Saturday, November 22, 2014

Muni Meters - Broken or Missing in Action

  Above is a close up of a Muni Meter on Riverdale Avenue between West 236th and West 238th Streets. Below is a photo of the other Muni Meter space on this block which is in front of Yo Burger. 

 You see that this Muni Meter is completely missing. By the way the NYPD van driving by in the background was just a coincidence. This is becoming almost a regular practice with Muni Meters that the coin slots are jammed so credit or debit cards must be used. It would not surprise anyone to see that card skimming devices like those at ATM machines could be placed in the card slots. Anyway be very careful if you do have to use a credit or debit card and check the slot to see that there are no skimming devices in there.
This problem has popped up on White Plains Road and in other major shopping areas where there are Muni Meters.

102nd Albanian Independence Celebration

  Former Assemblyman Steve Kaufman was the Master of Ceremony for the 102nd celebration of the independence of Albania.

Left - First it was the American National Anthem that was sung.
Right - Then it was the National Anthem of Albania that was sung.

  Mr. Esad Rizai the Founder and President of the Albanian-American Society Foundation inc. gives greetings to the audience.

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. addresses the audience, as the first Albanian member of the state assembly Mark Gjonaj listens.

Assemblyman Mark Gjonaj thanks BP Diaz Jr. for coming, and also tells everyone that we are all one people.

A group photo of Assemblyman Gjonaj, BP Diaz Jr., Honoree Beqir Sina, AASF President Rizai, and Ferit Hoxha Ambassador of Albania.

This however is what it was all about- Tradition of the Albanian culture.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Mayor Bill de Blasio visits Lehman College to announce New 'Career Pathways' Program

  Dr. Ricardo Fernandez welcomes Mayor Bill de Blasio to Lehman College. Standing in the photo are Lehman College Nursing students who are enrolled in the Career Pathways Program.  
  De Blasio said that under the previous mayor this program only gave real career jobs to 7 percent of the enrolled. All it did was to produce a high percentage of low paying dead end jobs. De Blasio is changing that so people enrolled in this program will get higher paying career jobs with future advancement.  
  During the hour long Press conference Public Advocate Letitia James echoed the mayor's words, as did his Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development who is in charge of the Mayor's Workforce Development.
  Students from the Lehman College of Nursing were standing with the mayor and One student Barbara told of the opportunities for higher paying jobs that she now has rather then having to take much lower paying jobs with no future for advancement. Also in attendance were local elected officials Councilman Andrew Cohen, Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz, and State Senator Gustavo Rivera who the mayor acknowledged, but none of them spoke. You can see Councilman Cohen and Assemblyman Dinowitz in various photos below.
  After taking a few Questions on topic the mayor opened it up to any questions from the media. Most of the questions were about the shooting in Brooklyn late last night. While the mayor said that the police commissioner was addressing the issue at another press conference, he did say that it was a rookie officer, it occur ed in a NYCHA area that was not properly lighted, and that cameras will be installed by the end of this year in all NYCHA houses. I got to ask the mayor why the Jerome Park Reservoir has an inner and outer fence to keep people away from seeing the water while the Central Park Reservoir has only one fence with a beautiful jogging path all around it. I added is this a case of your tale of two cities. Mayor de Blasio answered me by saying that he would talk to the Commissioner of DEP on it.

  Mayor de Blasio talks about the previous administration, and the wrong priorities when it came to job programs.

  Public Advocate James commends Mayor de Blasio for changing the priorities of this jobs program area.

  One of the Lehman College students tells of teh new opportunities that this revamped jobs program has given her in the field of nursing, with many future possibilities. 

  Mayor de Blasio answers questions afterwards.

