Saturday, January 23, 2021

Rally for Closing Riverdale Coffee Shop


Buunni Coffee located at 3702 Riverdale Avenue which has been open for over three years will be closing its doors at the end of January because it can not continue to operate at a loss as it has been since COVID-19 hit the city last year. While there is still six years to go on the lease co-founder Sarina Prabasi said that her landlord would rather have an empty store than let her continue at a fairer rent that would allow her business to survive.

There was a rally Saturday afternoon in front of the coffee shop where State Senator Alessandria Biaggi was joined by City Councilman Brad Lander to push the Commercial Vacancy Tax Bill in the State Senate, the City and State Recovery Lease Program, the City Councils Small Business Jobs Survival Act and Commercial Rent Stabilization Bill. Three of the candidates Mina Lori, Jessica Haller, and Dan Padernacht in the March special election to replace the former Councilman, now Supreme Court Judge Andrew Cohen were in attendance. 

Above - State Senator Alessandria Biaggi tells of how Buunni Coffee was the only store on the block to welcome her when she was running for the State Senate in 2018.

Below - Councilman Brad Lander met candidate Biaggi at Buunni coffee, and talked about what needs to be done to save businesses like Buunni Coffee from going under.

Above - Buunni Coffee owner Sarina Prabasi (r) explains why she has to close due to the loss of business during the Pandemic, and 11th City Council candidate Mino Lori said 'Those in power need to act now to save other small businesses'. 

Below - The crowd of people who came to the rally in freezing weather.

343 Days and Counting


343 days left for Lame Duck de Blasio.

DiNapoli: Tax Revenues Through December Were $2.5 Billion Lower Than Last Year


State tax receipts through the first nine months of the state fiscal year were $2.5 billion lower than last year, but were $1.8 billion higher than anticipated by the state Division of the Budget (DOB), according to the monthly State Cash Report released by New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli.

Tax receipts in the month of December totaled $8.4 billion, $422.5 million above last year, and $1.4 billion above DOB’s latest projections.

“December’s tax receipts were better than expected, but the revenue challenge is still with us,” DiNapoli said. “President-elect Biden’s proposed stimulus plan, with new aid to help states and localities fill gaps created by the COVID-19 pandemic, is another hopeful sign. We still have a long way to go, and it’s essential that leaders in Washington act on a robust plan of assistance as quickly as possible.”

Comparison of State Tax Collections as of December 31, 2020

Personal income tax receipts in December were $544.8 million, or 12.7 percent, above December 2019, due in part to an additional day of withholding in 2020. Sales tax receipts continued to fall short of the previous year in December, down $86.6 million, or 5.5 percent, from 2019. 

State Operating Funds spending through the first nine months of the fiscal year totaled $63.9 billion, which was $7.8 billion, or 10.8 percent, lower than last year. This is largely due to higher federal reimbursement for Medicaid spending, as well as the withholding of certain payments.

As of December 31, the General Fund held a balance of $16.6 billion, $2 billion higher than DOB projections, and $8.4 billion higher than last year at the same time. The higher balance is driven partly by withheld payments as well as receipts from short-term borrowing that DOB anticipates repaying before the end of the fiscal year. The state has repaid $1 billion of that borrowing, with the remaining $3.4 billion due by March 31.

December Cash Report

Governor Cuomo Updates New Yorkers on State's Progress During COVID-19 Pandemic - JANUARY 22, 2021


Additional Cases of UK Variant in Westchester and Kings Counties, Brings Total Cases to 25 

8,846 Patient Hospitalizations Statewide

1,546 Patients in the ICU; 992 Intubated

Statewide Positivity Rate is 5.65%

165 COVID-19 Deaths in New York State Yesterday

 Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today updated New Yorkers on the state's progress during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Three additional cases of the UK variant were identified in Westchester and Kings Counties. To date, there are 25 known cases of the variant in New York State

"We are in a war with COVID and as I've said time and again, winning this war will mean winning the footrace between how fast the infection rate goes up and how fast we can vaccinate New Yorkers," Governor Cuomo said. "Positivity and hospitalizations are both down, which is good news, but it in no way means we're out of the woods. What's concerning now is the emergence of three new frightening strains of the virus which could send those numbers back in the other direction. As we have done throughout this crisis, we will continue to monitor these strains closely, follow the science, and continue our work to vaccinate New Yorkers as quickly and fairly as possible."

