Saturday, December 22, 2018

Diaz Christmas Party

 Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr (left), Brooklyn Assemblywoman (and candidate for Public Advocate) Latrice Walker, Councilman Rafael Salamanca, Assemblyman Marcos Crespo, 87th A.D. District Leader Sergeant John Perez, and Councilman Ruben Diaz Sr.

The Annual Diaz Christmas Party at Mastro's Friday night was a tremendous success, as the room was overflowing with happy holiday people celebrating with Team Diaz. Food was constantly being brought out, and the music played till midnight as people enjoyed themselves.

Above - Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. welcomes the overflowing crowd as he wishes all who were in the house holiday greetings.
Below - People wanted their pictures taken with Team Diaz. 

Above - 87th A.D. Assemblywoman Elect Karines Reyes joins in for this photo.
Below - 87th A.D. Assemblywoman Elect Reyes talks of being the first woman in the all boys club, but the boys don't seem to be to interested in hearing what she is saying. 

Community Board 11 Votes Down Proposed 228 Unit Building on Blondell Avenue

  Representatives of the developer for a proposed 228 unit nine story building on Blondell Avenue listen to CB 11 member Bernadette Ferrera's concerns about the huge building, and what it will due to the surrounding area. 

  After a few people spoke in favor of the Blondell Avenue building proposal, which included a merchant from the neighboring Westchester Square Business Area. Then over twenty people spoke against the proposed building some saying that the only way the Westchester BID supported it was because the amount of parking spaces increased from 56 to over 200, with some of the added parking for shoppers on a paid parking fee. People questioned building such a large housing unit when the area government services such as schools, police, sanitation, and others are already overcrowded or over burdened. 

When the Public Hearing was over a vote of the board was taken on a resolution against the proposed building as part of the Land Use process since this project had to go through the ULERP process due to certain components of the project. The vote was twenty-six in favor the board opposing the building, six against the board opposing the building, and two abstentions. members of the community rejoiced in happiness, but the ULERP process now goes to a public hearing by the borough president on December 28th in the Bronx County building.

Above - CB 11 members listen to the community then voted on the Blondell Avenue proposal.
Below - Tom Luciana from the borough president's office tells everyone that the next step in the ULERP process is that the borough president will hold a public hearing on December 26th. 


Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., Westchester County Executive George Latimer, other elected officials and key stakeholders spoke out in support of the expansion of Metro North service to the East Bronx and the need for Amtrak to get out of the way of this much needed, universally popular project. These four new lines will save Westchester residents, most notably those on the Sound Shore, both time and money by shortening their commutes through the creation of new one-seat ride into Penn Station from Westchester.

Diaz said: “We are here to come together to call on Amtrak to stop getting in the way of progress of these four desperately needed Metro-North stations – needed not just for the Bronx but for the entire region. Everyone knows this is a good idea for commuters, the potential for job opportunities and its impact on congestion, and everyone is on board – except Amtrak.”

Latimer said: “This is a story about cooperation between the suburbs and the city on a project that is both good for the Bronx and good for Westchester County. We have a common interest here, and what the Borough President and other leaders have done is see the common benefit of opening up these lines to provide benefits in both directions. Access to Penn Station is advantageous for those who live in Westchester along the Sound Shore and need to commute to the Bronx or parts of Manhattan for work, making those communities even more attractive to live in and raising property values in the process.”

This project – known as the Penn Access Project - would provide a vital rail connection for Westchester to the west side of Manhattan and the East Bronx. At this time, the MTA has a plan in place to build four new Metro-North Railroad stations in the East Bronx that would also serve to benefit Westchester commuters by connecting the New Haven Line to Penn Station directly.

To get this vital project back on the track, Amtrak must agree to align work schedules and scope of the project and allow the MTA reasonable access to Amtrak-owned tracks and right-of-way. This agreement has yet to occur due to Amtrak’s demands for the MTA to pay more than its fair share. The MTA will already be carrying most of the expense of upgrades, including rebuilding the Pelham Bay Bridge, and Amtrak would be the beneficiary of track improvements and operational flexibility, under-grade bridge improvements, and power, signal and communications upgrades. This standoff puts the entire project in jeopardy - at the expense of thousands of riders.

