Saturday, February 7, 2015

Statement Of Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara On The Convictions Of Malcolm Smith And Vincent Tabone

  “As the jury unanimously found, the give-and-take of the political process should not be the giving and taking of bribes, which is what Malcolm Smith and Vincent Tabone tried to make it. Smith gave, and Tabone took, a $25,000 cash bribe to permit Smith to run for New York City Mayor as a Republican. Smith and Tabone were not alone in this scheme – Smith also bribed Daniel Halloran, another Republican Party official. And sadly, this was just one of many pockets of corruption this Office has uncovered in New York, which has become the ‘show me the money’ state. It should not be asking too much to expect public officials at least to obey the law. This Office will continue the vigorous prosecution of political corruption until every public official understands that violating the public trust will likely land you in prison.”

New Assembly Speaker Heastie Appoints Four Member Ethics Search Committee

    In a move to listen to those assembly members and others who have called for ethics reform new Speaker Carl Heastie has named a four member assembly search committee to find names to head an Assembly Ethics Committee 

    The four assembly members named to the search committee are Assembly members Democrats Todd Kaminsky of Long Island (also a former assistant U,S, Attorney), Shelley Mayer of Yonkers, Michele Titus of Queens, and  Republican Janey Duprey from Plattsburg. 

   The charge of the search committee is to come up with six candidates to be an executive director to head a new office of ethics and compliance. The final choice will be up to Speaker Heastie, who has also pledged to seek ways of caping outside income and changing the way per diems are disbursed.

NYC Comptroller supportive of City legislation that would provide attorneys to New Yorkers facing eviction or foreclosures


    On Wednesday, New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer toured the Bronx County Housing Court and held a press availability with members of Community Action for Safe Apartments (CASA) at which he announced that he was supportive of City legislation that would provide attorneys to New Yorkers facing eviction or foreclosures.

“When a tenant walks into this building they’re already at a tremendous disadvantage. If it weren’t for CASA and other groups, they would have absolutely no opportunity to get the justice and the representation they deserve. This must change,” Comptroller Stringer said.

There were more housing cases filed in the Bronx Housing Court than in any other borough in 2013. According to the New York City Civil Courtsthere are nearly 300,000 cases filed in housing court every year. Statistics show that nearly 30,000 families were evicted in 2013, highlighting the need for more information and services for tenants across the five boroughs.

Following his tour, Comptroller Stringer also commented on the impediments placed before those who come to the court, including the lack of signage at the facility. 

“One of the things that I saw on the tour today was pretty depressing. In a city and in a borough where the Latino population continues to grow, there was not one bilingual sign in the whole place. I couldn’t find one. You walk in, there’s a big picture of lady justice, but there’s no big picture of the rules of housing court to tell people what their rights are and what they should look out for,” Stringer said.

State Senator Gustavo Rivera - Black History Month Celebration

Guests include - 

Assemblyman Michael Blake, Assemblywoman Latoya Joiner, Councilwoman Vanessa Gibson, and more. 

Friday, February 6, 2015


  Assemblyman Marcos Crespo to Lead
Puerto Rican/Hispanic Task Force

Assemblyman Marcos A. Crespo releases the following statement on his selection,
by Assembly Speaker Carl E. Heastie, to Chair the Assembly Puerto Rican/Hispanic Task Force

   Assemblyman Marcos A. Crespo, the Chair of the Assembly Puerto Rican/Hispanic Task Force, today released the following statement on his new leadership appointment.

“Today, I am most grateful to Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie for the trust he has placed in me through my appointment to lead the Assembly Puerto Rican/Hispanic Task Force.  Through a period that covers my entire life, New York has moved slowly toward policies that both respect the contributions of our newest residents and ease their transition into a new society.  However, much work remains unfinished and new problems need the immediate attention of policymakers at all levels of our government.

I am the son of Puerto Rican and Peruvian parents; one an American citizen by birth the other through immigration and naturalization.  Their hardships and hard work has given me the opportunity to serve our State and nation as an elected official.  The values they instilled in me are the cornerstone of my work as a public official for the people of New York State.