  • Test Results Reported - 268,001
  • Total Positive - 15,144
  • Percent Positive - 5.65% 
  • Patient Hospitalization - 8,846 (-209)
  • Patients Newly Admitted - 1,045
  • Hospital Counties - 57
  • Number ICU - 1,546 (-14)
  • Number ICU with Intubation - 992 (-19) 
  • Total Discharges - 119,953 (+1,064)
  • Deaths - 165
  • Total Deaths - 33,763

Councilman Rafael Salamanca Exits Borough President Race to Stay in City Council


The following statement was given by Councilman Rafael Salamanca on his decision not to run for Bronx Borough President, and run for re-election to his City Council seat.

That leaves City Council members Vanessa Gibson, and Fernando Cabrera, Assemblywoman Nathalia Fernandez, State Senator Luis Sepulveda, Former Police Officer Sammy Ravelo, and Businessman Victor Gutierrez currently as Bronx Borough President candidates for the June Primary. Petitioning begins the last week of February.

Friday, January 22, 2021

News from Councilman Mark Gjonaj


According to the NYC Department of Health, due to a vaccine shortage, all first dose appointments made for Thursday, Jan. 21 through Sunday, Jan. 24 at their COVID-19 Vaccine Hubs will be rescheduled to the same time next week as the City deals with vaccine shortages. Learn more:
The COVID-19 vaccine is available to certain groups in NYC. The following groups have recently become eligible:
  •    People ages 65 and older
  •    Teachers and education workers
  •    First responders
  •    Public safety workers
  •    Public transit workers
For more information, to make an appointment and for more eligibility requirements, Click Here.



“New York City has begun the largest vaccination effort in recent history. Through this effort, over 500,000 doses have been administered here. We are proud of that achievement, but we know it’s not enough. We are ready to do more, and faster, but we can’t do it alone: swift action from your administration on the key strategies you laid out will make a real difference for New Yorkers, helping us speed up this process and get the vaccine to more people.”  

  Mayor Bill de Blasio today issued a letter to President Joe Biden, pledging the City’s partnership to the new Administration’s vaccine distribution effort. To reach the maximum number of New Yorkers, the City needs more doses of the vaccine and the flexibility to administer all available doses.


The text of the letter is in full below: 


Dear President Biden:   


On behalf of the City of New York, I extend my deepest congratulations to you in your new role as President of the United States of America. We look forward to working closely with your team to address the needs of New Yorkers and ensure a strong, fair recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.   


We are heartened by the clear, comprehensive plan you have laid out to tackle the pandemic. It speaks to key issues we have identified here relating to multilevel government coordination, advance notice of dosage allocations to facilitate vaccine planning and community trust, and the need for sufficient resources to ensure we all reach the communities hardest hit by the pandemic.  


New York City has begun the largest vaccination effort in recent history. Through this effort, over 500,000 doses have been administered here. We are proud of that achievement, but we know it’s not enough. We are ready to do more, and faster, but we can’t do it alone: swift action from your administration on the key strategies you laid out will make a real difference for New Yorkers, helping us speed up this process and get the vaccine to more people.   


Supply continues to be our biggest challenge. We have exceeded our weekly vaccination targets for two weeks in a row. Demand has been extraordinary, and our effort to build capacity has been effective at getting shots into arms. However, we are now on the verge of running out of vaccine. At the current rate, New York City’s supply will be exhausted by the end of this week. But with enough vaccine doses, we are confident we can rev back up, increasing our output to be able to vaccinate at least 500,000 people per week, leveraging existing and new infrastructure, all while prioritizing equity. Instead, as supply dwindles, we are actively canceling appointments—starting with this weekend, and now going into next week, as we await re-supply. New York City has come too far and New Yorkers have fought too hard to allow that to go on.   


We deeply appreciate your administration’s commitment to enhancing manufacturing through the Defense Production Act. Supporting increased speed of vaccine manufacturing to increase overall supply is critical in this fight. We are ready to partner with you and our allies to get this done.    


