Saturday, April 28, 2018

‘Andrew Sandler Way’ Street Renaming Ceremony,

   Over 100 people came to the corner of West 238th Street and Waldo Avenue this morning by the Manhattan College Dorm. the reason was that picture hanging on the pole of a young Andrew Sandler. Andrew passed away a little over one year ago at the age of 31, but by that young age he forged his name into the community that the corner was renamed for him. Andrew began a career in politics starting as an intern for Congressman Eliot Engel. From there he went on to be a constituent aid for newly elected Councilman Oliver Koppell. Andrew Continued on with Koppell's replacement Councilman Andrew Cohen before applying for and receiving the approval of the members of Community Board 7 to be their new District Manager. The photos should tell the rest of the story.

Above - Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz speaks about how Andrew Sandler was the hero for people in need.
Below - Councilman Andrew Cohen holds a proclamation from the borough president pronouncing the day Andrew Sandler Day. Cohen also had nothing but praise for one of his best workers. 

Above - Andrew's sister Stephanie speaks about how community and work orientated her brother was, as she point down the block where her brother lived.
Below - The cover comes off Andrew Sandler Way.

Above - There was a little snag in pulling the cover off the new sign, but that was probably Andrew Sandler holding it back as he was known for not wanting to be recognized for his hard work.
Below - The family is given a replica street sign, with local elected officials also in the photo.

Manhattan College Students Clean up Parkway

  With all the negative publicity that Manhattan College students get over what happens in and around the college dorms and apartments the students rent, there was a positive note this morning as these fine Manhattan College students did their part to clean up an area of the Henry Hudson Parkway on the Southbound side by the West 239th Street overpass. 

  Behind the students you can see the adopt a highway sign which has been adopted by Manhattan College. The bags of garbage in front of the students was what they cleaned away from the side of the road. It is great to see that these Manhattan college students care about the area where they are living.

U.S. Attorney’s Office Charges Chicago Man with Attempted Carjacking on City’s Near North Side

  The U.S. Attorney’s Office has charged a Chicago man with attempted carjacking for allegedly trying to take a vehicle at gunpoint on the city’s Near North Side.

EARRIOUS MOORE, 23, discharged a firearm while attempting to hijack a Mercedes-Benz sedan in the 1400 block of North Lake Shore Drive on April 26, 2018, according to a criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Chicago.  An individual sitting in the car was shot and wounded and subsequently transported to a hospital for treatment, the complaint states.  Moore ran away from the vehicle and was apprehended by Chicago Police Department officers in the lobby of a nearby building, the complaint states.
The complaint was filed Friday.  It charges Moore with one count of attempted carjacking.  An initial court appearance will be held on April 30, 2018, in federal court in Chicago.
The complaint was announced by John R. Lausch, Jr., United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; Eddie Johnson, Superintendent of the Chicago Police Department; and Celinez Nunez, Special Agent in Charge of the Chicago Field Division of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives.  The Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office provided valuable assistance.
The officials noted that the investigation continues.
The case was investigated by the Vehicular Hijacking Task Force, a joint federal and state initiative consisting of officers, agents and prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Chicago Police Department, ATF, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office, Illinois State Police, and suburban police departments.
“Citizens of Chicago and visitors to our city must be able to live their lives without fear of violent attacks,” said U.S. Attorney Lausch.  “Our office will use every available federal resource in working with CPD and our other law enforcement partners to pursue and prosecute violent offenders.  Our message to would-be carjackers and those using guns to commit crimes is simple: Committing a senseless act of violence like carjacking will earn you a home in federal prison for a long time.”
“Each and everyday CPD officers and detectives work hand in hand with our federal partners to make Chicago safer,” said Superintendent Johnson.  “Today's federal prosecution demonstrates the strength and commitment of CPD and the United States Attorney's Office to combat violence, and sends a simple and clear message that we will not tolerate carjackings and individuals will be held accountable for their actions before a federal court.”
“This case should serve as a warning to all violent offenders preying on innocent people,” said Special Agent-in-Charge Nunez.  “ATF and our law enforcement partners are joining resources to put an end to the senseless violence and restore peace in our neighborhoods.”
According to the complaint, Chicago Police Department officers on routine patrol were alerted to a carjacking incident in which an offender used a handgun to take a Jeep sport-utility vehicle from a victim in the 1000 block of North Rush Street in Chicago.  Soon after, the officers were alerted to the attempted carjacking of the Mercedes-Benz, the complaint states.
The carjacking charge is punishable by up to 15 years in prison.  If convicted, the Court must impose a reasonable sentence under federal statutes and the advisory U.S. Sentencing Guidelines.
The public is reminded that a complaint is not evidence of guilt.  The defendant is presumed innocent and entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. 

