Saturday, March 14, 2015

BCC Women of Distinction Luncheon

Join the Bronx Chamber of Commerce at our upcoming event: 

 Save the date for our following events: 
CDL Interview Job Fair - Thursday, March 19
Women of Distinction -Friday, March 27
Annual Golf Outing - Wednesday, May 6 
Business Expo -Tuesday, June 16

 Call 718-828-3900 or go onto our website for more

Friday, March 13, 2015


Legislative Proposals Call for $1 Billion in Campaign for Fiscal Equity Funding to Help the Neediest Schools

  With charts to his right and his left Assemblyman Michael Blake flanked by other Bronx elected officials have called for the Court ordered historic increase in education funding won in the landmark Campaign For Fiscal Equity lawsuit of 4.9 billion dollars owed statewide, and for its share New York City is owed 2.6 billion dollars. By Bronx assembly district the numbers are - 

AD 79 Michael Blake-$76,519,150.70
AD 81 Jeffrey Dinowitz-$61,875,114.76
AD 84 Carmen Arroyo-$56,959,988.88
AD 86 Victor Pichardo-$53,218,305.90
AD 85 Marcos Crespo-$45,721,604.43
AD 80 Mark Gjonaj-$44,924,197.60
AD 82 Michael Benedetto-$44,198,462.63
AD 77 Latoya Joyner-$37,278,149.85
AD 78 Jose Rivera-$36,502,077.29
AD 87 Luis Sepulveda-$31,938,984.26
AD 83 Speaker Heastie -$30,666,865.40

Below are the elected officials spoke on the issue, and with new Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie of the Bronx just about guaranteed that the amount of one million dollars owed from the CFE settlement would be coming to New York City schools.  

Left - Assemblyman Jose Rivera 
Right - State Senator Gustavo Rivera.

Left - Assemblyman Luis Sepulveda.
Right - Assemblyman Mark Gjonaj.

  What Assemblyman Blake would use the money for.

  I said to Assemblyman Blake, 'As a former parent leader I applauded his effort to get the CFE monies owed, but told him this had been said to parents over and over year after year. I then told him as a newly elected state official to look to his fellow legislators, and ask why they had not done this in the many years they have been in office.

Bronx BP Ruben O'Diaz Celebrates Irish Heritage Month

     Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. hosted his annual Irish Heritage & Culture Celebration at the Rambling House in Woodlawn. This year’s honorees included Patricia Lynch, Government/Media Strategist, Joseph McDermott, Executive Director of the Consortium for Workers Education; and Aedin Moloney, Artistic Director of The Fallen Angel Theatre Company.

“Here in the Woodlawn section of The Bronx we have a large Irish American community, and Irish Americans have been one of  New York's most significant ethnic groups since the late 19th century. It is with great pleasure that we are honoring some of the leading Irish Americans in our city during this wonderful celebration,” said Borough President O'Diaz.

News 12 Sports Director Pat O'Keefe was the Master of Ceremonies.

Left - Monsignor Edward Barry  gave the invocation.
Right - Shanna Mahoney and Laurence Broadrick sang both the American and Irish National Anthems.

Above - Some of the capacity crowd on hand.
Below - Some of the delicious food that was served by Rambling House for the occasion.

Veterans Invited to Attend 2015 Veterans Job & Resource Fair

Thursday, March 12, 2015

State Senatir Gustavo Rivera Bites Back at Governor Cuomo on Failing Schools

  In a City Limits article Bronx State Senator Gustavo Rivera pens an article titled 'Schools need state help, not sensational headlines'.  This is in response to a New York Post article saying Governor Andrew Cuomo's links lawmakers to failing schools. 

  Senator Rivera does a poor job of trying to explain the excuse that children in public schools fail because... As a matter of fact Governor Cuomo is part of the problem, as well as the 12 years of former Mayor Michael Bloomberg. 

  There were state standards set over 10 tears ago that schools would have to meet. However since New York City and a few other large cities in the state were so far behind they were given waivers. The Bloomberg administration knew just what the problem was as Senator Rivera touches on, but after a couple of attempts to fix it appeared to give up. 

  And Senator Rivera Governor Cuomo is partially  correct in saying that it is the fault of the elected officials. However Governor Cuomo forgets that he is one of those elected officials who is now failing the students he talks about.

