Saturday, July 16, 2016

9th Annual Allerton Avenue Festival & International Food Show

  It was the ninth Annual Allerton Avenue Festival and International Food Show, and while there was no rain the heat made many stay in the shade. The large supermarket once known as Dalessio's then Met Food and finally Super Food and the Palombo Bakery were closed, as were one or two other small stores. That however is the way the Bronx seems to be going. As new stores open some older less modern stores are going to close, unable to compete with the new much larger stores with several advantages. 

Above - The Dunk Tank, and Below - The Mark Gjonaj Wagon Ride were still main attractions.

Above - and Below - State Senator Jeff Klein was traveling between many events and stopped by to say a few words to crowd about his good friend Assemblyman Mark Gjonaj. 

Above - Assemblyman Gjonaj welcomed 36th State Senate candidate Jamaal Bailey to the event.
Below - Mr. Bailey is pointing to the north side of Allerton Avenue that he hopes to represent, while State Senator Jeff Klein represents the south side of the street.

Assemblyman Gjonaj stands with 36th State Senate candidate Jamaal Bailey and Jason Laidley candidate Bailey's campaign manager in the blue shirt. Both the candidate and his campaign manager are holding informational material about candidate Jamaal Bailey.

Guess What I Found on the Grand Concourse in a Bus Stop?

  If you guessed a road milling machine you are correct!

Above - East 205th Street off the Grand Concourse was milled on Friday (after construction was completed on part of the street), and where do you think the road milling machine wound up?
Below - The answer is in a bus stop just north of East 205th Street on the Grand Concourse. Yes, you are right the milling machine is also in the bike lane. 

Above - Yes, that is a plastic helmet that someone who operates the milling machine might wear, but also something that a bike rider would wear.
Below - You can see how easy it is for children to crawl under this road milling machine as it is left unattended and fully open.

Friday, July 15, 2016

A Tough Time Cleaning the Streets

   No this street sweeper is not on fire or not doing its job, it is just trying to clean a street that has been milled and is awaiting to be repaved. I spoke to the driver of this street sweeper who said that the residue left by the milling company is driving him crazy as he tries to clean the streets that have been milled. This street has been like this for over three weeks, and is expected to be repaved some time next week.
    This is happening all around the Bronx as it can take up to one month for the Department of Transportation to repave a street after it has been milled. 

52nd Pct. National Night Out Thur Aug. 2nd Poe Park 5 - 8 PM

New York Comic Con Presents

October 6 - 9, 2016 | Javits CenterBUY NOW
New York Comic Con - NYCC
introducing NYCC presents

stuff you missed in history class
shipwreck presents a literary erotic fanfic competition based on william goldman's the princess bride
doctor who costume/trivia contest
tales from the toybox
flame on presents fan fued

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Announces $9.5 Million Settlement With Columbia University For Improperly Seeking Excessive Cost Recoveries In Connection With Federal Research Grants

   Columbia Admits to Seeking and Receiving Cost Recoveries at the Higher “On-Campus” Rate for 423 Research Grants Even Though the Research Was Primarily Performed in Space Not Owned or Operated by Columbia

Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Scott J. Lampert, Special Agent in Charge of the New York Region of the Office of Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS-OIG”), announced today a settlement of a civil fraud lawsuit against THE TRUSTEES OF COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY IN THE CITY OF NEW YORK (“COLUMBIA”) for improperly seeking and receiving excessive cost recoveries in connection with research grants funded by the National Institutes of Health (“NIH”).  The United States’ Complaint-In-Intervention (the “Complaint”) alleges that from July 1, 2003, through June 30, 2015, COLUMBIA impermissibly applied its “on-campus” indirect cost rate – instead of the much lower “off-campus” indirect cost rate – when seeking federal reimbursement for 423 NIH grants where the research was primarily performed at off-campus facilities owned and operated by the State of New York and New York City.  The Complaint further alleges that COLUMBIA failed to disclose to NIH that it did not own or operate these facilities and that COLUMBIA did not pay for use of the space for most of the relevant period. 
Yesterday, U.S. District Court Judge Paul A. Engelmayer approved a settlement stipulation to resolve the Government’s claims against COLUMBIA.  Under the settlement, COLUMBIA is required to pay $9.5 million to the United States.  In addition, COLUMBIA has admitted that it applied the on-campus indirect cost rate to the 423 NIH grants even though the research was primarily performed in space not owned or operated by Columbia, and that it submitted to NIH certified reports that used the on-campus indirect cost rate to calculate the indirect cost amounts claimed by the university.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said:  “All institutions that receive federal grant money must abide by applicable rules and regulations governing the use of the funds and the extent to which costs incurred by the institution are reimbursable.  For years and for over 400 research grants, Columbia improperly sought and recovered inflated cost recoveries.  For seeking and receiving improperly inflated cost recoveries from limited federal research funds, Columbia has made admissions and will pay $9.5 million.”
HHS-OIG Special Agent in Charge Scott J. Lampert said: “It is disturbing that Columbia University, a prestigious institution, would improperly seek excessive cost reimbursements from NIH, as alleged in the settlement.  Money gained by such behavior deprives other research programs of funds that could yield life-altering new treatments.  We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to ensure institutions who engage in wrongful activity are held accountable.”
As alleged in the Complaint filed in Manhattan federal court:
Educational institutions are generally entitled to seek and receive federal reimbursement only for actual costs incurred by the institution in support of federally sponsored grants.  This is true regardless of whether the costs are direct costs (i.e., costs that can be identified specifically with a particular research project, such as the cost of the materials for the project) or indirect costs (i.e., costs that are incurred for common or joint objectives and, therefore, cannot be identified with work performed on a particular research project, such as operation and maintenance expenses).    
A university recovers its indirect costs for a particular research project by applying the relevant facilities and administrative rate (the “F&A Rate”) for the project to a subset of the direct costs it incurred in connection with the project.  HHS and educational institutions negotiate one F&A Rate for research primarily performed on-campus (“On-Campus F&A Rate”), and a separate F&A Rate for research primarily performed off-campus (“Off-Campus F&A Rate”).  The On-Campus F&A Rate is typically more than double the Off-Campus F&A Rate to account for the fact that when conducting research off-campus educational institutions do not incur the indirect facilities-related costs that they would otherwise incur if the activities were performed on-campus. 
From July 1, 2003, through June 30, 2015, COLUMBIA’s On-Campus F&A Rate was approximately 61 percent, its Off-Campus F&A Rate was 26 percent, and its Modified Off-Campus F&A Rate was 29.4 percent.  The Modified Off-Campus F&A Rate was to be applied to research conducted off-campus but within a certain proximity of the COLUMBIA campus.
COLUMBIA has a collaborative relationship with the New York State Psychiatric Institute (“NYSPI”), a clinical research facility administered by the New York State Office of Mental Health.  COLUMBIA faculty perform research in two off-campus buildings owned by the State of New York and operated by NYSPI (the “NYSPI Buildings”).  COLUMBIA faculty also perform research in another off-campus building owned and operated by the City of New York (the “City Building”).
For most of the relevant period, COLUMBIA did not pay the State of New York for use of the NYSPI Buildings, and therefore did not incur indirect “facilities-related” costs with respect to the medical research performed in these buildings.  Similarly, COLUMBIA did not pay the City of New York for use of the City Building.
During the relevant period, COLUMBIA received NIH funding for 423 grants where the research primarily took place in the off-campus NYSPI Buildings or the off-campus City Building (“NIH Grants”).  COLUMBIA improperly applied the On-Campus F&A Rate when seeking indirect cost reimbursements from NIH for these grants.  To obtain the indirect cost reimbursements, Columbia periodically submitted to NIH certified Federal Financial Reports (“FFRs”).  At the time that COLUMBIA submitted the FFRs for the NIH Grants, the university knew that it did not own or operate the NYSPI Buildings or the City Building where the research was primarily being performed and that it did not incur any costs relating to those spaces for most of the relevant period, but nevertheless sought reimbursement based on the On-Campus F&A Rate.
COLUMBIA did not state on the applications for the NIH Grants that the research would be primarily performed off-campus, as required.  Instead, Columbia frequently included the main address for the College of Physicians & Surgeons in the section of the application that was supposed to list the primary performance location.  Even where the NYSPI Buildings or the City Building were listed in that section of the grant application, or mentioned elsewhere in the application, COLUMBIA failed to disclose that these buildings were not owned and operated by the university. 
Starting in fiscal year 2009, in lieu of paying rent for use of one of the NYSPI Buildings, the Department of Neuroscience paid NYSPI a portion of the inflated indirect cost recoveries it received from NIH for research projects performed in that building.
In connection with the filing of the lawsuit and settlement, the Government joined a private whistleblower lawsuit that had previously been filed under seal pursuant to the False Claims Act.

