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GOVERNOR CUOMO UNVEILS 5TH PROPOSAL OF 2018 STATE OF THE STATE: EXAMINE ELIMINATING THE MINIMUM WAGE TIP CREDIT TO STRENGTHEN ECONOMIC JUSTICE IN NEW YORK STATE

 

Directs Commissioner of Labor to Hold Hearings to Evaluate Eliminating Tip Credit

 

Tip Credit Allows Employers to Pay Lower Wage than Minimum Wage

 

Practice Disproportionately Affects Women and People of Color in Service Industries and Linked to Higher Rates of Sexual Harassment 

 

Builds on Governor's Record of Fighting for Workers' Rights and Economic Justice

 

 

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today unveiled the fifth proposal of the 2018 State of the State: direct the Commissioner of Labor to schedule public hearings to examine industries and evaluate the possibility of ending minimum wage tip credits in New York State. In certain workplaces, such as car washes and restaurants, where wages and tips are both generally low, workers' income can rely entirely upon tips. These tips, meant as a reward for good service, instead serve as a critical wage subsidy that brings workers' wages just up to the legally mandated minimum wage. The Governor made the announcement this morning on the CATS Roundtable with John Catsimatidis.

 

"At the end of day, this is a question of basic fairness. In New York, we believe in a fair day's pay for a fair day's work and that all workers deserve to be treated with dignity and respect," Governor Cuomo said. "There should be no exception to that fairness and decency. I have directed the Department of Labor to ensure that no workers are more susceptible to exploitation because they rely on tips to survive. I look forward to reviewing the findings of these hearings."

 

More than 70 percent of all tipped workers in New York are women. Further, studies have shown that African-American workers are often tipped less than their white counterparts. Tipped workers often report not being willing to come forward because they are reliant on their employers for shift scheduling, with certain shifts generally tipping more than others. In addition, tipping practices have been linked to higher rates of sexual harassment. Workers in states that require the full minimum wage be paid to tipped employees experience half the rate of sexual harassment compared to workers in states that pay lower wages to tipped employees, according to a 2014 study by the Restaurant Opportunities Center. The study's chief recommendation was to eliminate the sub-minimum wage for tipped workers to reduce the pressures that increase sexual harassment to create a safer and more equitable workplace. 

 

The New York State Department of Labor will hold public hearings to solicit input from workers, businesses and others. Those who wish to testify will be able to pre-register on the Department's website. The Department will issue a notice identifying the specific times and locations for the hearings.

 

State Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon said, "Under Governor Cuomo, New York is leading the nation on issues of worker justice. The Department of Labor will closely examine the issue of tip credits, informed by testimony from workers and businesses alike."

 

In 1986, a general industry wage board recommended consolidating various wage board orders for different industries by eliminating the wage orders for various separate industries and having those industries included under the miscellaneous industries wage order. Since the tip credit system was allowed under the miscellaneous industries wage order, the consolidation had the unintended consequence of establishing a tip credit in various industries where the tip credit had previously been prohibited.

 

In practice, many employers find it difficult to keep track of employee tips properly, especially in industries where tips are not a steady and reliable source of income that can be depended upon by workers to meet their living expenses, and where daily and weekly fluctuations make it difficult for workers to know whether they are being underpaid. Complicated tip credit recordkeeping can make it difficult for employers to know whether they are meeting their obligations, and can be a vehicle for wage theft when employers fail to pay workers properly. 

 

Anecdotal evidence suggests that tips do not always make their way into workers' hands, further reducing their income, and the "topping up" of tipped workers by their employers is difficult to enforce when records are not properly kept. This can also require the Department of Labor to expend extensive investigative resources to check records and calculations. This is not always intentional on the part of the employer, as it can be difficult to keep track of employee tips properly.  Some employers have voluntarily eliminated tips and increased base pay on a "service-included" system.

 

In 2008, the Department of Labor found that nearly eight out of every 10 car washes in New York City and one out of two across the state violate minimum wage and overtime laws, with some paying just $3 an hour. Investigators visited 84 carwashes throughout the state and uncovered $6.5 million in underpayments to 1,380 workers. In 2014, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and the Department of Labor held John Lage, a carwash kingpin, liable for $3.9 million for labor violations including cheating his workers out of wages and tips.

 

Throughout his administration, Governor Cuomo has fought to protect workers' rights. In 2015, Governor Cuomo launched the first-in-the-nation Task Force to Combat Worker Exploitation to root out worker exploitation in multiple industries across the state. In the first nine months of 2017, $19.8 million was returned to 27,200 victims of wage theft. Since Governor Cuomo took office, the state has recovered and returned more than $170 million to workers, the highest total in the nation.

 

In 2016, Governor Cuomo signed a statewide $15 minimum wage. The schedule is available here and below.

 

 BASIC MINIMUM HOURLY RATE (per hour)

as of

12/31/16

12/31/17

12/31/18

12/31/19

12/31/20

12/31/21

General Minimum Wage

NYC - Large Employers (of 11 or more)

$11.00

$13.00

$15.00

 

 

 

NYC - Small Employers (10 or less)

$10.50

$12.00

$13.50

$15.00

 

 

Long Island & Westchester

$10.00

$11.00

$12.00

$13.00

$14.00

$15.00

Remainder of New York State

$9.70

$10.40

$11.10

$11.80

$12.50

TBD

Fast Food Workers

New York City

$12.00

$13.50

$15.00

 

 

 

Rest of State

$10.75

$11.75

$12.75

$13.75

$14.50

$15.00

   

TIPPED FOOD SERVICE WORKERS (per hour)

as of

12/31/16

12/31/17

12/31/18

12/31/19

12/31/20

12/31/21

Wage Paid by Employer (minimum)

NYC - Large Employers (of 11 or more)

$7.50

$8.65

$10.00

$10.00

$10.00

$10.00

NYC - Small Employers (10 or less)

$7.50

$8.00

$9.00

$10.00

$10.00

$10.00

Long Island & Westchester

$7.50

$7.50

$8.00

$8.65

$9.35

$10.00

Remainder of New York State

$7.50

$7.50

$7.50

$7.85

$8.35

TBD

Credit for Tips Received (maximum)

NYC - Large Employers (of 11 or more)

$3.50

$4.35

$5.00

$5.00

$5.00

$5.00

NYC - Small Employers (10 or less)

$3.00

$4.00

$4.50

$5.00

$5.00

$5.00

Long Island & Westchester

$2.50

$3.50

$4.00

$4.35

$4.65

$5.00

Remainder of New York State

$2.20

$2.90

$3.60

$3.95

$4.15

TBD

 

TIPPED SERVICE EMPLOYEES (per hour)

as of

12/31/16

12/31/17

12/31/18

12/31/19

12/31/20

12/31/21

Wage Paid by Employer (minimum)

NYC - Large Employers (of 11 or more)

$9.15

$10.85

$12.50

$12.50

$12.50

$12.50

NYC - Small Employers (10 or less)

$8.75

$10.00

$11.25

$12.50

$12.50

$12.50

Long Island & Westchester

$8.35

$9.15

$10.00

$10.85

$11.65

$12.50

Remainder of New York State

$8.10

$8.65

$9.25

$9.85

$10.40

TBD

Credit for Tips Received (maximum)

NYC - Large Employers (of 11 or more)

$1.85

$2.15

$2.50    

$2.50

$2.50    

$2.50

NYC - Small Employers (10 or less)

$1.75

$2.00

$2.25

$2.50

$2.50

$2.50

Long Island & Westchester

$1.65

$1.85

$2.00

$2.15

$2.35

$2.50

Remainder of New York State

$1.60

$1.75

$1.85

$1.95

$2.10

TBD

 

Stuart Appelbaum, President of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), said, "No worker should earn below the minimum wage - ever. For far too long workers in New York have earned poverty wages. We have been working for years to improve conditions for car wash workers. Today, Governor Cuomo recognized that this abhorrent loophole has left immigrant workers susceptible to wage theft, and 5,000 workers now have a chance to earn fair wages for their work. His announcement today is an important next step in ensuring that no worker in New York State is underpaid and impoverished."

 

Paul Sonn, General Counsel at the National Employment Law Project said, "Governor Cuomo has been a national leader in championing reforms to improve low-wage jobs. In 2016, he made New York one of the first states to begin raising its minimum wage to $15 an hour, and to guarantee paid family leave. Previously in 2015, the Cuomo Administration reduced the tip credit for restaurant and other hospitality workers. Governor Cuomo's announcement that New York will review the 'tip credit' for workers will improve the lives of tens of thousands of struggling New Yorkers, most of them immigrants. Even with tips, workers are barely scraping by. There's no good reason not to expect employers in these jobs to pay the full minimum wage as most other employers do."

 

Anyone who wishes to file a wage theft complaint is encouraged to call 1-888-4-NYSDOL.

 


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Foreclosure crisis still haunting New York City neighborhoods & decreasing property values

 

Senator Jeff Klein unveils ‘Nightmare Neighbors’ report on impact of bank owned properties

 

New York, NY — Senator Jeff Klein (D-Bronx/Westchester) and members of the Independent Democratic Conference today released a new investigative report on the impact of poorly maintained bank-owned properties on communities. The report, “Nightmare Neighbors: How Badly Maintained Homes Damage Neighborhoods,” found that these dilapidated homes cause nearly $54 million in depreciation for surrounding homeowners throughout the city.

 

Legislation was also introduced today to stiffen penalties for banks that fail to maintain their properties.

 

The report identified 77 bank owned properties in The Bronx, of which 61 percent, or 47, were found to have a combined 1,063 open violations with HPD and DOB.

 

“The foreclosure crisis continues to negatively impact neighborhoods across New York City. Since the Great Recession we have worked to ensure that foreclosed houses are not allowed to become eyesores and degrade neighborhoods, however this report shows there is still work to be done. Bank-owned properties cannot be allowed to fall into disrepair and depreciate the property values of hard working New Yorkers who live around them,” said Senator Klein.

 

Based on the findings, over 8,000 properties have been impacted by these bank-owned properties, with an average property value loss of $6,368.

 

Of the 26 financial institutions that own properties, the total depreciation of the top five worst violators city-wide was over $32 million.

 

Financial Institution

Number of Properties Held

Total Depreciation

Percentage of Total Depreciation ($53.4M)

US Bank

24

$7,720,066.00

14.4%

Wells Fargo

14

$6,189,841.00

11.6%

Fannie Mae

18

$6,104,268.00

11.4%

HSBC

10

$5,631,212.00

10.5%

Wilmington

15

$5,515,972.00

10.3%

 

Forty-seven of the bank-owned properties in the Bronx had open violations. This is out of a total of 77 confirmed bank-owned properties in the Bronx, or 61% of all confirmed real estate-owned properties in The Bronx. There are currently 1,063 open violations. The five financial institutions with the most open HPD and DOB violations accounted for 68.5% of all the violations.