Friday, April 27, 2018

Leader Of Bronx Gang “18 Park” Sentenced To 35 Years In Prison For Participation In Gang-Related Murders

  Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that one of the leaders of the violent Bronx gang known as “18 Park,” MARQUIS WRIGHT was sentenced yesterday by U.S. District Judge Paul A. Engelmayer to 35 years in prison for firearms offenses in connection with two murders that he helped to commit on behalf of the gang.  WRIGHT, 30, had previously pled guilty to two counts of possessing and using firearms in connection with his role in the September 28, 2008, murder of Brandon Howard, 18, and the May 29, 2011, murder of Johnny Moore, 16.  WRIGHT’s co-defendant, Jonathan Rodriguez, who also participated in the murder of Brandon Howard, is scheduled to be sentenced on May 24, 2018. 

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said:  “The tragic and senseless murders of Brandon Howard and Johnny Moore reflect the dangers of gang- and drug-related violence in our city.  While nothing can bring back Brandon Howard and Johnny Moore, Marquis Wright’s sentence means he will spend decades in prison and not pose a threat to others in the Bronx.  I want to thank our law enforcement partners for their tremendous work on this important investigation.” 
According to the allegations in court documents, including the Information and a previously filed criminal complaint, and statements made during court proceedings:
From 2006 to 2016, the 18 Park gang operated primarily in and around the Patterson Houses, a New York City public housing development in the Mott Haven area of the Bronx.  Members of 18 Park sold crack cocaine and marijuana on a near-daily basis, turning the area in and around the Patterson Houses into an open-air drug market.  18 Park members used firearms and violence to assert the gang’s control over the area.  WRIGHT served as one of the leaders of 18 Park, and played an integral role in running the gang’s drug trade.  
On September 28, 2008, WRIGHT accompanied Rodriguez to a house party at 315 East 143rd Street in order to confront 18-year-old Brandon Howard, whom WRIGHT and Rodriguez regarded as a rival.  Rodriguez brought a gun to the party.  Upon arriving at the party, WRIGHT served as a lookout for Rodriguez as Rodriguez confronted Howard in the hallway immediately outside the party and shot Howard to death.   
On May 29, 2011, WRIGHT drove another 18 Park member, Wali Burgos, to the vicinity of 2625 Third Avenue so that Burgos could shoot and kill a member of a rival gang.  Burgos did not shoot a rival gang member, but instead fired his gun into a crowd and killed 16-year-old Johnny Moore.  After the shooting, WRIGHT drove Burgos away from the scene of the crime.  Burgos previously pled guilty to racketeering conspiracy and admitted to his role in the murder of Johnny Moore.  On January 13, 2017, Burgos was sentenced to 262 months in prison. 
Mr. Berman thanked the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the New York City Police Department for their work in this investigation. 


Senators Say Funding will be Used to Provide Technical Assistance and Resources to Help Communities Clean-Up and Reuse Polluted and Contaminated Sites

