Monday, January 31, 2011

Mayor Bloomberg Trying to Con State Legislatures on Teachers

    Mayor Bloomberg is trying to con the state legislature on the teacher tenure rule by trying to save money by laying off veteran teachers rather than new inexperienced teachers. The claim by the mayor is that recently hired teachers have fresh new ideas, but in reality such fresh new ideas can only be used if they fit into the Bloomberg way of teaching. Below is a statement from State Senator Ruben Diaz Sr. about the problem of not how not to lay off teachers, but how to lay off the more experienced higher earning teachers for Senator Diaz's friend Mayor Bloomberg. 
    Pass KEEP Legislation Now!
    Albany, NY- State Senator Rubén Díaz, Sr. today called on the Legislature to pass the Keep Excellent and Effective Professionals in the classroom (KEEP) Act (S.95), which would ensure that the City’s most effective teachers are not laid off in the event of massive budget cuts as is widely anticipated.
    “I introduced this bill last year at the request of Mayor Bloomberg, and reintroduced it this year. There is no reason why this bill should not be reported and brought to the floor of the Senate for a vote” remarked
Senator Díaz.
    “Losing even one teacher will hurt, but losing many teachers simply because they’re new to the job threatens our schools and would be devastating to the students in my district who need their passion, energy, and good ideas,” Senator Díaz said. “If our schools must lay off teachers, the school community must have a say in who stays and who goes,” he continued.
    “Now that Mayor Bloomberg has called on Governor Cuomo to end the rule that protects teachers with seniority, regardless of ability, I would suggest that the legislative process is the way to fulfill the Mayor’s request,” stated Senator Díaz.
    We have to now ask Senator Diaz- Do you know who are the best teachers at a particular school, or are you going to leave that up to Mayor Bloomberg, his new  chancellor of one month, or his newly promoted inexperienced principals. Mind you watch how many school principals have gone over their budget last year, and just how many school budgets are to be cut this year because of the overspending. Have you forgot that Mayor Bloomberg has tried to rewrite the Decentralization law, ignored parents completely, and wants to replace public schools with charter schools that pick and choose their students.

Saturday, January 29, 2011


    State Senators Adriano Espaillat (D – 31st District) and Gustavo Rivera (D – 33rd District) testified at a public hearing regarding the Department of Education’s proposal to close down John F. Kennedy High School in the Bronx. The joint public hearing was observed by the District 10 Community Education Council and the JFK School Leadership Team.
    Both senators outlined their commitment to improving the educational opportunities available for local students. Sen. Espaillat and Sen. Rivera have expressed concerns about the Department of Education’s lack of communication with parents, particularly a lack of adequate notice about tonight’s hearing and other important developments. They called for a fair and transparent process that provides parents and community leaders with the opportunity to voice their opinions and inquiries, and that their input is then reflected in the Department’s plans moving forward.
    “With nothing short of our children’s future riding on our schools, it is unacceptable to leave parents and community members in the dark and out of the decision making process,” said Sen. Adriano Espaillat.
    “Parents shouldn’t be learning about their children’s school being closed through newspaper clippings or word of mouth,” said Sen. Gustavo Rivera. “Our constituents deserve a transparent process that provides them with the information they need and gives these parents a seat at the table when important determinations are being made.”
    Senators Espaillat and Rivera have laid out a set of principles they believe must be followed as the Department of Education proceeds with closings
Ø  JFK must only close if the alternative school(s) offer a quality of education that is truly excellent and significantly better than what is currently offered at JFK.   
Ø  The transition process must be smooth and carefully planned so as to limit disruptions for students.  
Ø  Parents and local community members must be given access to all information in a timely manner and allowed a voice in the decision making process. 
Ø  There must be viable placement options for the district’s “over the counter” admissions of special need students (English Language Learners/ELL, students with Individualized Education Plans/IEP, and Students with Interrupted Formal Education/SIFE) who otherwise would go to JFK.


