Friday, December 27, 2019

NYPD Outlines Security Measures for New Year’s Eve

Hundreds of Thousands Expected to Safely Gather in Times Square

  The New York City Police Department announced security measures for the annual New Year’s Eve celebration in Times Square. Police Commissioner Dermot Shea was joined by members of the NYPD Executive Staff in the Joint Operations Center (JOC) at One Police Plaza. The New York City Police Department along with local, state, and federal law enforcement partners will continue to roll out a comprehensive overlay of police officers and other security measures to ensure the safety of the celebrators. Thousands of officers, both uniformed and plainclothes, heavy weapons teams from ESU, CRC, and SRG, along with the Technical Assistance & Response Unit, Canine Teams, the Mounted Unit, the Aviation Unit, and the Harbor Unit will be on hand to ensure the safety of the celebrators.

"The experience of ringing in the New Year in New York City is remarkable, and I commend the thousands of members of the NYPD for their own remarkable undertaking in ensuring the safety of those celebrating,” said Police Commissioner Dermot Shea. “Working closely with our law enforcement partners, the NYPD routinely does a great job planning and securing large-scale events around New York City. This collaboration is critical in carrying out our mission of delivering a safe and enjoyable event."

As in years past, those attending the celebration in Times Square will be screened. Backpacks, large bags, umbrellas, and alcoholic beverages are strictly prohibited. Property may not be abandoned at checkpoints. At approximately 11 a.m., attendees will be directed by police officers to gather in separate viewing pens. As the evening progresses, revelers will continue to populate Times Square along Broadway and Seventh Avenue moving uptown from 43rd Street to Central Park. Please note, attendees who leave before the ball drops will not be able to regain entry to their original viewing area.

Beginning at 4 a.m. on Tuesday, December 31st, 2019, Times Square will be closed to vehicular traffic. People should avoid all cross-town streets from 33rd to 59th Streets, as well as Sixth and Eighth Avenues. A traffic advisory with a comprehensive list of street closures is available on the NYPD website.

Mass transit is strongly encouraged due to expected heavy traffic delays and parking restrictions. Anyone who sees suspicious activity should alert a police officer or call 911. The NYPD’s terrorism hotline is 888-NYC-SAFE.

Council Member Ruben Diaz Sr. - My Wishes For The Year 2020

You should know that it is an end of year tradition to make wishes, dreams, and plans for the New Year. We do this, hoping the New Year will be more prosperous than the one we are about to say goodbye to.
Many of us make these wishes on our knees in the church with our relatives and brothers in faith. Others make their wishes on dance floors, in night clubs, in strip clubs, or their home with loved ones. I, myself, make my wishes on my knees a few minutes before midnight in my church. But we all have something in common: we make our wish at midnight when the clock welcomes the New Year.
I want to share some of my wishes for the year 2020, with you beforehand.
They are as follows:

1) For Gerson Borrero: To continue writing his column “Bochinche y Más” in a newspaper where everyone can be aware of his incredible knowledge of city and state political dramas.

2) To the Working Families Party and other minority political parties: To overcome the big soccer punch given by Gov. Andrew Cuomo through his elimination of fusion voting. And find a way in which they could get the 50,000 votes needed to survive as a political party. Otherwise, they’ll have to kiss it goodbye.

3) To Michael Bloomberg and all candidates who think they can buy elections with money: to realize that the times of buying New York voter’s conscious are over.

4) To New York City Council Committee Chairpersons and respective members: To once and for all learn how to be on time for a meeting, participants should not have to wait for up to an hour.

5) For Assemblyman Marcos Crespo: That the New Year brings him the motivation and desire to become a candidate for Bronx Borough President as soon the position becomes open.

6) To the residents of New York City Public Housing (NYCHA): That the many years of torture thousands of residents in Public Housing have endured come to an end; especially now that the Public Advocate has revealed his “big” revelation of NYCHA being the worst landlord in New York City.