  U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer and U.S Senator Kirsten Gillibrand announced $1 million in federal funding for communities throughout the Rochester region and Central New York. The funding was allocated through the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Brownfields Program. The Senators said the funding will help localities throughout Rochester and Central New York survey, clean-up, redevelop, and reuse contaminated and abandoned properties. The City of Rochester, Onondaga County Industrial Development, Herkimer County Industrial Development Agency, and the City of Cortland will receive $400,000, $200,000, $200,000, and $200,000 respectively, to tackle the problems posed by brownfield sites, which pose safety risks and suffocate local economies.
“These federal funds will help communities in the Rochester- Finger Lakes Region and Central New York clean up brownfield properties, which has the double benefit of eliminating pollution and putting these parcels of land back into use for economic development. This is a wise investment in the redevelopment of our communities that will help spur job creation and economic growth for years to come,” said Senator Schumer“I am proud to announce this vital funding and will continue to fight for communities adversely affected by pollution.”
“This funding will help encourage economic development in areas that have great potential to benefit the community but are currently unsuitable for use because of pollution and other environmental risks,” said Senator Gillibrand“Rather than turning our backs on these sites, these projects will help to clean up and revitalize them into new and vibrant spaces throughout the Rochester region and Central New York. I am very pleased to support this funding for environmental and redevelopment projects that will benefit New Yorkers for generations to come."
Funds from the EPA grant will be used by communities to take inventory, characterize, assess, and conduct planning and community outreach related to their respective brownfield sites. Many sites are abandoned and unsuitable for redevelopment, dragging on the local economies in Upstate NY. According to various studies, residential property values increase between 5 percent and 15 percent when a nearby brownfield site is cleaned up.
The City of Rochester has received a total of $400,000 in Brownfield grants. $200,000 will be used for Brownfields petroleum cleanup to clean up a vacant site at 121-123 Reynolds St, as well as community engagement and post-cleanup monitoring efforts. Additionally, $200,000 has been awarded for the City to assess hazardous substance sites across the city.
Onondaga County has received a total of $200,000 for the Onondaga County Industrial Development Agency, where the funds will be used for hazardous substance cleanup efforts. Specifically, funding will go towards clean-up of the former Roth Steel, Inc. site, located at 800 Hiawatha Boulevard West in Syracuse.
Herkimer County has received a total of $200,000 for the Herkimer County Industrial Development Agency, where the funds will be used for assessing environmental sites community-wide. The funding will also help investigate waterways in municipalities like Ilion, Dolgeville, Frankfort, Herkimer Village, the Town of Herkimer, and Little Falls. The county’s urban center will identify brownfield sites in urban centers, which will potentially be redeveloped into affordable housing.
The City of Cortland has received a total of $200,000 to conduct environmental site assessments throughout the community, including at the former Apex Tools site. The funds will also be used to support community engagement activities.
Brownfields are properties where moderate contamination threatens environmental quality and public health and can interfere with productive re-use of the sites. Since its inception, EPA’s brownfields investments have leveraged more than $20 billion in cleanup and redevelopment funding from a variety of public and private sources and have created more than 100,000 jobs.
Brownfields sites range in size from a half an acre to tens of acres and are located in both urban and rural areas. The redevelopment of these sites have proven to be beneficial to communities as they provide a boost to the economy through private investment and business development, job creation, community development, and overall quality of life in the area. On average, $16.11 was leveraged for each EPA brownfields dollar and 8.5 jobs leveraged per $100,000 of EPA brownfields funds expended on assessment, cleanup, and revolving loan fund cooperative agreements.
We agree with Senators Schumer and Gillibrand that areas with moderate contamination better known as 'Brownfield Areas' should be remediated since the contamination can be harmful to residents in the surrounding area. 
We also agree that 'Brownfield Areas' can be found in rural and urban areas. We know of one such large site in Bronx Community Board 9 where there is a community proposal to remediate a very large 'Brownfield Area', and redevelop the 'Brownfield Area' into a complete new home for the Bronx National Guard, plus a quality Military High School for the community. 
The only problem is that certain local elected officials want to keep the area a 'Brownfield Area', and have done nothing for their communities.

Former Finance Director Of Nonprofit Serving Underprivileged Youth Charged With Fraud

  Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced today the arrest of MICHELLE FOLEY, a former employee of a Manhattan-based nonprofit organization that provides arts and mentoring programs to underserved youth.  FOLEY is charged with bank, wire, and access device fraud in connection with her theft of funds from the organization.  FOLEY will be presented today in Manhattan federal court before the U.S. Magistrate Judge Stewart D. Aaron.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said:  “Michelle Foley allegedly used her position at a nonprofit to steal funds intended for disadvantaged youth.  Rather than directing the organization’s funds to those in need, Foley allegedly used over $150,000 for her own selfish gain, including a trip to Disney World and a puppy.  Michelle Foley is charged with serious federal crimes for her alleged conduct.” 
According to the allegations in the Complaint sworn out today in Manhattan federal court:[1]
The nonprofit organization, founded in 1998, is based in New York, New York, and provides arts and mentoring programs to low-income, homeless, and neglected children.  From at least in or about July 2017 up to and including in or about February 2018, FOLEY abused her position as the organization’s director of finance and operations by stealing more than $150,000 from the organization.  FOLEY issued unauthorized checks on behalf of the organization to herself, totaling more than $56,000, and obtained two corporate credit cards, which were linked to the organization’s bank account and which she used to make personal, unauthorized purchases.   During the course of her employment, FOLEY charged more than $100,000 to these credit cards, including by making payments for a puppy, home furnishings and appliances, and expenses associated with a trip to Disney World. 
FOLEY, 45, of Wilton, Connecticut, is charged with one count of bank fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison, one count of wire fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, and one count of access device fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 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. Berman praised the outstanding investigative work of the Special Agents for the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York. 
The charges 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.

Former Assistant District Attorney Convicted In Manhattan Federal Court Of Bribery And Fraud Relating To Gun Licenses

Lawyer Convicted of Bribing New York City Police Department Sergeant to Give Favorable Treatment to his Clients in Gun License Matters

  Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced the conviction in Manhattan federal court of JOHN CHAMBERS for bribery, conspiracy to commit bribery, honest services fraud, and conspiracy to commit honest services fraud.  The jury convicted CHAMBERS today on all four counts of the Indictment following a one-week trial before U.S. District Judge William H. Pauley III.