   Mayoral Control expires in June of this year, and that gives the State Assembly and State Senate only a couple of months to fix it or the children will continue to be deprived of a rightful education they deserve. 

  The answer will be - Now that Democrat Bill deBlasio is Mayor we do not have to do anything. Lets hope that the Republican State Senate does not think that way and does not continue Mayoral Control.

Wave Hill Events Mar 27–Apr 3

  We are now well into the longer half of the year for Wave Hill, when the gardens close at 5:30pm, instead of 4:30—a change visitors relish. As I walked in this morning, the busy caroling of a group of robins, high up in the linden tree outside Glyndor Gallery, brought a great lift to my heart, so eager to witness spring. Aside from the ever-changing display of Mother Nature hard at work transforming the gardens, there is much to engage and enjoy this week at Wave Hill, from an intriguing new garden workshop to dramatic family art and uplifting sessions of wellness.

Quiet like a mountain, moving like a river, Tai Chi is a sequence of gentle movements based on images found in nature. In this beginner-level 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 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.

Nature’s mimicry is a wonder to behold! Discover the ways in which animals like moths, lizards, birds and coyotes copy their surroundings for the purpose of protection. Using cardboard-box dioramas, we’ll create a nature stage to serve as a secret hideaway for the critter of your choice. Free, and admission to the grounds is free until noon. 

Originating in Japan, Kokedama are living plant and moss balls bound up with string. Choose from a variety of houseplants and design your own Kokedama under the guidance of Anna Macoby, a gardener and florist from Australia, now living in Brooklyn. Simple to care for, these hanging plants bring a new style of indoor gardening to your home. Ages ten and older welcome with an adult.$40/$30 Wave Hill Member per project. Registration required online or onsite at the Perkins Visitor Center, starting February 11. 

Nature’s mimicry is a wonder to behold! Discover the ways in which animals like moths, lizards, birds and coyotes copy their surroundings for the purpose of protection. Using cardboard-box dioramas, we’ll create a nature stage to serve as a secret hideaway for the critter of your choice. Free with admission to the grounds. 

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 directorNeem 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 April 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.


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

Meet Jackie Battenfield, whose exhibition Another Garden is on view throughMay 31 in Wave Hill House’s Café and Reception areas. Battenfield’s paintings, on Mylar and Dura Lar, trace and layer in vivid color the twisting lines of branches, stems and leaves, some of which were inspired by Wave Hill flora. 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. FreeSaturday 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


Nine Elected Officials Join Forces to Address West Bronx Housing Crisis through Homegrown Solutions.
   State Senator Gustavo Rivera joined fellow city and state elected officials to announce the launch of the West Bronx Housing Coalition. The Coalition will allow city and state legislators to work in unison to effectively combat the recurring housing and property management issues that plague the West Bronx in an effort to protect tenants and the housing they rely on.

While the West Bronx is home to many low-income residents and a high concentration of rent-stabilized apartments, they are still severely rent burdened, causing substantial financial hardship. They are subjected to some of the most deplorable housing conditions in the City, including unsafe buildings, harassment and poorly-maintained infrastructure. As the elected representatives of these communities, the Coalition members seek to strengthen the housing security of their constituents by building a grassroots movement and fighting for legislative and local solutions.

"It is evident that the West Bronx is facing a housing crisis that is drastically affecting the quality of life of our residents and impeding their ability to prosper," said State Senator Gustavo Rivera. "I am honored to have my colleagues at the state and local level join me in forming the West Bronx Housing Coalition. There is no simple solution to our housing problem, but this Coalition will empower us to address the most pressing housing issues together, both as members of our community and as legislators. Our goal is clear- we want to ensure that every tenant in the West Bronx has the tools and the support that they need to secure and maintain a safe, affordable and decent home."

The overarching goals of the West Bronx Coalition are to:
  • Create and implement an educational campaign to inform tenants and landlords of their rights and responsibilities under the different housing laws and policies to curtail unjustified rent-destabilization and unethical practices that strain tenant-landlord relationships.
  • Engage and organize West Bronx tenants and community leaders onto a united and community-centric platform focused on effectively advocating for practices and policies that protect our affordable housing stock and the families that live in those apartments.
  • Build a process to identify and appropriately address recurring issues that adversely affect our housing stock and the quality of life of West Bronx tenants by sharing information and collaborating to find and implement solutions.
  • Work towards building and improving tenant-landlord relationships throughout the West Bronx in an effort to establish responsible building-wide policies, increase access to resources that will help protect affordable housing, and hold all parties accountable.
Coalition members are City and State legislators representing Kingsbridge, Fordham Heights, Belmont, University Heights, Mount Hope and East Tremont, who have demonstrated a commitment to pro-tenant legislative and community efforts. The Coalition plans to collaborate with local housing advocates, community leaders, and upstanding landlords that are committed to their tenants in an effort to combat practices and policies that are exacerbating the housing crisis in the West Bronx and creating extensive hardship to its residents.