7) For all those mothers and fathers that have lost their children through violence and firearms: That God brings them strength, console, and many blessings. I also pray their loss not be in vain and we are able to do away with violence and take guns out of the street.

8) To New York City Livery Taxi Drivers: That once and for all, they get the respect and support they need and deserve to continue being one of the most important industries in the city.

9) To all of you, my dear friends, supporters and foes: That this year brings peace, prosperity, health and many blessings to all of you and your loved ones.

10) For myself, in 2020, God grants me the opportunity to become the US Representative of all residents of the 15th Congressional District, and in two (2) years, I am able to change the district from being the poorest one to the most prosperous in the Nation.
I am Councilman Rev. Rubén Díaz, and this is what you should know.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez - Every cycle, this happens:

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez for Congress

Every time Democrats demand investments in our people, the ritual repeats. They always ask, “How are you going to pay for it? Whose taxes are going up?”

But when the House passed a $738 billion military spending bill this month, no one asked how we were going to pay for it.

It seems like we have unlimited money for bombs, drones, and tanks — but no money to house tens of thousands of homeless children and veterans. No money to afford nutritional assistance for struggling families ahead of the holidays.

This fight has never been about what we could or couldn’t afford — it’s always been about our priorities. Until our leaders are willing to stand up to the military industrial complex, we’ll keep leaving working families out in the cold.

Alexandria voted against the NDAA, because every tank produced, every drone launched, and every bomb dropped amounts to theft from someone who is hungry, who is without a home, or who is without an education.


This is taken from a fundraising e-mail we received. The portions about contributing were taken out. 

Our Bronx Revolution/Carlos Suarez - Petitioning for Bernie Sanders and his delegates


The Bernie Sanders campaign is scheduling petitioning events throughout the Bronx to ensure Bernie and his delegates are on the ballot for the April 2020 primary. Below is a list of petitioning events in the Borough, up to January 11, 2020 published by the campaign.
Our Bronx Revolution and Bronx 4 Bernie Sanders 2020 are supporting those events and we ask volunteers to join the campaign at those locations.  Come together with fellow Bernie supporters and join this historic Campaign to defeat Trump and transform America. We’ll collect petition signatures from neighbors, friends, and family to ensure that Bernie and his delegates are on the ballot.

Here is the events calendar, which will be updated as we go along:

Dec. 31, 2019
At 8:00 AM will 116 Hugh J. Grant Cir, Bronx, NY 10472; at 9:30 AM will be at 247 City Island Ave, Bronx, NY 10464.

Jan. 2nd, 2020
At 12 Noon Will be at 11 E. Mosholu Pkwy N, Bronx, NY 10467. Contact: Javier, 914-648-0482

Jan 3rd, 2020
From 8-10 AM and 4-7 PM will be at the intersection of 3rd Ave & 149th St (in front of McDonald's). Bronx NY 10455. Contact: Carlos Suarez, 347-353-6495.

Jan 4th, 2020
At 11 AM will be at 923 Hunts point Ave, Bronx, NY 10459; at 12:00 Noon will be at 1985 Westchester Ave, Bronx, NY 10462; at 1:00 PM will be at 755 White Plains Rd, Bronx, NY 10473

Jan 5th, 2020
At 11:00 AM will be at 1231 Lafayette Ave, Bronx, NY 10474.