New Throggs Neck Mall

 Joseph Kelleher Vice President of Simone Developers and Chairman of the Bronx Chamber of Commerce is bent over to the the weight that has been lifted off his back with the official Grand Opening of the New Throggs Neck Mall. This two story mall features a full service Target store on the first floor, and several major retailers and other smaller retailers on the top floor. The retailers include Applebee's, TJ MAXX, Subway, Sketchers, Metro Optics, a Wine and Liquor outlet, an Urgent Care Facility, 5 Guys Burgers, and a few more stores to come.  
  The space where the new mall is was the old U.S. Postal facility was on Brush Avenue as the mall is located at 815 Hutchinson Parkway South. Lafayette Avenue is the cross street, and there is plenty of parking.

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., State Senator Jeff Klein, Assemblyman Mike Benedetto and others were on hand for the ribbon cutting.

Joe Simone of Simone Developers tells of how this mall was built, and the reason why.

Bronx BP Ruben Diaz Jr. tells of the wonderful addition this mall will make to the Bronx, and the jobs that this mall is going to provide.

 State Senator Jeff Klein welcomed the new mall in his district, saying that it will give area residents more choice, and many new stores to eat or shop in.

 Bronx Chamber of Commerce President Lenny Caro give more reasons why this mall is good for the Bronx.

 You don't have to worry at this mall as you see one of the New security cars that will patrol the new Throggs Neck Mall.

 And of course the official Ribbon Cutting for the new Throggs Neck Mall by Joe Simone of Simone Developers.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Bronx Chamber of Commerce Veterans Luncheon

  The above photo was what it was all about. Remembering the men and women who have fought to protect our country so we can live as we do today. The Bronx Chamber of Commerce this past Wednesday hosted a Veteran's Luncheon Celebration. Elected officials State Senator Jeff Klein, Assemblyman Mike Benedetto, Councilman Andy Cohen, and State Senator Gustavo Rivera,, with NYC Commissioner of Veteran Affairs Former U. S. Army Brigadier General Loree Sutton joined the BCC to honor Bronx veterans. The three honorees of the luncheon included Mr. Gonzalo Duran a highly decorated veteran of the Iraq War and founder of Devil Dog USA Incorporated, Mr. Sal Conforto, a member of the NYS Senate’s Veterans’ Hall of Fame, and Sergeant First Class Ty'Keivius O. Curry. 

Joseph Kelleher, Chairman of The Bronx Chamber of Commerce and President and COO Hutchinson Metro Center said “The Bronx Chamber of Commerce’s annual luncheon is a great opportunity to recognize the sacrifices our veterans have made for our country.  We are proud to salute our heroes, and thank them for their heroic service. We must continue to give back to those who continue to protect our country.”

“We thank our veterans for their service.  Don’t forget the people that fought for us,  which is why we are here today.  It is important to give back and the chamber does so  with our annual luncheon and now job fair,” Lenny Caro, President and CEO of The Bronx Chamber of Commerce.

"The Bronx Chamber of Commerce annual veterans luncheon is always a great celebration as we honor the sacrifice and dedication of our local heroes. I'm delighted to join friends and residents once again this year as we salute those who've given so much to secure our freedom. This year we go one step further, in not only recognizing the commitment of our veterans but by working to find them good paying jobs through our first ever Bronx H.I.R.E. veterans job fair," said State Senator Jeff Klein-

Left- - Ms. Michelle Dolgow Cristofaro BCC Chief Staff opens the meeting with BCC President nearby.
Right - Taps is done on the harmonica to remember fallen soldiers.

Left - Senator Klein addresses the audience telling of the legislation that he has brought forth to help veterans. Senator Klein added that shortly after the luncheon that a Veteran's Job Fair was being held.
Right - NYC Veterans Affairs Commissioner, former U. S. Army Brigadier General Loree Sutton salutes those veterans on hand for the luncheon, adding what the current city administration is doing to help veterans.

Elected officials and Bronx Chamber officers line the back as the honorees sit in the front row.

