Saturday, March 22, 2014

24th Anniversery of the Happyland Fire

The date was March 26, 1990 very early in the morning.
87 people were killed in the now infamous Happyland fire.
The date today. This is what the fire site now looks like.

Friday across the street there was a vigil held to mark the 24th Anniversary of the Happyland tragedy.
Public Advocate Letitia James, State Senator Ruben Diaz Sr., Councilman Fernando Cabrera, relatives of those killed, firemen, Lieutenant Roy Davis who was the first EMS technician to respond to the fire, and many more people gathered to remember the 87 people who were killed in the Happyland fire by Mr. Julio Gonzalez.
The plaque presented by parents of School District 12 to remember the 87 has each name listed in alphabetical order.

Community Board 6 Chair Wendy Rodriguez speaks about the tragic fire and why this vigil is so important to the community. CB 6 District Manager Ivine Galarza, Public Advocate Letitia James, Senator Ruben Diaz Sr., and Councilman Fernando Cabrera are also in the photo
Community Board 6 District Manager Ivine Galarza informs everyone that the Happyland killer Mr. Julio Gonzalez will come up for parole next year, and that the community wants to make sure that he stays in jail the rest of his life.


Nine Arrested in Protest of FreshDirect

100 March, Nine Arrested in Protest of FreshDirect Relocation to South Bronx
Group asks Mayor de Blasio to drop opposition to environmental lawsuit

Nine South Bronx residents were arrested when blocked from entering public brownfield land on the South Bronx waterfront, the proposed location of FreshDirect. Their intention was to plant detoxifying sunflowers.

Residents have filed a lawsuit in opposition to FreshDirect’s proposed relocation.

The lawsuit seeks a full environmental impact study of the proposed project.

Mayor de Blasio has the opportunity to drop the City’s opposition to the lawsuit. This would compel the environmental review.

Those arrested include faith leaders, directors of local organizations and other South Bronx community leaders. They arrived at the Harlem River Yard as part of a march of more than 100.

The event was peaceful and exuberant. It included traditional Puerto Rican plena drummers, a mariachi band, giant puppets, local children playing cello, and an interfaith reflection.

FreshDirect, if allowed to proceed, would bring 1,500 additional daily truck trips through the South Bronx. This plan is a Bloomberg-era relic attempting to give the diesel-intensive grocer nearly $130 million in public subsidies to move to this public waterfront land. This community is already burdened by asthma hospitalization rates at 21 times that of other New York City neighborhoods.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Financial Education Workshop

April is National Financial Literacy Month and the perfect 

time to take charge of your finances. 

Join us for a FREE financial education workshop.

Topics of Discussion: 

1) Credit Improvement

2) Debt Reduction Negotiation 

3) Dealing with Collections/Judgments

4) Money Management

Date: Friday, April 25  

Time: 12:00pm to 2:30pm

Location: Bronx Borough President’s Office

Bronx County Building

851 Grand Concourse

Veterans’ Memorial Hall

Bronx, NY 10451

Please RSVP to: Lillian Diaz at


Sat, 3/22 | South Bronx Parade, Interfaith Reflection and Waterfront Sunflower Planting Against FreshDirect

Residents, Faith Leaders, Community Groups and Advocates to Gather
for Parade, Interfaith Reflection and Sunflower Planting at South Bronx Brownfield Waterfront Site
Against Proposed Relocation of FreshDirect Diesel Trucking Operation
Residents Ask Mayor de Blasio to End the City’s Opposition to their Environmental Lawsuit
WHO: South Bronx residents, faith leaders, community groups, advocates; accompanied by drummers
WHEN/WHERE: Saturday, March 22
12:00 – Group assembles at Brook Park, 141st Street and Brook Avenue
12:30 – Parade through Mott Haven-Port Morris (Brook Ave, 138th Street, St. Ann’s Avenue)
1:30 – Interfaith reflection and sunflower planting at Harlem River Yards (St. Ann's Avenue and 132nd Street)
WHAT: This Saturday, March 22, more than 100 South Bronx residents, faith leaders and environmental justice advocates will gather for "Green Beginnings for the South Bronx Waterfront: A Community Action Against FreshDirect,” organized by South Bronx Unite, recipient of the 2014 Environmental Justice Award from Professional Staff Congress. The group is currently engaged in a lawsuit against the City to block the Bloomberg-driven $127 million subsidy package as it was brokered without community input, does not carry a living wage requirement and relied on a 21 year old environmental impact statement even though the project would add an additional 1,500 daily diesel truck trips to a community with asthma hospitalization rates 21 times higher than other NYC neighborhoods. Mayor de Blasio has the authority to end the City’s opposition to residents’ lawsuit seeking an environmental study of the truck intensive project.