 

Financial Institution

Open HPD and DOB Violations

Percentage of Total Violations in the Bronx

GOSHEN MORTGAGE REO LLC

212

19.9%

HSBC BANK USA NA

166

15.6%

WELLS FARGO

146

13.7%

US BANK

103

9.7%

WILMINGTON SAVINGS FUND SOCIETY

101

9.5%

 

Ultimately, the research and analysis concluded that one to four family properties in the Bronx have lost approximately $4,963 in value, and in total, these bank-owned homes have caused over $10.62 million in house value depreciation.

 

Borough

# of Bank-owned Properties with violations

Average Median Property Value

Average Depreciation Rate Per Property

Properties Impacted

Property Value Depreciation

 

Bronx

47

$381,769

$4,963

2,193

$10,615,211

 

The 47 bank-owned properties with violations were owned by 17 different banks. Using each entity’s property holdings, staff performed an analysis on every residential building held by those financial institutions with the most properties. Cross-checking each property against the demographic information for each zip code, the IDC was able to determine the amount of depreciation for each property, and ultimately the total for each bank by adding up the depreciation of each property they hold.

 

The top five financial institutions were responsible for $6,576,966 of the $10,615,211 in total depreciation recorded. This is 62% of the total depreciation caused by a total of 27 properties out of the 47 identified in The Bronx.

 

Financial Institution

Number of Properties Held

Total Depreciation

Percentage of Total Depreciation ($10.6M)

US Bank

12

$2,790,321.00

26.3%

Wilmington

4

$1,227,815.00

11.6%

Fannie Mae

5

$888,713.00

8.4%

HSBC

3

$843,654.00

7.9%

Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp

3

$826,463.00

7.8%

 

In 2016, the Independent Democratic Conference led the effort to combat “zombie” properties, those caught in the legal limbo of the foreclosure process that have been left vacant and abandoned. The state Department of Financial Services now maintains a registry of all zombie owned properties, and can impose fines on banks of $500 a day for failure to maintain.

 

To deal with banks that own homes through foreclosure, Senator Klein and the members of the IDC propose expanding the registry to include bank-owned homes so that state and local municipalities can more easily track these properties. Bank-owned homes, under the new proposal, would also face $500 a day fines.

 

In order to better enforce these laws, Senator Klein and the members of the IDC propose $5 million for DFS code enforcement agents and attorneys to hold banks accountable to the $500 a day fines.

 

“As an organization dedicated to preserving New York communities, Mobilization for Justice applauds the Senate for examining the detrimental impact on New York communities caused by the failure of financial institutions to maintain the properties they hold,” said Linda Jun, senior staff attorney at Mobilization for Justice. “To advance the stability of New York neighborhoods and protect them from harm, there must be greater accountability for these financial institutions. Mobilization for Justice strongly supports the IDC’s recommendations to increase registration, penalties, inspections, and enforcement to ensure that financial institutions no longer allow their properties to fall into disrepair.”

 

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Con Edison Seeks Non-Pipes Solutions to

Meet Growing Natural Gas Demand

 

Will Invest $100M Annually for Clean, Innovative Projects

 

New York – To help offset the need for new natural gas pipelines to meet growing energy needs in its service area, Con Edison today issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) to secure alternative solutions consistent with New York City’s and New York State’s environmental goals.

 

Con Edison said it was considering investing at least $100 million annually in a bid to avoid construction of a major new gas pipeline. The investments would focus on demand reduction measures and local gas supply enhancements. Demand reduction measures may include energy efficiency, demand response and environmentally-beneficial electrification of space and water heating, while local gas supply enhancement may include biogas technology and natural gas storage.

 

Peak demand for natural gas in Con Edison’s service areas has grown 30 percent since 2011, and the company expects that demand to grow another 20 percent over the next 20 years. The company serves approximately 1.1 million natural gas customers in Manhattan, the Bronx, Westchester and parts of Queens.

 

“We have seen significant growth in customers choosing natural gas to heat their homes, and thousands of oil to gas conversions in recent years have helped to clean the air for all New Yorkers,” said Matthew Ketschke, senior vice president of Customer Energy Solutions for Con Edison “We also acknowledge everyone’s desire to limit the use of fossil fuels as much as possible and continue our region’s environmental progress.”

 

The RFP can be viewed on the company’s website here: http://bit.ly/2zkP6xW.

 

Proposals are due by March 1, 2018. Con Edison said it would evaluate proposals based on a variety factors, including a project’s cost, ability to forestall the need for new pipelines and its potential greenhouse gas impacts.

 


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STATEMENT FROM COUNCIL MEMBER ANDY KING REGARDING

JOE CASSANO BECOMING A FIREFIGHTER

 

 

“In an era in which the FDNY claims it is encouraging cultural diversity and racial sensitivity in its policies and hiring practices, how dare they allow someone who has openly demonstrated bigotry and prejudice thoughts become a firefighter! Going through training for a few days or weeks and visiting a museum does not alter a person’s deep-rooted character, “said Council Member Andy King, 12th District, Bronx. “And, shame on the Mayor for saying Cassano deserves ‘redemption’ but won’t stand up and call out the bigotry and racism within the FDNY and the EMT civilian promotions. I find the disrespect perpetrated on people of color in the FDNY system in 2017 is unacceptable and I am calling on Commissioner Nigro and Mayor de Blasio to halt this entrance of Joe Cassano into the Fire Department Academy.”

 

Zaro’s Bakery re-opens in Parkchester


Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. joined the Zaro family and other community leaders to host the grand re-opening of the new Zaro’s Family Bakery retail location in Parkchester.

The new space will mark Zaro’s official return to the neighborhood following the closure of their original Parkchester location on Hugh Grant Circle, which had originally opened in June 1959, at the end of 2015.

As part of the grand opening celebration, the Zaro family announced they would donate 25 percent of the proceeds from the first day of sales to ongoing humanitarian efforts in Puerto Rico following the destruction caused by Hurricane Maria earlier this year.

“Zaro’s Family Bakery is a Bronx institution, and I am proud to welcome this bakery back to its Parkchester home,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. “It is especially gracious of the Zaro family to use their first day back in business to benefit the people of Puerto Rico, which is a cause that so many Bronxites have already thrown their full support behind. I congratulate Zaro’s on their return to Parkchester, and wish the company and the Zaro family continued success.”

“We’re thrilled to be back in the old neighborhood and to see so many warm and familiar faces again. As we heat up the ovens once more we do so in aid of our friends and family in Puerto Rico who are dear to so many of our valued customers – in Parkchester and throughout the City,” said Brian Zaro, Executive Vice President of Zaro’s Family Bakery.

“I am thrilled to be celebrating the return of Zaro’s bakery, and the return of the aroma of freshly baked goods, to Parkchester in The Bronx. I am also very pleased that the Zaro family is offering considerable financial support to our brothers and sisters in Puerto Rico, and I thank them for their community spirit during this difficult time for so many Puerto Ricans,” said Marlene Cintron, President of the Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation.

Zaro’s first opened in The Bronx on Edward L. Grant Highway in 1927, and has maintained a constant retail and commercial presence in the borough for 90 years. The company’s Port Morris facility opened in 1982, following previous commercial facilities in Hunts Point and on Kingsbridge Road.

In addition to returning to Parkchester, Zaro’s has also announced that the company would add a retail location at their current Port Morris commercial baking facility in spring 2018.

 

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The Lighthouse Guild’sMusicSchool

Annual Perform-a-thon


Music and dance students of all ages from Lighthouse Guild’s Filomen M. D’Agostino Greenberg Music School will perform in its annual perform-a-thon on Dec. 9 and 14.

The events will include dance and musical performances of a variety of styles. Funds raised will help keep tuition costs affordable for students who are visually impaired.

It is a two day event. On Saturday, Dec. 9, from 3-6 p.m. Leap into Music with children’s performances. Children’s dance ensembles, youth chorus and vocal ensemble, plus instrumental soloists. The performances will be held at the NationalDanceInstituteCenterfor Learning & the Arts, 217 West 147th Street, inManhattan. Admission is free.

Also on Thursday, Dec. 14 from 4-6 p.m. Banquet of the Bands, adult performances to be held at the Lighthouse Guild, 250 West 64th Street in Manhattan. Admission is free.

 

Music School Programs

Children enrolled in the music school’s Comprehensive Music Program for Young People (CMPYP) are provided with a curriculum that is a foundation for establishing essential music skills. Classes include Braille music, music theory, accessible music technology, music appreciation, dance, and individual instrumental lessons.

Adults enroll for individual lessons, with instruction available in voice, piano, guitar, recorder, flute, clarinet, saxophone, trumpet, trombone, drums, vibraphone and percussion.

Performance Ensembles consist of up to 30 students who rehearse together weekly. Youth ensembles include chorus, and a small vocal ensemble. Adult ensembles include a 25-member Vocal Ensemble, two pop/rock ensembles and a young adult rock group.

All programs at the Lighthouse Guild’s Filomen M. D’Agostino Greenberg Music School are made possible, in part, by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature; and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Councils. TheMusicSchoolis a member of the National Guild for Community Arts Education.

For more information or to sponsor a music school student or ensemble, visit 


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The Bronx Community Mourns The Death of Lowell Hawthorne


Lowell Hawthorne, the founder and CEO of the Golden Krust Caribbean Bakery & Grill, most famous for its Jamaican beef patties, has died of an apparent suicide, according to law enforcement. He was 57 years old.

Hawthornereportedly shot himself inside of hisBronx, N.Y., factory about 5:30 pm on Saturday.

Many familiar with Golden Krust also became acquainted with Hawthorne himself thanks to a 2016 Undercover Boss episode in which he starred.

The New York Post reports thatLowell emigrated to theUnited States fromJamaica and opened the first Golden Krust store in theBronx in 1989. Hawthorne, his wife Lorna, four of his siblings and their spouses, reportedly pooled their money to get the store off the ground.

At the time of his death, Golden Krust operated or franchised 120 locations in nine states.

Many of his employees reacted with sadness and shock of his passing.

“The Jamaican people, they feel it. All of us are Jamaican. We lost a Jamaican, we feel it,” said three-year-employee John Harrison to the New York Post

Hanaku Oxori, who had worked at the plant for 17 years, said thesuicide was “a surprise.”

“We saw him every day. He talks to everyone.He was always in a good mood,’’ he added.

The founder of the fast food empire was chairman of the American Foundation of the University of the West Indies (UWI), according to the Jamaica Gleaner. In 2000, he won the Entrepreneur of the Year award from the accounting firm Ernst & Young.

Hawthornealso wrote a book, The Baker’s Son: My Life in Business, published in 2012.

Hawthorneis survived by his wife Lorna and his four children who all worked for the company: Daren, a lawyer who’s corporate counsel; Omar, director of franchising; Monique who runs the company’s foundation and Haywood, vice president of manufacturing.