“Creating a new mass transit option for East Bronx and Westchester commuters to Manhattan would be a transportation game changer for those transit-needy areas. A new rail line with four new Bronx stations will substantially reduce travel time, better link the Bronx and Westchester to job markets, enhance economic development and offer vital system resiliency to withstand future disasters,” said U.S. Senator Charles Schumer. “Expanding mass transit options can spark job growth and reduce commute times, which is what we need for our entire region, and why Amtrak must work with the MTA to get this project done for the people of the Bronx and Westchester.”

Congressman Eliot Engel said: “It’s long past time for the East Bronx to have its rail service expanded, and that can only happen with Amtrak’s cooperation on the Penn Station Access Project. My constituents in both the Bronx and Westchester deserve to have greater rail access, which not only will improve travel and reduce pollution, but will also provide economic benefits to the entire region. I join County Executive Latimer, Bronx Borough President Diaz Jr., and all of my colleagues in government in calling on Amtrak to get on board with us and move this project forward.” 

Congresswoman Nita Lowey said: “The strong bipartisan support for Penn Station Access speaks to the absolute necessity of the project. Penn Station Access will provide much-needed relief for commuters, saving them significant amounts of time and money by connecting Westchester and Manhattan’s west side. It will also improve transportation capacity and resiliency and drive economic growth throughout the region. I look forward to continuing to work with our partners at all levels of government to secure Amtrak’s cooperation in moving this project forward.” 

New York State Senator Jamaal Bailey said: "I represent both The Bronx and Westchester Counties, two locations that stand to benefit greatly from this project. One of the neighborhoods in my district is Co-op City, essentially a ‘city within a city’ that consistently struggles with adequate transportation to Manhattan and other areas in The Bronx. The Metro-North station in Co-op City is desperately needed in order to ease the transportation struggles that currently exist. As such, I stand with Borough President Diaz Jr. and County Executive Latimer and call on Amtrak to support this project and facilitate in ensuring it is built so that thousands of residents can benefit from excellent mass transportation."

Assemblyman Marcos A. Crespo said: “Expanded Metro North service will have a game-changing impact on the lives of Bronx residents both by adding transportation options to a neglected transportation desert in the East Bronx, and better connecting residents to greater job and opportunity markets. I thank Borough President Diaz and County Executive Latimer for leading the call that Amtrak no longer stand in the way of this vital project.”

Assemblyman Michael Benedetto said: “Adding Metro North Railroad service to the transit-starved east Bronx is vital to the economy of New York City, Westchester County and the state. I call on Amtrak to quickly conclude negotiations with the Metropolitan Transit Authority in an earnest and reasonable manner to move this project forward.”

Assemblywoman Nathalia Fernandez said: “The Bronx has consistently been left behind when it comes to our transportation needs. The East Bronx Metro-North expansion project is a necessary step toward ending transit inequality in our community. We cannot allow Amtrak to hold our residents back. They need to take responsibility to ensure this project becomes a reality. The people of this borough have had to contend with a crumbling transportation system. These new MetroNorth stations are a paramount component to addressing the transportation, environmental, and economic challenges of our communities. We welcome investment in our communities, but we demand that corporations be good neighbors and partner with us in good faith. Amtrak has a responsibility to the people of the Bronx. Our health and mobility is at stake, yet Amtrak demands the cash-strapped MTA help pay for repairs of their own unmaintained property. These demands are unconscionable. Bronxites need these MetroNorth stations now more than ever, and we need Amtrak unequivocally on board.”

Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz said: “There is no question that our transit infrastructure is ancient and our transit networks are antiquated. President Trump campaigned on making our infrastructure great again, but for two years all the federal government has done is get in the way of actual progress. Where the federal government has failed, New York is investing $1 billion to improve Amtrak infrastructure (which is operated by a federal government-owned corporation) through LIRR East Side Access and Metro-North Penn Station Access. Amtrak needs to stop extorting our state for more money and instead get out of the way of better mass transit in the Bronx.”