Assemblywoman Gibson Inauguration Rescheduled

Please be advised that the Inauguration Ceremony for Assemblywoman Vanessa L. Gibson has been rescheduled for Saturday, February 5th, 2011, at 10:30AM,
Bronx Museum of the Arts, 1040 Grand Concourse, corner of East 165th Street, Bronx, New York. A reception will follow the ceremony.


Thursday, January 27, 2011

Former State Senator Guy Velella Passes Away UPDATE

    In a story we told you on Friday January 21st of the worsening health of Former State Senator Guy Velella, we must update that to say that Former Senator Guy Velella has died at the age of 66 of lung cancer.
    Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. had this to say on the passing of Senator Velella, “I am saddened to hear about the passing of Guy Velella, who served the Bronx for many years in both the State Senate and the State Assembly. My thoughts and prayers are with his family during their time of grief". 
    Current State Senate Majority Leader Dean Skellows said “I was deeply saddened today to learn of the passing of former Senator Guy Velella. Guy was close personal friend and colleague. He will be remembered for his many years of service to his constituents in the Bronx and Westchester, for his great sense of humor and his straight forward manner. My thoughts and prayers go out to his wife Patricia and his family.”
    Bronx Conservative Party Chairman (and close ally) Bill Newmark said" Guy Velella was an extremely hard working state senator who put in a tremendous  amount of time and effort for the people of the north Bronx. He also always won re-election despite being in an overwhelmingly Democratic district.
    State Senator Jeff Klein who won election to the 34th District after Senator Velella steped down said, “Senator Velella will be remembered in my district for his dedication and service to the community. I’m a Democrat and he was a Republican. But, when it came to our mutual constituents, we worked together and never let partisanship trump people. My thoughts and prayers are with Senator Velella’s family during this difficult time.”

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

When Will We Hear from Our Democratic Leaders about Those Senators
by New York State Senator Reverend Ruben Diaz

   Two years ago, Senators Hiram Monserrate, Pedro Espada, Karl Kruger and I formed a group that we called the Four Amigos.  We met frequently – not in secret- all believing in transparency in government.  We discussed how, as Democrats serving in the Senate Majority, we could initiate much needed change in the Senate to help our constituents.  As Senators representing areas with growing Hispanic populations, we knew that our mission was long overdue. Senator Monserrate’s “parliamentary coup” folded when he returned to vote with the Democratic Party.  (As I recall, several key Senators acted like his best friends when they begged him to return, but later they led the charge to throw him out of office). Senator John Sampson was subsequently elected to serve as Senate Majority Leader.  Senator Espada was selected to serve as the Senate’s Temporary President and Acting Lieutenant Governor – the highest-ranking position that any Hispanic has ever achieved in the New York State legislature.
   The Four Amigos were branded as traitors, banditos, and extortionists.  We were labeled opportunists and thugs.  Mayor Ed Koch sat on New York 1 and called us rats. Democratic leaders throughout the state used every chance they could to make pubic statements attacking us and our intentions.  Editorial boards had a field day at our expense, and so did political pundits.
   This year, Senators Diane Savino, Jeff Klein, David Carlucci and David Valesky have dubbed themselves the “New Independence Conference” of the New York State Senate.  Those Senators have severed formal ties from Senate Majority Leader John Sampson.  They refuse to caucus with Senate Democrats.  Despite the financial stranglehold around the throats of New Yorkers, and despite the fact that the Democrats are not in the Majority, that self-anointed group of Senators has been granted millions of dollars in perks and budget appropriations for staff, parking spots, etc. They have been given preferred office space so they can remain tightly-knit and their offices are being re-designed to have walls placed or removed as they desire.  After a fair amount of kicking and screaming, those Senators been given the power to decide where they sit in the Senate Chamber.  (It was like watching passengers on the Titanic re-arranging deck chairs.) Last night, it was announced that three of those Senators were granted Chairmanship positions (with lulus) by the Republican Majority Leader.
   I’m listening hard but I don’t hear even a whisper from any Democratic leader of their criticism of those Senators who have abandoned the Democratic Party.  Is the snow muffling any outcry?  Will the Daily News’ Mr. Bramhall render this new caucus as the new Cosa Nostra? Are the actions of Hispanic legislators held to a different, higher standard?  Has the Democratic Party decided those non-Hispanic Senators should determine what’s best for all New Yorkers with no accountability?
   Please don’t try to justify the criticism the Four Amigos endured because of Hirman Monserrate’s conviction because that didn’t happened until many months after the Senate coup. And please do not justify the malicious comments because of Senator Espada’s recent indictment because that wasn’t even on the horizon in 2008.
   Please, explain this to me because I just don’t see how we were wrong and they are right. I don’t understand why we were condemned and they are being treated like prima donnas.  Please explain to me why the Democratic Leadership in New York State is leaving Senator John Sampson to fight this fight alone?
Is this a double-standard or what?
   We will only say what now State Senate Minority Leader John Sampson said to us at the swearing in of Senator Gustavo Rivera, and that was "We are still all Democrats".
IDC Members to Chair Legislative Committees

