Friday, January 23, 2015


Bronx Elected Officials Back Legislation That Would Keep Level Two & Three Sex Offenders Out of Shelters Where Families With Children Reside

State Senator and Independent Democratic Conference Leader Jeff Klein (D-Bronx/Westchester), together with Assemblyman Michael Benedetto, Councilman James Vacca , members of Community Board 10, the Ferry Point Park Civic Association and Friends of Ferry Point Park today called on the New York City Department of Homeless Services to ban level two and level three sex offenders from temporary emergency housing and homeless shelters used to house families with children. (In the background of the photo above is the old Capri Motel now called the 'Crystal Family Residence' a 95 room city family shelter which now services about 200 people including children, and 2 reported high level sex offenders).
“Allowing high-level sex offenders to stay in family shelters where vulnerable women and children are trying to get back on their feet is not only troublesome but dangerous. With more than 60,000 homeless New Yorkers sleeping in New York City shelters and thousands more out on the street, we need to take every measure to protect those in our care,” said Senator Klein. “That’s why I have introduced legislation in the State Senate that would prohibit the NYC Department of Homeless Services from placing these risky offenders in shelters housing women and children. This is a critical measure in ensuring the safety and security of all homeless New Yorkers and I look forward to working with my partners in Albany to see this important piece of legislation passed in the coming weeks and months.”

The renewed call comes in response to shocking revelations and widespread press reports that two male sex offenders currently reside at the Crystal Family Residence, a new 95-room family shelter and former location of the controversial Capri Whitestone Motel in the Throggs Neck section of the Bronx. Curtis Bolden, a 58-year-old male, convicted on two counts of rape in the first degree and released from prison in 2010, was found to be living at the shelter on January 15th. One week later, James Bryant, a 50-year-old male convicted of molesting a 7-year-old child, was also found to be living at the family shelter.  
Senator Klein’s legislation (S.S851-2015) would prevent harmful predators, including level two and level three sex offenders, from being housed in family shelters and require by law that they be placed in adult-only shelters or shelters without children.  This important legislation would bring the shelter system up to speed with current social services law that bars level two and level three sex offenders from living in public housing.
“The Department of Homeless services had acted with arrogance when they forced this shelter upon our community and refused to work with with elected leaders in finding an alternative site,” said Assemblyman Michael Benedetto. “Now they have apparently shown incompetence in selecting a managing agent who doesn’t bother checking whether they are putting sex offenders in a shelter where young children are being housed. This is intolerable.”
“Our shelters are safe havens for families and children experiencing the most difficult of hardships,” said Bronx Councilman James Vacca. “We cannot, in good conscience, accept the risk of allowing sex offenders to live in close quarters with these already vulnerable families.”

The Crystal Family Residence is a family homeless shelter located at 555 Hutchinson River Parkway in the Bronx. The new residence was converted from the former hot-sheet hotel,  the Capri Whitestone, in September, 2014.

Councilman Vacca expresses his outrage at the lack of screening of residents at this residence.

Assemblyman Benedetto is also outraged that the city could do something like this with little or no regard to the community.

Wave Hill Events Feb 6–Feb 13

For this celebratory occasion, learn from visiting artist Randy Brozen how to make beautiful, handmade paper masks from the natural fibers of cotton and abaca. Decorate your masks with natural images, leaves, sparkly items and materials from Wave Hill, then parade your creation for a forest carnival.
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. 

Wave Hill’s inspirational landscape is complemented by the iconic Wave Hill chair. In this two-day workshop, construct your own Wave Hill Chair under the guidance of master carpenter and Wave Hill Director of Facilities Frank Perrone. Participants receive step-by-step instructions; no previous carpentry skills required. Must attend both sessions. Space is limited! $250/$230 Wave Hill Member. Registration required, online at or at the Perkins Visitor Center. Continues Sunday, February 8.

