March 20 and 28: Gifted and Talented Taskforce Hearings
March 23: Women's History Month Celebration
April 1: Bronx Gospel Concert
On Thursday, March 23, 2017, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. hosted his annual Women’s History Month Celebration at Manhattan College’s Kelly Commons Building in Riverdale.
“We cannot minimize the important contributions women have made to our borough and our city, and I was proud to honor so many deserving women at this wonderful annual event,” said Borough President Diaz.
This year’s honorees included Bertha Lewis, Founder and President of The Black Institute; Hon. Annabel Palma, New York City Council Member and Milagros Baez O’Toole, Board Chair of the Acacia Network. Juliet Papa of 1010 Wins Radio/CBS served as the emcee for the program.
(l to r) Bertha Lewis, Hon. Annabel Palma, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., Juliet Papa, Milagros Baez O’Toole.
NEW YORK, N.Y. - With the April 1st deadline for the state budget just days away, New York City's four Democratic borough presidents - representing more than 7 million New Yorkers - are joining a growing coalition of advocates and elected officials in calling on Governor Cuomo to back Home Stability Support, a proposal to address the state's growing homeless crisis. Borough Presidents Eric Adams of Brooklyn, Gale Brewer of Manhattan, Ruben Diaz, Jr. of the Bronx, and Melinda Katz of Queens formally endorse Home Stability Support, a program introduced by Assemblymember Andrew Hevesi (D - Queens), Chair of the Assembly Committee on Social Services, and Senator Jeffrey Klein (D - Bronx) that would create a new rental subsidies for families facing homelessness due to eviction or domestic violence.
This week, New York City Borough Presidents Adams, Brewer, Diaz and Katz announce their endorsement of Home Stability Support as a solution to a homeless crisis that in recent years has reached epidemic proportions. Statewide, more than 150,000 children homeless and another 80,000 families are on the brink of homelessness.
Nowhere is this crisis more acutely felt than in New York City, where rising housing costs coupled with woefully inadequate shelter allowances have led 127,000 New Yorkers to sleep in shelters during the last fiscal year ending in June 2016. While rental subsidies in the city and across the state have averaged between $200-$400 for a family of three, Fair Market Rents, as determined by the federal government, are often many times that.
Home Stability Support would address this growing disparity between rents and subsidies by scrapping the current hodgepodge of aid in favor of a single rental supplement. The new supplement would bring subsidies to within 85% of Fair Market Rent, and include a home heating component to reduce utility burdens for hundreds of upstate families. Local municipalities would have the option of contributing funds to subsidize the program up to 100% of Fair Market Rent.
“We need to do more to provide families and individuals with the resources they need to prevent homelessness, and the Home Stability Support plan will help do that. It just makes sense to help a family with their rent, rather than put them up in a hotel, during a time of crisis. Keeping people in their homes, rather than having them enter the shelter system, is a common sense, economically sound way to prevent future homelessness and promote neighborhood stability. I’m proud to join Assemblymember Andrew Hevesi, State Senator Jeff Klein and so many others in support of this worthwhile proposal ” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced a $1.8 billion project to transform the South Bronx by realizing the long-sought reconstruction of the Bruckner-Sheridan Interchange. The Sheridan Expressway will be de-designated as an interstate and replaced with a boulevard design that is both pedestrian and cyclist friendly. The improvements to the Sheridan will tie neighborhoods together and give residents and visitors alike a direct connection to the Bronx River waterfront and Starlight Park which have been shut off to the community by the highway for decades.
The project will also provide direct access to the Hunts Point Market, one of the largest food distribution centers in the world, from both the Bruckner Expressway and the new Sheridan Boulevard. More than 78,000 vehicles travel to the Hunts Point Peninsula daily, including 13,000 trucks using local roads, which has increased and contributed to poor air quality in the community. These new measures will take traffic off local roadways, significantly reducing both noise and air pollution in a borough with some of the highest asthma rates in the country. The transformational project is expected to create 4,250 new jobs. The $1.8 billion project will be completed in multiple phases, the first of which will be funded by $700 million in this year's budget.
"While plans have been proposed and languished for decades, we're taking action to finally right the wrongs of the past by reconnecting South Bronx communities that have dealt with unnecessary barriers to revitalization and growth," Governor Cuomo said. "The project will create an interconnected South Bronx with access to the Waterfront, recreation, and less traffic on local streets while simultaneously better supporting those who use the Hunts Point Market – a vital economic engine for the borough."
