Saturday, October 22, 2016

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Announces $5.31 Million Civil Settlement Against Hematology-Oncology Medical Practice For Submitting False Claims To Medicare And Medicaid

   Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Scott Lampert, Special Agent-in-Charge of the New York Field Office of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General’s (“HHS-OIG”) New York Region, announced a $5.31 million settlement of a civil fraud lawsuit against HUDSON VALLEY ASSOCIATES, R.L.L.P. (“HUDSON VALLEY”).  This settlement resolves claims brought under the False Claims Act, alleging that HUDSON VALLEY routinely waived copayments without lawful basis and fraudulently billed Medicare for these copayments, and systematically submitted false claims for services that it did not provide and/or were not permitted under the Medicare and Medicaid program rules. 
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “Hudson Valley Hematology Oncology Associates improperly billed Medicare and Medicaid for reimbursement, costing the taxpayers millions of dollars.  This settlement not only restores those funds, but involves detailed admissions by Hudson Valley and the imposition of safeguards to ensure against fraudulent billing in the future.”
HHS-OIG Special Agent-in-Charge Scott Lampert said: “Hudson Valley, like all Medicare and Medicaid providers, must be held to a high standard of ethical behavior.  Billing for services that are not medically necessary or not provided potentially threatens the health of both the patients and these programs and will not be tolerated.”
The Government simultaneously intervened in and settled this lawsuit, which was initially filed by a whistleblower.  As alleged in the Government’s complaint, from approximately 2010 through June 2015, HUDSON VALLEY engaged in two false and fraudulent schemes to defraud the Government.  In the first scheme, HUDSON VALLEY routinely waived Medicare beneficiaries’ required copayments and instead fraudulently billed Medicare for those copayments.  In the second scheme, HUDSON VALLEY submitted claims for payment by Medicare and Medicaid for services that were not actually performed, were not medically necessary, and/or were not properly documented. 
As part of the settlement, HUDSON VALLEY admitted, acknowledged, and accepted responsibility for engaging in the following conduct from 2010-2015:
  • Routinely waiving Medicare beneficiaries’ copayments without an individualized documented determination of financial hardship or exhaustion of reasonable collection efforts;
  • Billing Medicare for the waived copayments, resulting in higher reimbursement amounts from Medicare than HUDSON VALLEY was entitled to;
  • Overbilling Medicare and Medicaid for evaluation and management services codes, in addition to billing for routine procedures (such as chemotherapy, injections or venipunctures) on the same date, even though Hudson Valley had not documented that it provided any significant, separately identifiable evaluation and management services to the beneficiaries; and
  • Billing Medicare and Medicaid for evaluation and management services codes without documenting in the medical record that those services were medically necessary and/or that those services were actually performed.
United States District Judge Kenneth M. Karas approved the settlement stipulation on October 19, 2016, resolving the Government’s claims against HUDSON VALLEY.  Under that settlement, HUDSON VALLEY admits to and accepts responsibility for misconduct alleged in the complaint and agrees to pay $5.31 million to the United States.  In addition, Hudson Valley entered into a corporate integrity agreement with HHS-OIG, through which it commits to establishing a compliance program, submitting to monitoring by HHS-OIG for five years, and taking other specified steps to ensure future compliance with Medicare and Medicaid rules.
Mr. Bharara praised the extensive investigative work performed by HHS-OIG.
The case is being handled by the Office’s Civil Frauds Unit.  Mr. Bharara established the Civil Frauds Unit in March 2010 to bring renewed focus and additional resources to combating healthcare and other types of frauds.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Kirti Vaidya Reddy is in charge of the case.


  It may have rained outside which cancelled the Fourth Annual Halloween parade down White Plains Road to PS 105 on Brady Avenue, but the rain could not damper the parents and children who came to the PS 105 for the Fourth Annual Halloween Party hosted by State Senator Jeff Klein and Assemblyman Mark Gjonaj. 

 Hundreds of Bronx children and families enjoyed the Halloween extravaganza, which  featured Halloween games and activities and a variety of treats. During the celebration, guests danced to music children had their faces painted with elaborate designs.  Every child received a special trick-or-treat bag filled with candy and coloring books.

