Saturday, January 12, 2019

Comptroller Stringer, State Senator Kavanagh, Assemblymember Simon, Council Member Levin and Brooklyn Communities Rally for a Better BQE

Coalition demands greater transparency and community engagement during planning of upcoming Brooklyn-Queens Expressway reconstruction
Rally follows Comptroller Stringer’s letter to Mayor’s office, DOT
  Today, New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer, State Senator Brian Kavanagh, Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon, Council Member Stephen Levin, A Better Way NYC, Brooklyn Heights Association, Cobble Hill Association, Cadman Towers, and community leaders demand more transparency and community engagement from the City during the rehabilitation of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway (BQE).
Last year, the City’s Department of Transportation (DOT) announced two potential options to repair the triple-cantilevered section of the BQE. The first would replace the Brooklyn Heights Promenade with a six-lane highway for up to six years while the permanent highway is reconstructed below. The second would be a conventional lane-by-lane construction project, which would take longer, involve nighttime and weekend work, and likely flood local streets with thousands of trucks and cars diverted during construction.
While these repairs are necessary and urgent, DOT has failed to devise sufficient alternatives to the current proposed BQE redevelopment plan. The coalition called on the City to open the planning process and consider a wider range of construction options.
The rally comes after Comptroller Stringer issued a letter to Mayor Bill de Blasio expressing concern that the City has failed to consider community needs and provide transparency regarding alternatives to the renovation plan. Congressmember Nydia Velazquez, State Senator Kavanagh, Assemblymember Simon and Council Member Levin also issued a statement as an update on their conversations with DOT and the community.
“When the City plans a massive years-long project, their top priority should be transparency,” said Comptroller Stringer. “No project can succeed without community input and the planning process for the BQE renovation has failed that basic standard. The City must consider a wider range of options to ensure this project does not unnecessarily burden the Brooklyn Heights community.”
“Reconstructing the BQE will be an enormous undertaking, but long before the City settles on a plan and the first shovel hits the ground, we need an equally expansive effort to get the design, the construction method, and the process right,” said State Senator Brian Kavanagh. “That’s why from the first day this project was announced to today, I’ve joined my elected colleagues and many local organizations and residents calling upon the DOT to explore every feasible alternative option and to give every affected community a full opportunity to have their needs and concerns considered. The DOT has met with us and has shown signs that they are willing to do just that. We know we have to keep our communities engaged and keep the pressure on, so I’m proud to stand with Comptroller Stringer, Congressmember Velazquez, Assemblymember Simon, Councilmember Levin, the Brooklyn Heights Association, the Cobble Hill Association, and many other concerned New Yorkers, to renew our call for a full, thorough, transparent process.”
“I am glad to stand with Comptroller Stringer, my partners in government, and with community residents to ensure our communities’ voices are heard and that all feasible options for the reconstruction of the BQE are rigorously examined. I am encouraged that DOT has begun engaging in small group meetings with those who will be most affected by the reconstruction and that DOT is open to considering alternative plans to its two existing proposals, but we need greater transparency and engagement at every level of this process,” said Assembly member Jo Anne Simon.
“DOT’s proposed innovative approach has revealed several concerning impacts on the surrounding community, and a better way is needed. I appreciate DOT’s efforts as they explore alternative options and I urge them to continue to work with community stakeholders to find a solution that’s in the interests of everyone,” said Council Member Stephen Levin.
Comptroller Stringer is entering his sixth year as New York City Comptroller, This highway in Brooklyn has not gotten into the situation it is now overnight. One thing this coalition fails to recognize is that this highway will be a major route to and from the new Amazon Queens headquarters, and that is why the NYCDOT is doing repairs on it. 
Where is Comptroller Stringer on the fate of the Cross Bronx Expressway. A major route from mainland United States to the Bronx, Long Island and New England. The Cross Bronx Expressway is mostly a large parking lot that is carrying a load much greater than it was built for. Where is the NYCDOT plan to fix the Cross Bronx Expressway?
What you should be asking City Comptroller Scott Stringer is why he is trying to pander to some Brooklyn Heights residents that he wants their vote from in the next mayoral election. Why is Comptroller Stringer not concerned with the Cross Bronx Expressway which is in as bad if not worse shape than the Brooklyn Queens Expressway.

