Thursday, June 30, 2016

Bravo for Assembly - Statement on Puerto Rico Debt Bill


"I am thrilled that during the 11th hour, Congress finally passed a bi-partisan bill to provide relief to the Puerto Rican government so it can better manage and deal with its $70 billion debt. While the bill is not perfect, and significant hurdles still remain, it will buy time with the hope that with additional oversight and support of the federal government, Puerto Rico will come up with a plan to restructure its debt and establish a more fiscally responsible budget that puts it on firmer financial footing for the future."

Candidate Jaamal Bailey Endorsed By State Senator Ruth Hassel-Thompson for 36th SD

  As you can see in the photo above 36th State Senate District candidate Jaamal Bailey is flanked by current 36th State Senator Ruth Hassel-Thompson and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie. The endorsement took place on the steps of the Mount Vernon City Hall.  Senator Hassel-Thompson praised candidate Bailey for his excellent work in the 83rd Assembly District, and said that she wanted to leave the senate district with a person that she knows will care for all parts of the senate district. She compared candidate Bailey to herself when she ran for the state senate 16 years ago. Candidate Jaamal Bailey became a little nervous when a heckler started to shout at the endorsement, but quickly recovered to show that he could handle many different situations, and that he would fight for the entire 36th State Senate district.

Above - 36th State Senator Ruth Hassel-Thompson explains why she chose candidate Jaamal Bailey as her replacement.
Below - State Assembly Speaker carl Heastie tells of the fine work that candidate Jaamal Bailry has done in his job in the assemblyman's office.

36th State Senate candidate Jaamal Bailey stand proudly on the Mount Vernon City Hall steps between current 36th State Senator Ruth Hassel-Thompson, and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, both of whom have endorsed his candidacy for the 36th State Senate.

Reception in Support of Mark Gjonaj

You Are Cordially Invited to 
A Reception in Support of 
Mark Gjonaj's Re-Election Campaign
for New York State Assembly
80th Assembly District
Monday - July 11, 2016
6:00 pm- 9:00p m
F&J Pine Restaurant 
1913 Bronxdale Avenue
Bronx, NY 10462

Please click HERE to download contribution form

For those who cannot attend, contributions can be mailed to:
Friends of Mark Gjonaj
2018 Williamsbridge Road
Bronx, NY 10461

For more information, please contact 347-671-4355 

~ Thank you for your continued support! ~

Statement from Senator Adriano Espaillat

   “I am proud to stand with Congressman Rangel, Assemblyman Keith Wright, other leaders and elected officials who ran for Congress in the 13th District. As we work to ensure that every vote is counted, we must also begin the task of preparing for the next congressional term. The people of this district are facing several challenges, and we must stand united to address them."
   The statement was given today at Sylvia's. 


  Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. has appointed Hon. Douglas McKeon, Administrative Judge for Civil Matters for the Supreme Court, 12th Judicial District, to the board of directors of BronxNet, the borough’s public television station.

“Judge McKeon has a wealth of knowledge not only about our legal system but about our borough, as well. He cares deeply for the borough he serves, and I know that his talents will help guide the mission of BronxNet in meaningful ways. I look forward to working with Judge McKeon and everyone at BronxNet as we document the positive changes we are seeing in The Bronx,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.

“Bronxites need to feel that their courts and the legal system are living forces that touch our community and improve the lives of people.  BronxNet has been a pioneer in producing programs that educate our citizens about the law, their rights and foster access to Justice.  I’m honored and excited that the Borough President has asked me to assist in this worthwhile effort,” said Judge McKeon.

“Judge McKeon is recognized as an innovator with big ideas who has solved systemic problems through innovation and inspired leadership. BronxNet and its Board of Directors are honored to welcome Judge McKeon to our distinguished leadership team,” said Paul T. Gentile, Chairman of the BronxNet Board of Directors.

Judge McKeon currently serves as the Administrative Judge for Civil Matters for the 12th Judicial District, which covers Bronx County, and is the Statewide Coordinator for Medical Malpractice Matters. In 2013, he also served as Administrative Judge for Criminal Matters, during which a Veterans’ Court was established in The Bronx, and a significant reduction of aged cases was achieved.

