Saturday, November 21, 2015

100 Percent Saturday November 21, 2015


By Robert Press


     That was what the Bronx Borough Board said to the two City Planning Commission proposals called MIH and ZQA when the vote was over. All 12 Bronx Community Boards said no to both even after boards 6 and 9 had originally voted in favor of the two CPC proposals. It seems that both CB 6 and CB 9 were somewhat confused by the quickness of the presentation at their board level, and thought that they had to vote on the night of the presentation to them by CPC. After some clarity, and the second presentation at the borough level both boards that were in favor suddenly realized that Bronxites were united from all over the borough that the MIH and ZQA zoning Text Amendments were wrong for the Bronx and for their community board. 
    All city council members with the exception of council member Mark-Vivirito who abstained, and council members Cabrera and Vacca who were absent voted to reject the MIH and ZQA proposals. Then it was Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.'s turn to vote, and he gave a short speech about what is wrong with the CPC MIH and ZQA proposals, and how the city can not make a one size fits all plan when the 51 neighborhoods of the Bronx are of their own character. What may be good for one neighborhood may not be good for another. BP Diaz's full comments can be found in the archive section of this blog
      Newly elected Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark has formed her transition team in order make the change in the office go as smooth as possible. the entire listing of her transition team can be found in the archive section .
    The Bronx Chamber of Commerce held their annual Veterans Brunch along with a Job/Resource fair last week, and over 200 Veterans from the various wars were in attendance. New President and CEO of the BCC Nunzio Del Greco was introduced by BCC Chairman Joe Kelleher, and Executive Director Michelle Dolgow-Christrofaro announced that she would be leaving the BCC to take a position with State Senator Jeff Klein. Photos of the event can be found on this blog.
      Senator Jeff Klein, Assemblyman Mark Gjonaj, and the North Bronx Democratic Club will be hosting their 1st Holiday Dinner (which is sure to become an annual event) on Tuesday December 1st at Maestro's Caterers located at 1703 Bronxdale Avenue from 6 - 9 PM. The Guest of Honor is New York State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, and the Honorees include Norman Seabrook, Beatrice Castiglia Catuillo, Joseph Kelleher, and Meisha Ross Porter. For more information and to purchase tickets and/or journal ad, you can call 347-256-8719, or email The invitation is also on this blog just check the archive section.
    The trial of former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver is winding down as closing arguments are due next. The U.S. Attorney tried to carve out a scheme in different ways of Silver receiving 'Kickbacks' better know as client referrals on different occasions from different people. Silvers defense team claims that the U.S. Attorney did not prove its case and rested not calling a witness. We should have a verdict in this case before the first snowfall.
      The trial of former State Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and his son Adam Skelos began with what seems to me to be an open and shut case of what use to be common in the Bronx. The U.S.Attorney claims that the elder Skelos used his influence as Senate Majority Leader to get his son Adam several no show jobs on different occasions. Is it a coincidence or as many have said 'What goes on in Albany Politics' that one of the same witnesses called by the U.S. Attorney for the Silver trial also testified in the Skelos trial.
     Lastly, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. has announced that he is accepting applications for membership on any of the 12 Bronx Community Boards. Community Board members serve two year terms, and half the board members are up for reappointment every year. Some members leave, do not reapply, or in some rare cases are not reappointed to their respective community boards so new members are put on in their place. Applications are available at the Bronx Borough President's Community Board office, your local community board office, or online at . You can call the BP's Community Board office at 718-590-3914 for more information. The deadline for submission of a community board application for the next round of appointments is February 5, 2916.
      Look for a new newspaper that will be coming out in mid December that will featuire this column and my other column the Riverdale Report. More on this new exciting new newspaper in next column and on this blog.
       If you have any political information that you want to share or have checked out, any comments about this column, or would like to have an event listed or covered in this column or on my blog you can e-mail us at or call 718-644-4199 Mr. Robert Press.

REMARKS OF BP DIAZ RE: Opposition to Mayor de Blasio’s Zoning Proposals

  RE: Bronx Borough Board Vote to Oppose Mayor de Blasio’s Zoning Proposals

   It is clear that The Bronx stands united in one voice in opposition to these two proposals—“Zoning for Quality & Affordability” and “Mandatory Inclusionary Housing”—that Mayor de Blasio has put forward for our consideration. I add my voice to that opposition today, and I cast my vote against these items. 