It is with humbleness and eagerness that I accept my post as Chairman of the Assembly Puerto Rican/Hispanic Task Force. 

Our nation is in the midst of long overdue immigration reform; Latino children are now the largest group of children living in poverty in the nation; and economic hardships continue to plague our communities.  As the state with the third largest Latino population, New York can ill afford to ignore these issues.

The past decade has witnessed thousands of families torn apart, wholesale civil rights violations, and systematic attempts to stigmatize entire communities.  The past decade has also left many Latino families behind as the collapse of the housing market wiped out billions of dollars of combined wealth from households, increased unemployment and underemployment to staggering numbers, while stagnant wages erode their ability to pay for their basic needs such as housing, proper nutrition, access to health care, and financing of their children’s college education.

The tremendous growth of Latino communities in New York has brought with it substantial economic gains for our State but considerable challenges as well.  The members of the Assembly Puerto Rican/Hispanic Task Force are committed to tackling these problems.  I am confident that we have the talent and determination to achieve the greater good for all our communities and look forward to our collaborative efforts on all these fronts.

Working with all our colleagues in the New York State Legislature and under the leadership of Speaker Heastie, I am overwhelmingly optimistic that the road ahead will create great opportunities for all the families, children and communities that call the Empire State their home.

Editor's Note:

Could this mean that Assemblyman Crespo will be the new Bronx Democratic County Leader, or is this being given to Assemblyman Crespo because he is not going to be named the new county leader. 

Scientists in 18-Month Project Gather DNA Throughout Transit System to Identify Germs, Study Urban Microbiology

  This is from today's Wall Street Journal about an 18 month study of gathering information on the  germs throughout the NYC subway system. 

   A swab was rubbed back and forth on a hand rail of a number 6 train to collect any DNA on the hand rail, and to determine what type of bacteria what was found may be.  In 18 months of scouring the entire system germs that can cause bubonic plague uptown, meningitis in midtown, stomach trouble in the financial district and antibiotic-resistant infections throughout the boroughs were found.   This could be a mirror of the people themselves who ride the subway system.

  DNA was gathered from turnstiles, ticket kiosks, railings and benches in a transit system shared by 5.5 million riders every day. More than 10 billion fragments of biochemical code—and sorted it by supercomputer were found at 446 subway stations. 15,152 types of life-forms. were found to be in the subway system. 

  For the entire Wall Street Journal article including an interactive map many Manhattan subway stations click here. 


  Report reveals that nearly a dozen sex offenders are currently housed in family shelters throughout the five boroughs

Elected officials, community leaders and concerned residents call on the State Assembly to pass companion legislation to protect children
State Senator Jeff Klein (D-Bronx/Westchester) today unveiled an alarming investigative report, “Uncovering Sex Offenders in the New York City Family Shelter System,” that found that nearly a dozen sexual predators currently residing in 10 family shelters across New York City which house young children.

Senator Klein, together with Senator Leroy Comrie (Queens), stood in front of the Lincoln Atlantic, a family homeless shelter at 90-35 Van Wyck Expressway, where a sex offender resides, and urged their Assembly colleagues to pass the companion bill to Klein’s legislation that would ban this from happening.
Klein’s latest investigation details the inability of the NYC Department of Homeless Services to significantly address the problem of housing sex offenders in family shelters for more than seven years. After first becoming aware of the issue in 2007, Klein released his first report citing which family shelters were housing sex offenders throughout New York City. Since that time, a total of 35 sex offenders have resided in 20 different NYC family shelters.

“The city’s most vulnerable families shouldn’t have to worry that their next door neighbor is a sexual predator. These known sex offenders who have been convicted of preying on children – some as young as five and seven-years-old – must be housed elsewhere to protect these families who are trying to get back on their feet. If the city’s Department of Homeless Services refuses to protect these youngsters we will do so through state law,” said Senator Klein.