Relatedly, we urge you to look at the allocation of doses across the county, as New York City and other commuter jurisdictions are vaccinating more than just their residents. Vaccine doses are currently allocated pro-rata based on resident population, but here in New York City, we are vaccinating more than just our residents: as the center of a highly interconnected regional economy, we are also vaccinating all eligible populations who work in the city even if they do not live here— which is the right thing to do. To date, non-residents make up 30% of all vaccinated within New York City. But we are not receiving the doses to match, as these additional vaccinations are not incorporated in calculating the New York City allocation. This is true of other commuter jurisdictions, like the Capitol Region, Los Angeles, and Chicago. We are well-positioned to efficiently vaccinate eligible populations, including those who live and work in NYC, as we should, but we need to be allocated an equitable share of doses to keep up with demand.   


We are also seeking flexibility to administer the doses we have now to protect as many New Yorkers as possible. In this moment of accelerated demand and growth in capacity, curtailed by extremely limited supply, we hope to work with your administration to optimally utilize existing supply, in line with your plan. While maintaining a secure reserve of second doses (two-week supply), the City is seeking the flexibility during this time to temporarily use the remaining supply of second doses to bridge the gap to a time of increased production, replenishing the second dose supply as production ramps. This would allow the City to maximize first dose vaccinations, while continuing to stay on target for the FDA-recommended second dose regimen.   


The availability of the COVID-19 vaccine has restored optimism across the country. Your election and inauguration have given us hope. New York City is well-positioned to contribute significantly to your goal of 100 million doses administered. It’s going to take all we’ve got, and New York City stands ready to do our part.    



Bill de Blasio   




 "I was alarmed to learn that the Staten Island District Attorney's office has worked with Clearview AI beginning in May of 2019, and I am grateful that the Legal Aid Society helped to uncover the existence of this contract. That the District Attorneys' office deemed the pursuit of further transparency about this purchase to be an invasion of privacy is ironic, hypocritical, and unacceptable.

"Use of this kind of technology disproportionately targets and falsely condemns people of more color- It amounts to a more technologically advanced version of the same biased-based law enforcement we have battled for many years. District Attorney McMahon must immediately halt any usage of this tool, and District Attorneys across the five boroughs must commit to banning the use of this software in their own offices.  Facial recognition technology like Clearview AI has the capacity to be not a tool for public safety, but a threat to it."

Governor Cuomo Announces Nation's First-Ever Center for Glass Innovation at SUNY Alfred to Improve Glass Recycling


NYS College of Ceramics at SUNY Alfred to Lead Innovative, Three-Year Research and Collaboration Initiative

Fulfills Governor's 2020 State of the State Proposal to Promote New Glass Production and Reuse Options

 Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced a new nation-leading collaboration with the State College of Ceramics at Alfred University to bolster markets for recycled glass and improve the quality of glass available for recovery throughout New York. The Center for Glass Innovation was first announced in the Governor's 2020 State of the State Address and will play an instrumental role in helping recycling markets and municipal recycling programs find new ways to produce and recycle glass.  

"The College of Ceramics at Alfred University is playing a critical role in enhancing recycling markets and the overall economic revival of the Southern Tier," Governor Cuomo said. "This first-ever Center for Glass Innovation builds on our efforts partnering the best academic institutions with industry experts to develop strategies to make New York a cleaner and greener state. The investment will also help to ensure our students have the education and skills they need for new opportunities and jobs in the green economy of the future." 

Recycling markets continue to experience volatility. As a result, recycling operations are struggling to find suitable markets for material, impacting local solid waste recycling efforts. Glass is the heaviest component of the municipal waste stream and costly to process. The State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is working with key stakeholders, including municipalities, to strategize on how to bolster new markets to build capacity in the state and the northeast region to address these challenges.   

As a major focus of this initiative, the New York State College of Ceramics (NYSCC) will form the Center for Glass Innovation as a research resource for glass producers in New York State and, ultimately, nationally. The Center will create space for basic and applied research, user facilities, and experimental glass tanks for applied, industrial-scale research, with an emphasis on creating higher value end markets for curbside collected glass. This will be the first center of its kind in the United States where glass companies will be able to test small batches of new glass compositions in a pilot production environment.  

