Saturday, February 14, 2015

Council Speaker Mark-Viverito ‘Surprised’ IDC ‘Suddenly’ Cares About Public Housing

  In a New York Observer article New York City Council Speaker Meeeeelisa Mark-Viverito (as State Senator Gustavo Rivera calls her) showed surprise that the Independent Democratic Conference is showing concern for public housing. In fact the Observer writes that she says that IDC stands for 'I Don't Care'.

  The Observer says that the speaker dismissed the Klein report–which surveyed 49 buildings at five developments in each borough, as nothing new. The speaker then said that she and the mayor backed Senator Klein in 2014 for re-election, and that Klein helped secure the much needed state funding for the mayor's P-pre-K program. 

 Klein spokeswoman Candice Giove is quoted in the Observer article as saying Senator Klein had allocated 3.71 million to upgrade three public housing developments in his district, secured hundreds of thousands of dollars for other NYCHA Houses, and is well aware of the problems in public housing and wants to be a part of the solution. 


  Bronx Councilman Ritchie Torres may be in the middle of this as one of the speakers allies, and a friend of Senator Klein. Torres (Chair of the councils Public Housing Committee) rushed to Klein's defense  “He’s been my senator for the last decade and he is one of the best advocates for public housing I know,” Mr. Torres told the Observer.

  The Speaker has since softened her comments to Senator Klein, and now is willing to work with Senator Klein and the IDC on improving public housing.

  The next day the the Observer had this story "Diane Savino Calls Melissa Mark-Viverito an ‘Idiot’ After IDC Jab". State Senator Diane Savino is a member of the IDC, and also very close to Senator Jeff Klein.  

  Could it be that Speaker Mark-Viverito was mad about not being part of the press conference?


State Senator Jeff Klein and NYC Councilman Ritchie Torres release “Worst Landlord in NYC?”

Joint investigative report detailing deplorable conditions in NYCHA buildings
Elected Officials and Housing Advocates call  for state funding with stronger accountability to repair and upgrade NYC’s public housing stock
State Senator Jeff Klein and New York City Councilman Ritchie Torres today released a joint report, “Worst Landlord in NYC?” detailing the deteriorating conditions of some of the New York City Housing Authority’s developments throughout the five boroughs.
Klein and Torres, joined by State Senators Diane Savino and  Adriano Espaillat, Senior Policy Analyst Victor Bach of Community Services Society of New York, Maritza Silva-Farrell of the Real Affordability for All Coalition and Ann Valdez, a public housing resident and member of Community Voices Heard, also called for a City and State funding reinvestment in NYCHA with stringent accountability procedures and benchmarks in order to ensure that the widespread state of disrepair and serious personal and public safety issues are remedied in a timely and efficient manner.
The joint report included photographs taken by Klein staff that exposed decaying, unsafe conditions in various New York City public housing buildings.  The investigators captured scenes of hallways strewn with debris that had recently caught fire, dark stairwells with blown lights and collapsed plaster ceilings. Surveyors also discovered buildings that lacked working fire exit safety doors as well as unsecured entrance doors and rooftop building access.
“It’s shameful that public housing residents in this city live in such unpleasant and clearly unsafe conditions. Plaster raining from ceilings, charred hallways and fire doors that don’t work, garbage littered throughout buildings, and unrepaired damages that could cause personal injury or harm are simply unacceptable,” said Senator Klein. “The IDC’s NYCHA 2020 proposal addresses this public housing crisis by reinvesting in NYCHA, and I am confident that by working with the city and its new NYCHA commissioner we can make certain that any investment of state funds is spent wisely.”
“The City and State’s historic disinvestment from  NYCHA represents a level of neglect that no elected official would ever tolerate from a private landlord,”  said Councilmember Torres.  "I commend Senator Klein, Senator Espaillat, and all of our champions in Albany for their commitment to the future of public housing.”
“We heard NYCHA Chairwoman Oyatole talk about ‘deplorable’ conditions at a City Council hearing — and we agree. Those conditions don’t just exist in the developments the city is looking to sell to private developers. We found deplorable conditions in many buildings operated by NYCHA and we want to help NYCHA Chairwoman Oyatole fix these problems,” said Senator Savino.
The New York City Housing Authority should be a beacon of support for those communities most in need. Instead, the “Worst Landlord in NYC?” report reveals the grim truth about the disgraceful state of NYCHA housing. We must make certain that these communities receive the safety, cleanliness and respect that they deserve, and that any taxpayer dollars that are invested are well spent. The IDC’s NYCHA 2020 proposal will ensure that we address these fundamental problems at their core, all while sensibly investing public funds,” said State Senator Tony Avella (D-Bayside).
“The City’s housing crisis will not be fully addressed until we repair NYCHA’s poorly maintained housing stock. The plan laid out today for revitalizing NYCHA would set a new standard of transparency and efficiency at the agency, and provide the resources it needs to repair and properly maintain the homes of thousands of hard working New Yorkers. The State and City must work together to ensure everyone has access to adequate affordable housing,” said Senator Espaillat.
‎The Community Service Society welcomes this Albany initiative to commit significant capital dollars to help meet the infrastructural needs of NYCHA's aging buildings. It is time for the state to fulfill, not ignore, it's responsibilities to NYCHA and its residents,” said Victor Bach, Senior Policy Analyst, Community Services Society of New York.
Public housing is a vital but neglected source of affordable housing for hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers. We cannot have real affordability for all until the quality of public housing is strengthened. For too long, NYCHA has operated as one of the worst landlords. The findings of this investigative report are deeply disturbing and cannot be ignored by NYCHA. We are proud to join this campaign for greater accountability of NYCHA, and to help push for increased state investment in public housing to ensure that long overdue repairs finally get made,” said Maritza Silva-Farrell of the Real Affordability for All Coalition.
“Community Voices Heard is glad that there is a call for Albany to dedicate more funding to NYCHA, especially given that a real commitment on their part has been missing for a number of years and we believe that this funding is a great starting point,” said Ann Valdez, a public housing resident and member of Community Voices Heard.