   The Independent Democratic Conference today accepted recommendations from the Senate Majority that, in keeping with recent bi-partisan tradition, would allow them to chair legislative committees.
    The IDC similarly accepted committee assignments recommended to them by the Senate Minority on Monday. 
     These chair appointments continue a Senate tradition of reaching across party lines and empowering non-majority members to have a more hands-on role in shaping legislation and are the following.
    Senator Diane Savino, (D-Staten Island/ Brooklyn), being named the Chairwoman of the Senate Standing Committee on Children and Families. Senator Savino began her career in public service as a caseworker in New York City’s Child Welfare Administration.
    Senator David Valesky, (D-Oneida), has been named the Chairman of the Senate Standing Committee on Aging.  
    Senator David Carlucci, (D-Rockland/ Orange), has been named Co-Chair of the Administrative Regulations Review Commission. This joint legislative commission is responsible for reviewing rules and regulations passed by state entities. 
    On Monday, the Independent Democratic Conference accepted the following committee assignments from the Senate Minority:
Senator Savino: Member of the Civil Service, Banks and Veterans committees.
Senator Valesky: Member of the Agriculture, Transportation, Banks, Cultural Affairs committees.
Senator Jeff  Klein: member of the Local Government, Cultural Affairs, Veterans, Mental Health committees
Senator Carlucci: Member of the Banks, Veterans, Higher Education and Elections committees.

     It is also rumored that Senator Jeff Klein will chair the newly recreated Alcholism and Substance Abuse committee, once it passes the Senate Rules committee.


Bronx Bar Incidents

  This has been reported to us.

   On January 16th at 4am a female was assaulted inside the MVP bar... beat up... someone she didn't know. She reported the incident to the police.

    On January 17th at 4am... a similar incident took place... except in this one... violence erupted onto the street. This female was assaulted and beat up outside the MVP bar. She also reported the incident to police. 

     Two acts of violence within 24 hours at a local bar seems to be a MAJOR concern for the community. Also.. the bar has been having issues with FDNY for overcrowding.

    "I'm deeply concerned with recent reports of violence at the bar MVP," said State Senator Jeff Klein. "The FDNY's violation, citing MVP for overcrowding is an indication that the bar may illegally be operating as a nightclub. My office has been in touch with the NYPD, FDNY and SLA and will continue to monitor the situation closely to ensure the safety of the Schuylerville community."

    "In the past there have been complaints of excessive noise at this particular location and the neighborhood is very concerned. We do not want this to turn into a another bar with violence happening on a frequent basis. As a community, we are being vigilant and taking note when these things happen at this particular location, " said Andrew Chirico, Vice President of the Waterbury Lasalle Community Association. 

    The MVP bar is located at 3392 East Tremont Avenue.

Monday, January 24, 2011

What is Joel Klein up to After his Chancellorship?

    According to Celeste Katz of the Daily news Former New York City Schools Chancellor Joel Klein has been named as the chair of Education Reform Now.  