"Clearly these miscreants who have harmed children, should never be allowed into family shelters. The city must protect our most vulnerable by ensuring shelters are safe and not create more horrifying and stressful situations when families are trying to reshape their lives,” said Senator Leroy Comrie.  “The Department of Homeless Services must make certain that sex offenders cannot be housed in places where they pose a threat to innocent people, especially children. I will work with my colleagues in state government to help ensure that families already suffering with the burden of homelessness, are more aptly protected."

“I am proud to have voted in favor of this legislation which would prevent dangerous sex offenders from being housed in the same shelters as children and families. It is common sense that these criminals should be confined to adult population facilities only, minimizing their ability to prey on vulnerable youngsters in our community,” said Senator James Sanders Jr. (D-Queens). “It is shocking and completely unacceptable that nearly a dozen sexual predators were found living in ten family shelters across New York City. I applaud my colleague in government, Senator Jeff Klein, for taking the initiative to put an end to this problem.”

"It is absolutely disgraceful that rather than ensure that sex offenders not be placed in family shelters, as per Senator Klein's legislation, the City allows this outrageous practice to continue,” said Senator Tony Avella (Queens). “Moving sex offenders from one facility to another is an obvious effort to hide what must be changed. We must put the safety of our children and vulnerable populations first."

Last month, Klein revealed that two sex offenders had been moved into the Crystal Family Residence on the Hutchinson River Parkway, located in the 34th Senate District, which he serves. They are: James Bolden, a Level 3 sex offender convicted of raping two women on two separate occasions, and James Bryant, a Level 2 sex offender convicted for sexual assault of a 7-year-old.

After DHS was notified, the agency informed Klein’s office that it had removed both men from the family facility. However, based on subsequent news reports and additional investigation by Klein’s office it was discovered that Bryant was relocated into another family shelter in Queens,  the Westway Motel, on Astoria Boulevard. Bryant is one of four known sexual predators who lists a Queens family shelter address on the sex offender registry.

"I applaud Senator Klein's common sense legislation that would ban sex offenders from living in shelters where children are present," said Senator Jose Peralta (D-Queens). "Shelters should be a safe space for families, and especially for the children who live in them. It is critical that the organizations overseeing shelters have in place the proper safeguards to protect the very families that they exist to serve in order to ensure that what happened at the Westway hotel in my district never happens again."

Four other registered sex offenders are listed as residing in three family shelters in Brooklyn. Three more registered sex offenders are list Bronx family shelters as their home.
Homeless Shelter
Age of Victim
Henwood Family Residence
115 Henwood Place Bronx, NY 10453
Robert Brasier
13 years old
Cleveland Family Residence
1277 Morris Avenue Bronx, NY 10456
Henry Wren
Seneca Houses
1215 Seneca Avenue Bronx, NY 10474
Jay Taylor
20 years old and 24 years old
Help 1
515 Blake Avenue Brooklyn, NY 11207
Eddie Kendle,
Eusebio Taylor
12 and 13 years old
Junnis Street Family Residences
1738 East New York Avenue Brooklyn, NY 11212
Randolph Leach
10 years old
Tilden Hall Family Residences
2520 Tilden Avenue Brooklyn, NY 11226
Darryl Jones
15 years old
Park Family Residences
154-00 Rockaway Blvd Jamaica, NY 11434
Warren Wilder
29 years old
Belt Park Family Center
153-90 Rockaway Blvd Jamaica, NY 11434
Steven Geraghty
13 years old
Lincoln Atlantic

90-35 Van Wyck Expressway Jamaica, NY 11435

Joe Doveran
7 and 5 years old
Westway Motel
72-05 Astoria Boulevard
East Elmhurst, NY 11370
James Bryant
7 years old
Last week, the State Senate overwhelmingly (55-0) passed Senator Klein’s legislation (S.851-2015) that prohibits Level 2 and 3 sex offenders from being housed in family shelters and requires by law that they be placed in adult-only shelters or shelters without children.  This legislation amends current Social Services Law and brings the shelter system up to speed with current law concerning public housing, where sex offenders are already prohibited from residing.