“Our annual Halloween party has has become a long-standing tradition, and every year I look forward to hosting this fun-filled event for the community with Assemblyman Gjonaj. We enjoyed quality time with our families and friends and created lasting memories,said Senator Klein.
“Halloween is a time for fun and games and I happy to once again join Senator Klein to provide a safe environment for our children and families,” said Assemblyman Gjonaj.

Above - Halloween music was provided by DJ MANNYFRESH.
Below - There was face painting for the children. 

Above - State Senator Jeff Klein says a few words, and then introduced Assemblyman Mark Gjonaj. 
Below - You can see some of the crowd which is gathered around Assemblyman Gjonaj. There were snacks, soft drinks, and even goodie bags for the children also. 

Above - There was a dance contest to see who could stop when the music stopped.
Below - Mr. Dennis Wales of Assemblyman Gjonaj's staff played the ghost of Halloween. He was the judge, as you can see him pointing to the child who kept dancing after the music stopped. 

Mr. Wales looked so natural in his costume that some of the children thought that he was the real ghost of Halloween at first, but not these two brave girls.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Manhattan U.S. Attorney And NYPD Commissioner Announce Charges Against Narcotics Dealer Responsible For Heroin And Fentanyl Overdose Death

  Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and James P. O’Neill, the Commissioner of the New York City Police Department (“NYPD”), announced the arrest and filing of charges against DASHAWN HAWKINS, a/k/a “Jhonny Cash,” for narcotics dealing that resulted in the overdose death of a 29-year-old man.
On October 19, 2016, the United States Attorney’s Office secured an indictment against HAWKINS, charging HAWKINS with distribution of heroin and fentanyl and conspiracy to distribute heroin.  The indictment alleges that heroin and fentanyl distributed by HAWKINS resulted in the death of Colin Cameron, age 29, of New York, New York, on September 2, 2016. 
HAWKINS will be presented in federal court in Manhattan before U.S. Magistrate Judge Henry B. Pitman later today.  The case has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Gregory H. Woods.  HAWKINS faces a mandatory minimum term of 20 years in prison. 
U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara stated: “Far too often now, we are seeing the devastating effects of opioid abuse on our communities.  We must work to stop these dangerous drugs from reaching our streets and killing our citizens.  Dashawn Hawkins allegedly dealt in heroin, including the fentanyl-laced heroin that killed Colin Cameron.  We thank the New York City Police Department for their outstanding investigative efforts and their collaboration that made the bringing of these federal charges possible.”  
NYPD Commissioner James P. O’Neill stated: “The deadly effects of heroin are real. Look no further than the overdose of Colin Cameron last month in New York City. We will continue to investigate every single overdose and attempt to find and arrest those responsible, as alleged in today's charges against Dashawn Hawkins.”
As alleged in the Indictment against HAWKINS[1]:
From at least in or about August 2016 up to and including in or about October 2016, in the Southern District of New York and elsewhere, DASHAWN HAWKINS, a/k/a “Jhonny Cash,” and others conspired to sell heroin.  In addition, on or about September 1, 2016, HAWKINS distributed and possessed with the intent to distribute heroin and fentanyl.  The use of controlled substances distributed by HAWKINS resulted in the death of Colin Cameron, on or about September 2, 2016.
In a search of HAWKINS’s apartment pursuant to a search warrant executed at the time of his arrest, the NYPD recovered, among other things, quantities of heroin, cutting agent, packaging for fentanyl, a 9mm firearm with high-capacity magazines loaded with hollow-point bullets, and what appears to be a silencer.
DASHAWN HAWKINS, 26, faces a maximum of life in prison, and a mandatory term of 20 years in prison.
The statutory maximum sentences are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for information purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant would be determined by the judge.
Mr. Bharara praised the outstanding investigative work of the NYPD.
This matter is being handled by the Office’s Narcotics Unit.  Assistant United States Attorney Jason M. Swergold is in charge of the prosecution.
The charges contained in the Indictment are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Queens Man Charged In New York City “Vermin Control” Fraud Scheme

  Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Philip R. Bartlett, Inspector-in-Charge of the New York Office of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (“USPIS”), announced the arrest and charges against MYONG HWAN HAN, a/k/a “David Han,” for mail fraud and conspiracy to commit mail fraud in connection with a scheme that sought to defraud thousands of victims out of more than $1 million.  From April 2016 through September 2016, HAN and a co-conspirator (“CC-1”) allegedly created and mailed thousands of fraudulent notices of violation, which purported to be official communications from New York City related to vermin control violations.  The notices directed the recipients to make immediate payments to a sham entity created by HAN and CC-1.  In response, victims mailed checks to the sham entity based on their mistaken belief that the notices of violation were legitimate.  HAN was presented today before Magistrate Judge Henry B. Pitman.
According to the Complaint unsealed today in Manhattan federal court[1]:
In April 2016, CC-1 hired a print shop to print approximately 10,000 copies of a fraudulent notice (the “Fraudulent Notice”).  The Fraudulent Notice, which included a New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (“NYC Health”) logo and was purportedly signed by the Commissioner of the New York City Department of Buildings, directed immediate payment of $120 to be mailed to an entity called “Vermin Control of New York,” under threat of additional penalties, including fees and property liens.  In response to the Fraudulent Notice, approximately 101 victims mailed checks to Vermin Control of New York.           
In fact, NYC Health did not authorize the Fraudulent Notice or use of the NYC Health logo.  HAN and CC-1 created Vermin Control of New York as part of their scheme and used the location of CC-1’s post office box as the organization’s mailing address.  HAN created a bank account for Vermin Control of New York and agreed with CC-1 to share any proceeds from their scam.
HAN, 31, of Queens, New York, is charged with one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and one count of mail fraud.  Each of the charges carries a maximum term of 20 years in prison.
The maximum potential sentences in this case are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the judge.
Mr. Bharara praised the work of the United States Postal Inspection Service, and thanked the New York City Department of Investigation for its assistance.
This case is being handled by the Office’s General Crimes Unit.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy V. Capozzi is in charge of the prosecution.
The charges and allegations contained in the Complaint are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

[1] As the introductory phrase signifies, the entirety of the text of the Complaint and the description of the Complaint set forth herein constitute only allegations, and every fact described should be treated as an allegation.

Statement From A.G. Schneiderman - Regarding today’s Airbnb lawsuit:

  The law signed today will provide vital protections for New York tenants and help prevent the continued proliferation of illegal, unregulated hotels, and we will defend it. Airbnb can’t have it both ways: it must either police illegal activity on its own site -- or government will act to protect New Yorkers, as the State just did.

Statement from DA Clark on the fatal shooting of Deborah Danner by an NYPD sergeant

  “We have been informed that New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has determined that the fatal shooting of Deborah Danner by an NYPD sergeant on October 18, 2016, in her apartment at 630 Pugsley Avenue in the Bronx, is not within his jurisdiction to investigate. 

  “I intend to conduct a full, reasoned and independent investigation into this matter, with an open mind, and any decisions that I make will be based upon the evidence. 

  “I have assigned a seasoned prosecutor, Wanda Perez-Maldonado, the Chief of my Public Integrity Bureau, to lead this investigation, under the supervision of Jean T. Walsh, Chief of the Investigations Division, and with the assistance of our Homicide Bureau.”



News from the Independent Democratic Conference


I applaud Governor Cuomo for prohibiting illegal advertisements from home-sharing sites like Airbnb. This law will protect our communities from transient visitors who all too often wreak havoc on our quiet streets. In my district, one horrible host went as far as to turn his home into a club-like atmosphere with complete with dancers and a stripper pole, alcohol service and DJs spinning loud music into the night.  In a recent investigative report issued by the Independent Democratic Conference, we found hosts renting units to 13 or more individuals, dangerously cramming beds into kitchens, laundry rooms and other areas against city and state code. The result is the degradation of neighborhoods and this must end. While this law addresses multi-family units, it does not apply to one- and two-family homes and I intend, along with my colleagues, to address this to preserve the quality-of-life we all expect. Airbnb must also police its own website to root out any host that violates the law, and if they don’t, we will ensure they do by passing legislation that mandates it.



   Senator Jeff Klein and Urban Health Plan hosted a celebration for the participants of the Countdown to Fitness program, featuring a special Asian noodle and vegetable salad food demonstration on Thursday at the Harding Park Community Center.  All participants received commitment certificates for the dedication to healthy living.