"I am pleased to join my Bronx colleagues at both the city and state level to collaboratively take on the housing issues impacting the West Bronx," said Council Member Vanessa L. Gibson. "Our communities have been wounded by too many stories of unjust evictions, unwarranted harassment, and unanswered property management complaints. Working together, this coalition will be able to address these growing issues holistically and turn the tide on negligent landlords and predatory buyers."

"I am pleased to work with colleagues in government and community leaders to form the West  Bronx Housing Coalition. Throughout my 21 years of representing the Northwest Bronx in the  Assembly, I have been a staunch advocate for tenants. In addition to fighting for stronger tenant  protection laws in Albany, my staff and I regularly help constituents understand their rights as tenants and resolve issues with landlords. The West Bronx Housing Coalition will be a strong,  united voice for tenants in our community, and I look forward to working closely with the Coalition to improve tenant-landlord relationships in the years to come," said Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz.

"As housing costs continue to spiral through the roof, families throughout the West Bronx are being squeezed by the worst affordable housing crisis in New York's history, and I am pleased to join with elected officials from throughout our community as we stand-up for residents from all walks of life," said Assemblywoman Latoya Joyner,. "Together we can make a difference in the battle for quality affordable housing by unifying around an agenda that includes strengthening state rent regulations. I am pleased to join with state Senator Gustavo Rivera as we work together on an issue the affects the entire West Bronx."

"The West Bronx Housing Coalition is a platform that will allow my colleagues and I to address the current housing issues our constituencies face every day. There has been a tremendous need for housing preservation in the Northwest Bronx. As more people move into this area of the borough the pressure on the existing housing stock is at a breaking point, and we need to do everything that we can to protect it. The goals of this coalition will help resolve these recurring issues progressively in an effort to protect tenants and the housing they rely on," said Council Member Andrew Cohen.

"The majority of tenants in my district struggle to afford the roof over their head," said Assemblymember Victor Pichardo. "They are often plagued by substandard living conditions in their buildings, and are in constant fear of not making their next month's rent.  I, along with my colleagues in the West Bronx Housing Coalition led by State Senator Gustavo Rivera, vow to end this practice by reforming and strengthening New York State's rent laws."

"Without rent stabilization laws, housing would be entirely unaffordable to families of the West Bronx. The financial incentive of removing rent-stabilized tenants places these residents at risk for the worst abuses by malevolent landlords: harassment and the denial of repairs," said Council Member Ritchie Torres. "I look forward to working with a coalition of elected officials and organizations to protect the rights of tenants in the West Bronx."

"As a child I know how it is to live in a shelter with my mother and two sisters for six months. I am proud to be a part of this launching of the West Bronx Housing Coalition," said Assemblyman Jose Rivera.

"As the cost of living increases and wages remain stagnant, maintaining affordable housing remains a central concern for residents in The Bronx and the city at large. Building a better Bronx requires that its residents have decent and affordable places to live, so I support the Coalition's efforts to inform residents of their rights, advocate for stronger rental protection laws, and fight to maintain and develop the affordable housing in our communities. Housing is a right, and residents in The Bronx deserve equal treatment and an affordable place to call home," said Assemblyman Michael Blake.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

IDC invests in hardworking New York families in State Senate one-house budget resolution

  Senate resolution includes key IDC proposals for infrastructure upgrades,  job growth, affordable housing, college affordability and paid family leave

As the State Senate Coalition announced its $139.7 billion one-house budget resolution on Wednesday, State Senate Coalition Co-Leader Jeff Klein and the members of the Independent Democratic Conference unfurled key achievements for New York’s hardworking families.

Paid family leave, a major infrastructure repair and jobs program, affordable housing, aid for working families, help for seniors and a state tax deduction for college loan repayment were chief among the IDC’s “Invest NY” policy proposals to be adopted in the senate’s 2015-16 one-house resolution.

