Friday, December 11, 2015

Dean Skelos and Son Adam Found Guilty on All Eight Counts

  Last week former Assembly Speaker and now former Assemblyman Sheldon Silver was found guilty on all seven counts in the indictment by U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara.

  Today it the State Senate's turn as former State Senate Majority Leader, and now former State Senator Dean Skelos along with his son Adam Skelos were both found guilty on all eight counts in the indictment by U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara. It was not disclosed just how much time either Skelos would be facing in jail, but that will be decided at the sentencing that will be announced soon.

  The U.S. Attorney has the following statement on the conviction of both Dean and Adam Skelos.

 “The swift convictions of Sheldon Silver and Dean Skelos beg an important question – how many prosecutions will it take before Albany gives the people of New York the honest government they deserve?” 

  The only question now is -Who will be next?

Bronx Assemblyman Michael Blake to Join Hilltop Public Solutions Consulting Firm

  Politico is reporting that current 79th A.D. Assemblyman Michael Blake will become a partner at Hilltop Public Solutions a political consulting firm. Politico also says that Hilltop never mentioned the fact that Blake is a current sitting New York State Assemblyman or if Blake would leave his position as a New York State assemblyman. They do mention that Hilltop is home to several political consultants who are close advisors to Mayor Bill de Blasio such as Hilltops founder Nick Baldick, Bill Hayes from de Blasio's 2013 campaign, and Rebecca Katz also from the de Blasio campaign team and then administration.  

  It was Ms. Katz Politico continues who said that Assemblyman Blake would not be stepping down from the New York State Assembly after joining Hilltop. Assemblyman Blake told Politico that his work for them would be of a national or international nature, having nothing to do with New York State. The entire Politico article can be found here.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Santa Claus Is Coming to Bronx County

State Senator Rev Ruben Diaz has invited Santa Claus to come to the Bronx with toys for the children of the South Bronx. 

This visit of Santa Claus will take place on Tuesday, December 15, 2015 at 4:00 PM in the auditorium of Public School IS 216, Rafael Hernandez, located at 977 Tiffany Street (between Westchester Avenue and East 163rd Street). 

The organizers of this event State Republican Chair Ed Cox and Bronx Community Leader Rafael Salamanca, together with Senator Diaz announced that: “Santa Claus will have free toys for the first 1,000 children between the ages of 1 – 9 who arrive at the school.” 

All parents are invited to bring their children and join us to help make our children happy during this Christmas Season. 

For further information, please contact the Office of Senator Diaz at (718) 991-3161. 

The Passing of NBA Legend Dolph Schaye

RE: The Passing of NBA Legend Dolph Schayes

“I would like to send my condolences to the family of NBA legend and Hall of Famer Dolph Schayes, who passed away today at the age of 87.

“I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Schayes this year, when we inducted him into the Bronx Walk of Fame, for having revolutionized the game of basketball. As an avid fan of the sport of basketball, it was a great honor to meet someone who meant so much to the game from his days at DeWitt Clinton High School through his time in the NBA. Dolph Schayes changed how big men played the game – appearing in 12 All-Star Games, scoring more than 19,000 points and grabbing more than 11,000 rebounds. His tremendous career earned him a selection to the NBA's All-Time 50th Anniversary Team.

“I had the opportunity this spring to talk with Mr. Schayes about the intricacies of the game and how basketball has changed since his playing days. As an avid fan of the sport, I will always cherish those insights.

“Mr. Schayes will not only be missed by the his basketball fraternity in the NBA but also by those in The Bronx who appreciate the history of the game and everything he accomplished as a Bronxite playing at the sport’s highest level,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.

Above - Dolph Schayes as he arrives to the Bronx Week Parade celebration in May of this year.
Below Mr. Schayes sits on the reviewing stand during the Bronx Day Parade. Here BP Diaz cracks a joke to him. 

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Visit Santa and the Grinch this Saturday in Marble Hill!

Marble Hill Holiday Trolley of Fun Event
Saturday, December 12, 2015
225th Street and Broadway
This event is shaping up to be awesome!  Check out the Map/Flyer below for details and click here for a larger version.


Residents of the Northeast Bronx will join the Office of NYC Council  Member Andy King on Saturday,  December 12th, for Operation Cleaner Streets, a program headed up by Council Member King, which strives to encourage community residents in the 12th District to pick up trash in front of their homes, bus stops and subway stations and heavily trafficked streets.

Residents will be cleaning in the business corridor of East Gun Hill  Road, between Bronxwood and Colden avenues, Bronx, starting at 10:30 a.m.

