Saturday, April 2, 2016


By Robert Press

Who's Minding the City?

    One of the biggest stories this year is how a non-profit was able to sell a once Aids clinic for around 100 Million dollars (give or take a few million or so). This was a building that was classified as a clinic from a non-profit in an area where the value was a tremendous amount as we see by the so called allowance of the sale by the city.  Do we lay blame on the owner of the property given the special change in zoning, the Mayor's new ZQA plan, the Mayor himself, or the Deputy Mayor in charge of the program. Any way you look at it the city got dumped on for tens of millions of dollars, and right after the Mayor pushed, and the City Council approved the new ZQA zoning. 
     I only wonder if it was one of those now much higher salaried City Council members who benefited from the sale of the building, or was it one of Mayor de Blasio's rich donors. Remember Mayor de Blasio you are up for re-election next year, and the indicators are that Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. is going to be your challenger. I wonder who Stanley Schlein will be representing, as it was Bill de Blasio in 2013. 
     I was able to sit down with former State Senator Efrain Gonzalez Jr. to go over some old times, and what the future has in store for him. While he was convicted, former State Senator Gonzalez still maintains his innocence, and that he will vindicate his good name as he is in the process of his appeal of the case. No more can be said, but one has to wonder why this appeal seems to keep getting stalled as Senator Gonzalez tells it. 
     The state budget is or was finally passed, as all the bills and other materials are being printed. My favorite question to many elected state officials is - how much of the budget did you really read? There will be comments from the various Bronx elected officials as they come out with their statements on the state budget, and I hope to interview a few for a future column. 
     As usual check the archive section (you will have to back to March) to see the upcoming events such as the Rain Barrel Giveaway by Assemblyman Mark Gjonaj and State Senator Jeff Klein, The many upcoming Bronx Chamber of Commerce events, More on the 15th Congressional race, and both the Democratic and Republican New York State Presidential Primaries which for the first time in many many years is playing a key role in the selection process, and next week my predictions for the New York State Presidential Primary on both sides. Will New York 'Feel the Bern', or will C&K get Trumped in New York. 
     Lastly, Mayoral control of the public schools is up in June of this year it is not renewed by the state legislature. I would hope that after three disastrous terms of former Mayor Bloomberg, and now two more years of not working under Mayor de Blasio that the state legislature would put an end to this idea that has failed like the schools it was intended to improve. No I still say failing school even if the Mayor, Chancellor, and state legislature want to call it a struggling school. A failure is still a failure no matter what you call it, and mayoral control should be ended. There needs to be accountability where there has been none the past fourteen years. 
        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 this blog, you can e-mail us at or call 718-644-4199 Mr. Robert Press. 