The view of the Hudson River and Palisades from Wave Hill is quite spectacular, not only visually but also for the geologic history written in the rocks. The bedrock of Wave Hill is composed of the “roots” of once majestic mountains that rivaled the Rockies in scale and grandeur. Take in the view from Armor Hall while you discover the fascinating natural history of the Palisades and its surroundings. Geologist Sidney Horenstein, an environmental educator emeritus at the American Museum of Natural History and the natural history consultant to the Bronx County Historical Society, leads this presentation. Space is limited; reservations recommended, at or at the Perkins Visitor Center. Free with admission to the grounds.

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.

For this celebratory occasion, learn from visiting artist Randy Brozen how to make beautiful, handmade paper masks from the natural fibers of cotton and abaca. Decorate your masks with natural images, leaves, sparkly items and materials from Wave Hill, then parade your creation for a forest carnival.
Free with admission to the grounds. 

Wave Hill’s inspirational landscape is complemented by the iconic Wave Hill chair. In this two-day workshop, construct your own Wave Hill Chair under the guidance of master carpenter and Wave Hill Director of Facilities Frank Perrone. Participants receive step-by-step instructions; no previous carpentry skills required. Must attend both sessions. Space is limited! $250/$230 Wave Hill Member. Registration required, online at or at the Perkins Visitor Center. Day one of this workshop takes place on Saturday, February 7.

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. 

Trunks, stems, leaves and branches; trees have many characteristics worth pondering. Join naturalist and educatorGabriel Willow on a walk through the gardens and woodlands of Wave Hill to discover the diversity of trees. Ages six and older welcome with an adult. Free with admission to the grounds.

The word animation comes from a Latin root which means to “instill with life.” Join Winter Workspace artist Julia Oldham in a workshop using traditional “cel” animation to create exciting and quirky living drawings in flipbooks. Examine the bodies of living organisms and learn how to recreate their movements through hand-drawn animation.  All workshops with Winter Workspace artists begin in their Glyndor Gallery studios with an introduction to their creative process. Unless otherwise noted, art materials are provided. Ages 10 and older welcome with an adult. $15/$5 Wave Hill Member per session. 

What could be sweeter (and more decadent) than a batch of delicious chocolate truffles? A chef from Great Performances demonstrates the process of truffle-making using surprisingly spicy ingredients such as cinnamon, chili and ginger. Go home with recipes, just in time to whip up some hand-made Valentine’s sweets for your sweetie. Free with admission to the grounds.

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

Closed to the public

Join Winter Workspace artist Ivan Stojakovic in creating a large-scale, collaborative work of living art. Using succulent plants and sculptural materials, make choices in the composition that address environmental issues relevant to the Bronx. In the end, see how the final work turns from horizontal to vertical, from the planting bed to the hung sculpture. Participants will leave with detailed instructions for designing and creating a vertical succulent garden at home. All workshops with Winter Workspace artists begin in their Glyndor Gallery studios with an introduction to their creative process. Unless otherwise noted, art materials are provided. Ages 10 and older welcome with an adult. $15/$5 Wave Hill Member per session. 

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 and Tuesday 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

Combat the FLU this season from Assemblymen Jeffrey Dinowitz and Mark Gjonaj

Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz urged constituents to go to their primary care physicians when possible, rather than emergency rooms, if experiencing flu-like symptoms. The Assemblyman has heard from local hospitals who have said that their emergency departments have been filled in recent weeks with patients concerned about flu-like symptoms. To ensure that emergency rooms can serve all patients who need urgent care, the hospitals request that patients contact their primary care physicians first about these symptoms.

Last fall and in years prior, Assemblyman Dinowitz has sponsored flu shots at no cost to the community. Last year, he collaborated with the Visiting Nurse Service of New York, New York Presbyterian Hospital, Montefiore Hospital, and Walgreens, as well as Congressman Eliot Engel, State Senator Jeffrey Klein, and Council Member Andrew Cohen to provide this service. While the Assemblyman’s flu shot drive has ended, individuals who have not yet received a flu shot and are not feeling ill can still get vaccinated in many local pharmacies and hospitals.

