Saturday, November 29, 2014

Assemblyman Mark Gjonaj Celebrates 102 Years of Albanian Independence

New York State Assemblyman Mark Gjonaj is holding a celebration on Sunday, Nov. 30 at Maestro's Caterers in the Bronx in honor of the 102nd Anniversary of Albanian Independence. 

This year, Assemblyman Gjonaj, the first Albanian-American individual elected into government office, will celebrate and honor the contributions made to and from the Albanian community. Guests will enjoy food and refreshments, and performances from The Albanian School of the Bronx and Alba Life School in Brooklyn.

Honorable mentions will be presented to organizations and individuals whom have made tremendous impacts and contributions to the Albanian community in and outside of the Bronx. Honorees include 32BJ SEIU, BJCC: The Bronx Jewish Community Council and Zeqir Kukaj. 

The event be from 2 - 6 PM, with the flag raising ceremony and honors at 4 PM. For more information, please contact Nathalia Fernandez. 646 - 996 - 3537.

Thursday, November 27, 2014


  In a new report Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. is calling on the City to pursue an environmentally-friendly component to the new, free wireless network, LinkNYC, announced by Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications (DoITT) last week.

The new system, which will replace existing public pay telephones with devices to create the world’s fastest municipal Wi-Fi network, should include the installation of solar panels as part of the new installations, said Borough President Diaz.

“DoITT needs to ensure that the implementation of the ‘LinkNYC’ plan is equitable, resilient and meets the needs of the people of this city regardless of their neighborhood or income level. Serious questions have been raised about ‘LinkNYC,’ and DoITT must address those concerns before this contract is approved,” said Borough President Diaz.

The aftermath of Hurricane Sandy has taught us that all major infrastructure investments need to be implemented in a manner that incorporates sustainability and resiliency for major emergencies. 

The design selected has several desirbale feautures.  However, the 24-hour battery back up is insufficient.  After Hurricane Sandy, lower Manhattan was out of power for five days.  “LinkNYC” should be required to implement a design that incorporates solar power and reduces the network’s dependence on ConEdison.

Borough President Diaz’s report outlines various recommendations for the implementation of “LinkNYC,” including the potential inclusion of fire call boxes as part of the system. The report also discusses the various fiscal issues similar networks have faced in other cities, such as Philadelphia, Seattle and Akron. Greater transparency is needed in regards to the projected advertising revenue generated by this new system, in order to ensure greater equity in service delivery.

The report can be found at

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Con Ed at its Best

  As the snow began to fall today, this is what the crosswalk of West 238th Street and Riverdale Avenue looked like as you crossed south. Not only were there openings in the steel metal plates that someone could trip over, but also gaps so that the heel of a shoe could drop into. . Con Edison has been working at this intersection for over a year on and off to put in a new 'High Pressure gas line'. One has to wonder how long does it really take, and why has it taken Con Edison so long? 

Left - Here you see a metal Con Edison plate has shifted to reveal an opening that a heel can get caught in as someone crosses over it. Also since snow and ice form on the metal plate there is an even more hazard of someone falling on these metal plates of Con Edison.

Below - Here you see another gap in the next pair of the Metal Con Edison plates. 

Here is another view looking north as you can see part of the crosswalk markings. 

Here a Con Edison truck is waiting not to pick up the materials and piping on the other side of the street, but to drop off more materials in a spot that is 4 blocks away from where Con Ed is working. Also note the NO STANDING sign that the truck is partially in. 

Taken the day before the snow fell, here is the area where Con Edison has used for storage on West 238th Street taking away up to 5 metered parking spaces, and looks like it will be here for the new year.

Left - The date of completion is 10-6-14.
Right - This date on another barricade has the completion date 12-2-14.

This is the reason Con Edison does not care how long it takes to complete this job. Workers are putting a "Raise Plow' sign on the pole on Riverdale Avenue before West 238th Street so snow plow drivers do not hit and move the Con Edison metal plates in the street. This way the even more dangerous snow covered Con Edison metal plate will not be seen. 
In the event there is an accident I have called this into the city so there is responsibility by the city and Con Edison. I do hope that does not happen.

Compounding Injustice in Ferguson

What You Should Know
By Senator Rev. Rubén Díaz
32nd Senatorial District

Compounding Injustice in Ferguson

You should know that in the wake of the November 24, 2014 Grand Jury ruling that Police Officer Darren Wilson would not be indicted for killing Michael Brown, demonstrations have erupted all of this nation - especially in Ferguson, Missouri.