Senator Rivera Speaks on the Senate's Passing of the 2016 - 2017 Budget

  Senator Gustavo Rivera (D-Bronx) joined his colleagues in the State Senate to vote on the 10 bills of the 2016-2017 Budget. Senator Rivera voted against one of the budget bills, specifically the Capital Projects bill (S. 6404-D).
"The greatest victory of this budget was preventing the shift of a substantial portion of New York State's financial responsibility in terms of Medicaid and the City University of New York (CUNY) to New York City. In addition, this year's budget took important steps in improving the lives of hard-working New Yorkers by raising our State's minimum wage and implementing paid family leave.
However, this year's budget has left out key priorities New York desperately needs. I continue to be disappointed by the lack of urgency demonstrated by this Legislature to implement necessary ethics reform, such as campaign finance reform, that will help restore the trust of New Yorkers in our government. At the same time, the budget once again omitted common sense proposals such as Raise The Age and the appointment of a Special Prosecutor to investigate cases of police misconduct that led to the death of a civilian.
While this year's budget represents an auspicious step forward for our State on a number of issues, the budget process itself has left much to be desired. Not only was our leader, Senator Stewart-Cousins, not included in the budget negotiations, but the entire Senate Democratic Conference was only able to analyze the legislative language of several of the budget bills in an absurd short span of time. The voices of the 8 million New Yorkers, who are collectively represented by the Senate Democrats, deserve a budget process that is transparent, inclusive and more importantly, democratic."
"As always, my top priority during the budget process is the Bronx. It is my responsibility to find ways to enact policies and deliver resources for the communities I represent that will help them thrive.
After a long and exhaustive fight, this year's budget will raise our State's minimum wage continuously until reaching $15 per hour by the end of 2018. In a district such as the one that I represent, where the median income is $27,000 for a family of four, raising our minimum wage will give many families another tool to help break the cycle of poverty.  Furthermore, working New Yorkers will now be eligible to take up to 12 weeks of paid family leave by the year 2019. These two measures will greatly benefit workers in the Bronx and across the State. Bronxites living on a minimum wage will be better able to provide for their families and all workers will be able to take off time from work to care for a family member without having to worry about losing their job.
Additionally, it is encouraging that this budget has allocated $600,000 for the SNUG program at the Jacobi Medical Center in order to continue its efforts to reduce gun violence in our neighborhoods. It is my goal to bring this model to a hospital in our district."  
"As the Ranker of the Senate Health Committee, I am very pleased that this year's budget took various steps towards ensuring that New Yorkers have access to quality and affordable healthcare. I'm extremely relieved that the State did not burden New York City with nearly $700 million in Medicaid costs over the next two years. This funding shift would have been disastrous for the City and would have taken away funding from crucial social programs.
I am very glad that the budget included $195 million for the transformation of healthcare services, with 30 percent going to community-based health care providers across the State. Additionally, we allocated $9.65 million in funding for the Doctors Across New York Program to help train and place doctors in underserved communities like the Bronx.
Lastly, as a vocal advocate for ending AIDS as an epidemic by 2020, I find it discouraging that the budget did not allocate anywhere close to the $70 million needed to ensure we fulfill the goals set by the Ending AIDS Epidemic Blueprint. Instead, the budget only appropriated a meager $10 million towards this effort."
"I'm elated that we did not jeopardize the academic future of thousands of students by preventing the shift of $485 million in CUNY costs from the State to New York City. We were also able to maintain CUNY and SUNY affordable for in state students by freezing their tuition, providing students with a much needed relief after years of hikes.  However, the State did not live up to its commitment to allocate $240 million towards fulfilling the collective bargaining agreement for CUNY professors and staff who have been working without a contract for too many years.
While it is encouraging that this budget has included $340 million towards statewide universal full-day pre-kindergarten and $175 million in funding to transform struggling schools into community schools, it has once again fallen short in providing adequate funding for our public schools. This year's budget once again failed to meet its responsibility to our public schools under the Campaign for Fiscal Equity settlement, while not removing last year's measure to tie teacher evaluations to the funding a school receives. Disgracefully, we once again denied our immigrant youth an affordable higher education by omitting the Dream Act."
This is a budget that all New Yorkers can be proud of, as it contains solid measures that will benefit millions all across our State. However, the lack of transparency during the process of putting it together is the absolute opposite of the way a democracy should work. We need to make a conscious decision to improve it so that the voices of all New Yorkers are properly heard.

Friday, April 1, 2016

STATEMENT FROM BP DIAZ RE: #FightFor15 Minimum Wage Victory

  “I congratulate my colleagues in Albany on their victory for greater economic equality in New York. The Bronx was the birthplace of the ‘living wage’ movement, so we know just how important the push to raise the minimum wage was. The #FightFor15 has achieved a major, game-changing victory in New York State, thanks to the leadership of Governor Andrew Cuomo and his partners in the New York State Legislature.

“I congratulate Governor Cuomo, my good friend Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and the members of the State Legislature who fought so hard to raise the minimum wage and do right by the workers of this City and State,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.