    The interesting thing however is that Klein now joins those listed below, who are heavy advocates of charter schools. In the Daily news story Joel Klein now advocates for changing teacher tenure rules as Mayor Bloomberg and new Chancellor Cathie Black are trying to do. 
You may also want to check this link to a story titled "The Billionaires Boys Club" posted on June 10, 2010.
As you read further into this story you will be able to connect the dots to see the future of public education.
     Here is the website to Education Reform Now , with the board of directors and staff as of Monday January 24, 2011. Note there are only bio's of the staff and not the Board of Directors. For more information on the Board of Directors go to The Billionaires Boys Club link.

Board of Directors

Sidney Hawkins Gargiulo - Hawkshaw Capital
John Petry (chair) - Gotham Capital
John Sabat
- SAC Capital
Brian Zied - Maverick Capital


Executive Director - Van Schoales
van_schoales.jpgVan Schoales is the Executive Director of Education Reform Now, a national education policy and advocacy non-profit organization fighting to dramatically improve the quality of public education for America's most disadvantaged children.  He was most recently a program officer at the Piton Foundation where he oversaw a portfolio of investments on state policy, district reform and new school development. He has previously been a high school science teacher, principal and school non-profit leader working as an education reform advocate. Van has launched or help start a number of non-profits including the Odyssey Charter School, Bay Area Coalition of Equitable (formerly Essential) Schools, Denver School of Science and Technology, A + Denver, EdNewsColorado and Get Smart Schools.

National Strategy Director - Myles Mendoza
van_schoales.jpgIn Myles's position as the National Strategy Director of Education Reform Now he is strengthening ERN's existing capacities and strategically developing new outposts throughout the country. He was most recently the Development Director at the Denver Scholarship Foundation and was instrumental in the foundation's transformation from a start-up non-profit to one of national fundraising prominence and visibility. Myles conceived and implemented an ambitious five-year fundraising strategy in which $62 million dollars was raised and helped to make it the sustainable organization it is today. Myles originally came to his non-profit executive career after years of front-line work in difficult inner-city school environments including East St. Louis and disadvantaged Chicago neighborhoods. "Working in these communities allowed me to become an expert in understanding the complex factors that relate to youth and their ability to achieve academic success. I was able to get to know many families and their home environments first hand. I learned that even in the most abusive home situations, children can succeed if their schools provide them with quality teaching and high expectations. These experiences gave me both the passion and the knowledge to fight for what is needed to ensure every child in America is given the opportunity to succeed." Myles received his MSW from Washington University in St. Louis. Myles has three boys, all of whom attend high performing charter schools. He sits on the Board of Directors at West Denver Prep and the American Academy Foundation.

Chief of Staff - Brienne Bellavita
Brienne Bellavita joined Education Reform Now (ERN) in the fall of 2007.  Prior to her role as the Chief of Staff, Brienne served as the Program Director of ERN, working to build up the organization's programs promoting proven education reform policies.
Previous to her work at ERN, Brienne worked for the City of New York as an Investigator at the Civilian Complaint Review Board, where she investigated allegations of police misconduct.  As a civil servant, she developed the applied skills necessary to deliver on public sector challenges and gained invaluable experience working with many segments of the population.
Previously, Brienne lived in London, England, where she served an internship in the British Parliament working for Kevin McNamara MP, a member of the Labour Party in the House of Commons.  

Office Manager - Beverly Francis
Beverly is a New Yorker by zip code, but a true Floridian at heart. Beverly joined the staff of Education Reform Now (ERN) in the Fall of 2008. Her passion for advancement in public education derive both from being a product of the public education system, and being surrounded by a family of educators.
Prior to her work at ERN, Beverly worked in the news and entertainment industry. She credits her experience as a TV journalist for her growing involvement and awareness of domestic issues.
Beverly graduated from Florida International University in Miami, FL with a Bachelor of Science in Jo

MTA’s own numbers show just how far the Bronx lags behind the rest of the city
    Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., today deplored as shocking the subway service provided to Bronx residents by the MTA.