A lifelong Bronxite and a resident of Pelham Parkway, Judge McKeon graduated from Lehman College and New York law School cum laude, where he attended the evening division while working full-time.

On the bench, Judge McKeon has handled numerous high-profile cases, including the civil case against French diplomat Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Alex Rodriguez’s medical malpractice action against the New York Yankees, and the civil settlement of the Happy Land fire, among others. He is also a frequent lecturer and author on a wide variety of legal topics, as well as a adjunct professor at the Fordham University School of Law.

Judge McKeon is married to Zalena McKeon. They have three daughters and two granddaughters.

BronxNet is the independent not-for-profit organization serving the people of the Bronx through the provision of media production training, access to technology, and cable television channels. BronxNet’s ultra-local programming helps connect the Bronx with the world while our training programs and partnerships are a part of community development through media.

Judge McKeon will join BronxNet’s other distinguished board members, including Dr. Roscoe Brown, Kenneth Knuckles, Nick Lugo, Myrna Rivera, Peter Joseph, Madaha Kinsey-Lamb, Jean Hodge, Michael Heller and John Collazzi. 


By Robert Press


   There is no edition of the Bronx Voice this week for the 4th of July weekend, but here are a few items that would have been in today's column if there was a paper.
   Tonight June 30th at Orchard Beach is the Annual 4th of July Bronx celebration with a huge fireworks display courtesy of State Senator Jeff Klein and Bronx BP Ruben Diaz Jr.
    On to the 13th Congressional race to replace Charles Rangel. it was an interesting race for the seat of retiring Congressman Rangel, and there was a lot of politics that went into the race. One would have thought that Manhattan Democratic County Leader Keith Wright was the heir apparent to Congressman Rangel. After all Assemblyman Wright should have replaced Sheldon Silver as Speaker of the State Assembly. Some say that a deal was struck with then Bronx Democratic Leader Assemblyman carl Heastie to make Heastie the speaker in return for the Bronx Democratic County organization support in the 13th Congressional race for retiring Congressman Rangel's seat.
    A lot happened on the way to the congressional primary however. The race wound up with nine candidates, which many thought would favor the candidate of the Manhattan and Bronx County organizations as well as the choice of retiring Congressman Rangel. This was also the third time that State Senator Adriano Espaillat was running for the congressional seat, having lost the two times before to incumbent Rangel. So what happened on the way to Washington for Assemblyman Wright?
   The endorsements came in early for Assemblyman Wright, and it looked like he would receive the majority of the votes. However I predicted that candidate Wright would not receive more than 35 percent of the vote. That came to be a fact as wright garnered just about 35 percent of the vote, so what went wrong. 
   As the race was winding down the last two weeks it seemed to many that candidate Wright was coasting to what was viewed as a slim margin of victory. Candidate Espaillat was going into high gear as the election grew near receiving endorsement after endorsement each day. There seemed to be splits in both the Manhattan and Bronx county organizations and even in some so called Bronx families or political clubs. Ruben Diaz was supporting Candidate Wright, but Ruben Diaz was supporting candidate Espaillat. How could that be you say? Ruben Diaz Jr. with the Bronx Democratic County organization were supporting candidate Wright. Ruben Diaz Sr., with what appeared to be State Senate Democrats were supporting candidate Espaillat. It seemed to be the State Assembly Democrats against the State Senate Democrats at one point with candidate Espaillat getting defectors from the assembly side. 
    Assemblyman Mark Gjonaj was a big supporter of candidate Wright, and the only Bronx A.D. won by Wright was Gjonaj's 80th A.D. However Gjonaj's good friend and partner in the North Bronx Democratic Club State Senator Jeff Klein was on Team Espaillat. Candidate Espaillat began the election with only the support of State Senator Gustavo Rivera and Assemblyman Victor Pichardo. Winner Espaillat in his victory party was surrounded by several state senators, assembly members from Manhattan and the Bronx, and several city council members from Manhattan and the Bronx also. 
    So why did Keith Wright lose? I believe it was a combination of factors including the coasting of the campaign the last two weeks of the election. The very poor showing of candidate Adam Powell was a contributing factor as may thought Powell would be the deciding factor in a Wright victory with candidate Powell garnering around 10 percent of the vote. That did not happen as Powell received only 6 percent of the vote, and was invisible in the Bronx especially in the 78th A.D. where his main support came from the current 78th A.D.  Assemblyman Jose Rivera. Clyde Williams was not the deciding factor as he received about the same amount of votes he did in 2012. Suzan Johnson Cook however received 4 percent of the vote which would have gone mostly to candidate Wright. So there you have it - The very poor showing of candidate Powell, and the small percentage candidate Johnson Cook received seem to have made the difference in allowing State Senator Adriano Espaillat to become Congressman Adriano Espaillat. 
   Lastly, at the beginning of the 13th Congressional race this year candidate Espaillat said to me, 'This year is going to be different, I am not running against an incumbent', That may have also been an important reason he won. We are going to have to see if heads roll in the Manhattan and Bronx Democratic County organizations, as there have been rumors that Manhattan Democratic County Leader Keith Wright, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, and Bronx Democratic County Leader Marcos Crespo are mad as hell in this defeat of both organizations.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Bronx Democratic County Committee - Upcoming Events

