Thursday, March 31, 2011

Temporary Restraining Order Prevents City From Stopping April Advantage Rent Subsidies For 15,000 Current Advantage Recipients

Here is the latest on the fight by the Legal Aid Society to prevent NYC from reneging on its promises to Work Advantage tenants and landlords. Hopefully NYC will come to its senses and avoid squandering millions on more costly shelters. It's interesting and comforting to see a heavy hitting law firm like Weil, Gotshal & Manges get in the mix. Kudos to them for working with the Legal Aid Society on a social issue as important as this one.


Temporary Restraining Order Prevents City From Stopping April Advantage Rent Subsidies For 15,000 Current Advantage Recipients

New York County Supreme Court Justice Judith J. Gische issued a temporary restraining order late Monday preventing the City from terminating Advantage rent subsidy payments due in April for 15,000 formerly homeless families and individuals. The Legal Aid Society and the law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manages LLP filed a class action lawsuit on Monday seeking a class-wide injunction to prevent the City from stopping Advantage rent subsidies for these 15,000 formerly homeless households before their Advantage subsidy agreements expire.
Steven Banks, Attorney-in-Charge of The Legal Aid Society, told the New York Law Journal that "moving forward with rent cut offs for 15,000 households would wreck havoc with the shelter [system], overwhelm the housing court and cost millions of dollars in the long run in increased shelter placements." He said the affected families and individuals "would never have moved into these apartments that they can't afford without these subsidies."
Steven Banks, Judith Goldiner, Jane Sujen Bock, and Joshua Goldfein are handling the case for The Legal Aid Society with paralegal support provided by Christina Schrum-Herrera. Representing the plaintiffs from Weil, Gotshal are Konrad Cailteux, Debra Dandeneau, Isabella Lacayo, Jesse Morris, and Adam Lavine, together with paralegal Elizabeth McConville.

Second Bronx Real Estate Summit a Huge Success

Even thought the housing market in America is plagued with issues, the bullish attitude toward investing in the Bronx was once again proven with standing room only attendance at yesterdays second Bronx Real Estate Summit. The headliners included present Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. and past Bronx Borough President, Adolfo Carrion Jr. . For those that don't know, Adolfo Carrion presently holds the very powerful position of New York / New Jersey Regional Director for HUD. I must admit it was exciting to see our former Bronx teacher, NYC Councilman and then Bronx Borough President casually mention interactions he had with President Obama. It seems like yesterday when Carrion was giving his own annual addresses to the Borough; much like Ruben Diaz Jr. gave just a few weeks ago. In any event, seeing both side by side was a testament to the progress Latinos have made in American society and a precursor of potential accomplishments to come by the Latino community. In many instances it was minority women who stood on patrol when the Bronx was burning and made sure their buildings were not included in the statistics. It looks like their sons have stood up to the plate and are now leaders in not only building the Bronx but also the re-building of distressed communities throughout America.

The room was bustling with property owners, land owners, developers, construction companies, non-profits, real estate brokers, city planners, political figures and more. Each was eager to network and either share their knowledge of our borough or learn more about what the Bronx has to offer. In addition to the headliners above and panelist who spoke on specific topics, recent data provided by the US Census Bureau also showed numbers bullish to real estate related ventures in our borough. Recent data showed the Bronx received 52,458 new residents this decade. The most drastic population increases were in South Bronx neighborhoods. Morrisania-Melrose saw the largest increase with 8,068 new residents. Melrose South – Mott Haven North saw the second largest increase with 6,019 new residents.

The three firms that collaborated to organize the seminar include The Kretchmer Companies, Mastermind and the South Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation (SOBRO). The venue was sponsored by Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP. The breakfast provided was sponsored by All New York Title Agency, Inc. Since the venue and breakfast were both paid for by the above companies, the museum was given the suggested donation entrance fee collected by each attendee. Over $3,000 was raised and given to the museum. The panelist included Carol Lamberg, the Executive Director of Settlement Housing Fund, Inc., Radame Perez, Chief Operating Officer of Mastermind Ltd., and Carol J. Samol, Director of the Bronx Borough Office Department of City Planning.

Congratulations to everyone who worked hard to make the event a success. For those that missed the event and are interested in attending the next Bronx real estate seminar, please do stay vigilant and log on to the BoogieDowner daily.


The New York Botanical Garden: Kick-off of Kids Gardening Season begins April 2nd

Here is an announcement from the NY Botanical Gardens about the beginning of their 2011 gardening season. The program planned sounds like a great event for families with young children.

Please enjoy the photo above. It was taken at the gardens last week. I encourage everyone to become a member and use the gardens, like I do, as a second back yard. The wooded paths and flower gardens are stunning.


For Immediate Release
March 30, 2011

Kids Kick-off 2011 Gardening Season
at The New York Botanical Garden, April 2

Family Garden Opens Saturday for 25th Anniversary Year,
Featuring Wake Up, Garden!-Themed Activities All Month

WHAT: At The New York Botanical Garden, gardening season officially begins April 2 with the 2011 seasonal opening of the Ruth Rea Howell Family Garden. Plants and imaginations grow and visitors are encouraged to get their hands dirty in daily hands-on activities. With help from parents, volunteers, and staff, children dig for worms, weed, compost, plant seeds, tend, harvest, and learn about foods grown locally and around the world. Activities change monthly and take place from 1:30–5:30 p.m.

April 2–May 6 features gardening fun based on the theme Wake Up, Garden! Help get the garden ready for spring by planting seeds, making compost, and digging for worms. Head to the meadow to clear the garden paths of sticks and twigs and recycle these into a nature craft. Learn how to play the game “pick-up-sticks” and make your own bundle so you can play at home.

Visit for details.

WHEN: Family Garden opens Saturday, April 2, 2011
Wake Up Garden! activities take place Tuesday–Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 1:30–5:30 p.m.

WHERE: The New York Botanical Garden
Ruth Rea Howell Family Garden
2900 Southern Blvd.
Bronx, NY 10458

Allegations Surface that the "Twittering Cobra" is an Imposter

Here is a video e-mailed to the BoogieDowner this morning. It raises the critical question; is the cobra who has achieved so much notoriety twittering the real Bronx cobra who escaped the Bronx Zoo, or just a Manhattan cobra working in conjunction with some pricey Manhattan public relations firm to secure "cobra street credit" or "get its weight up?".

Frankly, I don't know what to make of the video but here it is.

On a more serious note, lets all make time to visit our beautiful Bronx Zoo.


Wednesday, March 30, 2011


For anyone wondering who are the female movers and shakers in the Bronx? Please see below press release with photo of the event.



WHO: NYC Council Member Fernando Cabrera
WHAT: In light of Women’s History Month, Councilman Cabrera will honor upstanding women who’ve made impacts in education, business, culture, healthcare, and community development
WHEN: March 29th, 2011
WHERE: P.S./M.S. 33
2424 Jerome Avenue Bronx, NY 10468

“During a time where we remember pioneers in women’s history, these women have been excellent local examples of what can be achieved through hard work and perseverance,” said Councilman Cabrera. “There achievements in fields ranging from education to business prove that success is not determined by gender, but by character. They are a shining example to the many girls in my district and all over the Bronx that they too can make history and help make changes to the community that will have a lasting impact.”

Councilman Cabrera honored:

Lisa Sills-Short (far left, 57)- Healthcare professional, Chair of Land Use Committee for Community Board 7, and Co-President of Parents Association for P.S. 86

Marlene Cintron (picture 72)-President of the Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation and as President of the Board of The Business Initiative Corporation of New York

Lynette Santos (picture 62)- Principal of P.S./M.S. 33

Rosa Ayala (picture 63)- Executive Director of the Bronx Dominican Parade and Founder of House Cultural Dominicana of the Bronx, New York Inc.