In the past, Operation Cleaner Street has tackled business corridors along Gun Hill Road, White Plains Road, Boston Road, East 233rd Street and Dyre Avenue.

WHEN: SATURDAY, DECEMBER 12, 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
WHERE: Gun Hill Road, Between Colden and Bronxwood avenues, Bronx.

Senator Klein, Assemblyman Sepulveda & Councilwoman Palma host Herbalife Round Table in area with highest concentration of ‘Nutrition Clubs’

Bronx victim who lost $50K steps forward to expose Herbalife scam

State Senator Jeff Klein, Assemblyman Luis Sepulveda, Councilwoman Annabel Palma, and Community Board #9 Chairman Rogier van Vlissingen hosted an Herbalife round table on Wednesday warning residents of the dangers of the get-rich-quick scheme.

In The Bronx, Herbalife Nutrition Clubs are clustered in predominantly Hispanic communities, where distributors encourage friends, family and neighbors to sign-up for a dream-like business opportunity. Ultimately, victims of the scam pump thousands of dollars into health supplements that they cannot sell and are then encouraged to recruit more members in order to turn a profit.

Six Herbalife Nutrition clubs do business in Community Board #9, the largest concentration of clubs in any board in The Bronx. In total 26 Nutrition Clubs operate in the borough and 60 exist across the city.

“Herbalife’s potions and powders do not make its recruits into millionaires as promised. Instead Herbalife’s pyramid scheme robs victims of their savings by preying on their entrepreneurial hopes and dreams. I’ve met and heard from victims who have lost as much as $100,000 to this scam, while Herbalife International turns a blind eye to the false claims being made inside its franchises. These products are sold through lies — telling people that these supplements contain miracle cures for cancer, diabetes and rare diseases, all while promising distributors that they will get rich. This is wrong and my legislation will hold companies that do direct-marketing, like Herbalife International, accountable for what is going on inside its franchises,” said Senator Klein.

Targeting low-income communities with pyramid schemes, and hoodwinking people into investing in magic potions, is a cruel but old-as-the hills ploy. Make no mistake about it. The people behind the Herbalife scam have targeted Bronx communities. We must expose their fraudulent practices, educate the public, and put an end to this scourge,” said Assemblyman Sepulveda.

It is my hope that today's roundtable discussion will inform Bronxites — and ultimately help them avoid — the unscrupulous business practices of pyramid schemes that seek to prey on the financially insecure with promises of generating income predicated on unsustainable business models. Our communities deserve better than to be used as a tool for exploitation,” said Councilmember Palma.

This proposal by Senator Jeff Klein and Public Advocate Letitia James is a breath of fresh air, coming on top of an apparent new sense of urgency at the FTC, as shown in the recent Vemma case. We should all remember that Madoff stole from the wealthy, but pyramid schemes steal from those who don’t have the money to start with, and it needs to change. The deceptive health claims are par for the course of these scams,” said Community Board #9 Chairman van Vlissingen.

Bronx residents Francisco Payano, who lost $50,000 to Herbalife, and Maria David, who lost $15,000 to the scam, spoke out about their experiences.

Payano and his ex-wife were approached by a woman on the street who spoke to them about the wonders of Herbalife and the riches that could come out of selling the supplements. They soon signed up and began purchasing the product to distribute from their home, until Payano realized that the business was a scam.

“We couldn’t afford a storefront to open a nutrition club and she decided to do it in our house. I tried to convinced her that this business was a pyramid scheme. She was so into it and I was very worried and tired since I would have people ringing my doorbell at 5 a.m. to get shakes. This was very much affecting the life of my children and my marriage. One day I exploded and told her to choose between Herbalife and me and she, blinded by their lies, chose them. I filed for divorced and she took me to court to accuse me of being a bad father and said all types of lies. I explained to the judge that my children were living in hell with her Herbalife obsession. Herbalife ruined my family,” Payano said.

David and her three co-workers were attracted to Herbalife’s weight loss products. A Nutrition Club opened next to David’s job and she and her friends began going each morning for shakes and tea. Soon, the manager convinced the women to chip in and open their own Nutrition Club.

“We decided to open a small nutrition club and figured between all four of us we could manage and cover expenses. We tried for almost two years. It was very hard to recruit members, and according to our recruiter that’s where the big bucks were. One day I was very frustrated because we had to keep buying so much product. I decided to count how many servings I could get out of the protein powder. I discovered that you can only make $15 out of it and it cost $34 to buy. We all decided that it was time to stop doing business with Herbalife,” David said.

In October, Senator Klein and New York City Public Advocate Letitia James released, “The American Scheme: Herbalife’s Pyramid ‘Shake’down.’ Undercover investigators caught distributors saying that sellers could make $20,000 a month, that sellers should recruit at least five people, and that the products could cure rare diseases.