U P C O M I N G   E V E N T S
 Dear Bronx Democrat,
Below is a list of upcoming events. Attached you will find flyers for each event.
Bronx Dems' Annual Dinner
When: Wed. 7/13/16 from 6 - 10p
Where: Marina del Rey - 1 Marina Drive, Bronx, NY
Join us as we recognize great honorees for their commitment to the Bronx. 

For more information, call (347) 956 - 0320 or email
Click to Enlarge
Reception for District Leader Gregory Delts, 77AD
When:  Wed. 6/29/16 from 6 - 9p
Where: Sam's Soul Food - 596 Grand Concourse, Bronx, NY

Please join Bronx Democratic Party Chairman Marcos A. Crespo for a reception supporting District Leader Gregory Delts.

For ticket information, please see flyer.

Click to Enlarge
Citizenship Preparedness Training
When:  Wed. 6/29/16 from 6p - 8p
Where: Featherbed Lane Presbyterian Church - 141 Featherbed Lane, Bronx, NY

Rep. Jose Serrano, Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr., State Senator Jose Serrano, Assemblymember Latoya Joyner, Council Members Fernando Cabrera and Vanessa L. Gibson invite you to participate in the New York State Citizen Preparedness Corps Training Program. 

All participants must register in advance

Click to Enlarge
Fireworks Extravaganza
When: Thurs. 6/30/16 from 7 - 9:30p
Where: Orchard Beach
You're invited to the Bronx's annual Independence Day celebration New York Salutes America, presented by Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. and State Senator Jeff Klein. There will be entertainment and food, as well as a beautiful, synchronized fireworks display. 

For more information, visit
Click to Enlarge
Reception for CM Vanessa Gibson
When: Mon. 7/11/16 from 6:30 - 8:30p
Where: Wall Street Humidor - 18 Warren Street NY, NY
You are cordially invited to join a reception to honor NYC Council Member Vanessa Gibson. All contributions made payable to "Gibson 2017" and can be mailed to PO Box 286975, 1617 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10128.

For more information, contact Dan Kadin, or call (929) 266 - 4624.
Click to Enlarge

In solidarity,
Hon. Marcos A. Crespo, Chair
The Bronx Democratic County Committee
1640 Eastchester Rd.

Statement from Senator Adriano Espaillat on Ballot Count

  "I am very proud that over 43,000 voters from the 13th Congressional District voted to select the Democratic nominee for Congress in 2016. As an immigrant who was once undocumented in our country, I cannot express the pride I felt last night when the election results showed that we had received the most votes in the primary. 
As the only candidate in this race who has ran in the last three primaries, and who in the last two campaigns lost by as few as 1,000 votes, I have a real understanding of how crucial it is that every single voter's constitutional right be upheld and that every vote is counted.  And, I will not rest until every absentee and affidavit ballot is counted.  I am confident that when all the votes are counted I will be the Democratic nominee.
To my supporters I say:  we have traveled a long road to get here. Let's make sure that as we travel the short road ahead, we conduct ourselves with dignity and respect for the rights of all. 
I know - first-hand - how tough it is to come up short in a hard fought election. 
To those who voted for one of my worthy opponents - I pledge to work my heart out to represent you, knowing that our district is not a Latino or black or Asian district. It's a district that belongs to all of us, and we simply cannot succeed unless all of us are moving forward together."