People are frustrated and hurt and disappointed, and I agree that they have reason to be frustrated, hurt and extremely disappointed.  What I cannot agree with is the way people are expressing their frustration.

As you know, it was a White Police Officer who took the life of a Black youth.  This is not the first time this has happened.  There have been many occasions where Black and Hispanics have had their lives taken by White police officers - and there are even times when the police officers are not White.

My point is that I cannot understand why people in Ferguson, Missouri are taking out their frustration by hurting their own people by burning and looting businesses in their own community.

You should know that it is not easy for Blacks and Hispanics and Asians to create and own their own businesses.  Many people from our communities are struggling to keep own our own businesses, like bodegas, shoe stores, beauty salons, car repair shops, etc.  It is very hard to keep those businesses growing so people can take care of their families, raise their children, and pay their bills.

As you may know, Ferguson, Missouri is a mostly minority community and most of the businesses located there are owned by Black women and men and serve the needs of Black families.

This week's demonstrations in Ferguson are destroying the businesses and properties in a minority community - a community that has already been hurt by a great injustice.  On Tuesday morning, there were 25 buildings on fire in Fergeson, including AutoZone, Little Caesars, Walgreens, Juanita's Fashions R Boutique, Family Dollar store and a local beauty shop. Forty Ferguson-area businesses have been destroyed, including a Chinese restaurant, a Mexican Restaurant, a beauty supply store and other black-owned businesses. These businesses were vandalized and looted, with windows being smashed. 

On August 9, 2014 there was a great injustice when the White Police Officer Darren Wilson killing an unarmed Black 18-year old. There was further injustice when Ferguson prosecutor Robert McCulloch's failed to cause Darren Wilson to face criminal charges for shooting and killing Michael Brown.  But there is an even bigger injustice taking place in a riot-scarred community that is burning down its own businesses and destroying the community. 

When schools in our communities have to be closed because of violence in the streets, our children are the ones who are affected.  When businesses in our communities are forced to close, our people have to travel into other communities to buy things we need for our families - making our lives more difficult.  As people express rage and violence on the streets of our communities, our communities are being paralyzed.

Ladies and gentlemen, don't get me wrong.  I feel the pain in our community that was caused by the actions of the Police Officer Darren Wilson.  I understand all too well the pain and the anger that results when people from other communities come into our communities to hurt us, but I don't understand how or why any of us would want to compound the injustice by continuing to destroy the minority-owned businesses in our own communities.

If someone can explain that to me, please do.

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

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

State and Bronx Unemployment Rate Continues to Drop

State Labor Department Releases Preliminary October 2014 Area Unemployment Rates

Albany, NY (November 25, 2014) -
The New York State Department of Labor today released preliminary local area unemployment rates for October 2014. Rates are calculated following procedures prescribed by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The state’s unemployment rate relies in part on the results of the Current Population Survey, which contacts approximately 3,100 households in New York State each month.
The state’s private sector job count increased by 110,000 from October 2013 to October 2014. In October 2014, the number of private sector jobs in the state was 7,606,700. The state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell from 6.2% to 6.0% in October 2014, its lowest level since October 2008.

Local Area Unemployment Rates* (%),
October 2013 and October 2014

(not seasonally adjusted)*Data are preliminary and subject to change
 Upstate NY (52-co. area)
  Metro Areas
    Buffalo-Niagara Falls
    Glens Falls
  Non-metro Counties
 Downstate NY (10-co. area)
  New York City
  Suburban Counties

The data in the preceding table are not seasonally adjusted, which means they reflect seasonal influences (e.g., holiday and summer hires). Therefore, the most valid comparisons with this type of data are year-to-year comparisons of the same month; for example, October 2013 versus October 2014.

Unemployment rate highlights in October 2014:
  • The counties in New York State with the lowest unemployment rates include:
    • Tompkins County (3.9%)
    • Yates County (4.3%)
    • Saratoga County (4.4%)
    • Columbia County (4.5%)
    • Putnam County (4.5%)
    • Nassau County (4.6%)
    • Albany County (4.8%)
    • Ontario County (4.8%)
    • Rockland County (4.8%)
    • Suffolk County (4.9%)
 The Bronx came in at an even  9 %  down from 9.8 % in sept 204, and over 10 % one year age.
See County Unemployment rates (opens in new window) for current unemployment rates for all 62 counties in New York State.

Labor force data for the current month are preliminary and subject to revision as more information becomes available the following month. Revised estimates for prior months are available at:
Labor force statistics, including the unemployment rate, for New York and every other state are based on statistical regression models specified by the U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. These are the most up-to-date estimates of persons employed and unemployed by place of residence. Estimates are available for New York State, labor market regions, metropolitan areas, counties, and municipalities with population of at least 25,000.