Friday, January 11, 2019


Defendant Fired At Pursuing Police Officer, Who Returned Fire; Woman and 12-Year-Old Girl Were Wounded

  Bronx District Attorney Darcel D. Clark today announced that a Bronx man has been indicted on charges including Attempted Murder of a Police Officer and first-degree Assault for firing a gun at a cop after robbing a man of a backpack of cocaine, causing the officer to return fire that left two bystanders wounded. 

 District Attorney Clark said, “The defendant allegedly committed a gunpoint robbery, setting off a chain of events that led to exchange of gunfire with a police officer on a busy street. The alleged conduct of this defendant put the public in danger.” 

 District Attorney Clark said the defendant, Edwin Castillo-Concepcion, 37, of 1001 Home Street, was indicted on a total of 31 counts, including Attempted Murder in the first degree, Attempted Murder in the second degree, first-degree Assault, second-degree Assault, first-degree Robbery, first-degree Criminal Use of a Firearm, Criminal Possession of a Weapon, Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance and Reckless Endangerment. (All charges listed below.) He was arraigned today before Bronx Supreme Court Justice John Carter. The defendant was continued remanded and is due back in court on January 31, 2019.

 According to the investigation, on the evening of December 5, 2018 the defendant allegedly robbed two men inside 98 West 183rd Street, forcibly stealing a backpack and firing one shot from a .25-caliber pistol. The defendant then fled the scene, running on West 183rd Street, where he encountered two on-duty plainclothes NYPD Police Officers who were in the area. Castillo-Concepcion allegedly fired two shots at Police Officer Juan Gomez, and Gomez returned 27 shots. Irene Urena Perez, 46, was shot in her torso and a 12-year-old girl was struck by bullet fragments in her right leg. Both victims were taken to local Bronx hospitals.

 According to the investigation, the defendant had in his possession two kilograms of cocaine.

District Attorney Clark thanked the NYPD Force Investigation Division and the Drug Enforcement Administration Task Force for their assistance.

Attempted Murder In The First Degree 
Attempted Murder In The First Degree 
Attempted Murder In The Second Degree 
Attempted Murder In The Second Degree 
Attempted Assault In The First Degree 
Attempted Assault In The First Degree 
Attempted Aggravated Assault Upon A Police Or A Peace Officer 
Attempted Aggravated Assault Upon A Police Or A Peace Officer 
Menacing A Police Officer Or Peace Officer 
Menacing A Police Officer Or Peace Officer 
Assault In The First Degree 
Assault In The Second Degree 
Assault In The Second Degree 
Robbery In The First Degree 
Robbery In The First Degree 
Robbery In The First Degree 
Robbery In The First Degree 
Robbery In The Second Degree 
Robbery In The Second Degree 
Robbery In The Third Degree 
Criminal Use Of A Firearm In The First Degree 
Criminal Use Of A Firearm In The First Degree 
Criminal Possession Of A Weapon In The Second Degree 
Criminal Possession Of A Weapon In The Second Degree 
Criminal Use Of A Firearm In The Second Degree 
Criminal Use Of A Firearm In The Second Degree 
Criminal Possession Of A Firearm
Criminal Possession Of A Controlled Substance In The First Degree 
Criminal Possession Of A Controlled Substance In The Third Degree 
Criminal Possession Of A Controlled Substance In The Third Degree 
Reckless Endangerment In The First Degree

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

Wave Hill events January 24‒February 1

Sat, January 26
Wave Hill’s inspirational landscape is complemented by this iconic Wave Hill Chair. In this two-day workshop, construct your own Wave Hill Chair under the guidance of master woodworker and Wave Hill Director of Facilities Frank Perrone. Participants receive step-by-step instructions; no previous carpentry skills required, but participants must attend both sessions. The second day of this two-session series is Sunday, January 27, from 9:30AM to NOON. Space is limited! $240. Wave Hill Members save 10%. Registration required, online at or at the Perkins Visitor Center.
Wave Hill House, 9:30AM–4PM

Sat, January 26
What better season than winter to cuddle up with stories you love? Join us to explore Eric Carle’s stories illustrating the wonders of nature. Hear some of these enchanting favorites as told by our storytellers, then learn from Eric Carle’s techniques, as we cut and layer hand painted papers to form bright and colorful images. Free, and admission to the grounds is free until noon.
Wave Hill House, 10AM–1PM

Sun, January 27
What better season than winter to cuddle up with stories you love? Join us to explore Eric Carle’s stories illustrating the wonders of nature. Hear some of these enchanting favorites as told by our storytellers, then learn from Eric Carle’s techniques, as we cut and layer hand painted papers to form bright and colorful images. Free with admission to the grounds.
Wave Hill House, 10AM–1PM

Sun, January 27
Artists in the Winter Workspace program share their studio practice with visitors on this Drop-In Sunday. Free with admission to the grounds.
Glyndor Gallery, 1–3PM

Sun, January 27
Join a Wave Hill Garden Guide for an hour-long tour of seasonal garden highlights. Free with admission to the grounds.
Meet at Perkins Visitor Center, 2PM

Mon, January 28
Closed to the public.