Jan 6th, 2020

From 8-10 AM and 4-7 PM will be at the intersection of River Ave & 161th St (in front of McDonald's), Bronx, NY 10451. Contact: 347-353-6495; at 1:00 PM will be at 1385 Metropolitan Ave, Bronx, NY 10451

Jan 7th, 2020

8-10 AM and 4-7 PM will be at the intersection of River Ave & 161th St (in front of McDonald's), Bronx, NY 10451. Contact: Carlos Suarez, 347-353-6495

Jan 11th, 2020
At 11:00 AM will be at 923 Hunts Point Ave, Bronx, NY 10450; at 12:00 Noon will be at 592 E. 183rd St, Bronx, NY 10458

You can signup for these events at:

Thursday, December 26, 2019

AG James Announces Prison Sentence For Duo In Upstate Securities Fraud Scheme, Restitution For Victims

David Wright Sentenced to 2-6 Years in State Prison; Ramona Wright Sentenced to 5 Years Probation for Fraudulently Soliciting Investments to Fund Lavish Lifestyle
Wrights Forfeit $175,000 Yacht Purchased with Investor Money
 New York Attorney General Letitia James today announced the sentencing of David and Ramona Wright — both formerly of Sherrill, New York — for their guilty pleas, earlier this year, to Grand Larceny in the Third Degree and felony securities fraud under the Martin Act. As part of their convictions, the Wrights forfeited nearly $400,000 in up-front restitution to the victims of their crimes, including a $175,000 yacht purchased with investor money. David Wright was sentenced to two-to-six years in state prison, and Ramona Wright was sentenced to five years of probation and ordered to make additional monthly restitution payments to investors.
“The Wrights stole, defrauded, and conned their friends and neighbors out of hundreds of thousands of dollars just to live a lavish style and commit what could be only be described as great wrongs,” said Attorney General Letitia James. “Not only are we making things truly right for their victims by commandeering all funds and assets this couple have, but we are securing up-front restitution and monthly payments to get individuals back as much money as possible. Anyone who attempts to prey on innocent New Yorkers is on notice that my office will be unwavering in prosecuting these crimes and holding bad actors accountable.”
The convictions and forfeiture are the culmination of criminal and civil enforcement actions brought by the Office of the Attorney General after it was uncovered that the Wrights operated a six-year securities fraud scam in Upstate New York. In 2009, the Wrights — who were heavily indebted and facing potential foreclosure on their home in Sherrill — created Wright Wellness Solutions, Inc., which they headquartered at their home. The couple claimed the corporation would develop, market, and sell a rehabilitative hospital bed patent they had obtained the rights to by trading shares in the corporation to an unsuspecting inventor named Carl Klossner. Between 2009 and 2015, the Wrights solicited and obtained $760,000 in investments from over two dozen individuals in Wright Wellness Solutions, Inc., telling investors they needed the money for research and development of the hospital bed patent and promising lucrative and swift returns on investment. 
In reality, however, the Wrights used the investment money almost exclusively to live a lavish lifestyle, well beyond their means, that allowed them to purchase a 53-foot Hatteras yacht they named the “Mad Hatteras,” two Lincoln Navigators, two BMWs, multiple Rolex watches, and a time-share in Florida. Additionally, the Wrights made unauthorized cash withdrawals and transferred funds to their other business CNY Telecom, LLC. The Wrights also used investor money to pay for their daughter’s wedding at a yacht club in Florida, and for daily trips to fast food restaurants. 
The Wrights’ victims included close friends and long-time acquaintances, many of whom the Wrights obtained numerous investments from, and nearly all of whom are Upstate New York residents. In 2014, the Wrights sold their home in Sherrill, New York and began living full-time on their yacht in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. 
The investigation by the Office of the Attorney General was initiated after a complaint was made by a shareholder to the office’s Investor Protection Bureau. In April 2019, the Wrights were arrested on their yacht in Myrtle Beach and arraigned on two indictments filed in Oneida County Court. Thereafter, in June 2019, the Office of the Attorney General initiated a civil asset forfeiture proceeding against the Wrights and their businesses, and obtained a temporary restraining order prohibiting them from selling or dissipating assets, including the Mad Hatteras.
On September 10, 2019, David Wright pleaded guilty before the Honorable Robert L. Bauer to two counts of Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, a class D felony, and one count of felony securities fraud under the Martin Act, a class E felony. Ramona Wright pleaded guilty to one count of Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, a class D felony, and one count of felony securities fraud under the Martin Act, a class E felony. The Wrights agreed to stipulate to the forfeiture of their yacht, as well as $68,000 in funds frozen in their bank account.
Earlier this week, David Wright was sentenced to two-to-six years in state prison, and Ramona Wright was sentenced to five years of probation. Additionally, the Wrights forfeited nearly $400,000 in up-front restitution to the dozens of victims of their crimes, including approximately $175,000 from the sale of the Mad Hatteras. As a condition of her probation, Ramona Wright will be required to make additional monthly restitution payments to victims.
The Office of the Attorney General wishes to thank the New York State Police Financial Crimes Unit for their assistance in investigating the Wrights’ crimes, the Horry County Sheriff’s Office in South Carolina for their assistance in locating and arresting the defendants, and the Oneida County District Attorney’s Office for their help in prosecuting the Wrights..