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

A.G. Schneiderman Announces Partial Multistate And Federal Settlements Of Up To $15 Billion With Volkswagen, Audi And Porsche, Including Unprecedented Relief For Defrauded New Yorkers

   Partial Settlement Enables Over 21,500 New York Car Owners To Sell Their Cars Back To Companies At Pre-Scandal, Fair Market Value, Plus Receive A Cash Payment Of At Least $5,100 

Settlements Will Also Provide New York With Over $115 Million For Environmental Projects To Improve New York’s Air Quality; And Over $30 Million In Additional Monetary Recoveries To New York State
Schneiderman: These Settlements Are An Unprecedented Win For New York Consumers, But The Investigation Into The Full Scope Of All Three Companies’ Misconduct Will Continue And My Office Will Press For Substantial Environmental Penalties
    Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced New York State’s participation in an interrelated series of partial settlements with Volkswagen AG and its Audi and Porsche affiliates arising from Volkswagen’s violations of emissions standards and state consumer protection laws.
As part of the settlements, some of which are still subject to court approval, all owners of 2.0 liter, 4-cylinder engine VW and Audi diesel cars in New York will be entitled to be paid full, pre-scandal fair market value for their vehicle, in addition to a cash payment of at least $5,100. Under the deal, car owners may also choose to keep their vehicle and wait to see if VW and Audi develop acceptable emissions fixes; car owners who exercise this option will also receive a cash payment of at least $5,100.
The settlements will also direct to New York over $115 million for environmental projects to improve New York’s air quality, as well as over $30 million in additional monetary recoveries for the state’s general fund.
New York State will continue its investigation into the scope of Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche’s illegal conduct and their liability for environmental penalties.
“The evidence reviewed so far concerning Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche points to a culture of corporate arrogance and conscious disregard for the rule of law and the rights of consumers,”Attorney General Schneiderman said. “These partial settlements announced today exact a stiff price from Volkswagen for its deception of consumers and the environmental damage it has caused in New York and across the country.  But make no mistake:  we will continue to investigate and pursue Volkswagen for its violation of our environmental laws, and we will seek the imposition of additional penalties in amounts sufficient to ensure that Volkswagen and any other car manufacturer complies with the standards required of them.”
“These partial settlements are a positive step towards addressing Volkswagen’s deliberate so-called ‘clean diesel’ fraud of consumers, and state and federal regulators,” said Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos. “New York will continue to hold Volkswagen accountable for its violations of our state’s environmentally protective vehicle emissions regulations.”
Today’s sweeping agreements are unprecedented. The principal components of the settlements include:
  • Volkswagen is required to repurchase or modify all of the more than 487,000 2.0 liter engine diesel vehicles that Volkswagen and Audi falsely marketed in the United States as compliant with federal and state emissions standards, when in fact they emitted harmful NOx pollutants at rates many times higher than the law permitted. As part of the settlement, a VW and Audi 2.0 liter engine diesel car owner can sell the car back to VW at the pre-scandal fair market value, or wait to see if VW and Audi develop acceptable emissions fixes; whether cars are sold back to Volkswagen or fixed, the car owner will also receive a cash payment of at least $5,100 over and above the market value of the car. Under this agreement, which is subject to the approval of the federal court presiding over the class action litigation and the FTC and EPA’s lawsuits, Volkswagen is to set aside up to $10 billion to address car owner claims.  The current settlement does not address the relief to be received by owners of the 6-cylinder, 3.0 liter engine diesel SUVs and luxury sedans sold in the U.S. by VW, Audi and Porsche; the resolution of those claims awaits further engineering studies and negotiations with Volkswagen.
  • Volkswagen will pay about $1,100 per car directly to the states for the companies’ repeated violations of the states’ and other jurisdictions’ laws prohibiting unfair and deceptive marketing and trade practices. This agreement, which Attorney General Schneiderman’s office secured together with the attorneys general of five other states on behalf of a coalition in which over 40 states participated, will generate over $500 million in nationwide payments by Volkswagen, including over $30 million in penalties going to the State of New York.
  • Volkswagen will fund of a $2.7 billion Mitigation Fund. This Fund, which also is subject to court approval, is to be used by all states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico to address the harm caused to the environment by Volkswagen’s unlawful diesel vehicles.  States will be able to spend money from the Mitigation Fund to pay for diesel engine replacement and retrofit projects and other measures that will reduce NOx and other harmful emissions from numerous different sources.  Approximately $117 million of these monies will be administered by New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation for air quality improvement programs in New York.
  • Volkswagen’s commitment to invest $2 billion in the United States over the next 10 years for the development of Zero Emission Vehicles (ZEV, that is, electric) and supporting infrastructure.  $800 million of these monies are to be spent in California and the balance, or $1.2 billion, for ZEVs and ZEV infrastructure in the rest of the country.
  • Volkswagen also will pay $20 million to the states for their costs in investigating this matter and to establish a fund that state attorneys general can draw from in future consumer fraud investigations, including of possible violations by automobile manufacturers.
Significantly, this broad settlement does not waive or limit the ability of state and federal authorities to seek additional penalties from Volkswagen for its violations of environmental laws and regulations. 
The settlements are embodied in separate agreements, some of which are subject to court approval, among Volkswagen, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Department of Justice (DOJ), the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), car owners in private class action suits, and over 40 states who have joined together in a coalition headed by six state Attorneys General, in which Attorney General Schneiderman’s office played a leading role.
The New York Attorney General’s office is continuing its investigation and, working with the Department of Environmental Conservation and its partners in other states and the federal government, intends to hold Volkswagen and its affiliated companies to account for those violations and ensure that willful violations of New York’s environmental laws are appropriately punished.
This investigation is being handled by Senior Enforcement Counsel David Nachman; Assistant Attorney General Noah Popp of the Consumer Protection Bureau; Deputy Bureau Chief Lisa Burianek, Affirmative Litigation Section Chief Michael Myers and Assistant Attorneys General John Turrettini, and Brian Lusignan of the Environmental Protection Bureau; and Senior Trial Counsel David Ellenhorn, with the assistance of Laura Sarli of the Attorney General’s Investor Protection Bureau.  The Consumer Protection Bureau is led by Bureau Chief Jane Azia and the Environmental Protection Bureau is led by Bureau Chief Lemuel Srolovic. Manisha Sheth heads the Attorney General’s Division of Economic Justice and Alvin Bragg the Division of Social Justice.
For additional information on the settlement, please visit