A 28-acre public garden and cultural center overlooking the Hudson River  and Palisades, Wave Hill’s mission is to celebrate the artistry and legacy of its gardens and landscape, to preserve its magnificent views, and to explore human connections to the natural world through programs in horticulture, education and the arts.

HOURS  Open all year, Tuesday through Sunday and many major holidays: 9AM–4:30PM,  November 1–March 14. Closes 5:30PM, starting March 15.

ADMISSION – $10 adults, $6 students and seniors 65+, $4 children 6–18. Free Saturday and Tuesday mornings until noon. Free to Wave Hill Members and children under 6.

PROGRAM FEES – Programs are free with admission to the grounds unless otherwise noted.

Visitors to Wave Hill can take advantage of Metro-North’s one-day getaway offer. Purchase a discount round-trip rail far and discount admission to the gardens. More at
DIRECTIONS – Getting here is easy! Located only 30 minutes from midtown Manhattan, Wave Hill’s free shuttle van transports you to and from our front gate and Metro-North’s Riverdale station, as well as the W. 242nd Street stop on the #1 subway line. Limited onsite parking is available for $8 per vehicle. Free offsite parking is available nearby with continuous, complimentary shuttle service to and from the offsite lot and our front gate. Complete directions and shuttle bus schedule at

Information at 718.549.3200. On the web at

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr

Remembering the Legacy of
Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Trinity Baptist Church
Rev. Naomi Tyler-Lloyd, Senior Pastor
Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.
Invite you to attend a
Community Interfaith Service
10:00 A.M.
Monday, January 21, 2019
Trinity Baptist Church
808 East 224th Street
(Between Barnes and Bronxwood Avenues)
“At the center of non-violence stands the principle of love.”

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Responses to The Mayor's State Of the City Address

Statement From Attorney General James In Response To Mayor De Blasio's "State Of The City" Address

“I applaud the proposals Mayor de Blasio put forward in his State of the City address today. In particular, his retirement savings proposal is vitally important for ensuring the financial stability and independence of older New Yorkers. Through legislation and policy, I have long championed providing all New Yorkers access to retirement savings programs, and efforts to automatically enroll workers in those plans. This proposal will keep thousands of elderly New Yorkers out of poverty, and will preserve city resources. I also applaud the Mayor’s proposal to create an office of tenant protection. As my previous work as Public Advocate documented, for too long, landlords have used tenant harassment, neglect, and unjust eviction as a business model with almost complete impunity. Creating an office to strengthen and better coordinate enforcement against these unjust and illegal activities will teach landlords that those practices must end, and will provide tenants with much needed support.”


  "I've previously said that the Mayor of 2018 was not the Mayor I endorsed in 2013. But there were some optimistic signs I heard today that gives hope that the Mayor of 2019 may be different from the Mayor of 2018.

"It's been encouraging to see the Mayor put his support behind a number of progressive plans to address the state of our city. What we need now is to hold the administration to account for these bold promises and ensure that they deliver for New Yorkers.

"What's also clear is that we need to continue a push to make sure that people and issues are not left behind. NYCHA residents need real commitment that doesn't have to come from the terms of a consent decree. People struggling in our city's affordable housing and homelessness crisis need us not to continue a failed inadequate system but to re-structure the way we work on the issue and re-prioritize our solutions. In a year that saw the lowest crime levels since the 1950s, we need to expand and increase investment in what we know works, while finally bringing the transparency and accountability this administration, to this point, has been unwilling to provide. The state of our city can't be summed up in a slogan or a buzzword- it's felt by the people who live here. And we in city government need to answer to them."


  Today, Councilman and candidate for Public Advocate Eric Ulrich reacted to Mayor Bill de Blasio’s state of the city address by calling on the Mayor to actually address the needs of the 8.5 million New Yorkers he leads, rather than thinking about the 2020 Iowa Caucuses. 