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Bronx Youth Empowerment Program - Sharing is Caring for Christmas

  It was the annual Youth Empowerment Program Christmas 'Sharing is Caring' for Community children of the 12th council district. Members of Councilman King's YEP Program (in the yellow t-shirts) helped distribute the toys piled behind everyone. There was food, fun and games, and dancing, for hours before the toys were given out. The only thing that was missing was the First Lady of the 12th Council District who was not feeling well. Our prayers go out for her speedy recovery.

Above - Councilman King is interviewed by the local cable channel about the event. 
Below - there was no age barrier as to having fun, even Santa was able to keep in step.

Even the Eye that seems to be on Councilman King was having fun. 

Tuesday, December 24, 2019


The City will also launch an ad campaign on subways, bus shelters, and online to ensure eligible New Yorkers are aware of and able to access the first-of-its-kind program

  Mayor de Blasio and City Council Speaker Johnson announced that open enrollment for the City’s Fair Fares initiative will begin on January 27. Open enrollment means that all eligible New Yorkers at or below the Federal Poverty line who don’t have discounted transportation from the MTA or the City will be able to apply for reduced-fare MetroCards via an online platform, further expanding to hundreds of thousands of additional New Yorkers. Currently, Fair Fares is only open to certain NYCHA residents, CUNY Students, veteran students or New Yorkers receiving Cash Assistance or SNAP benefits from the City’s Human Resources Administration (HRA).

“We're a city that puts working people first, and no New Yorker should have to choose between taking mass transit and putting food on the table," said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “With the expansion of the Fair Fares program, we’ve connected nearly 100,000 New Yorkers to a half-priced MetroCard, getting us one step closer to our goal of being a just and equitable city for all.”

“We know how hard it can be to make ends meet in New York and that’s why we want everyone to know about the expansion of the Fair Fares program, which gives half-priced MetroCards to residents who meet the poverty threshold. With the launch of open enrollment and this dedicated outreach effort, we hope to assist as many New Yorkers as we can in the new year. Thank you to the all of the advocates who have partnered with us on this important endeavor. Together, we can make New York a more fair and just city,” said City Council Speaker Corey Johnson.

This next phase in the Fair Fares initiative builds on the City’s progress connecting New Yorkers in need to this vital resource in the program’s first year. In the first phase of Fair Fares, nearly 100,000 New Yorkers enrolled in the program, representing a more-than 50 percent take-up rate after targeting more than 180,000 New Yorkers.

Following the launch of the online platform in April, which introduced the option to sign up for Fair Fares through the City’s Access HRA application, participation increased dramatically, with nearly all of current enrollees opting in digitally, including through the mobile and web applications. In March of this year, to provide eligible New Yorkers with even more options, the City launched the pay-per-ride option, enabling those in need to obtain single fares.

This month, the City will also launch a comprehensive multi-million dollar campaign to ensure eligible New Yorkers across the five boroughs are aware of and able to access the program, including advertising on the subways, in buses and bus shelters, and online, as well as in local businesses, and community and ethnic newspapers in 11 languages. Together with the Council, the City will work with local community-based organizations to spread the word through on-the-ground outreach. Ahead of open enrollment, the Department of Social Services continues to conduct outreach to New Yorkers eligible in the first phase, including sending notifications, making telephone calls, and alerting HRA clients via their digital Access HRA accounts.