Herbalife International is structured so that its products can only be purchased from a distributor. These distributors are not Herbalife employees and peddle products at their own prices to family, friends and neighbors.

Distributors receive discounted rates on nutrition shakes, supplements and elixirs if they buy the product in bulk. Though prospective recruits are told an Herbalife start-up kit costs $60 to $100, they often spend much more after being encouraged by a recruiter to stock up on product to climb the ladder. They are persuaded to recruit others, who they will profit from when they buy products. On average, a new member spends $1,800, though some make an initial investment as high as $10,000.

Senator Klein has introduced legislation in the State Senate to increase oversight, require full financial disclosure by direct-marketing companies, like Herbalife, and will also strengthen protections for prospective sellers. Key provisions include:

  • Mandates that health product franchisors in the state file an annual financial disclosure statement written in plain English and Spanish for the Attorney General to review before submitting to prospective franchisees. The statement includes the number of franchisees in the state, average income claimed by franchisees, percentage of franchisees that fall within various amount parameters as determined by the Attorney General, and the reported turnover rate of franchisees.  
  • Requires that prospective franchisees receive their offering prospectus in the primary language of the prospective franchisees.

  • Requires that any pamphlets, circular, form letter, advertisement or other sales literature of advertising communication intended for prospective health product franchises be approved by the Attorney General.

  • Calls for health product franchisor engage in supervision of its franchisees to ensure compliance with the law to prevent fraudulent and deceptive acts by the franchisees.        

Above - Victims Francisco Payano (left) and Maria David (center) sit with a translator to answer questions from Senator Klein and later reporters.
Below - Community Board 9 Chairman Rogier van Vlissingen with CB 0 District Manager William Rivera.

Above - Part of the undercover video shown to prove the misleading facts here about Herbalife.
Below - a photo of the elected official, community Board 9 Chairman and District Manager, and Herbalife victims Francisco Payano and Maria David.

Melissa Mark-Viverito is the WRONG Person to Teach American Values to Donald Trump

BY Senator Rev Rubén Díaz 
District 32 Bronx County, New York 

You should know that Melissa Mark-Viverito, the Speaker of the New York City Council, is having an interfaith press conference on the Steps of City Hall with clergy from many religious denominations to condemn Mr. Donald Trump’s statement: “calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country's representatives can figure out what is going on.” 

While I do believe that Mr. Donald Trump has greatly offended many people who are Muslim, and he made many people who share his sentiment very happy: that’s Donald Trump.  Mr. Donald Trump knows that unlike people in other countries, he has the freedom to say exactly what he wants to say. We know that there are people who support what he has to say, and we know that there are also people hate to hear what he has to say. One thing all have to agree upon is that he has the right, here in the United States of America, to say what’s on his mind. 

It is important for you to know that Melissa Mark-Viverito got very angry about Mr. Donald Trump’s statement, and she is having a press conference attempting to teach Mr. Donald Trump American values. She claims that his words “fly directly in the face of everything that we stand for.” 

It is even more important for you to know that even though Melissa Mark-Viverito has the right to express her anger very publicly against what Mr. Donald Trump, her hatred of the United States of America has been one of her strongest qualities. 

We all know that Melissa Mark-Viverito refused to honor the American Flag during a 9-11 Anniversary Ceremony where we were honoring the fallen victims of that terrorist attack. Everyone else honored the American Flag by placing their hands over their hearts while the National Anthem was heard. 
It is also well known and well documented that Melissa Mark-Viverito is an Independentista, who professes her rejection of the United States of America’s presence in Puerto Rico. 

Ladies and gentlemen, to me it is very hypocritical for someone who doesn’t even honor the American flag to try to teach Mr. Donald Trump about American values. 

I am Senator Reverend Rubén Díaz, and this is what you should know.

Editors Note:
State Senator Ruben Diaz Sr. supported Republican candidate Rob Astorino for Governor of New York State in 2014, and I would not be surprised to see Senator Diaz Sr. be supporting Republican candidate Donald Trump for President.

Christmas Tree Lighting Extravaganza on Tomorrow, December 10th!

Senator Jeff Klein & Assemblyman Mark Gjonaj Invite you to their annual
Christmas Tree Lighting Extravaganza! 
Thursday, December 10, 2015
3:30 pm
Rudy Mecina Peace Plaza,
Esplanade & Pelham Parkway
5:00 pm
Pelham Parkway North at White Plains Road
Join us as we light up our new
permanent tree on Pelham Parkway!
Featuring warm refreshments, gifts, giveaways and more!
Special Appearance by Santa Claus!
For more information: (718) 409-0109

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

BP Diaz Hosts Bronx Chanukah Celebration

  Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. joined elected officials, clergy and community leaders from across The Bronx to light the menorah at his annual Chanukah celebration at the Bronx County Building on  this third day of Chanukah. Below are photos of the Menorah lightings inside and out side the Bronx County building.