So many different groups, organizations, and other concerned citizens came before our boards and my office to voice their concerns about these proposals. And so many different communities have different reasons to be opposed to this “one size fits all” approach to the future development of our borough and our city.

The “neighborhood by neighborhood” approach to planning has been very successful in The Bronx.  The borough has adopted no less than 14 rezonings since 2009. These proposed text amendments go against the grain of this successful approach to community-based planning, and must be rejected. One size does not fit all.

Despite the impact these combined proposals will have on density within our city, this administration has failed to discuss the social and physical infrastructure necessary to accommodate this new development.  How will the additional seniors be serviced?  Are there enough school seats for the children accompanying their parents as they move into new affordable units? Will existing transit options be able to handle a new influx of commuters? These questions, and many others, remain asked and unanswered.

One issue, the elimination of parking requirements, has been met with universal concern. The half-mile distance proposed from subway stations is too far to be considered a convenient walking distance. Additional criticisms are that, as the plan stands, The Bronx could be left out of opportunities for both low and moderate-income housing.

When real estate professionals and community housing advocates who seldom agree on anything have put forward serious criticisms of these text amendments, it is clear that what is being proposed is wrong for this borough and this city.

One universal critique of Mayor de Blasio’s proposal that has resonated across every community in this borough, and in fact across the city, is the speed of the process. Sixty days is not enough time to consider a massive, fundamental change to how development works in this city. In fact, the accelerated timeline this administration has imposed on us seems designed to limit community input, and to force us to accept these changes as written.

Mayor de Blasio and the Department of City Planning are moving too fast. These proposals must be reconsidered.

These are tremendously flawed proposals that, if adopted, would remove public input from the development process and attempt to paint future development of our unique communities with one broad brushstroke.

Allowing just 60 days for our community boards to weigh in on these proposals is disrespectful to the boards, their members and the neighborhoods they serve, and goes against the spirit of progressive, inclusionary and transparent government.

As chairman of this board, I speak for all of us in urging the City Council and our speaker, Melissa Mark-Viverito, to heed the united voices of The Bronx—and the growing chorus of opposition in every corner of this city—and to stop this proposal when it comes before the City Council.

Thanksgiving Message Fron the Bronx Chamber of Commerce

Dear Members and Friends:
As the Holiday Season is quickly approaching, I am extending my sincere greetings and hope that you have a very Happy Thanksgiving with your family and loved ones.

In these troubled times domestically and worldwide, it is more important than ever to be grateful and appreciate what we have, especially our family and friends. Make the most of every moment!

Please mark your calendars and plan on attending our
Annual Holiday Party & Toy Drive
Monday, December 14, 2015
Tosca Marquee
4034 East Tremont Ave. Bronx, NY.
I look forward to seeing you at the Holiday Party. "You never know where your next big deal is going to come from"! Reservation Forms will be available next week. Significant discounts are available exclusively for members of The Bronx Chamber of Commerce.

Best Wishes!


Nunzio Del Greco
President and CEO
Bronx Chamber of Commerce
"The Network for Business Success"
1200 Waters Place, Suite 106
Bronx, NY 10461

Friday, November 20, 2015


  The Bronx Borough Board voted unanimously 0-19-1 to disapprove Mayor Bill de Blasio’s proposed changes to the zoning law, known as “Zoning for Quality and Affordability” (ZQA) and “Mandatory Inclusionary Housing” (MIH).
The Department of City Planning (DCP) had previously presented on the subject to each Bronx Community Board and to the Bronx Borough Board. In addition, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. hosted a public comment session last week to gather input from the community.
“As chairman of this board, I speak for all of us in urging the City Council and our speaker, Melissa Mark-Viverito, to heed the united voices of The Bronx—and the growing chorus of opposition in every corner of this city—and to stop this proposal when it comes before the City Council,” said Borough President Diaz at the hearing.
Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. will issue a more detailed set of recommendations on the proposals in the coming days.
In Favor: None
Opposed: Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., City Council Members Maria del Carmen Arroyo, Andrew Cohen, Vanessa Gibson, Andy King, Annabel Palma, and Ritchie Torres; Bronx Community Boards 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12.
Abstentions: City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito.

Above and Below - The Bronx Borough Board made up of Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr,, The Chairs of all twelve Bronx Community Boards, and the Bronx City Council members hear from the City Planning Commission representatives about the proposed MIH and ZQA Text Amendments before the Bronx Borough Board members cast their vote.