Rep. Engel Applauds Passage of Minimum Wage Increase in New York State Budget

 Congressman Eliot L. Engel, a senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, issued the following statement praising Governor Cuomo and the New York State Legislature for passing a $15 minimum wage increase in this year’s budget:

 “I am pleased Governor Cuomo and the State Legislature have crafted a budget that will help millions of hard working New Yorkers with a much needed increase to the minimum wage. In particular, the entire New York City area – including Westchester – will see a $15 minimum wage over the next few years. This adjustment will put more money in the pockets of working families, many of whom have been scraping by even with full-time jobs. A strong middle class, new jobs, and prosperity for everybody—those are New York values, and I’m glad this budget reflects those values for working New Yorkers.”

IDC: New York State budget will create a ‘Better New York’

Paid Family Leave, $15 minimum wage, and
major $1 billion tax relief package for middle-class among victories for New Yorkers

Independent Democratic Conference Leader Jeff Klein and members of the IDC on Thursday applauded the agreement on New York’s sixth on-time budget which advances key policy issues from the IDC’s agenda, NY 2020: A Blueprint for a Better New York.

From the outset, members of the IDC advocated their robust four-year agenda to uplift New Yorkers in every corner of the state with a focus on education, housing, employment and overall quality-of-life.

This year’s budget includes signature issues to improve the lives of working- and middle-class New Yorkers like Paid Family Leave, which grants the workforce 12-weeks off to bond with a new child or care for a sick loved one and a $15 minimum wage, which will first go into effect in New York City. The budget also delivers a $1 billion tax relief package for the middle-class.

“This truly is The Year of the Worker. A victory in the Fight for $15 and Paid Family Leave will make a tremendous difference in the lives of our workforce. New York State put together the best Paid Family Leave policy in the nation. Nobody will ever have to choose between what their heart tells them to do and what their bank account allows them to do. Our minimum wage workforce also get a raise and our middle-class households receive over $1 billion in tax relief. This is a budget that should make every New Yorker proud. I thank Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Governor Andrew Cuomo for their leadership,” said Senator Klein.

“This year’s budget brings new resources to education and transportation for upstate New Yorkers. For too long upstate students have suffered because of the Gap Elimination Adjustment. This budget finally remedies this serious problem by eliminating the GEA and restoring $434 million in aid to our schools. We also create parity in upstate road and bridge funding with a $27 billion investment that will transform crumbling and dangerous infrastructure. This budget will usher in truly historic investments in upstate New York,” said IDC Deputy Leader David Valesky.

“Before I was elected to office, I was a union member and a caseworker for child welfare, and this budget is truly an achievement for New York’s working families. This year, I was proud to fight for facilitated enrollment, paid family leave and a $15 minimum wage, and we have won each of those fights. We will continue the Facilitated Enrollment Program that has allowed so many parents to continue to work while accessing safe and affordable child care, give our workers the raise that they deserve, and implement the best Paid Family Leave program in the country. By passing this budget, New York is leading the way for our working families,” said Senator Diane Savino.

“This year marks the largest education investment in the history of New York. We will fully restore $434 million in funding to our schools by eliminating the Gap Elimination Adjustment that has shortchanged our children, and increase Foundation Aid funding to $627 million for our school districts that need it most. In addition, we will freeze tolls on the Tappan Zee bridge and the Thruway, with a total of $700 million in new funding. This budget represents a leap forward for New York and I am proud to vote in favor,” said Senator David Carlucci.

“This budget truly protects New Yorkers. As the Vice-Chair of the Environmental Conservation Committee, I am thrilled that this year we will invest a record $300 million in the state Environmental Protection Fund. I have also been a champion for middle-class homeowners, and this budget will bring major relief through a historic tax relief program of over $1 billion. Whether it’s keeping our water clean or putting money back in the pockets of our middle-class, I am proud to support this year’s budget,” said Senator Tony Avella.

