Saturday, February 16, 2019

News From Councilman Mark Gjonaj

NYC has released the 2019 Holiday Alternate Side Parking Suspension Calendar. The City also suspends alternate side rules due to weather and emergencies. If you have any questions, please call 311.

Nos Quedamos' PHOENIX - February 2019

2019 has taken off like a Phoenix! And we're not just saying that because it's the name of our newsletter, as well as the back story of our community, but because we're so pumped about all the great things that are lining up as a result of the work we put in during 2018. This edition is intended as a brief overview to our community, its stakeholders, and partners.

Here are a few projects, events, and initiatives we're excited about (there is also some history within)


This past year, Nos Quedamos, in partnership with Neture, was awarded two Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI) grants as part of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo's 'Bronx Civic Center' initiative, a $10 million state investment to revitalize portions of the South Bronx. One grant is for a broadband demonstration project that will provide free, although limited, internet access for the residents of El Jardín. The second DRI project anticipates working with three regional community gardens to install a set of photo-voltaic panels to provide each garden with power for lighting, utility needs, and Wi Fi access.

These two projects represent Nos Quedamos' ongoing expansion of its community grounded mission. We will keep the community and our partners informed and engaged as we move forward. Read project summaries.

The modern history of Melrose Commons is one of tenacity and steadfast determination over adversity, and no other person's contributions have had more of an impact in the region than Nos Quedamos' founder, Yolanda García (1961-2005), including spearheading the legendary Melrose Urban Renewal Plan that helped transformed Melrose into a livable and sustainable community.  Now 25-years later, the NYC Department of Parks (Bronx) is finalizing its capital construction of Melrose Commons Park on the site that García always envisioned as a central public green hub in the heart of Melrose (see inset). In honor of her examples as a roll model and selfless advocate of the South Bronx, we are working to have the park (projected to be completed by September 2019) re-dedicated as the 'Yolanda García Memorial Park.'

Unsurprisingly, support for the renaming has been unanimously positive. But we want this to be a community-led victory and are asking for Letters of Support (LOS) from the extended Bronx community as a tribute to García's organizing legacy. Join us in putting an exclamation (!) on her life's work. Send your LOS to Edwin Pagán at

Nos Quedamos is busy working on the 3rd annual WE ARE MELROSE Street Festival that celebrates the vast diversity and broad cultures that makes up the community. Our 2019 celebration will take place on Saturday, July 20, 2019 from 12-6PM (rain date: Sunday, July 21, 2019). Please add the date to your calendars and let's make it a day of sharing and mutual community building, including cultural programming, environmental and health demonstrations, and child appropriate game-play and other family-friendly activities. For sponsorship opportunities contact at Ana Melendez.

Keep an eye out as we reveal this year's event theme and key-art on April 22, 2019 (Earth Day). Stay tuned. ;)

Nos Quedamos and Asociasión Huerto Y Cultura (Harvest & Culture Association) will be hosting the NYC Parks Department (Bronx) for a community input session on the future of the pending Melrose Commons Park on Wednesday, February 20, 2019 from 6:30-7:30pm. This is an important phase in the park's development and your chance to inform the process at its earliest stage. Bring your vision.
Download the flier here.

The Bronx County Chapter of the National Latino Peace Officers Association (NLPAO) and 40th Precinct Community Council will be hosting a Soup Kitchen and Distribution day on February 23, 2017 from 11am-3pm at the Church of St. Anselm and St. Roch, located at 685 Tinton Avenue, Bronx. Among the items being provided to the extended community are canned foods, blankets, and coats (for people and pets!). Download the flier.

We Stay / Nos Quedamos
754 Melrose Avenue 
BronxNY 10451

The Bronx Democratic Party - Annual Winter Reception

Please Join The Bronx Democratic Party and Chairman Marcos A. Crespo for our annual Winter Reception on Thursday, February 28th from 6 PM - 9 PM.