Assemblyman Dinowitz said, “I have been informed that local emergency rooms are filled to the brim with patients experiencing flu-like symptoms, which stretches the resources of emergency departments and makes it difficult for staff to serve all patients in need. Instead, medical professionals are recommending that individuals experiencing flu-like symptoms contact their primary care physicians or visit a walk-in clinic for an initial diagnosis. As we are in the midst of peak flu season now, I urge Bronx residents to make sure that they and their families get flu shots, if they haven’t already.”

Assemblyman Mark Gjonaj and Staff - 

Our community is experiencing a surge of flu cases flooding the Emergency Rooms of all of our local hospitals, creating long wait times and crowded conditions. Additionally, this backlog puts those who are seeking medical treatment for other conditions at risk of contracting the flu while awaiting care.   

To decrease the number of Emergency Room cases, our local hospitals have asked us to ask for your cooperation.  They suggest that you take the following actions if you feel you may have contracted the flu virus:

1. Get a flu shot. Flu shots are widely available at your doctor's office, urgent care centers and local pharmacies.
2. If you have flu-like symptoms, call your primary care provider (PCP) immediately. They will do an initial triage and may be able to recommend treatment immediately and effectively. 
3. Avoid the Emergency Room if at all possible, unless a doctor tells you otherwise.  If you cannot go to your PCP, consider going to an urgent care center or other walk-in clinics. The waiting times at urgent care centers is often much shorter than the Emergency Room, and they are fully equipped to handle a variety of illnesses and injuries, including the flu. 
With your help, we can reduce the case loads and waiting times at Emergency Rooms in our borough and reduce the risk of spreading the flu.  

Spread the word to your friends and neighbors. We wish you a happy, safe and healthy season!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver Arrested On Corruption Charges by U.S. Attorney

Here is the entire list of charges by U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara against New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.

Allegedly Used Official Position to Obtain $4 Million in Bribes and Kickbacks Concealed as Income From Outside Law Practice

Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Richard Frankel, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Criminal Division of the New York Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), announced today that New York State Assembly Speaker SHELDON SILVER was arrested this morning on charges that he used his official position to receive nearly $4 million in bribes and kickbacks from people and businesses in exchange for his official acts, and that SILVER masked these payments from public view by disguising the payments as income from what he claimed was a law practice primarily focused on personal injury matters. SILVER was placed under arrest at the FBI in lower Manhattan, this morning, and is scheduled to appear before U.S. Magistrate Judge Frank Maas in Manhattan federal court later today. Judge Maas also issued seizure warrants to prevent SILVER from accessing approximately $3.8 million in proceeds alleged to be traceable to the charged corruption offenses until the case is resolved.
U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “Over his decades in office, Speaker Silver has amassed titanic political power. But, as alleged, during that same time, Silver also amassed a tremendous personal fortune – through the abuse of that political power. All told, we allege that Silver corruptly collected some $4 million in bribes and kickbacks disguised as ‘referral fees.’ Those disguised bribes and kickbacks account for approximately two-thirds of all of Silver’s outside income since 2002.
“As today’s charges make clear, the show-me-the-money culture of Albany has been perpetuated and promoted at the very top of the political food chain. And as the charges also show, the greedy art of secret self-reward was practiced with particular cleverness and cynicism by the Speaker himself. Among other things, we allege that Sheldon Silver, Speaker of the New York State Assembly, was on retainer to a mammoth real estate developer at the very same time that the chamber he dominates was considering and passing legislation vitally affecting the bottom line of that developer; at the very same time that he was hearing out lobbyists paid by that developer and at the very same time that he was deliberately keeping secret from the public any information about this lucrative side-deal, in violation of the law.
“Politicians are supposed to be on the people’s payroll, not on secret retainer to wealthy special interests they do favors for. These charges go to the very core of what ails Albany – a lack of transparency, lack of accountability, and lack of principle joined with an overabundance of greed, cronyism, and self-dealing.”
FBI Special Agent-in-Charge Richard Frankel said: “As alleged, Silver took advantage of the political pulpit to benefit from unlawful profits. When all was said and done, he amassed nearly $4 million in illegitimate proceeds and arranged for approximately $500,000 in state funds to be used for projects that benefited his personal plans. We hold our elected representatives to the highest standards and expect them to act in the best interest of their constituents. In good faith, we trust they will do so while defending the fundamental tenets of the legal system. But as we are reminded today, those who make the laws don’t have the right to break the laws.”
According to the allegations contained in the Complaint unsealed today in Manhattan federal court:
For more than two decades, SHELDON SILVER has served as Speaker of the Assembly, a position that gives him significant power over the operation of New York State government. SILVER used this substantial power – including, in particular, his power over the real estate industry and his control over certain health care funding – to unlawfully enrich himself by soliciting and obtaining client referrals worth millions of dollars from people and entities in exchange for SILVER’s official acts, and attempting to disguise this money as legitimate outside income earned from his work as a private lawyer. In particular, SILVER claimed on financial disclosure forms required to be filed with New York State and in public statements that the millions of dollars he received in outside income while also serving as Speaker of the Assembly came from a Manhattan-based law firm, Weitz & Luxenberg P.C., where SILVER claimed to work “representing individual clients” in “personal injury actions.” These claims were materially false and misleading – and made to cover up unlawful payments SILVER received solely due to his power and influence as an elected legislator and the Speaker of the Assembly.
The scheme provided SILVER with two different streams of unlawful income: (i) approximately $700,000 in kickbacks SILVER received by steering two real estate developers with business before the state legislature to a law firm run by a co-conspirator, and (ii) more than $3 million in asbestos client referral fees SILVER received by, among other official acts, awarding $500,000 in state grants to a university research center of a physician who referred patients made ill by asbestos to SILVER at Weitz & Luxenberg.