“I’m proud that through my $50,000 funding allocation, we can continue to bring this innovative and effective fitness program to our residents. Countdown to Fitness promotes increased physical activities, offers a variety of nutritious cooking demonstrations, and encourages participants to adapt to a healthier lifestyle through educational seminars. The evaluations taken throughout the year show significant improvement in healthy lifestyle habits for these dedicated participants,” said Senator Klein.

“The Countdown to Fitness Program has generated a lot of interest in the community to get fit and live a healthier lifestyle. We are pleased to partner with Senator Klein to bring the health and wellness information that we share with our patients to the larger Soundview community,” said Paloma Hernandez-Izquierdo, CEO and President of Urban Health Plan.

Senator Klein allocated $50,000 in state funding for this seven-week fitness and wellness program held by Urban Health Plan in the spring, summer, fall and winter.  These sessions, which offer health lectures, exercise, and cooking demonstrations, are held twice a week. Educational health lessons included addressing the topics of cancer, dental health, diabetes, heart disease, mental health and stress management. Nutritional food demonstrations included chickpea salad, pinto bean salsa, southwestern corn and black bean salad, and tropical fruit smoothies. Students enjoyed special exercise classes, such as aerobics, belly dancing, dancersize, kickboxing, tai chi, and zumba.

Thursday, October 20, 2016


  Bronx District Attorney Darcel D. Clark today announced that two men have been indicted on charges related to the explosion in an alleged marijuana grow house that killed FDNY Battalion Chief Michael Fahy, who had responded to a reported gas leak in the building in the Kingsbridge section of the Bronx. 

 District Attorney Clark said, “Chief Fahy responded to a building that turned out to be a time bomb. These defendants allegedly were growing marijuana and kept flammable substances on the premises. Chief Fahy ordered residents out of the building-- including one of the defendants--and saved their lives. He was mortally injured when the force of the explosion blew off the slate roof and it struck him.” 

 District Attorney Clark said the defendants, Garivaldi Castillo, 32, of 465 W. 166th Street, Manhattan, and Julio Salcedo, 34, of 3450 Kingsbridge Avenue, the Bronx, have been indicted on charges of first-degree Assault, second-degree Assault, and first-degree Criminal Possession of Marijuana. 

Castillo and Salcedo were arraigned today before Chief Administrative Judge Robert Torres and are due back in court on November 23, 2016. If convicted of the top charge, they could face up to 25 years in prison. 

According to the investigation, on September 27th, 2016, firefighters responded to the two-story building at 300 West 234th Street for a possible gas leak. They found numerous marijuana plants as well as heaters, fertilizer, and tanks of helium, allegedly maintained by Castillo and Salcedo. When the building exploded, debris killed Fahy and injured Firefighter Richard Ruebenacker. 

 The case is being prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney John Miras under the supervision of Christine Scaccia, Deputy Chief of the Homicide Bureau. 

An indictment is an accusatory instrument and not proof of a defendant’s guilt

A.G. Schneiderman Calls On NYS Board Of Elections To Clarify Affidavit Ballot Process Ahead Of November 8th Election

Schneiderman: Poll Workers Must Offer Affidavit Ballots To Voters Who Believe They Are Registered, But Do Not Appear In Poll Books
   Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman called on the New York State Board of Elections today to issue clear guidance to poll workers about the affidavit ballot process in advance of the November 8 election. After receiving over 1,000 complaints from voters during the Presidential Primary on April 19, the Attorney General’s Civil Rights Bureau opened an inquiry into the practices of Board of Elections across the state, which remains ongoing. As part of that inquiry, the Attorney General’s office has found that many poll workers do not receive accurate guidance about their legal obligations with respect to affidavit ballots.
“I urge the Board of Elections to address issues with the affidavit ballot process that my office has uncovered as part of its inquiry. It is critical that we ensure all eligible New Yorkers are able to cast an effective ballot on Election Day. Poll workers must offer affidavit ballots to voters who believe they are registered, even if they do not appear in poll books,” said Attorney General Schneiderman.
In the letter, the Attorney General asks the State Board of Elections to “issue clear guidance to local BOEs regarding the (a) procedures for determining the eligibility requirements for affidavit ballots; (b) process for casting such ballots; (c) importance of reviewing affidavit envelopes for completeness; and (d) necessity of providing persons who choose not to cast affidavit ballots with voter registration applications. BOEs also should be advised to provide the written guidance and training to their poll workers, and to ensure that poll sites have sufficient affidavit ballots and voter registration applications to meet demand.”