 

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BP DIAZ TO ICE: GET OUT OF NEW YORK COURTS

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. has written a letter to officials at the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), demanding that the agency remove its officers from New York State’s courts.
If that removal is not forthcoming, Borough President Diaz is asking Hon. Janet DiFiore, Chief Judge of the New York State Court System, to refuse to allow State court officers and other court personnel to cooperate with immigration officials in a courthouse absent a warrant from a Federal judge, and, further, to ban immigration officers from the State’s courthouses, extending New York State’s sanctuary state policy to the courts.
“The presence of ICE agents in New York State courtrooms has had a chilling effect on justice in our state,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.“We have heard from advocacy organizations that individuals are not coming to court in our state for fear of being arrested by immigration agents and then deported. This is preventing the fair adjudication of cases within our system, and is an affront to the concept of impartial justice. Governor Cuomo has correctly declared New York to be a sanctuary state, and these protections must extend to our court system.”
In the letter, the borough president notes that failing to come to court can have grave consequences in a wide variety of areas, and that fear of deportation should not be clouding the legal process.
“[ICE’s] approach and its ideological roots would be problematic in any context. But when it is employed in a place that undermines our society’s pursuit of justice, the courthouse, it is no longer just a problem,” wrote Borough President Diaz.  “It is an offense to decency.”
Read the full letter at http://on.nyc.gov/2BMSVuF.

 

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Council Member Gibson's Statement on the House of Representatives' passage of the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act



The Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act is a dangerous and shortsighted bill that has the potential to endanger thousands of lives across the country. This bill is a threat to public safety and I am outraged that it was passed by the House of Representatives this afternoon. We need common sense gun laws, not NRA handouts that allow out-of-state visitors to carry weapons on our streets. I urge all Americans to call their senators and strongly oppose the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act. 

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STATEMENT FROM BP DIAZ

Terror Attack in Times Square Subway

“The people of New York City remain united against terror. While today’s attack on our subway system reinforces our need to be vigilant, it will not break our resolve to live our lives as we see fit.  No cowardly attack can change the core of who we are as New Yorkers.

“I especially want to thank our first responders, including the New York City Police and Fire Departments, Port Authority Police Department and the MTA Police Department, for everything they do on a daily basis to keep our city safe and secure,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.



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Announcement made at The Bronx YMCA during Family Ties Program Holiday Cooking Class

 

Bronx, NY - Senator Jeff Klein announced $50,000 in state funding for the YMCA of Greater NY at The Bronx YMCA Family Ties Program Holiday Cooking Class last Friday night.

 

The funding will support the Family Ties Program, which is a community engagement program in which parents and their children take part in various activities, including dance, music, crafts and culinary arts.

 

“New York City’s YMCA is a storied organization that brings together our diverse populations to promote better health and well-being. I’m proud to secure $50,000 in funding for the Y, which will enable my constituents to come together and enjoy fun and engaging activities,” said Senator Jeff Klein.

 

“The funding for the Family Ties Programs allows this program to exist at the Bronx YMCA.  Family Ties promotes the well-being of children and families in the community through exercise, educational enrichment and healthy eating in a supportive and stable environment. This program also strengthens children and  families relationships and bonds through quality time spend together.  As we all know, strong families create strong communities,” said Sharlene Brown, Executive Director of Bronx YMCA.

 

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COUNCIL MEMBER FERNANDO CABRERA CONDEMNS HATE CRIME AT JEWISH HOME

 

Saturday’s incident at the Jewish Home is serious and unconscionable.  I condemn this act of hatred and violence against the elderly residents of this important and cherished facility in my district. Hatred and violence will not be tolerated and swift action must always be taken against all who engage in such acts.

 

I commend the prompt response by the 52nd Precinct officers in apprehending the perpetrator and ensuring the safety of residents and visitors to the Jewish Home.  I am thankful that no one was harmed and pray for the peace of mind of all who were present during the incident. 

 

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Click on the above pictures to see images of the Old Bronx on Facebook

SCHUMER REVEALS: AMIDST HOLIDAY SHOPPING HUSTLE, CYBER BOTS ARE EXPANDING REACH & UNFAIRLY SCOOPING UP THE HOTTEST HOLIDAY TOYS BEFORE PARENTS CAN EVEN CLICK ‘BUY’; HARD-TO-FIND TOYS ARE THEN LISTED ON THIRD PARTY SITES FOR HUNDREDS OF DOLLARS; SENATOR PUSHES RETAILERS TO BLOCK THE BOTS 

2017 Hot Toy List Includes Dolls Now Only Available On eBay, Nintendo &‘Fingerling Monkeys’ That Were Retailing For Less Than $20, Now Going For As Much As $1,000; Even ‘Barbies’ Have Been Scooped; Bottom Line Is Bots Hurt Consumers & Retailer Push Can Help Stop Them

Schumer Says Retailers Can Lead The Charge Against Toy Bots Because They Control The Platform & The Inventory; Besides, Outrageous Prices Kick Parents—And Kids—Out Of The Market & Hurt Entire Industry

Schumer: Grinch Bots Cannot Be Allowed To Steal Christmas –Or Dollars From The Wallets Of NY’ers

Today, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer revealed that the same cyber scalpers responsible for having scooped up tickets to Broadway shows and major concerts have migrated to in-demand holiday toys, scooping up popular holiday gifts, from dolls to gaming equipment, for resell on other websites at outrageous prices. For instance, popular Fingerlings—which typically sell for $14.99—are now being sold on secondary websites for as much as $1,000. Schumer explained that, in years past, bots were used by nefarious scalpers to primarily purchase popular concert tickets. As a result, Congress passed Schumer’s BOTS Act in order to increase fairness for consumers in the ticket-purchasing industry.  However, the law does not apply to other consumer products. So, today, Schumer called on the National Retail Federation and the Retail Industry Leaders Association to block the bots and lead the charge against future efforts to prevent customers from buying toys at fair retail prices.  

Schumer was joined by Chuck Bell, Programs Director of Consumers Union, the policy and mobilization arms of Consumer Reports.

“Grinch bots cannot be allowed to steal Christmas, or dollars, from the wallets of New Yorkers,” said U.S. Senator Charles Schumer. “Middle class folks save up—a little here, a little there—working to afford the hottest gifts of the season for their kids but ever-changing technology and its challenges are making that very difficult. It’s time we help restore an even playing field by blocking the bots. When it comes to purchasing products online, major retailers should put forth policies that will help prevent future Grinch bots from stealing the season’s hottest toys.”   

“Consumer Reports urges retailers and policymakers to work together to develop solutions, so that consumers will be able to shop for toys and other gifts on a level playing field.  We applaud Sen. Chuck Schumer’s proposal for the National Retail Federation to develop best practices to prevent these practices, to keep the software bots from grabbing all the gifts and driving up prices,” said Chuck Bell, Programs Director of Consumers Union.

 

Schumer explained that “bots” are sophisticated computer programs often used by nefarious scalpers and brokers that plague the online sale of many items. In years past, cyber scalpers primarily used bots to snatch up popular tickets to concerts and live theater productions, leaving fans with no choice but to buy tickets through secondary resale sites at much higher prices. Artists, musicians, theater owners and concert promoters alike led the charge against bots used by online hackers and scalpers in an attempt to improve the ticket-buying experience for customers and guarantee increased transparency for fans. 

Last year, Congress passed the Better Online Ticket Sales (BOTS) Act, co-sponsored by Schumer, which prohibits the unfair and deceptive act of using mechanisms such as bots in order to scoop up tickets before consumers are given a fair chance to buy them. However, the legislation does not include items beyond tickets. 

According to Consumer Reports, bots are now being used to buy and sell popular holiday gifts like toys, gaming equipment and high-end sneakers. According to the report, bots subvert typical consumers through complex programming that guesses a product's ID and locates the product page, which is typically launched just a few hours before the product goes on sale. Bots can scan the Twitter APIs (application programming interfaces) to learn about sales before consumers and can automate the purchase of a product itself. While consumers must choose their size, shipping, and payment details manually, bots can automatically fill out these pages in fractions of a second, allowing them to purchase items in demand much more easily. As a result, regular consumers simply cannot compete with the speed of bots, forcing many to purchase these popular items on secondary resale sites at prices far above the original retail price.

Schumer said there is no fair way for consumers to purchase their holiday gifts online if they have to compete with bots that are capable of navigating through websites in a matter of seconds, leaving an unfair playing field for those looking to purchase popular gifts at the face value price. Schumer said major retailers must step in and help stop bots from controlling the platform and inventory.

Schumer’s office searched online for some of the year’s top holiday toys: WowWee Fingerlings, Super Nintendo entertainment system NES Classic Edition, the L.O.L. Surprise! Doll and the Barbie Hello Dreamhouse Playset.

  • ·         Fingerlings, which typically sell for $14.99, were out of stock online at Toys-r-us, Walmart, and Target. However, the item was available for sale on Amazon and eBay for as much as $1,000 each.  
  • ·         Super Nintendo entertainment system NES Classic Edition, which sells for $79.99, was out of stock online at BestBuy, Game Stop, and Target. However, the item was available on Amazon and eBay for as much as $13,000.
  • ·         L.O.L. Surprise! Doll, which sells for $9.99, was out of stock online at Toys-r-us, Target and Walmart. However, the item was available on Amazon and eBay for as much as $500.
  • ·         Barbie Hello Dreamhouse, which sells for $300, was out of stock online at Toys-r-us. However, the item was available for sale on Amazon and eBay for as much as $1,500. 

Schumer is asking two of the leading retail trade associations – the National Retail Federation and the Retail Industry Leaders Association – to investigate the prevalence of bots on their members’ websites and help their members institute best practices to subvert these sophisticated computer programs.  By staying one step ahead of the bots, retailers can protect their consumers from abusive sales practices that hurt everyone – buyers and sellers – alike.

Schumer’s letter to the retail groups appears below.

 

Dear Mr. Rhodes and Mr. Shay:

 

I write today to express my serious concerns with the widespread use of bot technology on retail websites to deprive good-faith consumers of access to products in high demand.  As we approach this holiday season, it is particularly important that consumers have a fair access to popular products on the market.  As such, I am calling on your associations to immediately investigate how these dishonest software programs are being used on your members’ sites and take all available steps to thwart computer systems from cheating America’s consumers.

 

As the demand for toys like Hatchimals and Nintendo’s NES gaming consoles have increased, so too have the surreptitious techniques bad actors have adopted to more effectively capture the retail market and capitalize off of consumer demand to artificially inflate prices.  Specifically, hackers are now using software robots (“bots”) to purchase popular toys, gaming equipment, and even high-end collectible tennis shoes. Because of the sophistication of these automated tools, the hackers are able to learn about key retail sales, predict the product sales addresses, and purchase mass quantities of product as soon as the site goes live, before ordinary consumers even have a chance to begin a transaction.  The hackers then upsell the products on third party platforms. In some cases, bot operators are using more than 10,000 IP address and 500 credit cards in order to bypass retailer purchase limits. I am deeply concerned that the prevalence of these deceptive techniques creates an unfair environment for consumers who are unable to compete with the lightning speeds of computer robots. 

