Saturday, July 25, 2015

Van Nest Family Day

This was what it was all about, Family Fun as Assemblymen Mark Gjonaj and Luis Sepulveda  who jointly represent the Van Nest area came out to help celebrate Van Nest Family Day.

There were free hot dogs, snacks, bottles of water, and even the Balloon Lady who made pretty animals out of balloons. 

Assemblyman Luis Sepulveda brought his darling son, who just wanted to eat the snack bag rather than get a kiss from daddy.

As usual Assemblyman Mark Gjonaj had his bag of whistles that he was giving a whistle to all the children, and even some Adults.

Pictured here are Ms. Bernadette Ferrara President of the Van Nest Neighborhood Alliance, with Executive board members Virginia Toreli, and John Messenger who stand around the two assembly members who represent their community. On a sad note I saw that the once thriving Catholic School that is on the corner of White Plains Road and Van Nest Avenue has closed and is to become PS 311 of the New York City School System. Everyone was unhappy when St. Dominick's church and school was closed by the Archdiocese, but there are hopes now that PS 311 will occupy the building.

52nd PCT Community Council - National Night Out


  Statement by Cira Angeles, Spokesperson of the 
Livery Base Owners Association, about the Uber Agreement:

"We want to congratulate the Mayor, the City Council and the many elected officials who have worked with the Livery industry over the years for the consensus they've reached as we take a closer look at our industry and create a comprehensive approach in dealing with for-hire vehicles.  For over 40 years, the men and women in our industry - operating over 27,000 vehicles and performing 350,000 trips per day - have worked hard to create an economic engine in communities throughout this city. We believe the Mayor and the City Council have recognized these facts.

Our industry has witnessed an unbelievable transformation over the last five years.  The boro taxi, the changes in regulations to for hire vehicles, the price of yellow medallions, Vision Zero and the introduction of Uber and Lyft are all part of this rapid transformation.  We are looking forward to taking a deep dive into the issues, focusing on what matters and then making the changes that will allow ALL of the parts of our industry to continue to grow in our great city."

STATEMENT FROM BP DIAZ RE: Renaming of the Morrisania Post Office for Herman Badillo

  “Herman Badillo was not only my predecessor and a legend in government and civic life, he was my mentor and friend. I was proud to have proposed the renaming of the Morrisania Post Office in honor of Herman Badillo’s Congressional service, and I am even prouder today that President Obama has seen fit to sign this legislation into law.

“I am especially grateful to our United State Senators, Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, as well as our borough’s Congressional delegation—Jose Serrano, Charles Rangel, Joseph Crowley and Eliot Engel—for their considerable support of this legislation. I look forward to celebrating the renaming of this historic building for an icon of service, Herman Badillo, in the near future,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.


  There was Dominican Pride and lots of beautiful Princesses on hand for the Abrazo Dominicano last night at Maestro's Cafe. The event started off slow as people were held outdoors for over an hour as it seemed to be a miscommunication as Senator Ruben Diaz Sr.'s staff were late in arriving. Once everything was set up the room soon filled to capacity, and everyone enjoyed the party. 

On hand were Team Crespo 2015 (the new name for the old Team Diaz) with Assemblyman, and Bronx Democratic County Leader Marcos Crespo the Master of Ceremonies this year. L - R are Assemblyman Luis Sepulveda, Assemblyman Marcos Crespo, Congressman Jose Serrano, State Senator Ruben Diaz Sr., and New member to Team Crespo Assemblyman Victor Pichardo. 

Yolanda Cruz belted out the United States National Anthem. 

Julio Allendi sang the National Anthem of the Dominican Republic.

The Honorees seated in front of the elected officials included Sra. Cira Angeles, Sra. Estela Vazquez, Hon. Roberto Rodriguez, and Lic. Rosa Ayala. 

In traditional Team Diaz now Team Crespo style, Maestro Caterers Chief Carvers Gjena and Edmond await the crowd as they ready to carve the succulent roasted pigs. 


On Thursday, July 23, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., and the Dominican Day Parade hosted  a Dominican Heritage Celebration, honoring the newly formed 2015 National Dominican Day Parade and introducing the new committee for the Manhattan parade.

“It is a great day to celebrate the Dominican people in the borough of The Bronx. Currently, there are over 210,000 individuals of Dominican heritage already living in this great borough and as the numbers continues to increase, every neighborhood is getting a taste of the rich culture and heritage that the community offers,” said Borough President Diaz. 