“Once again, I’m proud to deliver for New York State’s hardworking families in this year’s State Senate budget resolution. The IDC knows that investing in New Yorkers is the best way to move this state forward. We put forth concrete ideas that will generate over 135,000 jobs and rebuild infrastructure across the state. While the IDC values hard work, it also recognizes the need for time off from employment in life’s best and worst times. That’s why it’s so important that paid family leave is included in our one-house resolution so that no New Yorker has to choose between their bank account or taking care of a loved one. Most of all, we’re proud that this resolution contains so many of the IDC’s proposals that will aid our seniors, help college students, continue to fund UPK and child care subsidies, develop much needed middle-income housing and rehabilitate the deplorable conditions in  NYCHA developments,” said State Senate Coalition Co-Leader Klein.

“This one-house resolution delivers for the hardworking middle class families throughout New York State. I am pleased that this budget shows our commitment to education by providing $1 billion in Gap Elimination Adjustment relief. I am also glad that this resolution makes upstate infrastructure projects a priority, as well as, addressing many of the concerns of our senior citizens,” said Independent Democratic Conference Deputy Leader David Valesky.

“The IDC stood up for New York State’s families and successfully fought for an agenda that works for them.  Families will benefit from paid family leave, increased child care funding, college affordability initiatives and middle-class affordable housing plans. The IDC’s robust jobs creation and infrastructure vision will also revitalize our state. This budget addresses the needs of our seniors by reducing costs to those living on fixed incomes and by providing needed services for elderly New Yorkers,” said State Senator Diane Savino.

“The State Senate’s one-house budget resolution provides for New York State’s working families by bringing meaningful property tax relief for homeowners, addressing college affordability issues and helping our seniors afford their utility bills. This budget is an important step toward helping new undergraduates and parents who are paying for college by doubling the tax deduction and credit. I’m also proud of the actions we take in this budget to help our seniors continue to afford to live at home by advancing a proposal to create real relief for seniors paying sky high utility bills,” said State Senator David Carlucci.

“I’m proud of the State Senate’s one-house budget resolution that delivers so much for New Yorks families. It tackles the growing need for middle class housing and also includes a green building tax credit, which I proposed, to ensure that homeowners could afford to build or upgrade properties with environmentally sound design. I’m thrilled that our seniors, again, with the help of the IDC will be able to live comfortably and affordably in their communities,” said State Senator Tony Avella.

INVEST NY” and other IDC proposals included in the State Senate one-house include:


Paid family leave, a growing national issue, permits workers up to six-weeks annual leave to tend to a sick relative or bond with a newborn or adopted child. The policy applies to all parents regardless of gender. Paid family leave, subsidized by New York State, comes at no cost to employees or employers in the public or private sectors. When the program is fully implemented, an employee could collect up to 50% of the average weekly wage.


The IDC’s visionary plan to spur job growth and repair crumbling infrastructure throughout the state creates the Empire Public Works revolving loan fund (EPW) and the Community Jobs Program (CJP).

The EPW invests in large, long-term projects to rehabilitate roads, bridges, rail, transit and water and sewer systems.  Projects eligible for financing include the replacement to the Tappan Zee Bridge in the Hudson Valley, along with other projects under the direction of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), Upstate Transit Authorities, local governments, state agencies and public authorities. The IDC anticipates the EPW would create 97,000 new jobs.

The IDC’s Community Jobs Program (CJP) focuses on bringing individuals into the workforce who have been marginalized from it or have had trouble entering the workforce. This program finances smaller projects and administers grants as opposed to loans. It would create 41,700 jobs.


Middle-Income Housing

The IDC wants hardworking, middle-class New Yorkers to afford housing throughout the state. In order to create more units of affordable housing for families earning up to 130% of the AMI the Moderate Income Loan program provides capital financing for the construction of units, which must remain affordable for at least thirty years.

The IDC also advocated for the Middle Income Tax Credit to provide 4% tax credits for developers financing the construction of units affordable to middle income families.


After issuing an investigative report on the deplorable conditions in NYCHA developments, the IDC called for funding to repair and upgrade buildings with accountability.

The NYCHA Public Housing Revitalization Fund and a NYCHA Repair Zoning Bonus will help address the serious issues NYCHA  residents face.  The fund would have an oversight component.