The 2016 budget will include:

  • Paid Family Leave ensures that New York’s families can afford to take needed time to welcome a child into the world or care for a sick loved one. Under the new law, employees will be granted 12-weeks of Paid Family Leave while receiving up to two-thirds of their regular pay. Through a phase-in over four years, New York State will implement the best paid family leave program in the country.

  • A $15 Minimum Wage puts money back in the pockets of New York’s working class. By introducing a raise in wages over three years for New York City, New York will be the first state in the nation to reach $15 by 2019.
  • A major $1 billion tax relief package for the middle-class significantly reduces the taxes of millions of New Yorkers. The package aims to cut personal income taxes for households earning between $26,000 and $300,000. These tax cuts will bring meaningful relief to the middle-class, while encouraging financial spending and growth throughout the state.
  • A $434 million investment to eliminate the Gap Elimination Adjustment remedies the long-standing problem of subtracting funding from schools to make up for budget shortfalls which have devastated school districts upstate. By finally eliminating this problem, this year’s budget brings fair funding to all of New York’s school districts.
  • A record level of funding for transportation infrastructure reinvigorates all of New York’s transportation needs both upstate and downstate. An investment of $27 billion in the Department of Transportation and $27 billion in the Metropolitan Transit Authority inject much-needed funding while ensuring that New York’s transit projects move forward.
  • Continuing the Facilitated Enrollment Program ensures that safe, quality childcare will be a reality for more New Yorkers. New York is one of the most expensive states in the nation for child care, and for many women that means having to choose between their careers or child-rearing. The Facilitated Enrollment Program provides low-cost child care to working women and men, while also offering parenting resources.
  • The largest education investment in state history ensures that we build up our children’s future as we build up New York State. The state will invest over $175 million in the community schools model, which ties neighbors, teachers, administrators and volunteers together, to convert struggling schools to this successful model across the state. To address diversity in New York City’s elite Specialized High Schools, $2 million will  be invested to establish outreach coordinators for every school, to ensure that students from underrepresented areas are given the resources they need. The funding will also build test prep programs in each school, to serve as a pipeline for students in need of support.
  • An investment of $1.9 billion in housing addresses housing needs throughout New York State.
  • A record $300 million investment in the Environmental Protection Fund enhances New York’s parks, keep the state’s water sources clean and protect the environment for all.
  • A four-year extension of the Senior Citizens and Disabled Rent Increase Exemption will keep the successful rent freeze program, which keeps senior citizens and disabled residents in their own homes, at the much-needed income threshold of $59,000. It will extend it for an additional four years, ensuring that the vulnerable New Yorkers who depend on this program will be able to afford their rent.

Friends of Van Cortlandt Park's April 2016 Enewsletter

    As you may have noticed, our spring calendar is missing our Annual Hike-a-thon event.  But don't worry, it's just getting a makeover and being moved to the fall.  Please be patient while we put together an event like we have never done in Van Cortlandt Park before.  More details will be available by June.  In the meantime,Save the Date of Saturday October 1st and feel free to join us on our other hikes this spring.

Don't forget!  If you haven't yet please sign onto ourpetition in favor of Daylighting Tibbetts Brook.
Currently, water from Van Cortlandt Lake enters the Broadway sewer at a rate of 4 to 5 million gallons of water per day — and that’s on a dry day. Often when it rains, the combination of sewage, street runoff and the brook enters the combined sewer, bypassing the treatment plant and flowing directly into the Harlem River. This one Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO), WI-056, connected to the Broadway sewer makes up more than half of the CSO water entering the Harlem River. Daylighting will remove this clean water from the sewer and help to reduce CSO occurrences on the Harlem River.

Hope to see you in the Park! We have a few events planned for this month (see below) and many more coming up this spring. 

Christina and all of your Friends at the Friends of VCP

P.S. Don't forget to follow us on Social Media to keep posted on what is happening in the Park.