Unlawful Income From the Real Estate Law Firm

SILVER entered into a corrupt relationship with a co-conspirator (“CC-1”) who had been SILVER’s counsel in the Assembly and operated a real estate law firm (the “Real Estate Law Firm”) that specialized in making applications to the City of New York to reduce taxes assessed on properties.
Beginning in at least 2000, SILVER approached two prominent developers of properties in Manhattan, one personally and one in part through a lobbyist, and asked the developers to hire the Real Estate Law Firm. The developers – both of whom lobbied SILVER on real estate issues because their profits depended significantly on state legislation favorable to their business– agreed to use the Real Estate Law Firm as SILVER had requested. Over the years, these developers paid millions of dollars in legal fees to the Real Estate Law Firm. SILVER received a cut from the legal fees amounting to nearly $700,000. SILVER had no public affiliation with the Real Estate Law Firm and performed no legal work at all to earn those fees, which were simply payments for SILVER having arranged the business through his official power and influence.
While continuing to receive the fees and in furtherance of the scheme, SILVER took official action beneficial to the developers. For example, while SILVER was publicly associated with advocating for tenants, a proposal made by the one of the developers who sent work to the Real Estate Law Firm was in substantial part enacted in real estate legislation in 2011 with SILVER’s support.

Unlawful Income From Asbestos Client Referrals

SILVER also entered into a corrupt arrangement with a leading physician who specialized in the treatment of asbestos-related diseases (“Doctor-1”) through which SILVER issued state grants and otherwise used his official position to provide favors to Doctor-1 so that Doctor-1 would refer and continue to refer his patients to SILVER at Weitz & Luxenberg, a firm with which SILVER was affiliated as counsel. Specifically, SILVER arranged for the State of New York to fund two state grants – each for $250,000, and paid out of a secret and unitemized pool of funds controlled entirely by SILVER – for a research center Doctor-1 had established. SILVER used his official position to provide Doctor-1 with other benefits as well, including helping to direct $25,000 in state funds to a not-for-profit organization for which one of Doctor-1’s family members served on the board, and asking the CEO of a second not-for-profit to hire a second family member of Doctor-1.
From 2002 to the present, SILVER received more than $3 million from legal fees Weitz & Luxenberg received from patients Doctor-1 had referred to SILVER at the firm while SILVER was taking official actions to benefit Doctor-1. SILVER did no legal work whatsoever on these asbestos cases, his sole role having been to use his official position and access to state funds to induce Doctor-1 to provide him with these lucrative referrals.