New Rochelle Mayor Noam Bramson said: “Penn Access represents an extraordinary opportunity for our entire region to spur job growth, expand access to employment, and foster transit-oriented development. I am proud to stand with leaders in Westchester, the Bronx and throughout New York in advocating for this vital enhancement of mass transit options.”

Bronx Chamber of Commerce Chairman Joseph Kelleher said: “The Bronx is experiencing amazing growth—new commercial and residential development is on the way throughout the borough, many companies are relocating to the Bronx creating jobs. The new Metro North Train Stations will provide improved transportation resulting in major economic development and opportunities for the residence and the businesses in the Bronx.”


Investment will address infrastructure upgrades

  Mayor Bill de Blasio announced today $52 million in capital investment projects to improve NYC Health + Hospitals/Metropolitan’s infrastructure. The projects will be conducted over time, with some scheduled for completion as soon as the spring, while others will require work through late 2021.

“We are proud to have the largest public hospital system in the nation,” said Mayor de Blasio. “NYC Heath + Hospitals/Metropolitan has been a mainstay in this community for decades, and this investment will help the hospital get the upgrades needed to continue serving the community.”

“Metropolitan Hospital is a critical community resource for residents of East Harlem and we are proud to invest in it,” said Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Dr. Herminia Palacio. “We are committed to preserving our public hospital system, making it financially sustainable and able to deliver the best healthcare services for all New Yorkers.”

“While $52 million is obviously a significant investment, it’s clear that it is needed as part of our long-term commitment to the hospital,” said Dr. Mitchell Katz, President and Chief Executive Officer of NYC Health + Hospitals. “We want our staff to be able to focus on meeting our patients’ care needs and keeping them healthy, not worrying about roofs and power systems.”

“Our hospital has been an integral part of the East Harlem community since the 1950s,” said Alina Moran, Chief Executive Officer of NYC Health + Hospitals/Metropolitan. “Every day, we provide the highest quality of care to our patients. We welcome this level of capital investment that will allow us to upgrade our buildings and make the necessary repairs to our infrastructure.”

The plan calls for repairs and improvements to:

Bringing the automatic fire sprinkler infrastructure up to new requirements ($12 million)

Replacing patient-accessible windows with new ones featuring polycarbonate glazing for enhanced safety in Behavioral Health units ($13 million)

Upgrading the current emergency power system, as required under new mandates ($25 million)

Replacing the roof to address ongoing leak problems and eliminate the need for ongoing patching ($1 million)

Replacing the unit that directs condensed and cooled water resulting from the building’s usage of steam back to the power plant ($600 thousand)

Replacing cooling towers nearing end of life with new ones with the latest technology to ensure greater safety ($400 thousand)


  “The government is shut down for one reason: the President's insistence on a border wall that is an affront to our values and that will not make us safer. It's time for Republicans in Congress and the President do their job and pass a funding bill that will keep our government running. The thousands of federal employees and their families who call New York City home should not be pawns for Donald Trump's backwards immigration policies.”

Congressman Engel Statement on the Trump Shutdown

“President Trump said he would shut down the government if he wasn’t given funding for his nonsensical border wall. And although the President often flip flops on his promises, he was more than willing to follow through on this one. Now, thanks to some help from his co-conspirators in the House GOP, we are mired in a Trump Shutdown just days before Christmas.

“American voters overwhelmingly rejected Republican’s xenophobic fear mongering at the ballot in November, but the GOP didn’t seem to get the message. They’d rather hold an operational government – and paychecks for American families during the Holidays – ransom than pass a clean CR.  The wall funding President Trump and the House GOP seeks will do nothing more than perpetuate a humanitarian crisis at the border, one they themselves have exacerbated.  Instead of building divisive walls, we should be focused on modernizing our ports of entry and ensuring asylum officers have the tools they need. American resources should be used to help those fleeing violence and danger, not keep them out. I urge my Republican colleagues and the President to give up this ridiculous border wall crusade, act responsibly, and pass a clean funding bill immediately.”