Hector Ramirez fo

Passionate community activist seeks to bring real and honest representation to the beleaguered 86th District of the New York State Assembly
Calling the people of University Heights, Tremont, Morris Heights, and Fordham to stand up for their right to elect their own representatives and send the real and strong representation they need in Albany, Democrat Hector Ramirez announced his candidacy to the 86th Assembly District. After a strong grass root movement campaign, involving a diverse coalition of volunteers that walked the district for the past few weeks petitioning signatures of district voters, Ramirez submitted more than three times the amount of signatures required to qualify for the candidacy- to the Bronx Board of Elections.
“A district that, confronts exponential problems of inequality, women's health issues, unemployment, high levels of crime, and lack of opportunities in general, we cannot sit idle, while the beneficiaries of the status quo don’t even want to recognize our right to elect our own representatives”, said Hector Ramirez. "I am running because I want to be part of a strong, progressive coalition of democrats that will go to Albany to bring a real voice from our community and fight for the resources needed to tackle the abandonment that this district has suffered for years”
As a result of his own experience and community involvement, Hector Ramirez has been an inspiration to the minority communities he serves. Ramirez has demonstrated his commitment to fighting for immigrant, civil and economic rights. He has been actively involved in fighting street crime and gang violence in cooperation with community leaders and grass roots organizations.
Through his work in the community, Hector Ramirez has seen firsthand the crucial needs that surround the neighborhoods of University Heights, Tremont, Morris Heights,
and Fordham. He understands that we need honest, responsible and effective leadership to give these impoverished sections of the Bronx strong representation in Albany. He will bring back the respect and meaningful change that the district deserves to move forward and get the necessary resources.
In announcing his candidacy, Ramirez highlighted the need to fight for affordable housing, economic development, and educational opportunities for the youth and adult population, including the fight for the state DREAM Act, more resources to improve the lives for our senior citizens and more resources, community engagement and leadership to combat crime.
"But the first step in having our voice and concerns heard in Albany is allowing the people of the district to exercise their constitutional right of electing whomever they want fighting for them in Albany, not a poppet imposed by politicians", Ramirez added.
Over the past two decades, Ramirez has expanded his political involvement in the Bronx to reflect his passion for community service, working in partnership with grassroots organizations to demand more living wage jobs, health care, education and affordable housing to one of the poorest areas in the nation.
A passionate community activist, Ramirez started his public service at a young age in the Dominican Republic, as part of the student movement, in charitable organizations and later as a professional accountant, heading the Ethics Committee for the National Dominican Accountants Association.
In 2002, Ramirez was elected to the 86th Assembly as District Leader where he was re-elected four times. As District Leader, Ramirez has served a densely populated area encompassing University Heights, Tremont, and the Morris Heights section of the Bronx, as a non-paid liaison for the community to government agencies, elected and Democratic Party officials and community organizations. His hard work earned Ramirez a reputation as an honest and responsible leader. Hector Ramirez was one of the community leaders that fought for the creation of the AD86.
The Democratic Primary will be held on September 13, 2016.

When asked about a primary challenger current 86th A.D. Assemblyman Victor Pichardo said that he was ready to defend his record against anyone. At the time it was said that former Assemblyman Nelson Castro might run against him. I would have to ask the question again of Assemblyman Pichardo, but I think the answer would be the same for candidate Hector Ramirez.

