Saturday, March 23, 2019

Women's History Month Breakfast Event Hosted by Three Elected Women



  Assemblywoman Nathalia Fernandez welcomed everyone to the Woman's History Month event hosted by her, Assemblywoman Karines Reyes, and State Senator Alessandra Biaggi. Each of the elected officials chose two women from their districts to honor, Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark, Councilman Mark Gjonaj, and Sophia Lajaunie the new Chief of Staff for State Senator Luis Sepulveda (standing in for Senator Sepulveda) were also in attendance. 


Above - Assemblywoman Fernandez Honors Bronx Community Board # 7 District Manager Ischia Bravo.
Below - Assemblywoman Fernandez Honors the Executive Director from North Central Hospital Cristina Conteras.




Above - State Senator Biaggi Honors Pelham Parkway Neighborhood Association Chair Edith Blitzer.
Below - State Senator Biaggi Honors Health Care Advocate and Community Activist Pearl Korn.




Above - Assemblywoman Reyes Honors the President of the Friends of Pelham Bay Park Nilka Martell.
Below - Assemblywoman Reyes Honors 48th Precinct Council & Community Board #6 member Nessie Panton.




Above - Front row (l-r) Honorees Nessie Panton, Pearl Korn, and Edith Blitzer. Back row (l-r) Assemblywoman Fernandez, Assemblywoman Reyes, Honorees Cristina Conteras, Ischia Bravo, Nilka Martell, and State Senator Biaggi.
Below - Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark addresses the audience. 




Above - New Chief of Staff for State Senator Luis Sepulveda Sophia Lajaunie stands in for her boss State Senator Luis Sepulveda.
Below - Councilman Mark Gjonaj congratulated the three elected officials on the great job of hosting this Women's History Month Event.



Bronx House - Open House


The Rock Climbing Wall in the Gym at Bronx House.

  In its quest to better serve the Pelham Parkway and surrounding community Bronx House held an Open House for people to come in and see all that Bronx House has to offer. 

Bronx House has four floors of various programs from Pre K to Senior Services, and hosting community meetings. There is a large fitness room, pool, gym, all purpose room and many other amenities on site for children and adults. 

According to Bronx House CEO Howard Martin over 15,000 people use one or more of the facilities available inside Bronx House. He added over the years Bronx House has updated its programs and facilities to keep up with the changing community around Bronx House.

Bronx House is located at 990 Pelham Parkway South, and is open seven days a week. Monday through Friday from 8 AM - 8:45 PM, and on Saturday and Sunday from 8 AM - 5 PM. Call 718 - 792 - 1800 for more information about what Bronx House has to offer.  


NYC PUBLIC ADVOCATE WILLIAMS ANNOUNCES TRANSITION COMMITTEE MEMBERS


Public Advocate
 
Jumaane D. Williams announced the appointment of 20 community leaders from across the city to his Transition Committee, which will help create the office's organizational structure and oversee hiring processes. The Committee is Chaired by community activist Ifeoma (Ify) Ike and is led by former Public Advocate Mark Green and President of the Brooklyn NAACP L. Joy Williams
 
.


In announcing their appointment, Williams said, "I'm proud to have a transition committee in place that reflects the diversity and strength of the 8.6 million New Yorkers the Public Advocate's office represents. Our team is reassessing all aspects of the way this office works so it can be a true voice for all. I look forward to working with this team in the weeks ahead."

Those appointed to the Public Advocate Transition Committee include:
Over the next six weeks, the committee will interview and hire future staff members of the Office of Public Advocate. The committee will also help re-organize the structure of the office so it best aligns with Williams' vision of a more independent and effective position. Candidates interested in joining the Public Advocate's office can email their resume to jumaanetransitionteam@gmail.com for review by the committee.

Friday, March 22, 2019

Cesar Sayoc Pleads Guilty To 65 Felonies For Mailing 16 Improvised Explosive Devices In Connection With October 2018 Domestic Terrorist Attack


Sayoc Pled Guilty to 65 Felonies, Including Use of Weapons of Mass Destruction and Interstate Mailing of Explosives

  Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, John C. Demers, the Assistant Attorney General for National Security, William F. Sweeney Jr., Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), Philip R. Bartlett, Inspector-in-Charge of the New York Field Division of the United States Postal Inspection Service (“USPIS”), and James P. O’Neill, Police Commissioner of the City of New York (“NYPD”), announced today that CESAR ALTIERI SAYOC, a/k/a “Cesar Randazzo,” “Cesar Altieri,” and “Cesar Altieri Randazzo,” pled guilty today to a 65-count Superseding Information in Manhattan federal court before U.S. District Judge Jed S. Rakoff.  In connection with the guilty plea, SAYOC admitted to mailing 16 improvised explosive devices (“IEDs”) to 13 victims throughout the country, including 11 current or former U.S. government officials, and that he intended to use the IEDs as weapons and to cause injuries. 