Currently, eligible New Yorkers can opt-in by going to and following the link to enroll now. They can also visit the nearest Fair Fares NYC location or call 311 for assistance enrolling.

In January, the City will transition to a new online platform, open to all New Yorkers living at or below the poverty line. Visit today and stay tuned for more information on how you can apply when the program opens on January 27.

“Access to public transportation is fundamental to the health and well-being of New Yorkers,” said Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Dr. Raul Perea-Henze. “With the Fair Fares program, New Yorkers in need can reach jobs, health and social services, and recreational activities, and stay connected with family and friends. This next phase of the Fair Fares program will empower more New Yorkers with access to opportunities that support healthy communities.” 

“New Yorkers should not have to choose between a MetroCard or their next meal and therefore we are launching the next phase of Fair Fares to open up enrollment for residents of our City with income below the federal poverty level,” said Department of Social Services Commissioner Steven Banks. “In less than a year of the initial phase of Fair Fares, we have connected approximately 100,000 New Yorkers to this vital transportation assistance, providing lifelines to families and individuals struggling to make ends meet. We are committed to continuing our work with the Speaker and the City Council to address income inequality by helping New Yorkers pay for the cost of public transportation.”

“All New Yorkers should be afforded the dignity to use public transportation to meet their basic needs, regardless of socio-economic status,” said HRA Administrator Grace Bonilla. “Today’s announcement guarantees that even more individuals will benefit from our transformative Fair Fares initiative, making life easier for thousands of hard-working New Yorkers who rely upon mass transit every day. We are proud to work alongside City Council, Community Service Society, the Riders Alliance, and other advocacy groups in our joint mission of making New York City fairer and more equitable for all.”  

“Few things are as essential to survive in our city as a MetroCard, your ticket to work, to classes, to health care, and home to your kids at night.  Now hundreds of thousands of additional low-income New Yorkers will be able to better afford bus and subway rides, thanks to the full rollout of Fair Fares announced today by Mayor Bill de Blasio and Speaker Corey Johnson,” said David R. Jones, President and CEO of the Community Service Society. “We look forward to a robust public outreach effort, on par with other successful landmark city initiatives, like preK, that are providing the means for upward mobility to those working hard to get ahead.”

Bronx Metro-North Study Update: Study Next Steps and MTA Capital Budget

MTA Submits for Full Capital Funding

MTA continues to target the end of 2023 for new rail service planned for Hunts Point, Co-op City, Morris Park, and Parkchester/Van Nest. As a clear sign of their continued commitment to the project, the MTA's latest capital budget (which will be subject to a final vote) released in September 2019 exceeded the previous allocation and called for full funding of the four new Metro-North stations in the Bronx. This means that these neighborhoods will see expanded service within only a few years. 
Study Progress
While the MTA continues to target the end of 2023 for new rail service, our team of City agencies (NYC Departments of City Planning, Transportation, & the NYC Economic Development Corporation) have been working to ensure that neighborhood planning keeps pace with the project and that the areas around the Co-op City, Morris Park, Parkchester/Van Nest and Hunts Point communities and station areas are ready for new service.

The Metro-North Study Team has also been coordinating with Metro-North through the design process to thoughtfully integrate the new stations into the surrounding neighborhoods. 