Assemblyman Mark Gjona - 4th Annual Halloween Parade This Saturday!

The 4th Annual Halloween Parade and Party!
Saturday, October 22, 2016
Halloween Parade
Assemble at 1:30 PM at the Southeast Corner of Pelham Parkway & White Plains Road
Parade Kicks off at 1:30 PM Towards P.S. 105
Halloween Party
2:00 -  5:00 PM
At P.S. 105
725 Brady Avenue
Bronx, NY 10462
For further Information, Please Contact Senator Jeff Klein's office at 718-822-2049


Famed Italian Renaissance-styled former school building affordable to working families; boasts state-of-the art youth facility serving residents and 1,000 local children a year

  Mayor Bill de Blasio and Department of Housing Preservation and Development Commissioner Vicki Been today announced the opening of The Residences at PS 186, a 79-apartment mixed-use affordable housing project that is also home to a more than 11,000-square-foot state-of-the-art clubhouse for the Boys and Girls Club of Harlem (BGCH). The homes will be affordable to individuals earning as little as $24,000, and families with incomes of $31,000 a year.

“This is truly a wonderful day for the Harlem community. Bringing families and kids back to this beautiful and historic school building is an amazing example of the work we are doing to re-energizing local communities, build affordable homes, and keep our children in safe and exceptional learning environments. I congratulate the Boys and Girls Club of Harlem, the families living in this building and everyone who brought us to this moment,” said Mayor de Blasio.

“This elegant restoration and adaptive use of P.S. 186 is truly worth celebrating. The project offers affordable homes to low-income families earning a range of incomes, and serves as a new and bigger space for the Boys and Girls Club of Harlem. It’s a wonderful asset for the community. I thank all the development partners who made this restoration possible, and welcome the new residents to their homes,” said HPD Commissioner Vicki Been.

“For more than 35 years, we have been an anchor for our community, providing programs that support academic success, healthy living, and good character for thousands of local children,” said BGCH Executive Director, Dominique R. Jones. “This new chapter in the Boys & Girls Club of Harlem’s long history here in Harlem signifies our renewed commitment to preparing local young people for the challenges of today in a new Club house equipped with the latest technology and learning resources. Our partnership with the City and our development partners is the first of its kind in the Boys & Girls Club of America movement and represents a new model for community development.”

The refurbished school building is a part of the City’s Housing New York: A Five-Borough, Ten-Year Plan, which has created 53,000 affordable homes since 2014. Responding to the Mayor’s call to address the city’s need for affordable housing opportunities, the City and development partners, like the Boys and Girls Club, are working on innovative projects like the reimagined P.S. 186 building to address the city’s growing need.

Designed by Dattner Architects and developed by Monadnock and Alembic, The Residences at PS 186 retains a number of the former school’s identifiable architectural features including exterior terra cotta ornaments, arched openings, columns, and boasts the new addition of a new decorative cornice. The building features original 14 foot ceilings, historically correct windows, ornamental stairs some preserved classroom locations and wood trim through-out.

The five-story, Italian Renaissance-style, H-shaped school building opened in 1903, and served as an elementary school for 72 years. Several well-known New Yorkers attended P.S. 186, among them Harry Belafonte, Arthur Mitchell, the founder and artistic director of the Dance Theatre of Harlem. But, by mid-1970s, the school building had fallen into severe disrepair and was deemed unsafe. In 1975, the school moved and the building sat vacant.

Bronx Debate Watch Party at Bronx BBQ 170 West 233rd Street

  Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz and District Leader Eric Dinowitz are joined at the Bronx BBQ on West 233rd Street in the 81st A.D. by Bronx Democratic County Organization Executive Director Anthony Perez, Soon to be 36th State Senator Jamaal Bailey, and Community Board 8 Chair Dan Padernacht as they watch and cheer on their candidate as they watch the third and final presidential debate. 
  In all over 100 loyal Bronx Democrats stopped in to watch the debate or show support for the host Ben Franklin Democratic Club, and Democratic candidate for president Hillary Clinton.

