Friday, May 6, 2016
NYLCV APPLAUDS NYC COUNCIL FOR PASSING THE CARRYOUT BAG BILL
BILL MOVES TO MAYOR'S DESK AFTER 28-20 VOTE IN FAVOR
Today the New York City Council passed Intro-209, the Carryout Bags Bill, by a vote of 28-20. NYLCV has long advocated for the bill, making it a priority bill in its last two NYC Council scorecards and sending thousands of petition signatures to council members and the mayor. In response, Marcia Bystryn, President of the New York League of Conservation Voters issued the following statement:
"Carryout bags are not free. Every New Yorker pays when we see our trees, streets, playgrounds, waterways and beaches littered with plastic bags. Taxpayers spend $12 million a year just to truck bags to landfills, which drive through low-income communities of color to transfer stations, contributing to air pollution and causing increased asthma rates along the way. A shopper uses a disposable bag on average for just minutes, while the toll on the environment lasts for decades.
"New Yorkers can pause for a second at the register. When asked if they need a carryout bag, the choice will be theirs. That pause will make a world of difference for cleaner streets, a greener city and a healthy environment.
"As the largest city in the United States, New York City just took a bold step toward joining the dozens of other municipalities that have already adopted legislation restricting the use of these bags. We thank Council Members Lander and Chin for their tireless advocacy, and Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito for her leadership in shepherding the bill through the Council. We look forward to working with Mayor de Blasio to ensure successful implementation."
Before we celebrate to much, there is talk that the state legislature, which has the power to, may convene to overturn this bill which still has not been signed into law by Mayor Bill de Blasio. If he is still mayor by the time the signing comes around.
MELISSA MARK-VIVERITO, JEFFREY DINOWITZ, ET AL ... And then they call themselves defenders of the poor?
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW
By Senator Rev. Rubén Díaz
District 32 Bronx County, New York
You should know that there is an old saying that goes like this: “It’s one thing what you say, and another is what you do.” If we apply this expression to elected officials, we can see that all too often, what they say and what they do aren’t always the same.
You should know that some of these elected officials in New York say one thing and do the opposite, and they are often the first ones to call themselves defenders of the poor.
One of these elected officials is our New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, who together with the Democratic majority, approved and passed a law that adds an additional burden to the poor - especially senior citizens.
This new law requires for everyone to pay an extra 5 cents for each plastic bag people will use to put their groceries in. We all know that there are items which need 2-3 plastic bags. That means people will have to pay 5 cents for each one. (And stores that break this law will be hit with a $250 penalty.)
It is important for you to know that there are many senior citizens in New York City who receive a total income of between $500 and $600 per month. This means that each month, these seniors have to decide if they should pay their rent, pay for their medications, pay for their rice and beans, or pay for their utilities. The cost for these plastic bags imposed upon the poor and our seniors by the so-called "defenders of the poor” just adds insult to injury.
Instead of our City Council Members using their votes to help defray costs or burdens for our senior citizens and poor people, and instead of finding ways to help decrease day-to-day expenses for people in need, the New York City Council continues to slowly crush our poor and our seniors by taking away money they just don’t have.
I have to publicly commend the Bronx Democratic City Council Members who voted to oppose this punitive measure, who include James Vacca, Rafael Salamanca, Annabel Palma, Vanessa Gibson, and the Council Members from the other boroughs: Inez D. Barron, Joseph Borelli, Robert Cornegy, Jr., Chaim M. Deutsch, Inez E. Dickens, Mathieu Eugene, Vincent Gentile, David G. Greenfield, Barry S. Grodenchik, Karen Koslowitz, Rory Lancman, Steve Matteo, Darlene Mealy, Deborah L. Rose, Mark Treyger, and Eric A. Ulrich.
Another case that has been highlighted this week in the news involves a lawsuit that was filed against a Democratic Member of the New York State Assembly, Jeffrey Dinowitz.
According to an article titled “PS 24 assistant principal sues DOE” written by Shant Shahrigian, that was published on May 3, 2016 of The Riverdale Press: “The Spuyten Duyvil School’s (P.S. 24) Assistant Principal Manny Verdi says northwest Bronx Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz is seeking to keep minority and lower-income students out of the school, one of several bombshell allegations in a suit he filed against the Department of Education (DOE), Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña and District 10 Superintendent Melodie Mashel.”