The NYCHA Zoning Bonus allows 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 repair speed since NYCHA’s work orders can take up to two years.

Green Buildings Tax Credit

While environmentally sound development is the future, it also comes at a high cost to homeowners and builders. This tax credit for homeowners and developers incentivizes development according to guidelines of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED).


NY Student Loan Interest Deduction

Currently, the federal government allows a maximum $2,500 tax deduction on student loan interest. The IDC proposed the  NY Student Loan Interest Deduction allowing a matching state tax deduction for interest paid on undergraduate student loans. Borrowers who qualify for this tax deduction cannot have incomes exceeding $75,000.


Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities (NORCs)

A Naturally Occurring Retirement Community, or NORC, is a recent phenomenon as seniors decide to remain at home instead of relocating to retirement communities. The NORC Supportive Service Program (NORC-SSP) and Neighborhood NORC (NNORC) offer supportive services to seniors who live in these communities. Both provide funding to not-for-profit organizations which offer supportive services to seniors. The IDC requested additional funding for these crucial services.

The Invest NY REPAIR 2015 Program
With many seniors choosing to remain home, they sometimes need financial help to create accessibility within their homes, but they cannot afford to pay for it on a fixed income.

The IDC creates an expansion of the Residential Emergency Services to Offer Home Repairs to the Elderly (RESTORE) program by creating the NY REPAIR 2015 Program. This allows both low- and middle-income seniors to share in the benefits.  Applicants 60 years and older with incomes of up to 130% of the AMI would be eligible to apply for a tax credit of up to $7,500 for home repairs. Such repairs may include, but are not limited to, the installation of ramps, the installation of bathroom and household grab bars, the widening of doorways, the lowering of light switches and other modifications that would make a home wheelchair-accessible or otherwise enable a senior to be able to remain in their home.

The Invest NY Senior Utility Circuit Breaker
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average person over 65 years of age spends $3,480 a year on utilities, fuels, and public charges.  This category of includes expenses such as electricity, phone service, water and sewer charges, and fuels such as natural gas or heavy fuel oil which are used for heating or cooking.  According to the BLS, the average person over 65 has an income of $41,885 before taxes.  This means that they spend 8.3% of their income on utilities.  As people age, the percentage of their income that is taken up by utility charges increases.   

The IDC’s senior utility circuit breaker would deliver relief to any senior household that pays more than seven percent of their annual income in utilities in the form of a refundable tax credit. This proposal would provide a senior household with relief equal to half of their expenses above the seven percent threshold. For the purposes of this proposal, covered expenses would include electricity charges, gas, heating charges, including the costs of any fuels, water and sewer charges, internet, and telephone charges excluding cell phone service.
If the average consumer over 65 years old paying the average on utilities applied for the IDC’s circuit breaker credit, they would receive $274 in relief.  That amount is half the amount, which is $548, above seven percent of that person’s income, which would be $2,931.95. For the average 75 year old consumer, the relief would equal $365, which is half of $730, above seven percent of that person’s income, which is $2,292.
Department of Motor Vehicles Discount
Department of Motor Vehicles fees have increased over the years by 25% for driver registrations and re-registrations, with additional surcharges for seniors living in the MTA region. Fees for registration and re-registration are based on vehicle weight and can vary with the average being $55, with a $25 MTA surcharge per year.

These charges hit seniors living on fixed incomes hard. The IDC proposes a 10% discount to seniors on these burdensome registration fees.
Long Term Care Ombudsman
Long Term Care Ombudsman are often the only voice for residents in state-licensed long-term care facilities. In fact, New York State is mandated by Federal law under the Older Americans Act to operate a Long Term Care Ombudsman Program. Ombudsman play a vital role in advocating for residents and facilitating issues that arise. However, this program has been flatly funded for many years in New York State and the 2015-16 Executive Budget again continued the   
flat funding. The IDC successfully advocated for increased funding for this program.


Funding for Universal Pre-K in New York City will continue at $300 million annually, and would increase in the rest of state to $80 million for a total of $380 million statewide.

Community schools, which the IDC has long-supported, stands to receive $8 million.


The IDC pushed for child care subsidies to help working families afford daycare. No parent should be torn between a career or staying home because of the price of daycare. This year the IDC requested an additional $20 million increase over the Executive Budget in child care subsidies.

New facilitated enrollment child care pilot programs, which help low-income parents with childcare costs, will receive increased funding.