Dinowitz Calls on Governor, State Senate to Support Office of Utility Consumer Advocate

Office could save New Yorkers billions in utility costs

  Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz, Chair of the Assembly Consumer Affairs and Protections Committee, has called on New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and the State Senate to support the addition of the State Office of the Utility Consumer Advocate in this year’s state budget. Creation of the office, which would represent utility customers at hearings regarding utility rate hikes, had initially been a Dinowitz sponsored piece of legislation (A.6239) but was added to the budget resolution passed by the Assembly last week.

“I authored this important consumer legislation last year because I saw that everyone had a seat at the table when discussing utility rates except consumers,” Dinowitz said. “I am thrilled that this legislation is part of the assembly budget resolution and hope that the governor and state senate join us in standing up for consumers.”

In the wake of Superstorm Sandy, Hurricane Irene, and Tropical Storm Lee, consumers in New York have been left without a voice and real representation when it comes to utility services.
Currently more than 40 states and the District of Columbia have an independent state agency that represents the interests of residential utility customers. New York is one of few states, and by far the largest, without such an independent office.

The State Office of the Utility Consumer Advocate would serve as an independent advocate and appear on behalf of New York consumers in state and federal regulatory proceedings, as well as judicial review proceedings concerning rates and conditions of public service utilities. Though New York currently has the Public Service Commission (PSC) and the Utility Intervention Unit (UIU), which is a division of the Department of State, the Utility Consumer Advocate would focus solely on consumers and their interests as related to utility services.

In past proceedings before the PSC, utility providers and large commercial and industrial customers have actively and vigorously represented their own interests, yet there is a stark lack of input from parties that represent consumers. The Utility Consumer Advocate would be appointed by the governor, subject to senate confirmation, and would serve a six-year term.  He or she would exercise independent discretion in determining when to initiate and participate in proceedings that affect residential utility consumers and how to advocate for their interests.

In other states where such an office exists, residential consumers have seen drastic savings in comparison to the actual amount of funding that goes to these offices. California’s Division of Ratepayer Advocates lobbied over 200 times on behalf of California consumers and saved them over $4 billion in rates saved and increases avoided. Estimates show that for every $1 spent representing and advocating on behalf of California’s public utility customers, the average customer saved $153 per year.

Creation of the office is widely supported by consumer advocate groups representing various demographics around the state, including AARP, New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG), Public Utility Law Project of New York, Inc., and Consumers Union.

Thursday, March 20, 2014


  New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer today rejected a $30 million Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications (DoITT) contract to outsource the selection and oversight of all New York City Information Technology (IT) contractors to a sole vendor, Pennsylvania-based Computer Aid, Inc (C.A.I.).

“At the core of this contract is an unproven service model which provides no adequate fail-safe if the system is unsuccessful,” Stringer said. “Information Technology contracts have been a recurring issue for the City: ballooning costs and insufficient oversight are a toxic mix for taxpayers.  DoITT should come back to us with a plan that spells out why this vendor – and this model – actually makes sense.” 