Reverend Pura M. De Jesus-Coniglio (picture 68)- Along with husband Deacon John founded The New Generation in Christ Int’l. Ministries. She is the Director of the Operation Bronx/NYC Restoration Prayer Network, the “Regional Bronx House of Prayer;” and the Prayer Coordinator of the Bronx Region for Pray New York

Bronx Council for Environmental Quality Conducts 10th Annual Water Conference, Wednesday April 13th

For those interested in learning more about plans for NYCs' waterfronts, the following event should be informative.


The Bronx Council for Environmental Quality (BCEQ) is pleased to invite you to their
10th Annual Water Conference, Coastal Management and Membership Meeting on

Wednesday, April 13, 2011, from 4 – 8pm.

This year’s conference will allow participants to focus discussions on plans for the
Bronx Waterways on the East Side of the borough, including
Eastchester Bay, Hutchinson River, Pugsley Creek, and Westchester Creek.

The conference will continue with refreshments and table displays.

This conference will be held at the
Lawrence F. Keene American Legion Post
2879 Buhre Avenue
Bronx, NY 10461

To RSVP or to set up at table please email
For more information about this event please visit:

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Boricua College Bronx Campus from Inception to Realization

Here is a photo taken today from a roof top of a building on Fulton Ave. The view faces south overlooking the South Bronx and the new Boricua College campus. I juxtaposed it with a video below of the project when it was in its inception stage. The project is a massive development for the community and an example of the rejuvenation happening in the South Bronx.


Text taken from the Boricua College Bronx Campus web site:

"The Future at Boricua College

Building a village by creating and supporting the connection between home, school, student and college.

The new Boricua College, 14-story tower, Bronx Campus will house the college's academic and administrative offices as well as: a 350-seat theatre, a museum, a cultural center, a library, a high school, a college prep program, and an after-school program for the children of Boricua students.

The vertical campus can serve 2,000 full-time students with a faculty of 100 full-time and 100 part-time professors and an administrative staff of 140.

Boricua College will be part of Boricua Village. Boricua Village includes 700 units of affordable and moderate housing, underground parking, retail space and a plaza."

Boricua College Bronx Campus Web Site:


Here is a great fitness event that took place for the young ladies in our community. The event was sponsored by the PAL.



On March 18, 2011, in Police Athletic League (PAL) Centers throughout the Bronx, young girls, who participate in PAL’s After School Program, came together to celebrate PAL’s Second Annual GirlSport Day. Bronx girls in third through sixth grades, from PAL’s New South Bronx Center, PS 48 in Hunts Point and PAL’s Webster-Giannone Center in Fordham-Tremont, joined over 300 girls from PAL Centers throughout the five boroughs to participate in an afternoon of fun and fitness. The young athletes from across New York City completed 11,348 sit ups, 26,379 jumping jacks, jumped rope over 25,041 times, jumped over 2,012 feet in the long jump, and completed the bean bag drop, obstacle course and hop along stations for combined times of under three hours for all the girls.
“The goal of PAL’s Annual GirlSport Day is to engage girls throughout New York City in physical activity, improve their self-esteem and give them the opportunity to share their fitness accomplishments with their friends,” said PAL’s Executive Director Felix A. Urrutia Jr.
The Second Annual PAL GirlSport Day is part of PAL FIT, the health, fitness and wellness component of PAL’s After School Programs. PAL FIT inspires children in first through eighth grades to focus on active lifestyles and develop positive attitudes toward their health through a variety of fitness and wellness activities.
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 97 years. PAL provides recreational, educational, cultural and social activities to over 56,000 boys and girls annually. It is also the city’s largest, independent, nonprofit youth organization. For more information, please visit

St. Barnabas Blood Drive Scheduled for Wednesday, March 30th

The following information was sent pertaining to a blood drive planned for tomorrow at St. Barnabas Hospital.


What: Community Blood Drive with New York Blood Center
When: Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Time: 2:00 pm
Where: St. Barnabas Hospital, Hemodialysis Unit, Main Conference Room,
4451 Third Avenue, Bronx NY 10457

Bronx, New York – Councilman Joel Rivera will co-sponsor a community blood drive with St. Barnabas Hospital in their Hemodialysis Unit along with New York Blood Center this Tuesday and Wednesday, March 29 and 30, 2011 from 11:45am to 5:45pm.

The need for blood is constant. New York Blood Center alone requires over 2,000 volunteer blood donations each day to meet the transfusion needs of patients in close to 200 New York and New Jersey hospitals. Each donation of blood can help save 3 lives following component into red cell, platelet, and plasma separation. Car accident and trauma victims may need as many as 50 or more red cell transfusions.

Bronx Real Estate Summit to be Held at the Bronx Museum of the Arts Wednesday March 30th

Here is a reminder about tomorrows Bronx Real Estate Summit. Please note both former Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion and present Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. will be attending.


2nd in a Series:
Bronx Real Estate Summit

The Bronx Real Estate Summit is a gathering of active
Bronx real estate professionals – sharing ideas and experiences,
learning from each other’s successes!

Developers, lenders, property owners, builders, nonprofits, brokers,
business owners, and other interested parties are invited to network,
exchange useful strategies, and gain insider knowledge from other
respected individuals in the field.

The Economy: Local Impacts, Lessons Learned, Leaps Forward

Hon. Ruben Diaz, Jr., Bronx Borough President

Opening Remarks: Adolfo Carrión, New York/New Jersey Regional Director
U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development

Suggested Contribution: $25

Carol Lamberg, Executive Director, Settlement Housing Fund, Inc.
Radame Perez, Chief Operating Officer, Mastermind Ltd.
Carol J. Samol, Director, Bronx Borough Office, Department of
City Planning

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

8:15 a.m. Breakfast/9:00 a.m. Program

The Bronx Museum of the Arts
1040 Grand Concourse (@ 165th St), Bronx, NY
(B, D, or 4 trains to 161st Street)

Jennifer Gilbert at 732-7502
Proceeds go to the Bronx Museum of the Arts

The Little Studio that Could: Bronx Film Makers Produce Krackoon

In many ways the Bronx is about the little borough that could. Here is an example of a crew of film makers producing a low budget cult classic that is taking the world by storm. The name of the film is "Krackoon". It seems to have everything you need for a great cult classic including greedy land developers, corrupt politicians and a raccoon hooked on crack that is hellbent on terrorizing a neighborhood.

The brainchild behind the film is Jerry Landi. This is his second film. His first film "Silent Deaf'ning" focused on two men playing taps for fallen veterans. I have not yet met the man but from the content of his films, he must be a serious man with a humorous side to him. In his biography he mentions George A Romero, the creator of "Day of the Dead" as one of his mentors.

Recent awards won by Krackoon include Winner of the "Best Horror Feature" in the New York International Film and Video Festival 2010, and Winner of the "Best Culture Feature" in the New York International Film and Video Festival in Los Angeles 2010.

The great art work above was taken from the official movie site whose address is listed below. The video below was found on You tube. Please do enjoy and good luck to the entire crew of Krackoon.

For more information about the movie please log onto their official movie site;

Monday, March 28, 2011

109th Greek Independance Day Parage Marches Down Fifth Avenue: "Zito Hellas"

The American-Hellenic community along with much appreciated philhellenes celebrated the 109th year of Greek Independence from the Ottoman Empire yesterday. I posted a few photos from their annual parade down Fifth Avenue. I also posted two videos relevant to Greece and its culture.

Once again Mr. John Catsimatidis was the Parade Chairman Emeritus. For those that have not heard the name before, he is a Greek-American business mogul who from humble roots in Washington Heights and the Bronx, became one of Americas Billionaires. His father was a waiter. He is Captain of American industry. Many from the Bronx community know him from his youth when he attended the Greek American Institute, in the Pelham Bay section of the Bronx. Besides his success as a businessman, Mr. Catsimatidis is an avid philanthropist dedicated to American and Greek-American causes. He is particularly dedicated to issues relevant to the Patriarchate in Constantinople.