The Sheridan Expressway is a functionally obsolete part of interstate system that cuts through the heart of the South Bronx forcing residents to travel long distances to reach the Bronx waterfront and parks. The New York State Department of Transportation will seek the de-designation of the Sheridan Expressway as an interstate and instead replace it with a boulevard design that will integrate and bring together the Crotona Park, West Farms, Bronx River, and Soundview neighborhoods. The boulevard will include a number of pedestrian and cyclist friendly features including at grade crossings with direct access to Starlight Park and the Bronx River Waterfront Greenway. The boulevard will have wide medians, landscaping, and decorative lighting. A new pedestrian bridge over the Bronx River will connect Starlight Park to the multi-use path across the river.
The Hunts Point Market is a vital economic engine for the Bronx, currently generating more than $2 billion in annual economic activity. As one of the largest wholesale food markets in the world, the Hunts Point peninsula also attracts tens of thousands of vehicles per day who use local streets, particularly Westchester Avenue and Bruckner Boulevard, to go to and from the interstate highway network.
This project will transform the local roadway system by creating a flyover ramp from the new Sheridan Boulevard and a new eastbound exit from the Bruckner Expressway to Edgewater Road – which feeds directly into the market. The Sheridan ramp will remove heavy traffic and idling trucks from local roads and is expected to save five minutes in travel time for each truck that currently travels 2.7 miles on local streets. For westbound traffic on the Bruckner there will be new entrance and exit ramps at Leggett Avenue for more direct access to the market.
The project will also eliminate the bottleneck at the Bruckner/Sheridan interchange by adding a third lane to the Bruckner in both directions and by relocating the Sheridan ramps from left hand to right hand entrances. The project will also implement new measures such as signing and pavement markings to direct auto, truck and pedestrian traffic within the Hunts Point Peninsula.
Work to create the new Sheridan Boulevard will begin next year and that aspect of the project is scheduled to be completed by Spring 2019. The State Department of Transportation plans to accelerate the Environmental Impact Study process and use design-build contracting to accelerate completion of the full project.
"The Sheridan Expressway is a critical artery for the Bronx and this plan will transform it into a safer, more business friendly route that will better connect the Bronx community,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. “By enhancing access to the Hunts Point market, the Bronx River waterfront and Starlight Park, Governor Cuomo's plan will build on the success of strategic initiatives that have already made dramatic improvements to the region, and create new economic opportunities for all in our community."
On Monday, March 20, 2017, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. and Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams co-hosted the first hearing of their “Gifted & Talented Task Force,” which will study issues surrounding gifted and talented education in New York City public schools, as well as the admissions process for the city's specialized high schools, at the Bronx High School of Science.
The next hearing of the task force will take place in Brooklyn on Tuesday, March 28, 2017, at Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Plaza, 1368 Fulton Street, Brooklyn, from 6:00 p.m.—8:00 p.m.
Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. hosted his annual celebration of Irish and Irish-American culture and heritage at Gaelic Park in Kingsbridge, on Wednesday March 15, 2017, honoring individuals of excellence who have contributed to both the success of their own community, to The Bronx and to New York City.
This year’s honorees included Hon. Elizabeth Crowley, New York City Council Member representing the 30th Council District in Queens; Tom Glacken, proprietor of Glacken’s Bar & Grill on East 149th Street; and William J. “Bill” Mulrow, Secretary to New York State Governor Andrew M. Cuomo.
Pictured are: William J. “Bill” Mulrow (L), Secretary to New York State Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, and Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.
Brooklyn, NY – Today, as the MetroCard fare hike takes effect, members of the Fair Fares coalition rallied outside of the Barclays Center, calling on Mayor de Blasio to ease the burden on low-income New Yorkers by amending his proposed 2018 city budget to include funding for half-priced MetroCards for New Yorkers below the poverty line.
After the rally, grassroots activists from the Riders Alliance headed onto the subway platform to hold a “Subway Fare-apy” session where activists asked other subway riders to write on colorful post-it notes on a signboard, creating a mosaic illustrating how they and their fellow New Yorkers could benefit from Fair Fares.
Statements such as: “Poor people shouldn’t have to sacrifice just to get to work,” “Fares are raised but our paychecks are not,” and “I shouldn’t have to swipe people in,” and "We need a tale of one , united, city", were written on the mosaic, which will be shared with the Mayor.
The Fair Fares Coalition is urging the Mayor to amend his proposed City budget for Fiscal Year 2018 to include funding for half-price MetroCards for low-income New Yorkers. Although the mayor's preliminary budget, released in January, did not include funding for Fair Fares, support for the proposal continues to grow among members of the New York City Council. 37 members are now signed on. The newest supporters include: Council Member Mark Treyger (Brooklyn), Council Member Eric Ulrich (Queens), Council Member Mathieu Eugene (Brooklyn), Council Member Darlene Mealy (Brooklyn), and Council Member Fernando Cabrera (Bronx) The Fair Fares coalition also has the support of Public Advocate Letitia James, City Comptroller Scott Stringer, and Borough Presidents Eric Adams (Brooklyn), Gale Brewer (Manhattan), Ruben Diaz JR (Bronx) and Melinda Katz (Queens) as well as 48 organizations.