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said:  “For five days in October 2018, Cesar Sayoc rained terror across the country, sending high-ranking officials and former elected leaders explosive packages through the mail.  Thankfully no one was hurt by these dangerous devices, but his actions left an air of fear and divisiveness in their wake.  Sayoc has taken responsibility for his crimes, and will soon be sentenced to significant time in prison.”
Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers said:  “Cesar Sayoc has admitted to acts of domestic terrorism that are repulsive to all Americans who cherish a society built on respectful and non-violent political discourse, no matter how strongly held one’s views.  Our democracy will simply not survive if our political discourse includes sending bombs to those we disagree with.  I applaud the efforts of so many in our law enforcement community whose alertness and tirelessness led to the prompt arrest of the defendant before he was able to injure anyone, as well as those whose efforts led to today’s plea.”
FBI Assistant Director William F. Sweeney Jr. said:  “Sayoc’s crimes were intended to incite fear among his targets and uncertainty among the general public, leading to a significant deployment of various law enforcement resources in a nationwide search to find him.  When called upon, our FBI JTTFs across the country – along with our partner agencies – did what we do best, working swiftly, and side by side, to bring him to justice.  Unlike most of our investigations, this case played out in plain view from beginning to end.  The announcement of today’s plea is as good a time as any to remind the public that our JTTFs are working behind the scenes on a daily basis, in much the same way, to keep our communities safe.”
USPIS Inspector-in-Charge Philip R. Bartlett said:  “Today’s plea represents the hard work of Postal Inspectors and their law enforcement partners to keep USPS employees, customers and the sanctity of the US Mail safe from those who wish to harm the American public based on their distorted political or ideological agenda.”
NYPD Commissioner James P. O’Neill said:  “The NYPD and our law enforcement partners will continue to work tirelessly to keep New York City safe from threats of terror.  I commend the members of the New York Joint Terrorism Task Force, and the Southern District of New York for their work in this case.”
According to the allegations in the Complaint, Superseding Information, other court filings, and statements made during court proceedings: 
In October 2018, SAYOC mailed from Florida 16 padded envelopes, each containing an IED, to addresses in New York, New Jersey, Washington, D.C., Delaware, Atlanta, Georgia, and California.  SAYOC packed each IED with explosive material and glass shards that would function as shrapnel if the IED exploded.  SAYOC also attached to the outside of each IED a picture of the intended victim marked with a red “X.”  As SAYOC admitted today during his plea, he designed the IEDs for use as weapons and mailed them understanding that they were capable of exploding and causing injuries and property damage.  In alphabetical order, SAYOC’s intended victims were former Vice President Joseph Biden, Senator Cory Booker, former CIA Director John Brennan, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, CNN, Robert De Niro, Senator Kamala Harris, former Attorney General Eric Holder, former President Barack Obama, George Soros, Thomas Steyer, and Representative Maxine Waters.  Between October 22 and November 2, 2018, the FBI and the U.S. Postal Service recovered all of the 16 IEDs mailed by SAYOC.
The FBI arrested SAYOC in Plantation, Florida, on October 26, 2018 – less than five days after the October 22 recovery of the first IED, which SAYOC mailed to Soros in New York.  The FBI seized a laptop from SAYOC’s van, which contained lists of physical addresses that match many of the labels on the envelopes that SAYOC mailed.  The lists were saved at a file path on the laptop that includes a variant of SAYOC’s first name:  “Users/Ceasar/Documents.”  A document from that path, titled “Debbie W.docx” and bearing a creation date of July 26, 2018, contained repeated copies of an address for “Debbie W. Schultz” in Sunrise, Florida, that is nearly identical, except for typographical errors, to the return address that SAYOC used on the packages.  Similar documents bearing file titles that include the name “Debbie,” and creation dates of September 22, 2018, contain exact matches of the return address used by SAYOC on the 16 envelopes. 
SAYOC’s laptop also revealed extensive Internet search history related to his investigation of the intended victims and his desire to injure or kill them.  For example, SAYOC conducted the following Internet searches, among others, on the dates indicated in 2018:
  • July 15: “hilary Clinton hime address”
  • July 26: “address Debbie wauserman Shultz”
  • Sept. 19: “address kamila harrias”
  • Sept. 26: “address for barack Obama”
  • Sept. 26: “michelle obama mailing address”
  • Sept. 26: “joseph biden jr”
  • Oct. 1: “address cory booker new jersey”
  • Oct. 20: “tom steyers mailing address”
  • Oct. 23: “address kamala harris”
SAYOC, 57, of Southern Florida, pled guilty to four sets of charges related to each of the 16 IEDs:  (1) sixteen counts of using a weapon of mass destruction; (2) sixteen counts of interstate transportation of an explosive device; (3) sixteen counts of conveying a threat in interstate commerce; and (4) sixteen counts of the illegal mailing of explosives with the intent to kill or injure another.  SAYOC also pled guilty to using an explosive to commit a felony, which relates to felonies committed in connection with the use and mailing of all 16 IEDs.  A chart identifying the charges and maximum penalties applicable to SAYOC is below.
Counts
Charge
Penalties Per Count
1 – 16
Using a weapon of mass destruction
Maximum per count: life
17 – 32
Interstate transportation of an explosive
Maximum per count: 10 years
33 – 48
Conveying a threat in interstate commerce
Maximum per count: 5 years
49 – 64
Illegal mailing of explosives with intent to kill or injure another
Maximum per count: 20 years
65
Carrying an explosive during the commission of a felony
Mandatory minimum: 10 years to run consecutively to any other sentence imposed