    “The statistics released by the MTA show that the Bronx continues to be treated as the “forgotten borough” and that cannot continue,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.

     Borough President Diaz noted that the MTA’s own statistics show that the number 1, 2 , 4 and 5 lines of the IRT, starting in the Kingsbridge/Riverdale, Wakefield,  Woodlawn, and Eastchester sections of the Bronx have the longest weekday wait assessments in the  system, together with the A train that Kingsbridge and Riverdale residents use via a bus connection.

    The key service-performance indicators show the same shocking results, with the number 2 train having the worst indicators in the system. Even the on-time performance statistics shown on the MTA’s Dashboard show that each of lines starting in the Bronx had a worse on-time performance record than was targeted. That this is a particularly serious problem for Bronxites is shown by the station indicators which confirm that the Bronx stations are treated unfairly, with KPI ratings of 83.8% for Bronx subway stations compared to 88.4 percent, 88.6 percent and 89.4 percent for Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens respectively.

     “These new MTA service ratings are unacceptable. Residents of the Bronx must have clean, efficient, reliable and on-time subway service to get to and from work and to go about their activities. The fares Bronxites pay to use the system are the same as everyone else, and yet the MTA continues to give us the short end of the stick when it comes to subway service. I will not tolerate anyone treating the Bronx as the “forgotten borough” and demand that the MTA offer a full account as to why service starting in this borough lags so far behind the rest of the City and develop a plan to address these deficiencies immediately. We deserve nothing less,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.

Sunday, January 23, 2011


     New York City Controller John C. Liu will take his audit bureau on the road for a series of borough town hall meetings to give New Yorkers a chance to learn about the power of the auditing process. New Yorkers will have the opportunity to suggest an audit to the Comptroller’s award-winning audit team. The first of five town halls will take place on Monday, January 24 in Manhattan.

City Comptroller John C. Liu,  Elected officials,
Deputy Comptroller for Audit H. Tina Kim and Audit Bureau

Learn about the Who, What, When, Where and Why of audits. Suggest an audit to the Comptroller's office. 

  BRONX  Feb.14th –  

  6-8 pm  Bronx Borough Hall, 1st floor rotunda 851 Grand Concourse Bronx, NY 10451


Saturday, January 22, 2011

Upcoming Events

    Friday  January 28th Sound off about the Blizzard of 2010 to the City Council held at Hostos Community College  6PM 

    Friday  January 28th Phase out meeting at Kennedy High School 6 PM.  

    Saturday January 29th Post-2009 Election Panel hosted by Bronx for Change. Moderated by Roberto Perez of the Perez Notes to be held at La Ressurreccion Church 970 Elton Ave. (one block west of 3rd Ave. and 158th Street) RSVP to 

    Friday February 15th Public Hearing on two new charter schools to be located at the JFK campus. Kennedy High School 6 PM.

    Tuesday March 1st Panel for Education Policy vote on new charter schools at Kennedy campus, 6 PM at Brooklyn Tech High School 29 Fort Greene Place Brooklyn.




Friday, January 21, 2011

The Health of Former State Senator Guy Velella Worsens

    In a story by Celeste Katz "The Daily Politics", Ms.Katz reports that Former State Senator Guy Velella's health worsens and that he was transferred to Calvery Hospital for the terminally ill here in the Bronx. It is said that Velella may have only three to six months to live according to Bob Kappstatter of the Daily News according to Velella himself.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

  Was the Bronx portrayed unfairly on American Idol?

    Travis Orlando a 16 year old Bronx high school student tried out for American Idol, and during the interview process Travis gave his view of growing up in the Bronx. Also mentioned was that his family lost their house due to the current recession, and had to live in a shelter for a few years. 
    First is the statement from Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. on what he calls highlighted the negatives of the Bronx, rather then the revitalization of the Bronx.