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. - Dominican Heritage Month Celebration 2019

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.
Invites you to celebrate
Dominican Heritage Month
Beverly Hills Manor
1700 Jerome Avenue
The Bronx

Thursday, February 28, 2019
6:00 P.M.
Come out and enjoy the evening with live music, food and refreshments.
Doors to open at 5:30 PM

 For more information or to confirm your attendance call 718-590-3989 or email

Bronxnet Public Advocate Debate

  Of the seventeen candidates running in the special election for NYC Public Advocate only ten came to Lehman College Friday night, for a televised debate on Bronxnet Television. They were Assemblyman Ron Kim, Journalist Nomiki Konst, Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez, Assemblyman Michael Blake, Attorney Jared Rich, Councilman Rafael Espinal, Activist Benjamin Yee, Attorney Dawn Smalls, Activist Anthony Herbert, and Activist David Eisenbach.

  Missing from this debate were seven other candidates Councilman Jumaane Williams, former City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Councilman Eric Ulrich, Assemblyman Daniel O'Donnell, Attorney Manny Alicandro, Teacher Helal Sheikh, and Assemblywoman Latrice Walker who has ended her campaign, but remains on the ballot. 

 The debate started off going off topic on the questions, and even at points became a shouting match as candidates tried to show each other up. That resulted in responses and counter responses with other candidates speaking out, resulting in host Gary Axelbank having to regain control of the debate at times.   

 Key questions included Councilman Ruben Diaz Sr.'s support of candidate Ydanis Rodriguez, which when questioned he said that the For Hire Committee Diaz Sr. had chaired did good work for the taxi industry which is in trouble now. Other candidates chastised Councilman Diaz Sr. going as far as saying he should resign. Assemblyman Michael Blake was asked about the one thousand dollar contribution he gave to Councilman Diaz's campaign. Blake replied that he asked for the money to be returned when the LBGT community asked him to, but he was called out for that by others. 

 The topic of rezoning came up as in the Bronx part of the Jerome Avenue area is being rezoned. Assemblyman Blake said that rezoning results in gentrification. This led to candidate Konst going after Councilman Espinal for the rezoning going on in his district. Espinal replied that it is easy for someone who has not stepped foot in my district to criticize the rezoning. and that led to other candidates jumping in with comments.

 The subject of Amazon came up to which Councilman Espinal chastised Assemblyman Blake for signing the letter to bring Amazon to Queens. this led to a varied back and forth with other candidates jumping in also. 

 Candidate Dawn Smalls got into a discussion with other candidates as to what legal powers the Public Advocate had on NYCHA,  saying that one candidate was wrong by mentioning that they would sue NYCHA. She said that being an attorney who has handled problems at NYCHA the Public Advocate can not sue NYCHA, and that was the reason for a federal monitor on NYCHA.

 Overall this was a good debate, but few of the ten candidates could come up with good sound reasoning as to why voters should vote for them. The winner of this debate to me was candidate Dawn Smalls who had the knowledge of the subject matter asked giving the most informative answers without going off topic. The losers were the seven candidates who did not show. 

Above - (L - R) Host Gary Axelbank at the podium, Assemblyman Ron Kim, Journalist Nomiki Konst, Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez, Michael Blake's seat (he arrived after the debate started), and Attorney Jared Rich.
Below - (L - R) Councilman Rafael Espinal, Activist Benjamin Yee, Attorney Dawn Smalls, Activist Anthony Herbert, and Activist David Eisenbach.

Manhattan Doctor Pleads Guilty To Accepting Bribes And Kickbacks From Pharmaceutical Company In Exchange For Prescribing Fentanyl Drug

  Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced today that ALEXANDRU BURDUCEA, a doctor who practiced in Manhattan, pled guilty today to conspiracy to violate the Anti-Kickback Statute in connection with a scheme to prescribe Subsys, a potent fentanyl-based spray, in exchange for bribes and kickbacks from Subsys’s manufacturer, Insys Therapeutics (“Insys”).  BURDUCEA pled guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge Kevin Nathaniel Fox.  The case is assigned to U.S. District Judge Kimba M. Wood.
U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said:  “As he admitted today, Alexandru Burducea, a prominent Manhattan pain management doctor, accepted tens of thousands of dollars in speaker fees from Insys in exchange for prescribing large volumes of Insys’s powerful fentanyl-based spray, Subsys.  The corrupting influence of money has no place in medicine, especially when it comes to prescribing fentanyl and other dangerous opioids.  Like many other doctors around the country, Dr. Burducea is now being held to account for his participation in this corrupt kickback scheme.”           
According to the allegations contained in the Indictment against BURDUCEA and filings in related proceedings:
The Insys Speakers Bureau 
Subsys, which is manufactured by Insys, is a powerful painkiller approximately 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine.  The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) approved Subsys only for the management of breakthrough pain in cancer patients.  Prescriptions of Subsys typically cost thousands of dollars each month, and Medicare and Medicaid, as well as commercial insurers, reimbursed prescriptions written by BURDUCEA.
In or about August 2012, Insys launched a “Speakers Bureau,” a roster of doctors who would conduct programs (“Speaker Programs”) purportedly aimed at educating other medical practitioners about Subsys.  In reality, Insys used its Speakers Bureau to induce the doctors who served as speakers to prescribe large volumes of Subsys by paying them Speaker Program fees.  Speakers were supposed to conduct an educational slide presentation for other health care practitioners at each Speaker Program.  In reality, many of the Speaker Programs were predominantly social affairs where no educational presentation about Subsys occurred.  Attendance sign-in sheets for the Speaker Programs were frequently forged by adding the names and signatures of medical practitioners who were not present.
BURDUCEA’s Participation in the Scheme
BURDUCEA, a doctor certified in pain management and anesthesiology, was an Assistant Professor of Anesthesiology at a large Manhattan hospital.  BURDUCEA also practiced at an anesthesiology and pain management office associated with the hospital.  From in or about September 2014 until in or about June 2015, BURDUCEA received approximately $68,400 in Speaker Program fees from Insys in exchange for prescribing large volumes of Subsys.  In addition, Insys hired BURDUCEA’s then-girlfriend, now wife, to work as BURDUCEA’s sales representative, and the company paid her large commissions based on the volume of Subsys prescribed by her assigned doctors, including BURDUCEA. 
BURDUCEA, who had never prescribed Subsys before in or about September 2014, became approximately the 14th-highest prescriber of Subsys nationally in the second quarter of 2015, accounting for total net sales of the drug of approximately $621,345 in that quarter.
BURDUCEA, 42, of Little Neck, New York, pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to violate the Anti-Kickback Statute, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.  The maximum potential sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the judge.  BURDUCEA is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Wood on May 22, 2019, at 11:00 a.m.
Mr. Berman praised the outstanding investigative work of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and thanked the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General for its assistance in the investigation.

Physical Therapist And Acupuncturist Sentenced In Manhattan Federal Court For Their Roles In Million Dollar Scheme To Defraud Medicare And Medicaid