To date, we have had many conversations and held public events, including:
  • Fall 2018: Public workshops in Parkchester/Van Nest and Morris Park, where participants engaged in activities and offered feedback on preferences and needs in the areas around the new stations
  • Winter 2019: Public open houses to share draft recommendations for the Parkchester/Van Nest and Morris Park station areas
  • Summer 2019: Public workshops in Hunts Point and Co-op City
If you missed the events, you can access summaries and materials on this page.
Next Steps

We appreciate your engagement in the planning process and thoughtful feedback so far. Over the next few months, we will continue our work compiling and addressing your comments, and coordinating between the state and city agencies involved in the project. Stay tuned for future announcements of public meetings to be held in the Spring of 2020 when we look forward to sharing updated recommendations and continuing to work with you to plan for new service in the new year and new decade!

If you have questions in the meantime, please email the study team at
Find Out More

Wave Hill events January 9‒January 16

Thu, January 9

Wave Hill House closed for Renovations

Historic Wave Hill House is closed through Friday, January 10, for renovations.

Wave Hill House

Fri, January 10

Wave Hill House closed for Renovations

Historic Wave Hill House is closed through today for renovations.

Wave Hill House

Sat, January 11

Family Art Project: Cyclical Calendars and Fractal Phenology 

Get intentional about how you want to spend your year. Create goals for yourself that mimic nature’s natural processes. Look to the moon, seedlings that bloom and seasonal cycles to chart your own growth. Free, and admission to the grounds is free until noon.

Wave Hill House, 10AM–1PM

Sun, January 12

Winter Birding

The Hudson River valley hosts an impressive diversity of bird species, even during the winter months. Explore Wave Hill’s tranquil gardens and woodlands with naturalist Gabriel Willow to observe birds in their winter habitats. Birders of all levels welcome. Ages 10 and older welcome with an adult. Severe weather cancels. NYC Audubon members enjoy two-for-one admission to the grounds.

Meet at Perkins Visitor Center, 9:30AM

Sun, January 12

Family Art Project: Cyclical Calendars and Fractal Phenology 

Get intentional about how you want to spend your year. Create goals for yourself that mimic nature’s natural processes. Look to the moon, seedlings that bloom and seasonal cycles to chart your own growth. Free with admission to the grounds.

Wave Hill House, 10AM–1PM

Sun, January 12

Concert: Bruce Molsky’s Mountain Drifters

Bruce Molsky is one of the most revered ambassadors for America’s old-time mountain music. For decades, he’s been a globetrotting performer and educator, a recording artist with an expansive discography including seven solo albums, well more than a dozen collaborations and two Grammy-nominations. Concerts begin at 2PM and last approximately one hour with no intermission. Ticket prices (including admission to the grounds): Adults: $30 at the door/$14 at the door for children ages 8-18. Purchase your tickets in advance and save $2 per ticket. Wave Hill Members save 10%. Order tickets online at or onsite at the Perkins Visitor Center. Learn more at

Wave Hill House, 2PM

Sun, January 12

Garden and Conservatory Highlights Walk

Join a Wave Hill Garden Guide for a public tour of seasonal garden highlights. Free with admission to the grounds.

Meet at Perkins Visitor Center, 2PM

Mon, January 13

Wave Hill is closed.

Tue, January 14

Art Workshop series begins: Photography and Text  *SOLD OUT*

Whether in a newspaper, monograph, museum exhibit, or home album, photographs often appear with a caption or other textual accompaniment. Explore the uses and effects of the written word in photography through slide lectures, class discussions and critiques of student work, with writer and photographer Benjamin Swett. Dress warmly for outdoor photography in the serene winter gardens and trails of Wave Hill. $155; Wave Hill Members save 10%. Registration required, online at or at the Perkins Visitor Center, starting November 13. This three-session series continues January 21 and 28.