South Bronx Unite - Reclaiming the South Bronx Waterfront

This Saturday, July 16, 2016, from 11-4 pm, hundreds of South Bronx residents will join a waterfront celebration (with an international musical line up, along with local musicians, artists and vendors as well as water activities including canoeing, water testing and a fishing contest) to reclaim the Mott Haven-Port Morris waterfront for public access/use.  This special waterfront event - part of the city-wide -Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance's City of Water Day - celebrates the efforts of the community to build bridges to the inaccessible shoreline where, despite nine miles of state-owned land along the peninsula, community members currently do not have a single public access point.

Waterfront Celebration - Mott Haven/Port Morris

WhenSaturday, July 1611-4 pm
Where: Lincoln Avenue Waterfront (south of East 132nd Street)

  • International Musical Line-up - including:
  • Bandistan Ensemble * - Musicians from Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan
  • Plenartorium - contemporary interpretation of traditional Puerto Rican plena
  • Bomba - from our community
  • UpBeat - South Bronx children's orchestra
  • DJ Manny - Mott Haven's own resident DJ
  • BBQ - with Mott Haven resident garbage can grill master Jake 
  • Water Activities - water testing, canoeing and fishing (with a $50 1st place prize for the largest fish)
  • Unveiling of the Lincoln Avenue and Alexander Avenue Waterfront Renderings from UPenn - based off of the Mott Haven-Port Morris Waterfront Plan
Bantistan Ensemble * (music preview)
Plenatorium (music preview)
Canoeing the Bronx Kill (preview)
PennDesign Renderings of Lincoln Avenue and Alexander Avenue Public Waterfront
From land and from water, join us for a celebration of South Bronx resiliency and public waterfront accessibility.  Despite nine miles of public, state-owned waterfront land along the Mott Haven-Port Morris peninsula of the South Bronx, community members currently do not have a single public access point. This special waterfront event - part of the city-wide Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance's City of Water Day - celebrates the efforts of the community to build bridges to the public waterfront.  
A video reminder of what happened last year and why we do this work!

Bronx Democratic County Committee Dinner

   When you have the Governor, Attorney General, Assembly Speaker, City Comptroller, Public Advocate, almost every Bronx elected official, and hundreds of people also in attendance you know that the county dinner was a huge success. Executive Director of the BDCC Mr. Anthony Perez was the host for the dinner, and he moved the program along magnificently that it seemed that the speeches by the elected officials were short and concise. The only person missing would have been the presumed Democratic nominee for President Hillary Clinton. There was a message from Washington however from Honoree Congressman Eliot Engel who could not attend since congress was still in session. The pjotos below should tell the rest of the story.

Above - Bronx BP Ruben Diaz Jr., Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, and Governor Andrew Cuomo. 
Below - Governor Cuomo talks with Taylor the daughter of Speaker Heastie as AG Schneiderman looks on.

Above - City Comptroller Scott Stringer speaks with friends, possibly about a run for mayor next year.
Below - Former City Comptroller and candidate for mayor in 2013 John Liu speaks with Bronx Democratic County Leader Marcos Crespo.

Above - BP Diaz with Kathy Zamchansky of KAZ Realty in the Bronx. 
Below - Jaamal Bailey candidate for the36th State Senate District, and Ischia Bravo candidate for the 78th Assembly District. 

Above -Governor Cuomo at the podium, praising Bronx BP Ruben Diaz Jr. 
Below - Bronx Democratic County Leader Marcos Crespo adds to the joyful night.


  Governor Highlights Impact of Summer Youth Employment Program and Unemployment Strikeforce Initiative

Announcements Build on Momentum of Governor’s Successful Initiatives to Address Unemployment in The Bronx and Across the State

Bronx Unemployment Rate Down to 6.1% in May, Lowest Figure in 15 Years

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced an additional $30 million in funding for the successful Urban Youth Jobs Program, an innovative tax credit program which connects minority and at-risk youth with employment opportunities in communities across the state. The record investment brings total funding for the program to $50 million this year and builds on the Governor’s sweeping, multi-faceted efforts to remove barriers to unemployment in The Bronx and across New York. To accompany this initiative, the Governor announced the launch of a new website designed to connect young people with job opportunities and provide them with the skills they need to succeed as they pursue their future education and career goals.