Chief of Staff Michelle Dolgow Cristofaro (left), Chairman Joe Kelleher (center), and President Lenny Caro (right) have moved the Bronx Chamber of Commerce to where it is today.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer Attends White Plains Road Annual Luncheon Meeting

  White Plains Road Business Improvement District Executive Director Joe Thompson gave the opening remarks, and BID Chair Howard Spring gave the greetings to all attendees. The Keynote Speaker was NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer who gave part of his vision for the future of New York City. Today's part was about how technology as it grows will change the future of the city, and what needs to be done so the city and all its residents benefit. 
   Assemblyman Mark Gjonaj was also on hand since the White Plains Road bid is in his assembly district. Both Comptroller Stringer and Assemblyman Gjonaj presented awards to "Business Person of the Years. Mr. Vincenzo Cafaro owner of BX Sports an anchor store on White Plains Road in teh BID area. 

Left - Comptroller Stringer speaks to the White Plains Road BID merchants.
Right - Afterwards Comptroller Stringer shakes hands.

Bx Sports owner Vincenzo Cafaro holds first of 2 awards hew would receive as Businessman of the year from Comptroller Stringer.

The second award for BX Sports owner from Assemblyman Mark Gjonaj.


At the New York Hispanic Cosmetology & Beauty Chamber of Commerce’s 4th Annual ‘Business, Cosmetology Licensing & Regulations Symposium’

 Bronx Borough President is taking questions after speaking to the attendees of the 4th Annual 
‘Business, Cosmetology Licensing & Regulations Symposium’. Ms Charito Cisneros President of the NYHCBCC stands next to BP Diaz to help answer questions if needed. 

  Diaz Jr. spoke of a family member. Over the summer my wife’s aunt, like a lot of women, got a pedicure. She was expecting just to look nice, but shortly thereafter her finger got infected. She had a painful, puss-filled bump on her foot, where the nail met the cuticle. It eventually required a visit to the emergency room, where we learned it was likely caused by unsterilized, dirty equipment at the nail salon.
That got me thinking. I, myself, will occasionally get a manicure—I’m not ashamed to tell you that—and I have noticed that many of the procedures you can get in a beauty salon are almost medical in nature. There’s dead skin, there’s blood, and there are chemicals and particles in the air that make breathing hazardous for customers and employees alike.
When I brought my thoughts on the health risks in beauty salons and similar businesses back to my office, the reactions were similar to mine. In fact, every single woman who I spoke with had a horror story of their own, a terrible story about a manicure, pedicure or other beauty procedure gone wrong.
I decided to act. In September, I announced that I had put forward a series of legislation creating new regulations concerning salons, spas and other related beauty businesses, starting with the creation of a new letter grading system for such businesses.
The legislation was introduced at my behest Council Member Rafael Espinal, chairperson of the City Council’s Consumer Affairs committee. The new system will be modeled after the current letter grading system used by the Department of Health to monitor restaurants and food service establishments.
In addition to creating a new letter grade and inspection system, I have also called for the creation of a “Customer’s Bill of Rights,” which would be hung conspicuously in each establishment. I’ve also introduced a resolution calling on the New York State Division of Licensing Services to expand its health and safety training options.
  This summer, Public Advocate Letitia James also released a report, “How Safe is Your Nail Salon?,” which outlined safety hazards facing both customers and employees in nail salons, such as air quality issues created by chemicals used during manicures and pedicures, among other issues.
The procedures used in many salons can almost be medical in nature, yet oversight of these businesses is very minimal. In fact, reports indicate that there are only 23 inspectors for the entire state. We have to change that.
The proposals we have put forward will go a long way towards ensuring that the people of this city have a clean and safe atmosphere to get their hair done, to get a manicure or pedicure, or any of the other practices typically found in spas and beauty establishments.
So far, we have heard nothing but good things from everyone who has heard about this proposed legislation, businesses and people alike. But we are always working to make this legislation better.
In the coming months I will be meeting with business owners and other organizations, just like yourself, to discuss how we can fine tune our legislation and make it responsive not just to customers, but to employees and business owners as well.
The health and safety of the people of this city is our top priority, and these bills will go a long way towards protecting New Yorkers from unhealthy, potentially dangerous conditions. I look forward to working with all of you to make our city’s salons and spas safer for everyone.