Silver’s Efforts to Cover Up the Scheme

SILVER took various efforts to disguise his unlawful outside income and prevent the detection of the scheme. SILVER listed on his official public disclosure forms that his outside income consisted of “limited practice of law in the principal subject area of personal injury claims on behalf of individual clients,” which was false and misleading. Beginning in 2010, SILVER’s disclosures changed to state that the source of his legal income was a “Law Practice” that “includ[ed]” being of counsel to Weitz & Luxenberg. SILVER never disclosed his relationship with the Real Estate Law Firm or any work beyond what he claimed was a “personal injury” practice.
SILVER also repeatedly made false statements about his outside income in his public statements, including the following:
  • SILVER claimed he performed legal work consisting of spending several hours each week evaluating legal matters brought to him by potential clients and then referring cases that appeared to have merit to lawyers at Weitz & Luxenberg. In fact, SILVER did no such work on the asbestos cases and obtained those referrals to Weitz & Luxenberg based on his corrupt arrangement with Doctor-1.
  • SILVER claimed his law practice involved the representation of “plain, ordinary simple people.” In fact, SILVER represented some of the largest real estate developers in the State of New York, whose interests are in many ways dependent on state legislation.
  • SILVER claimed through his spokesperson that SILVER found clients by virtue of his having been a “lawyer for more than 40 years,” in a manner that was “not unlike any other attorney in this state, anywhere.” In fact, SILVER found his lucrative asbestos and real estate developer clients solely by virtue of his official position.
  • SILVER recently stated through his spokesperson that “[n]one of his clients have any business before the state.” In fact, SILVER’s outside income included millions of dollars of fees obtained through real estate developers with significant business before the state and a prominent physician to whose benefit SILVER provided state funding and other benefits related to SILVER’s official position.
Finally, SILVER thwarted the Moreland Commission to Investigate Public Corruption so that it would not learn of his illegal outside income, first by filing legal motions on behalf of the Assembly and taking other action to block the Moreland Commission’s investigation into legislative outside income and then by negotiating with the Governor of New York to prematurely terminate the Moreland Commission.
*                      *                      *
SILVER, 70, of New York, New York, is charged with two counts of honest services fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit honest services fraud, one count of extortion under color of official right, and one count of conspiracy to commit extortion under color of official right. Each of these five counts carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. The maximum potential sentences in this case are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by a judge.
U.S. Attorney Bharara praised the work of the Criminal Investigators of the United States Attorney’s Office and the FBI, who jointly conducted this investigation. Mr. Bharara also noted that the investigation is continuing.
This case is being prosecuted by the Office’s Public Corruption Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Howard S. Master, Carrie H. Cohen, Andrew D. Goldstein, and James McDonald are in charge of the prosecution.
The charges contained in the Complaint are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

State Tax Forms Now Available at District Office

Assemblyman Dinowitz announces that state tax forms are now available in his district office

  Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz announced that New York State tax forms are now available to be picked up at his district office. Constituents are invited to stop by Assemblyman Dinowitz’s office on 3107 Kingsbridge Avenue between the hours of 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, to receive a form, free of charge.

Assemblyman Dinowitz said, “Each year, constituents ask me when up-to-date state tax forms will be available again in my office. While New York residents are encouraged to file their taxes online, some may not have access to a computer or may otherwise prefer to mail their forms. I welcome those constituents to stop by my office to pick up a form and get an early start on their taxes!”

Current versions of the most frequently requested state tax forms will be available upon request. Constituents should know which forms they need prior to their arrival.