These are very serious charges.
I’m not saying whether the allegations are true or not, but if this report is credible, then my question is: How can this be so?
We already know that Jeffrey Dinowitz has been a vocal opponent of New York Charter Schools, which were created primarily to serve the educational needs of minority students. Charter schools enrolment are made up of more than 90 percent of Black and Hispanic children. Our children get a good education in these Charter Schools.
So how does Jeffrey Dinowitz – a Democrat who claims to be a defender of the poor – oppose Black and Hispanic children from being allowed to attend a public school in Riverdale, and at the same time, also oppose Charter Schools?
This is something that cannot be tolerated.
My question to Assemblyman Dinowitz is: “If you don’t want our Black and Hispanic children going to your neighborhood school, and you also oppose sending our Black and Hispanic children to charter schools, how can you claim to defend the needs of the poor?
If we look at these cases: the harm done by the City Council to the poor and senior citizens, and the other cases of preventing Black and Hispanic children from attending a good public school, and also opposing Charter Schools so our Black and Hispanic children could have good educational opportunities, then I have to wonder why they call themselves defenders of the poor.
I am Senator Reverend Rubén Díaz, and this is what you should know.
We have to agree with Senator Diaz on the plastic bag fee, but he needs to read the law again, and probably again.
As for Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz - He did help with you depose a hispanic Bronx Democratic County Leader to have a Black Assemblyman become the new county leader. With Assemblyman Dinowitz's help your black candidate for a judgeship was able to defeat a hispanic candidate who was supported by the former county leader. Assemblyman Dinowitz also helped your Hispanic candidate in the most recent city council special election in the South Bronx.
As for politics in schools - Assemblyman Dinowitz has never brought the former Republican State Senate Majority Leader (who was convicted of corruption) to an political event in a school. Assemblyman Dinowitz also has not used a political event in a school to advance his candidate for office in a special election.
Assemblyman Dinowitz is doing his job to find out why a top performing public school in his district is no longer the school it once was. He does not want to have a charter school pull any children away, especially minority children, as you Senator Diaz would.
Look in the mirror before you put your foot in your mouth Senator Diaz.
And that is what you should know.
The rally for the Kingsbridge National Ice Center went on as planned yesterday with Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. and former New York Ranger Great Mark Messier on hand for the prayer vigil to let this project go forward. The photos below will tell the rest of the story.
Above -The prayer vigil was led by the Reverend Que English.
Below - Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., Mark Messier, And Community Board 7 Chair Adaline Walker-Santiago renewed their calls for the city to allow the Kingsbridge National Ice Center project start.
Above = The Celia Cruz Glee Club was on hand posing, and pose with the CB 7 Chair and CB 7 District Manger, and of course Mark Messier.
Below - BP Diaz explains to a woman from Brooklyn that unlike the Barclay Center that was built from scratch with taxpayers dollars, the KNIC proposal does not use ant city monies, and that the armory building has sat empty for many years with the community calling for a community based use such as the KNIC proposal.
Wednesday, May 4, 2016
On the National Day of Prayer, faith and community leaders, elected officials, and other members of The Bronx community will gather at 3 p.m. this Thursday, March 5, at the Kingsbridge Armory for prayer in support of the Kingsbridge National Ice Center – a transformative project many believe have been stalled due to the dispute with New York City Economic Development Corporation (EDC). Faith and community leaders, elected officials, and other members of The Bronx community gatherers will participate in an “hour of prayer” for renewed optimism in one of the city’s most deserving communities.
“We gather in in support of this transformative project and its vision to benefit our community,” says Rev. Que English, pastor at The Bronx Christian Fellowship Church and a signatory to a Community Benefits Agreement that helps bring living wage jobs and additional resources resulting from the future redevelopment of the armory to community-based organizations. “We will issue a call to action to the city – to get behind the Ice Center and its promise to create jobs and opportunity. We pray today because we realize this isn't about EDC vs KNIC, it's about destroying the economic future for our community and its children, the project's potential $1.9 billion in economic impact to the Northwest Bronx and the City as a whole. We must see and embrace the bigger picture."