The contract between DoITT and C.A.I. proposes a three-month pilot “Managed Service Model” which allows one vendor, C.A.I., to take over the selection of all IT consultants.  Currently, DoITT operates under a “Multiple Services Model,” in which the Agency conducts mini-bids within a pool of qualified Information Technology Consulting Services (ITCS) to identify which vendors best fit the needs of City agencies – with the contract vehicles centralized through DoITT.

In a letter sent to DoITT Acting Commissioner Evan Hines on Wednesday, the Comptroller’s Office wrote:
The newly proposed Managed Services Model limits and restricts the City’s direct role in the administration, management, and oversight of the contracting process. Under the proposed model, the City intends to outsource the selection of all IT consultants to a single third-party intermediary consultant, C.A.I. The creation of an additional level of outsourcing between end users and IT consultants may prevent consultants from understanding the proposed scope of services.

Further, DoITT’s categorization of professional IT consultants selected by C.A.I. as “suppliers” instead of “subcontractors” removes essential due diligence and accountability requirements from the City, such as VENDEX and formal determinations of responsibility. The City would lose the contractual relationship with the companies providing consultants, thus losing a crucial oversight tool for determining whether IT consultants are qualified to receive taxpayer dollars.

Additional questions and concerns were raised about the C.A.I. contract including:

·         Non-competitive procurement, which does not afford the City the opportunity to benefit from a process in which it leverages its considerable bargaining power;
·         A three-month pilot period to test the “Managed Service Model” which does not allow for an appropriate review;

·         No limitations on the initial $30 million investment, meaning funds could be fully depleted over the three-month pilot process;

·         No calculation of how much the model would cost the City if rolled out to additional agencies. Annual citywide usage via the current citywide ITCS service model exceeds $70 million.

The contract was initially submitted to the Comptroller’s Office on December 20, 2013, but was returned to DoITT for additional questions and review. It was resubmitted for registration on February 19, 2014 and returned on Wednesday following a 30-day review period.

Remembering the 24th Anniversary of the Happy Land Social Club Fire

When: Friday, March 21, 201412:00 PM

Where: Happy Land Memorial Monument, East Tremont and Southern Boulevard, Bronx, NY

Who:   Assemblyman Luis Sepulveda
            Wendy Rodriguez, Chair Person, Community Board 6
            Ivine Galarza, District Manager, Community Board 6
            Members and Staff of Bronx Community Board 6
Relatives and Friends of Victims of the Happy Land Fire
            Comptroller Scott Stringer
            Senator Ruben Diaz Sr.
            Assemblyman Victor Pichardo
            Council Member Maria del Carmen Arroyo
            Council Member Fernando Cabrera
            Members of the 48th Police Precinct
            Members of the 18th Fire Battalion
            Mike Blake

What: Assemblyman Luis Sepulveda, Community Board 6, and other elected officials will hold a press conference to remember the victims of the Happy Land Social Club Fire, which occurred on March 25th 1990.  The fire, which was started deliberately, killed 87 people inside of the nightclub.  It was the second largest mass murder in New York City history and one of the deadliest fires in the city since the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire 79 years earlier.  In addition to the press conference, a memorial mass will be held on Tuesday, March 25, 2014 at 7 PM
at Saint Thomas Aquinas Church, 1900 Crotona Parkway.  A candlelight vigil will be held following the mass.

Wave Hill Events April 4–April 11

  Snowdrops, crocus and aconite are all abloom in our Wild Garden, each little burst of early color bringing with it inordinate joy as we officially welcome spring today.

Looking ahead now to the first weekend in April, please note the focus on Mark Twain, perhaps our most illustrious former resident.  The almost two years that Mark Twain’s family lived in Wave Hill House were unusually domestic ones for the adventurous author.  The Clemenses embraced the house as a gathering-place for friends and notables, and made use of its grand dining room as often as Mrs. Clemens’ health would permit. Clemens also enjoyed being out on the grounds, sitting with friends on the lawn in front of the house, observing and naming the mischievous squirrels—thus the special guided walk we are offering on Saturday—or climbing up to a tree house that had been built in a chestnut tree. Sunday brings a dramatic reading—an hour directed by Stephen Hamilton, exploring Twain’s humor, insights and irreverence. Under Hamilton’s direction, actor Victor Slezak will bring Mark Twain into focus, seamlessly knitting together excerpts from Twain’s novels, biographical snapshots, quotes from the author’s lectures and much more to capture this complex literary giant. In Steve’s words, the performance “is not a representation of the man, Samuel Clemens, but a celebration of his work. The words speak for themselves.” 