The parade will take place on 6th Avenue in Manhattan on August 9, 2015. Sponsors of the event include Mamajuana Cafe, Inca Kola and Jetro Wine & Spirits.

Above - Chef Felix preparing some of the delicious food from Mamajuama Cafe (located at 3233 East Tremont Avenue) that was available at the BP's event.
Below - A traditional Dominican dance.

Assemblymember Pichardo: Raise minimum wage for all workers

This came in from Assemblyman Victor Pichardo. We wonder why when the state legislature fails to act, and when Governor Cuomo acts on the issue all the King's men come out with statements. Do something Assemblyman Pichardo, talk is cheap as is what you say.

     “For far too long, my neighbors who depend on minimum wage have struggled to survive. Today’s announcement will significantly raise the income of fast-food workers and help pull many out of poverty – this is a momentous victory for these workers and a proud day for all New Yorkers.

 “While raising the minimum wage for fast-food employees is a major step in the right direction, a minimum wage increase should not be limited to one industry. All minimum wage employees need and deserve an increase in their wages. I will continue fighting to ensure everyone earns a livable wage, because no one who works full time should struggle to put food on the table and a roof over their heads.”

Borough President Diaz Allocates Over $34 Million to Bronx Organizations

  Borough President Diaz allocated $34,450,000 to 108 total projects, with money going to nearly 70 education projects across the borough, park upgrades, the redesign and redevelopment of a portion of the Grand Concourse as well as the creation of over 2,300 units of new housing, among other projects.

"Through these critical funding allocations my office is able to provide technology upgrades to public schools, safety improvements for NYCHA residents, park renovations and thousands of units of new housing," said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., who since taking office in 2009, has funded a total of 480 projects for $166,480,000. "I am proud to have been able to provide this funding to so many worthy institutions in this year's capital budget."

This year, Borough President Diaz's largest allocations went towards housing -- for a total of $11.2 million, representing 32.7 percent of his total capital budget. These funds will support the creation of 2,331 new units of housing of all types across sixteen projects, keeping in line with Borough President Diaz's commitment to keep the borough's housing stock diverse and affordable.

Borough President Diaz is also providing more than $10.6 million -- 30.8 percent of his entire capital budget -- to 67 school projects across the borough that will be used for technology upgrades and other physical plant improvements in public schools across The Bronx.

Several other notable projects include $1 million towards the next phase of the renovation of the Grand Concourse, over $1 million towards renovations at Lehman College and Bronx Community College, $500,000 towards a new building for the Pregones Theater, and $150,000 towards a dog run on Pelham Parkway.

"This critical funding helps keep our educational institutions vibrant, our schools strong, our parks clean and our neighborhoods safe. This funding is critical to the continued positive growth of our communities, and I am proud to have helped so many important projects in every corner of our borough," said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.

The full list of projects can be found at

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Free Summer Movies Under the Stars

Please join me for A Summer Movie Under the StarsEnjoy a free, family movie at Long Meadow North in Prospect Park on Wednesdays from July 22nd to August 12th, all beginning at 7:00 PM: 
  • July 22nd - E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial
  • July 29th - Where the Wild Things Are
  • August 5th - The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part I
  • August 12th - Happy Feet
The movies start shortly after sunset. Bring your own blanket!


P.S. Save the dates for these upcoming events, which I am proud to support, at and around Brooklyn Borough Hall; please contact our office for additional information:

Elected Officials and Leaders of the Livery Industry Against City Council Bill

  Bronx elected officials and livery tax industry leaders met this morning to discuss their concerns with a bill that is pending before the New York City Council that will add 10,000 commercial vehicles to the taxi industry.  This legislation is  causing a fight between Mayor Bill DeBlasio and Uber.

A consensus was reached by the group that there is no protection in this bill as it is now, to protect the livery industry, and as such the City Council should not take a vote and should hold the bill until it includes protection for the livery industry.

This meeting was attended by State Senators Rev Ruben Diaz and Adriano Espaillat;  Bronx Democratic County Leader Marcos Crespo; Assemblymen Luis Sepulveda, Jose Rivera and Victor Pichardo.  Representing the Taxi Industry were: Cira Angeles, Antonio Cabrera, Daniel Genese, Elvin Marte, Marcos De La Cruz, Nancy Soria, Francisco Roa, Jose R. Jean, and Avik Kabessa.