An interested crowd of business owners and managers listen to Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. as he outlines his vision for salon parlor letter grading citywide.

Comments From Local Elected Officials Re: Terrorist Attack in Jerusalem


RE: Terrorist Attack in Jerusalem

“I condemn this heartless act of violence in Israel and stand in solidarity with the families of the victims.  To have committed these brutal murders in a house of worship is appalling and I, along with all people of conscience, denounce these horrendous acts.  I send my prayers to the families of the four rabbis killed and will continue to pray for peace in Israel,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.


“The horrific synagogue attack in Israel once again demonstrates the disgusting and despicable tactics used by those who would seek to paralyze Israel and the world in fear. I mourn with Israelis and Jews across the globe over these senseless acts of violence in such a sacred space and stand in solidarity with Israel today and always. My heart and my prayers are with the families of the four innocent victims lost in the attack, especially the family of Riverdale resident and religious leader Rabbi Jonathan Rosenblatt of the Riverdale Jewish Center, whose brother-in-law Rabbi Moshe Twersky was killed.”

Statement From Council Member Andrew Cohen

“I am appalled by the vicious terrorist attack committed in Jerusalem this morning. The senseless killing of innocent people inside a sacred house of worship is a despicable crime that can never be justified. My prayers go out to the families of the four rabbis that were killed and look forward to justice being taken against the terrorists responsible for these merciless acts of violence. It is more important now than ever before that the people of New York stand with our friends in Israel during this time of sadness,” said Council Member Andrew Cohen.

Statement by Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz

The vicious and unprovoked terror attack on those worshipping in a Synagogue in Jerusalem was pure evil. The savages who perpetrated the attack did it for one reason only:  their targets were Jewish.  My heart goes out to the families and friends of all of the victims.  This attack hits home even more because one of those murdered, Rabbi Moshe Twersky, was the brother-in-law of Rabbi Jonathan Rosenblatt of the Riverdale Jewish Center.  It certainly makes it hard to believe that Palestinians want peace when thousands of them in Gaza celebrated this unspeakable crime.  As always, I stand in solidarity with Israel and, while I pray for peace and mourn these deaths, I hope Israel takes whatever action is necessary to protect itself and its citizens.


The brutal terrorist attack inside an Israeli synagogue is a despicable crime that has no place in any civilized society. A place of prayer is sacred and those who are ultimately responsible for this atrocity must be brought to justice. My thoughts are with the families of the victims, and I stand with them, along with the people of Israel and New York City, as we mourn this tragic, unspeakable loss.  

Monday, November 17, 2014

Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz and Council Member Andrew Cohen at Work for the Community

Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz successfully advocated for a long-awaited reduction to the traffic island at the intersection of Van Cortlandt Avenue West and Sedgewick Avenue, a change the NYC Department of Transportation recently agreed to make. The traffic island, which was installed in 2012, juts into the intersection, making left-hand turns from Sedgewick Avenue onto Van Cortlandt Avenue West difficult. The corner of the traffic island is badly scuffed, evidence of the numerous drivers that have hit the island while making a left-hand turn.

Assemblyman Dinowitz first alerted the DOT of this hazard in December of 2012. This fall, Assemblyman Dinowitz and DOT Bronx Borough Commissioner Constance Moran visited the site to inspect the traffic island and other traffic-related issues in the neighborhood. At the conclusion of the site visit, Commissioner Moran agreed to reduce the size of the island in order to facilitate easier and safer turns. The timeline for this project has not yet been announced by the DOT.

“I am pleased that the DOT listened to my request to reduce the size of this traffic island, which has burdened drivers making left-hand turns onto Van Cortlandt Avenue West since its installation in 2012,” said Assemblyman Dinowitz. “I would like to thank Commissioner Moran for taking the time to inspect the site with me this fall, and for taking action to ensure that drivers in Van Cortlandt Village aren’t subjected to an unnecessarily difficult and potentially destructive driving situation.”