Above - The hosts for the night were 81st A.D. Male District Leader Eric Dinowitz, and Bronx Young Democrat Daniel Johnson.
Below - BDCC Executive Director Anthony Perez chats with John Zacarro Jr. the Chief of staff to 17th City Councilman Rafael Salamanca.

Timothy Tapia the Male District Leader of the 86th A.D. with Kevin Davies of the 80th A.D.  

Which Way Do We Park DOT?

Above is a photo of Fieldston Road between West 236th and West 238th Streets. This one way street was repaved by the city in August and new lines have finally been painted on the street. This line painting however occurred on a day that alternate side of the street parking was suspended and you will see in other photos the results of it. There use to be head in angle parking as you drove up the street, but that has now been replaced with lines for back in angle parking, but drivers were never told this as you can see in the photo above.

Above - This car was parked head in so the the lane marking could not be painted. You can also see a car parked in the lines but head in and not backed in.
Below - Again this car was parked as it always was head in so the new line could not be fully painted.

Above - Another car parked the old way so the full lane marking could not be painted.
Below - With the new back in angle parking two new parking spaces have been added at the corner of West 236th Street. However the sign stating 'No Parking has not been replaced, and these two cars could (if they have not already) be given parking tickets. Two parking spaces were removed at the West 238th Street corner for a new larger safety zone, so there was no gain in the number of parking spaces. 

Assemblyman Dinowitz Calls on City to Fix Public Safety Hazard Stepstreets

Dinowitz cites widespread safety concerns, multiple attempts in recent years to address various locations in Kingsbridge, Riverdale.   In letter to Dept. of Transportation, Parks Dept., Bronx Assemblyman calls for maintenance work on stone staircases, urges city to develop protocols for jurisdictional issues preventing quick fix.

   In an effort to address a long-standing public safety hazard stemming from maintenance issues at tree-lined public staircases throughout the Bronx, New York State Assembly Member Jeffrey Dinowitz is calling on the NYC Department of Transportation (DOT) and the NYC Parks Department ("Parks") to make immediate critical repairs to the so-called "stepstreets." Assembly Member Dinowitz is also urging both agencies to develop new protocols for avoiding the jurisdictional issues that have long frustrated repair efforts.
"Thousands of Bronx residents depend on stepstreets everyday to travel to and from work or home," said State Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz. "Many of these stepstreets are a disaster, with crumbling concrete, trash and broken lighting that put our families at risk. The city needs to stop passing the buck between agencies and find immediate, lasting solutions to this dangerous situation before people get hurt."
In letters to DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg and Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver, Assemblyman Dinowitz called on both agencies to work together to resolve "persistent, serious maintenance issues" at stepstreets throughout the Bronx. Dinowitz writes that his office has received multiple complaints from constituents and has made numerous efforts in recent years to reach out to the city to request fixes.
According to Dinowitz, part of the city's well-publicized failure to resolve the issue stems from jurisdictional disputes over the agencies' responsibilities to maintain the concrete staircases and lighting fixtures. As a solution, the Bronx Assemblyman is urging both agencies to develop new protocols for how to best address the issues. This, Dinowitz argues, would allow the city quickly and efficiently respond to residents' and elected officials' complaints.
"We have over 60 stepstreets here in the Bronx. They're a part of our community's identity and are just as important as any other street. That's why finding long-term solutions to addressing regular maintenance issues is so important," concluded Dinowitz.

These three have been the subject of inquiries by the Assemblyman's office:

1.  West 229th Street (Between Kingsbridge Terrace to Sedgwick Avenue)

2.  Naples Terrace leading to Broadway off of West 231st. Street 

3.  Godwin Terrace between West 231st Street and Naples Terrace 

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Bronx Prayer Vigil to be Held outside the home of Deborah Danner and Statement from Senator Gustavo Rivera

On Thursday, October 20, 2016 at 12:00pm Senator Reverend Ruben Diaz and the New York Hispanic Clergy Organization will hold a vigil to bring the community together in prayer, followed by a press conference outside the home Ms. Deborah Danner, 630 Puglsey Avenue in the Castle Hill section of Bronx County.

Ms. Danner was an emotionally disturbed woman who died in her home at the hands of a New York City Police Sergeant last night.