State University of New York Chancellor Jim Malatras said, "With the launching of the Center for Glass Innovation, the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University will be at the epicenter of the glass industry's growth and evolution. In the latest chapter in a long history of public-private partnership, the College of Ceramics—a national leader in glass science research and education—will collaborate with industry-leading private companies to develop next generation glass materials, make manufacturing processes more energy efficient, and uncover ways to reuse glass that would otherwise be dumped into a landfill. Ultimately, this initiative will create more sustainable, eco-friendly communities and help accomplish Governor Cuomo's ambitious goal of achieving a carbon-neutral economy. I want to thank Governor Cuomo and the Department of Environmental Conservation for their investment in this important research project, and New York's leading glass companies for their partnership."  

DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said, "We want to keep New York's academic institutions ahead of the curve when it comes to emerging trends in recycling. Governor Cuomo's investment in this center is a sign of New York's commitment to not only providing top notch educational opportunities to Alfred University students, but also helping to grow the highly skilled workforce that employers want and need in this competitive field." 

SUNY's statutory unit at Alfred University, the NYSCC, will receive nearly $1.7 million for this initiative through the State's Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) as part of a three-year agreement. NYSCC has a world-renowned reputation in the field of glass science and engineering and is the only institution in the country to offer a doctoral degree in glass science. Since NYSCC's glass science and engineering degree was established in 1932, thousands of graduates have found successful positions at the forefront of materials discovery, glass processing, and manufacturing. NYSCC's location in the Southern Tier of New York State is in excellent geographic proximity to important facilities such as: Corning Inc.; Guardian Glass; Anchor Glass; and Tesla/SolarCity. Other collaborators include Monofrax; St. Gobain; Owens-Illinois; and the Glass Manufacturer Industry Council. 

Assemblymember Nathalia Fernandez - OFFICE NOTICE



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The Violence Intervention Program (VIP) hotline: call 1-800-664-5880 or visit their website
Non-Profit Providers: Guidance for Non-profit providers
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NYCEM pets planning: Pet Emergency Plan

344 Days and Counting Down


344 days left for Mayor Bill de Blasio until he is term-limited out of office.

Queens Man Arrested for Threatening to Murder Members of Congress


Queens Man Arrested for Threatening to Murder Members of Congress

 A criminal complaint was filed in federal court in Brooklyn charging Brendan Hunt, also known as “X-Ray Ultra,” with threatening to murder United States officials.  Hunt was arrested this morning in Queens and made his initial appearance this afternoon before United States Magistrate Judge Ramon E. Reyes, Jr., who ordered the defendant detained pending trial.

Seth D. DuCharme, Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, William F. Sweeney, Jr., Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office (FBI), and Dermot F. Shea, Commissioner, New York City Police Department (NYPD), announced the arrest and charge.

“Our democracy depends on the legislators who shoulder the responsibility of government.  By allegedly threatening to murder and intimidate elected officials, Hunt is striking at the core of our government,” stated Acting United States Attorney DuCharme.  “This Office will aggressively disrupt such conduct and prosecute offenders like the defendant to the fullest extent of the law.”

“Before the assault on the Capitol building, and again after, Hunt’s alleged online commentary directly called for the assassination of members of Congress.  This is not a hard message to understand –threats of violence against our public officials won’t be tolerated.  Mr. Hunt was arrested this morning by the FBI’s New York Joint Terrorism Task Force. To others from this area who still don’t get it – if you are considering a similar path to ‘take up arms’ like Mr. Hunt did, that road leads nowhere except a reservation at our building downtown,” stated FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Sweeney.

Mr. DuCharme and Mr. Sweeney praised the outstanding work of the FBI’s New York Joint Terrorism Task Force on the case.

As alleged in the complaint, on January 8, 2021, two days after the riot in the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., Hunt posted a video to an Internet-based video sharing site in which he exhorted his viewers to violence, urging them that “[w]e need to go back to the U.S. Capitol when all of the Senators and a lot of the Representatives are back there, and this time we have to show up with our guns.  And we need to slaughter these m-----f------.”  The video was one in a series of statements by Hunt posted on social media since at least December 6, 2020, in which he called for violence and “public execution” against members of Congress.