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April Events
Get Active Hiking Series in VCP
Join us on the Second Saturday of Each Month for a hike in Van Cortlandt Park. This is a great opportunity to learn about the ecology and the history of the Park. Please wear appropriate shoes and bring plenty of water and a snack for the hike. 
April 9th at 10am, meet at Woodlawn Playground (VCP East & Kepler Ave.): Family friendly leisurely hike in the Northeast Woods with a focus on the wetlands. Hike will last 60-90 minutes. Appropriate for young and old.

NYLCV's Reaction to the State Budget


  "Historic is a word that we try not to use lightly, but it's truly appropriate to describe how the environment fared in this budget. We applaud the Governor, the Senate, and the Assembly for addressing pressing needs across the spectrum of our priorities from fighting climate change, to conserving natural resources, to protecting public health. These new or significantly increased allocations for dozens of meaningful programs will touch New Yorkers in all corners of the state, ensuring the health of our environment now and for future generations. New York has continually demonstrated national leadership on these issues and we hope this momentum carries through to the end of session as we seek to advance strong environmental legislation."
Highlights of NYLCV priority programs that fared well in the budget include:
Environmental Protection Fund - The Governor inherited the EPF at $134 million. Last year it reached $177 million after a series of steady increases. So the jump to $300 million this year was a huge one. The Governor, Senate and Assembly have committed this money to a broad range of programs that support everything from municipal parks to land preservation to fighting climate change to public health:
  • Municipal Parks and Waterfronts - Within this historic level of EPF funding, $20 million Municipal Parks Grant Program and a $16M Local Waterfront Revitalization Program. These programs rehabilitate playgrounds and ball fields, create new trails, and restore wetlands and waterfront access for recreation.
  • Dedicated Funding for Low Income Communities - The final budget deal set aside dedicated EPF funds for capital projects in both urban and rural low-income areas. This was a major budget priority of NYLCV’s, and we are thrilled to see the final budget deal include it. Vibrant parks, playgrounds, and recreation areas make communities more livable and provide opportunities for children to play sports and exercise. A revitalized park or playground is essential in addressing a growing obesity problem in low-income communities. Previously, there was only funding for one in every five applications and this funding will help address that.
  • Protecting Farmland  - The budget includes $20 million for farmland conservation, which will help ensure these lands are safe from development and that are towns and cities have access to fresh, local produce. 
  • Fighting Climate Change - The final deal also includes an unprecedented $24 million to combat climate change. This will include smart growth grants, climate smart community capital projects, and more.
Clean Water - The budget includes $200 million per year over each of the next two years for clean water infrastructure. New York State has an $800 million need for funding annually to begin to address the deteriorating infrastructure for drinking water and wastewater. This grant money will help leverage municipal and private investments to reach that number.
Promoting Zero Emission Vehicles - For the first time ever, the budget includes a $2,000 consumer “point-of-purchase” rebate, which will motivate the greatest number of buyers and help New York reach its goal of 850,000 ZEVs on the road by 2025. Critically, the budget also includes $10M for charging stations. This was a top priority for NYLCV, as a robust and highly visible charging network will also motivate buyers.
Farms to Schools Program - This initiative also received a boost, helping to connect schools to local farmers and educate students about what they are eating and where it comes from.
Environmental Justice - The budget includes additional funding for environmental justice programs throughout the state, recognizing that we must correct the unequal environmental and climate impacts faced by certain communities around the state.

New York City Public Advocate - Your Right to Opt Out

If you have questions or concerns, I urge you to contact 
Letitia James
New York City Public Advocate

Thursday, March 31, 2016

CAR FREE NYC to hold Major Rally to Build Support for Earth Day Goal of Fewer Cars on City Streets

Elected Officials and Organizations from Across the City Will Celebrate the Bold Initiative

City Council to Hear Resolution Naming Earth Day 2016 a Car Free Day in NYC

New York, NY-On Monday, April 4th, elected officials and organizations from across the city will rally on the steps of City Hall, calling on New York drivers to leave their car at home for one day this year: Earth Day, April 22nd. Support has steadily been building around this initiative, launched last month at New York University by Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez and a coalition of transportation, environmental and community based organizations drawing from a wide field of disciplines.