Above - The Bronx Community Board Chairs all cast their vote against both CPC proposals -MIH and ZQA. 
Below - After the city council members (or their representatives) voted Bronx Borough President voted no on both CPC proposals. The complete vote tally is at the top/ 

Bronx Chamber of Commerce Veteran's Brunch - Job and Resource Fair

 The Bronx Chamber of Commerce Veterans Brunch and Job/resource fair opened up with BCC Chairman Joe Kelleher leading the packed room in the salute to the flag. He then introduced the new President and CEO of the BCC Mr. Nunzio Del Greco. After a very brief speech on his vision for the future of the BCC Mr. Greco introduced the Key note speaker State Senator Jeff Klein. Citations were given out to the three honorees, and after eating the packed room broke into song singing 'God Bless America'. There was one sad note as BCC Executive Director Michelle Dolgow-Christofaro announced that she will be leaving the BCC to take a position with State Senator Jeff Klein.- The Job/Resourse Fair then began with 30 employers and/or service providers.

Above - State Senator Jeff Klein give the Keynote speech.
Below Senator Klein with the three honorees, who are holding their citations.

Above and Below - At the end of the brunch, the packed room stood for a moment of silence for all the fallen soldiers, and then sang 'God Bless America' to show the comradely of the attendees.  

News From Councilman ANDY kING

Councilman King  Blasts DOE Following Discovery of G&T Pre-Tests Materials Contain Incorrect Info

   “I am extremely disturbed by the recent discovery that Gifted & Talented pre-test materials for non-English speaking students contain incorrect information. It is   unacceptable that in a city like ours, the growing population of non-English speaking children are being let down in this way. The ramifications of this error are far-reaching, and it is the responsibility of the Department of Education to do everything in its power to mitigate this harm NOW! I am committed to serving the diverse students and families of the 12th district, and look forward to working with DOE to correct and expand this year’s Gifted & Talented application process,”  said Council Member Andy King, Co-Chair of the Black, Latino & Asian Caucus.

Councilman King Proposes Bill to Regulate ‘Hover Boards’

  NYC Council Member Andy King proposed legislation this week that would make it illegal to operate an electronic “hover board” on the streets on New York City.
The recent spike in popularity of these devices, coupled with the growing safety concerns, creates a regulatory grey area that should be addressed swiftly, said Council Member King.
“The hover boards should have the same status as mobile chairs and should not be operated on the roads alongside cars, buses and trucks. It’s a safety issue,” said Council Member King.
Looking forward, Council Member King noted that long-term use of hover boards doesn’t promote a healthy lifestyle.   “Riding a hover board decreases physical activity. In the long run, walking is more beneficial for your heart and lungs than riding a hover board all day,” he said.