“Today’s speech should have been titled the – State of My Presidential Campaign - rather than the State of the City,” said Ulrich, “the Mayor has been sprinkling buzzwords and programs for a few days now, leaking information to national press who aren’t focused on his mismanagement the concerns of New Yorkers, all to avoid local scrutiny of New Yorkers who are suffering from his lack of attention.”

Obviously, the Mayor is seeking the unbridled support of the socialist wing of the Democratic Party, with Mayor de Blasio declaring his goal to redistribute income away from those who have earned it.

“Bill de Blasio has never met a tax he didn’t like,” said Ulrich, “and he displays a complete disregard for hard working New Yorkers and small business owners whom he expects to tax and regulate out of existence.” 

In the meantime, the Mayor has done nothing to address his mismanagement of city agencies, other than ask Albany and Washington for more money, or create additional bureaucracies to further stymie the efficient operation of government. 

Among the Mayor’s recent announcements:

  • HHC Mandate:  The announced he would add to HHC’s burdens without explaining how he would pay for it, or how HHC can actually handle the added patients.

  • Business Mandates: Mandatory paid vacation for workers – despite the job killing impact it will have the Mayor wants to legislate benefits on small businesses and over regulate them.

  • More Bureaucracy: Create a new repetitive tenant bureaucracy and add a new workers rights bureaucracy, all to address matters that the City Council has addressed, or that numerous state agencies already handle.

Meanwhile, NYCHA buildings continue to crumble, the Subways are in a state of perpetual dysfunction, and bureaucracy and red-tape dominate our city.   The Mayor expects Albany and Washington to pick up the tab, but even if they do, who will fix the all management problems of his administration?

Small businesses constantly face a barrage of regulations, and the Mayor’s “progressive” innovations are littering our parks with drug paraphernalia.   And during his speech, the Mayor dismissed this as the mere cost of doing business.

Mayor de Blasio simply wants to talk about “progressive” policies, regardless of the results.

“New Yorkers, want a mayor who will solve their problems and take responsibility for trying to find creative and innovative solutions,” Ulrich remarked, “not one who is desperate for approval from the progressive intelligentsia across the country.” 

Moreover, just this week the Mayor announced that he is taking his show on the road, and in turn will be preaching to national audiences about his radical agenda, all while New Yorkers suffer from his lack of attention to management details in our great city. 

“It’s time for the Mayor to do his actual job and run the city,” said Ulrich, “if he wants to moonlight as a ‘Professor of Government Waste’ he should do so on his own time.  As Public Advocate, I’m going to hold him accountable to the people of this city for things that occur in this city.”

The State of New York City is one with an absentee mayor.  We need a Mayor who shows up.  Everyday.  


Mayor Bill de Blasio announced during his State of the City address a series of proposals to increase the average speed of city buses by 25% by 2020. The proposals included expansion of bus lane installation to 10-15 miles per year, creation of a dedicated NYPD team to tow bus lane violators, installation of traffic-signal priority at 1,200 intersections in the next two years, and advocacy for other improvements outside of city control. Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz released the following statement in response:

“Mayor de Blasio’s plan to dramatically increase DOT’s commitment to improving bus service in New York City is tremendous news and a significant victory for my constituents in the Northwest Bronx. It is imperative that NYCT and NYC DOT successfully coordinate on improving bus service for the two million bus riders that rely on buses to traverse our city’s streets, and today’s announcement is a strong indication that those two agencies will do so as we move forward with the Bronx Bus Network Redesign launched by NYCT President Andy Byford in September.

“Expansion of traffic-signal priority, widespread installation of bus shelters and countdown clocks, and acceleration of bus lane installation combined with improved enforcement are all important steps that can be accomplished at the city level. I fully support passing state legislation to permit camera enforcement of bus lanes and will continue working with my colleagues to enact legislation that accomplishes this goal. I hope the MTA will join Mayor de Blasio in this step forward by accelerating the implementation of their new fare payment system to allow for all-door boarding so their customers can spend more time moving and less time waiting.

“While I thank Mayor de Blasio for his leadership today, there is still more work to be done to reduce commuting times and improve service quality for bus riders in the Northwest Bronx. We need more frequent bus service during morning and evening rush hours: 6am to 10am and 4pm to 8pm, when Northwest Bronxites experience the most overcrowding. We need a second MetroCard transfer so that people who don’t have access to the subway aren’t charged two fares just to get to work or school. We need more reliable express bus service so riders can regularly complete their commutes within the expected time. The best way to get people to drive less is by making mass transit a clearly superior option, and improving bus service is a huge step forward in that direction.”