The maximum and minimum potential sentences in this case are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by a judge.  The defendant is scheduled to be sentenced before Judge Rakoff on September 12, 2019 at 4:00 p.m.
Mr. Berman and Mr. Demers praised the outstanding efforts of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s New York Joint Terrorism Task Force, which principally consists of agents from the FBI and detectives from the New York City Police Department, and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.  Mr. Berman and Mr. Demers also thanked the U.S. Attorney’s Offices for the Southern District of Florida, the District of Columbia, the District of Delaware, the District of New Jersey, the Central District of California, the Eastern District of California, the Northern District of California, and the Northern District of Georgia for their assistance in the investigation.  

Treasurer Of Police Charity Arrested For Stealing Over $400,000 Meant For Families Of NYPD Officers Killed In The Line Of Duty


  Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Jonathan D. Larsen, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the New York Office of the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Division (“IRS-CI”), announced the arrest of LORRAINE SHANLEY today on charges of bank fraud and aggravated identity theft.  SHANLEY, the former volunteer treasurer of a nonprofit charity, allegedly participated in a scheme in which she obtained over $410,000 of the charity’s money meant for the families of New York City Police Department (“NYPD”) officers killed in the line of duty.  SHANLEY surrendered this morning and will be presented today in Manhattan federal court before U.S. Magistrate Judge James L. Cott.