 

As America’s most prominent and successful retail sales operations, your members are uniquely positioned to track this deceptive behavior and institute safeguards that could reign in their rampant use. Increased protections to prevent this type of behavior can create the type of consumer trust and confidence needed to ensure consumers are getting a fair deal for the types of products they buy on the market. Without a way to level the playing field, consumers will be left to compete with the robots or succumb to the outrageously high prices of third party sellers. No family should have to experience this, especially during the Christmas season.

 

I therefore ask you to share with my staff all of the steps your members are currently taking to confront this behavior, and how they plan to prevent bots from infiltrating their payment platforms in the future. Furthermore, I urge you to establish and put in place industry-wide best practice standards to ensure consumers are fully protected from sophisticated computer programs.

 

I know you share my commitment to protecting consumers, who are your customers and my constituents.  I thank you for your time and look forward to working with you to strengthen consumer protections.


Sincerely,

U.S. Senator Charles Schumer

 

 

 


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SCHUMER: CONSUMERS MAY NOT BE INFORMED OF BAG FEES WHEN THEY BUY PLANE TICKETS THIS CHRISTMAS; PASSENGERS COULD ARRIVE AT AIRPORTS & BE SOCKED WITH COSTS; DOT'S NEW STANCE COULD ALLOW AIRLINES TO CHARGE CUSTOMERS EVEN MORE MONEY FOR CHECKED BAGS AT AIRPORTS & HIDE BAG FEES IN THE FINE PRINT; SENATOR PUSHES TO RESTORE RULE BEFORE BAG FEES TAKEOFF 



USDOT Just Decided-- Out Of Thin Air -- To Scrap A Critical Consumer Protection That Would Have Forced Airlines to Disclose Bag Fees Upfront; Senator Worries, Without Disclosure, Bag Fee Increases Are On The Way


Latest Decision Is Made Even Worse By Recent USDOT’s Notices To Axe Other Consumer Protections Including Ones for Missing Or Damaged Wheelchairs; Meanwhile, Airlines Collected $7 Billion In Baggage Fees In 2016 Alone


Schumer: USDOTs Last-Minute Christmas Gift To Airlines Hurts Consumers & Simply Cannot Fly  



U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today called on the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to reconsider its recent scrapping of a critical consumer protection that would have required airlines disclose the cost of added checked bag fees upfront when purchasing an airplane ticket. The Obama-era proposal would have provided greater transparency by protecting consumers from varied airline fees that can easily skyrocket the cost of a boarding ticket, however, just this week, USDOT decided to reverse course and abruptly cancelled the proposed rule.


“The Department of Transportation’s out-of-thin-air decision to scrap this consumer protection proposal is nothing more than a Christmas gift to the airlines who will now rake in even more profit,” said U.S. Senator Charles Schumer. “When it comes to purchasing a flight, consumers have the right to know the full cost of all fees upfront – that’s why this rule made so much sense. Without upfront fee disclosure, airlines could syphon even more from consumers’ pockets by actually raising bag fees, or at the very least hiding them in the fine print and that’s why I’m urging the feds to immediately reverse course and restore this commonsense passenger protection.” 


This week the USDOT announced it will scrap a proposed consumer protection proposal that would have provided greater transparency among airlines by forcing airlines and travel agents to disclose baggage fees up front when someone is purchasing a ticket. Although airlines are currently required to disclose information about optional fees, consumer groups have argued that it is still quite difficult to compare overall prices and fees during the purchasing process, and depending on the size of one's family, checked bag fees can quickly add up‎. 


In addition to halting the proposal to disclose baggage fees earlier in the booking process, the DOT also withdrew a proposal that would have required airlines to make public how much profit they make off of baggage fees and other ancillary revenues. In 2015 airlines generated $3.5 billion in baggage fees. However, the DOT justified withdrawing the proposal because the reporting process is too expensive for airlines. Additionally, and also troubling, is that this USDOT decision to conceal ‎bag fees was decided shortly after the agency decided to axe or delay other consumer protections including requiring the airlines to disclose when they mishandle or break  the wheelchairs of disabled passengers. 


Schumer explained that baggage fees greatly vary among airlines. On domestic flights, some airlines charge customers $25 for their first checked bag whereas others charge between $25-$60. Alternatively, there are airlines that offer no fee for the first bag but then increase the fee for each additional bag.  Those fees can be as much as $35 for the second bag and $150 for the third bag. Schumer said these price discrepancies and policies are costly for consumers and vary greatly which is why transparency is especially pertinent.


Schumer explained that without the list of added fees up front, consumers could be duped into paying more than they expected when purchasing a flight. For instance, while one airline’s base price for a flight might be cheaper than another airline’s base price, the cheaper flight could end up being more expensive once baggage fees are tacked on. Schumer said the just-scrapped proposal would have alleviated this problem. Schumer said, when it comes to purchasing flights online, tickets should be commensurable.


Schumer has been an outspoken advocate for airline passengers and continues to fight against policies that unfairly hurt consumers. For instance, Schumer successfully pushed back against efforts to reduce the size of carry-on luggage for travelers. Similarly, in 2010, Schumer successfully fought back against an airline proposal to charge for carry-on bags. Schumer reached out to airline chief executives and urged them to reconsider the idea, and airlines heeded the call. 


According to media reports, airlines raked in over $7 billion in checked bag fees in 2016, a revenue that continues to climb each year on average.



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Statement from Independent Democratic Conference Leader Jeff Klein

 

This act of terror, meant to spread fear throughout our subway system, will never stop New Yorkers in their tracks. The people of this city are incredibly resilient, brave and vigilant. We live in a city that is a beacon of democracy and we will proudly carry on with our daily routines because we know that is the best foil to those who hate our way of life. My thoughts are with the families of those who suffered injuries. I commend the NYPD, the FDNY, the PAPD, EMS and every first responder for their effective response to this incident.

 


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COUNCIL MEMBER FERNANDO CABRERA ISSUES STATEMENT ON TIMES SQUARE / PORT AUTHORITY TUNNEL EXPLOSION


 


 


This morning’s news about the explosion in the tunnel linking the Times Square subway station and Port Authority bus terminal is yet another indication that we must continue working for effective solutions to end terrorism and violence. 


 


I commend our first responders for their swift action in apprehending the suspect and keeping New Yorkers safe.  I am thankful there are no serious injuries and I offer my prayers for all affected.


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Council Member Gibson's Statement on Joseph Cassano joining the FDNY
There is no place for bigotry or hatred in the City of New York, especially when it comes to those sworn to protect New Yorkers. It is disappointing and disturbing that a man who was forced out of his job as a NYC EMT for racist, sexist, and antisemitic tweets could be sworn in as firefighter just 4 years later.  Joseph Cassano's hateful words speak for themselves, as does his deeply concerning choice to leave an injured African American child behind to wait for a nearby ambulance, which is against protocol. First responders have a moral duty to treat all emergencies equally and sadly, we cannot be sure Mr. Cassano will do that. I strongly urge Mayor de Blasio and Commissioner Nigro to reconsider Mr. Cassano's inclusion at today's swearing in ceremony. 



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Statement From Former Majority Leader of Yonkers City Council Patricia D. McDow


I first wanted to commend NYPD, the FDNY, the PAPD, EMS and every first responders for their quick response. 
There is no place for bigotry or hatred in the City of New York. New Yorkers are incredibly resilient, brave and vigilant, we will not allow these individuals to control us. My thoughts & prayers are with the families of those who suffered injuries.


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***RELEASE & REPORT***


State and City Elected Officials Call for Independent Monitor to Oversee NYCHA


New report shows long wait time for lead and mold complaints


New York, NY — Members of the New York State Senate, Assembly and New York City Council called for the creation of an independent monitor to oversee the New York City Housing Authority following a scathing revelation from the New York City Department of Investigation that the authority lied about performing lead paint inspections.


Senator Klein proposed an independent monitor as part of the Independent Democratic Conference’s Changing New York Agenda in January 2017. It passed the Senate twice this year, both as part of the IDC’s one house budget proposal in March and as a standalone bill in June, however it failed to pass in the Assembly.


Following recent reports regarding falsified documents related to lead paint inspections by the agency, Council Member Salamanca announced the introduction of a resolution urging the creation of an independent monitor to oversee NYCHA operations.


“It is clear from recent events and the numerous reports that I’ve issued on NYCHA conditions that an independent monitor is the only way we can ensure that tenants have safe, livable housing. This new report today shows the continued incompetence of the agency in responding to residents’ requests to remove dangerous materials and make their residences habitable,” said Senator Klein.


“Over the past week I’ve been deeply disturbed by the DOI report demonstrating not only that NYCHA lacks a plan to abate lead paint, but that they can’t be trusted in the first place to do so. It’s clear that a third party monitor to oversee this very important work is needed,” said Council Member Salamanca.


“The time is now to finally act on our legislation to protect the over 400,000 NYCHA residents across the City. It is outrageous that there seems to be an endless flow of blunders that put our constituents well-being and lives at risk. An independent monitor to oversee the mismanagement will be a step in the right direction,” said Senator Diane Savino.


“NYCHA apartments represent the backbone of New York City's affordable housing stockpile and NYCHA residents have the right to expect clean, safe homes in good repair. Recent revelations of fraudulent statements sent by NYCHA to the federal government shows that outside supervision is sorely needed to make sure that NYCHA is on a firm footing for the future and that the voices of tenants are heard,” said Senator Marisol Alcantara.


“Like every New Yorker, every NYCHA resident deserves safe housing. Every child growing up in NYCHA housing deserves to be free from hazardous lead that can negatively impact their growth and development. Every parent raising a family in NYCHA housing deserves to know that their apartment is not poisoning them. With this report and the legislation we advance, we mandate meaningful transparency and independent oversight to give families in NYCHA housing the assurances they need. Your health and well-being matter – as someone who grew up in NYCHA housing myself, I know it is our duty to ensure NYCHA lives up to its responsibilities to every NYCHA resident,” said Senator Jesse Hamilton.


“NYCHA's false reporting on lead paint inspections represents a collapse of credibility in the public mind. The only hope for restoring public confidence in the leadership of the Housing Authority is an independent monitor, and I will not relent in holding NYCHA's feet to the fire until one is appointed,” said Public Housing Chair Ritchie Torres.


“Recent reports have made it crystal clear that the New York City Housing Authority is failing to live up to expectations when it comes to the safety and well-being of the more than 400,000 New Yorkers who call public housing their home. An independent monitor is greatly needed, and I join my colleagues in support of State Senator Jeff Klein’s efforts create an independent monitor and bring greater accountability to NYCHA,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.


“NYCHA is our last bastion of affordable housing and needs the best level of oversight and protection in light of most recent reports of the city’s inability to properly govern itself at the highest level of transparency and accountability. Now is the time for the state to take a more active role by creating ongoing oversight in an effort to monitor NYCHA and how it conducts its business. I am proud to stand alongside my colleague in government, Senator Klein in championing this legislation that will establish an independent monitor for NYCHA” said Assemblyman Walter T. Mosley.