This morning the MTA Board is taking up a proposal that will raise the base fare for individual riders. In my capacity as both a City Councilman and Chair of the Transportation Committee, I join the chorus of thousands of working and middle class New Yorkers, transit advocates, and elected officials in denouncing these plans.

In order to maintain our status as a world class destination, we must have a well-functioning, well connected, transit system. However, the MTA has lacked the vision necessary to bring our city and states infrastructure to good repair let alone to expand its network to better reach all New Yorkers. Rather, they still operate under a $15 billion shortfall with no true dedication to exploring alternative means of funding.

Despite these shortfalls, ridership has been ever increasing. On September 23rd, 6.1 million people rode the subway's 659 miles of track, many on lines using decade's old technology. New York, an international leader in finance, real estate and countless other industries is better than this.

The MTA must become forward thinking and begin to discuss alternative and creative revenue sources like requiring all TLC licensed vehicles pay towards the MTA improvement fund, a fair tolling plan for bridges and tunnels and / or furthering Public-Private Partnerships. It can no longer be the first instinct of the MTA to increase the burden they put on working class New Yorkers. The priority should be improving the system for all New Yorkers through new methods, not closing the fiscal gap on the backs of the working class.

Editors Note: It kind of makes one feel how the city council is operating - 'In the dark'. 

The 3 New Amigos - What's the Difference?

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

You should know that during the 2015 State of the State Address and the presentation of the Executive Budget for New York State, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced his intentions to visit Mexico accompanied with Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.  The Governor made this pronouncement with great fanfare and excitement, using a giant screen to show the three of them wearing Mexican hats with the caption: The 3 Amigos.

It is important for you to know that when I saw that image of Governor Andrew Cuomo, Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, I reacted; making gestures that drew the Governor's attention. Governor Andrew Cuomo responded by saying: These 3 Amigos are different than previous ones.

I thought to myself, "Mr. Governor, different than what?"

You should know, my dear reader, that the history of the 3 Amigos goes back to 2009 when I joined with former Senators Karl Kruger and Pedro Espada to form an alliance in the State Senate to demand change so the State Senate could vote on bills that would help all communities.  During that year, Karl Kruger, Pedro Espada and I all bought Mexican hats and called ourselves the 3 Amigos.  Everyone in New York politics knows the history of the 3 Amigos and everyone knows how we all ended up.

Senator Pedro Espada was arrested, judged and found guilty of corruption, and is now serving a sentence in a federal penitentiary and is not expected to come out for another four years.  There is a similar situation for Karl Kruger. He, too, was arrested, judged and found guilty of corruption, and is serving a sentence in a federal penitentiary.

I am the only one of the 3 Amigos who is, politically speaking, alive.

Now, our beloved Governor has created another version of the 3 Amigos, saying they are different than the previous ones. It was clear to many that the Governor was trying to publicly take a punch at me.

What you should know is that the Governor forgot to say is how he, himself, is under investigation by U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara. Governor Andrew Cuomo has already spent over $130,000 on a prominent white collar criminal defense attorney to represent him and the scandal that surrounds the Governor's anti-corruption commission.  It remains to be seen how this will end.

On the other hand, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver has been arrested today, January 22, 2015, on federal corruption charges, by the same U.S. Attorney who is investigating Governor Andrew Cuomo. While the nature of the charges have not been released as of the time I write this, the investigation began in March, 2014 - right after Governor Andrew Cuomo shut down his Moreland Commission. The tabloids say it has to do with undocumented payments he received from a law firm, and rumors say it has to do with fraud.

You should know that where I come from in Puerto Rico, there is an old saying: With these thunders, who could sleep?

And so, my dear reader, there is something ironic about Governor Andrew Cuomo's obvious attempt to publicly try to take a punch at me about New York's original 3 Amigos - Pedro Espada, Karl Kruger and myself - and say that the new version of the 3 Amigos will be different than the 3 Amigos of the past.