The companion bill (A.3706) is sponsored by Assemblyman Matt Titone in the Assembly.  

“The issue of high-level sex offenders taking up residence in emergency shelters intended for homeless families remains a concern since first coming to our attention in 2007. Federal law prohibits public housing admission to Level 2 and 3 sex offenders – and we are seeking to extend that protection to our most vulnerable children and families,” Assemblyman Titone said.

“Today 80% of New York’s homeless are women and children; every day that the current law remains in place, each of New York’s 25,000 homeless children remains in avoidable risk,” Titone added.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Former State Senator Malcolm Smith Found Guilty

Malcolm A. Smith

Former New York State Senate Leader Malcolm Smith has been found guilty of Bribery charges in trying to secure the Republican line in a run for mayor of the city in 2013.

Smith now faces up to 45 years in jail for his conviction. There was no date set for his sentencing.

Assemblyman Dinowitz calls on DOT to remove outdated speed limit signage near NYC schools

Outdated “Speed limit 30” sign still posted outside P.S. 81 in the Bronx

Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz called on the NYC Department of Transportation to make it a priority to remove street signs near schools that mandate an outdated 30-mph speed limit. Last year, Assemblyman Dinowitz cosponsored legislation to allow New York City to lower its default speed limit on city streets from 30 to 25 miles per hour, a change intended to make streets safer for pedestrians. On November 7, 2014, the new speed limit took effect. Yet nearly three months later, a sign reading “Speed Limit 30” remains posted outside of P.S. 81 in the Bronx.

Assemblyman Dinowitz said, “While the default speed limit on New York City streets has been lowered to 25 miles per hour, outdated speed limit signs such as the one outside of P.S. 81 keep those street’s speed limits at 30. I find it bizarre that vehicles are able to travel at higher speeds around this school than they can on adjacent streets.”

Assemblyman Dinowitz continued, “Last year, when I cosponsored legislation to allow New York City to lower its default speed limit, the safety of our schoolchildren was first and foremost on my mind. It makes no sense that three months after the speed limit has been lowered, ‘Speed Limit 30’ signs near schools have not yet been removed. I call on the Department of Transportation to prioritize the removal of these outdated signs near schools in order to ensure that this vital initiative of Mayor de Blasio’s Vision Zero Action Plan is properly enacted where it is needed most.”

Assemblyman Dinowitz has requested that the DOT remove the outdated speed limit sign near P.S. 81 and all others near schools expeditiously, but has been informed that he should not expect a response before the end of April. As 25 mph is the default speed limit for New York City streets unless otherwise posted, simply removing this traffic sign would lower the speed limit near P.S. 81.

Editors Note: 

On December 5th we had the story of 'just-what-is-speed-limit-especially 'by P.S. 81'. On November 7th the city speed limit was lowered to 25 MPH, but the sign still says 30 miles per hour in front of P.S. 81. A photo was also posted of the 30 MPH sign that was still up one month after the speed limit was lowered to 25 MPH.

This is the link  to our December 5th story. We are glad to have Assemblyman Dinowitz join the fight to make Riverdale Avenue safer for the children of P.S. 81. We wonder where the deBlasio administration is on this, since Vision Zero is so important to him with the 25 MPH speed limit. I was unable to ask the mayor at a recent press conference on the issue of the 30 MPH sign still being up in front of P.S. 81, as one his staffers made sure I was not called on to question the mayor as I have been in the past. 



NYC Council Member Andy King and The Safety Net Project will host their third in a series of “Know Your Rights” trainings on Tuesday, Feb. 10, 2015, at 6:30 p.m. at Eastchester  Gardens Community Center, 3016 Yates Ave., Bronx.