BDCC Announces Endorsement of Hillary Clinton

   Today the Bronx Democratic County Committee (BDCC), chaired by Assembly Member Marcos A. Crespo, announced its endorsement of Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in the campaign race for the 2016 Democratic Presidential Nomination.

“As our former U.S Senator from New York and then U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton has a proven track record of leadership and commitment to championing issues that are important to every day Americans. Bronx Democrats are proud to endorse her not only because she believes in building our party and making it stronger than ever but because we are united by our Democratic values in the fight to build stronger communities and ensuring that all people, regardless of background, can achieve their full potential,” said Bronx Democratic Party Leader Marcos A. Crespo.

“I enthusiastically endorse Hillary Clinton for President. As a long time supporter of Hillary Clinton I have seen up close her strong commitment to progressive ideals, her amazing work ethic and her incredible knowledge of every possible issue of concern to us,” echoed Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz, County Committee Chair. “No one has ever been more qualified or more prepared to be President. I am confident that the Bronx will overwhelmingly support her candidacy and I look forward to working to help elect her president of the United States.”

"Hillary Clinton has been a champion for working families throughout her entire political career. Her leadership, achievements, and experience make her the ideal presidential candidate," said Bronx Party Secretary and Councilwoman Annabel Palma. “I am proud to join my colleague, Assembly Member Crespo, and the Bronx Democratic County Committee, in resoundingly supporting Hillary Clinton to be our next president of this great country of ours."

Bronx Democratic County Committee
As the Democratic Party organization in The Bronx, the Bronx Democratic County Committee’s mission is not only to help elect Democrats across the borough who will continue to fight for progress and for the residents of our communities, but we are also deeply committed to our Democratic values through engaging Bronxites year-round to increase access to resources by connecting them to legal, financial, and other public services, participating in political activism initiatives, and serving as an inclusive facilitator between our communities and Party members.

Assemblyman Dinowitz Reminds Consumers of the Dangers of Unsecured Furniture

   Following Ikea’s recent announcement that they will be offering free wall anchoring kits to customers who have purchased certain products, Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz reminded consumers of the dangers of not securing heavy household furniture.

“Nearly every two weeks a child dies when a TV or some other large piece of furniture falls on them,” said Assemblyman Dinowitz. “According to one study from the federal Consumer Product Safety Commission, over 349 consumers were killed between 2000 and 2011 as a result of furniture toppling over; 84% of those deaths were children younger than nine years old. This is exactly why I sponsored a bill earlier this year requiring the New York State Department of State’s Division of Consumer Protection to create a public awareness campaign about the dangers of unsecured furniture” (A.7018).

The same federal commission estimates that over 43,000 consumers are injured each year in similar tip-over incidents; more than 25,000 of those injuries being suffered by children younger than 18. Falling furniture accounts for more than half of the reported injuries. However, falling televisions are more deadly, as they are associated with 62% of reported fatalities.

Mr. Dinowitz’s bill, which passed with overwhelming bi-partisan support in both the Assembly and in the Senate where it was sponsored by Senator Patricia Ritchie (R-Jefferson), and is to be sent to the Governor’s office for his signature or veto. Specifically, the legislation requires the Division of Consumer Protection to develop, establish, and implement a public awareness campaign related to the dangers of unsecured furniture, televisions, and other household appliances.

“The number one victims of unsecured furniture are overwhelmingly children. These tragedies are easily preventable, and it starts with passing along the information to and making the public aware of how to put a stop to these incidents from happening,” Assemblyman Dinowitz noted. “Ikea’s recent announcement serves as a reminder to all of us of the dangers associated with un-anchored furniture, and the propensity of these incidents to result in severe injury.”

“I strongly urge the Governor to sign this bill in to law,” said Mr. Dinowitz. “This awareness campaign is going to save many lives by encouraging people to take the appropriate actions when it comes to securing furniture.”