Another Greek-American who deserves the spotlight is Philip Christopher. Mr. Christopher is a leader in the Greek-Cyprian community who has fought tirelessly for the rights of the Cyprian people against the illegal occupation of Northern Cyprus by the Turkish government. Mr. Philip Christopher’s official title was Parade Chairman. The entire host of dignitaries is too long to mention individually. Please do enjoy the photos and videos attached.

Greek Evzones

King Leonidas and his 300 Spartans

Fordham University Students

Bronx High School of Science Students

Grand Marshal representing the Hellenic Caucus and official Queen of the Hellenic Community; U.S. Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney.

NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg

NY Senator Chuck Schumer

NYS Assemblyman Mike Gianaris

For those interested in seeing the traditional dance from the Central Region of Greece, please do see this video of men dancing "Tsamiko". The dancer is excellent.

The following video shows my ancestral village of Perista. The village is located in the Central Region of Greece also known as Sterea Hellas, Roumeli or the Free Mountains of Greece. Many call it the Free Mountains due to its historic significance as a rebel strong hold during various periods of Greek occupation. The mountainous terrain always played a significant role in my ancestors preserving their independence and traditions. The song in Greek on the video is about an elder man using the metaphor of a deep rooted tree, which represents the deep rooted family he established.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

BoogieDowner Bronx is Reverent Campaign: Call to Religious Institutions of all Denominations to Send Photos

From my life as a Bronx resident I know the Bronx is reverent. A simple morning ride to work on public transportation will reveal a plethora of Bronx residents reading scripture. My hope is that Bronx residents, no matter what faith or religion, send photos to the BoogieDowner of their house of worship. If sent, I plan on posting the photos on that faith's Sabbath. My inspiration for this campaign was sparked by the comment left by a BoogieDowner reader, which I posted below, and a belief that our society is following a dangerous path, much like Soviet society did, when it attempted to eradicate religion or the use of the word God.

In response to my post related to the abrupt termination of the Work Advantage Program, the BoogieDowner has received multiple comments from tenants and landlords devastated by the programs elimination. Though many were heart felt and informative, the following particularly affected me due to the writer’s reference to her having suicidal thoughts and the death of her children.

“Hello everyone, I feel so hurt and betrayed. I have two beautiful boys that I feel we will never make it in this world....I have been having thoughts. I have no education; I have been working for minimum wage living in a basement apartment with no child father. I'm a single parent now. I will soon be homeless. I can't do it again; I have been raped beaten and now will be homeless again. I am only 20 years old. I hope they do something soon before they have 3 less people to think about..........”

I do not know the mother who sent me the above e-mail, nor do I know how to contact her, since her post was anonymous. I also will not pretend that I would contact her if I did have her e-mail, since I would not know what to say or how to provide her with professional guidance. I assume she is not the only one since 17,000 vouchers were abruptly terminated. Besides this post, I do not know what else I can do to help.

The photos below were taken in the Russian Orthodox Cathedral of St. Nicholas in Manhattan. Most of the photos include believers’ queuing to confess and receive communion or kneeling in prayer. The final photo shows parishioners lighting candles and praying to the Orthodox Saint Matrona of Moscow. She lived during Stalin’s reign, when anyone who believed in any religion was persecuted. She lived most of her life homeless and destitute due to her never denouncing her faith in God or a higher power.

For anyone interested in more information about the life of Eastern Orthodox St. Matrona of Moscow, here is a Wikipedia link with some information about her.

For anyone interested in sending photos of their house of worship or any other photo they believe to be inspirational, please do send to


Friday, March 25, 2011

BoogieDowner Open House: 2199 Holland Avenue 3P, 2BR Co-op $159,000

BRONX, NY 10461
PH:(718) 794-2327

For those interested in a new home in Pelham Parkway South Section of the BoogieDown feel free to join me at my open house.


Saturday March 26th, 12 noon to 2pm

Great 2BR co-op walking distance to Pelham Parkway. Lively neighborhood with excellent shopping. Quick access to city via 2 and 5 train as well as multiple bus lines.

2199 Holland Avenue #3P
Asking: $159,000
2Bedroom, 1 Bath
Sq. footage: approx 812 feet
Maintenance: $852 - Includes heat, hot water, cooking gas and real estate taxes

Living room: This house is immaculate and in walk in condition. New Hardwood floors.

Large master bedroom

Large second bedroom. This is not a Jr4 converted to a 2 Bedroom. Both bedrooms are large. Second bedroom used as a dressing room.

Front of Building. Exit and turn left and within 100 steps your at the park. Exit and walk right and you will find great produce and food stores with an ethnic twist.

The property is reasonable priced. Below past comparable sales. 2BR are always great for re-sale. The co-op being PET FRIENDLY is also a big plus for re-sale and pet lovers.

For more info please call Gregory Tsougranis @ (845) 304-5745 or
email me at

Gregory Tsougranis
NYS Lic. Associate Broker
Century 21 Metro-Star
2017 Williamsbridge Road
Bronx, NY 10461

Office # (718) 794-2327
Private Cell # (845) 304-5745

Jetro Cash & Carry Breaks Ground on New Hunts Point Facility

More good news for Hunts Point. Here is an e-mail just received on the Jetro Cash and Carry expansion going on in Hunts point. You might not have heard of Jetro but if you live in NY City you can bet many of your food items have gone through their Hunts Point facility. Good luck on their new venture. Kudos to everyone involved who made the expansion possible and everyone that will secure a position due to the expansion.


Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. joined Jetro Cash & Carry CEO Stanley Fleishman, Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation President Marlene Cintron, representatives of the Empire State Development Corporation and the New York City Industrial Development Agency, as well as other business leaders to break ground on the construction of a new facility for Jetro in Hunts Point.

The new facility, which will be approximately 200,000 square feet in size, will offer new space for both Jetro and its affiliate, Restaurant Depot. The $50 million construction project will be assisted in part by up to $21 million in tax incentives approved by the New York City Industrial Development Agency. Those credits had been supported by Borough President Diaz.

This environmentally-friendly project, scheduled to be completed in early 2012, will employ nearly 200 individuals in addition to creating a new, user-friendly facility for the thousands of businesses that rely on Jetro and Restaurant Depot’s wholesale food services.

“Jetro Cash & Carry is a major economic engine in the Bronx, and serves as a hub for the food industry throughout the entire region. I am thrilled to see this company invest in the Bronx, and I am proud to have played a role in making this eco-friendly, job creating development a reality. I also want to thank the Empire State Development Corporation, the New York City Industrial Development Agency and the Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation for their amazing work on this project,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.

“The new facility, with a full Jetro and Restaurant Depot, will be a wonderful complement to the Bronx, to our team, to our customers and to the community. It will both help ensure that Jetro and Restaurant Depot remain a leader in low cost food distribution in the most important city in the United States, while also helping to make sure that our small grocery stores and restaurants remain competitive. I am extremely grateful to Borough President Diaz for his leadership and support on this project. In addition, I would also like to thank the Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation, the Empire State Development Corporation and the New York City Economic Development Corporation for their invaluable assistance,” said Stanley Fleishman, CEO of Jetro and Restaurant Depot.
“When Jetro proposed a plan for the renovation of its distribution center, the State was willing and able to do its part to assist, contributing a $1.5 million incentive package that combines Metropolitan Economic Revitalization Fund and Downstate Revitalization Fund grants,” said Kenneth Adams, Empire State Development President & CEO, designate. “ESD applauds our partners in City government for their generous contribution as well. The expansion of Jetro is a great example of how the state offers assistance to companies that are willing to invest in our communities and remain an important player in our regional approach to economic development. We wish Jetro continued success.”

“Assistance from the New York City Industrial Development Agency was a critical element of this $50 million project, which will generate millions of dollars in private investment,” said New York City Industrial Development Agency Chairman Seth W. Pinsky. “The new facility will allow Jetro Cash & Carry to expand its business and create jobs in the Bronx.”

“This new facility will help us to maintain The Bronx as the City’s leader in providing New Yorkers with fresh and affordable food. This project is a win-win for everyone, and will create dozens of new jobs for Bronxites. The Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation and Borough President Diaz are truly delighted to be part of this important project,” said Marlene Cintron, president of the Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation.