Friday, December 21, 2018

Heroin Dealer Sentenced To 25 Years In Prison For Overdose Death Of 25-Year-Old Man

  Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that FRANKIE BEQIRAJ was sentenced to 25 years in prison for leading a conspiracy to distribute heroin, cocaine, oxycodone, and alprazolam in the Bronx and Westchester.  BEQIRAJ personally distributed heroin that resulted in the death of Robert Vivolo, a 25-year-old man from City Island, New York.  BEQIRAJ was convicted after trial on June 11, 2018, before United States District Judge Richard M. Berman, who also imposed today’s sentence.

U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said:  “Frankie Beqiraj ran a crew of employees that distributed heroin throughout the City Island community, often hiring addicts and paying them in cash and drugs.  His callousness and greed ultimately led to the overdose death of 25-year-old Robert Vivolo.  Now, Beqiraj has been sentenced for his crimes and will spend significant time in prison.”
According to court documents and the evidence at trial:
From July 2016 to January 2017, BEQIRAJ was the principal drug supplier of the small Bronx community of City Island.  BEQIRAJ employed workers, who were themselves heroin addicts and were supplied drugs by BEQIRAJ, to deliver narcotics to his customers using prepaid phones supplied by BEQIRAJ.  These workers were paid their salaries in money and heroin.  Through his organization, BEQIRAJ distributed large quantities of heroin, cocaine, oxycodone, and alprazolam.
On October 21, 2016, BEQIRAJ sold heroin to Robert Vivolo, a recovering heroin addict, on City Island, New York.  BEQIRAJ’s heroin caused Vivolo to die from an overdose that night.
The Court also found that, on or about January 9, 2017, one of Beqiraj’s workers distributed heroin to three additional individuals, all of whom overdosed.  One of those individuals died as a result of the overdose; the two others survived, having been revived with naloxone.
In addition to the prison term, BEQIRAJ, 28, of the Bronx, New York, was sentenced to five years of supervised release.
U.S. Attorney Berman praised the outstanding work of the New York City Police Department’s Bronx Narcotics Heroin Overdose Team, the New Rochelle Police Department, and the Special Agents of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York.


Defendant Was Victim’s After-School Teacher

  Bronx District Attorney Darcel D. Clark today announced that a former after-school program teacher has been sentenced to five years in prison and 10 years post-release supervision for sexually abusing a six-year-old girl in a Bronx classroom. 

 District Attorney Clark said, “The defendant sexually abused the child when she sought his help with her homework in a classroom of a Bronx school. The defendant will now serve time for this despicable crime which has left the girl traumatized.” 

 District Attorney Clark said the defendant, Channing Parker, 23, of the Bronx, was sentenced today by Bronx Supreme Court Justice Ralph Fabrizio to five years in prison and 10 years post release supervision. The defendant will be required to register as a sex offender upon his release. The judge also signed a final order of protection for the victim. The defendant pleaded guilty to first-degree Sexual Abuse on November 29, 2018.

 According to the investigation, on or about October 6, 2016 to November 16, 2016, the defendant, an employee at Kids Creative, a nonprofit group that organizes after-school programs in New York City, touched the child’s private parts in Archer Elementary School. Months later in 2017, the victim saw a news report about sexual abuse and told her eight-year-old sister what had happened to her. The victim’s sister told their mother, who then reported it to the school. The school notified the authorities and the victim was brought to the Bronx Child Advocacy Center.

 Parker was arrested while he was already incarcerated for sexual abuse incidents he committed at the Ideal School of Manhattan. He was sentenced in Manhattan to 20 years in prison on December 18, 2018 for sexually abusing two children at an after-school program.

 District Attorney Clark thanked the Bronx Child Advocacy Center, the Bronx Child Abuse Squad, and the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office for their cooperation and assistance with this prosecution.