Geoffrey S.  Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that ASHRAF HASAN-HAFEZ and ILYA KOGAN were sentenced yesterday to 45 and 50 months, respectively, in prison for their participation in a scheme to defraud the Medicare and Medicaid programs.  HASAN-HAFEZ, the owner of a physical therapy practice in Brooklyn, and KOGAN, the owner of an acupuncture company in Brooklyn, received approximately $1.3 million from Medicare and the New York State Medicaid Program after falsely submitting bills for services that were not provided as billed, or which were rendered by unlicensed and unsupervised individuals.  In a separate scheme, KOGAN also obtained nearly $300,000 from no-fault insurance companies based on billing by fraudulently incorporated acupuncture companies.  HASAN-HAFEZ and KOGAN were sentenced yesterday by United States District Judge Robert W. Sweet. 
According to the Indictment filed in Manhattan federal court, as well as previous court filings and statements made in public court proceedings:
Between at least January 2010 and August 2013, HASAN-HAFEZ was the owner of a physical therapy practice which operated out of a basement on East 18th Street in Brooklyn, New York.  HASAN-HAFEZ employed individuals who provided physical therapy services to patients, and was involved in the clinic’s management and billing.  KOGAN was the owner of an acupuncture company which operated its practice out of the same location on East 18th Street.
HASAN-HAFEZ and KOGAN committed fraud against Medicare and Medicaid by pressuring employees to add services to the bills that were submitted to these entities so that Medicare and Medicaid were billed for physical therapy services that were never in fact provided; billed for reimbursable physical therapy services even though only unreimbursable acupuncture had been provided; and billed for physical therapy services provided by unlicensed practitioners.    When the employees resisted KOGAN’s directions to create such fraudulent billing, HASAN-HAFEZ directed the employees to follow KOGAN’s instructions.  HASAN-HAFEZ had leverage over these employees because he sponsored their employment in the United States and they were therefore dependent on him for continued employment—and legal status—in the United States. 
In total, Medicare and Medicaid suffered actual losses of $1,297,000 as a result of this fraudulent scheme. 
In addition, KOGAN participated in a separate scheme to defraud no-fault insurance companies.  No-fault insurance provides benefits to individuals injured in motor vehicle accidents under certain conditions.  Between approximately March 2014 and June 2016, KOGAN controlled two acupuncture businesses that had been set up, at his request, under the name of another acupuncturist (“Individual-1”).  KOGAN coached Individual-1 how to lie under oath about KOGAN’s involvement in the businesses when Individual-1 was questioned by representatives of a no-fault insurer.  KOGAN had previously entered into settlement agreements with two of the largest no-fault insurance providers to resolve certain claims against him.  Pursuant to one of the settlement agreements, KOGAN agreed not to submit any future billing—under his name, or under the name of any entity in which he had direct or indirect ownership or control—without giving advance notice to the insurer. 
A total of $293,851 was paid to two no-fault insurers for services performed by Individual-1’s companies.  Had the insurers known the truth—that the acupuncture clinics were in fact controlled by KOGAN despite being registered in Individual-1’s name—they would not have paid the claims due to the fraudulent incorporation of the companies. 
ASHRAF HASAN-HAFEZ, 47, of Brooklyn, New York, pled guilty to health care fraud and conspiracy to commit health care fraud on March 16, 2018.  ILYA KOGAN, 44, of Watchung, New Jersey, pled guilty to health care fraud and conspiracy to commit health care fraud on March 16, 2018, and pled guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud on June 25, 2018.  In addition to the prison terms, Judge Sweet ordered HASAN-HAFEZ and KOGAN to forfeit $1,297,000 and pay restitution of $1,297,000 to Medicare and Medicaid.  KOGAN was also ordered to forfeit $293,851 and pay restitution of $293,851 to victims of the no-fault insurance fraud scheme. 
Mr. Berman praised the outstanding investigative efforts of FBI and HHS-OIG.


Defendant Allegedly Lured Victim into His Car by Falsely Claiming He Was a Cop

 Bronx District Attorney Darcel D. Clark today announced that a Bronx man has been indicted for sexually abusing a 12-year-old girl in a motel in the Bronx. 

 District Attorney Clark said, “The defendant allegedly told the young girl he was a cop in order to lure her into his car. He then took her to a motel where he sexually assaulted her. We will pursue justice for the victim, who has been profoundly traumatized by the sexual attack.” 

 District Attorney Clark said the defendant, Carlos Medina, 51, of 620 Reiss Place, was arraigned today on four counts of Predatory Sexual Assault Against a Child, first-degree and second-degree Rape, three counts of first-degree Criminal Sexual Act, three counts of second degree Criminal Sexual Act, first-degree Sexual Abuse, four counts of Sexual Misconduct, Endangering the Welfare of a Child and second-degree Criminal Impersonation before Bronx Supreme Court Justice George Villegas. He is due back in court on May 13, 2019. 

 According to the investigation, on January 4, 2019, near 1141 Elder Avenue, the defendant allegedly came across the victim, who was alone and had just arrived from Connecticut, and told her he was a cop and that he could help her. Medina then took the girl to a motel located at 2815 Westchester Avenue, where he engaged in a series of sexual acts with the child. After spending several hours in the motel, the defendant took the victim to his home and she was later dropped off at 1141 Elder Avenue, where 911 was called. The young girl was taken to a Bronx hospital and a Sexual Offense Evidence Collection Kit was taken.

 District Attorney Clark thanked Detective Timothy Hoffman of the NYPD Child Abuse Squad for his assistance in the investigation. 

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


Amber Alert Was Activated After Defendant Fled Scene with 3-Year-Old Daughter 

  Bronx District Attorney Darcel D. Clark today announced that a Bronx man has been sentenced to ten years in prison after pleading guilty to Attempted Murder and additional charges for stabbing his wife multiple times. 