Mayor Bill de Blasio Delivered His Sixth State of the City Address


  Mayor Bill de Blasio delivered his sixth State of the City Address today. Taking the stage at the Symphony Space on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, the Mayor highlighted a series of sweeping proposals aimed at fighting income inequality across New York City. Policy promises focused on health care, workers’ rights, and tenant protection were paired with bold ideas on transportation, early education and retirement security. The Mayor also used the speech as an opportunity to thank dozens of first-responders and City workers for their distinguished service in 2018.

“Life in the fairest big city in America should never feel impossible,” said Mayor de Blasio. “New York City is already the greatest city in the world and we now need to be the greatest city to live in. That’s what the fairest big city in America means and that’s exactly what New Yorkers deserve – to live in a city where work is rewarded and all this prosperity is shared.”

Mayor de Blasio unveiled the following initiatives as part of his 2019 agenda and State of the City Address:

·Guaranteed Healthcare for All: The Administration will launch the largest, most comprehensive plan in the nation to guarantee health care for every New Yorker. The plan will serve the 600,000 New Yorkers without insurance by strengthening NYC’s public option, MetroPlus, and guaranteeing anyone unable to afford or ineligible for insurance – including undocumented New Yorkers – has direct access to NYC Health + Hospitals’ physicians, pharmacies and mental health and substance use services through a new program called NYC Care. All services will be affordable on a sliding scale. The programs will include customer-friendly call lines to help New Yorkers – regardless of their insurance – make appointments with general practitioners, cardiologists, pediatricians, gynecologists and a full spectrum of health care services.

·Paid Personal Time: New York City will become the first city in the nation to mandate Paid Personal Time for workers. More than 500,000 full- and part-time employees in New York City currently have no paid time off. The Mayor will pursue local legislation that would require private employers with five or more employees to offer at least 10 annual days of Paid Personal Time, allowing employees to take paid time off for any purpose, including vacation, religious observances, bereavement and time with family. The legislation would guarantee this time for approximately 3.4 million New Yorkers.

 New Protections and Benefits for All NYC Workers: The City will guarantee that hundreds of thousands of our lowest paid workers—from housekeepers to freelancers—will receive the wages and benefits they deserve. The Department of Consumer Affairs, 50 years after its establishment, will expand to become the Department of Consumer and Worker Protection with a new mandate to better protect consumers and workers. It will enforce City laws including Paid Sick Leave and intervene when a for-hire worker is mistreated or a freelancer’s pay is delayed.

·Mayor’s Office to Protect Tenants: Protecting tenants is a core part of the City’s strategy to confront the affordable housing crisis. This newly created office will spearhead the City’s anti-harassment and outreach initiatives across city agencies, aggressively enhance interagency enforcement and more closely engage with tenants and advocates. The City is also pursuing new local law to seize upwards of 40 of the most distressed multiple dwelling buildings annually and transition them to responsible, mission driven ownership. The City is also prioritizing Local and State legislation to dramatically increase financial penalties against landlords and auto-converting judgments into tax liens if landlords fail to make repairs.

 Equity and Excellence for All - 3-K Expansion: Mayor de Blasio newly announced two additional districts where 3-K for All will launch in Fall 2019. With this expansion, 3-K for All will be in twice as many districts next year and more than one-third of school districts citywide. 20,000 3-year-olds will be enrolled in 3-K for all this coming school year. By Fall 2020, 3-K for All will be in the 10 districts with the highest rates of students receiving free and reduced priced lunch.

Beginning Fall 2019, 3-K For All will be rolled out in District 8 (Country Club, Pelham Bay, Throgs Neck, Castle Hill, Soundview, Hunts Point), District 32 (Bushwick) (both announced as part of the Mayor’s 2019 State of the City Address), District 6 (Washington Heights), District 9 (South Bronx), District 19 (East New York) and District 31 (Staten Island). Currently, the following districts have 3K: District 4 (East Harlem), District 5 (Harlem), District 7 (South Bronx), District 16 (Bedford-Stuyvesant), District 23 (Brownsville), District 27 (Broad Channel, Howard Beach, Ozone Park, Rockaways). In Fall 2020, District 12 (Central Bronx) and District 29 (Cambria Heights, Hollis, Laurelton, Queens Village, Springfield Gardens, St. Albans) will get 3-K for All.