Governor Cuomo also announced the official launch of the nation’s first state-sponsored Pre-Apprenticeship Program, which he outlined in the 2016 State of the State Address. The state will today issue a Request for Proposals to training providers, who will prepare participants for a career in the building and construction trades. The program will match qualified trainees with permanent employment opportunities on major state infrastructure projects, including the new LaGuardia Airport and the complete overhaul of Penn Station. 

"In every corner of this state, we are taking aggressive action to restore economic opportunity and social progress by creating jobs, and The Bronx is at the forefront of this effort," Governor Cuomo said. "From the Unemployment Strikeforce to the Urban Youth Jobs program, we are making smart investments to tackle unemployment in communities where it is most pervasive, and connecttomorrow's workers with the skills they need to succeed in a 21st century workplace. Our efforts are demonstrating that government can be a vehicle for progress, and I thank Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. for their partnership in building a better future for the Bronx community."

The Governor’s sweeping efforts to remove barriers to employment in The Bronx have coincided with the borough’s 6.1 percent unemployment rate – its lowest for the month of May since 2001, and the lowest level in 15 years. The Governor has focused a variety of efforts to put chronically unemployed and disadvantaged youth to work through a series of innovative programs that connect young people with job and training opportunities. 

The announcement was made at Hostos Community College in The Bronx, where the Governor also highlighted the success of two existing programs: the first-of-its-kind Unemployment Strikeforce and the Summer Youth Employment Program. The Unemployment Strikeforce works to connect out of work New Yorkers with skills in demand by employers in cities across the state with the highest rates of unemployment. In just two years, the Strikeforce initiative has resulted in jobs for more than 23,000 previously unemployed individuals. The Summer Youth Employment Program in The Bronx, which allocates money to municipalities to work with non-profits to hire kids for summer jobs, has helped more than 12,000 youths in The Bronx obtain employment and this year received more than $70 million in state funding. 

Above - Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. was proud to talk about all the accomplishments he has been able to achieve during his eight years as BP. He then introduced who he called his friend Governor Andrew Cuomo.
Below - Governor Cuomo talked about how far the Bronx has come under Diaz jr. as BP, in a way almost sounded like an endorsement speech of Diaz Jr. for mayor next year. 

The governor also tanked his new partner in Albany Assembly Speaker carl Heastie who also spoke about the achievements of the Bronx under BP Diaz Jr. 

Long Day Yesterday - Two Major Events and One Bad Accident.

   Yesterday Governor Andrew Cuomo spent the morning at Hostos College praising Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. on the achievements of how far the Bronx has come under Diaz Jr's tenure. The governor also introduced a new program to help Bronx Youth. 

   The governor as well as over 500 people were at the Bronx Democratic County Committee dinner later in the day, but those two events will be in the next two postings.

   At the end of the day I was at my favorite place to be, on Riverdale Avenue (between West 236th and 238th Streets) at Yo Burger or Salvatore's of Soho. The people are friendly and the food is delicious as well as reasonably priced. As I was about to call it a night there was a screech and then a bang nearby. The photos below will tell the story of a delivery person trying to cross a a major roadway where accidents sometimes happen when drivers are not careful. It is not known if the delivery person went through the stop sign, was texting, or did mot see the oncoming car that hit him. It should be obvious that the driver of the car coming up the Riverdale Avenue hill did not see the other car dart out in front of him as there was a very short distance of skid marks. 

   The fire Department and an ambulance arrived within minutes as the delivery person had to be taken to a hospital while the other driver stayed on the scene. The roadway was closed for almost an hour as the Sanitation Department arrived within 30 minutes, but it took the 50th precinct almost an hour to arrive. The vehicles were finally moved to the side of the road an the street was reopened. 

Above - The delivery car which was hit broadside as the driver of the other car could not stop in time. Even with the side air bags the driver was still injured. The next question has to be if he was wearing his seat belt. This photo was taken after the firemen moved the car to the side.
Below - The mangled front end of the car coming up the hill, Since the radiator was broken the Sanitation Department had to be called to sand the road from the leaking antifreeze. You can see that the delivery car was spun around as it sits facing the same way as the car that hit it as firemen look to see what to do.