 District Attorney Clark said, “The defendant viciously stabbed his wife, cutting her throat approximately 12 times, and then ran off with their 3-year-old daughter. Thanks to quick action from first responders and doctors, the victim miraculously survived.” 

 District Attorney Clark said the defendant, Diomedes Valenzuela, 50, of 2974 Perry Avenue, was sentenced today by Bronx Supreme Court Justice Ethan Greenberg to 10 years in prison and five years post-release supervision for Attempted Murder and for first-degree Assault, seven years in prison and five years post-release supervision for each of two second-degree Assault charges, and one year for each charge of Endangering the Welfare of a Child, third-degree Assault and Custodial Interference. All sentences are to be served concurrently. The judge also issued a full final order of protection. 

 According to the investigation, in the afternoon of December 1, 2015 at 2974 Perry Avenue, the defendant stabbed his then-wife, Yudeljy Cruz, 31, in the neck and arms. Valenzuela, who is a former New Jersey cop and MTA employee, then fled the scene with their daughter. Authorities issued an amber alert and the defendant and the child were found about two hours later in New Jersey.

 District Attorney Clark thanked Amy Litwin, Counsel to the Special Victims Division, for her assistance in the case. District Attorney Clark also thanked NYPD Detective Nigel Peart of the 52nd Precinct Squad and Detective Nicholas Ciuffi, of Bronx Homicide, for their assistance in the investigation. District Attorney Clark also thanked police officers and other first responders for their quick actions in helping to save the victim’s life.

Thursday, February 14, 2019


  The police department had to close Lafayette Avenue in front of Councilman Ruben Diaz Sr.'s office where a demonstration of support for Councilman Diaz Sr. was held today. The crowd was estimated to be between 350 and 400 people by officers of the 43rd Police Precinct of the Bronx. 

  Councilman Ruben Diaz Sr. stood with community leaders, and only with the District Leaders from the 87th Assembly District Mr. John Perez and Ms. Julia Rodriguez as no other elected official came to show support for Ruben Diaz Sr. This coming after City Council Speaker Corey Johnson called for an immediate apology by Diaz Sr. for what was interpreted as derogatory remarks Diaz had said on a Spanish speaking radio station last week. After a few days without receiving anything from Diaz Sr. a resolution to eliminate the For Hire Vehicle Committee which Diaz Sr. had chaired came to a floor vote resulting in a 45 - 3 - 1 vote by the council thus eliminating the For Hire Vehicle Committee. There have been calls for Councilman Diaz Sr. to resign, and even for the Ethics Committee to eject Diaz Sr. from the City Council. That is only done in very rare cases, which many experts say could not be done in this instance. 

 At least one of Councilman Diaz Sr's opponents he defeated has condemned his remarks, and has issued a statement that she intends to run again against Diaz Sr. be it tomorrow, next year or in 2021 when Diaz Sr. would be up for re-election. Another former opponent is expected to do the same. 

Above - Councilman Ruben Diaz Sr. with his arm around his granddaughter Erica and nephew who flew up from Texas next to him, both who are members of the LGBTQ Community to show support.
Below - 87th Assembly District Leader John Perez stands behind Erika Diaz.

Statement from Amanda Farias, State Committeewoman 87AD Announcing her candidacy for City Council

What we have seen over the course of the last few days has been both disgusting and uplifting. While Council Member Ruben Diaz Sr. has shown us who he truly is, the Members of the New York City Council have proudly stood up to his hatred at astonishing rates, and are calling for his apology and resignation. Our beloved cities, and my community, deserve a representative that inherently believes everyone merits respect and dignity. Everyday, we are seeing our progressive values and efforts stripped away at the national level - we do not need to fight those same battles, locally, in our own backyard.

Today, I am proposing a way to move us forward in unity and positivity by taking the necessary steps to declare my candidacy to run for New York City Council District 18. Whether the opportunity presents itself tomorrow, next month or in 2021, I am ready to run another hard fought race to bring progressive leadership back home.

Ms. Amanda Farias ran for City Council in the 18th council district in 2017 against the current Councilman Ruben Diaz Sr. 

While it is not official yet, there are rumors Mr. Michael Beltzer another candidate who ran in the same race for City Council District 18 against the current Councilman Ruben Diaz Sr. may be announcing his candidacy as Ms. Farais has. 