Assemblymembers Dinowitz and Pichardo React to Rent Guidelines Board Decision

Assemblyman Dinowitz Statement on Citywide Rent Freeze

   “I am extraordinarily pleased that last night, the NYC Rent Guidelines Board voted to freeze rents on one year leases in rent-stabilized apartments, in addition to approving a 2% increase on two year leases. The board’s decision to continue the rent freeze it voted on last year is very welcome news to the 1.6 million New Yorkers who call rent-regulated apartments home. While I have personally advocated strongly on the necessity for a rent rollback after decades of costly increases, it’s about time New Yorkers got some relief. I applaud the board for hearing the concerns of the 1.6 million New Yorkers who can breathe a little easier this year.”

Assemblymember Pichardo commends RGB for much-needed rent freeze

          “I applaud the Rent Guidelines Board (RGB) for providing some relief to my neighbors by freezing rent for certain rent-stabilized apartments over the next year. All tenants deserve the chance to catch up to the rising costs of living, and this decision will give some of our most vulnerable renters a little room to breathe.
       “While freezing rent is a strong step in the right direction, more must be done to create a stable housing environment and help families prosper here in the Bronx. I’ll keep fighting to spur housing development and job creation so more New Yorkers can afford to stay in the communities they’ve worked so hard to build.”