U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said:  “John Chambers, a former prosecutor, called himself a gun license ‘expediter.’  What a unanimous jury concluded today was that his expediting amounted to little more than bribing his contacts in the NYPD’s License Division.  On behalf of his clients, Chambers acted as an intermediary for individuals who sought to circumvent the legitimate gun licensing process, and in some cases had criminal records or were otherwise precluded from owning firearms at all.  The willingness of John Chambers to corrupt the gun License Division for his own benefit exposed the people of New York to unnecessary danger.  This Office will continue to root out the corruption that undermines the public’s confidence in the law enforcement officers and institutions sworn to serve us all.”
According to the Indictment, other filings in Manhattan federal court, and evidence presented in court during the trial:
JOHN CHAMBERS, a former Assistant District Attorney in Kings County, is an attorney who represents individuals before the NYPD’s License Division, and who markets himself to potential clients as the “Top Firearms Licensing Attorney in NY.”  From at least 2010 through 2015, CHAMBERS gave NYPD Sergeant David Villanueva numerous valuable items, including tickets to sporting and entertainment events for Villanueva and his family, free dinners and lunches for Villanueva, sports memorabilia, a wristwatch with a retail price of approximately $8,500, and over $2000 in cash.
In exchange, Villanueva assisted CHAMBERS’s clients in several ways.  When licensees who were clients of CHAMBERS were subject to “incident investigations” – investigations by the License Division to determine whether a license should be suspended or revoked as a result of an incident – Villanueva would close these investigations more quickly and with more favorable outcomes than the applicants otherwise would receive.  For example, on multiple occasions, Villanueva continued licenses for CHAMBERS’s clients – returning their ability to keep and carry firearms – even when the appropriate disposition would have been a license revocation, based on incidents such as domestic incidents or accidental firearms discharges.  Villanueva also would modify the results of incident investigations after they were completed, such as changing a license revocation for multiple drunk driving arrests into a short suspension.  Villanueva would also cause CHAMBERS’s clients to receive shorter suspension periods than they would otherwise receive.  In addition, Villanueva ensured that renewal applications submitted by CHAMBERS’s clients, which typically take 30 to 40 days for approval, were renewed more expeditiously, sometimes as quickly as within one day.  He also upgraded the licenses of clients of CHAMBERS to full concealed carry licenses on an expedited basis and without sufficient documentation to justify the upgrade.
Villanueva also helped CHAMBERS renew gun licenses for clients before the Pistol Section of the Nassau County Police Department, where Villanueva had contacts.  Starting in or about 2012, CHAMBERS brought his clients’ renewal applications to Villanueva at One Police Plaza, and Villanueva mailed those applications to the Pistol Section using his NYPD License Division stationery.  Villanueva did so knowing that because he was submitting the renewal applications using his NYPD License Division stationery, the renewals would be approved in a significantly faster time for CHAMBERS’s clients than for other applicants.  In exchange, CHAMBERS gave Villanueva cash bribes, as well as tickets to sporting and entertainment events for Villanueva and his family.  CHAMBERS typically mailed Villanueva the cash by taping it to the inside of a magazine. 
CHAMBERS, 63, who resides in Manhattan, New York, was found guilty of one count of bribery, which carries a maximum term of 10 years in prison, one count of conspiracy to commit bribery, which carries a maximum term of five years in prison, one count of honest services fraud, which carries a maximum term of 20 years in prison, and one count of conspiracy to commit honest services fraud, which carries a maximum of 20 years in prison.
CHAMBERS is scheduled to be sentenced on August 9, 2018.
Mr. Berman praised the investigative work of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the NYPD Internal Affairs Bureau, and noted that the investigation is continuing.  

A.G. Schneiderman Announces $226,000 Settlement With Reality Television Production Company That Underpaid Workers