I am obliged to publicly share my response to him:  "Excuse me, Mr. Governor. Different in what way?  If, along with the thunders I am hearing, we continue to read the newspapers and listen to what everyone is talking about, there is a great possibility that Mr. Silver will be keeping company with Karl Kruger and Pedro Espada and eating the same food and dressing in the same colored clothing."

Ladies and gentlemen, as far as these 3 New Amigos goes: What’s the difference? 

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

Editor Note: I couldn't agree with Senator Diaz more. It is not known who will replace Speaker Silver, but I have been told it will not be anyone from the Bronx.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

STATEMENT FROM BP DIAZ RE: Gov. Cuomo's 'State of the State'

“Gov. Cuomo continues to outline a strong agenda for the entire state, especially for The Bronx. Our governor continues to put forward policy proposals that have real impact on the lives of people in my borough.

“His continued support of our proposal to expand Metro North services to the East Bronx is incredibly welcome, and shows his commitment to creating new transit options and new opportunities for investment in our borough. While I appreciate the governor’s suggestion that one of these new stations bear my name, his considerable support of this proposal is all the recognition I need. I am grateful that Governor Cuomo has already outlined significant funding for this proposal in his budget, and I will continue to work with the governor, the MTA and the State Legislature to bring this transformative transit proposal to life.

“The governor’s expansion of employment programs in our borough, specifically for young adults of color, is also a major victory for The Bronx. In August, I joined Governor Cuomo, the State Department of Labor and the Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation to launch the ‘Bronx Works’ strike force, which is putting unemployed Bronxites in direct contact with the employers who need them. New projects are taking root every day in The Bronx, and this $10 million proposal will ensure that more Bronx residents, especially young adults of color, will be prepared for the jobs we are creating.

“Governor Cuomo’s plan to raise the minimum wage statewide, and to increase the minimum wage to a higher rate in New York City, shows that the governor continues to understand the realities of living in the five boroughs. The cost of living is considerably higher in The Bronx than upstate, and this increase would allow more New Yorkers to make ends meet.

“Governor Cuomo understands what is important to this borough: economic development and job creation, making sure Bronxites are getting the jobs we create, and making sure those jobs pay a decent wage. I will continue to work with my good friend, our governor, and his administration to enact strong policy proposals and affect positive change for the people of The Bronx,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.

State of the Borough Address

The Honorable Ruben Diaz Jr.

President, Borough of the Bronx

 State of the Borough Address

Thursday, February 19, 2015

10 a.m.

The Mall at Bay Plaza

200 Baychester Avenue

THIRD floor Pavilion

The Bronx


Council Member King to Host Funding Workshop on Monday, Jan. 26th

 New York City Council Member Andy King will hold a workshop on Monday, Jan. 26, for community-based organizations that would like to apply for discretionary funding from his office.

The applications for Council Discretionary Member Item funding, which is awarded each year by council members to non-profits and other eligible groups in their districts, must be completed online. But the workshop will help to make sure those applying for funding to fully understand the process.

Those organizations applying for funding from Council Member King are strongly urged to attend the  workshop on Monday, 6-9 p.m., at the Williamsbridge NAACP ECE Center, 680 East 219th St., Bronx.

Applications must be completed online in one session and applicants cannot save the information as they work or navigate away from the page while they are working. But the application does not time out, and applicants can go back to correct mistakes.

Applications are currently available on the city council website – (click pull down button `Budget’).

The FY 2016 timetable is as follows:
•           Currently – FY 2016 applications available on the city council website (applications may only be submitted online);
•              Feb. 20 - FY 2016 discretionary expense funding applications must be completed no later than 5 p.m.;
•              Feb. 26 - FY 2016 capital funding applications to the borough president and city council for the same project must be completed no later than 5:00 p.m.;
•             March 26 - The deadline for FY 2016 capital applications to the city council only must be completed no later than 5:00 p.m.

For more information on the applications or budget process, please contact Brian Melford, Special Assistant to Council Member Andy King at (718) 684-5509.