registration Fee includes a Hike-a-Thon t-shirt, water and snacks at the event, and an expertly guided hike of our beautiful park. Register online or by mail.