U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said:  “Lorraine Shanley allegedly capitalized on tragedy and monetized people’s generosity.  As alleged, Shanley stole over 20 percent of the donations to a charity whose sole mission is to help the families of NYPD officers killed in the line of duty.  Thanks to the investigative work of the IRS and special agents from our Office, Shanley will be prosecuted for her actions.”
IRS-CI Acting Special Agent in Charge Jonathan D. Larsen said:  “As alleged in the complaint, Lorraine Shanley violated her position of trust at a charity and victimized families who have already sacrificed so much.  IRS-CI is committed to following the money and investigating those individuals who steal from charities for their own personal gain.”
According to the allegations in the Complaint unsealed today[1]:
For many years, from at least 2010 to 2017, SHANLEY served as a volunteer treasurer for a charity that provides financial support to the families of NYPD officers killed in the line of duty (“Charity-1”).  During that time period, Charity-1 received approximately $1.9 million in donations, over 99 percent of which came from NYPD employees, from an average of 5,500 NYPD employees per year. 
SHANLEY was an authorized signatory on Charity-1’s bank account and credit card, and was authorized to use them for Charity-1’s operations.  But SHANLEY also used the bank account and credit card to benefit herself and her family members, fraudulently obtaining over $410,000 from 2010 to 2017.  For example, using Charity-1’s bank account and credit card, SHANLEY:
  • Wrote at least $45,000 in checks that were either payable to family members, or that were made out to other people but which SHANLEY double endorsed and deposited into her own accounts;
  • Paid approximately $29,000  for her grandchild’s private school tuition;
  • Paid approximately $63,000 for legal services and expenses related to criminal charges against SHANLEY’s son;
  • Paid approximately $32,000 for personal dental expenses and approximately $25,000 for landscaping on her personal residence; and
  • Purchased over $8,000 in event tickets, including over $1,400 for Barbara Streisand concert tickets.
On many of the checks SHANLEY wrote for unauthorized purposes, SHANLEY forged the signature of another authorized signatory on Charity-1’s bank account.  SHANLEY’s fraudulent conduct was uncovered when a new volunteer with Charity-1 reviewed the charity’s tax returns and records as part of an effort to modernize the charity’s operations.
SHANLEY, 68, of Staten Island, New York, is charged with one count of bank fraud, which carries a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison, and one count of aggravated identity theft, which carries a mandatory minimum penalty of two years in prison, which must run consecutively to any other term of imprisonment imposed.  The maximum and mandatory minimum potential sentences in this case are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the judge.
Mr. Berman praised the outstanding investigative work of Special Agents from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York and the IRS-CI.  He also thanked the New York City Police Department for their assistance.
The charges contained in the Complaint are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
 [1] As the introductory phrase signifies, the entirety of the text of the Complaint and the description of the Complaint set forth below constitute only allegations, and every fact described should be treated as an allegation.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Announces Action To Recover Ukrainian Painting Looted By Nazis


  Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and William F. Sweeney Jr., the Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), announced today the filing of a civil forfeiture action seeking the return to its rightful owner of a painting looted from a Kyiv museum in Nazi-controlled Ukraine in the closing days of World War II.  The piece, formerly entitled A Family Portrait and currently entitled An Amorous Coupleor alternatively A Loving Glance (the “Painting”), painted by Pierre Louis Goudreaux, a student of Jean-HonorĂ© Fragonard, was allegedly stolen from the Bohdan and Varvara Khanenko National Museum of the Arts in Kyiv, Ukraine, around 1943. 

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman said:  “Our Office has a long history of righting wrongs, no matter how long ago a crime was committed.  Today’s action is an example of our continued commitment to ensuring that art looted by Nazis more than 75 years ago is returned to its rightful owners.”
FBI Assistant Director in Charge William F. Sweeney Jr. said:  “The occupying forces during World War II believed they had the right to surround themselves with the spoils of their invasion, to include art work that didn't belong to them.  The Nazis secreted these works away from the public and over the course of decades many were lost forever.  The FBI New York Art Crime Team works diligently to restore these paintings and artifacts to their rightful owners because the some of the wounds of that dark time can be mended even decades later.”
According to the Complaint filed today in Manhattan federal court:
Before the outbreak of the World War II in the Soviet Union, the Khanenko Museum maintained the Painting under the name A Family Portrait, after the Painting had been willed to the Museum by art collector Vasilii Aleksandrovich Shchavinskii in 1924 upon his death.  The Painting is seen in numerous photographs of the interior of the Khanenko Museum in the 1930s.
As part of the invasion of the Soviet Union during World War II, German troops crossed the Dnieper River into Kyiv in August 1941.  To protect its inventory from the invading troops, the Khanenko Museum evacuated some of its artwork eastward into Soviet Russia, but the Painting was not listed in the checklists of the evacuated items.  When the German troops occupied Kyiv beginning in 1941, Nazi Germany occupied Ukraine through an administrative entity called the Reichskommissariat Ukraine (the “RKU”).  The RKU seized numerous pieces from the Khanenko Museum for display in the residences of occupying authorities.  The Painting was not listed in the ledger of such seized pieces.  When Soviet troops began approaching Kyiv to try to retake the city in 1943, the German authorities seized artwork for export to Germany, but the Painting was not listed in the German ledger of the exported artworks.  Kyiv became a military zone in the final days of the war in Ukraine, and retreating German troops looted many remaining valuables.
In July 1944, after the Soviet Union had re-taken Kyiv from Nazi rule, the Committee for Art under the Soviet of Ministers for the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic began to review pieces stolen from the Khanenko Museum.  The Committee listed the Painting, under the title An Amorous Couple, as a missing piece when the review was completed in August 1948.
In January 2013, the Painting resurfaced when it was listed on the official website of a New York auction house (the “New York Auction House”).  The provenance accompanying the auction notice stated that the Painting had been held in a private collection in London and then a private collection in Massachusetts.  Further investigation by the FBI established that in December 1993, the Painting was purchased from an auction house in Deerfield, Missouri, by a New York art dealer (the “Art Dealer”).  The Art Dealer held the Painting until consigning it to the New York Auction House in January 2013.  The Painting was posted for auction under the alternate title of A Loving Glance
The U.S. Attorney’s Office and the FBI are seeking forfeiture of the painting so it can be returned to its rightful owners.
Mr. Berman thanked the FBI’s Art Crime Team for their assistance.