Silent No More By Leslie I. Diaz / Wife of Councilman Rev. Ruben Diaz Sr.

 For decades I have often heard how intolerant we people of faith are.  This sentiment has been hurled at us especially by the Gay Community.   Other than being called intolerant, the Christian Community has had obscenities thrown at her.  The abuse and intolerance hurled at people of faith has been constant and hidden behind the “separation of church and state,”.   It’s as if this gives them a license to shut down those people we disagree with by violating their constitutional rights to religious liberty, freedom of speech and the freedom of expression.

It is not a secret that Ruben is a man of deep conviction, who is steadfast in his principles.  He has never wavered or has sold out on his virtues in his quest to seek an elected 
position, or to get a positive news story.   Ruben is a man of faith, a pastor.   Ruben has never tried to hide who he is, or what he believes.  Ruben as NY1 puts it, “did not just one day fall out of the sky.”  Ruben Diaz has been involved in politics for over 35 years.  So why the surprise? Why the outrage? 

Every time I hear the news regarding what Ruben Diaz said, it’s as if I’m living in the town of Chicken Little.  “The sky is falling!” All these elected officials, and news reporters running around in a frenzy like Henny Penny, warning everyone “The sky is falling, The Sky is Falling!” and all because Ruben Diaz said the Gay Community has control of the City Council.  

To all you geniuses asking for Ruben’s resignation, or apology, if you would have just ignored this “foolish man’s comments”, as some news outlets so proudly describe him, no one would have known what he said, or if there is any fact to it.   But now, anyone who is paying attention can attest that Ruben Diaz is right.  Yup, the Gay Community does possess immense power, not only in the City
Council, but throughout the entire State of New York.   

Let’s take a look at all the recent goings on

. Let’s look at the politicians.   They have come to our church, sat at our holy of holies, requested the support of our parishioners and who Ruben has spent much time away from home and his family to campaign on their behalf, now have so easily thrown him under the bus and requested his resignation or apology.  Wow!  Guess the pressure got to them. 
Even Governor Cuomo, and Mayor de Blasio have called for Ruben’s apology.   Well needless to say this angered an overly sensitive Chicken Little in the City Council, think his name is Bremer” who said in a press conference, telling the Governor and the Mayor “ “F” the apology, ask for his resignation.”   Now that changes the meaning of “Tolerance”.  

The Gay Community and its representatives have wielded their proven power, that even Ruben Jr., the Apple of his father’s eyes, was compelled to publicly request an apology from his dad.   But that’s o.k. we forgive.

The members in the city council voted in favor to dismantle the Committee that has been so effective in helping the taxi industry, which 
were being brutalized under the TLC.   So, my question to the members is this; and who does that action hurt?  I will let you and the taxi drivers take a guess.

The control that the Gay community has wielded is such that I too have felt the weight of discrimination at the hands of Scott Stringer the NYC Controller.   Why? Because I too oppose same-sex marriage.

 So, does the Gay Community wield 
power.   Ahhh yea!   You see, because of all this senseless hoopla, now we all know it to be true.    Before we just assumed it.   So, thank you Mr. Speaker and all the Henny Penny’s at the City Council.

Throughout my years beside the man Ruben Diaz, I have witnessed his arduous work on behalf of the minority communities, all communities.  He serves all, he befriends all, Christians and non-Christians, Gay or Straight, Jew and Gentile, young and old, those in and out of his legislative district.  Just ask his annoyed staff.

I have voiced my opposition when Ruben reaches out to help a foe who has betrayed him and done him wrong.   Ruben’s response has been, you don’t kick a person when they are down, you give them a hand and help raise them regardless of who they are or what they have done.”  Based on our faith that response must suffice for me.

Throughout the years I have remained silent as my husband’s character has been maligned.   I was present when he was physically attacked by a member of the Gay Community during a CCRB (Civilian Complaint Review Board) hearing where he served as a Commissioner investigating police brutality.  Moreover, the home care agency he founded had numerous, frivolous investigations launched by the NYS Attorney General’s office, the FBI, and 
other city, state, and federal agencies.  In the process, our employees were harassed, intimidated and brought to tears.  Why?   Ruben’s opposition to Same Sex Marriage.  