The IDC’s Invest NY proposal includes a NYCHA 2020 plan to remedy challenges currently facing public housing in New York City. The plan includes:
       $500 million investment – The state would provide $250 million in capital funding to NYCHA with the requirement that NYC provide another $250 million in matching funds. These funds would be available immediately for repairs, reconstruction and upgrades. Continued use of this funding beyond January 1st, 2016, would be contingent on NYCHA’s adoption of the NYCHA 2020 Revitalization & Reform Plan. This plan creates accountable guidelines to reform the authority’s management, streamline its procurement and repairs, improve its customer service, reduce its bureaucracy, and set NYCHA on a path to long-term financial sustainability.

       Restoration of $12 million in state aid – The IDC proposes restoring the state’s annual subsidy of $12 million to NYCHA. In addition, the state would also match any savings in operating costs that NYCHA realizes through implementing the NYCHA 2020 reform plan.
        NYCHA Repair Certificate – This program would allow private developers to obtain a zoning bonus (higher FAR) in areas being up-zoned in exchange for conducting expeditious repair work in NYCHA buildings. This would increase the repair speed since NYCHA’s work orders can extend as long as two years.
       NYCHA Watchdog – An annual public report, compiled by an independent watchdog, would be sent to the City Council, the Office of the Mayor of the City of New York and the Department of Housing and Community Renewal detailing the conditions of each NYCHA development and the status of repairs.
A copy of the full report: “Worst Landlord in NYC?” is available through Senator Jeff Klein’s website:

YouTube videos of conditions found in NYCHA developments as part of the investigation are available on channel - IDC NYCHA Report.


Dear Neighbor,
The New Year is here, marking the start of the 2015-2016 Legislative Session. As your representative in the New York State Assembly, I am honored to be your voice in Albany and fight for the issues that matter most to our community!

Over the next few months, I will be traveling back and forth between the 86th Assembly District and Albany, working to pass this year's budget. As always, I am deeply focused on strengthening and improving our community. Beginning in February, I plan to start hosting monthly community town hall meetings and events. I will be sending out this information in a monthly Newsletter, so please be on the lookout! You can also stay up to date on community news and events by liking my Facebookpage or following me on Twitter andInstagram.
Whether I'm up in Albany or here in the Bronx, the 86th Assembly District is always on my mind. My District Office is open to assist you with your needs, so please do not hesitate to call, or stop by the office for help.