The concept, initiated in Europe several decades ago, is to have New Yorkers refrain from driving, as a way to highlight what our city could look like if it relied less upon cars. Paris is the most recent global city to take this step and saw tremendous benefits in lower emissions levels, as pedestrians flooded the open streets in celebration. Here in New York, a strong coalition of citywide organizations is ready to take the step here, with the support of the City.

On Earth Day, April 22nd, Broadway from the Flatiron Building to Union Square North; the streets around Washington Square Park; and Wadsworth Avenue in Upper Manhattan from 173rd to 177th will be closed to vehicle traffic, allowing New Yorkers to take full advantage of the open streets. This initiative is about promoting our many forms of transportation, other than personal vehicles, and encouraging New Yorkers to consider the impact of their decisions when it comes to travel.

The City Council Transportation Committee will hear a resolution designating Earth Day 2016, Car Free Day in NYC, immediately after the rally in the Council Chambers at City Hall.

What: Major Rally for a Car Free Earth Day in NYC & Hearing on Car Free Earth Day Resoluion

When: Monday, April 4th, 2016, 9:15 AM

Where: City Hall Steps, New York, NY

Bronx Chamber of Commerce - Next "Next Level Bronx" Class begin April 27, 2016

Application Period Now Open!      
About the Program:
NYCEDC is launching the Next Level Bronx program to give small business owners the tools, training, and networks to turn growth plans into action. We provide customized training for business owners who have been in business for at least three years, have an annual revenue of at least $250,000, and have at least one employee besides the owner. This is a seven-month program that helps participants emerge with successful, growth-oriented business strategies.
This program is brought to you by NYCEDC with curriculum provided by Interise and is supported by Citi Community Development. The Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation, the Bronx Chamber of Commerce, Assemblyman Blake, have partnered to help launch this major initiative. Should you have any questions, please feel free to contact Lucy Christensen at 212-312-4242.
Program Details:
This program will run over the course of seven months and will be held at the Bronx Borough Hall twice a month. By participating in this program you and your business could receive:
¨ Access to our Private Sector Network (PSN), network of volunteer professionals, and mentors.
¨ A customized Strategic Growth Plan outlining the action steps required to achieve business goals.
¨ Customized training to learn about business and development strategies, strategic planning, financial management, human resources, accessing capital, and government contracts.
This program is being offered free of charge. Apply today to reserve your spot for Next Level Bronx!
Key Dates:
¨ April 1 - Application Deadline
¨ April 27 - First Session
¨ November 2016 - Program Completion

Phil Cardone
 Grants & Events Director
 Bronx Chamber of Commerce
"The Network For Business Success"
1200 Waters Place, Suite 106
Bronx, NY 10461

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Free Concert Saturday, April 2nd_GMBC Men's Fellowship & Guests


  HUD Regional Administrator Holly Leicht to Moderate Panel of City Officials, Housing Developers, and Community Organizations

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr invites the public to an upcoming workshop designed to help Bronx residents successfully apply for affordable housing. The event will feature a panel discussion moderated by HUD Regional Administrator Holly Leicht, who oversees federal housing programs throughout New York and New Jersey.

Titled “Successfully Applying for Affordable Housing,” the event will take place on Wednesday April 13, 2016, from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Bronx Museum of the Arts, 1040 Grand Concourse, Bronx NY.

“Affordable housing and its role in the future of our borough and our city has been the topic of discussion across the city for years. We have seen considerable new development in our borough, and my office is working to make sure that this new development works for everyone. I invite all Bronxites interested in applying for a new apartment to come to this workshop, hear from our speakers and learn more about this process,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.