Statement from State Senator Gustavo Rivera On The Fatal Police Shooting of Deborah Danner in Castle Hill
"I join all New Yorkers in mourning the tragic death of 66-year-old Deborah Danner, who was fatally shot yesterday by a police officer at her home in Castle Hill. While the details about the incident are still being gathered, it is clear that the death of Ms. Danner, who had a recorded history of mental illness and had been assisted by the department in the past, could and should have been prevented. There are established policies and procedures of de-escalation that the the NYPD is trained in and required to use when confronting an emotionally disturbed individuals. Our community has a right to know what went wrong and why the officer involved opted to use excessive force instead.
This is not the first time our community has faced such a tragedy, but we need to continue working to ensure that we hold law enforcement accountable to the people they serve and continue implementing measures that help prevent these horrific events from occurring.

I commend NYPD Commissioner James O'Neill for taking a significant first step to holding his department accountable by acknowledging earlier today that, in this case, the department failed to meet their first obligation " preserve life". It is clear that a thorough investigation needs to be conducted to secure justice for Ms. Deborah Danner and to make certain that a situation of this nature does not repeat itself. I urge New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman to use the authority granted to his office under Governor Cuomo's executive order to thoroughly investigate this case in an effort to help continue the process of rebuilding New Yorker's trust in our criminal justice system."

Assemblyman Sepulveda Urges ​​Calm But Seeks Investigation of Fatal Shooting by NYPD of 66-Year-Old Woman

  Responding to the fatal shooting of a mentally disturbed 66 year old woman in his district, State Assemblyman Luis Sepulveda called for calm as police investigate the incident. He also called for a full police investigation into the shooting of the woman.

Police were called to the 7th floor apartment at 630 Pugsley Avenue in the Castle Hill section shortly after 6pm Tuesday, after a neighbor’s complaint, according to police. After police entered the apartment, a police spokesperson said that the woman attacked the officers with a baseball bat. A sergeant fired twice, hitting her in the torso, and she was later on pronounced dead at Jacobi Medical Center.

"While we should avoid rushing to judgment in this case I'm calling for a thorough investigation by the police. I would question why the sergeant who was armed with a taser was unable to use it, but we were not there.  Again, I urge calm while the investigation proceeds.

"My condolences go out to the family of this poor woman and I stand ready to help the family in their hour of need."

Congressman Engel Lambasts Meager Social Security Cost-of-Living Increase

Passage of Engel COLA Bill Would Help Seniors

Congressman Eliot L. Engel, lead sponsor of the Guaranteed 3% COLA for Seniors Act, released the following statement on the Social Security Administration’s announcement that seniors’ Social Security benefits would increase just 0.3 percent in 2017, a bump of about $5 per month for the average senior citizen:

“This year’s disgraceful cost-of-living increase would be laughable if it wasn’t so upsetting to see how our seniors are being treated. COLAs are vital to our seniors, who rely on these increases to make ends meet. Seniors’ Social Security benefits have not gone up more than 1.7% since 2012. These paltry increases fail to account for the real costs seniors face and could force many to forego crucial expenses, like medication – a heartbreaking choice no senior should be forced to make.

“What makes this problem all the more upsetting is the fact that it’s fixable. COLAs are tied to a measure of inflation called the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W). This index doesn’t adequately measure the types of costs frequently incurred by older Americans. The CPI-W puts a heavier emphasis on expenses more commonly incurred by the general population. Seniors have different spending habits, usually spending less on travel and gasoline and more on medication and housing. The Bureau of Labor Statistics tracks an alternative index, the Consumer Price Index for the Elderly (CPI-E), which specifically accounts for seniors’ typical expenses – like medical care and shelter – to measure inflation. Using the CPI-E would allow the government to more accurately base COLAs on the true living costs that seniors face. And, importantly, the CPI-E regularly determines a greater cost-of-living increase than the CPI-W.

I have introduced the Guaranteed 3% COLA for Seniors Act, which requires the use of the more appropriate CPI-E to determine the Social Security COLA. In addition, my bill would ensure seniors receive a minimum 3% COLA every year, even if the CPI-E COLA falls below this amount. Our nation’s seniors should not struggle to survive on account of an obsolete formula and Congressional inaction. I will continue pushing to remedy this issue and finally afford seniors the annual COLAs they deserve.”