Bronx District Attorney-Elect Darcel Clark Announces Transition Team

  Bronx District Attorney Elect Darcel Clark today announced the members of her transition team, who will counsel her on the best means to achieve her stated vision and objectives for critical reforms and improvements as she assumes office on January 1st.  
The team, comprised of notable individuals with decades of experience in criminal justice as well as Bronx community leaders, will work over the course of the next month and a half to assist District Attorney-elect Clark in preparing to implement her priorities of greater transparency, accountability and responsiveness throughout the office.
That includes focusing on assessing the current state of the relationship between the office and other stakeholders in the Bronx criminal justice system; identifying top talent to join the office and evaluating current employees in the office; implementing a vertical prosecution system; establishing new internal office controls; defining the current state of affairs between the office and the community; and reviewing existing units and integration of new units, including teams for public integrity and Rikers Island.  
“With the campaign now behind us, we are getting to work to make sure that the Bronx always has a District Attorney’s office we can be proud of,” said DA-elect Clark. “I’ve compiled a team that not only understands the inner workings of the District Attorney’s office, but also has a passion for this community and is ready to work to strengthen this office so we can make the Bronx safer for all its residents.”
“We have important work to do to eliminate case backlogs, create time sensitive prosecutions, actively engage the community and bring real reform to Rikers Island,” said added. “This team will give me the expertise and planning skills I need to hit the ground running on day one.  The campaign is over and it’s time to get to work.”
The team consists of the following members:
Richard Aborn is the President of the Citizens Crime Commission of New York City and a partner with Constantine Cannon. Mr. Aborn advises police departments and criminal justice agencies in the U.S. and Europe on a variety of issues ranging from police integrity, use of force policy, and building more effective relationships between police departments and criminal justice agencies.
Adele Bernhard is a distinguished adjunct professor at New York University Law School where she also directs a Post-Conviction Innocence Clinic. Formerly, she served as a public defender in the South Bronx and also has directed the Criminal Defense Clinic at Pace Law School.
The Hon. Carmen Beauchamp Ciparick is the former Senior Associate Judge of the New York State Court of Appeals. She spent 19 years on New York State’s highest court, and 34 years on the bench. Judge Ciparick was appointed on December 1, 1993 by Governor Mario M. Cuomo. She was re-appointed by Governor Eliot Spitzer in November 2007. Judge Ciparick currently serves as Chair of the Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Advisory Committee on the Judiciary.  
Catherine Christian is the Co-Director of Legal Training and Chief of the Elder Abuse Unit in Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance’s Office. Christian also has served as the Co-Director of the Legal Training Unit and as a member of the Office’s Conviction Integrity Committee, and has conducted public corruption investigations as an Assistant Counsel for the New York State Commission of Investigation. Christian is a past President of the New York County Lawyers' Association, where she notably established pro bono programs to assist the elderly.
Mylan Denerstein is a partner in the New York office of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher. Prior to joining the Gibson Dunn, Ms. Denerstein served as Counsel to Governor Andrew Cuomo, as an Executive Deputy Attorney General for Social Justice, as Deputy Commissioner for Legal Affairs for the New York City Fire Department, and as a federal prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York. Ms. Denerstein serves as a board member of the Vera Institute of Justice.
Sheikh Moussa Drammeh is the Managing Owner of Al Iman Plaza, a Real Estate Investment, founder of Muslim Community Report Newspaper and Tea-Out-Stress Franchise. Mr. Drammeh is the Executive Producer of African News Media and Public Emergency Management Adherence (PEMA) television shows on BronxNet Television. He is also a frequent media commentator for Islamic issues and African Affairs.
Steven Fishner is a former principal in KPMG LLP’s Forensic Advisory Practice, providing investigative and integrity advisory services. He formerly served as New York City’s Criminal Justice Coordinator and the principal criminal justice advisor to Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, and as an Executive and Administrative Assistant District Attorney in the New York County District Attorney’s Office.  
Leroy Frazer serves as Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson’s Chief of Staff. He formerly served for 34 years in the New York County District Attorney’s Office, where he supervised the Office of Legislative Affairs and the Community Affairs Unit. He also served as the Coordinator of the New York State Law Enforcement Council and Legislative Secretary for the District Attorneys Association of the State of New York.
Elizabeth A. Gaynes has been executive director of the Osborne Association for more than 30 years. As Executive Director, Gaynes heads up the lead service provider for the Rikers Island-based ABLE program, among others. Gaynes is a nationally recognized expert on the impact of incarceration and reentry on children and families, and serves as an advisor to the International Association of Chiefs of Police on the model protocol for safeguarding children at the time of a parent’s arrest.
Virginia M. Goggin is the Director of Legal Services at the New York City Anti-Violence Project, providing holistic legal representation to LGBTQ and HIV-affected survivors of violence. Prior to AVP, Virginia was a staff attorney at the New York Legal Assistance Group (NYLAG). While at NYLAG, she started the LGBT Law Project serving low-income LGBTQ community members with various legal issues ranging from family law, housing, immigration and wills.