·Bus Acceleration and Lane Enforcement: The Department of Transportation (DOT) will work with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) and the NYPD to take action to reverse the decline in system ridership and increase average speeds by 25% by the end of 2020. DOT will work with the MTA to optimize the bus network in every borough, starting with the Bronx in 2019 and pursue street redesigns to improve bus movement and maximize the effectiveness of the new networks. The City will perform street projects to benefit 600,000 daily riders across the city in 2019. DOT will increase the pace of bus lane installation from an average of 7 miles per year to 10-15 miles per year and add traffic-signal priority at 300 intersections per year, doubling the number of intersections where buses get green lights. The City will improve 5 miles of existing Select Bus Service (SBS) routes per year with extended hours, restricted turns, and piloting up to 2 miles of physically separated lanes in 2019. The administration will also press for all-door boarding and off-board fare collection, and improve bus stops. The City will press the MTA to restart the SBS program to fulfill our October 2017 commitment to add 20 SBS routes citywide, doubling the current number. To keep bus lanes clear, the Administration will advocate for expanded camera enforcement of bus lanes with the the state legislature and the NYPD will create seven (7) dedicated tow truck teams for continual bus lane enforcement and towing.

·Ferry Expansion: The City is keeping its promise to expand NYC Ferry service to more waterfront communities where neighborhoods are growing and job centers are burgeoning. New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) will be expanding service from Staten Island to Lower Manhattan and the West Side of Manhattan; and from Coney Island to Lower Manhattan.  NYC Ferry will add a new stop at the Brooklyn Navy Yard and a new landing at Ferry Point in the Bronx, where the City will improve access to the Ferry Point Park landing within the park and make other corresponding improvements to the parking lot.

 Free Eyeglasses for Pre-K and 1st Graders: In New York City, approximately 25 percent of students need glasses and only 5 percent of those in need currently get them. The inability to see inhibits students’ academic progress and is a barrier to learning. That’s why the City and Warby Parker partnered in 2015 to provide eyeglasses for all Community Schools, now serving over 100,000 students in need. The Department of Education and the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene will provide free eye exams to all kindergarteners and first graders and Warby Parker will provide free eyeglasses to all in need. The City expects over 140,000 children to receive eye exams and approximately 33,000 students to receive free eyeglasses.

 Retirement Security for All: Fewer than half of all working New Yorkers have access to a plan that can help them save for their retirement years and 40 percent of New Yorkers between the ages of 50-64 have less than $10,000 saved for retirement. These people are mostly lower-income and disproportionately female and people of color. This reality is neither acceptable nor sustainable for the future of this City. New Yorkers are working longer and harder and have nothing to show for it at the end of the day. That is why Mayor de Blasio is proposing to provide access to Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) for all working New Yorkers. Through this program, an employee who makes $50,850 per year (the median wage for a job in New York City) and invests 5% annually while earning an average net return of 4% would save $146,274 after thirty years of work - more than 10 times the current amount saved by 40% of near-retirement workers. Mayor de Blasio will work with the City Council to pass legislation in 2019 that requires all employers with at least five employees to either offer access to a retirement plan or auto-enroll their employees in to the City plan with a default contribution of the employees’ own earnings of 5%, which can then be increased or reduced by the employee.

It’s Time to Pass the Small Business Jobs Survival Act

By Councilman,  Rubén Díaz Sr.
District 18 Bronx County, New York

It’s Time to Pass the Small Business Jobs Survival Act

Today, I am reprinting a column that I wrote five years ago. To be exact, I wrote this “What You Should Know” on August 28th, 2014 and like a prophet I was telling people what was happening with the Small Business Industry. Today, I ask you to read it again.

It’s Time to Pass the Small Business Jobs Survival Act

August 28, 2014
What You Should Know
By Senator Rev. Rubén Díaz
32nd Senatorial District

It’s Time to Pass the Small Business Jobs Survival Act
You should know that the Small Business Jobs Survival Act, sponsored by New York City Council Member Annabel Palma, is pending in the New York City Council.  If this bill is passed by the Council and signed into law by Mayor Bill de Blasio, it will provide a lifeline to many businesses that are being forced out of existence throughout the City simply because commercial real estate here is out of control.