“Finding affordable housing in New York City is a challenge under any circumstances, but it’s incumbent upon government at all levels to ensure that those most in need are aware of the resources that are available and understand how they can access those resources,” said Holly Leicht, HUD Regional Administrator for New York and New Jersey. “HUD welcomes this opportunity to join Borough President Diaz, Jr. and many housing organizations to get the word out about how to navigate the process of identifying and applying for subsidized housing.”

In addition to remarks from Borough President Diaz and Regional Director Leicht, attendees will hear from speakers representing New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development, the New York City Housing Development Corporation, Phipps Houses, Bronx Pro Real Estate Management and the Fordham Bedford Housing Corporation. The event will also feature resource tables with one-on-one attention and materials related to housing matters and other services. Light refreshments will also be provided.

Simone Developers Riverdale Property - What's Next?

Above - The proposed 11 story Medical Center for the Oxford/Riverdale (West 248th Street) property owned by Simone Developers.
Below - What the site looks like almost two years after the medical center proposal was abandoned. A vacant eyesore of a lot where a building was demolished.

  This was the last proposal by Simone Developers, a 14 story 48 unit building which was rejected by the city. 

  Last night Community Board #8 held a Land Use meeting to find out the fate of the Oxford/Riverdale Avenue site from Simone Developers. The representative from Simone developers had no new information about the site, only that the sidewalk has been cleaned and will be on a regular schedule. When asked if the property was up for sale the answer was 'I don't know that information'. When I said that two developers (one the Stagg Group) were looking at the site to purchase the property from Simone, the same answer was given - 'I don't know anything about that'. 

  It seems that now with Mayor Bill de Blasio's MIH and ZQA zoning changes that the property value  has increased, because a developer can build higher than 14 stories as much as 16 or even 18 stories if certain elements of the MIH and ZQA are incorporated into the building, such as affordable housing or a senior building that could have little or no parking requirements. There was at least one real estate agent in the audience who has shown the Simone property to prospective buyers.  

Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Last Minute Power Grab

By Senator Rev. Rubén Díaz
District 32 Bronx County, New York

You should know that in the eleventh hour, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo has slipped language into the Budget that would allow him to take over the homeless shelters in the City of New York.
As you all know, Governor Andrew Cuomo has declared war on New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, and he is doing everything possible to embarrass the Mayor without regard or respect for the hard work and sacrifices of New York City’s Community-Based Organizations that run shelters.
In the middle of this fight are the poor, the needy and the suffering New York City residents.
Instead of joining forces with the Mayor of the City of New York and the Community-Based Organizations, the Governor wants to remove Community-Based Organizations and replace them with anyone he chooses to be in charge.  
Governor Andrew Cuomo should strive to solve housing problems by forcing the landlords who own the actual property where the homeless shelters exist to remedy the violations in those buildings.  The building violations are caused by the landlords’ neglect –not the Community-Based Organizations!  
Instead of Governor Andrew Cuomo working to punish the landlords who own and neglect the buildings where the shelters are located, surprise, surprise: he is planning to punish the Community-based Organizations for building code violations that are completely out of their hands.
It is absolutely ridiculous for the Governor and for the State of New York to take over shelter programs in the City of New York and, yet still force the Mayor and the City of New York to fund shelters with the City’s resources they are not even in control of.
My dear reader, it’s A-OK for the Governor to take over State programs and put in charge whomever he pleases, but NOT for him to come to the City of New York and tell the Mayor and the City Council and Community-based Organizations that he’s taking over the shelter system – expecting to use the City’s resources.
It’s only in Cuba where you see these kinds of political maneuvers!
I have to implore my colleagues in the State Legislature – especially Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, Senate Independent Democratic Conference Leader Jeff Klein, Senate Democratic Conference Leader Andrea Stewart Cousins to NOT allow for this outrageous manipulation of resources to pass in New York State’s Budget and force the City of New York to pay for programs controlled by the State of New York.
If our leaders allow for this kind of power shift to take place, and use the excuse that it will help the homeless, they are fooling no one. This language that has been slipped into the Budget at the last minute will hurt the Community-Based Organizations that serve the homeless and the City of New York, and we must not allow that to happen.
I am Senator Rubén Díaz and this is what you should know.