Also, the Gay Community attempted to interrupt our Sunday Worship Services, by holding a demonstration in front of our church, why? Because of our opposition to Same-Sex marriage.  Members of the Gay Community have threatened my husband’s life, to the point that I fear for his safety when he goes out in public.

I have watched news stories that have been 
spinned to fit the narrative that he is a homophobe when so many know this to be so far from the truth.  But it does not fit the narrative of victimization.  So, the stories and attacks persist.

To Corey Johnson and the members of the Gay Community, I assure you my husband understands your pain.  He must, in his role of a pastor, but more importantly, because he too has been victimized most of his life.   He is a Black man, Latino, as he would say, “with a broken English, and kinky hair”.  As a military 
man he came face to face with the ugliness and sting of racism while stationed in the segregated South in the early sixties.   

With all due respect Mr. Speaker, if you were not openly Gay no one would know.    Compare that to Ruben who is a Black man.  He could not hide that fact even if he tried.  As a result, he has faced racial bias not only here but in his homeland of Puerto Rico. You as a White male have the advantage of “White Privilege”.

What If both Ruben and Cory were in the segregated south and both were to board a bus, guess who has to take a seat in the back of the bus.    I don’t mean to up one on victimization.  I just want to make the point that there is enough victimhood to go around.   We are all victims in some form or another.  We should learn to respect and tolerate each other.  The City Council’s grand standing this week serves no one, especially those members that were elected to serve.

Using victimhood as a crutch, and to inflict pain on others only prevents one from moving forward.  It prevents us from leaving the pain in the past.  I have seen Ruben do this so well and he moves past the pain and the fools, only to confront more fools. 

I am silent no more in my quest for tolerance from the Gay Community and those that have so easily thrown Ruben Diaz under the bus, without a single iota as to the meaning of friendship, loyalty, and support. 

You see my husband doesn’t need any of you when he is standing tall, and he doesn’t need any of you to kick him when he’s down.   A virtuous thing to do, as Ruben would say, is to lift up a “friend” when he is down and in the midst of a 
fire storm

Ruben is not alone. He has a community, a congregation, a wife, children and grandchildren that love and support him.  He does not stand alone.    Thank you, Chris 
Lynn for your unwavering friendship and support.  You sir put many to great shame.
It appears as though many have forgotten the definition of “Tolerance”.  So, for your convenience, I close with its dictionary meaning.

Tolerance means:

“The ability or willingness to tolerate something, in particular, the existence of opinions or behavior that one does not necessarily agree with.”  

Now write that down boys and girls.  As for you Henny Penny, No, the sky is not falling.

This is Leslie I. Diaz, proud wife of Councilman Ruben Diaz Sr., and this is what you should know.

Seniors, Teens Get Festive at Valentine’s Day Dance hosted by Bronx Elected Officials

It was a sweetheart of an afternoon as Bronx senior citizens and high school seniors danced the afternoon away at the 2nd Annual Valentine’s Day Senior Dance hosted New York Sen. Jamaal Bailey and Council Member Andy King.

More than 300 seniors from their districts, as well as Cardinal Spellman High School seniors, danced to the oldies as well as today’s music and were treated to lunch in the Einstein Loop Community Center in Co-op City.

“Today’s event was geared more towards bringing our communities together – young and old – and spread love the Bronx way,” said Council Member Andy King, who spearhead the dance.

Above - Councilman Andy King with State Senator Jamaal Bailey.
Below - Many of the seniors and students from Cardinal Spellman High School with Councilman King and State Senator Bailey.

Above - Councilman Andy King with some of the students from Cardinal Spellman High School.
Below - Councilman King doing his dance routine with students and seniors.

Statements on Amazon Withdrawing From its HQ2 Deal


“You have to be tough to make it in New York City. We gave Amazon the opportunity to be a good neighbor and do business in the greatest city in the world. Instead of working with the community, Amazon threw away that opportunity. We have the best talent in the world and every day we are growing a stronger and fairer economy for everyone. If Amazon can’t recognize what that’s worth, its competitors will.”