Sharp Entertainment LLC—Producer of “Man v. Food” and “Bad Ink”—Will Pay $226,000 in Restitution to Employees for Unpaid Overtime
Settlement is Second in AG’s Ongoing Investigation into Television Production Industry to Protect Workers’ Rights to Proper Overtime Pay
To Date, AG Schneiderman Has Won Back Over $630,000 for Television Production Workers
  Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced a settlement with Sharp Entertainment LLC, producer of “Man v. Food,” “Bad Ink,” and several other reality television programs, for misclassifying employees and subsequently failing to pay scores of employees overtime. Following an investigation conducted by the Attorney General’s office, Sharp Entertainment agreed to pay $226,000 in restitution to employees who did not receive overtime for having worked well over 40 hours each week and to reform their business practices. Today’s settlement follows the Attorney General’s $411,000 settlement with True Entertainment LLC, which produces “The Real Housewives Of Atlanta.” Both settlements are part of the Attorney General’s effort to ensure proper overtime pay in the television production industry. In total, the Attorney General has won back over $630,000 for television production workers.
“Employees deserve fair pay for their work – period. Our overtime laws are meant to guarantee that employees are fairly compensated for their long hours,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “To date we’ve already won back over $630,000 for TV production workers in New York – and my office will continue to act to protect workers’ fundamental rights.”
The Attorney General’s investigation found that, beginning in January 2009, Sharp Entertainment misclassified employees, including Production Assistants and Associate Producers, as exempt from overtime pay. As a result, many of these workers were entitled to overtime pay but never received it. In addition to failing to compensate their employees properly, Sharp Entertainment did not keep adequate records listing the full amount of hours employees worked, and did not provide employees with accurate statements of the hours they worked during each pay period.
While there are exemptions from state and federal overtime coverage, including for certain high-level, highly compensated, or professional employees, none of those exemptions applied to the workers covered by the settlement. The overtime law focuses on the specific job duties actually performed by employees. Production Assistants and Associate Producers for Sharp Entertainment had a range of duties, including crowd control, making travel arrangements, obtaining releases from people appearing on camera, and logging footage. Based on their duties, these employees were entitled to overtime. Sharp Entertainment violatedExecutive Law 63(12) and the New York Labor Law by not paying employees accordingly.
In addition to paying $226,000 in restitution, Sharp Entertainment has agreed to several important reforms of its current business practices. These include:
  • Notifying all Production Assistants and Associate Producers in writing that they are classified and will be treated as overtime-eligible, non-exempt employees that are entitled to be paid at one and one-half times their regular rates for hours worked in excess of 40 in any work week.
  • Giving all employees true and accurate wage statements listing the amount of regular and overtime hours worked by employees.
  • Updating their employee handbook to include information about overtime pay eligibility.
  • Training current and newly hired human resources staff, including the payroll department, as well as all of its supervisory personnel, who have substantial input or control over employees’ classification as overtime exempt and the handling of their pay records.
Overtime laws exist to discourage employers from assigning long workweeks, to provide some compensation for people who have to put in very long hours, and also to spread and create employment throughout the workforce, by incentivizing companies to hire additional employees rather than overworking a more limited staff.
The settlement funds will be distributed to Production Assistants, Associate Producers, and workers who performed equivalent tasks. Sharp Entertainment must now analyze the job duties of workers with the job title “Producer” who earn below a certain amount to determine whether the workers are entitled to overtime. The company must also cooperate with all ongoing requests from the Attorney General’s office for information to ensure compliance with state law.

Cynthia Nixon Surpasses 10,000 Individual Donations

   In a showing of grassroots momentum, Cynthia Nixon has received over 10,000 individual donations since declaring her candidacy for governor just six weeks ago.

Of those donations, 98 percent are low-dollar donations below $200. By comparison, Andrew Cuomo collected a total of just 1,369 small dollar donations since the start of 2011. Over 800 individuals have also committed to making recurring donations to Cynthia’s people-powered campaign in the months leading up to the primary on September 13.

“The energy and enthusiasm we’re already seeing from Democrats across New York who are excited about our campaign is just another sign that New Yorkers know that we can do better than Andrew Cuomo,” said Cynthia Nixon. “With just  0.1 percent of his support coming from small donations from everyday New Yorkers, that tells you exactly the chance that Cuomo will care about your concerns: 0.1 percent. I want to return New York to a place where, not just corporate lobbyists, not just the wealthiest among us, but the regular New Yorkers have their everyday needs finally being addressed.”

As part of her campaign, Cynthia is not accepting any corporate donations. Cuomo, on the other hand, has built a $31 million war chest from real estate developers, Wall Street bankers, and fossil fuel executives.

News From Congressman Eliot Engel

Engel Marks 2018 GLSEN Day of Silence to Raise Awareness of LGBTQ Bullying

  Congressman Eliot Engel, a member of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus, marked GLSEN’s Day of Silence by introducing a resolution supporting the student-led movement to end LGBTQ bullying and harassment.

Hundreds of thousands of students across this country and throughout the world will take a vow of silence today to bring attention to the bullying and harassment of their LGBTQ peers. LGBTQ youth experience bullying, harassment, and assault at school at an alarming rate. Eight in ten LGBTQ students are harassed because of their sexual orientation or gender expression. One in eight are physically assaulted because of their sexual orientation or gender expression. More than half of LGBTQ students feel unsafe in their own classrooms, and nearly one third will miss a day of school this month because of threats, harassment, or violence.

“I have introduced a resolution supporting the Day of Silence every year for the past 16 years, and I’m proud to once again support this student-led movement,” Engel said. “This year we have seen inspiring, student-led movements push our country forward on issues from gun violence prevention to immigrant rights. The Day of Silence sends an important message that we will continue to fight back against discrimination and ensure that schools are safe and affirming for all students, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.”