Wave Hill Events Dec 12–Dec 19

  The holiday season is surely a joyful time. But it can bring with it some pretty strong pressure points, too—family, work, friends, meals, gifts. (Stop already, right?)  How fortunate that Wave Hill offers an experience that both expands our moments of joy and provides a buffer from all that pressure. It’s family time, whether it’s Grandma with her youngest grandson or you and a dearly loved uncle or just Mom and Dad with the kids. It’s time communing with Mother Nature in her most simple, elegant dress. It’s time listening, creating, relaxing. See you soon!

Take a simple candlestick and, using colorful clay-like wax, mix and mold an inventive image of nature onto your candle. Add berries and boughs to decorate a candle holder and create a source of natural light for any occasion. 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 hour-long 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 indoors in winter. Session fee, which includes admission to the grounds: $25/$15 Wave Hill Member. Advance registration offered online only and includes a $2 discount. Online registration closes at 8AM on the day of the session. Drop-ins will be accommodated as the limited space permits. 

The Hudson River valley hosts an impressive diversity of bird species, even during the winter months. Explore Wave Hill’s tranquil gardens and woodlands with naturalist Gabriel Willow to observe birds in their winter habitats. 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 required, online at or at the Perkins Visitor Center.

Take a simple candlestick and, using colorful clay-like wax, mix and mold an inventive image of nature onto your candle. Add berries and boughs to decorate a candle holder and create a source of natural light for any occasion. Free with admission to the grounds. 

Reduce stress and increase your energy by focusing on your posture, breath and mind/body/spirit. Classes are led by Yoga for Bliss Director Neem Dewji and other certified instructors, and last for an hour and a quarter. 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 in winter. Session fee, which includes admission to the grounds: $25/$15 Wave Hill Member. Advance registration offered online only and includes a $2 discount. Online registration closes at 8AM on the day of the session. Drop-ins will be accommodated as the limited space permits. 

Let nature inspire you to find your center and reconnect with your true self using guided mindfulness and other meditation practices. Each session includes instruction in simple techniques, followed by guided meditations. Led by Yoga for Bliss director Neem Dewji and other qualified instructors. Sessions are held indoors. All levels welcome. Session fee, which includes admission to the grounds: $20/$10 Wave Hill Member. Advance registration offered online only and includes a $2 discount. Online registration closes at 8AM on the day of the session. Drop-ins will be accommodated as the limited space permits. 

After the Family Art Project, continue exploring the theme on a family-friendly walk through the gardens or woodlands, led by naturalist and educator Gabriel Willow. Let winter surprise you with an adornment of color. Join us on a walk through the gardens and woodlands to investigate vibrant berries, colorful twigs and dazzling patterns. Ages six and older welcome with an adult.Free with admission to the grounds.

Already Wave Hill favorites, pianists Soyeon Kate Lee and Ran Dank return to share the wonder of the holidays with a four-hand arrangement of Tchaikovsky’s beloved Nutcracker SuiteThe New York Times, describing the duo as a “tour de force…with such sensitivity and grace,” credits Ms. Lee with “a lively imagination and a firm sense of style” and Mr. Dank for a “muscular and virtuosic performance.” $28 general admission, $15 child (ages 8 to 18). $22 Wave Hill Member, $12 Wave Hill Member child. Registration required, online or at the Perkins Visitor Center. In addition to tickets for individual concerts, subscriptions are also available for any three performances in this 10-concert series, with a 10% discount, or any four performances, for a 15% discount.

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 15–October 31.  
ADMISSION  $8 adults, $4 students and seniors 65+, $2 children 6–18. Free Saturday andTuesday mornings until noon. 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 30 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

No Indictment - Unrest in Ferguson - Protests in City

  The jury verdict in the Ferguson Missouri trial to indict police officer Darren Wilson of murdering 18 year old Michael Brown came back with a 'NO INDICTMENT' verdict. 
  As a result of the decision of the grand jury not to indict officer Wilson civil unrest began in Ferguson resulting in looting, violence, and the arrest of over 80 people. 

  Here in the city people marched from Union Square to Times Square, and across various city bridges. 2 people were arrested in Times Square when fake blood  was thrown on to NYPD Commissioner Bratton. 

  The Reverend Al Sharpton went to Ferguson Missouri to see what he could do.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Decision Soon in Ferguson Missouri Trial

  In just a few hours the jury decision of police officer Darren Wilson, who was on trial for shooting and killing 18 year old Michael Brown will be in.