“You have to be tough to make it in New York City. We gave Amazon the opportunity to be a good neighbor and do business in the greatest city in the world. Instead of working with the community, Amazon threw away that opportunity. We have the best talent in the world and every day we are growing a stronger and fairer economy for everyone. If Amazon can’t recognize what that’s worth, its competitors will.”


"I have always welcomed and supported projects spearheaded by developers who engage in good faith with the community they seek to do business in. Amazon's unwillingness to work with and address community concerns is a clear indication that they were never interested in a mutually beneficial agreement or even mitigating the consequences that its enormous footprint would have caused. This is a victory for the people of Queens and New York who organized diligently to make their voices and demands heard. This should serve as a lesson on how to responsibly approach economic development projects in our State. You either keep New Yorkers' best interests in mind and work towards a mutually beneficial agreement or stay home." 

Williams, Mark-Viverito, and others were for the Amazon deal before they were against it

Out of 17 Public Advocate candidates, candidate Konst was the only one repeatedly fighting Amazon before the letter. Candidates Jumaane Williams, Melissa Mark-Viverito, and others all signed a letter encouraging Amazon to consider New York City for their headquarters. Konst was an early critic of the deal citing Amazon’s history of exploitation, lawsuits, dishonesty and deal making in other cities, and attacks on small businesses.
“Amazon should have never been welcomed here. There’s a long history of worker exploitation, dishonest deal making, attacks on small businesses, and the tragic effects of homelessness Amazon has left on communities, this is why is wasn’t just about a backroom deal. This is why a public advocate should have a deep understanding of issues and records, and the economic effects of big business decisions like this,”

A Statement from Assembly Member and Public Advocate Candidate Michael Blake on Breaking Amazon Decision
“It is very disappointing that Amazon is canceling their proposed plan to move to Long Island City.  A collaborative deal would have brought Jobs and Justice to New Yorkers. It is a shame that Amazon walked away from the deal and a shame we don’t have more of a strategy as a city around what to do now. Our residents need good jobs and higher wages. Our city needs leadership with a plan for workforce development, including focused on tech sector and related jobs.  

As a signatory of the original letter to start the conversation for Amazon to come to New York City, I was excited about the opportunity to work with New Yorkers and Amazon to develop a tech hub in Queens that benefits the entire city, while also preserving necessary labor protections.

"Two weeks ago when asked 'Let's assume that Amazon is here ...' I was one of the only ones to refuse to allow that assumption.

After countless activists, grassroots organizers and everyday New Yorkers fought back against Amazon's secret bargain with the Mayor and Governor, we're proud that our message was clear: we won't be bulldozed by the world's richest man, who denied honest discussions and open negotiations about jobs and benefits to everyday New Yorkers.  

Unlike Walmart whose damage to local economies are based on proximity, Amazon's is not. Even from Virginia, the company's practices will harm us if unchanged. New York had the ability to use its power to force this company to address many of its worst practices. Instead, the hubris of two men destroyed any opportunity.

It's also clear that as suspected, Amazon never wanted meaningful engagement, and could not sustain the disinfectant of sunlight. A backroom deal between the Mayor, Governor and Bezos to give away $3 billion in tax incentives and a helipad, with questionable jobs and loss of Land Use powers were never the answer. 

Ron Kim Statement on Cancelled Amazon Deal
Assembly member Ron Kim issued the following statement this afternoon in response to reports that Amazon will no longer be coming to New York

“This is a huge victory for the grassroots activists and community leaders who spoke out with one collective voice to say no to Amazon. I was the first elected official to stand against the HQ2 deal because it ignored the needs of everyday people and prioritized one of the world’s wealthiest corporations instead. The $3 billion taxpayer giveaway was unconscionable especially in the midst of an affordable housing crisis and a crumbling public transportation system which impacts virtually every resident of New York City. While we won this battle, we must not lose track of the bigger discussion regarding the misguided practice of handing out taxpayer funded giveaways to corporations instead of investing in community needs like schools, infrastructure, affordable housing, environmental sustainability and many other critical programs and services. To that end, I will continue pushing the interstate compact legislation that I have introduced with Senator Julia Salazar which would end the competitive race to the bottom between states when companies like Amazon decide to shop for taxpayer handouts. Through cooperation with other states, we will end taxpayer funded corporate giveaways and finally put people over corporations.”