  Each student in the winning class received a new pair of the latest Nike Sneakers for the improvements to their, grades, attendance, and overall school spirit. 

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. and hip-hop legend Fat Joe yesterday distributed new pairs of sneakers at four Bronx public schools as part of their new initiative to increase student performance in Bronx public schools.

Administrators at each participating school—P.S. 146, M.S. 123, Accion Academy and I.S. 217 School of Performing Arts—chose one class which had been “most improved” academically from the start of the competition. Those students learned of their victory today and each received a brand new pair of sneakers from Fat Joe, a Bronx native, in recognition of their achievement.

Students in each class participated in this initiative from mid-October through the remainder of the Fall marking period. They were tasked with working together to improve overall outcomes within their classroom based on a variety of factors including student engagement, attendance and total number of books read, among others.

“These kids are seeing today that hard work really pays off and that with focus and intent they have the power to improve their academic performance. Having their schoolwork praised by a musical superstar who looms so large in our borough adds to our message that it is cool to get good grades and it is something they should aspire to, even outside of this competition. For a lot of these students, it was the push they needed to try harder in school,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. "I want to thank Fat Joe for everything he has done for The Bronx and its students, and for partnering with my office on this initiative.”

‘I came from The Bronx and I was the class clown, but I loved sneakers so much that I know if we had had a contest like this my grades would’ve improved. Its Christmas time but this isn’t a Christmas gift, because the kids worked hard to make this happen. I want take these results to sportswear brands so we can prove that initiatives like this really work and other students can do this in New York City," said Fat Joe at the event. "I couldn’t be more proud to work with Borough President Diaz and his office to make this happen.”

Fat Joe also announced at the event that the initiative would continue at the four schools through the next semester.

Photos are below 

Harlem School of the Arts - "THE LITTLE MERMAID: The Story You've Never Heard"

Based upon the original story by Hans Christian Anderson and adapted by  
HSA Theatre Alliance member Geneva Foster-Narvaez, experience Andersen's process of creating the classic story of a unique girl who dreams of love beyond the surface. 

Directed by Trisha Jeffrey Written and Assistant Directed by Geneva Foster-Narvaez

$20 Advance | $25 Door | $15 Students and Seniors
$15 Group Tickets Available for groups of 10 or more



Dedicated fund will help non-profit and mission-driven organizations acquire rent-stabilized and unregulated buildings to preserve as affordable housing

  Mayor de Blasio, Department of Housing Preservation and Development Commissioner Maria Torres-Springer, and Housing Development Corporation President Eric Enderlin announced the official launch of the City’s Neighborhood Pillars Program.  First announced as part of Housing New York 2.0, the Mayor’s ambitious housing plan to finance 300,000 affordable homes by 2026, Neighborhood Pillars will help finance each stage of the process of acquiring and rehabilitating existing rent-stabilized and unregulated buildings to protect current tenants and preserve affordability in neighborhoods across the city.  The Neighborhood Pillars program aims to fund the acquisition and preservation of nearly 7,500 homes over the next eight years, an effort made possible by funding commitments from the Community Preservation Corporation, Wells Fargo Foundation, HDC and HPD in coordination with Neighborhood Restore HDFC. 

“We are using every tool available to fight the affordability crisis, and with Neighborhood Pillars, we are adding one more,” said Mayor de Blasio. “Now, non-profit developers will have access to the capital required to purchase buildings and ensure their long-term affordability for over 18,000 New Yorkers.”

“Neighborhood Pillars will help level the playing field for non-profits and mission-driven organizations and will provide the resources needed for these organizations to buy affordable housing in the communities they know best, ” said Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen.

“Preservation is the cornerstone of the Mayor’s housing plan and our efforts to keep New Yorkers in their homes and neighborhoods. Through our new Neighborhood Pillars program, we’re giving community-based organizations the tools they need to compete in a fast-changing market.  Now, pre-qualified non-profits will have greater access to the capital and technical assistance they need to purchase rent-stabilized and unregulated buildings and finance their long-term quality and affordability,” said HPD Commissioner Maria Torres-Springer.  “I want to thank our partners at Wells Fargo, CPC, and HDC for their generous support and forward-thinking in our fight to keep this city affordable for generations to come.”