“Each year, hundreds of thousands of students in middle and high schools across the country take action to end the silencing effects of anti-LGBTQ harassment and discrimination. Their protest provides an opportunity to reflect on how each of us can take action to address these issues that too often silence LGBTQ youth in K-12 schools. This year’s Day of Silence has added importance. Over the past year, we’ve witnessed the Education Department take unprecedented steps to reverse hard-fought progress on LGBTQ equality won over the two decades since the Day of Silence was founded,” said Eliza Byard, GLSEN Executive Director. “We are incredibly thankful to Congressman Engel for his long-standing support of GLSEN’s Day of Silence, which enables LGBTQ youth to see elected officials who support them and who advocate for safe and inclusive schools for all.”

Engel on Passage of Opioid Bills, Marathon Health Markup

  This week, the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Health Subcommittee passed two bills co-authored by Congressman Eliot L. Engel that will help address the nation’s ongoing opioid epidemic. Both bills passed unanimously during a marathon markup session, at which more than 60 bills were up for consideration.

Congressman Engel partnered with Congresswoman Susan Brooks to author the Poison Center Network Enhancement Actwhich will reauthorize the U.S. poison center program for an additional five years. Since 2011, U.S. poison centers have handled almost 200 cases daily involving opioid misuse.

The Reinforcing Evidence-based Standards Under Law in Treating Substance abuse (RESULTS) Act, which Congressman Engel introduced with Congressman Steve Stivers, will provide new guidance to applicants seeking federal grants to treat or prevent mental health or substance use disorders, better enabling them to carry out evidence-based activities.

“Families in the Bronx, Westchester and across the U.S. are suffering, and Congress must deliver solutions,” Engel said. “I am pleased to see these bills moving forward, as they will play an important role in our response to this crisis.”

During debate, Engel cautioned Republicans about the need to carefully consider policies that will have real implications for American families, rather than rush legislation that hasn’t been examined thoroughly.

“Americans need action – not the appearance of action,” Engel said. “Republicans’ insistence on considering so many bills at one time, some of which have been proposed only recently, is concerning to me. Our constituents expect us to thoroughly weigh the pros and cons of every policy we consider. If we fail to do that, we risk worsening the very crisis we are trying to solve.

“I am also disappointed by Republicans’ decision to block an amendment that would require the Department of Health and Human Services to examine the rising price of the overdose reversal drug naloxone. In 2016, the rate of opioid-related deaths in Westchester fell nearly 30 percent. Evidence suggests this was thanks in part to naloxone. Having HHS examine the rising prices that could pose a barrier to accessing this lifesaving drug makes good sense.”

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Ben Franklin Democratic Club Endorses State Senator Jeff Klein

  At a well attended meeting last night the Ben Franklin Democratic  Club held the second of its 'Endorsement Meetings'. At the first meeting the club made its endorsements for the 81st Assembly District endorsing all the incumbent members for the positions of Assembly, District Leaders, and State Committee members. This second meeting was for the State Senate, Governor, and Lieutenant Governor positions. 

  While there may have been only one candidate for certain positions that showed up or sent a representative on their behalf, the ballot also had a box marked 'No Endorsement'.

 For Governor the club voted 101 for incumbent Governor Andrew Cuomo, 27 for Cynthia Nixon, and 18 for No Endorsement, 6 ballots ruled invalid, and 1 write in vote, totaling 151 votes.

 For Lieutenant Governor the club voted 85 in favor of incumbent Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, 40 in favor of current Councilman Jumaane Williams, 9 for no endorsement,16 ballots were ruled invalid, and one write in vote, totaling 151 votes. 

 In the 33rd and 36th State Senate districts, incumbent 33rd State Senator Gustavo Rivera and incumbent 36th State Senator Jamaal Bailey were endorsed by the club.

 For the 34th State Senate, there was a heated but civil candidate statement session, question and answer session, and an even more civil personal endorsement by club members of both the incumbent and challenger. After all the votes were counted the club voted 106 in favor of incumbent 34th State Senator Jeff Klein, 43 in favor of  Alessandra Biaggi, and 2 in favor of No Endorsement.
Photos of the club meeting are below.

Above - Lieutenant Governor candidate Jumaane Williams addresses the Ben Franklin club on his position.
Below - 34th State Senate candidate Alessandra Biaggi explains why the club should endorse her.

Above- State Senator Jeff Klein Speaks to the club as to why they should endorse him.
Below - (L-R) Ben Franklin Vice Chair Bruce Feld, Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz, Senator Jeff Klein, Female District Leader Randi Martos, Councilman Andrew Cohen, and Male District Leader Eric Dinowitz.