This weekend we also welcome the opening of our spring group show, all work inspired by Wave Hill’s Conservatory; the release is attached! Captions for the two images attached:
·         Carrie Beckmann, The Wave Hill Greenhouse Effect, 2012, watercolor on paper, 43 ½” x 44 ½”. Private collection.
·         Nick Lamia, Agave, Wave Hill, 2014, graphite on paper, 8” x 10”. Courtesy of the artist

Hear the story of a boy who creates a forest in his room. Then join visiting artist J.Q. Nelson to create your own miniature living environment, with trees growing through the floor, plants hanging from the ceiling, a garden in the kitchen and windows and doors to let the light in. 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. Sessions are held outdoors as weather permits. 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.

Over a century has passed since Mark Twain lived at Wave Hill, yet a number of trees still flourish from that era. Take a walk with Horticultural Interpreter Charles Day to admire some of our venerable arboreal survivors. Free with admission to the grounds. Illustrious Residents event.

Hear the story of a boy who creates a forest in his room. Then join visiting artist J.Q. Nelson to create your own miniature living environment, with trees growing through the floor, plants hanging from the ceiling, a garden in the kitchen and windows and doors to let the light in. 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.

Explore the humor, insights and irreverence of American writer Mark Twain at this dramatic reading. An illustrious former resident of Wave Hill House, Mark Twain and his family lived here in the early 1900’s. Stephen Hamilton, who directed a memorable show about Charles Dickens at Wave Hill a few seasons ago, returns to Armor Hall with actor Victor Slezak to bring Mark Twain into focus, seamlessly knitting together excerpts from Twain’s novels, biographical snapshots, quotes from the author’s lectures and much more to capture this complex literary giant.   Christopher Cascio, an MFA  candidate in Creative Writing and Literature at Stony Brook University, serves as dramaturg; his latest piece is entitled Water Baby: A Memoir. “As with the Charles Dickens piece” says Hamilton, “Mark Twain Illuminated is not a representation of the man, Samuel Clemens, but a celebration of his work. The words speak for themselves.” Source materials include the beloved novels A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, The Prince and the Pauper and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, alongside passages from quintessential yet lesser known works The Mysterious Stranger and Is He Dead?  Victor Slezak, a veteran of Broadway stage, film and television, is known for the research he brings to playing roles of particular power and complexity.  He is a member of the Actor’s Studio and The Ensemble Studio Theater and is on the board of the HB Playwrights Foundation. Recent guest appearances include those for television series including “Homeland,” “Blue Bloods” and “The Americans.” His film work includes “The Bridges of Madison County” and “The Devil’s Own.”  One hour, no intermission. Registration required.
General Admission Tickets $32, $28 Senior, $18 child (ages 7 to 18); Wave Hill Members $22; child $12. Illustrious Resident event.

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

Closed to the public.

Join us for an hour-long tour of seasonal garden highlights. Free, and admission to the grounds is free all day.

Join a curatorial assistant for a tour of Wave Hill's spring exhibition, Prickly, Tender and Steamy: Artists in the Hothouse, which assembles artworks that were created during Wave Hill's Winter Workspace program over the last five years. During their residencies, Gabriela Albergaria, Carrie Beckmann, Susan Benarcik, Matthew Burcaw, Asuka Hishiki, Nick Lamia, Lina Puerta, Naomi Reis, Anne-Katrin Spiess, Linda Stillman, James Walsh and Marion Wilson closely examined, and were inspired by, the living collection in Wave Hill's Marco Polo Stufano Conservatory. Representing a wide variety of mediums, the works on view give visitors multiple ways to observe the plants in the Tropical, Palm, Cactus and Succulent Houses. In the Sunroom Project Space, Brandon Neubauer's installation incorporates video projection, photographs and recorded sounds to create a portrait of the Wave Hill site that engages time, optical phenomena, topography and found objects. Tours take place Tuesdays and Saturdays at 2PM. Free, and admission to the grounds is free all day.