Legislation proposed by Senator Klein would create an Office of the Independent Monitor within the Department of Homes and Community Renewal, to be appointed by the governor with the advice and consent of the Senate.


The independent monitor would have the power to review and would have oversight of any NYCHA project, including requiring corrective actions to remedy issues identified in projects. The monitor would also be required to prepare an annual report on the office’s activities, including any corrective actions it ordered.


Members of the Independent Democratic Conference also released a new report, “Public Housing Peril: The Need to Hold NYCHA Accountable,” on poor NYCHA conditions and the slow responses to requests from tenants to remedy their complaints.


Through a survey of NYCHA residents in partnership with Housing Chair Ritchie Torres and Community Voices Heard, the report found more than half of the respondents reported that they either currently have a mold or lead issue in their apartment or have had one in the past.


The survey also found that individuals who reported having mold and/or lead issues in their apartments generally did not receive prompt and timely responses from NYCHA building management.



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BP DIAZ UNVEILS REVAMPED WEBSITE


Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. today unveiled his office’s newly revamped website, bronxboropres.nyc.gov.


The new website features enhanced graphics, an easy-to-use responsive interface, more social media connectivity and other expanded content. The new design replaces the previous design the borough president’s office rolled out in February 2010.


“My office’s website is one of the easiest ways for constituents to contact my office, learn more about what we do in the borough president’s office and to find out more information about The Bronx,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.“Our new website will make it easier for visitors to discover The Bronx and to get help from my office. I encourage everyone to check out our new look.”



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WINTER WONDERLAND... 


David Greene


Youngsters of all ages turned out for a visit to "Santa's House" along the Metropolitan Oval in Parkchester. The Parkchester Community Recreation and Outreach first held their annual Christmas tree lighting on Wednesday, December 6, with musical selections performed by the Mosholu Montefiore Community Center Boys and Girls Club Dance Team. On December 9 and 10 Santa Clause and his helpers were on hand to listen to children's requests for the holiday season. Santa returns to Parkchester on December 16, 17 and 23, between 12 and 4 p.m. and parents are encouraged to bring their cameras to take photos with Santa.  


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Statement from State Senator Gustavo Rivera on Governor Cuomo's Veto of Bill Requiring Medicaid Coverage For Blood and Skin Prick Testing for Allergies

(Bronx, NY) - On Wednesday, November 29, bill S1222/A00807, sponsored by State Senator Gustavo Rivera and Assemblymember Nick Perry, was vetoed by Governor Andrew Cuomo. This bill would ensure critical access to blood allergy testing in addition to the already covered skin prick testing for Medicaid recipients seeking to determine an allergic condition. 

While the veto message issued by Governor Cuomo raised a reasonable concern about the legislation's potential fiscal impact to our State's Medicaid program, it fails to recognize the benefits of implementing such policy. This bill would not only promote a clinically proven practice that could prevent thousands of New Yorkers from suffering from avoidable and life-threatening medical complications, but it could also prevent avoidable emergency room visits and the high costs that come along with it. For instance, according to a 2011 report by the Office of New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, New York State's asthma related hospitalizations, which are closely related to allergies, cost approximately $660 million. In addition, the veto message does not consider the impact this policy shift could have in helping reduce the health disparities that continue plaguing especially low income and minority communities across our State.

The two objections outlined in the Governor's veto message fail to take into consideration key factors. The veto message states that Medicaid already treats blood allergy tests and skin prick tests as equivalent confirmatory tests. While this is somewhat true, it does not acknowledge that the policy is extremely limited. Currently, it only covers children age 3 or under, patients who have a skin condition that would not be conducive to skin prick testing, or patients who cannot discontinue medications as a precursor to skin prick testing. Bill S1222 would have made both skin prick testing and blood allergy testing available to all Medicaid patients seeking to determine an allergic condition.

The veto message also argues that the bill could have the unintended consequence of reducing the number of patients obtaining accurate diagnoses by allergy specialists. The reality is that there are only a few hundred allergy specialists across the State, including approximately 243 in New York City, 15 in Buffalo and 11 in Albany. Scheduling an appointment can take up to six months for Medicaid patients, and require extensive travel. Covering blood-based allergy testing under Medicaid would allow primary care doctors to directly order the test, determine an appropriate course of treatment, and help prevent unnecessary medical complications. A primary care doctor would still be able to refer a patient to an allergy specialist if they deemed it medically necessary. 

As the first line of care for most patients, primary care physicians could directly administer a blood-based allergy test if it were to be covered under Medicaid. This critical shift in Medicaid policy could potentially help reduce the number of asthma and allergy related hospitalizations, which are already higher among patients with Medicaid coverage. In addition, this bill would have aligned the New York State Medicaid program's allergy testing policy with the asthma and food allergy guidelines set by National Institute of Health as well as with the procedures already implement by private health care insurance providers. 

"As the Ranking Member of the New York State Senate Health Committee and the sponsor of S1222, I am deeply disappointed that this bill was vetoed. This common sense policy could have ensured that Medicaid patients across New York State have greater and easier access to different options of allergy testing, allowing them to identify and treat their allergies faster and more accurately. This measure would have saved New York State significant costs in emergency care, help reduce health disparities, and improved our health care system. I am committed to continue working with Assemblymember Perry and Governor Cuomo's office to address the lack of access to comprehensive allergy testing in New York State's Medicaid program," said State Senator Gustavo Rivera. 

 
Statement from State Senator Gustavo Rivera on Trump's Executive Action to Undermine the Affordable Care Act

"The Republican-controlled Senate has attempted to legislatively repeal the Affordable Care Act multiple times this year. They have failed each time. Despite these categorical defeats, the Trump administration appears to be dead set on stripping low and middle income Americans from quality and affordable healthcare. 

Over the last 24 hours and through executive action, Trump has taken two dangerous steps trying to unwind parts of the Affordable Care Act. The first calls for the expansion of the so-called association health plans and short-term insurance plans; less regulated health plans that, while cheaper, provide less comprehensive health services. Vulnerable Americans, such as those suffering from pre-existing health conditions, will have to make the agonizing decision of choosing from health insurance plans that either cover fewer benefits or charge higher deductibles. 

Furthermore, the White House decided to halt federal cost-sharing reduction (CSRs) payments for health insurance companies participating in the exchanges offered by the Affordable Care Act. The halting of these CSRs payments, which total $7 billion just this year, will inevitably raise premiums for middle-income families across the country. In New York, this reckless action will not only create an urgent fiscal crisis in its immediate impact but, more importantly, it will put the health insurance coverage of thousands of New Yorkers in jeopardy. Trump and Republicans promised to make healthcare more affordable and accessible. These actions do the opposite and as a consequence many hard working Americans will be left uninsured. 

I applaud and fully support the decision by New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman to join 19 Attorney Generals in filing a lawsuit to block the Trump administration's attempt to halt CSRs. His leadership is what our State and our country needs as we continue fighting to protect our health care. 

As the Ranking Member of the New York State Health Committee, I remain committed in my efforts to ensure that every New Yorker, regardless of their personal wealth, has access to affordable and quality healthcare. That's why I will continue engaging in conversation with my colleagues in both chambers in order to pass the New York Health Act and make New York a state where your wealth does not determine your access to health."

 

 

 

 

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New York State Parks Invites New Yorkers to Celebrate the New Year Outdoors with First Day Hikes at State Parks, Historic Sites, Forests and Wildlife Areas on January 1, 2018

Annual event encourages families and friends to spend the holiday enjoying nature


The Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (State Parks) invites New Yorkers to celebrate the New Year exploring the outdoors at one of the 75 hikes being held at state parks, historic sites, wildlife areas and trails across the Empire State.  The guided hikes are being hosted by New York State Parks and the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) as part of the seventh annual First Day Hikes program taking place throughout the nation on January 1, 2018

“First Day Hikes have become a popular outdoor tradition for families and friends; a healthy way to kick off the New Year amidst the stunning beauty of our state’s most scenic natural backdrops, said Rose Harvey, Commissioner of the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. “This year’s program includes an expanded variety of winter walks and hikes, and is the perfect reminder that New York’s parks are open year-round, offering world-class recreation and enjoyment for people with varying interests and abilities.”

Hikes are being offered at 14 DEC wildlife areas, Forest Preserve trails and environmental educations centers and 59 state parks and historic sites with some facilities offering multiple hikes for different age groups, skill level and destinations within the park.  Staff from State Parks and DEC, along with volunteers at many sites, will lead these family-friendly walks and hikes, which range from one to five miles depending on the location and conditions. 

DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said, “Start the New Year off on the right foot by participating in the popular annual First Day Hike at one of New York’s magnificent outdoor destinations. DEC is proud to partner with State Parks to help New Yorkers of all ages and abilities enjoy this growing tradition, which brings friends and families together in our State’s great outdoors.”

A sample of this year’s programs feature a seal walk, walking history tour, snowshoe waterfall hike, pet-friendly treks, gorge walks, military musicology, canal towpath walk and more.  New entries for 2018 include a bird survey, full-moon hike, mountain trails, views from a fire tower, and a walk through a maritime forest. 

“America’s State Parks provide havens for young and old alike to discover the tranquility and beauty of nature through outdoor recreation,” National Association of State Park Directors Executive Director Lewis Ledford said. “Hiking offers inspiring ways to improve your physical and mental health, while exploring beautiful public lands in every state.”