This project was highlighted in Borough President Diaz’s recent “State of the Borough” address.

Photos of Barretto Point Park in Hunts Point

Here are some photos of Barretto Point Park in Hunts Point. It is a beautiful park that many people don't know about due to its location in a mostly industrial section of Hunts Point. I assume this is where the proposed ferry will arrive and depart. It also sports a cute outdoor theatre reminiscent of the ancient theatres you see sprinkled all over Greece. For any thespians out there I think it's a great location for an outdoor play or evening cinema event.


For more information on proposed ferry service plans, please see the link below to review the Ferry Service Feasibility Study prepared by the New York Department of State;

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Senate Passes Klein Bill to Crack Down on Auto Insurance Fraud

Here is a bill targeted at stiffer penalties for criminals committing insurance fraud. Hopefully the bill will pass the assembly, like it did the Senate. Keeping insurance premiums down by preventing fraud sounds like a great plan to me. Insurance rates are high enough.


Senate Passes Klein Bill to Crack Down on Auto Insurance Fraud

Measure Would Increase Penalties for Criminals Who Forge Auto Insurance Cards

ALBANY, NY – Legislation sponsored by Senator Jeffrey D. Klein (D-Bronx/Westchester) that would impose tougher penalties on those who commit auto insurance fraud, passed the State Senate today. Klein’s bill (S.578) would make it a felony to forge an auto insurance card or certificate of insurance. In New York State, these documents are necessary to obtain the government issued documents, such as a vehicle registration, that are required to legally operate a motor vehicle.

“Everyone pays the price for auto insurance fraud,” Senator Klein said. “This commonsense measure will help law-abiding New Yorkers from having to pay higher car insurance because of the misdeeds of others.”

Forged insurance cards and documents are often used to fraudulently register cars so that owners may operate them without paying auto insurance premiums. Klein’s bill also makes the selling of 10 or more false insurance cards or documents a felony.The bill is pending in the Assembly.

South Bronx Community Association Announces March 31st Meeting

Please see information on the next SBCA meeting to be held.


From SBCA President Julio Pabon:

OK Folks- The snow has melted, the cold has subsided a bit and it'stime for all caring Home owners, Co-Op owners, and Tenant members tocome out to our first meeting 2011.
We accomplished a lot in 2010 to help make our neighborhood safer,cleaner and comfortable for all. However, if we want to continue tosee a better quality of life for ourselves and families we need tostand ready for what 2011 might bring. Only a strong and organizedSouth Bronx Community Association can help us help our neighborhood.

We have a lot to report on:
Walk through of EAU/FIU (It's About To Open)Meeting with Commissioner Seth Diamond and his staffWhat ever happened to the petitions for the Residential Parking? Nextstep Concern of Sam's Soul Food/Billiards Ruckus/fights/Let's not forgetlast Summers shooting /Beautification/Mural Project/149th St. Station
Date: Thurdays March 31stTime: 6 PMPlace: Casa Blanca PREGONES


Here is the final agreement between 32BJ and the Bronx Realty Advisory Board. A tentative agreement was reached earlier that avoided a labor strike of building workers in the Bronx.



-Strike Averted at More Than 1,000 Apartment Buildings in the Bronx--New York, NY– Bronx apartment building workers today ratified a four-year agreement that provides a 6% wage increase over the life of the contract, fully employer-paid family health care coverage, pensions and protects all other benefits.“In a tough economic environment, this new contract provides working families with the wages, health care and retirement benefits they need to get by in New York City,” said Kyle Bragg, 32BJ Vice President. "We're glad to have a multi-year contract in place that is fair and reasonable to the workers and management, and one that provides Bronx residents with a professional and stable workforce for years to come.”The new contract between 32BJ and the Bronx Realty Advisory Board (BRAB)– a real estate industry association representing building owners in the Bronx-- covers more than 3,000 supers, assistant supers, janitors, handypersons, porters, firepersons, doormen, elevator operators and garbage handlers.The new contract maintains paid sick days, holidays, overtime and vacation. Workers also came away with continued employer-paid family healthcare and annual wage increases. Under the agreement, workers’ wages will rise by $45 a week by the end of the contract.“Keeping my health care affordable and my retirement benefits stable is very important to me,” said Patricia Murchison, who is a porter at a 900-unit Bronx apartment building. “I live check to check trying to make ends meet in this city.”The two sides reached a tentative agreement on March 14th that averted a strike that would have affected a quarter of a million New Yorkers living in over 1,000 apartment, condo and co-op buildings in the Bronx.With more than 120,000 members, including 70,000 in New York, 32BJ is the largest private-sector union in New York.

Testimonial of Landlord about to Loose Everything, due to Reliance on Work Advantage Rent Subsidy Program

Dear Anonymous:

Thank you for providing a landlords perspective. You tried to do the right thing and thought you could rely on an agreement backed by the government. Unfortunately the profit margin is greater in homeless shelters and prisons. It would be nice if you could charge the government interest and penalties like they charge you when you are late on your taxes or other government obligations. It's easy to disguise this as an assault on the poor but it also affects the middle class and landowners who have always been the pillar of American society. Didn’t anyone in government realize the ramifications? Did they care? Do they stand to profit? One more short sale for a bank to lose depositors funds due to a top heavy property on the market with an insolvent property owner who cannot cover the deficiency. Please do look into mortgage re-modification programs and please don't let emotions cloud your judgment. Unfortunately, sometimes holding on trying to do the right thing hurts you more in the long run. Please seek out professional guidance. Good luck.

Please see the following comment posted by a landlord about to loose his property due to his reliance on the Work Advantage rent subsidy program.


Anonymous said...

I am an Advantage landlord who can offer the owner's perspective on this issue. I signed a lease,(which is a legally binding document) with my current tenant, supported by the state of New York guaranteeing rent payment each month. After signing the document I moved ahead with the arrangement with the understanding that payment would be issued monthly. In reality, payments were far from consistent. There were times when I had to wait 3 or 4 months to find the funds deposited in my account! I too was laid off from my job. Needless to say I got behind on mortgage payments and have not been able to recover. For the first 10 months of my period of unemployment, I was able to remain current on all of my financial obligations. It was not until Advantage payments became unpredictable that I had ran into problems. Now, I learn that I will no longer receive the subsidy at all!!! There goes my home!! From the beginning the plan was to accept the program, (in the past I flatly refused to accept programs of any kind. I took working tenants only) and its GUARANTEED rent! Guaranteed and backed by a legal document called a LEASE. Right? Well here's the kicker-- I'm broke! Foreclosure is immenent. During these 17 months that I am laid off I have spent $10000 on property maintenance, including a $7000 furnace for my TENANTS apartment! This expense hit me during the months where Advantage owed me several months rent. Where is my public assistance? Where is my shelter? Who is going to swoop in and help the landlords like myself, who have kept up our end of the deal-- even when we were not being paid. Don't get me wrong, I think this situation sucks for everyone, but in the end its the tax-paying landlords that will suffer most. Where is my shelter. My home is going into foreclosure because of this situation! Where does public assistance play into my picture? The answer to both questions is ,'there is no help for me!'. My home is going into foreclosure, while nine times out of ten, somebody or some city, state, or federal agency will run to my tenants rescue. Her worst case scenario is going back to the shelter. Mine is losing my home, and not having a shelter or public assistance available to me.

March 23rd Message from Governor Cuomo on Next Weeks Budget Deadline

Here is a video clip going around from Governor Cuomo’s office. With the budget deadline of April 1st looming, the Governor goes as far as to threaten a shut down of State government. Since we often discuss the devastating effects his budget cuts are having in our community, I thought it would be fair to show his video. Please do let me know what you think via a post. You can also express yourself on the Governors facebook link shown below. Gregory

"The April 1 deadline for a new state budget is in approximately one week. At that time, the Legislature will pass -- or fail to pass -- the budget that Governor Cuomo proposed.
The Governor’s budget closes a $10 billion deficit with no new taxes, cuts waste and inefficiency, and ensures that the government will finally tighten its belt – just like every family in this state has had to do.
Today Governor Cuomo released a video to New Yorkers about his commitment to deliver a budget that makes this government work for the people once again.