BRONX MAN SENTENCED TO 16 YEARS IN PRISON FOR FATALLY SHOOTING GIRLFRIEND; INFANT THEY SHARED WAS LEFT ALONE IN APARTMENT WITH VICTIM FOR HOURS


  Bronx District Attorney Darcel D. Clark today announced that a Bronx man has been sentenced to 16 years in prison for fatally shooting the mother of his child in their apartment in 2016. 

 District Attorney Clark said, “The defendant heartlessly shot and killed the mother of his child and fled the apartment, leaving their infant daughter alone. I hope today’s sentence brings some peace to the victim’s family.” 

 District Attorney Clark said the defendant, Sheldon Salman, 37, of 3914 White Plains Road, was sentenced today to 16 years in prison and 5 years post-release supervision by Bronx Supreme Court Justice Fernando Camacho. The defendant pleaded guilty to first-degree Manslaughter on January 22, 2019.

 According to the investigation, in the early morning of June 15, 2016, inside 3914 White Plains Road, the defendant shot Sarisse Respass, 32, once in the mouth, causing her death. The defendant shot her because he believed she was pregnant and that she was going to move out of the apartment.

 After the shooting, police were called and they found the baby inside the apartment, while the deceased victim was in her bedroom with blood coming out of her mouth. The defendant was arrested later that day.

  District Attorney Clark thanked Detective Ernest Drovil of Bronx Homicide and Detective Robert Konner of the 47th Precinct.

Attorney General James And Acting Financial Services Superintendent Lacewell Crack Down On Brooklyn Insurance Fraud Scheme


In Theft Scheme, Barrington Mayne Allegedly Pretended to be an Authorized Insurance Broker in Order to Steal Money From Unsuspecting Car Buyers 

   Attorney General Letitia James and Department of Financial Services Acting Superintendent Linda A. Lacewell announced the arrest and arraignment of Barrington Mayne (34, of Bronx County, NY) on a felony complaint for an alleged insurance fraud scheme. Mayne, who is not an insurance broker, allegedly used his position and contacts at various car dealerships throughout Brooklyn to dupe unsuspecting car buyers into believing that he was an insurance broker capable of obtaining car insurance. Mayne allegedly stole thousands of dollars from victims who were tricked into paying him insurance premiums for purported insurance policies. Mayne is charged with one count of Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree and two counts of Grand Larceny in the Fourth Degree. 