If weather conditions permit, some First Day Hikes may include snowshoeing or cross-country skiing.  Many host sites will be offering refreshments, giveaways and a drawing for a 2018 annual Empire Pass.  A list of the following hikes, and details about hike locations, difficulty and length, terrain, registration requirements and additional information are listed at https://parks.ny.gov/events/first-day-hikes.aspx 

 

Western New York

Allegany State Park- Red House, self-guided anytime 10am-2pm716.354.9101 x.232

DeVeaux Woods State Park, Niagara Falls; 10am716.282.5154

Evangola State Park, Irving; 10am716.549.1050

Genesee Valley Greenway, Canawaugus Park, Scottsville; 11am; (2 hikes from this location) 585.493.3614

Genesee Valley Greenway, Route 305 Parking, Belfast; 1pm; (2 hikes from this location) 585.493.3614

Genesee Valley Greenway, Route 408 Parking, Mt. Morris; 11am

Knox Farm State Park, East Aurora; 11am716.549.1050

Letchworth State Park, Castile; 1pm; (four hikes); 585.493.3600

Niagara Falls State Park, Niagara Falls; 1:30pm716.282.5154

Reinstein Woods, Depew; 11am716.683.5959

Finger Lakes & Central New York

Betty and Wilbur Davis State Park, Westford; 10am607.638.5421

Bowman Lake State Park/McDonough State Forest, Oxford; 11am607.334.2718

Catharine Valley Trail, Watkins Glen; 10am607.535.4511

Chenango Valley State Park, Chenango Forks; 1pm; (2 hikes) 607.648.5251

Clark Reservation State Park, Jamesville; 11am315.492.1590

Fort Ontario State Historic Site, Oswego; 10am315.343.4711

Gilbert Lake State Park, Laurens; 10am607.432.2114

Green Lakes State Park, Fayetteville; 11am315.637.6111

Montezuma Wildlife Refuge, Savannah; 1pm315.365.2134

Seneca Lake State Park, Geneva; 9am315.789.2331

Taughannock Falls State Park, Trumansburg; 1pm; (three hikes) 607.387.7041 ext. 131

Two Rivers State Park, Waverly; 10am607.732.6287

North Country/Adirondacks

Hadley Mountain, Hadley, 9am518.623.1200

Poke-O-Moonshine, Keeseville; 10am518.897.1200

Robert G. Wehle State Park, Henderson; 10:30am315.938.5302

Sackets Harbor Battlefield State Historic Site, Sackets Harbor; 1:30pm315.646.2321

Stillwater Fire Tower, Webb; 10am315.785.2263

Wellesley Island State Park, Fineview; 1pm315.482.2479

Willie Wildlife Marsh, Johnstown; 9:30am518.863.4545

Greater Capital District

Five Rivers Environmental Education Center, Delmar; 9-11am518.475.0291

Grafton Lakes State Park, Grafton; 4pm518.279.1155

Mine Kill State Park, North Blenheim; 11am518.827.8690

Moreau Lake State Park, Gansevoort; 11am518.793.0511

Peebles Island State Park, Waterford; 10am518-732-0187

Saratoga Spa State Park, Saratoga Springs; 10am518.584.2000 ext. 116

Schodack Island State Park, Schodack Landing; 1pm; (2 hikes) 518.732.0187

Thacher State Park, Voorheesville; 11am518.872.0800

Hudson Valley/Catskills

FDR State Park, Yorktown; 10:30am914.245.4434

Hudson Highlands State Park, Cold Spring;11am;

John Jay Homestead State Historic Site, Katonah; 1pm914.232.5651

Minnewaska State Park Preserve, Peter’s Kill, Kerhonkson; 1-4:30pm845.255.0752

Minnewaska State Park Preserve, Sam’s Point, Cragsmoor; 9:30am & 2pm; (two hikes) 845.647.7989

North South Lake, Hunter; 9am518.357.2068

Olana State Historic Site, Hudson; 11am518.828.0135 x303

Old Croton Aqueduct, Cortlandt; 12pm;  914.522.5000

Rochester Hollow, Big Indian; 10am845.256.3083

Rockefeller State Park Preserve, Pleasantville; 9am914.666.6503

Split Rock Sterling Forest State Park, Tuxedo; 12:30 pm607.746.9694

Sterling Forest State Park, Tuxedo; 11am845.351.5907

Stony Kill Farm Environmental Education Center, Wappingers Falls; 10am-12pm845.831.3800

Taconic State Park - Copake Falls, Copake Falls; 1pm518.329.3993

Walkway over the Hudson State Historic Park; Poughkeepsie; 2pm845-834-2867

NYC & Long Island

Bethpage State Park, Farmingdale; 10am516.249.3560

Caumsett State Historic Park Preserve, Lloyd Neck; 1pm631.581.1072

Clay Pit Ponds, Staten Island; 1pm718.605.3970 x201

Connetquot River State Park Preserve, Oakdale; 1pm631.581.1072

Hallock State Park Preserve, Wading River; 12pm631.315.5475

Jones Beach State Park, Wantaugh; 1:30-3pm516.780.3295

Montauk Point State, Montauk; 1:30pm631.668.5000 x201

Mount Loretto Unique Area; Staten Island; 10am718.313.8591

Ridge Conservation Area, Ridge; 9am631.444.0200

Sunken Meadow State Park, Kings Park; 1pm;631.581.1072

The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation oversees more than 250 parks, historic sites, recreational trails, golf courses, boat launches and more, which are visited by 69 million people annually. For more information on any of these recreation areas, call 518-474-0456 or visit www.parks.ny.gov, connect with us on Facebook, or follow on Instagram and Twitter.  

 

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Deputy Borough President Greene to Retire at Year's End


Deputy Bronx Borough President Aurelia Greene announced on Wednesday that she would be retiring at the end of the year, following more than four decades of dedicated public service to the people of The Bronx and the State of New York.
 
"My life's greatest reward was being able to serve the constituents of The Bronx," said Deputy Bronx Borough President Aurelia Greene. "My time working with Borough President Diaz has been a major highlight of my career, and I appreciate the opportunity to have served."
 
A native Bronxite, Deputy Bronx Borough President Aurelia Greene served as New York State Assembly Member representing the 77th District from 1982 to 2009, which includes the communities of Highbridge, Claremont, East/West Concourse and Morris Heights. Prior to her election to the New York State Assembly, Ms. Greene served as the Female Democratic District Leader for the 76th Assembly District and was an active civic leader in the South Bronx.
 
During her 27 year career in the New York State Assembly, Ms. Greene used her urban planning skills to negotiate for affordable housing and effective tenant groups, quality education, employment opportunities, affordable healthcare and housing, senior services, youth services, economic development and worked hard for a strengthened business community. She was a regular sponsor of educational and informational seminars to aid her constituents on issues of current concern. As the first woman to chair the Assembly's Committee on Banks, she passed landmark legislation to fight predatory lending.
 
During her legislative career, Ms. Greene introduced a number of important bills which later became state law to improve the quality of life for residents of New York State. After many years of rising through the ranks of the New York State Assembly, in January 2006, Ms. Greene was elevated to the position of Speaker Pro Tempore. The first African-American to hold this prestigious position, Ms. Greene became responsible for officiating over the Assembly session proceedings in the absence of the speaker.
 
At the close of her tenure in the New York State Assembly, Ms. Greene served as a member of the Rules, Ways & Means, Social Services and Cities Committees and was Ranking Member of the Education Committee. Ms. Greene also served as the Chair of the State Assembly's Bronx Delegation and, prior to becoming Deputy Bronx Borough President, was the longest serving Member of the Assembly in Bronx County.
 
As Deputy Bronx Borough President, Ms. Greene regularly chaired meetings of the Bronx Borough Board. Additionally, she assisted in the office's management of both the budget and community board process, and was an invaluable source of guidance and advice to staff members in every department.
 
"For more than eight years, Aurelia Greene has been my partner in borough hall. She stood with me every step of the way as we brought new investment and new attention to our borough, helping to guide my office's agenda through the benefit of her considerable experience as a legislator and community activist," said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. "The people of The Bronx have always had a strong advocate in Aurelia Greene as both Deputy Borough President and as a member of the New York State Assembly. Her passion for service will be truly missed, and I wish her nothing but the best in her retirement."
 
An announcement regarding the selection of a new Deputy Bronx Borough President will be made in the coming weeks.

 

SCHUMER: FCC VOTE TO END NET NEUTRALITY – ALLOWING ACCESS TO THE WEB TO BE BLOCKED OR SLOWED FOR MILLIONS OF AMERICANS -- SIMPLY CANNOT STAND; REPEAL OF NET NEUTRALITY WILL TURN INTERNET INTO A TOLL ROAD, WHERE ONLY THE HIGHEST PAYING CUSTOMERS WILL RULE; SENATOR PUSHES PLAN TO OVERTURN DECISION WITH A MAJORITY VOTE BY CONGRESS

 

Yesterday’s Vote By The FCC To Repeal Net Neutrality Could Jack Up The Cost Of  Internet Access & Means The Internet Is No Longer Open Or Fair

 

Internet Service Providers (ISPs) Will Now Be Allowed To Deliberately Speed Up Or Slow Down Traffic From Specific Websites, Apps, Or Charge More For Different Content

 

Schumer: We Must Hit ‘Control, Alt, Delete’ On FCC’s Vote To Kill The Open Internet

 

Standing at WeWork headquarters, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today announced support for a Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution that would undo the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) disastrous repeal of Net Neutrality rules. Just yesterday the FCC voted to rescind the 2015 Open Internet Order, which prohibits internet service providers from blocking or slowing down internet traffic. Schumer today blasted the FCC’s decision and said it could bring an end to the free and open internet that has enabled innovation on the internet and allowed startup companies, like the ones hosted at WeWork, to flourish and create countless jobs.

Schumer was joined by Dennis Crowley, FourSquare CEO; Brian O’Kelley, AppNexus CEO; Julie Samuels, Tech: NYC Executive Director; and Erik Grimmelman, President of NY Tech Alliance.

“With the disastrous repeal of Net Neutrality rules, the Internet may start to resemble a toll road, with the highest bidders cruising along private ‘fast lanes’ while the rest of us inch along a single, traffic-choked public lane; and we could be forced to purchase internet packages much like cable packages, paying more for popular sites,” said U.S. Senator Charles Schumer. “We must keep the internet free and open to everyone: from the students writing their theses to the consumers purchasing their holiday gifts to the grandparents talking to their family over skype all the way to the startup company operating out of its founder’s basement. The resolution I am announcing today would press ‘control, alt, delete’ on the FCC’s recent vote and restore Net Neutrality once again.”

 

The CRA resolution, which Schumer plans to support, would rescind FCC Chairman Ajit Pai’s order and fully restore the Open Internet Order. CRA resolutions allow Congress to overturn regulatory actions at federal agencies with a simple majority vote in both chambers.  In accordance with the Congressional Review Act, the resolution be will be formally introduced once the rule is submitted to both houses of Congress and published in the federal register.

Other Senators co-sponsoring the CRA resolution include Senators Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii.), Richard Blumenthal (D–Conn.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Jack Reed (D-R.I.) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) Congressman Mike Doyle (D-Penn.) plans to introduce a CRA resolution in the House of Representatives.  

 

 

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NYC Health + Hospitals Cuts the Ribbon on a Revitalized Health Center in the Bronx

Providing High-Quality Community-Based Care Continues to Be a Top Priority


(Bronx, New York – December 12, 2017) NYC Health + Hospitals held a ribbon-cutting ceremony today to celebrate the recent upgrade of a health center in the East Tremont neighborhood of the Bronx. Funded with $1.2 million through Mayor de Blasio’s Caring Neighborhoods Initiative, the facility renovation reflects NYC Health + Hospitals’ commitment to community-based ambulatory care, one of the chief strategies of the health system’s transformation agenda.

The NYC Health + Hospitals/Gotham Health center provides a range of services, including family medicine and behavioral health care. The enhanced examination rooms and waiting area were designed with patient comfort in mind. 

Located at 1826 Arthur Avenue in East Tremont, the health center is expected to provide care for 7,360 patients annually. The new layout includes 13 upgraded exam rooms, new medical equipment and furniture, and an uplifting décor to create a welcoming environment.

“We are pleased to continue addressing the challenge of ambulatory care access, one underserved neighborhood at a time,” said Stanley Brezenoff, interim president and CEO of NYC Health + Hospitals. “Every New Yorker deserves equal access to health care, and now, if you wake up in East Tremont feeling under the weather, you don’t need to travel to get health care. Quality care is right in East Tremont.”