As Governor Cuomo makes clear in this message, now is our chance to turn this state around and build a new future for all New Yorkers.
Remember to visit Governor Cuomo on Facebook, where you can post your thoughts and ideas about the budget and receive regular updates on the actions of the Governor."

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


Here is a fight on a different front lead by one of our U.S. Congressman. Congressman Eliot Engel raises some valid arguments against the nuclear power point at Indian Point. The plant might be located outside the Bronx but it's still a very relevant issue. Gregory


Congressman Eliot Engel sent the following letter to Dr. Steven Chu, Secretary of the Department of Energy, after hearing of his remarks Sunday concerning the Indian Point nuclear facilities. Rep. Engel has for years advocated closing Indian Point for reasons he makes clear in his letter. Dr. Chu, in a televised interview, questioned the evacuation plan for Indian Point in the event of an emergency.

March 20, 2011

Dr. Steven Chu, Secretary
U.S. Department of Energy
1000 Independence Ave. SW
Washington, D.C. 20585

Dear Dr. Chu:

I was heartened to hear that you want to take a look at the Indian Point nuclear facilities, and in particular its location in regard to New York City and the evacuation plans for the area.

As you may be aware, I have called for the closing of Indian Point for many years citing its location among millions of people, as well as the lack of adequate evacuation capabilities for the area around Indian Point.

Let me lead by saying Indian Point would never be approved in this location were it to be built today, this close to America’s major population and financial centers.

There are other issues that led me to conclude it should be closed. Specifically, the plant is located near two seismic faults that together raise the possibility of an earthquake far larger than any anticipated when it was built. Columbia University, in a recent study said Indian Point being is “clearly one of the least favorable sites in our area from an earthquake hazard and risk perspective.”

As you know the plants are almost 40 years old, the age when they were to age out. But Entergy, the plant’s owner, wants to renew their licenses for another 20 years. I think this is akin to thumbing our noses at realistic probabilities. The Japanese never expected an earthquake of nine on the Richter scale, nor a tsunami of such consequence. Indian Point says it can withstand a 6-plus magnitude earthquake, but Columbia suggests that the possibility of a seven of larger magnitude earthquake is very real.

Indian Point’s safety record is abysmal. Let me quote from the New York Times (May 9, 2009) “But the plant … has encountered a string of accidents and mishaps since its beginnings, and has appeared on the federal list of the nation's worst nuclear power plants.

“Five months after the Indian Point 2 plant opened in 1973, it was shut down, when engineers discovered buckling in the steel liner of the concrete dome in which the nuclear reactor is housed. Later, in the most serious incident at the plant, a small radioactive leak from a steam tube forced the plant to close in February 2000 for 11 months.”

Lately there have been a string of leaks of water containing tritium and strontium 90 plus unplanned closures for a variety of reasons.

Further, Indian Point is located in a reservoir system that sends water to nine million people.

I’ll close with a ‘what if scenario.’ One of the planes hijacked on 9/11 flew over Indian Point on its way to the World Trade Center. A document later found in Afghanistan contained information about America’s nuclear power plants. It is reasonable to assume that terrorists would be severely tempted to attack such a target, especially one closest to the largest number of people.

The incident in Japan highlights the issues surrounding any nuclear power plant that has “aged out,” is beyond safe repair, and presents health and safety risks in a densely populated area.

I am not opposed to nuclear power, but for the reasons cited I am against nuclear power at Indian Point where an accident or attack could mean an incalculable loss of life and property.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has given out renewal licenses for nuclear power plants without, I believe, adequate study of real issues confronting these plants. The NRC’s obligation is to the health and safety of people, and not to the nuclear industry.

I encourage you to take a close look at Indian Point, and the rest of America’s nuclear power. I believe you will find Indian Point must close considering the condition of the plant and where it is located.

Eliot L.Engel

Senator Adriano Espaillat at Rent Reform Press Conference.

Here is the latest on the battle over rent regulation laws about to expire. We definitely live in interesting times.


(Albany, NY) – With rent regulation laws that protect affordable housing for over 2.5 million tenants in New York City and the surrounding counties (Westchester, Nassau, and Rockland) dangerously close to expiring, Senate and Assembly Democrats joined with housing advocates to urge Governor Andrew Cuomo to include tenant protections in this year’s State Budget.

Between 1994 and 2010, over 300,000 units of affordable housing were removed from rent regulation in large part due to the vacancy decontrol loophole that allows landlords to take apartments out of the rent regulation system and charge exorbitant rents. If the laws governing rent regulation are allowed to expire this June, millions of families could be forced from their homes by massive rent hikes. Additionally, if families are forced from their homes due to this “tenant tax” there would be a devastating impact on state and local budget revenue.

Senate Democratic Leader John L. Sampson said, “New York has to be more affordable for it to remain livable for Middle Class families. Including tenant protections in the budget will stop a devastating tenant tax from forcing millions of New Yorkers out of their homes.”

Senator Adriano Espaillat (D-Manhattan/Bronx), Ranking Democrat on the Senate Housing Committee said, “We must extend and strengthen rent regulations and we must do so as part of the budget. A failure to extend and strengthen rent regulations will be tantamount to a tenant tax that will squeeze millions of New Yorkers out of their homes. I urge Senate Republicans to join Senate Democrats, tenant advocates, and, Governor Cuomo in supporting tenants and include rent regulations in the budget.”

Michael McKee, spokesman for the Real Rent Reform Campaign said, “The governor clearly knows that rent law renewal and reform is critical for millions of New Yorkers. All the rent reform supporters I have talked to agree that the only way to accomplish meaningful reform of rent regulation is to pass it within budget, and that only a budget including rent reform will be acceptable. Anything short will play into the Republican plans to delay renewal until the last minute, and then dilute rent protections the same way they did the last time these laws had to be renewed. If the Governor is sincere about his stated goal of strengthening rent regulations, he will reconsider his approach and include rent reform in the budget.”

Previously when rent regulations were set to expire and negotiations came down to its final hours, landlords were able to leverage the threat of total expiration to severely weaken the laws protecting tenants. To prevent landlords from running out the clock on rent regulations and decimating New York’s stock of affordable housing, legislators urged the Governor to act on his support for expanded rent laws by including the omnibus tenant protection bill (S.2783-A/ Espaillat – A.2674-A/ Lopez) in the State Budget.

Senate Passes Klein Bill to Strengthen Green Markets/ Increase Access to New York Grown Products

Here is a common sense bill proposed by Senator Klein encouraging green markets and increased fruit and vegetable productions in NY State. We are what we eat, and we definitely need to start eating smarter as a community. In addition, with the catastrophe in Japan and the reports of food contamination it's important to know were our food is coming from, at least until we know more. As far as I see it the bill promotes jobs and a healthier life style. Again, Kudos to Senator Klein.


Senate Passes Klein Bill to Strengthen Green Markets/ Increase Access to New York Grown Products

BRONX, NY – The State Senate Tuesday unanimously passed legislation sponsored by Senator Jeffrey D. Klein, (D-Bronx/ Westchester), that would expand local and regional green markets, like those in the greater Bronx area, and increase access to New York State grown fruits and vegetables.
The bill, (S.627) allows the New York State Urban Development Corp. and the Empire State Development Corp. to be able to provide loans and grants that can be used to build, expand and refurbish green markets that encourage the sale of New York-grown produce. They currently do not have that authority.
“This is a win-win,” Senator Klein said. “My legislation would both expand the availability of inexpensive produce in our communities, while at the same time creating more avenues for upstate farmers to sell their products.”
There are more than 20 green markets in the Bronx, many of which open for the season next month.
The bill is pending in the Assembly.