 RE: American Idol’s Slander of The Bronx
    “I am thoroughly disgusted with the treatment of the Bronx on last night’s American Idol. Rather than focus on the amazing revitalization the Bronx has seen over the past three decades, the producers of the show chose instead to highlight the negative stereotypes that have plagued our borough for years. The Bronx is the proud home of 1.4 million people, and over the past 30 years we have seen a dramatic drop in crime, incredible new business activity and the development of amazing new infrastructure. The portrayal of the Bronx by the producers of American Idol in such an extremely negative light is not only shameful, it does not accurately represent how far the Bronx has come.
    For those who want to learn the truth about the vibrant neighborhoods, world-class cuisine, burgeoning economy and amazing amenities the Bronx has to offer, I invite them to visit the official website of the Bronx Tourism Council,,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.

    Here is the You Tube link to the interview of Travis Jackson!
    You be the judge of it.
IDC Releases Mandate Relief 

Proposals Level Local Gov't Playing Field, Lower Costs & Save Taxpayer Dollars
The Independent Democratic Conference today unveiled a series of common sense recommendations that will help local governments tackle state mandates, save money, and help ease the burden on taxpayers 

    These recommendations, which were made in consultation with the New York State Conference of Mayors and Municipal Officials, include helping municipalities save money by revamping laws that allow local governments enter into employee benefit cooperatives; cut down on the costs of prescription drug access; and enacting legislation to allow communities to hold building code scofflaws accountable.  
     The proposals include: 
 Revamping laws governing the establishment of Inter-Municipal Employee Benefit Cooperatives. 
 "Encouraging municipalities to pool their employees under one health care plan will allow them the benefit of more purchasing power, better rates, and lower costs that will be passed onto taxpayers," Senator David Carlucci (D-Rockland) said.  
 The IDC is drafting legislation that will simplify the process of having adjoining local governments form local benefit cooperatives and help reduce overall costs. These cooperatives allow municipalities to combine forces, consolidate duplicated services and manage employee health care, payroll and other administrative services.  
 This proposed legislation will also permit inter-municipal employee benefit managers to subscribe to lower cost health insurance products such as Healthy NY. Healthy NY is a comprehensive health insurance product that must be offered by all HMOs in New York to qualified sole-proprietors and small businesses. These products can be up to 7 percent cheaper when compared to other HMO products. 
 These cooperatives would also encourage higher participation rates in employee health benefit programs such as New York State Health Insurance Program (NYSHIP). They would additionally allow lower costs for employee benefits such as tax deferred retirement benefit plans, health flex plans, and tax deferred child care expenses. 
 Cut Down Prescription Drug Costs
 The IDC is additionally working on legislation to allow local governments, many who do not participate in NYSHIP, to buy-in to its comparatively less expensive Empire prescription drug plan, without having to buy into the whole medical/hospital NYSHIP plan. 
 Holding Building Code Scofflaws Accountable
 The IDC will be introducing legislation to allow municipalities to attach unpaid building code and environmental fines to the offending property's tax bill.
 This legislation will end the current system where unscrupulous corporations, LLCs and other scofflaws ignore the rules and taxpayers pay the price of living in communities scarred by eyesores that drive down the value of their homes,” Senator Jeffery D. Klein, (D-Bronx/ Westchester), said. “This bill will be a win-win that improves the quality of life for our constituents and grants relief to local governments.”
 Protect the Local Government Management Improvement Fund from Funding Raids 
 The fund was created in 1989 to help local governments comply with the mandated records management, and is funded by money collected by county clerks on every deed and mortgage filed in their offices. Over the years, the fund has been swept to fill budget gaps. This not only puts a strain on the ability of the municipality to comply with the mandate, but also misappropriates taxes paid by New Yorkers for access to these documents . 
 Explore Remedies to the Current Lack of of Municipal Legal Cost Reimbursement
 A plaintiff can sue any municipality as long as the statutory notice requirements are complied with. Oftentimes plaintiffs, in a rush to comply, file suit against the wrong municipality. Despite this mistake, municipalities are still obligated to expend money and resources defending the lawsuit.
 Peter Baynes, NYCOM Executive Director, said: "Local governments across New York are facing unprecedented fiscal challenges. Increased flexibility and the ability to reduce municipal expenses is essential to the prosperity of local governments and the State.  While the Conference of Mayors believes that the Legislature must take bold steps to finally reform the real cost drivers that plague local finances -- particularly those in the workforce arena -- we support efforts, such as this, to produce cost savings in other areas of municipal budgets as well."       
 Senator David J. Valesky, (D-Oneida), said: "Unfunded mandates put added pressure on local municipalities. In these difficult economic times, we need to evaluate each--large and small--to determine their usefulness and necessity,”    
 Senator Diane Savino, (D-Staten Island/ Brooklyn), said: “Everyone recognizes that the current system isn't working,” said . “As members of the Independent Democratic Conference, we are committed finding solutions to get New York back on the right track. I believe that these common-sense proposals are part of a much needed step in that direction.”