The Hon. Luis Gonzalez is a former Presiding Justice of the Appellate Division First Department. He has served as an Examining Attorney for the New York City Department of Investigation, as general counsel to the national director of the Government of Puerto Rico, and as a Hearing Officer for the New York State Division of Housing and Community Renewal.  Gonzalez was appointed as a Housing Court Judge for the New York City Civil Court in 1985, and later was elected as a Justice of the Civil Court in Bronx County, and then as a Justice of the Supreme Court in Bronx County, where he served as the Administrative Judge of both the Civil and Criminal Terms. He was later elevated to the Appellate Term, the first Latino to hold that position.
Father Richard Gorman has served the community as a priest and as a member of Bronx Community Board 12 for over 25 years. Chairman for the past 17 years, he has used his office to fight for district services, seeing community work as akin to spiritual service.  In 2002, Gorman went back to law school, graduating from the St. John's University School of Law, and now is a judge in the Archdiocese's Metropolitan Tribunal.
Elsa Marte Hampton is Director of Title VI Compliance with the New York City Transit Authority’s Office of Equal Opportunity and is an adjunct professor at Berkeley College where she teaches law and criminal justice courses. Mrs. Hampton has also served as President and Vice- President of the Dominican Bar Association, Deputy Regional President of the Hispanic National Bar Association-NY Region, and Executive Board Member of the Network of Bar Leaders. During her tenure as President of the Dominican Bar Association, Ms. Hampton re-instituted law clinics whose purpose was to provide legal advice, in Spanish, to the Dominican community.
Joyce Hartsfield is the Executive Director of the Franklin H. Williams Judicial Commission, focused on issues affecting both employees and litigants of color. Hartsfield is a past President of the Bronx County Bar Association, and an active member of the Black Bar of Bronx County. Joyce started her career with the Legal Aid Society and has been in private practice since 1982.
Peter Harvey is a past Attorney General of New Jersey and a former federal prosecutor.  Currently, he is a Partner at Patterson Belknap where he represents corporations and individuals in business disputes throughout the nation. He also conducts internal investigations for senior executives seeking to learn facts about employee misconduct or inappropriate business practices.
Renee C. Hill is an experienced trial attorney concentrating in Criminal Defense.Ms. Hill served as the Acting Justice of the Village of Harriman Court from March, 2008 through March, 2015.  In late, 2011, Ms. Hill partnered with Stacey Richman, Esq. to form Richman Hill & Associates, PLLC. She is the past President of The Black Bar Association of Bronx County.
Oscar Holt III is an Associate Professor of Criminal Justice and Law at St. John’s University, and maintains an office in Garden City, New York, for private practice, specializing in criminal defense. Holt is a former member of the New York City Mayor’s Committee on the Judiciary, and the Committee on the Judiciary of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York.
Martin Horn is a Distinguished Lecturer at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice of the City University of New York. Horn served simultaneously as Correction Commissioner and Probation Commissioner for the City of New York, and earlier as Secretary of Corrections for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. For many years, Horn was also the Executive Director of New York State’s paroling authority.
Daniel E. Karson is the Chairman of Kroll, and has more than 40 years’ experience directing investigations of business crimes. Prior to joining Kroll, Karson was General Counsel and Assistant Commissioner of the Department of Investigation of the City of New York and also worked as an Assistant District Attorney of Bronx County, serving as Chief of Narcotics Investigations.
The Hon. Eileen Koretz is a retired Judge who presided in the New York County Criminal Court and the Midtown Community Court before being designated as Supervising Judge of the New York County Criminal Court. Prior to that, Judge Koretz served as Assistant District Attorney and an Administrative Assistant District Attorney in the Office of the Bronx County District Attorney. Koretz serves as a consultant to the Center for Court Innovation and is currently a Judicial Hearing Officer.
Glenn Lau-Kee is the Immediate Past President of the New York State Bar Association and a partner of Kee & Lau-Kee. He concentrates his practice in real estate and business law. Formerly, he served as president of the Asian American Bar Association of New York and was appointed by former Chief Judge Judith S. Kaye to serve on the Commission to Examine Solo and Small Firm Practice, and the Committee to Promote Public Trust and Confidence in the Legal System.
The Hon. Judy Harris Kluger was appointed Executive Director of Sanctuary for Families in January 2014 after serving 25 years as a judge in New York State. Prior to her work at Sanctuary, Judge Kluger served as Chief of Policy and Planning for the New York State court system. Judge Kluger was also responsible for the statewide implementation of the Integrated Domestic Violence Courts, and prior to her appointment to the bench, she headed the Domestic Violence Bureau in the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office.
Lenore Kramer is a founding member of Kramer & Dunleavy LLP, the first women-owned law firm New York State to focus on women's health and safety issues.  Kramer also previously served as the President of the Women’s Bar Association of the State of New York, as President of the New York State Trial Lawyers Association, and also as President of the Bronx Bar Association. She currently serves as a Commissioner on the Franklin H. Williams Judicial Commission on Minorities, and as a member of the New York State Judicial Departmental Screening Panel, 2nd Judicial Department.  