          Patrick L. Gualtieri, a U.S. Army veteran of Vietnam who helped build a struggling New York City Veterans Day Parade intoAmerica’s Parade, the largest celebration of service in America, died July 21 after a short illness.
Pat Gualtieri, 70, was born and raised in Brooklyn.  He served in the U.S. Army from 1966-68, including a one-year tour in Vietnam during the Tet Offensive.
He once described lying in the jungle watching as “Puff,” an American gunship, rained fire on North Vietnemese regulars during Tet.  “I had mixed feelings, happy to be alive, yet saddened that so many would die.”
After a career in event production in Los Angeles, Pat returned to New York City in 2000 to take over the struggling Veterans Day Parade.  As executive director of the United War Veterans Council, producers of the parade, Gualtieri built the annual event into America’s Parade, the largest celebration of service in the nation.
The parade now includes more than 25,000 participants, including active duty military units, veterans organizations, high school marching bands from around the nation, top elected officials from New York City and New York State and the highest ranking U.S. military commanders.
Hundreds of thousands of spectators line Fifth Avenue on November 11 to pay tribute to veterans.  Pat also has arranged to have the parade broadcast nationwide and on Armed Forces TV to every U.S. military installation and ship in the world.
“The veterans community mourns the loss of a giant, who devoted his life to honoring those who served,” said Vincent McGowan, founding president of the United War Veterans Council.  “Pat’s boundless energy and unflagging goodwill helped drive our efforts to shape a world-class effort to honor service on November 11 and every day of the year.”
Pat is survived by two daughters, Tara Mendelson and Gayla Gualtieri; a brother, Joseph; a grandson and granddaughter; and his life partner, Marlene ‘Molly’ Levi.
There will be a memorial visitation Saturday2 – 5 p.m. and 7 – 10 p.m., and Sunday, 11 a.m. – 2 p.m., at Cusimano & Russo Funeral Home, 2005 West 6th Street, Brooklyn, NY 11223.
Memorial donations may be made to Friends of Vietnam Veterans Plaza and The United War Veterans Council.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Friends of Mark Gjonaj Fundraiser 7/28/15

Please Join us in a Fundraising Celebration for
New York State Assemblyman Mark Gjonaj

Tuesday, July 28, 2015
Don Coqui Restaurant
565 City Island Avenue
Bronx NY 10464

Food and Refreshments will be served.

For more information:

(Click HERE to download contribution form)

Assemblyman Luis Sepúlveda Calls on Citizens to Report Illegal Guns After Shootings

Office of Assemblyman Luis Sepúlveda
District Office: 1973 Westchester Ave, Bx. NY ∙ 
Phone: 718-931-8620

  Assemblyman Luis R. Sepúlveda today urged community members to report illegal guns and suspicious activity to the NYPD's Operation Gun Stop Program after a spate of shootings in the Bronx over the weekend.  Rewards of $1,000 are available for anonymous tips phoned into 1-866-GUN-STOP (1-866-486-7867).

"The Bronx is bleeding, and it's our youngest citizens who are being affected the most," said Assemblyman Sepúlveda.  "We must come together as a community to put a stop to this violence.  If you know someone with a gun, call the NYPD's Operation Gun Stop hotline so that we can remove as many guns from the street as possible.  Too many times I've had to console mothers who have lost their children to gun violence. It must come to an end."

On Sunday, Assemblyman Sepúlveda met with Yvonne Rodriguez, the mother of Ray Rosello, 20, who was shot and killed early Sunday morning in West Farms. Rodriguez has been an active member of the West Farms community and has worked with Assemblyman Sepúlveda on a number of projects.  Her annual block party to encourage community involvement is scheduled for this Saturday, just a week after the death of her son.  She now intends on holding that block party in his memory.

Sepúlveda also called for an increase in gun control to prevent the flood of guns into New York.

"When I was first elected as a member of the Assembly, one of the first bills I voted on was the SAFE Act.  I'm proud of the strict gun laws we have in New York State, but we must work harder to prevent the importation of guns from states with lax gun laws.”

During the weekend of July 19th multiple shooting incidents occurred in the Bronx, including the fatal shooting of Rosello just blocks from where Sepúlveda lives, and at a barbecue where six people were shot.

Operation Gun Stop, privately funded by the New York City Police Foundation, began in 2001 and since then has led to over 5,500 arrests and the removal of 3,350 illegal weapons from New York City Streets.

Assemblyman Luis Sepúlveda represents New York’s 87th Assembly District, which includes  the Bronx neighborhoods of Parkchester, Castle Hill, West Farms, Van Nest, Unionport, and Stratton Park.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Events From Assemblyman Mark Gjonaj and Luis Sepulveda

New York Post - De Blasio Crowned King ‘Jerk’ at Sandwich Contest

   This one was to good to be passed up, as it is not the war of words between Governor Cuomo and Mayor Bill deBlasio, but the war of words between the New York Post and Mayor Bill deBlasio which has heated up. This started last week when a New York Post reporter asked a question on a crime increase in the city of the mayor, who replied the New York Post is a Fear Monger Newspaper.