“Local nonprofits are central to protecting the long-term affordability of our city,” said HDC President Eric Enderlin. “The new Neighborhood Pillars program will equip these organizations with the tools they need to compete in today's challenging real estate market and ensure greater housing opportunities for future generations of New Yorkers.  I thank all the partners who have contributed to launching this exciting and important new initiative.”  

With a commitment of $2 million from Wells Fargo Foundation and $2 million from the Community Preservation Corporation, the City has established a new Down Payment Assistance Fund dedicated to pre-qualified non-profit community-based organizations looking to purchase rent-stabilized and unregulated buildings and finance their rehabilitation and the preservation of their affordability through the new Neighborhood Pillars program.

Changes in the state rent laws over the last few decades, combined with the surging demand for housing, have led to aggressive real estate speculation in rent-stabilized buildings, which provide a critical source of housing for low-income New Yorkers. Although there has been no significant net decline in rent stabilized units over the past decade, the city has experienced a substantial decline in the number of low-cost units. Since 2014, the number of units with contract rents less than $1,500 has declined more than 12 percent or about 160,000 units.  Neighborhood Pillars is the latest in a series of efforts to address these issues, and both improve the quality and preserve the long-term affordability of the city’s housing stock.

Community-based non-profit organizations are often well-positioned to identify the buildings most at risk of speculation and rapid turnover, but these organizations often lack the capital needed to make down payments and compete successfully in the acquisition market. The Neighborhood Pillars Down Payment Assistance Fund, the first of its kind, will help level the playing field by providing qualified not-for-profits with technical assistance and capital to use as a down payment or deposit on a contract to acquire properties and cover limited pre-acquisition costs.

The Fund is administered by Restored Homes Development LLC, an affiliate of Neighborhood Restore HDFC, and received critical contributions from Wells Fargo Foundation and CPC.  Restored Homes will offer assistance to not-for-profits in sourcing, underwriting, and negotiating potential acquisitions. 


Report promotes small business development, redressing impacts of past criminalization and driving economic opportunity to historically marginalized communities

 Mayor Bill de Blasio today endorsed the safe and fair legalization of cannabis in New York. The Mayor also released his Task Force report on Cannabis Legalization, which calls for a strong, public health-focused regulatory framework and the empowerment of local government to prevent corporate greed, foster small businesses and meet the demands of New York City communities. The report also places great emphasis on the need to ensure that any marijuana industry in New York City right the wrongs of the past and promotes economic opportunity.

“I have been convinced that we can establish a regulatory framework that keeps our streets safe, rights the wrongs of the past, and gives economic opportunity to communities hit hardest by the war on drugs," said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “I support legalization because we’ve developed a path forward that will help make our City fairer. I look forward to working with the State as to make this a reality.”

“As we go down the path toward legalization of marijuana in our city and state, let us recognize that it is not without risks,” said First Lady Chirlane McCray, who leads the City’s mental health and substance misuse efforts. “We must do everything we can to protect our city’s young people, and educate all New Yorkers about marijuana use. That’s why this report is so important, and I urge state lawmakers use the recommendations as a guide for their work in the months ahead.”

“I have long supported the legalization of recreational marijuana, and I am looking forward to reviewing these recommendations. Although whites, blacks and Latinos smoke marijuana at roughly the same rates, minorities have been arrested disproportionally for low-level marijuana possession. We have a responsibility to undo these past wrongs. As New York looks to move forward with decriminalizing marijuana, we must ensure that part of the conversation includes expunging convictions of people with low-level possession offenses,” said Council Speaker Corey Johnson.

The report, A Fair Approach to Marijuana, was produced by the Mayor's Task Force on Cannabis Legalization, which was convened in July 2018 to identify the goals and challenges that should guide the City’s preparations for potential legalization.