I look forward to seeing you soon!


Member of Assembly
86th District
It was an honor to recognize Juan Pablo Duarte, the father of Dominican Independence, in the Assembly on the 202nd Anniversary of his birth, and acknowledge the contribution of Dominican Nationals and Dominican Americans who keep Juan Pablo Duarte's memory and accomplishments alive.

I had the pleasure of introducing members of the Instituto Duartiano and the Dominican Consulate to the Assembly, whom I recognized for their outstanding commitment to honoring Dominican Heritage.

On June 15, 2015, New York's rent regulation laws are set to expire. Unless these laws are renewed by the State Legislature, 
it will be difficult, if not impossible, to afford living in New York City.  

I am committed to making sure that we not only renew these laws,
but strengthen them in order to make it more difficult for landlords
to harass tenants and evict them from their homes for the purpose 
of making a profit.

I have committed to signing on to different pieces of legislation in order
to protect tenants, like yourself, from these predatory practices:

 End Fraudulent Fees: A555 (Dinowitz)
This bill would prohibit surcharges for tenant installed appliances, such 
as air conditioners or washing machines, where the tenant pays for
electric utility services.

 Rent Control Relief: A7881 (Rosenthal)
This bill will end the annual 7.5% rent increases and bring the increases
for rent controlled tenants in line with rent stabilization adjustments.

Eliminate the Vacancy Bonus: A7343 (Kavanagh)Repeal 
Deregulation of Rent Regulated Apartments A landlord is able to 
increase his rent by 20% once a tenant vacates an apartment. This is
called a "vacancy bonus." Eliminating this perverse incentive is critical, 
and will help prevent landlords from kicking tenants out based on their 
desire to make more money. Also, preventing the deregulation of rent 
regulated apartments will further protect tenants from harassment.   

In the 86th Assembly District, there are an estimated 29,000 rent 
regulated apartments, which includes both rent controlled and rent 
stabilized units. I will keep fighting to make sure that affordability 
in the Bronx a priority, and I work with the State Legislature to protect
tenants and keep them in their homes!

Office Locations
2175 Jerome Avenue,
Suite C
Bronx, NY 10453
920 LOB
Albany, NY 12210
Contact Me:
District Office: 718-933-6909
Albany Office: 518-455-5511

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Friday, February 13, 2015

Wave Hill Events Feb 27–Mar 6

  The transition from February to March is surely a time of intense anticipation. Recognizing that, Wave Hill offers not just the garden landscape itself, but programs that, taking a page from Mother’s Nature book, will inspire you to experience the turn of the seasons. May I particularly recommend the new “Outdoor Survival Workshop” on Saturday, the outstanding performance planned forSunday and the art workshop that Wennie Huang is leading starting on March 4?

Learn about how local birds survive the winter. Which ones stay and which ones go? Using recycled materials, make a little home or feeder for those who stay, and decorate it with natural materials to welcome in your new feathery friends. 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. 

Do you have the courage to survive in the great outdoors? It takes grit, skills and maybe even a little help from a paper clip. Join environmental educator Carl Heitmuller from the Hudson Highlands Nature Museum for a hands-on Survival 101 workshop. Discover how the simplest everyday materials like fishing line, duct tape or Chap-stick can aid in your survival. Venture outside to build a debris shelter from natural objects, then warm up with hot cocoa in front of the fireplace in the Ecology Building. Space is limited; reservations recommended, at or at the Perkins Visitor Center. Ages 10 and older welcome with an adult. This workshop will take place both indoors and outdoors. Free with admission to the grounds.

Learn about how local birds survive the winter. Which ones stay and which ones go? Using recycled materials, make a little home or feeder for those who stay, and decorate it with natural materials to welcome in your new feathery friends.  Free, and admission to the grounds is free until noon. 