The Ice Center, to be located in the Kingsbridge section of The Bronx, will be the world’s largest indoor ice sports facility. The project will support an estimated 2,700 construction-related jobs and produce an estimated 820 permanent jobs. It will adapt the historic Kingsbridge Armory building and create a new space to support physical exercise, recreation, educational opportunities, and competitive sports for residents and visitors alike. The Ice Center is expected to produce a net new economic impact of $1.9 billion to the City of New York.
“Transforming the Kingsbridge Armory into the world’s largest indoor ice sports facility will not only revitalize a Bronx landmark, but it will have a significant economic and social impact on the Kingsbridge community and the Bronx as a whole by creating new living wage jobs and community programs for our youth,” said State Senator Gustavo Rivera. "I urge the City and KINC to find a compromise that both protects this historic property and moves this transformative project forward."
The project has enjoyed widespread support from elected officials and community leaders, culminating in a resounding vote of approval from the New York City Council. By securing a $138 million bridge loan commitment from the State of New York, project developers believe they have satisfied the terms of an Escrow Agreement – and are entitled to take delivery of the lease. Doing so would spark the creation of new jobs, construction work and, ultimately, a state-of-the-art facility that would become a global destination.
"This is a great project, one that will not only create new jobs but also activate a long dormant landmark. It is time for this project to move forward. It is time to bring the Kingsbridge National Ice Center to the Bronx," said Ruben Diaz Jr., Bronx Borough President.
EDC officials have contend they lack confidence in the funding commitment of the State and have refused to deliver the signed lease – arguing that developers have not satisfied the terms of the Escrow Agreement. Faith and community leaders demand the EDC immediately withdraw its objection and surrender the lease.
"We, as a faith community, have supported the Kingsbridge National Ice Center throughout the process because we know that the historical community benefits agreement is going to bring about the change we need for our community," said, Rev. Dr. Raymond Rivera, President/CEO, Latino Pastoral Action Center, "Today, we lift our voices in prayer over our community and the project so we may all realize a better city as a result of its completion."
Project developers have secured required permits, retained architectural firms, and advanced project-related benefits for the community. They recently launched the Inline-2-Ice (i2i) program at a local elementary school. This program introduces Bronx school students to the fundamentals of skating, while inspiring a passion for ice sports and the benefits gained through life-long participation.
“My students are not just learning how to skate, they are learning how to have more personal confidence and self-esteem; they are developing positive peer interactions, [and] they are learning to have higher expectations for themselves,” said Martha Martinez, a teacher at PS 86, an elementary school located across the street fromrmory.
STATE SENATOR GUSTAVO RIVERA INTRODUCES BILL TO EXPAND MEDICAID COVERAGE TO INCLUDE BLOOD-BASED TESTING FOR ALLERGIES
Proposed Legislation Would Improve Access to Allergy Blood Tests in Primary Care Settings To Reduce Health Disparities in Low-Income Communities
State Senator Gustavo Rivera announced the introduction of a bill (S7450) in the New York State Senate that will require the New York State Medicaid program to cover blood-based allergy testing in addition to skin prick testing. This bill will effectively create further access to critical allergy testing in underserved communities by allowing primary care providers to perform standard blood testing as a way to determine a patient's allergy condition. It will also help align New York State's allergy testing policy with the National Institute of Health's (NIH) asthma and food allergy guidelines. This bill (A9867) was also introduced in the New York State Assembly by Assemblymember Nick Perry on April 20, 2016. It currently stands in the Assembly's Health Committee.
"By including blood-based allergy testing to our State's Medicaid allergy testing coverage we will ensure that Medicaid patients across New York State are granted greater access to affordable allergy testing by simply scheduling a visit to their primary care physician instead of waiting for six months to see a specialist," said State Senator Gustavo Rivera. "This measure will not only provide New York State with significant savings in emergency care, but more importantly it will reduce the health disparities that continue to negatively impact low income and minority communities across our State."