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 April. 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

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Koppell On Klein Primary "Kamikaze Mission"

  In an interview with the New York Observer on a possible primary run for the 34th State Senate district former Councilman Oliver Koppell said “If Jeff Dinowitz decides he wants to run, I’ll support him". Koppell added  “It doesn’t look like there’s anybody else out there, though. I’m not going to go on a kamikaze mission–I feel there’s considerable support out there.” An online petition is being circulated to urge Koppell to run against Senator Klein which has over 1500 signatures, but most are not from the 34th district. 

  Koppell has already met with State Senate Democrats who are extremely unhappy with Senator Klein and his now five member Independent Democratic Conference. In 2000 Lorraine Coyle-Koppell (Olivers wife) ran against then Republican State Senator Guy Velella coming close by losing only by a few points. One of Oliver Koppell's problems is his political thinking such as his support of Congestion Pricing when former Mayor Bloomberg proposed it. Koppell also was a key legislator in the City Council who overturned the will of the voters to allow himself and Mayor Bloomberg to be able to be re-elected to a third term. Koppell also supported Bloomberg for mayor in 2009 who was running on the Republican line rather than support former City Controller Bill Thompson who was the candidate of the Democratic Party for Mayor. 

  I contacted Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz who said that he is running for the assembly. Time will tell if Oliver Koppell puts on the goggles, and gets into his single engine plane with only enough fuel for a one way trip. Here is the entire interview.

Monday, March 17, 2014


   A COMPTROLLER SCOTT M. STRINGER audit finds that the New York City Department of Finance (DOF) improperly classified the tax and building classes of 308 vacant properties throughout New York City, resulting in an annual real estate tax loss conservatively estimated at $1.7 million, according to an audit released today by New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer.
“New York City loses out on millions of dollars annually in lost tax revenue when the Department of Finance doesn’t make fair, accurate and up to date property assessments”, Stringer said. “There’s a real need for a change in the way DOF does business when over 300 vacant lots are improperly classified. Moving forward, DOF needs to enhance its procedures to ensure that all vacant lots are correctly evaluated and that their owners are paying the taxes they owe the City."

The Department of Finance is responsible for annually appraising the value of more than one million properties citywide.  DOF applies previously established tax rates to the properties’ assessed value to calculate property taxes and then bills and collects taxes from their owners.
According to the Department of City Planning, approximately six percent of land in New York City is categorized as vacant. The audit found that 281 of the 308 misclassified properties, most of which were used as storage yards or as licensed and unlicensed parking lots, had both an incorrect tax and building classification. Had DOF properly categorized these properties, the comptroller’s office conservatively estimated the City could collect as much as $1.7 million in additional tax revenue. 
The remaining 27 lots examined in the audit had the correct tax classification but an incorrect building classification, which could affect the market value of each property. However, it is not possible to calculate the amount of additional taxes due until DOF determines the correct market values of these lots.
The audit urged DOF to:
1.      Inspect and make necessary adjustments to the assessment rolls for the misclassified properties;
2.      Conduct periodic reviews of the properties with the vacant lot classification;
3.     Consider modifying the annual Notice of Property Value sent to property owners requesting they notify DOF if any permanent improvements or changes were made or determine another way to proactively solicit the correct information; and
4.      Coordinate with the Department of Buildings (DOB) to ensure that any necessary permits are issued for the remaining 27 lots identified in the audit as having the incorrect building classification.
DOF agreed with most of the audit recommendations and stated that of the 308 vacant lots identified, 253 would be reclassified, 37 would remain classified as residential property vacant land and that they would make a determination about the remaining 18 properties after they had been inspected.