You should know that the current state of affairs of commercial real estate has reached a crisis level- in particular to Hispanic New Yorkers who, for the most part, don't own their businesses and lease their commercial space. Too many bodegas and small businesses are being pushed out by greedy landlords and investment firms, and their businesses are being demolished for luxury development, or remain vacant.

You should know that the Small Business Jobs Survival Act, in one form or another, has been languishing in the New York City Council for thirty years – since Ruth Messinger and David Dinkins were in office.  While almost every elected official will stand tall and proudly declare his or her support for this legislation, somehow or another, Council leadership makes sure that it never makes it out of committee for a vote - or when it WAS ready for a vote way back when David Yassky served as Chair of the Small Business Committee, the Speaker's office stopped it from moving forward claiming there were "legal concerns."

The real estate industry's grip on the City Council has become a nightmare for bodegueros and many successful Hispanic businesses, destroying any legacy that thousands of Hispanic New Yorkers could hope to pass on to the next generation.  Add to that, these closings are costing us much-needed revenue in New York City and in New York State.

We all know that there are hundreds of empty stores in every borough. Many of these were once businesses that have been destroyed all because there is no real lease renewal protection for business owners. They are either unable to afford the astronomical rents, or they are unwilling to be extorted for cash by unscrupulous landlords.

My dear reader, we know that the major pathway for social mobility for many Hispanic families has been jobs from small businesses. As more and more Mom and Pop stores close, this vital pathway is being destroyed.

It would be very hard to find any elected official who isn't willing to pose in front of a camera and take a deep bow saying how dedicated he or she is to supporting small businesses.  But when push comes to shove, it seems that all they are really willing to do is to play a sad game of false hope.

Ladies and gentlemen, I have to ask myself: Is this the cost of doing business in New York, or are there enough elected officials in the New York City Council and in the New York State Legislature who will finally say: "Enough is enough!" and pressure this law into existence.

This is Senator Rev. Rubén Díaz, and this is what you should know.


Bronx Opera Season 52:

The Consul & The Mikado

  The Bronx Opera brings to life the masterwork of Gian Carlo Menotti's, "The Consul", for 4 performances, January 12th, 13th, 18th and 19th at the Lovinger Theater at Lehman College in The Bronx.

This Opera, first performed on March 1, 1950, went on to win the New York Drama Critics Circle - Best Musical Play in 1950.  It is eerily current in today's political climate.  The story is about a small European country and its totalitarian regime.  The main characters are John Sorel and his wife Magda.  John is being sought by the secret police for his dissident efforts and his wife must find a way to get a visa to leave the country.  A bit of Art imitating life.

This powerful musical drama will keep you on the edge of your seat to the very end.

The leading role of Magda is being played by two outstanding sopranos  Mary-Hollis Hundley and Marina Harris who both give amazing performances about love, loss and finding your way in the world.

The Bronx Opera Company founded in 1967 has been producing operas each year since it's founding, showcasing extraordinarily talented singers.

Looking for an evening of music drama right here in the Bronx?  Regular audience attendees will tell you this is one the best Arts Organizations the City has to offer.

Tickets are available on the The Bronx Opera Company website and also available at the door at the Lovinger Theater at Lehman College.

Saturday, January 12th @ 7:30 PM
Sunday, January 13th @ 2:30 PM
Friday, January 18th @ 7:30 PM
Saturday, January 19th @ 2:30 PM

DC 37 AFSCME Local 372 Endorses Michael Blake for Public Advocate

New York City’s Largest Public Employees Union Supports Vision for Jobs and Justice

On Thursday, the Blake for New York campaign announced that DC 37 AFSCME Local 372 endorsed Michael Blake for Public Advocate.

“Michael Blake has spent his entire career delivering real change for working families. From his time in the White House to his tenure in the State Assembly, Michael has stood shoulder to shoulder with Local 372 as we fight for improved working conditions in our schools, better wages and benefits. Furthermore, his support for sufficient staffing is exactly what Department of Education employees need in their next Public Advocate.”

“New Yorkers deserve a leader who will deliver, and that’s why Local 372 is proud to endorse Michael Blake as the obvious choice to be the next New York City Public Advocate.” - Shaun Francois, President, Local 372

“I am honored to receive the endorsement of Local 372 of DC37. As we continue to share our vision of #JobsAndJustice with New Yorkers across our great city, it sends a validating message to have the endorsement of Local 372. From school lunch aides to family associates, Local 372 understands firsthand the everyday experiences facing students, families and educators. Thank you to Shaun Francois and all the members of Local 372 for your support. ”