Reduce stress, increase your energy and bring strength and flexibility to mind, body and spirit with a yoga practice. Classes are led by Yoga for Bliss director Neem Dewji and other certified instructors. Ms. Dewji is certified in Hatha and Therapeutic Yoga from The Yoga for Health Foundation, England, and The Integral Yoga Institute, NYC. All levels welcome. Sessions in March are held indoors.  Session fee: $25/$15 Wave Hill Member. Advance registration online receives a $2 discount. Online registration closes at 8AM on the day of the session. Cancellations must be made by 3PM the Friday before; after that, refunds will not be made. Drop-ins will be accommodated as the limited space permits. Participants must present their Membership card or a printed program registration form at the front gate.

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


Lauded for “great confidence and rhythmic flair” by Gramophone Magazine, Michael Brown was recently recognized by the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, naming him to its prestigious CMS2 program beginning with the 2015-16 season. Wave Hill audiences have the pleasure of hearing this distinctive young composer/pianist first when he offers Beethoven, Couperin and a work of his own. $28 general admission, $15 child (ages 8 to 18). $22 Wave Hill Member, $12 Wave Hill Member child. Registration required, online at 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

With artist Wennie Huang as your guide, discover the possibilities of mixed media, using the plants found in Wave Hill’s greenhouses as your inspiration. Practice methods of layering, multiplying and composing as you combine watercolor, colored pencil and pastel to illustrate details of the natural world. All levels welcome. $260/$200 Wave Hill Member. Registration required, online or at the Perkins Visitor Center, starting February 11. This six-session series continues March 11, 18, 25 and April 1 and 8.

Wave Hill’s 50th anniversary celebrations reach a crescendo this spring with a month-long celebration, when, for the first time in Wave Hill’s history, visitors will be invited to return in the evening to enjoy the garden landscape at a time of day and during a season when it is normally closed to the public. Take in The Lightening—an immersive installation at the Aquatic Garden—wander through Glyndor Gallery and find plenty to edify body and soul in The Shop and The CafĂ©. Rain or shine. Same-day tickets for Night Lights at Wave Hill: $25/$20 Wave Hill Member/$12 children. Purchase tickets in advance and save $2. Tickets available starting March 4, online and onsite at the Perkins Visitor Center. A Wave Hill at 50 anniversary event.

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. Closes5:30PM, March 15October 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

Information at 718.549.3200. On the web at

DOT Finally Changes 30 MPH Sign to 25 MPH in Front of PS 81 - Dinowitz Clams Credit

In a story we first reported on back on December 5th of 2014 about the speed limit sign of 30 MPH in front of PS 81 not being changed to the new November 2014 law of the 25 MPH, Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz is taking credit for getting it done.  

Assemblyman Dinowitz pleased to announce DOT’s installment of new speed limit signage near PS 81

Agency replaced outdated “Speed limit 30” signs after Assemblyman Dinowitz voiced concerns about student safety

Bronx, NY – Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz is pleased to announce that the NYC Department of Transportation has responded to concerns he voiced about outdated “Speed limit 30” signs outside of PS 81 and along Riverdale Avenue in the Bronx, which remained posted months after the city lowered its default speed limit to 25 miles per hour. After Assemblyman Dinowitz called attention to the fact that these outdated signs paradoxically allowed cars to travel faster in front of the school than they could on nearby streets, the Department of Transportation replaced the signs with new ones reflecting a 25 mph speed limit.

Assemblyman Dinowitz said, “I would like to thank the Department of Transportation for responding to my concerns about outdated ‘Speed limit 30’ signs near PS 81. Cars regularly speed along Riverdale Avenue between West 254th Street and West 256th Street, endangering the lives of students and other pedestrians in the area. The new 25 mile per hour speed limit signs will remind drivers that driving slower saves lives. I urge the DOT to make the removal of any other outdated speed limit signs near schools in New York City a similarly high priority.”

Editors Note:
We have no problem with Assemblyman Dinowitz taking credit for this, but Assemblyman Dinowitz - Where were you since December 5th? Does it take more than 2 months or should we say 3 months (since the lower speed limit was enacted) to take care of this dangerous situation where cars, trucks, and buses were allowed to go over the citywide speed limit, and worse in front of a local elementary school?