Saturday, January 15, 2011

The State of The Bronx Address by BP Diaz

"Safe Guarding Your Children on the Internet".

    You are invited to attend a free  informative workshop for Seniors, Adults and Youth entitled, "Safe Guarding Your Children on the Internet". Workshop hosted by Gethsemane Baptist Church Social Action Ministry.  No pre-registration required. 
    Workshop Facilitator:
Jessica Lupo, Assistant District Attorney
Investigations Division of the Bronx District Attorney’s Office.
     Tuesday, January 25, 2011    6:45 P.M. – 9:15 P.M. 
    Gethsemane Baptist Church Rev Torrence Robinson , Pastor 771 Fairmount Place (at corner of Fairmount Pl & Prospect Ave) Bronx, N. Y. 10460 
    (718) 294-7129   Contact if additional information needed. 
    Bus #40 or #42 to E. Tremont Ave & Prospect Ave 

Friday, January 14, 2011

    Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. and Bronx elected officials will honor the legacy and memory of the great civil rights leader, Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. during an interfaith service at Trinity Baptist Church. This year’s national theme is, “Remember! Celebrate! Act! A Day on…Not a Day Off”.
    The annual interfaith service will be co-hosted by the Bronx Borough President and Pastor Naomi Tyler Lloyd of Trinity Baptist Church.  
    Monday, January 17,       10:00 a.m.  
   Trinity Baptist Church, 808 East 224th Street      
   Between Barnes & Bronxwood Avenues.
IDC Issues Recommendations to Streamline State Government
$312 million wasteful spending, potential savings, uncovered
    The Independent Democratic Conference today submitted a series of recommendations to Governor Cuomo and his Spending and Government Efficiency (SAGE) Commission that will help them streamline New York's sprawling bureaucracy. 
     The IDC's recommendations to crack down on overtime abuses, develop new accountability standards for outside contractors, review the use of state assets, and eliminate duplicative administrative functions, are based upon the work performed by the Senate Task Force on Government Efficiency.
     IDC members Jeffrey D. Klein, (D-Bronx/ Westchester), David J. Valesky, (D-Oneida), and Diane Savino, (D-Staten Island/ Brooklyn), serve as members of the Task Force, which during the last year uncovered more than $312 million in questionable spending and potential savings. 
     “New Yorkers are simply not getting their money's worth from state government,” Senator Klein said. “We have seen example after example of inefficiencies, duplications of services and outright abuse of state resources. I applaud Governor Cuomo for his commitment to restructuring Albany and we believe the Task Force's work will be a good starting point for this critically important job.”
     The IDC sent copies of the Task Force's reports and recommendations to Governor Cuomo and SAGE Commission Co-Chair Paul Francis. The materials will be provided to other members of the commission as they are announced. 
     Senator Savino said: "During these difficult economic times, it is clear that the old ways of doing business simply aren't working anymore. We must look at fresh and innovative ways to find savings—from consolidating bureaucracies, to cutting back on overtime and administrative waste, to reducing our reliance on costly contractors—so that we can bring real relief to New Yorkers, while still providing vital services.  I commend Governor Cuomo's efforts to improve government efficiency and look forward to working with the SAGE Commission, as well as my Senate colleagues, in finding ways to craft fiscally sound budgets. 
     Senator Valesky said: "The New York State government is too large and ineffective, and has become unsustainable, especially in this difficult economic climate. I strongly support Governor Cuomo's plan, through the SAGE Commission, to restructure the government, and I look forward to continuing the work the Senate Task Force on Government Efficiency has begun." 