Betty Lugo is the President of the Puerto Rican Bar Association and is a founding member of Pacheco & Lugo, PLLC.  Pacheco & Lugo, PLLC is the first Hispanic women owned law firm in New York.  She conducts trials, hearings, arbitrations, and appeals in complex matters in both State and Federal Courts.  She began her legal career as the first Hispanic woman to work as an Assistant District Attorney in the Nassau County District Attorney’s Office.
Justine "Tina" Luongo is the Attorney-in-Charge of the Criminal Practice of The Legal Aid Society. Luongo has been integrally involved in the development of numerous training programs at the Society, including the Criminal Defense Project, Felony Training in New York County, New Attorney and Department of Probation trainings on LGBTQ cultural competency and a host of other client centered practice methods.
Teresa Mason is a partner with Bahn Multer LLP.  Ms. Mason previously served as Vice President of Health Policy for Novartis Pharmaceuticals Inc, as Chief of Staff to Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden, as Vice President for Systems Application and Technologies, Inc as Executive Vice President for MBNA America Bank, a Sheriff for the City of New York, as Assistant Deputy Commissioner for NYS Department of Taxation, and as an Assistant District Attorney for Bronx County.
Wayne S. McKenzie is General Counsel for the NYC Department of Probation (DOP). He is also actively involved in key reform efforts and special projects in DOP’s Adult and Juvenile Operations. Prior to joining DOP, Wayne was the founding Director of the Prosecution and Racial Justice Program at the Vera Institute of Justice. Before joining Vera, he was a prosecutor in the Kings County District Attorney’s Office. Mr. McKenzie is a Vice-President-At-Large on the American Bar Association Criminal Justice Section Council, which is the governing body of the CJS. He is an active participant in community outreach programs and has a special interest in criminal justice reform and public safety, and in programs that focus on youth.
Marvin Ray Raskin is the Chairman of the Criminal Courts Committee of the Bronx County Bar Association. Raskin has been a preeminent member of the Bronx County Bar Association for more than 35 years, and was elected president in 1994.  He began his legal career as an Assistant District Attorney in the office of Bronx District Attorney Burton B. Roberts. Since 1977, Raskin has been an active trial practitioner in New York City and the surrounding counties.
Bishop Antonio Rosario is the CEO of the Bronx Clergy Task Force from the Bronx Borough President’s Office of Faith Based Initiatives, and also is a member of the Mayor’s Clergy Advisory Council. Bishop Rosario has spent 51 years bringing unity to our communities, boroughs and state; bringing denominational unity to develop programs for jobs.  
The Reverend Malobe Sampson of the Thessalonia Worship Center in the Bronx, has worked in ministry for over twenty years and has developed a specialty in Outreach, Missions and Men’s Ministry. Rev. Sampson is the Founder and President of the African Initiative Mission Foundation aka AIM Foundation, which aims to alleviate poverty.
Barry Scheck is the co-founder of The Innocence Project at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law. Scheck is also a Professor of Law at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, and also is a past president of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. Prior to becoming a law professor and entering private practice, Scheck was a staff attorney with The Legal Aid Society in the Bronx.
Corey Sokoler has been a criminal private practitioner for 27 years. He is currently the 2nd Vice President of the Bronx County Bar Association. Mr. Sokoler started his career as an Assistant District Attorney in the Bronx.
Lisa Sorin is the Executive Director of Westchester Square Business Improvement District.  Sorin is also the Founder of LAS Consulting Services, Inc., which provided marketing, public relations and event planning services for nonprofit and corporate entities. She served as the first woman President of the Bronx Chamber of Commerce and remains on their executive board.
Robin Steinberg is the founder of The Bronx Defenders, where she developed holistic defense – a client-centered model of public defense that uses interdisciplinary teams of advocates to address both the underlying causes and collateral consequences of criminal justice involvement. She has taught trial skills at various law schools, and is currently a Lecturer in Law at Columbia Law School, where she teaches a seminar on holistic defense.
Jean Walsh has been an attorney for over 34 years working in both the public and private sectors.  Since 2013, Walsh has been a Deputy Superintendent of Banks for the New York State Department of Financial Services.  Walsh’s legal career began in 1981 at the Bronx District Attorney’s Office, where she served as an Assistant District Attorney for 13 years.  She later became an Assistant United States Attorney in the Southern District of New York.
Jonathan Washburn is the Senior Vice President and has served as global head of risk management for Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc. a global publisher, developer and distributor of interactive entertainment software. Mr. Washburn previously served as the Chief of the Proceeds of Crime Unit in the Office of Manhattan District Attorney Robert M. Morgenthau. Mr. Washburn also served as the District Attorney’s lead investigator into the role of New York financial institutions in the collapse of Enron, which led to one of the largest settlements in our State’s history.
Hon. Betty Weinberg Ellerin is senior counsel in the firm’s Litigation & Trial Practice Group in the New York office.  Prior to joining Alston & Bird, Justice Weinberg Ellerin served more than 20 years as an Appellate Division justice. She was the first woman appointed as Deputy Chief Administrative Judge of the State of New York for the New York City Courts, and the only woman appointed Presiding Justice of the Appellate Division First Department.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Albanian-American Community Celebrates 103 Years of Independence