"All New Yorkers pay a price for insurance fraud, which drives up premiums across the board,” said Attorney General Letitia James. "This alleged scheme led unsuspecting customers to believe that they had legitimate auto insurance, only to later find their policies suddenly cancelled. My office will prosecute anyone who breaks the law to take advantage of consumers for personal profit." 
“This defendant allegedly victimized unsuspecting consumers by fraudulently posing as a licensed insurance broker in an effort to line his pockets with thousands of dollars in ill-gotten gains,” said Acting Financial Services Superintendent Linda A. Lacewell.” The Department of Financial Services is pleased to have worked with the office of Attorney General James in pursuit of our common goal of protecting New York consumers.” 
In New York State, insurance agents and brokers are licensed and regulated by the NYS Department of Financial Services (“DFS”). According to the felony complaint, DFS records indicate that Mayne was not, and never has been, licensed in any capacity under any section of the New York Insurance Law. 
According to the felony complaint and statements made by the prosecutor at arraignment, Mayne allegedly demanded thousands of dollars from victims and then duped them into believing that they had purchased automobile insurance policies when, in fact, it was an elaborate scheme to steal their money. Specifically, Mayne allegedly took money from victims for purported insurance premium payments, but instead of paying insurance carriers, Mayne would obtain temporary insurance cards using fictitious banking information, and then allow the policies to cancel shortly thereafter for lack of payment. 
If convicted of the top counts charged, Mayne faces up to 1 1/3 years to 4 years in prison. 
Defendant Mayne was arraigned today in Kings County Criminal Court and was released on his own recognizance. He is next scheduled to appear in court on May 30, 2019. 
The charges are merely accusations and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law. 
The Office of the Attorney General and the Department of Financial Services would like to remind New York State residents to exercise caution when purchasing an auto insurance policy and to utilize the tips listed below to help avoid falling victim to similar scams and fraud schemes.   
  • Know Your Agent or Broker. Consumers can sometimes be victimized by unscrupulous agents or brokers and discover only after they file a claim that they are without coverage. If a driver is involved in an accident while driving an uninsured vehicle, any personal assets may be subject to forfeiture if that driver is sued for damages. Deal only with licensed agents and brokers. They must maintain proof of licensure – ask to see it. 
  • Get Proof of Payment. Never make a premium payment in cash. Pay by check or money order made out to the insurance company directly or to the agency, not to the individual agent or broker. Also, always request a receipt. 
  • Get a Copy of Your Policy. You should receive a copy of any type of insurance policy complete with endorsements and declarations specifically outlining your coverage and its limitations within a reasonable period after your purchase. If you do not receive it, question your insurer, agent or broker. If there is no satisfactory explanation for the delay, contact the Department of Financial Services at (800) 342-3736. 
The Attorney General thanks the New York State Department of Financial Services for their assistance in this matter. 

CHAIRMEN CUMMINGS, ENGEL, SCHIFF STATEMENT RESPONDING TO WHITE HOUSE LETTER ON TRUMP-PUTIN COMMUNICATIONS


  Today, the Chairmen of the House Oversight, Foreign Affairs and Intelligence Committees responded to a letter sent by the White House Counsel responding to the Committees’ request for documents from and interviews with personnel of the Executive Office of the President related to communications between President Donald J. Trump and President Vladimir Putin of the Russian Federation.

Attributable to Chairmen Elijah Cummings, Eliot Engel and Adam Schiff:

“Our Committees are in receipt of the White House Counsel’s letter, which continues a troubling pattern by the Trump Administration of rejecting legitimate and necessary congressional oversight with no regard for precedent or the constitution. 

“We are also concerned by the disingenuous assertions and representations in the letter. In previous Democratic and Republican Administrations, the White House made officials available for interviews and produced to the Congress all manner of internal documents and communications regarding ‘the conduct of foreign relations’ by the President and White House and National Security Council staff. In fact, the Obama Administration produced records describing the President and Secretary of State’s calls with foreign leaders. The Congress also received voluminous records from agencies involved in the conduct of U.S. foreign relations, such as the State Department, Defense Department, and other agencies. President Trump’s decision to break with this precedent raises the question of what he has to hide.

“We will be consulting on appropriate next steps. Congress has a constitutional duty to conduct oversight and investigate these matters, and we will fulfill that responsibility.”

The Committees’ original request to Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney and Secretary of State Michael Pompeo can be found here.

WELCOME HOME YANKEES PARADE LINE-UP ANNOUNCED



  One week from Opening Day at Yankee Stadium, the 161 st Street BID announced its plans for a parade to celebrate the return of the Bronx Bombers and its Grand Marshals.

“We want the team to win the World Series,” said Dr. Cary Goodman, the BID’s executive director, and parade organizer. “The parade will give the team a boost towards a 28 th Championship.”

The parade’s Grand Marshals include Grandmaster Caz, Mellie Mel, Congressmen Serrano, Engel and Espaillat, as well as local businessmen, Joe Bastone (Yankee Tavern) and Mike Rendino (Stan’s).

Grand Marshal Invitations were also sent to retired Yankees, (Reggie Jackson and Mariano Rivera) and to current players. Luis Severino, Dellin Betances, CC and Aaron Hicks are all on the injured list and unavailable to play. also The Yankees are not playing on this day.

“Maybe they’ll join us. We’re rooting for them,” said Goodman.

The parade steps-off from the Concourse@ 167 th Street, 10 AM on Friday, March 29. It will march to Lou Gehrig Plaza; turn right on 161 st St. and continue to Mariano Rivera Avenue.

The route runs past street murals of Yankee legends Joe DiMaggio, Thurman Munson, Whitey Ford, Phil Rizzuto Yogi Berra, Elston Howard, and Mickey Mantle.