The session will focus on issues and safety net programs critical to many Bronx residents in District 12.   Legal staff will be on hand to answer questions regarding NYCHA tenant rights, accessing SNAP (food stamp) benefits and public assistance.

Residents are invited to meet with advocates and attorneys from the Safety Net Project to discuss any issues they may be experiencing regarding a denial, sanction or reduction in their public assistance and /or food stamps case. In addition, attorneys will be available to answer questions for NYCHA residents interested in seeking advice as to recertification, succession rights and how to obtain repairs. All legal services are free.

The Safety Net Project is New York City’s advocate for economic justice, protecting the rights of low- and no-income New Yorkers through direct legal services, litigation, research, and policymaking. It ensures access to the safety net, ensuring government accountability for vital programs that lift families out of poverty.

“This event is open to everyone in the community. In these tough economic times, there are people in need of assistance for food and housing. This forum is geared to help all those in need,” said Council Member King.

According to Denise M. Miranda, Esq., Managing Director of the Safety Project at the Urban Justice Center, “District 12 is home to five NYCHA development and countless families that rely on safety net programs. There is an urgent need for NYCHA residents and low-income families to have access to free, high-quality legal services and we are proud to partner with Council Member King to fill this void.”

The Safety Net Project is committed to protecting due process rights and providing direct legal services for low and no-income New Yorkers while engaging the greater community in casting a wider, finer safety net for economic justice and human dignity. For further information, visit

For more information dial 646-602-5640.

Council Member King to Host Funding Workshop on Monday, Feb. 9

New York City Council Member Andy King will hold a workshop on Monday, Feb. 9, 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 onMonday, 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 Cee Lewis, Deputy Chief of Staff to Council Member Andy King at (718) 684-5509.

Wave Hill Events Feb 19–Feb 27

Take a break from winter this week and join us for one, two or three afternoons of hands-on art-making as we explore the cool winter skies using an array of fun and exciting media. At today’s workshop, create a textured landscape against the winter sky, inspired by the painting techniques of contemporary artist and sculptor Anselm Kiefer. Like Kiefer, bring your painting to life by applying thick layers of impasto on canvas and adding dried natural materials, such as flowers, straw, sticks and clay. Geared to children ages five to 10 and a parent or caregiver. Space is limited. $23/$15 Wave Hill Member per session includes one child and one adult. Additional child or adult $10. Registration required, online at or at the Perkins Visitor Center.

Go on a visit to Wave Hill’s Cactus and Succulent House—housed in one wing of the Marco Polo Stufano Conservatory—and leave winter behind. Spend some time sketching and painting our exotic desert dwellers, then, using sand and tempera paint, make a desert mirage. 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. 

For the sixth winter, Glyndor Gallery is transformed into studio spaces for artists to develop new work and offer opportunities for public interaction in the context of the garden. Individual artists share their studio practice with the public on this open studio day. Artists include Nicolas Dumit Estevez, Fay Ku, Julia Oldham, Ivan Stojakovic,Alisha Wessler and Saya Woolfalk. Registration not required for this drop-in event. Free with admission to the grounds.

Go on a visit to Wave Hill’s Cactus and Succulent House—housed in one wing of the Marco Polo Stufano Conservatory—and leave winter behind. Spend some time sketching and painting our exotic desert dwellers, then, using sand and tempera paint, make a desert mirage. 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. 

The members of the Zodiac Trio, an engaging young group (clarinet, violin, piano), were mentored by legendary violinist Isidore Cohen of the Beaux Arts Trio and the adventurous clarinetist David Krakauer. Today, it enjoys an international concert schedule that spans three continents and presents an eclectic repertoire that mixes contemporary with the traditional. Described by Radio France as a “breathtaking ensemble of virtuosity and sensitivity,” the Trio performs Stravinsky’s Histoire du Soldat and Paul Schoenfield’s lively, klezmer-inspired work. $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 15October 31.  
ADMISSION  $8 adults, $4 students and seniors 65+, $2 children 6–18. Free Saturday and Tuesday mornings untilnoon. 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