To read a copy of the full audit, please click here:

Councilmember Torres Responds on Plans to Reopen Maternity Services at North Central Bronx Hospital

  Bronx Council Member Ritchie Torres, whose district was served by the HHC North Central Bronx Hospital before services were suspended in August 2013 due to senior physician vacancies and concerns about appropriate staffing, responds to the hospital’s announcement of plans to reopen labor and delivery services.

  “I am committed to ensuring that we bring back the highest quality services for North Central Bronx women and families. The appropriate time for a press conference will come when the center is both open and staffed with senior attending obstetricians.  Declaring 'mission accomplished,’ before the mission is accomplished, is premature.”

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Creating a Bridge to Re-Unite Neighbors 3.29.14

Creating A Pedestrian Bridge to Re-Unite Neighbors:
A Broken Promise that We Will Make Right
Saturday, March 29th, 2014
Van Cortlandt Park

  The Friends of Van Cortlandt Park and Bronx Community Board 8 are hosting a Rally to highlight a broken link and a broken promise in Van Cortlandt Park: the Pedestrian Bridge over the Major Deegan Expressway that connects its eastern and western halves and connects the broken Old Croton Aqueduct Trail.
In 1999, the New York City Council determined that NYC Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) should build a Pedestrian Bridge if it was “feasible”. A feasibility study was conducted and determined that it was feasible but DEP has refused to pay for it. We are asking our community, our elected officials, and all those who love Van Cortlandt Park to join together and demand that DEP keep its promise to the Bronx. The Pedestrian Bridge is now a part of Van Cortlandt Park’s Master Plan. The time for action is now!

Day of Rally Schedule: Saturday March 29th
10AM- Meet inside the Park at last stop of the #1 train (Broadway and West 242nd St.) or #4 train (Jerome and Bainbridge Ave). FVCP staff will lead a walk to rally locations on west and east side of the Major Deegan where the proposed bridge should be built. Help us create a Virtual Bridge through social media and photos to bring us all together.
12PM- Press Conference/ Rally at Shandler Recreation Area Parking Lot (enter the Park at Jerome Avenue between Bainbridge Avenue and East 233rd Street). Join us as we show Elected Officials and the Press that the community supports the Pedestrian Bridge.

Scheduled Speakers: Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr., Congressman Eliot Engel, State Senator Ruth Hassell-Thompson, State Senator Jeffrey Klein, State Senator Jose M. Serrano, Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz, Councilman Andrew Cohen, Councilwoman Annabel Palma, Robert Fannuzi (CB8), Bob Bender (CB8), Christina Taylor (FVCP) and several community members.

Pedestrian Bridge Supporters: Above speakers plus Councilman Fernando Cabrera, Amalgamated & Park Reservoir Houses, Bronx Community Boards 7, 8 and 12, Bronx Council for Environmental Quality, Friends of the Old Croton Aqueduct, Friends of Van Cortlandt Park, Harlem River Working Group, New York- New Jersey Trail Conference and Van Cortlandt Park Conservancy.
Email: for more information. 

Mayor de Blasio and Education: Fact-Checking Eva Moskowitz's Claims

This comes to us from one of Mayor Bill de Blasio's people. All the links have been left in, and I do agree with the mayor on this one item at least.