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State Senator Jeff Klein, Mercy College President Timothy Hall and students on Tuesday unveiled a new state-of-the-art Veteran’s Center.
Senator Klein provided $200,000 in state funding for the multi-use student activity commons, which includes a Veterans’ Center, general student lounge, and a computer lab.

Three hundred veterans attend Mercy College and 100 of them are based at The Bronx campus.  With the new space, our brave service men and women will be able to transition into academic life comfortably, and can socialize or relax in the lounge while enjoying television, video games, and meals. Veterans can also work on assignments using the computers within the lounge or visit the full service computer lab across the hall.  

The Student Veterans of America and the Home Depot Foundation also contributed to the creation of the Veterans’ Center.  The Veterans’ Center will be supported by PACT Mentor Viviana DeCohen who will ensure that student veterans are aware of all campus resources available to help them with their educational goals.  

“I am proud to have provided $200,000 in funding for Mercy College and provide our students with a computer lab, a student lounge, and now a veterans’ center.  We owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to those who bravely served in our military.  The Veterans’ Center will allow these students to have a dedicated area to study, complete assignments, and connect with fellow veterans. We must honor the great sacrifices our servicemen and women have made for our nation. I am proud to have spearheaded a number of programs to help our veterans, such as the Veterans Tax Credit legislation that I sponsored that helps provide jobs for our veterans returning from overseas by offering incentives to businesses as well as our Bronx HIRE program which helps veterans find job opportunities within the community,” said Senator Klein.
“As a ‘Yellow Ribbon School’ designated by the Department of Veterans Affairs, Mercy’s commitment to our veterans is something special and something that I believe makes a real difference in their lives.  Our active service members and veterans come from all branches of the country’s armed forces with one common goal: to transition successfully to civilian life through education and getting a job. Resources such as professional mentors, flexible hours and maximized awards for military training, transfer credits and military exams all make the transition from soldier to scholar smoother, so our students can focus on their studies,” said Mercy College President Tim Hall.  

Who is Watching Community Boards?

  There are 52 community boards in New York City which are ninety-nine percent advisory. Each community board has a budget of over $300,000.00 to spend by unpaid volunteer politically appointed members. Just who checks every appointment to a community board to see that the boards are not wasting taxpayer dollars? These community boards hire district managers who are judged some of the time on political motives and not job qualifications. It is the chair of a community board who can sway members to vote a certain way, however that does not always happen as we saw at last nights Community Board 7 meeting.

Pictured above is CB 7 member Ms. Robyn Saunders as she give her speech as to why board members should elect her. There were four candidates running for the position, and it was announced that two members withdrew from the election leaving two members running for the position. Ms. Saunders became the new second Vice-Chair of CB 7 much to the chagrin of certain Cb 7 members including the Chair as I was told by more than one person. 

On the agenda was a motion to spend $25,000.00 to hire a consultant to do a study of the CB 7 area for a rezoning and land use study. The motion passed unanimously. One has to question why this money is being spent when the City Planning Commission recently did a full Zoning for Quality and Affordability of New York City. 

The best part of the meeting however was the motion to continue the probation of the current district manager until the February full board meeting, which would be a probation period of one full year. This by the way is the third or fourth time that CB 7 has voted to extend the probation period of the current district manager. This is also the fourth district manager in as almost as many years. Two of the previous district managers flat out quit, while the other two were let go of by the board. Of the 36 member of Community Board 7 the motion to continue the probation of the current district manager was passed after a brief Executive Session (which was closed to the public) 19 voted in favor of the resolution with no negative votes and no abstentions. It seems to be that the other 17 members of Cb 7 had other things that were more important to them than voting to continue the probation period of their current district manager. Either that or those members chose to boycott what appears to be a vendetta by the board chair to fire the current district manager. As the Executive Session ended and the board members returned to the room CB 7 Chair Adeline Walker Santiago said some words to me since I had spoke in the public gallery session that extending the probation period for one years was out of line, and I also told of the current district managers excellent work ethics before being selected to be the new district manager at CB 7. 

CB 7 Budget/Personnel/Ethics Chair Andrew Laiosa calls for a vote on the motion to extend the probation period of the district manager until February 2017. 

With all the problems at CB 7 maybe it is time for CB 7 to elect a new board chair as it did a second vice-chair.