Manhole Covers Fly - Fire in one Manhole on West 256th Street

   Monday evening this was the scene at Riverdale Avenue and West 256th Street. Fire engines were blocking access to West 256th Street and firemen were pouring water into one manhole which had been on fire after what neighbors said sounded like an explosion. further up West 256th Street another Manhole cover was off and resting near the open manhole as it also blew up, but there was no fire at this site. Firemen and Con Edison crews were seen to be checking other manhole covers for several blocks in the area. The exact reason for the explosion was not known, but one could smell an arid odor of sulfur near the manhole which was on fire. 

Above - Smoke can be seen coming from this open manhole on West 256th Street.
Below - Firemen send water into the manhole to put out the fire.

Above - At the corner of Netherland Avenue and West 256th Street a second manhole flew up into the air, but there was no fire at this site.
Below - Firemen and Con Edison workers check other manholes in the area for any damage. 

Join Mayor DeBlasio For Bronx Fundraiser Monday July 11th

Monday, June 27, 2016

A.G. Schneiderman Announces Election Day Hotline To Ensure Access For Voters During The June Primary

Attorney General’s Hotline Troubleshoots A Range of Election Day Issues
  Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman announced that his office has created a Hotline to help troubleshoot and resolve a range of issues and barriers encountered by voters at the polls for the primary on Tuesday, June 28.  The Attorney General urges voters experiencing problems or issues at the polls to call the office’s hotline at 800-771-7755 or email at any time on Tuesday between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m. The hotline will be staffed by attorneys and staff in the office's Civil Rights Bureau.  
“My office is deeply committed to ensuring that all eligible voters have the ability to cast an effective ballot on Election Day,” Attorney General Schneiderman said. “I urge all New Yorkers to immediately contact my office if they face any barriers at the polls. We will investigate and follow up on any complaints regarding any alleged improprieties at the voting booth.”
New Yorkers should be aware that not all counties in the state are hosting a contested primary. To determine if your polling place will be open, contact your county Board of Elections here.  
In New York City and the counties of Nassau, Suffolk, Westchester, Orange and Putnam where contested elections will occur, primary polls open at 6 AM and close at 9 PM.
In all other counties with contested elections, polls open at 12 noon and close at 9 PM.
The Attorney General’s Office has operated the Hotline since November 2012.  During previous efforts the office fielded hundreds of complaints from voters across the state and worked with local election officials and others to promptly address issues encountered by voters at the polls. The Election Day hotline is part of Attorney General Schneiderman's ongoing statewide initiative to ensure that voters do not encounter language barriers on Election Day. 
During the April 19th Presidential Primary, the Attorney General’s office received over 1,000 complaints about voter irregularities at the polls. In response, the office announced an investigation into alleged improprieties in primary voting by the New York City Board of Elections. On Thursday, June 23rd, the office sent a letter asking NYC BOE to implement the legally required affidavit ballot process and remind poll workers of the correct practices for the primary on Tuesday. A similar letter was sent to all other county Board of Elections where a contested primary is occurring on Tuesday.
In addition, the Attorney General's Office will focus on barriers impacting voters with disabilities, voter intimidation reports, and other issues faced by minority voters. Registered voters have the right to accessible elections.  This means that voters with disabilities or language access issues have the right to request assistance from any person of their choice.  In addition, all registered voters have the right to vote free from coercion or intimidation, whether by election officials or any other person.
The office will receive and respond to election-related complaints relating to any of the statutes that the office enforces.
New Yorkers should be aware that New York has a closed primary system. In order to vote in a party’s primary election, a voter must be affiliated with that party. The deadline to register was June 3.
The Attorney General’s Election Day Hotline is being led by Assistant Attorneys General Ajay Saini and Diane Lucas, and Volunteer Assistant Attorney General Joseph Abboud of the Civil Rights Bureau, led by Bureau Chief Lourdes Rosado.  The Social Justice Division is led by Executive Deputy Attorney General Alvin Bragg.