Wave Hill House, 10AM–1PM

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. 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

Comptroller Stringer Audit Finds Widespread Misuse of Funds at 47th Street BID

Comptroller Stringer Audit Finds Widespread Misuse of Funds at 47th Street BID
Audit revealed the 47th Street Business Improvement District (BID) improperly spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on security services outside the district and did not adequately monitor expenses
BID’s former Executive Director collected a salary $25-38K higher than heads of similarly sized BIDs and used BID funds totaling $87k for unauthorized payments and personal expenses
Comptroller Stringer recommends the 47th Street BID maintain and monitor detailed documentation on salaries, contracts, invoices, and purchases
 New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer released a new audit of the 47th Street Business Improvement District (BID), also known as the “Diamond District,” which found that the not-for-profit organization engaged in gross financial mismanagement by improperly spending BID funds and potentially misreporting its financial activities. Since 1997, the City, under the purview of the New York City Department of Small Business Services (SBS), has contracted with the 47th Street BID to deliver services for the area of 47th Street between Fifth and Sixth avenues (the District) including security, marketing, maintenance, and administration funded by property assessments levied on property owners within the BID, which the City collects and disburses to the BID.
Comptroller Stringer’s audit found that the BID Board and management improperly used BID funds, contrary to its contractual obligations with SBS, including, most notably by spending $210,835 on security services in Fiscal Year 2017 (FY17) for a building located outside of the District, and paying between $25,242 and $38,664 more for the salary of its former Executive Director than other similarly sized BIDs in New York City. The audit also revealed that the BID’s former Executive Director processed unauthorized raises, commissions, and benefits payments for himself and the former Executive Assistant, totaling $68,318, and paid for nearly $19,000 in personal expenses in FY17 with BID funds.
“New York City’s Business Improvement Districts are charged with bolstering our commercial corridors, beautifying our streets and connecting residents and visitors with the small local businesses that fuel our economy,” said New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer. “Instead, this audit of the 47th Street BID revealed blatant misuse of funds, and potentially a violation of the public trust. I urge the 47th Street BID to heed the recommendations in the report and implement best practices for greater oversight, accountability, and transparency New Yorkers deserve.”
Comptroller Stringer’s audit of the 47th Street BID found that the BID grossly misspent BID funds in the following ways during Fiscal Year 2017 (FY17):
  • The BID’s former Executive Director processed unauthorized raises, commissions, and benefits payments for himself and the former Executive Assistant, totaling $68,318, and paid for personal expenses totaling $18,686 with BID funds, including for taxis ($10,127), cell phone service ($6,390), and meals ($2,169) onto the BID’s debit card.
  • The former Executive Director also made inadequately supported payments totaling $70,500 to an outside consultant—his son—who was also married to the former Executive Assistant.
  • The BID improperly spent $210,835 on security services that did not principally benefit properties located within the BID.
  • The BID failed to document that it had conducted a competitive procurement process for purchases of goods and services that totaled $263,970; nor did it justify and obtain approval from the BID Board for procuring those goods and services on a non-competitive basis, as its own procedures require.
  • The BID did not execute written contracts or obtain invoices adequately detailing the scope of services provided to the businesses in the District for expenditures totaling at least $133,237.
Comptroller Stringer’s audit further found deficiencies in governance and contract performance at the 47th Street BID, such as the following:
  • The BID had no written conflict of interest policy and failed to comply with its own by-laws regarding Board composition and meeting minutes.
  • The BID did not post required information on its website about its Board, management, finances, programs, and services, and the businesses served in the District.
  • The BID Board improperly included members who do not own or lease and occupy space in the District.
Comptroller Stringer’s audit included a series of recommendations to the 47th Street BID to ensure the not-for-profit organization maintained adequate financial records and engaged in ethical practices. The recommendations included:
  • The BID should stop providing security services that do not principally benefit properties within the 47th Street BID as required by its contract with SBS.
  • The BID should seek reimbursement for the cost of security services it improperly incurred, including but not limited to the $210,835 it spent in FY17 to provide security services through the New York City Police Department (NYPD) paid detail program to a building located outside the BID.
  • The BID should monitor and review salaries, bonuses, and other financial transactions to ensure they are approved before being paid out.
  • The BID should maintain copies of vendor contracts and invoices documenting services, payment terms, and authorization.
To read Comptroller Stringer’s audit of the 47th Street BID, click here.