Launched in October 2015, Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Caring Neighborhoods Initiative is a program to significantly increase primary care access for thousands of residents in underserved neighborhoods across New York City. Spearheaded by NYC Health + Hospitals and the New York City Economic Development Corporation, Caring Neighborhoods builds primary care capacity in communities where over a million New Yorkers have faced limited options for convenient and affordable health care services.

The refurbished Gotham Health center will provide services that reflect the needs of the community. The site will employ a nutritionist and a social worker to support behavioral health services. 

 “The new clinic is modern and welcoming,” said John Maguire, MD, attending physician at the East Tremont location. “Environment matters, and our patients deserve the best.”

“This investment in improving health care in our community means access to quality and convenient services for thousands of Bronxites,” said Assembly Member Michael Blake. “No New Yorker or Bronxite should be faced with the choice of staying sick or traveling great distances for quality care. These hard-working families and their children will now have access to a health care system that works for them, not against them. I commend Mayor de Blasio and his administration for working to achieve this goal and look forward to working with his administration and my colleagues to continue #BuildingABetterBronx”.

“One of the first steps toward building a healthy Bronx is assuring access to healthcare services is not determined by zip code, said Assembly Member Victor Pichardo.”’ I’m more than thrilled to see NYC Health + Hospital’s East Tremont Health Center open its doors right here in our neighborhood and help many families and children receive care. I commend the Mayor’s efforts on combating healthcare access inequality. It is another example that when we work together, we can build a better Bronx.”

The health center is open Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The center’s patients will also have 24-hour phone access to clinical advice. To make an appointment, patients can call 646-815-9700.

 

 

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SCHUMER REVEALS: POPULAR AT HOME DNA TEST KITS ARE PUTTING CONSUMER PRIVACY AT GREAT RISK, AS DNA FIRMS COULD SELL YOUR MOST PERSONAL INFO & GENETIC DATA TO ALL-COMERS; SENATOR PUSHES FEDS TO INVESTIGATE & ENSURE FAIR PRIVACY STANDARDS FOR ALL DNA ‎KITS


One Of The Hottest Gifts This Holiday Season Is A DNA Test Kit; Companies Like Ancestry, MyHeritage & More Sell You The Secrets Of Your Own DNA—But Senator Says Those Secrets Aren’t Always Safe

Slew Of Different Policies Amongst The Most Popular DNA Kit Firms Grant Unknown Third Parties Broad Access To Your Most Sensitive Info; As Popularity Of Kits Explodes, Schumer Demands FTC Investigate Privacy Policies On DNA Because Consumers Are In Dark  

Schumer: Companies Should Not Be Able To Gift Your DNA This Holiday Season  


In the midst of gift-giving season, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer is sounding the alarm on a popular item: at home DNA test kits. Schumer, today, is revealing that the kits are putting consumer privacy at great risk because DNA testing firms don’t always clearly disclose to consumers exactly what they are doing with DNA once it is sent in to their company. Schumer is calling on the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to investigate and ensure that privacy policies all DNA test kits are clear, transparent, and fair to consumers as these services become more and more popular.

"When it comes to protecting consumers from at-home DNA test kit service, the federal government is behind; putting your most personal genetic information in the hands of third parties for their exclusive use raises a lot of concerns, from the potential for discrimination by employers all the way to health insurance,” said U.S. Senator Charles Schumer. “That's why I am asking the Federal Trade Commission to take a serious look at this relatively new kind of service and ensure that these companies have clear, fair privacy policies and standards for all kinds of at-home DNA test kits. We don't want to impede research but we also don't want to empower those looking to make a fast buck or an unfair judgement off your genetic information. We can find the right balance here, and we must.”

Many consumers purchase DNA test kits, from companies like MyHeritage, Ancestry and others to learn more about their genetics and ancestry, however, many don’t realize that their sensitive information may end up in the hands of many other third party companies. And in many cases, the varying Terms of Service of each and every company mean consumers cannot know what to expect or understand the consent they are giving for use of their data.

For example, AncestryDNA’s fine print tells consumers that by submitting their DNA to the firm “…you grant Ancestry and the Ancestry Group Companies a royalty-free, worldwide, sublicensable, transferable license to host, transfer, process, analyze, distribute and communicate your genetic information for the purposes of providing products and services.” Schumer said this kind of language is troubling because it clearly suggests a desire for firms to monetize the DNA data they receive. At the same time, it is so vague that consumers do not have any concrete understanding of to whom and for what purposes their data might be sold or used. 

Schumer says these kinds of aforementioned concerns, both related to marketing and discrimination, demand an FTC investigation, especially because there are good things that can come from this kind of at-home testing that relate to genetic research. Schumer says we do not want to impede these advancements, but that we must establish a framework for this kind of service.

At-home DNA test kits require a cheek swab or the collection of spit, which is then sent away for genetic-testing. Schumer points out that each company has its own variation of a privacy policy and Terms of Service and that many companies may be selling the genetic data they’ve gathered to third parties. Schumer today said that it is clear more must be done to protect consumer privacy when it comes to these at-home DNA testing kits.

Over the past several years, DNA testing kits have become more and more popular. According to media reports, the DNA testing market was worth approximately $70 million in 2015 and is expected to rise to $340 million by 2022.This year, AncestryDNA announced it had reached 4 million users in its genetic database, where consumers find relatives, some of whom they did not know existed.

Schumer concluded, “The last gift any of us want to give away this holiday seasons is our most personal and sensitive information, so that is why we are asking the FTC to step in, take a hard look at this industry and ensure there are across-the-board protections to safeguard consumers and ensure good research continues.”

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BRONX YOUNGSTERS ENJOY FESTIVITIES AT ANNUAL

POLICE ATHLETIC LEAGUE HOLIDAY PARTY

 

On Saturday, December 9th, over 400 boys and girls, ages five to 12, from PAL After School programs in all five boroughs, enjoyed a festive holiday party at PAL’s New South Bronx Center on Longwood Avenue.  PAL’s Holiday Party included arts and crafts, carnival games, gifts, face-painting, a DJ dance party and a visit from Santa Claus.  The young people also enjoyed special performances by teens in PAL’s Acting program, holiday entertainment, participation by officers from the NYPD, and raffle prizes.

“I feel happy, excited and amazed to be celebrating the holidays here today!” said Samantha, 8, from P.S. 47 in the Bronx.

Special Guests in attendance at the PAL Holiday Party included NYC Police Commissioner and PAL Honorary President James P. O’Neill, PAL Vice-Chairman John and Margo Catsimatidis, PAL President David Arena, and PAL Executive Director Frederick Watts.

The PAL Annual Holiday Party in the Bronx is one of many PAL holiday celebrations throughout the city bringing happiness and toys to thousands of youngsters at PAL centers and police precincts in their own communities.

PAL celebrations are made possible by the generosity and holiday spirit of hundreds of caring New Yorkers including John and Margo Catsimatidis.

New York City’s Police Athletic League is the first and finest civilian-run PAL in the country. Founded in 1914, PAL has served the city’s young people for over 100 years.  PAL provides recreational, educational, cultural and social activities to 35,000 boys and girls annually.  It is also the city’s largest, independent, nonprofit youth organization.  For more information, please visit www.palnyc.org.


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“BROADWAY WORLD”

Lehman Center for the Performing Arts Undergoes Stunning Renovation




Lehman College of The City of New York (Lehman) today hosted a ceremonial groundbreaking, marking the start of a $15.4 million addition and renovation to the Lehman Center for the Performing Arts (the Center), the premier concert hall in the Bronx. The Center is located on Lehman's campus.

James B. Milliken, Chancellor, The City University of New York; Judith Bergtraum, Vice Chancellor for Facilities Planning, Construction and Management, The City University of New York; José Luis Cruz, Lehman College President; Ruben Diaz Jr., Bronx Borough President; José Rivera, Member, New York State Assembly; Andrew Cohen, Member, New York City Council; Jeffrey Dinowitz, Member, New York State Assembly and Eva Bornstein, Executive Director, Lehman Center for the Performing Arts, were equipped with shovels and on hand for the ceremony. Andrea Rockower, Vice Chair, Board of Directors, Lehman Center for the Performing Arts, served as emcee.

Construction will add nearly 5,600 square feet of space that will allow for an expanded and stunning glass box office, new administrative offices and restroom facilities on the first and mezzanine floors, as well as an elevator. The addition will also provide separate heating and cooling systems so that the main concert hall can be maintained at energy-saving temperatures when not in use.

The project will also modify the existing lobby and interior in compliance with ADA standards. Ramps and lifts at key locations will be installed, making all areas accessible. Wheelchair accessible viewing positions will be constructed at many locations within the theatre.

The Center is one of New York's finest and most exciting not-for-profit performing arts centers and the largest venue of its kind in the Bronx, with 2,310 seats in the concert hall.

Funding for the project was provided by the Office of the Governor, New York State Legislature, Bronx delegation of the New York City Council and the Office of the Bronx Borough President. Construction is scheduled to begin immediately. The Center will continue operations throughout the project as work will be scheduled when the space is not in use.

President Cruz said, "Lehman is proud of our prestigious center for the arts. For years the space has served as a venue for some of the world's best known performing artists. I am thrilled that one of the borough's greatest treasures will undergo this important makeover and thank all who have provided funding for this project. Because of their generosity, we will have a facility that will take the center well into the future."

Lehman College is the City University of New York's only public four-year college in the Bronx, serving the borough and surrounding region as an intellectual, economic and cultural center. Lehman provides undergraduate and graduate studies in the liberal arts and sciences and professional education within a dynamic research environment. With a diverse student body of more than 13,000, Lehman offers more than 90 undergraduate and graduate programs. Ranked as having the fourth highest mobility rate in the nation by the National Bureau of Economic Research and the Equality of Opportunity Project Lehman is a proud catalyst for economic and social mobility for its students, almost half of whom are first generation college students.

Lehman Center for the Performing Arts was founded in 1980, with a mission of providing the residents of the Bronx and surrounding communities with access to affordable, culturally diverse music, dance and theatrical performances that entertain, educate, and inspire. The 2,310-seat concert hall is the largest performing arts venue in the borough.

 


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YOUNGSTERS LEARNING WONDERS OF SCIENCE

 

WITH CON EDISON ‘STEM’ GRANTS

 

Expanded Programs Bring 10,000 Students & Museums Together

 

Join the conversation#ConEdSTEM


 

NEW YORK - Con Edison has kicked off the third year for two programs to stimulate interest among thousands of middle school children in science, technology, engineering and math, known as STEM subjects.

 

The programs have been so successful they have been expanded.

 

The first program, Con Edison STEM Days Out, provides $25,000 grants to cultural institutions in the five boroughs and Westchester County to conduct STEM lessons taught by educators at those institutions.

 

The number of cultural institutions teaching the lessons has expanded to 11.