Upcoming Purim and Passover Celebrations at JASA Van Cortlandt Senior Center:


I. Celebrate Purim at JASA Van Cortlandt SC on Mar. 27th:

On Wed. Mar. 27th, celebrate Purim with Hagit and family. Share songs & games with MMCC early childhood classes at 11:15 am.
A festive meal of beef brisket or pollock fillet, baked sweet potatoes and green beans w/mushrooms will be served at 12:15 pm.
After lunch, Hagit, vocals/drama; Zvi, piano; Dvir, violinist and Hillit, flute/dance will entertain us. As part of a lively musical revue, they will re-enact the Purim tale with costumes, visuals and audience involvement.

Recommended senior meal contribution: $3.50 and $2.00 event donation. Holiday refreshments will be served. Call the Senior Center office: 718-549-4700 for advance meal reservations by Fri. Mar. 22nd.

 II. JASA Bronx Model Seder at JASA Van Cortlandt Senior Center

 Join us for a meaningful Model Seder on Thurs. April 11th with holiday songs performed by the JASA Van Cortlandt Senior Choral group conducted by Cheryl Warfield at 11:20 AM. 
Festive lunch of traditional appetizers, honey lemon chicken leg or sole fillet, roasted red potatoes, broccoli w/garlic, fruit and egg matzah served at 12:30 PM.Karen Waltuch, violist, and her trio will provide klezmer and international musical entertainment at 1:15 PM. Refreshments will be served. See continued bio re: Debra Kreisberg on reverse side of flyer.Recommended Senior meal contribution: $5.00                                                                    
Non-senior meal fee: $8.00
RSVP for lunch to the center office 718-549-4700 by Thursday,
April. 4th.

 Cheryl Warfield, Bronx Opera teaching artist/professional singer, will conduct the JASA Van Cortlandt Senior Center Choral Group. Isaac ben Ayala will accompany the group
The senior center choral group is supported, in part, public funds from the NYC Dept. of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council. 

Karen Waltuch is best known as a violist and professional gardener about NYC. She has worked with Tony Conrad, Natalie Merchant, Wilco, Tyondai Braxton, Reps and many other esteemed musicians. She is one half of Zeke & Karen, a harmonizing duo of has-been ditties. Karen is heard on Metropolitan Klezmer's latest album, Mazel Means Good Luck. as well as appearing on bonus tracks for Isle of Klezbos' Live From Brooklynn (2014). More at KarenWaltuch.com

JASA Van Cortlandt Senior Center
3880 Sedgwick Ave., First Floor 
Bronx, NY 10463
Phone: 718-549-4700
Sharon Wolfe, Director

MAYOR DE BLASIO, BUSINESS LEADERS, ADVOCATES AND ELECTED OFFICIALS ANNOUNCE STATE PROPOSAL TO LEVEL THE PLAYING FIELD FOR MINORITY- AND WOMEN-OWNED BUSINESSES


Proposal could increase awards to M/WBEs by approximately $500 million annually

  Mayor Bill de Blasio, business leaders, advocates, and elected officials announced a State proposal that would create more economic opportunity for minority- and women-owned business enterprises (M/WBEs) in New York City.

The City is calling on the State to increase the discretionary spending limit for M/WBEs to $1 million for goods, services and construction. Increasing this limit would ease the contracting burden on M/WBEs by significantly reducing the amount of time and paperwork that is normally required as part of the bidding process, providing more flexibility for agencies to contract directly with M/WBEs and at higher dollar values. This proposal could potentially increase the value of contracts awarded to M/WBEs by $500 million annually. The call for this legislation comes at time in which the Administration is making historic investments in M/WBEs. Last year alone, the City awarded $3.7 billion to M/WBEs, up from $1.6 billion in 2015.

In 2017, the City successfully gained the authority to award contracts of up to $150,000 to City-certified M/WBEs for goods and services without requiring a time-consuming, formal, competitive bidding process. Before this change, the discretionary spending limit for all vendors, including M/WBEs, was $20,000 for goods and services and $35,000 for construction.

“Our City only works best when everyone – regardless of race, gender or ethnicity – can participate in our economy,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “We want to take our commitment to that idea further and urge the State to give us more tools that expand economic opportunity for minority- and women-owned businesses. With the State’s help, we can continue building an economy that truly works for all New Yorkers.”