SEC upholds NYC Pension Fund's Request to Launch Independent Reviews of Mortgage & Foreclosure Practices

Once again NYC Comptroller Liu is safeguarding our money and protecting against unfair practices by banks, by demanding closer review of how they conduct business in NYC or with NYC pension funds deposited with them. Much like the present bill in the City Council, his efforts seek to understand and correct practices harmful to NYC residents, whether intentional or not. National or State guidelines have proven to not be enough. In addition, banking rules that may be prudent in Manhattan or other Boroughs might not make sense in the Bronx. With the large disparity in the NYC real estate market thoughtful consideration to the needs of each borough must be considered. Please read his press release for more information.


SEC Halts Banks From Kicking Foreclosure Proposal Off the Ballot
NEW YORK, NY – City Comptroller John C. Liu announced today that the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has upheld the NYC Pension Funds’ shareholder request that banks launch independent reviews of their mortgage and foreclosure practices.

The SEC’s rulings put the NYC Pension Fund request on the ballot at the Citigroup, Bank of America, and Wells Fargo annual shareholder meetings this spring.

“An independent examination of bank foreclosure practices is needed to reassure shareholders and protect pensioners and taxpayers,” Comptroller Liu said. “The necessity for this becomes even clearer as the weeks and months tick by and more New Yorkers face losing their homes to foreclosure. Regrettably, the banks have failed us on this and even went so far as to try and kick us off the ballot, but the shareholders have prevailed.”

The SEC shot down the banks’ claims that they had already conducted independent reviews of their mortgage and foreclosure processes.

Despite banks’ claims that foreclosure problems are merely technical glitches, regulators have found that robo-signing of foreclosures, missing mortgage documents, and other problems have caused widespread economic damage. Acting Comptroller of the Currency John Walsh testified to Congress in February that “critical deficiencies and shortcomings” in banks’ foreclosure procedures have resulted in violations of state and local laws and harm to the mortgage market and “the U.S. economy as a whole.”

The SEC allowed JPMorgan Chase to remove the NYC Pension Funds’ request from its spring agenda, accepting the company’s argument that another group of shareholders filed a similar proposal first.

The New York City Comptroller serves as the investment advisor to, custodian and trustee of the New York City Pension Funds. The New York City Pension Funds are comprised of the New York City Employees’ Retirement System, Teachers’ Retirement System, New York City Police Pension Fund, New York City Fire Department Pension Fund and the Board of Education Retirement System. The New York City Pension Funds hold a combined 119,770,418 total shares in Bank of America Corporation (NYSE: BAC), Citigroup Inc. (NYSE: C), JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM), and Wells Fargo & Company (NYSE: WFC) for a combined asset value of $1,698,616,635.18 as of 3/21/2011.

Bronx Rally for Rent Reform Scheduled for Thursday March 24th

The following letter was sent by a BoogieDowner reader by the name of Jack Marth. It gives me great joy to see that fellow Bronx residents are using the BoogieDowner to express themselves and share much needed information. Please do keep sending items you want posted with your own voices and information that you believe Bronx residents should know about. As far as I am concerned the 10 pm news today is often irrelevant. Let’s tell our stories and get pertinent information out there. Did anyone see news about the 17,000 Work Advantage vouchers that were terminated mentioned on any TV news stations?



I hope to see you this Thursday evening at the Bronx Library Center on Kingsbridge Road for the Bronx Rally for Rent Reform. (see link below for the official flyer)

Were coming into the final days of our best window of opportunity to get renewal and strengthening of the NYC rent laws. We particularly need to see an end to vacancy de-stabilization. The political reality we face is very clear. The progressive forces for real rent reform in the legislature are up against the NYS Senate majority which is financially backed by landlord interests. The Senate majority will do everything they can to weaken tenant rights. The strongest weapons we have to defeat them are the bargaining chips inherent in the budget process. Last week, Governor Cuomo seemed to be signaling that he recognized this important opportunity to pass stronger rent laws. He said he wanted to deal with the issue in the context of the budget negotiations. Today he seems to be backing away from this position. Thursday night is about sending him the message that he cannot back down. Tenants and those who support affordable housing must make our voices heard. Pass stronger rent laws now.
On Thursday we will hear from tenants victimized by weak rent laws -- for example a tenant from a building whose corporate landlord saw weak rent laws as an opportunity for real estate speculation. The landlord's stated plan was to force rent-stabilized tenants out and use vacancy de-stabilization to create market rate units throughout the Bronx. This plan was an utter failure that led to foreclosure and no services for tenants. The horror these tenants have been forced to live in is a threat to health and safety and is utterly immoral. It would not have happened if we had stronger rent laws.

We will also hear from Bronx Assembly members Jeff Dinowitz, Marcos Crespo and Nelson Castro -- they are strong voices for real rent reform. Joining them will be another strong voice tenants, Senator Gustavo Rivera. He was elected, in part, because of strong support from a tenant movement tired of the pro-landlord machinations of Senator Rivera's predecessor. Other Bronx elected officials, including Borough President Diaz, have told us they support this rally and hope to join us.

The most important person we need is you or the person to whom you will pass this information.

Jack Marth

Here is the address to the Rent Reform Campaign Blog Spot for the official flyer and more info on the organization. We will post a link on the Boogieddowner as well so anyone can log on a view future posts and events.

The Real Rent Reform Campaign (R3) is a coalition of tenant, community and labor groups fighting to pass progressive legislation to protect tenants and preserve affordable housing. The laws that govern rent regulation sunset on June 15, 2011. Without these laws, over a million rent regulated tenants will lose their protections. We are fighting to get the laws not only renewed, but strengthened!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Negro League Exhibit at the Bronx Museum of the Arts Opens March 31st

Here is a post about a new exhibition at the Bronx Museum of the Arts. It should be interesting.


Negro League baseball will return to The Bronx at The Bronx Museum of the Arts, on Thursday, March 31st. The Negro League Baseball Museum will display its “Times, Teams, & Talent” exhibit, in the museum’s South Wing Lower Gallery. The exhibit is sponsored by the 161st Street Business Improvement District. “Times, Teams, & Talent” provides an introduction to the Negro League and baseball greats like -- Jackie Robinson, Josh Gibson, Hank Aaron and Willie Mays. “Times, Teams, & Talent” includes photographs showcasing the history of African-American baseball and the desegregation of Major League Baseball.” In addition to the traveling exhibit, the Museum will screen two Negro League videos: “They Were All Stars” and “Only the Ball Was White.”

“Times, Teams, & Talent” will be open from Thursday, March 31 to Wednesday, April 6th, 2011. It will be open for viewing daily from 11am to 6pm, with the exception of Friday, April 1st when it will be open from 11am to 8pm. The Negro League Baseball Museum is the world’s foremost repository for information and artifacts pertaining to the Negro Leagues. It is based in Kansas City in the 18th and Vine Historic District and is paired with the National Jazz Museum. The Bronx Museum of the Arts is a contemporary art museum that connects diverse audiences to the urban experience through its permanent collection, special exhibitions, and education programs. Reflecting the borough's dynamic communities, the Museum is the crossroad where artists, local residents, national and international visitors meet. The 161st Street BID sponsored The Hispanic Baseball Museum and Hall of Fame exhibit in Lou Gehrig Plaza in 2009. The BID is one of 64 across New York City administered by Small Business Services whose Commissioner is Robert Walsh.

Bronx Community College Student Government Hosting First Dignity Dinner for Friends and allies of the LGBT Community

The following e-mail was sent by a BoogieDowner reader. Please do review and if interested please do log on or call the contact information provided.


Dear, Students Faculty, Staff and Administration

Albert Einstein once said “The most important human endeavor is the striving for morality in our actions. Our inner balance and even our very existence depend on it. Only morality in our actions can give beauty and dignity to life.”