  There is worry that in Ferguson Missouri, and in other cities including here in New York City should the jury verdict come back without an indictment that there may be civil unrest as crowds grow awaiting the jury decision.

  Jay Nixon the governor of Missouri has declared a state of emergency in the area of the trial, and has called in 400 national guard troops in case of civil unrest after the verdict comes in.

  In addition President Barrack Obama has urged anyone who wishes to protest the jury decision to 'Protest, but do it peacefully.

 This would have to make many including myself believe that the jury verdict will be for 'No Indictment' as the city of Ferguson braces for unrest. The NYC police Department is said to be bracing for the same in tonight's Union Square protest. 


  Senator Jeff Klein along with members of the Bronx Chamber of Commerce, hosted a Bronx H.I.R.E. job fair at Hutchinson Metro Center Wednesday afternoon aimed at helping veterans secure employment. The job fair drew more than 100 job seekers. The event followed the Bronx Chamber of Commerce’s Annual Veterans Luncheon at F & J Pine Tavern in Bronxdale.

At the event, attendees had the opportunity to network with fellow veterans and organizations that assist the veteran community, connect with Bronx-based employers - big and small - that are currently hiring, and participate in on-site interviews. Companies on-hand included: Bronx Works; Capital One; Daily News Digital; LA Fitness; Manhattan Parking Group; Maritime College; Metro Plus; Renaissance Home Health Care; Teddy Nissan; Urban Health Plan; and Westchester Square Plumbing.

“Our veterans served this country with dedication and honor and now it is our time to give back. Since its inception, the Bronx H.I.R.E. program has shown that businesses are investing in the Bronx and the Bronx worker. I am confident that through this job fair, geared specifically towards veterans, we’ll be able to get good paying jobs for our former servicemen and women who currently need them,” said State Senator Jeff Klein.

“As a result of Senator Klein’s funding, we can connect employers with returning veterans.  Well over 30 employers will be on site to accept resumes and even conduct on-the-spot interviews.  This job fair will be a great networking opportunity for all attendees, who also will have access to resources at our information booths.  Employers have been very receptive to meeting with the veterans, and Senator Klein’s Jobs for Heroes Bill has also helped further spur job creation for veterans,” said Michelle Dolgow Cristofaro, Bronx Chamber of Commerce Chief-of-Staff and H.I.R.E. Administrator.
“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,” said Lenny Caro, President and CEO of The Bronx Chamber of Commerce.
“The men and women who commit to serving our country deserve our thanks, and this job fair is a great opportunity to honor their service. New businesses and developments are choosing to invest in our great borough, which produces more jobs and hopefully Bronx veterans can benefit,” said Joseph Kelleher, Chairman of The Bronx Chamber of Commerce and President and COO of The Hutchinson Metro Center.

Bronx H.I.R.E (Help Identify Real Employment) is a unique jobs program aimed at connecting Bronx workers with real jobs through a comprehensive, direct approach developed by Senator Klein’s office and the Bronx Chamber of Commerce. The Bronx H.I.R.E. program, announced in July, is made possible through a $200,000 grant secured by Senator Klein in this year's state budget.

The program consist of two parts - one that will make sure that the new and existing Bronx businesses and institutions are employing Bronx residents and the other that will establish a hands- on worker development program. The second part of this program, known as the “Opening Doors Initiative” will give Bronx workers an opportunity to receive support for additional certifications, help with resumes, interviews, applications and assistance with follow-up for positions to which H.I.R.E. participants have applied. The program will be facilitated by the Bronx Chamber of Commerce.
For more information and to enroll in the Bronx H.I.R.E program visit:

News From Community Board 7

MTA Bronx Public Hearing:

The MTA will be hosting a series of public hearings to discuss their plans to raise fares. The Bronx Hearing will be hosted on Monday, December 1st at Hostos Community College, 450 Grand Concourse at 149th Street, Bronx, NY. Registration period is open from 4 p to 8 pm and the hearing begins at 5pm. Members of the public can register to speak in advance by calling(646) 252-6777 between the hours of 6 am and 10 pm. For more information, click the link below:

Bronx Christmas Tree Lighting

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. 

                     Invites you to

The Bronx Annual Christmas Tree Lighting 

Thursday, December 4, 2014 5:30 PM

Bronx County Building

East 161st Street & Grand Concourse

Sing Christmas carols with Santa & Mrs. Claus 

Enjoy hot chocolate, cookies and a special treat from Santa!!! 

Let us know you’re joining us by calling 718-590-3522 or