Joint Statement by Speaker Corey Johnson, Finance Chair Daniel Dromm and Chair of the Subcommittee on Capital Budget Vanessa Gibson on FY 2019 Budget

  “Though we are disappointed that the Mayor’s proposed budget does not address all the priorities laid out by the City Council, we are encouraged by the close to $1 billion in additional revenue expected in FY18. When combined with the efficiencies and savings the Council has already found in our FY19 budget response, this revenue has the potential to go a long way towards our goals of strengthening the social safety net, fighting for the middle class, and being responsible with taxpayer money. The administration should use this additional revenue to institute Fair Fares to help our most vulnerable neighbors, fund a $400 property tax rebate for middle class homeowners, and put away $500 million in reserves to strengthen our financial position moving forward and increase our ability to weather future shocks.

In addition, we are glad the administration has reduced excess appropriations and redistributed them over a longer period of time as requested by the Council for capital funding.
The Council will continue to advocate for our priorities throughout budget negotiations and we plan to do so in a collaborative and transparent budget process.
With the tax rebate and Fair Fares, we have the opportunity to make life better for New Yorkers who desperately need a break, and the reserves will undoubtedly help us in the future. We urge the administration to fund the Council’s priorities for the good of our neighbors and our city.”


  Bronx District Attorney Darcel D. Clark today announced that a Bronx man has been sentenced to 25 years in prison for first-degree Manslaughter in the strangling of his girlfriend in 2015. 

 District Attorney Clark said, “The defendant was convicted by a jury in the strangulation of his girlfriend inside his apartment. Now he will spend many years in prison for this senseless killing.” 

 District Attorney Clark said the defendant, Christopher Coachman, 54, of 721 East 221st Street, was sentenced today by Bronx Supreme Court Justice Miriam Best to 25 years in prison. He was convicted by a jury of first-degree Manslaughter on April 11, 2018. 

 According to the investigation, on August 10, 2015, inside Coachman’s apartment, Coachman and Alexis Beck, 50, were drinking alcohol and smoking crack. He strangled her, and after she died he lay in the bed with her. He spent 18 hours in the apartment with her lifeless body. He called a friend to say he “did something bad” and left the apartment. The friend notified police, who went to the apartment and found the victim. The defendant later turned himself in to police

 District Attorney Clark thanked NYPD Detective Robert Salerno of the 47th Precinct Squad for his assistance in the case.

Statement of New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer on Mayor de Blasio’s FY 2019 Executive Budget

  “Mayor de Blasio’s FY19 Executive Budget includes a number of important investments in the City’s infrastructure and social programs.

“I applaud the Mayor for bringing Fair Student Funding up to the highest average funding in more than a decade, investing in cybersecurity to protect the City’s data and operations, continuing funding support for the City’s growing population of homeless students, and funding the NYC Transit Subway Action Plan. These are critical missions which will define our City in the years to come.
“As we confront the challenges ahead, we must pay closer attention to keeping our fiscal house in order. In my analysis of New York City’s Preliminary FY19 Budget, our office highlighted the need to build up our budget cushion and prepare New York City for the possibility of tough times ahead. While our economy is in a solid position, with continued hostility from Washington, it is critical that we harness this year’s extraordinary inflow of one-time, non-recurring revenue to bolster City reserves.
“We must continue to vigorously scrub City agencies for savings and I urge the Administration to shine a bright light on the effectiveness of agency spending. We will continue to closely monitor the progress of City agencies toward achieving their goals in the most cost-effective manner possible, particularly those highlighted on our Agency Watch List: the Department of Correction, the Department of Education, and the Department of Homeless Services.
“New York must always be a place that lifts everyone up. We cannot stop investing in our City – and pushing for all New Yorkers to get a fair shot.
“Over the coming weeks, we will closely examine the FY19 Executive Budget and provide more detailed comments on the proposals. I look forward to working with the Administration and my colleagues in government to enact a responsible budget for the people of New York City.”

Fact Sheet: Mayor de Blasio Releases Executive Budget for Fiscal Year 2019

Over the next four years, all of our decisions will be driven by one, central goal: making New York City the fairest big city in America. This budget is no exception. We’re continuing commitments made to New Yorkers over the last four years, and making responsible, smart investments that have the power to bring equity to people’s lives.

Mayor Bill de Blasio.

  Today, Mayor Bill de Blasio presented New York City’s Executive Budget for Fiscal Year 2019 (FY19).

The FY19 Executive Budget is balanced, totaling $89.06 billion. This budget:

·    Makes modest investments that build upon continued efforts to make New York City the fairest big city in America.
·   Includes $754 million in savings – made up of partial hiring freezes, agency efficiencies and debt service re-estimates – exceeding the Mayor’s promise of $500 million and bringing total savings since last June to $2.1 billion.
·  Provides for New Yorkers while demonstrating fiscal responsibility and caution in the face of more than $530 million of realized threats from Albany, with additional threats from Washington looming.