The charges in the complaint are allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.  If convicted, Hunt faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.

Attorney General James Secures Agreements with Condo Owner, Management Company, and Security Firm to Protect Rent-Stabilized Tenants


Pinnacle Managing and SW Security Violated Rent-Stabilization Laws,  Investigated Chinese Tenants Without Cause

 New York Attorney General Letitia James today announced agreements with a condo owner, its principals, and a security firm over repeated violations of rent stabilization laws and guidance. The agreements with 132-40 Sanford LLC, the sponsor of the Summit at Infinity 8 Condominium located at 132-40 Sanford Avenue, its real estate management company, Pinnacle Managing Co., LLC, and security firm SW Security Services, LLC, resolves violations relating to the modification of a front door lock of the rent-stabilized building located in Flushing, Queens, which ultimately led to several of the building’s tenants, mostly Chinese tenants, forfeiting their rent-stabilized apartments. Under the terms of the agreements, the companies will implement a series of measures that are inclusive of all tenants, undergo anti-discrimination trainings, and donate $50,000 to nonprofit organizations that focus on tenant organizing in Asian communities.

“Tenants have a right to remain in their homes, and we must do all we can to protect affordable housing,” said Attorney General James. “These companies failed to deliver the pinnacle of service to tenants, and their actions forced individuals — particularly Chinese tenants — out of their rent-stabilized homes. Let this serve as a warning that we will not tolerate anyone or any entity that violates our housing laws and threatens New Yorkers’ right to a safe and decent home.”

In 2017, after acquiring the occupied rent-stabilized rental building at 132-40 Sanford Avenue and submitting initial offering documents to the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) to convert the building to a condominium, the sponsor hired SW Security Services to change the building’s front door lock system to an electronic access system. However, the sponsor and Pinnacle Managing failed to apply to the New York State Division of Housing and Community Renewal (DHCR) for permission to change the door lock, in violation of the state’s rent stabilization guidance.

The subsequent key fob distribution process was also overly burdensome on tenants and excluded certain individuals. Tenants were incorrectly told to present a valid New York state ID or other government-issued ID to receive their new key fob. At the time, only U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents qualified for government-issued IDs, leaving the significant number of non-citizen and non-legal permanent resident Chinese tenants of the building with the impression that they were not entitled to access their own homes. According to DHCR guidance, owners must accept any form of identification from tenants as long as it contains a photo of the tenant and it is impermissible for a rent-stabilized owner to require an ID issued by a certain state or jurisdiction.

Additionally, the OAG’s investigation found that in March 2018, when SW Security Services distributed key fobs to tenants, the company’s Director of Investigations impermissibly recorded information from tenant IDs, including the jurisdiction issuing the ID and the address listed. The security company then used the information from the IDs as a basis for recommending 13 private investigations into certain tenants. Ten of the 13 tenants were individuals with Chinese surnames. Both the sponsor and management company authorized those investigations, which resulted in seven of the tenants — six of whom had Chinese surnames — to forfeit their apartments.

As part of the agreement with OAG, 132-40 Sanford LLC and Pinnacle Managing are required to implement a series of measures, including:

  • Donating $50,000 to a nonprofit organizations that focus on tenant organizing on behalf of the Asian community;
  • Conducting anti-discrimination training for staff through the New York City Commission on Human Rights;
  • Implementing a form flyer for key fob distribution that does not require a New York ID. Pinnacle Managing is also required to have these flyers (and all applications for keys) translated into languages that are spoken in the building;
  • Agreeing not to record any data from IDs when handing out key fobs to tenants and their guests. The company will also be required to implement a system for key fob distribution that does not require any ID other than one that proves identity and does not require listing of individuals residing in the apartment;
  • Agreeing not to hire any security services firm to distribute key fobs; and
  • Agreeing to comply with DHCR guidance and regulations.

SW Security Services will also implement similar measures pertaining to their own staff, including:

  • Requiring investigators to attend anti-discrimination and rent-stabilization trainings;
  • Implementing policies for interactions with minors; and
  • Agreeing that investigators will not record any data from tenant IDs when handing out key fobs.