“Through our M/WBE outreach, we have learned from our advocates that this discretionary spending limit presents a compelling alternative to the status quo,” said J. Phillip Thompson, Deputy Mayor for Strategic Policy Initiatives. “We want M/WBEs to focus on maintaining and growing their businesses and to have improved access to more opportunities. This is a good move for our M/WBEs and for the local workforce in their communities as we strive toward a more level playing field.”

“Raising the discretionary spending limit to $1 million will allow improved access to opportunities for minority- and women-owned businesses which in turn allows M/WBEs to build capacity and thrive in NYC,” said Jonnel Doris, Senior Advisor and Director of the Mayor’s Office of M/WBEs.

“Through programs like our Contract Financing Loan Fund, we’re making it easier for M/WBEs to increase their capacity and take on the lucrative contracts that boost their businesses,” said Gregg Bishop, Commissioner of the Department of Small Business Services. “With our help, M/WBEs are ready to succeed and we’re asking the state to ensure that they have every opportunity to efficiently do business with the City.”

Over the last year, since the City was allowed to increase its discretionary spending from $20,000 to $150,000 for awards to M/WBEs for goods and services, agencies have awarded M/WBEs more than 840 contracts totaling over $61.3 million. Prior to this, agencies awarded M/WBEs roughly 450 contracts totaling $28 million. The State law change doubled M/WBE participation in this dollar range. 

Increasing the City’s discretionary spending limit to $1 million for goods, services and construction would help the City continue this unprecedented investments in M/WBEs.

In addition to increasing the discretionary spending limit, the City also will increase accountability to protect tax payer dollars and maintain the integrity of the program. For example, the City already conducts thorough background checks to ensure that M/WBEs are majority minority owned. Furthermore, the City would publish public reports tracking contracts awarded under this new discretionary spending limit. Lastly, the City also would solicit quotes from multiple M/WBEs to compare prices and the quality of work for goods, services and construction.

In 2015, Mayor de Blasio outlined his plan to create a more resilient, sustainable and equitable city in his OneNYC Plan. Within this plan, the Mayor set a goal to award $16 billion to M/WBEs by 2025 to help level the playing field for M/WBEs. Since then, the City has awarded over $10 billion to M/WBEs and increased the goal to $20 billion by 2025. This goal includes Mayoral and non-Mayoral agencies, such as the Economic Development Corporation and the Department of Education.

In 2016, when the Mayor announced the creation of the Office of M/WBEs, the Mayor set a goal to award 30 percent of the value of mayoral agency contracts to M/WBEs by 2021. By the close of 2018, these same agencies alone awarded more than $1 billion to M/WBEs, or 19 percent of the value of City contracts subject to the M/WBE program.

These historic investments are the result of policy changes that have prioritized the implementation of programs and services that help businesses succeed in our local economy. For example, the City – through the Department of Small Business Services and the New York City Economic Development Corporation – invested $20 million in two revolving loan funds that allow M/WBEs and small businesses to access affordable loans to help them perform on City contracts. In 2018, Amalgamated Bank, Bank of America, TD Bank and Union Banks together invested an additional $41 million in these loan programs, expanding the loan pool to $60 million dollars. The loan funds include: the Emerging Developer Loan Fund, which provide developers with low-interest loans that range from $100,000 to $2.5 million, and the Contract Financing Loan fund which gives M/WBEs and small contractors access to loans of up to $1 million at a 3 percent interest rate. The Contract Financing Loan Fund has successfully connected City contractors to $10 million in capital to help them better perform on over $50 million in City contracts. Over 90 percent of Contract Financing Loan recipients are M/WBEs.

Since its implementation, the EDLF has approved and closed on $5.49 million worth of loans, impacting nearly $48 million worth of projects. These loans bridged gaps in financing during the predevelopment and acquisition phases of projects in the Bronx, Brooklyn and Harlem for M/WBE developers. As a citywide program, the EDLF is designed to meet these gaps to help developers acquire sites and construct projects.

In 2017, the City also launched the Bond Collateral Assistance Fund, which supports M/WBEs and small businesses facing market barriers in accessing surety bonds, by offering affordable bonds that provide collateral to ensure businesses have the opportunity to perform on City construction contracts. The program allows eligible businesses to apply for collateral assistance of up to $500,000 or 50 percent of the Contract amount, whichever is lesser, in order to meet cash collateral bond requirements. No contributions are required of contractors.

More on these loans can be found here.