Even though blood-based allergy testing has been proven to be as clinically efficient as skin prick testing, only the latter is currently covered by New York State's Medicaid program. However, skin prick testing is almost exclusively available through allergy specialists, who in turn requires an initial referral from a primary care physician. With only a few hundred allergy specialist across the State, scheduling an appointment can take up to six months for Medicaid patients, delaying a proper diagnoses. Studies have consistently shown that ER visits and hospitalizations related to allergies and asthma can be dramatically reduced when patients receive guidelines-based care.
"Frankly, this is about access to healthcare. It is unfair, it is inappropriate; and it is even outrageous to insist on maintaining rules that deny access to healthcare that has been proven to increase your chances of better health outcomes. Just because you are dependent on Medicaid for your health care coverage should not be the reason that you have to always wait on a long line to get treated. Blood allergy testing is not a medical experiment. It is accepted and proven medical practice that saves patients with asthma and food allergies from long waiting times that is currently required for allergy specialists. Because the Department of Health maintains a deaf ear to our requests, I am pleased and enthusiastic to join my colleagues in this effort to fix this problem legislatively." said Assemblymember Nick Perry.
Private health care insurance already cover blood testing for the diagnosis of allergies. Improving access to allergy blood tests in primary care settings for Medicaid patients will help reduce the health disparities in those suffering asthma and food allergies, which is critical for individuals from underserved populations.
The Croton Facility Monitoring Committee will next meet on at the DEP office, 3660 Jerome Avenue, Bronx 10467.
An Agenda will be posted when it becomes available.
Bill would create new gun trafficking offense on the heels of Manhattan DA/NYPD takedown of ring that sold more than 80 firearms in Manhattan
State Senator Jeff Klein and Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., announced the introduction of a new Gun Kingpin bill to establish the crime of “Operating as a Major Firearms Trafficker.”
The announcement comes days after District Attorney Vance and New York City Police Commissioner William Bratton announced the indictment of six interstate firearms traffickers for selling 82 pistols, assault weapons, and shotguns, as well as corresponding ammunition, in Northern Manhattan. The proposed bill would create a new class A-1 felony offense, which would subject major firearms traffickers to a minimum sentence of 15-years-to-life in prison.
“The fact that those who are pumping more than 80 illegal guns into the hands of criminals while operating trafficking rings throughout our state can only be charged with a class B felony is an injustice to everyone that our laws protect. I am proud to introduce my legislation, along with D.A. Vance, to create a new class A-1 felony that will elevate existing penalties for gun kingpins. These necessary protections will ensure that major firearms traffickers, who put all New Yorkers at risk, will face up to a lifetime in prison. We must be vigilant against the trafficking of illegal firearms throughout our state, and this legislation will do just that,” said Senator Jeff Klein.
“It defies logic that in a state with such strong, sensible gun laws, the penalty for selling 10, 100, or 10,000 guns is the same: a minimum of just 5 years in prison. I thank Senator Klein for his leadership and collaboration on this legislation, which will deter those who would profit off of the wholesale dealing of illegal firearms, and keep New York communities safe. This A-1 felony will be a powerful tool for combatting gun violence across New York State,” said District Attorney Vance.
Under current law, the highest criminal charge gun traffickers can face is Criminal Sale of a Firearm or Criminal Possession of a Firearm, both in the first degree. These class B felony charges, which apply to the illegal sale or illegal possession of ten or more firearms, carry a maximum sentence of 25 years in prison, but a minimum sentence of just 5 years in prison.
However, under Senator Klein and DA Vance’s proposed legislation, those who are caught unlawfully selling, or possessing with intent to sell, at least 20 firearms could be charged with “Operating as a Major Firearms Trafficker.” Those convicted of this A-1 felony would face a minimum sentence of 15-years-to-life, and a maximum sentence of 25-years-to-life.
“I join Senator Klein and District Attorney Vance in calling for the same strong sentences for major gun traffickers that we currently assign to drug kingpins. In the last two years, my Organized Crime Task Force has seized over 300 firearms from gun traffickers, many of whom would have faced the tougher penalties proposed by this legislation. With this bill, those who believe New York is an attractive market for wholesale illegal gun distribution will be forced to think again,” said Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.