On Wednesday March 23, 2011 from 5pm to 8pm, The Bronx Community College Student Government will be hosting the First Annual “Dignity Dinner” for friends and allies of the LGBT Community. This will be an evening for remembering the people who were hurt in our community; those that were hurt by sexism, racism and homophobia. The night will give dignity to those we lost in the struggle for LGBT rights. This event will be taking place on Wednesday, March 23rd, in Colston Hall, Lower Level. 4-8pm.

Please respond to the link below. Registration is limited so please RSVP here:

A person told me one day that this is an imperfect world. I told them that is not true. I am excited to live in a world in which we have the ability and right to accept people for who they are. Therefore there statement is wrong. We live in a perfect world with imperfect people.

I am excited to announce that you are cordially invited to attend the 1st Annual Dinner for Dignity held by the Student Government Association and hosted by Eric Sutton and William Murray of the SGA. If you are interested in volunteering for the dinner on Wednesday, March 23rd please shoot me an email at or call me at 1-646-837-3697 . I will get back with you ASAP. Also please send the e-mail around to any and every one you know at Bronx Community College and to the surrounding community. Thanks for all of your help. I look forward to seeing everyone and receiving your email replies.

You’re truly
Eric Sutton-- Eric Sutton
Senator and BCC, Inc committee 2010-2011 Student Government Association
Bronx Community College of City University of New York

"The difference between the Impossible and possible lies in a person's determination"

Oscar Nominated Documentary "Gasland" comes to The Bronx

"Gasland: the Movie"
WEDNESDAY, March 30th, at 7 p.m. in the Scala Room, Leo Engineering Building, Manhattan College.(Leo is at Corlear Avenue, between 238th and 240th St.)

Will the boom in hydrofracking natural gas drilling contaminate our water supply?
Natural gas is often considered the “lesser of evils” in energy resources because it burns cleaner and is in plentiful supply. But a new process in gas drilling to extract those plentiful supplies—a process called hydrofracking or “fracking” raises concerns about health and environmental risks.
“Gasland: the Movie” is the Oscar-nominated documentary by Josh Fox about the current boom in gas extraction, and the environmental dangers it poses. Come see this movie and learn about “fracking” and what you can do about it.

Here's a trailer

Sponsored by Campus Ministry & Social Action, Just Peace (MC), Northwest Bronx for Change, Bronx Council on Environmental Quality, Friends of Van Cortlandt Park, Church of the Visitation Social Action Committee. Riverdale Neighborhood House, Benjamin Franklin Reform Democratic Club, American Society of CivilEngineers (MC), MC programs in Environmental Studies and Peace Studies

Monday, March 21, 2011

Ribbon Cutting Ceremony for New Play Space for Infants and Toddlers at the Kingsbridge Heights Community Center

Here is some positive news in our community. For those with toddlers and infants please see below.


a New Play Space for Infants and Toddlers
at the Kingsbridge Heights Community Center
Friday, March 25th, 4 PM to 5:30 PM

The Kingsbridge Heights Community Center unveils the new “Room to Grow” – a gross-motor-development play space for infants and toddlers – next Friday, March 25th, at 4 PM. The new indoor playroom is part of the agency’s expanded Early Head Start program, which recently received a grant of $1 million in stimulus funding. Our Early Head Start supports the health and development of children from birth to age three through the intensive involvement of parents, as demonstrated by research conducted by external evaluators and nationally recognized scholars. A ribbon-cutting ceremony will be held to honor the opening of the space at the Center’s main campus, on 3101 Kingsbridge Terrace in the Bronx. For more information, call Batya Novick at 718.884.0700, ext. 159.

Legal Aid Society Prepares for Battle with NYC over Work Advantage Program Termination

The following was sent by the Legal Aid Society. It informs tenants and landlords that the Legal Aid Society will sue NYC over its decision to terminate the Work Advantage rent subsidy program. Also included in the notice is information on what actions tenants should take to protect themselves.



New York City has sent notices to 15,000 Advantage households saying it will no longer
pay Advantage rent supplements after March 31. Legal Aid believes this is illegal. Legal
Aid will sue the City to require it to pay the promised rent subsidies for current tenants.

When the City signed Advantage leases, it promised to pay the rent subsidies for at least
one year. The City and Advantage participants signed an agreement saying: “the City
will pay the Advantage Rent Payment directly to my Landlord on a monthly basis, for the
first year of the Advantage Program.” The City also promised to pay rent subsidies for
a second year for people who met certain eligibility conditions.


Ask for a fair hearing IMMEDIATELY and ask for Aid to Continue by
following the instructions on your “Important Notice Regarding your Advantage Rental
Supplement”. You can ask for a hearing in any of four ways:

1. Fax a copy of your notice to 518.473.6735 (keep a copy of your fax confirmation
sheet to prove you asked for the hearing) or

2. Make an online request at or

3. Go in person to the NYS Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance at 14
Boerum Place, Ground Floor (corner of Livingston), Brooklyn, New York. (By
Subway: 2, 3, 4, 5 to Borough Hall; N, R to Court Street) or

4. Call 1-800-342-3334 (but this number is usually busy).

Request your hearing with Aid to Continue within 10 days of when your notice
was mailed so your Advantage rent can be continued until your hearing is decided.

Your landlord cannot evict you without taking you to housing court.

Continue to pay your portion of your rent to your landlord on time.

Continue to comply with the Advantage program requirements.




La Ciudad de Nueva York ha mandado avisos a 15,000 hogares de Advantage diciendo que no
pagara más subsidios de renta después del 31 de marzo. La Sociedad de Ayuda Legal considera
esto ilegal. La Sociedad de Ayuda Legal demandará a la Ciudad para obligarla a que pague los
subsidios de renta prometidos para los inquilinos actuales.

Cuando la Ciudad firmó contratos de arrendamiento de Advantage, prometió pagar el subsidio
de renta por al menos un año. La Ciudad y los participantes de Advantage firmaron un acuerdo
diciendo, “La Ciudad pagará el Pago de Renta de Advantage directamente al dueño
mensualmente, por el primer año del programa de Advantage.” La Ciudad también prometió
pagar los subsidios de renta por un segundo año para personas que llenen ciertos requisitos de


• Pida un audiencia imparcial INMEDIATAMENTE y pida Continuación de Ayuda
siguiendo las instrucciones en su aviso “Important Notice Regarding your Advantage Rental
Supplement”. Puede pedir la audiencia imparcial a través de una de estas maneras:

1. Envíe por fax una copia de su aviso al número: 518.473.6735 (guarde una copia del la
confirmación de recibo para comprobar que pidió la audiencia imparcial) o

2. Complete el formulario a través del sitio: o

3. Lleve su aviso al la Oficina de Asistencia Temporal y Asistencia para Incapacitados del
Estado de Nueva York localizado en el 14 Boerum Place, Primer Piso (en la esquina de
Livingston), Brooklyn, NY. (Por Tren: 2, 3, 4, 5 a Borough Hall o N, R a Court Street) o

4. Llame al 1-800-342-3334 (este número normalmente está ocupado).

Pida su audiencia imparcial con Continuación de Ayuda dentro de 10 días del envío
del aviso para continuar los pagos de renta hasta que se decida su audiencia imparcial.

• El dueño no lo puede echar sin llevarlo a la corte de vivienda.

• Siga pagando su parte de la renta al dueño a tiempo.

• Siga cumpliendo con los requisitos del programa de Advantage.

Proveeremos más información cuando este disponible.


Angry Teacher in LA Raps About Getting Unjustly Fired

Here is a video sent by one of our readers. It is a rap video made by two of the 5,045 teachers that just got laid of in the Los Angeles United School District. Even though the layoffs were in LA I am posting the video as an example of grass route activism in another community that could be an example of activism here in NYC. In the video they specifically call out elected officials in the community that voted for the massive layoffs. Could they have found another solution? Is education only for the wealthy in LA? Please do see the video. Besides being entertaining it raises some valid points.