Mayor de Blasio and Education: Fact-Checking Eva Moskowitz's Claims

By Diane Ravitch and Avi Blaustein
The battle between NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio and Eva Moskowitz, CEO of the Success Academy charter chain, has blown up into a national controversy, covered on national television, the New York Times, and the Wall Street Journal.
Mayor de Blasio had the nerve to award the Moskowitz chain only five of the eight charters that it wanted, and Moskowitz has been on the warpath to get all eight, even if it means pushing kids with disabilities out of their public school classrooms.
What is missing from the controversy so far is any interest on the part of the journalists in basic facts. Instead, what is happening is a public relations battle. Moskowitz has attacked Mayor de Blasio in multiple media appearances, and no one in the media has bothered to check any of her claims.
Let's fill that gap.
On MSNBC's Morning Joe, Ms. Moskowitz claimed that Success Academy 4 in Harlem is the "highest performing school in New York State in math in in fifth grade." This is obviously an odd metric to use in judging a school. Picking out one subject in a single grade should raise suspicion among the media, but it hasn't.
It is also not true. On the fifth grade state math test, the students at Success Academy 4 are, in fact, #8 in New York City (tied with another school) and presumably even lower when compared to schools across the state. The fourth grade math test scoresare #54 in New York City (tied with six other schools). The third grade math scores rank #63 in New York City (tied with 6 other schools). The school's rankings are even worse in English. The fifth grade English test scores rank #59 in New York City (tied with seven other schools), the fourth grade English test scores rank #81 in New York City (tied with five other schools), and the third grade English test scores rank #65 in New York City (tied with eight other schools).
The school is not the "highest performing school in the state" in any grade.
Moskowitz's interviewers have said that the students at Success Academy 4 are the "most disadvantaged kids in New York City," to which she assented. She has said "it's a random lottery school. We don't know who they are."
We do, in fact, know who the students at Success Academy are. They are not the most disadvantaged kids in New York City. Harlem Success Academy schools have half the number of English Language Learners as the neighboring public schools in Harlem. The students in Success Academy 4 include 15 percent fewer free lunch students and an economic need index (a measure of students in temporary housing and/or who receive public assistance) that is 35 percent lower than nearby public schools.
Moskowitz's Success Academy 4 has almost none of the highest special needs students as compared to nearby Harlem public schools. In a school with nearly 500 students, Success Academy 4 has zero, or one, such students, while the average Harlem public school includes 14.1 percent such students. With little sense of irony or embarrassment, Moskowitz has attacked Bill de Blasio for preventing the school's expansion inside PS 149. Her school's expansion would have come at the cost of space for students with disabilities. The school has already lost "a fully equipped music room ... A state-mandated SAVE room ... A computer lab... Individual rooms for occupational and physical therapy ... and the English Language Learners (ELL) classroom," due to earlier Success Academy expansions in the same building.
Moskowitz said, referring to the students in her schools, "we've had these children since kindergarten." But she forgot to mention all the students who have left the school since kindergarten. Or the fact that Harlem Success Academy 4 suspends students at a rate 300 percent higher than the average in the district. Last year's seventh grade class at Harlem Success Academy 1 had a 52.1 percent attrition rate since 2006-07. That's more than half of the kindergarten students gone before they even graduate from middle school. Last year's sixth grade class had a 45.2 percent attrition rate since 2006-07. That's almost half of the kindergarten class gone and two more years left in middle school. In just four years Harlem Success Academy 4 has lost over 21 percent of its students. The pattern of students leaving is not random. Students with low test scores, English Language Learners, and special education students are most likely to disappear from the school's roster. Large numbers of students disappear beginning in 3rd grade, but not in the earlier grades. No natural pattern of student mobility can explain the sudden disappearance of students at the grade when state testing just happens to begin.
Moskowitz made a number of other claims during her Morning Joe appearance. She said "we are self-sustaining on the public dollar alone." In fact, Success Academyspends $2,072 more per student than schools serving similar populations. This additional funding comes from donations by the very same hedge fund moguls who have donated over $400,000 to Governor Cuomo's re-election campaign (charter supporters in the financial and real estate sector have contributed some $800,000 to Governor Cuomo's campaign).
Moskowitz has said "in terms of cracking the code that's what we've set out to do." But we don't need charter schools to crack the code if the cryptographic key is to keep out the neediest students and kick out students with low test scores. Public schools could do that too. Then they too would have higher test scores and a high attrition rate. They don't do it because it would probably be illegal. And besides, it is the wrong thing to do. Public schools are expected to educate everyone, not just those who are likeliest to succeed.