Click here to view the FY19 Executive Budget.


Under this Administration, New York City’s economy remains strong and continues to hit records:

·    NYC added almost 428,000 jobs during the first term – the most for any single mayoral term.
·   With a record 4.49 million jobs, borough-level unemployment rates are at record lows in 2018.


The City is maintaining the reserves it’s built up in historic fashion. Specifically:

·         The General Reserve is at $1 billion in FY19 and every year of the financial plan, compared to the traditional $300 million.
·      The Capital Stabilization Reserve that was established under this Administration is at $250 million in FY19 and every year of the financial plan.
·       The Retiree Health Benefits Trust Fund is at $4.25 billion, $3.5 billion the result of actions taken by this Administration.


Even with the reserves, the Executive Budget reflects an almost unsustainable $530 million blow from Albany – the worst the city has seen in any State Budget since 2011. One of every four dollars, or 25 percent, of all new, City spending in this budget goes toward backfilling a cut or cost shift from Albany, including:

·         $254 million to address mismanagement of State-run subways
·         $140 million shortfall in State aid to our schools
·         $108 million unfunded mandate for Raise the Age
·         $31 million annual cut to Close to Home


In the vein of continuing the Mayor’s promise of becoming the fairest big city in America, this budget makes responsible investments to improve the lives of New Yorkers, including the following in Fiscal Year 2019:

·         Increasing the Fair Student Funding floor from 87 percent to 90 percent ($125 million);
·         Deepening investments in our cybersecurity to ensure the city’s systems are  defended ($41 million);
·         Further protecting New Yorkers with over 3,000 permanent security barriers ($103 million in capital);
· Expanding our Equity and Excellence Universal Literacy programs  so that  all kids read on grade level by 3rd grade ($30.5 million);
·    Eliminating work-order backlog at NYCHA and cutting down wait times ($20 million over FY19 and FY20);
· Holding ourselves accountable and assessing the most important components of Thrive ($1.2 million);
·    Creating a new, online parking permit system to enable better enforcement and curb placard abuse ($2 million);
·     Providing a Mobile Trauma Response Unit in every borough to help disrupt violence in real time ($1.8 million);
·   Supporting students in shelters by hiring more social workers ($12 million); 
·     Investing in workforce development by continuing the Career Pathways initiatives to connect New Yorkers with career opportunities ($7.1 million).

Congressman Eliot Engel Writes to CDC Requesting Immediate Assistance to Help Fight Legionnaires' Disease in Bronx

  Congressman Eliot L. Engel has written to CDC Director Robert R. Redfield, MD requesting immediate assistance to help fight the latest cases of Legionnaires’ Disease that have recently occurred in the Co-op City section of the Bronx.

As of April 25th, the latest cluster of Legionnaires’ has affected one apartment building and sickened three residents, causing one death. While Legionnaires’ is typically treatable with antibiotics, it can be dangerous for the elderly and those with other health complications. A prior outbreak of Legionnaires’ occurred in the Bronx in 2015.

“ I am extremely alarmed by these cases and ask that the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) work with the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (NYC DOHMH) to investigate the cause of these cases without delay,” Engel wrote.

Full text of the letter can be found below:

April 26, 2018

Robert R. Redfield, MD
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
1600 Clifton Road
Atlanta, GA 30329

Dear Director Redfield:

   I write regarding the recent cases of Legionnaires’ disease that have occurred in Co-op City in the Bronx, New York. I am extremely alarmed by these cases and ask that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) work with the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (NYC DOHMH) to investigate the cause of these cases without delay.

   As of April 25th, this cluster has affected one apartment building and sickened three residents, causing one death. While Legionnaires’ is typically treatable with antibiotics, it can be dangerous for the elderly and those with other health complications. For these New Yorkers especially, it is of the utmost importance that the cause of these cases is identified and addressed as soon as possible. City officials have instructed high-risk residents of the affected building not to shower until the situation is resolved. This is hardly a practical or long-term solution, and underscores the need to remedy this problem as promptly as possible.

   I ask that the CDC assist the NYC DOHMH by providing the added resources and expertise necessary to identify the cause of these cases and make recommendations as to how future cases of Legionnaires’ disease can be avoided. These three cases, coupled with the Legionnaires’ disease outbreak that occurred in the Bronx in 2015, underscore the need to thoroughly investigate potential triggers of Legionnaires’ – not just in Co-op City, but throughout New York – and eliminate them. The CDC’s assistance will help to both alleviate the situation quickly and afford the people of Co-op City much needed peace of mind.

   I thank you for your prompt attention to this matter and look forward to your reply.


     Eliot L. Engel
     Member of Congress