The recommendations are centered on local development, equity, public health and a wholesale departure from the failed war on drugs. These include the automatic expungement of criminal records for conduct that would be legalized – subject to notice and opportunity by District Attorneys’ Offices to raise objections in specific cases; educational resources for youth, educators, consumers, health care workers; the elimination of routine testing as prerequisite to social service benefit eligibility and the prohibition of pre-employment and random testing, with some narrow exceptions.

It also calls for balancing State regulatory structures with local authority to permit licensed consumption sites, determine business density restrictions to avoid over-concentration and allow localities to restrict or prohibit home cultivation. The report also makes recommendations to prevent big business from market domination by instituting a licensing system that would create opportunities for small businesses.

If legalized, the City would seek to:

  • Establish an Equitable Licensing System: Create local licensing programs, regulate public places of consumption, regulate home and commercial cultivation and manufacturing, and regulate home delivery services.

  • Preserve Communities: Establish zoning and area restrictions for cannabis businesses, as well as restrictions on the density to determine how the location of cannabis businesses can best fit into the fabric of its communities.

  • Protect Public Health: Enforce age limits of 21 and over with civil rather than criminal penalties to violations of cannabis regulations to the greatest extent possible consistent with public safety.

  • Right Historic Wrongs: Recommend automatic expungement of criminal records relating to conduct that may be legalized, including personal use and possession of certain quantities – subject to notice and opportunity by District Attorneys’ Offices to raise objections in specific cases.

  • Ensure Product Safety: Recommend statewide standards for product safety, labeling and packaging, marketing, and advertising, as well as a mandatory seed-to-sale tracking system accessible to State and local regulators and financial institutions serving cannabis-related businesses.

  • Put Small Businesses First: Work with State authorities to reduce the risk of market domination by big businesses and foster sustainable growth, in part, by restricting businesses from owning and controlling each stage of the supply chain, which may otherwise be owned by different, specialized businesses.

  • Create Equal Opportunity: Participate in a dual state-local licensing structure that will permit the City to pursue its own innovations to promote economic opportunities created by this new market, subject to the minimum standards set by the State.

  • Ease Access to Capital: Advocate for legislation expressly providing that banking and professional services for cannabis-related businesses do not violate State law.

  • Make Fair Investments: Allocate tax revenue, licensing fees, and other sources of financing to administer the new industry and support cannabis businesses and workers, with a focus on target populations and community reinvestment.

  • Build Local Businesses: Develop an incubator program to provide direct support to equity applicants in the form of counseling services, education, small businesses coaching, and compliance assistance.

The above recommendations would follow a series of steps by the Administration that have successfully reduced arrests for marijuana in New York City.

The Task Force was coordinated by the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice and includes representatives of relevant City agencies. The Task Force was divided into five subcommittees –focused on Licensing and Land Use; Economic Opportunity; Taxation and Finance; Law Enforcement and Social Justice; and Public Health, Social Services and Education – that met regularly to develop the recommendations reflected in the Task Force report. Members consulted with experts both supportive and opposed to legalization and studied jurisdictions that have regulated the adult use of cannabis.

In November of 2014, the NYPD changed its policy to issue criminal summonses instead of arresting for possession of marijuana in open view. That policy led to a 37 percent decline in arrests from 2014 to 2015. Then, in September 2018, the NYPD began issuing criminal summonses instead of making arrests for marijuana consumption in public. Since this change in policy for public consumption enforcement, arrests are down 80.6 percent and summonses are also down 30 percent.

To see the entire report of the Mayor's Task Force on Cannabis Legalization, click here. To see a quick cannabis fact sheet, click here.

“As New York moves closer to creating a legal market, which my office has shown will generate billions of dollars, we must prioritize correcting historic injustices and backwards policies of the past,” said New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer. “We know that lower income Black and Latinx New Yorkers have been hit hardest by marijuana enforcement, and they should be the first to benefit from legalization. That means developing a cannabis equity program and investing in these communities – it’s the only way forward.”