New York, November 20, 2015 - The history of the Albanian people is unique: as direct descendants of the ancient Illyrians, Albanians are among the oldest civilizations of Europe. The Albanian language constitutes its own branch of the Indo-European languages, and Albanian cultural traditions are distinctive for their extraordinary emphasis on hospitality and generosity (something that no doubt influenced the most famous Albanian of all - Noble laurate, Mother Teresa). Additionally, military historians and even American poets such as Henry Wadsworth Longfellow alike tell of exceptional Albanian boldness and valor, as exemplified by the Albanian national hero Scanderbeg.

It was that same independence of spirit and desire for self-determination that led to Albania's declaration of independence 103 years ago from the Ottoman Empire, on November 28, 1912. On that day, the Albanian flag - a black double-headed eagle on a red background - was raised, and ended over 500 years of foreign rule.

This year, Albanians in the New York area will honor this historic event with commemorative flag raisings in the New York City, during which the Albanian flag will be raised to fly next to the American flag. Albanians consider the United States its closest ally - from President Woodrow Wilson's support for Albanian independence a century ago through the more recent American support of Kosova's independence. As such, all Americans -- Albanian and non-Albanian alike -- are invited to attend the flag raisings in celebration of this special relationship, as well as our shared ideals of freedom and liberty.

Event Sponsors:
Albanian American Community Assoc.
Albanian American Educators Assoc.
Albanian American Open Hands Assoc.
Albanian American Society Foundation
Albanian Roots - Rrenjet Shqiptare 
Albanian Professional & Entrepreneurs Network - APEN
AAWO Motrat Qiriazi 
Fondacioni Plave Guci
Lukaj Foundation
Shoqata Batalioni Atlantiku
Shoqata Malesia e Madhe NY
Shoqata Rugova
Shoqata Shqiptare Amerikane Ana e Malit

Event Supporters:
Albanian American Community- Waterbury
Albanian American Council
Albanian American National Org.
Albanian American Writers Assoc.
Ansambli Bashkimi Kombetar
Bijte e Shqipes
Dom Simon Filipaj Foundation
Shoqata Atdhetare Dibra
Shoqata Atdhetare Kraja
Shoqata Cameria
Shoqata Kelmendi
Shoqata Peja
Shtepia e Drejtesise dhe Pajtimit Kombetar
Shoqata Humanitare Shqiptare Amerikane Philadelphia
The Women's Organization Hope and Peace

Event will have American Elected Officials and Albanian and American Community leaders in attendance.

In addition to the flag raisings, visuals will include young Albanian-Americans dressed in traditional Albanian clothing.


Click HERE to download invitation
Click HERE to download press release.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

49th Precinct Community Council Meeting Tuesday, November 24th 7:30 PM at Kings Harbor Multicare Community Center, 2000 East Gun Hill Road

The 49th Precinct Community Council Meeting
Tuesday, November 24th 7:30 PM
Kings Harbor Multicare Community Center, 2000 East Gun Hill Road



New York Cares Needs Coats Immediately; Already Received Requests for 100,000 Coats to Date

  New York City Police Department Chief of Transit Joseph Fox and former NBA Rookie of the Year Emeka Okafor joined New York Cares today at The Bowery Mission on the Lower East Side to launch the 27th Annual New York Cares Coat Drive.