Belmont Arthur Avenue Community Celebrates Mr. Joseph Zinzi with Street Re-naming in his Honor

NYC Council Majority Leader Joel Rivera led the Belmont Arthur Avenue community in honoring Mr. Joseph Zinzi. The event drew a large number of friends, family and elected officials who worked with Mr. Zinzi in making the community he loved and toiled for stronger. Also present were the Belmonts which performed in his honor. The street sign was placed at the intersection of 187th Street and Arthur Avenue.

Besides Councilman Joel Rivera, U.S Congressman Serrano, NYS Senator Gustavo Rivera and NYS Senator Klein were present to show their respect.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Work Advantage Rent Subsidy Program Officially Terminated: 17,000 Apartment Units to be Affected

It's official. The Work Advantage rent subsidy program has been terminated. Not only are the 3,000 vouchers held by individuals seeking apartments null and void, so are 15,000 vouchers held by individuals presently living in rental apartments. I posted the beginning of the announcement from the DHS web site, along with their web address for those seeking additional information. Also posted is a comment from a BoogieDowner reader who presently lives in the NYC Shelter system with her family.

The ramifications for the government defaulting on its promise to pay are massive. Firstly the NYC homeless population, which includes entire families, is expected to double. Secondly, any property owner who had tenants in the program will no longer receive monthly payments. This is massive. Instead of steady rent checks from the government they will be forced into litigation to evict tenants and spend thousands on legal fees which many cannot afford. For landlords who heavily depended on the program, many will not be able to repay bank loans causing additional strain on our banking system.

Some might cheer these draconian cuts, if they are not in the homeless shelter system or landowners who accepted the program. It's reasonable to think money will be saved. This will not be the case. Every major property manager I called said the cost to house an individual or family through the Work Advantage program is a fraction of the cost needed to house the people in the NYC Shelter system. The cost to build the estimated 70 shelters needed in NYC to house the new homeless, along with other assistance programs usually included in the package, will be much greater. Hundreds of millions will be made from the homeless and societies need to house them. Political insiders who secure the contracts will make money hand over fist. The homeless and the middle class taxpayer will suffer again. Please do read the e-mail comment sent from a mother presently living in the NYC homeless shelter system. It was sent a few days ago. I believe it to be true and the most honest statement ever posted on my blog site.

Information taken from Department of Homeless Services web site:

Q: Why is the Advantage program ending?

The proposed State Budget withdraws all federal and state support for the program which terminates the City’s authority and fiscal ability to run the Advantage program. The City strongly disagrees with the State’s decision.

Q: When will the subsidy end?

The program is terminated effective immediately. There will be no rent payments by the City on April 1, 2011.


Quote taken from BoogieDown reader on earlier post:

“I am in a state of panic. I lived in the system with my children and grandchildren for almost three years. We were treated like criminals. You become the property of the system. The case managers don’t do anything to help. They hardly show up! This is very true. Curfews, sign in, sign out. I have the Work Advantage program and am praying that I have my apartment by the end of this year. This will have a devastating effect on all, especially the children. I personally will become another statistic on the street. I refuse to be held hostage by the system again. What confuses me is the shelters charge over $3,000.00 dollars a month, plus food stamps and cash assistance. Does this sound like the government is saving money? I know that would be at least $2,000.00 more a month than letting me keep my home. I might add too that HRA is guilty of NOT helping with Child Support. They can make all the appointments in the world for you and tell you, you will be sanctioned if you don’t comply but they do nothing with all the information you give them. And as much as I can’t stand Mayor Bloomberg, this is not his doing. This is our Governors decision. Don’t tax the wealthy and throw the poor out on the streets. It’s a damn shame and I pray real hard that somebody is fighting for us because I will not survive the loss of a home again. My family and I were in the shelter system for five months before we saw food stamps. And while my family lost over 60 pounds, case mangers kept telling us to keep drinking water! Dear God, I feel sick to my stomach right now with nerves!! I want to be positive but I can’t. We already lost so much. I pray that somebody with money is out there fighting for us. At the rate things are going, the only people living in NY will be millionaires and tourists.”

Assemblyman Dinowitz: “Assembly Budget Protects Seniors, Rejects Cuts to EPIC and Title XX”

As Chair of the Assembly Aging Committee, Assemblyman Dinowitz has been leading the fighting to stop devastating cuts to our Senior Centers. Under his leadership Albany is moving in the right direction. Please see more on the fight directly from the Assemblyman via a press release just sent.


Assemblyman Dinowitz: “Assembly Budget Protects Seniors, Rejects Cuts to EPIC and Title XX”

The New York State Assembly unveiled it’s 2011 budget plan which included full funding restorations to two of the most vital programs for New York’s seniors, Title XX and EPIC.

As part of his Executive Budget, Governor Cuomo proposed drastic cuts to both programs: a $36 million dollar reduction in discretionary funding to Title XX, which the City claims would force 105 senior centers to close, and a $34 million dollar cut to EPIC, a program that currently provides over 300,000 enrollees with secondary coverage for prescription drugs.

Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz (D-Bronx), Chair of the Assembly Aging Committee, led the fight in the Assembly to have this essential funding restored. “While nothing is set in stone, this is an important step in making sure our final budget for 2011 isn’t a cold and callous one,” Assemblyman Dinowitz said. “I know we have a $10 billion budget deficit to close, but doing it on the backs of our seniors is unacceptable.”

Reductions in funding for both programs would be disastrous for thousands of New York seniors, many of whom are on fixed incomes. As part of the governor’s plan, all EPIC enrollees would be forced to join a Medicare Part D plan, regardless of financial hardship. The Assembly’s proposal also continues the vital “wraparound” coverage for prescription drugs not covered by Medicare, as well as state payment assistance for Part D premiums and deductibles. Eliminating this aid could cost seniors up to $1,000 or more annually.[1]

“This cut was short sighted, and we had to reverse it,” Assemblyman Dinowitz said. “We can’t put seniors in a position where they must choose between putting food on the table and the medicine they need. Our budget has to consider the fiscal challenges of our constituents just as much as the fiscal challenges of the state.”

The battle over Title XX funding was previously waged last year, when then Governor Paterson proposed a similar monetary reduction. After a furious campaign led by Assemblyman Dinowitz made clear the importance of this money, funding was restored first in the Assembly budget and then in the final budget. The Assemblyman hopes for a similar result this time around. This year’s funding was restored in the Assembly budget after Assemblyman Dinowitz sent a letter in February to Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver signed by almost five dozen New York City Assembly Democrats strongly urging that this critical funding be restored.

Said Dinowitz, “As I’ve stated time and time again, our senior centers are vital to our neighborhoods’ quality of life, and shuttering them would be devastating to the seniors who rely on them. I will not rest until this funding is restored. WE CANNOT CLOSE SENIOR CENTERS!”

Belmonts to Sing at Street Renaming Honoring Belmont Community Leader Joseph Zinzi: Saturday March 19th

The following press release was sent by NYC Council Majority Leader Joel Rivera. I have never meet Mr. Zinzi but I have often heard about his contributions to the Belmont Arthur Avenue Community. Even though his passing was early, his positive impact on the community will be remembered.

In addition to the press release with details about the event, I was also just informed that the Belmonts will be performing. Please see the You Tube clip below and link about the band and it's evolution from 1950 to the present.

For more info on the Belmonts please see below link web address:


What: Street Re-Naming for Joseph Zinzi
When: Saturday, March 19th, 2011
Time: Ceremony at 12pm
Where: Ceremony at Ciccarone Park and Unveiling on East 187th Street and Arthur Avenue

Bronx, New York – Council Member Joel Rivera will unveil new street sign for Mr. Joseph Zinzi Place on East 187th Street and Arthur Avenue, immediately preceding there will be a ceremony at Ciccarone Park.

Mr. Joseph Zinzi was an active contributor to the Belmont Community of the Bronx where he resided for over 35 years. In his capacity, his labor resonated through every program Mr. Zinzi partook in from presiding as Executive Director of the Italian American Alliance for Education to also becoming Executive Director of the Council of Belmont Organizations, thus simultaneously dedicating his service for over 30 years.