     Senator David Carlucci, (D-Rockland), said: “New Yorkers work hard for their money and deserve to know that their tax dollars are being used in an ethical and efficient manner.  Based on the reports by the Senate Task Force on Governmental Efficiency, the Independent Democratic Conference will recommend examining the practice of how we use taxpayer funded assets, the practice of overtime and the consolidation of redundant administrative positions and offices that increase state costs without increasing the effectiveness of services. Such arrangements undermine taxpayers’ trust in government and deplete the States’ limited financial resources. At a time when we are asking all New Yorkers to do more with less, we cannot allow such waste and inefficiency to continue. We must work to streamline government while retaining jobs and continuing to provide critical services New Yorkers rely on.  I commend Governor Cuomo for making government efficiency a top priority.”
     The recommendations are based upon Task Force reports that focused on the SUNY system, the State Department of Transportation, the State Department of Correctional Services, and the former Office of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities (now called the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities.) 
     Based upon these reports, which can be found at, the IDC recommends: 
     Cracking Down on Overtime Abuse
     In both Fiscal Year 2008-09 and Fiscal Year 2009-10, the State spent more than $400 million in overtime. In 2009 alone, the Departments of Transportation, Correctional Services and OMRDD, the Task Force discovered a combined spending of $198.4 million in overtime.
      The IDC recommends that the Division of Budget be granted control over overtime spending in order to curb excessive spending by agency heads. The DOB would have to pre-approve any overtime spending at the various agencies. The Division of Budget should issue clear rules regarding the rules for the assignment of overtime.
     The IDC also recommends the administration end the practice of arbitrary hiring freezes, which, in practice, leads to a spike in overtime payments. 
     Enact Stricter Standards for State Contractors 
     The Task Force’s April 2010 report uncovered millions of dollars in DOT spending on outside contractors for projects and tasks that could have been performed at a lesser cost by in-house workers.  The Task Force identified 479 DOT contracts worth $147.5 million that were approved, but expired before the agreed upon project or service was ever started.
     While the money was not lost, it was tied up while the state was cutting back on essential services.
      The IDC recommends new accountability standards for those who seek to do business with the state. 
     Categorize and Re-assess the Use of Certain State Assets
     The Task Force's investigation into DOCS spending included claims by employees at DOCS that prison wardens were being given the use of luxurious homes near prisons for little, or no, cost. A separate inquiry found that in 2008, OMRDD paid more than $1.9 million for the purchase of two homes to care for 13 client. One of those properties, which included a pool and a hot tub, appraised for $5,000 less than the final purchase price. This price was 63 percent higher than the average area sales price during that time period. 
     The IDC recommends establishing a comprehensive and centralized database of state assets, and making a determination as to whether these assets should remain under state control. The state must also review policies relating to state-owned “perks,” such as apartments and houses.  
     Eliminate Duplicative Administrative Positions 
     In the examination of SUNY and DOCS the Task Force found examples of redundant administrative positions and offices that increase State costs without increasing the effectiveness of State services.
The Task Force reviewed the  spending of various police forces at SUNY campuses and found a surplus of high priced administrators.
     At DOCS,  the Task Force focused on several clusters of prisons across the State, i.e.,  areas in which two, or more correctional facilities are located right next to each other.
     Each prison at these clusters had their own independent administrative staff, including payroll and contracting staffs, even though each facility used the same local businesses to provide them with supplies.
     The IDC recommends that administrative functions at these various state facilities be consolidated. Assuming these consolidations led to a savings of 20% from the previous cost, the State could save $10 million each year in payroll expenses.
     It further recommends that the administration of the SUNY police system be centralized. As part of this centralization, the position of police chief for these local departments would be eliminated and replaced by a single administrator.