Jamaican Jerk Festival New York's photo.   Now it appears the Post has taken it one step further calling the mayor the King 'Jerk' due to the mayor winning the Jerk sandwich competition at the Jamaican Jerk Festival New York with the deBlasio 'Swagga Sandwich.' The Post describes the winning deBlasio 'Swagger Sandwich', and that he beat the 2014 winner Miss Jamaica 2014 Kaci Fennell. The Post quotes deBlasio calling Fennell a Noble Competitor, with talent and beauty, but that he 9The mayor) has wisdom on his side in winning this year's Jamaican Jerk Festival New York sandwich contest. The Post concludes the story by adding that the mayor got help this year from First Lady Charlene McCray and former Congresswoman Una Clarke. You can find the entire Post story De Blasio Crowned King 'Jerk' here. 
Photo from the Jamaican Jerk Festival New York Facebook page. 



Three roads are set to be re-paved in Riverdale and Kingsbridge

   After receiving complaints from constituents that utilize the highly-trafficked areas listed below, Council Member Andrew Cohen worked with the Department of Transportation (DOT) to have the following roads repaved in District 11 during their next repaving cycle:

Riverdale Avenue between West 231st Street and West 239th Street 
Riverdale Avenue is a heavily trafficked street that has both local and express buses traveling over it as well as many school buses going to the nearby schools and delivery trucks dropping off and picking up at the businesses located along the commercial corridor.  The street is also on a steep incline which makes it difficult for cars going over potholes, sometimes causing damage to vehicles.  This is an important street due to its close proximity to schools, parks, and serves as bridge connecting the neighborhood of Riverdale with Kingsbridge.

West 231st Street between Broadway and Albany Crescent
Located in the heart of the Kingsbridge Business Improvement District and one block north of a new shopping mall, this particular section of West 231st Street is one of the most heavily trafficked of any street in District 11 and as such has seen a gradual deterioration. Located directly underneath the elevated 1 train, the road bed is riddled with potholes, bumps and depressions. The repaving of this area will restore the road so that the unevenness is eliminated, creating a smoother ride for the buses and cars that utilize it daily.

Fieldston Road between Mosholu Parkway and West 250th Street
With Riverdale Country School and the commercial corridor along Mosholu Avenue creating a high-level of along Fieldston Road, it has become unsafe for the many cars and buses that utilize it regularly.  Fieldston Road intersects with an entrance to the Henry Hudson Parkway, allowing many cars use it to enter or exit the Parkway, adding to the increased traffic.

The repaving of West 231st Street and Riverdale Avenue will begin on Tuesday, July 21st, while the repaving of Fieldston Road is set to begin on Tuesday, September 8th.

“No one wants to travel stretches of road that are riddled with potholes, bumps and depressions. With the resurfacing and repaving of West 231st Street, Fieldston Road and Riverdale Avenue, we are ensuring the safe travels of school buses, city buses, parents dropping of their children and the everyday commuter. I look forward to being able to travel throughout my local commercial corridors with ease,” said Council Member Andrew Cohen.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Allerton Avenue Street Festival

Allerton Avenue was closed off Saturday between Wallace Avenue to Boston Road for the 8th Annual Allerton Ave Festival and International Food Show. Assembly Mark Gjonaj along with the Allerton Avenue Merchants Association sponsored the event which featured free international delights, music and dancing by the South Bronx Kids. There was a dunk tank where the Director of the Allerton Avenue Merchants Association Mr. Gene DeFrancis went into the water many times. There were also many vendors and information tables set up on the street, and after the fire trucks left and cleared the street by Boston Road there were hayrides as Assemblyman Gjonaj is now famous for providing. The photos below will tell the rest of the story.

Above - The 49 Pct. Explorers maned the Cotton candy machine.
Below - Vendors such as Nissan and Verizon were on hand.

Above - Mr.DeFrancis of the Allerton Avenue Merchants Association watches as the ball that was thrown is about to hit the target that will send him into the water.
Below - He is dunked into the water as the ball has hit the target.

Above and below - The hit of the Allerton Avenue Street Festival had to be the South Bronx Kids who performed, and then changed for a second dance.

Above - Ceaser prepares to carve up another favorite that was at the Street Festival.
Below - Assemblyman Mark Gjonaj with some of the his staff who helped organize the Allerton Avenue Street Festival.