Editor's Note:

It is seldom that I agree with Senator Diaz Sr. on issues like this, but I agree 100 Percent on this item with Senator Diaz Sr. It looks like Governor Cuomo is trying to get an on time budget, and try to put in special measures as Senator Diaz is mentioning.

Assemblymember Michael A. Blake - Celebrated Sheroes in Economic Development, Education & Equality For All

This past Saturday, I hosted a Women's History Month event where members of the community came out to celebrate the remarkable contributions women are making in helping us to realize our vision of Economic Development, Education and Equality for All. During the event, we honored several distinguished members of our community with citations that recognize their important contributions to empowering other women. President Barack Obama, Senior Advisor to the President Valerie Jarrett and First Lady of NYC Chirlane McCray sent congratulatory letters to our honorees.

Co-sponsors for this event included: Congressmember Jose Serrano, State Senator Gustavo Rivera, Assemblymember Marcos Crespo, and Councilmember Vanessa Gibson. In addition to the co-sponsors, we provided information tables to Planned Parenthood of New York, Harlem Girls Cheer, V.I.P. Community Services and Professional Empowerment in Action

We are delighted to have honored 22 women, who are all making a positive impact in our community. From the four women leaders at Neighborhood SHOPP's Casa Boricua Senior Center to our School Superintendents, from African entrepreneurs to community advocates, we are absolutely #BuildingABetterBronx

2016 Women’s History Month Honorees:

Ramatu Ahmed,
Founder of African Life Center
Karen Ames,
Superintendent District 8
Elisa Alvarez,
Superintendent District 7
Stephanie Arthur,
Founder of African Leaders Project
Ivy Brown,
Instructional Technology Coordinator of New York Metropolitan 
Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolence ATTAIN Lab
Fatima C.Cambane-Quissico,
First Lady of Epworth United Methodist Church
Miriam Clavasquin,
Program Director of Casa Boricua Senior Center
Cynthia Cortijo-Rodriguez,
CEC: Community Education Council 12
Antoinette Crawford,
First Lady of Union Grove Missionary Baptist Church
Diana Delgado,
Director of Senior Center Programs for 
Neighborhood Self-Help by Older Persons Project (SHOPP)
Rafaela Espinal Pacheco,
Superintendent District 12
Ivine Galarza,
District Manager for Bronx Community Board 6
Meredith Gotlin,
Principal of The Melrose School, PS/MS 29
Dr. Evelyn Laureano,
Executive Director of Neighborhood Self-Help by Older Persons Project (SHOPP)
Annie Minguez,
Director of Government & Community Relations with Good Shepherd
Claudia Nesbitt,
New York Metropolitan Martin Luther King Jr.
Center for Nonviolence ATTAIN Lab
Carmen Rivera,
V.I.P. Community Services
Leticia Rodriguez-Rosario,
Superintendent District 9
Darlene Serrano,
Activity Coordinator at Neighborhood Self Help by Older Persons Project (SHOPP) 
Casa Boricua Innovative Senior Center
Elizabeth Thompson,
Leadership Council Representative of Kingsbridge Neighborhood Improvement Association

Assemblymember Michael Blake after surprising his mother Hilary Lawrence with a New York State Assembly citation

From left to right: Assemblymember Michael Blake, Ivine Galarza (District Manager of Community Board 6), Congressmember Jose Serrano and Councilmember Vanessa Gibson

Women's History Month Attendees

Assemblymember Michael Blake, Congressmember Jose Serrano and Councilmember Vanessa Gibson stand with 2016 Women's History Month Honorees