Chief Fox, Okafor, and New York Cares distributed coats to 100 homeless residents of The Bowery Mission. In addition to today’s coat distribution, another is scheduled on Thursday, December 10th at the Coalition for the Homeless. The need for coats is immediate, as New York Cares has received requests for 100,000 coats to date. In addition, according to the Farmers’ Almanac, the winter of 2015–2016 looks similar to last winter, with bitter cold and snow in New York:

From today through Thursday, December 31, 2015 individuals can donate gently used, freshly laundered coats at hundreds of locations throughout the five boroughs including all NYPD Police Precincts, New York Penn Station, Grand Central Terminal and many other sites. The New York Cares Coat Drive is in its 27th year and is an annual citywide tradition that has collected more than 1.7 million winter coats for men, women and children in need throughout the city since 1989.

“Building relationships and helping those in need are such characteristic parts of public service – thus it comes as no surprise that our officers are so proud to continue to be a part of this important effort,” said Chief Fox.

“Can you imagine going through an entire winter without a warm coat?” said Gary Bagley, Executive Director at New York Cares. “This is the reality for more than 100,000 New Yorkers, from the homeless to working families forced to make tough choices between rent, food, and warm clothing. We all need to step up and donate a coat this holiday season.”

“With 60,000 men, women and children homeless in New York City, this will be another tough winter for New York’s neediest. Every day at The Bowery Mission, generous New Yorkers help us meet the need,” said David P. Jones, President and CEO of The Bowery Mission. “The New York Cares Coat Drive is another shining example of this generosity. The Bowery Mission is proud to be part of this 27-year tradition.”

New York Cares’ iconic ‘Shivering Statue of Liberty’ Coat Drive PSA will air on the TOSHIBA VISION screens located at the top of One Times Square to raise awareness of the Coat Drive from Tuesday, November 17th to Wednesday, December 30th. The PSA will also appear on billboards, in magazines, and online thanks to efforts by media partners Mindshare, Xaxis, Group M, and Kinetic Worldwide, and will air on NBC 4 New York and Bloomberg TV.

About The 27th Annual New York Cares Coat Drive
The New York Cares Coat Drive is one of the largest of its kind in the United States. Since 1989, New York Cares has collected and distributed more than 1.7 million coats.

The thousands of donated coats will be counted, sorted and distributed to organizations serving the homeless and other low-income New Yorkers, at an 8,600 square foot temporary warehouse space located at 157 West 31st Street in midtown Manhattan. 

The sponsors for this year’s New York Cares Coat Drive are the New York City Police Department, the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA), Vornado Realty Trust, Toshiba, KKR, Delta Airlines, Mindshare, NBC 4 New York, Bloomberg, and Time Warner Cable.

New Yorkers can make financial donations in support of the Coat Drive and New York Cares’ year-round work online, by text or by mail.  For more information about the New York Cares Coat Drive, locations, news, or to make a financial donation, the public can visit or call 646-801-4022.

Where to Donate Coats
New Yorkers can donate gently-used, freshly laundered coats at almost 300 public sites around the city, as well as hundreds of private sites hosted by corporations and civic groups. 

New Yorkers may donate coats at the following locations through Thursday, December 31, 2015. Please for exact times and locations, and additional collection sites.

·         Every New York City Police Precinct (24 hours a day)
·         Every library branch in the Queens Public Library system (during open hours)
·         The New York Cares Warehouse, 157 West 31st Street between 6th and 7th Avenues (9:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. Monday through Friday)
·         New York Cares office, 65 Broadway (weekdays, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.)
·         New York Penn Station - LIRR concourse (weekdays, 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.)
·         Grand Central Terminal - Track 16/Graybar Passage (weekdays, 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.)
·         And many more sites citywide.
About New York Cares
New York Cares is the largest volunteer network in the city. Last year, 62,000 New Yorkers made the city a better place by volunteering in New York Cares programs at 1,400 nonprofits and schools – improving education, meeting immediate needs, and revitalizing public spaces. For more information, visit

About The Bowery Mission
The Bowery Mission has served homeless and hungry New Yorkers since 1879.  This year, The Bowery Mission provided more than 406,000 meals to men, women and children, 91,000 nights of shelter and 44,000 articles of clothing, as well as showers, haircuts, and expert medical and optometric care.  Each meal and every night of shelter is an invitation to residential recovery programs, where men and women get a second chance and lives are transformed from hopelessness to hope.  Last year, the Mission’s residential programs served nearly 300 men and women who are regaining sobriety, reconnecting with family and faith, pursuing educational goals, and preparing for work and independent living.  To ensure that at-risk children have a positive first chance at life, The Bowery Mission’s city camp and summer camp serves nearly 1,200 at-risk children from poor city neighborhoods.