Above - Mr. Brad Silver Executive Director of the Bronx Jewish Community Council introduces the Master of Ceremonies Mr. Mark Engel.
Below - Rabbi Israel Greenberg introduces Bronx BP Ruben Diaz Jr.

Above - Rabbi Greenberg says the Chanukah prayer before BP Diaz lights the first candle.
Below - After the Chanukah prayer BP Diaz lights the first candle.

Above and Below - The second and third candles of the Menorah are lit. 

Above - After the candle Menorah was lit inside, it was time to go outdoors and light the electric Menorah.
Below - BP Diaz stands with his two favorite council members from the Bronx named Andy. Andy King and Andrew Cohen that is. Also in the photo next to BP Diaz  is Assemblyman Michael Blake. 


  State Senator Jeff Klein, and Assemblyman Mark Gjonaj hosted the 21st annual Chanukah celebration on at Bronx House on Monday, where Bronx children, senior citizens, and local faith leaders gathered to light a ten-foot menorah at Bronx House.  They sang traditional songs, drank hot cocoa and ate cookies and gelt during the festivities.

Later, Senator Klein and Assemblyman Gjonaj joined Bronx residents and local faith leaders at Einstein Hospital and then at the White Plains Road and Pelham Parkway South to light two more menorahs.
Tonight we gathered with our families and friends to celebrate Chanukah.  We must continue to reflect on the true meaning of this holiday and remember  the menorah’s symbolism of resilience and hope.  I wish you a very safe and happy holiday,” said Senator Jeff Klein.
“Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights, is a holy time of celebration spent amongst family and friends,” stated Assemblyman Mark Gjonaj.  “I am honored once again to join my friend Senator Jeff Klein in lighting the menorahs within our district and celebrating this very special holiday with the proud members of our Jewish community here in the 80th Assembly District.”
“Bronx House is delighted to host Senator Klein's 21st Annual Menorah Lighting ceremony. This event, celebrating the Jewish Community's Festival of Lights commemorates the Miracle of the Flame. We are thrilled to have one of the state's most effective and respected leaders representing our community in government. Jeff's effectiveness keeps the flame shining in Pelham Parkway,” said Howie Martin, C.E..O., Bronx House
  Below are the three Menorah lighting's by Senator Klein and Assemblyman Gjonaj. 

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Monday, December 7, 2015

BP Diaz Lights Largest Bronx Menorah for Chanukah

  The largest outdoor Bronx Chanukah Menorah sits at the Memorial Bell Tower in Riverdale at the intersection of Riverdale Avenue and West 239th Street. Today was the second day of Chanukah, and Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. helped Rabbi Levi Shemtov light the two right lights of the Menorah with some help from Con Edison because a lift truck is needed to light the lanterns as you will see in the photos below.

Above - Rabbi Shemtov welcomes Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. to help him light the lanterns on the giant Menorah of Riverdale.
Below - BP Diaz if fitted with a harness as he and Rabbi Shemtov will have to climb onto a Con Edison truck and be lifted to the top of the Menorah.

Above - Before the lift goes up the Con Edison worker instructs BP Diaz and Rabbi Shemtov on the safety precautions.
Below - As the platform lifts up you can see that both BP Diaz and Rabbi Shemtov harnesses are fastened to the platform, and both men are holding on to the rail

Above - The platform has almost reached the giant Menorah.
Below - The prayer is said before the lighting of the Menorah.

Above - The first of the two end lights are light.
Below - After the second end light is light BP Diaz lets out with a cheer. Yes that is a torch in Rabbi Shemtov's hands which is used to light the Giant Menorah.

Above - With the Menorah lit BP Diaz and Rabbi Shemtov return to the base of the Con Edison truck to unhook themselves and step down from the truck.
Below - BP Diaz steps down from the truck and then has his safety harness removed.

Above - Safely back on the ground and out of his safety harness BP Diaz helps Rabbi Shemtov give out dreidels to the children.
Below - After the Dreidels are given out BP Diaz joins Rabbi Shemtov and some children in some dancing to holiday music. 

Tuesday December 8th Bronx Borough President holds the Annual Bronx Celebration of Chanukah at the Bronx County building located at 851 Grand Concourse (at East 161st Street) beginning at 12:30 PM where the Bronx Menorah will be lit by BP Diaz.