Councilman Andy Cohen - Due to several ongoing construction projects in Van Cortlandt Village, there has been a series of street closures and removal of parking that has directly affected many members of the community.

With the construction of the Jerome Park Reservoir, the renovation of Fort Independence Park, the reconstruction of the Cannon Place retaining wall, as well as an addition to a parking facility at St. Patrick’s Home for the Aged, residents have found parking removed from in front of their houses, buildings and in some cases their own driveways.

While nothing can be done to stop the construction work currently taking place, the Department of Transportation has heeded a requested submitted by Council Member Andrew Cohen to install angled parking along the east side of Dickinson Avenue between Sedgewick Avenue and the intersection of Van Cortlandt Park South and West Gunhill Road.

“I would like to thank the Department of Transportation for sympathizing with the community on this issue and quickly installing angled parking along Dickinson Avenue. I know that these additional parking spaces have eased a burden for many residents in Van Cortlandt Village,” said Council Member Andrew Cohen.

Bronx H.I.R.E. Job Fair Wednesday Nov. 19th

Croton Filter Project - Croton FMC Meeting on November 25

  The next meeting of the Croton Filtration Monitoring Committee will take place on Tuesday November 25th at the DEP office located at 3660 Jerome Avenue, and will begin at 7 PM.

The agenda will be put up as soon as it is available.

TESTIMONY OF BP DIAZ RE In Favor of Freshdirect's Proposed Relocation to The Bronx

I testify today in favor of Freshdirect’s move to The Bronx, and in favor of the subsidy package the State has presented to the company.
What we have in Freshdirect is an opportunity to expand a diverse economy in The Bronx, to create new jobs on an underutilized industrial waterfront, and to develop the blueprint for corporate America to work hand-in-hand with elected officials, community organizations and the people of this borough to make sure those jobs go to Bronx residents.
When Freshdirect’s move to The Bronx was first announced, the company entered into a “memorandum of understanding” with my office and the Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation.
That MOU stated, among other things, that Freshdirect would commit to local hiring, that they would expand their services to the entire Bronx, that they would build a “green” delivery fleet and that they would work to accept EBT benefits for their services, among other things.
Freshdirect currently has a workforce of roughly 2,500 individuals—about 600 of whom live in The Bronx and commute to Long Island City every day. The company has worked with BOEDC over the past three years to hire numerous Bronxites. Already, before they put shovel to ground in The Bronx, Freshdirect is creating jobs for our residents.
They have also come to an agreement with Uniform Food and Commercial Workers Local 2013, which represents roughly 900 Freshdirect employees, on a new contract, and my office is happy to see such cooperation between labor and management.
Freshdirect has expanded its services to every corner of The Bronx, something it does not necessarily do in other boroughs. For those who receive EBT benefits,Freshdirect has launched a pilot program in the 10454 and 10455 zip codes to accept EBT benefits from eligible Bronxites. Currently, EBT benefits cannot be accepted by online retailers due to federal law, and Freshdirect is working to change the current law, so that they and other online retailers can expand their services to more individuals and families who may want to take advantage of them.
Freshdirect has also begun the process of greening its fleet. Over the past months, the company has converted ten percent of its truck fleet to environmentally-friendly fuels, as its tests out both electric trucks and CNG trucks in advance of a full conversion.
Most importantly, the company has committed to bringing new jobs to our borough. Already, the company has 600 Bronx employees—employees who would have likely been unable to keep their jobs if the company had moved to New Jersey. Upon their move to The Bronx, they will expand their company to hire even more Bronx residents.
This project represents new jobs, and new development, and is a key component of our “New Bronx” agenda. Now that this project has cleared the hurdles placed before it, I would urge the Empire State Development Corporation to continue its own support of this critical project, joining my office, Community Board #1 and numerous elected officials, community organizations and people of The Bronx.
Since Freshdirect first announced their move to The Bronx in February 2012, they have been a good neighbor, and have done everything we have asked of them. They deserve our support in return.
Thank you,
Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.