 

They are:

  • ·       Wave Hill and the New York Botanical Garden, Bronx
  • ·       Brooklyn Children’s Museum
  • ·       Brooklyn Botanic Garden
  • ·       New York Aquarium, Brooklyn
  • ·       Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, Manhattan
  • ·       American Museum of Natural History, Manhattan
  • ·       National Museum of Math, Manhattan
  • ·       New York Hall of Science, Queens
  • ·       Staten Island Makerspace
  • ·       Staten Island Museum
  • ·       Hudson River Museum, Westchester

 

“Students will see and touch exhibits, and learn from experts they would not ordinarily meet at school,” said Frances A. Resheske, Con Edison Senior Vice President for Corporate Affairs. “This is a wonderful opportunity for students to broaden their perspectives by visiting these great centers of learning.”

 

STEM Days Out are held the first Wednesday of the month through May 2018. Title 1 public middle schools may apply to participate in the STEM Days Out. The cultural institutions will manage the selection process.

 

Con Edison’s ongoing support of STEM education continues with the second program. Con Edison’s STEM Classroom is a partnership with DonorsChoose.org. With this program, public middle school teachers throughout New York City can submit STEM proposals to DonorsChoose.org.  When 50 percent of a project is funded through citizen donations, Con Edison will contribute the remaining 50 percent.

 

Con Edison provides more than $12 million in financial and in-kind contributions to students and nonprofits in New York City and Westchester that enhance STEM education. Funding includes support for scholarships to students majoring in STEM fields, as well as program support for summer internships and year-round programs benefitting underprivileged and minority students.

 

Con Edison is committed to improving the quality of life in the communities we serve. Hundreds of nonprofit organizations in our service area benefit from our funding, in-kind donations, volunteer efforts, and other strategic resources. For more information, visit conEd.com/partnerships.

 

 


 

 

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Senator Jamaal T. Bailey’s C.A.P.S.L.O.C Part II

 

(BRONX, NY) Senator Jamaal T. Bailey hosted his Churches, Activists & the Police coming together in Solidarity for Loving, Outspoken Communities (C.A.P.S.L.O.C) Part II event on Saturday, December 9th, in collaboration with Monroe College and the NYPD 49th Precinct and 52nd Precinct. This was a follow up to our first C.A.P.S.L.O.C event in June. The event featured the College's Law Enforcement Training Simulator (L.E.T.S), which allowed the audience to play the role of the officer in an intense pressure situation.

Following the simulator experience, the event featured a panel that included, Monroe College School of Criminal Justice Dean, Michele Rodney, Sophia White, from the Office on Human Rights, 49th Precinct Council President, Joseph Thompson, Nathalia Fernandez from Governor Andrew Cuomo's Office, Abdul Johnson, CEO of C-Ball League, and Monroe College Professor Paul Lichtbraun.

"It is vitally important that we bridge the gap between community and police. Growing up, as a man of color, there was a divide between the police and community. I grew up in this district, so I have a vested interest in ensuring this relationship improves. I'm also greatly appreciative of the leadership in these precincts, who make efforts towards bridging the gap. As a State Senator, I feel like it is my duty to educate our community about the necessity to unite," said Senator Bailey.

“Monroe College is pleased to once again partner with the NYPD and Senator Jamaal Bailey on this third community talk aimed at building stronger understanding among all,” said Michele Rodney, Esq., Dean of the School of Criminal Justice at Monroe College. “The College has been a part of the Bronx community for nearly 85 years, and is proud to lend its expertise and educational resources to those who share in our commitment to build a better, stronger Bronx.”

C.A.P.S.L.O.C. Part II featured a series of collaborations with the other precincts in the District. Our next C.A.P.S.L.O.C Part II will be with the Mount Vernon Police Department, which will conclude the second part of the series.


NYPD Picture: NYPD Capt. Kevin Coleman, 52nd Pct. and fellow officers of the 52nd and 49th precincts.

 

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Trump Greeted by Protesters During Fundraising Event
by David Greene

President Donald Trump returned home briefly for a victory lap as he attended three campaign fundraisers in Manhattan, just hours after Senate Republicans passed the first tax overhaul in 30 years--and a day after the bombshell development into the probe of Russia meddling probe, that former national security adviser Michael Flynn pled guilty to lying to the F.B.I. and shaking the foundation of the White House.
 
Attending a breakfast sponsored by the Republican National Convention, hundreds of demonstrators, many members of 1199 SEIU, began gathering hours before POTUS arrived at a breakfast at Cipriani's on East 42 Street, on Saturday, December 2. Many carried signs and chanted slogans like, "Lock him up," a reference to Trumps famous slogan about Hillary Clinton.
In an invite for the rally sent out by the union that represents the healthcare industry, the flyer stated, "We are under attack. It''s no secret that President Trump and his donors are no friends of healthcare workers and working people. Now he is coming to New York to raise cash from his big money donors to continue his campaign to dismantle affordable healthcare for all, take away rights of immigrants and tax working people while giving tax breaks to the very rich."
A half dozen dump-trucks from the Department of Sanitation were loaded with sand and blocked the front entrance to the upscale eatery. Police used metal barricades to completely close off 42nd Street and ordered sporadic traffic closures across the borough as "The Donald" arrived at the Wall Street heliport and was whisked-away to his three events by Presidential motorcade.
"Lorenzo" from Astoria, Queens said of the president's arrival, "He came down the street and turned the corner and went in the side entrance. We yelled out "shame" and the crowd booed him."
"I'm here because of the GOP tax bill," Lorenzo explained his reason for attending dressed as the 'Grim Reaper' continuing, "It's going to do a lot more harm then there telling the public. This bill is going to hurt a lot of people in the long run."
Trump attended three fundraisers where donors paid between $1,000 to $50,000 a plate and the "Trump Victory" events were expected to raise $6 million.
Hours earlier, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell stated, "We have an opportunity now to make America more competitive and to keep jobs from being shipped off-shore and provide substantial relief to the middle class."
Asked about the amendment that was delivered at 8:30 p.m., with handwritten provisions to the law scribbled in the margin, McConnell defended the process, firing back, "This was done through the regular order, the Democrats had plenty of notice, Chairman (Orrin) Hatch can attest to all of the multiple hearings, mark-up's, open amendment process, everybody had plenty of opportunity to see the measure. You complain about process when your losing and that's what you heard on the floor tonight."
Calling it "a win for America," Senator Lisa Mercowski of Alaska was first against the bill, then stated her reason for now supporting it, "We've been trying to open the 10-02 area for responsible oil and gas production for close to 40 years now and we have come to a good place tonight.  We recognize that we still have a little bit of process yet to go, to get this over the finish line, but this is good for Alaska and more importantly, its good for the country."
In a portion of a statement issued by Mayor Bill de Blasio, the mayor said, "The voted for a tax increase for 87 million households. They voted for a $25 billion cut to Medicaid. They voted too kick 13 million people off their health insurance. They voted to give wealthy companies a tax break at the expense of cities' police officers, firefighters and teachers."
Before getting on Air Force One for his trip to New York, Trump insisted once again to reporters there was "no collusion" between his campaign and Russia, before getting on Twitter and telling supporters, "had to fire General Flynn because he lied to Vice President and the FBI."
Congressman Elliot Engel issued a statement of the latest revelations, stating, "Far too many questions still remain unanswered about the Trump Russia scandal, such as who was involved with instructing Flynn to speak with the Russians directly, about what and why. Frankly, it seems that more evidence is uncovered every day about collusion between Trump campaign and the Kremlin, and I'm glad that Special Counsel (Robert) Muller is investigating these very serious allegations."    

 

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CHRISTMAS DELAYED ON PELHAM PARKWAY


... Bronxites visiting the Pelham Parkway "Christmas House" at 1605 Westervelt Avenue at Pelham Parkway North, were disappointed to learn that the mannequins and lights are not yet ready. According to homeowner Gary Garabedian, the family suffered an automobile accident this year and their going to need more time. Garabedian, who sets up the display that includes life-size figures every year because his family witnessed a miracle that he will still not speak about publicly, says that the holiday display should be up by Tuesday, December 12.

 

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Close Call for Pelham Parkway Shoppers

by David Greene Photos by Jonathan Espinosa

Holiday shoppers along the busy Pelham Parkway business district had to dive for cover, as an automobile mounted the sidewalk and struck two storefronts.
Police and fire departments units were dispatched to 717 Lydig Avenue, at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, December 2.
The vehicle struck the entrance of the Yaffa Deli and Grocery and the BJ Gift Shop, which are both at the corner of Lyding Avenue and Cruger Avenue. Store owners reported minimal damage from the mishap. The cause of the crash was not immediately determined.
According to one NYPD source, "The vehicle mounted the sidewalk and struck two storefronts." The official maintained that no pedestrians were struck and the driver remained at the scene.
The official added that the crash was deemed and accident and no arrests or summonses were issued.  

 

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BP DIAZ URGES BRONX RESIDENTS TO
APPLY TO THEIR LOCAL COMMUNITY BOARD

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. is inviting Bronx residents to consider joining their local Community Board. The Office of The Bronx Borough President will be accepting applications for all 12 Community Boards from city residents who reside, work or have professional or other significant interests in The Bronx.
 
“Participation on local Community Boards can provide Bronx residents with a forum to share with their community their expertise and talents,” stated Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. “There are great things happening in The Bronx that involve the participation of community boards. It is important that community residents participate in the decisions that are building and revitalizing our borough, and our community boards are a great place to do so.”
 
In addition, Borough President Diaz is encouraging young people ages 16 and 17 to apply for community board membership. Presently, there are six high school students who have been appointed by the borough president to community boards, and Borough President Diaz is working to ensure that there is a least one youth member per community board.
 
“I believe that the earlier young people become engaged in community affairs and interact with government officials and agencies, the better they will understand government and become active leaders in their communities. It is important to hear the voices of our youth when planning for our neighborhoods,” said Borough President Diaz.
 
Applications are available online at http://bronxboropres.nyc.gov/community-boards/. Applications can also be picked up at any Bronx Community Board office, or by calling the Borough President’s Community Board department at (718) 590-3913.
 
The deadline for submission of applications for the next round of appointments isFebruary 9, 2018.

 

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Funds will support their Meals on Wheels program

 

Bronx, NY - Senator Jeff Klein announced $100,000 in state funding for Emerald Isle Immigration at the Bronx office’s annual Christmas luncheon on Monday afternoon. The state grant will support their Meals on Wheels Program, which delivers over 9,000 meals annually to homebound seniors within Senator Klein’s district.

 

“I’m proud to again secure much-needed funding for the important Meals on Wheels program. This grant will enable volunteers to continue to deliver warm and healthy meals to seniors within my district,” said Senator Klein.

 

“Senator Klein understands the importance of our Meals on Wheels program and the human interaction we can provide to our vulnerable and homebound neighbors,” said Siobhan Dennehy, Executive Director of Emerald Isle Immigration Center. “Our program succeeds daily because of this financial support and because of the dedication of all our volunteers and staff. We thank the Senator for helping us to provide continued financial support for this important initiative.”