In January of this year, the MTA Board voted in favor of a fare hike. The Board voted to keep the base bus and subway fare at $2.75, but to decrease the value of the MetroCard bonus and increase the cost of seven and 30-day monthly passes, making fares more expensive overall. That will put a further strain on the budgets of the working poor, many of whom already spend over 10 percent of their family budgets on transit.
“Considering the rising cost of public transportation that is a huge burden on our most needy communities, I am a big advocate for the City to fund half-priced MetroCards to help low-income New Yorkers,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. “I understand the MTA has critical funding needs. However, fare hike will hurts those commuters who least can afford it. Considering the size of the overall city budget, the City should find ways to provide real cost-of-living relief to the city's working poor. We have an opportunity to do right by our five boroughs, making a huge difference in the lives of hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers, easing a huge burden for low-income New Yorkers."
CITY HALL - Today, Council Members Rafael Salamanca, Jr., James Vacca, Ben Kallos, Corey Johnson and Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. announced the introduction of legislation drafted in response to the Hunts Point tragedy that occurred late last year.
On December 7, 2016 two girls under the age of two were killed when a valve blew off a radiator in their Bronx apartment and filled their bedroom with scalding steam. The apartment was identified as a cluster site under the duress of the New York City Department of Homeless Services.
At the time, Council Member Salamanca and Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. announced that they would be introducing legislation to rectify the problems surrounding the tragedy. Since then, Council Members Vacca, Kallos and Johnson, who had previously been crafting legislation pertinent to these issues, have joined them in sponsoring the following:
Intro 1489 (Kallos & Salamanca) - This legislation requires owners to install and maintain radiator covers.
Intro 1524 (Salamanca & Vacca by Request of the Bronx Borough President) - This bill would require the Department of Homeless Services (DHS) to inspect radiators during any inspection related to health, safety, or the physical conditions of a homeless shelter.
Intro 1529 (Vacca, Johnson & Salamanca by Request of the Bronx Borough President) - The bill would require DHS to report on how it plans to close cluster sites, or convert those units into permanent housing for homeless families or stand-alone shelter, and would require DHS to take into consideration certain metrics when developing that plan, among other requirements.
Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.
“The safety of our most vulnerable residents must be a top priority. Just because a family is forced to spend time in cluster site housing does not mean they should not have the same level of safety and cleanliness that anyone else would expect from their home. I’m proud to partner with my colleagues in the Council on this important legislation.”
On Monday, March 13, 2017, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. joined Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer and City Harvest's Director of Policy and Community Engagement David DeVaughn, at the Just Food Conference, held at the Tisch Food Center at Columbia University, to discuss various issues regarding food, hunger, equity, and politics.
Borough President Diaz Jr. touted the importance of New York State becoming a part of a nationwide pilot program that allows Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participants to purchase their groceries online, an initiative his office helped to spearhead. Borough President Diaz also discussed efforts to combat “food deserts,” promote healthier dietary choices, building sustainable food system for New Yorkers and other local food issues.
“Food insecurity isn’t just a Bronx issue but a national issue that impacts the lives of our most vulnerable communities, from rural towns to the densely populated areas,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. “Part of the reason I wanted New York State to be a part the SNAP online purchasing pilot program was because we knew we would be a part of a game-changing, forward-thinking initiative that would address some of the concerns surrounding food accessibility. This is the kind of program that will have a long-lasting impact not just on our great borough but across the city, the state and the country.”
(l to r) Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. and City Harvest's Director of Policy and Community Engagement David DeVaughn.
On Friday, March 10, 2017, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. hosted his annual African-American Heritage Celebration, recognizing leading individuals who have contributed to the daily growth of the community at large.
This year honorees included Elizabeth Gill, President of the 47th Precinct Community Council; Anthony Wells, President, SSEU Local 371; and Hon. Pamela Harris, New York State Assembly Member representing Brooklyn’s 46th Assembly District.
The event had been previously scheduled for February 9, 2017, but was rescheduled due to inclement weather.
(l to r) Pastor Malobe Sampson, Pastor, Thessalonia Worship Center; Elizabeth Gill, President of the 47th Precinct Community Council; Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.; Hon. Pamela Harris, New York State Assembly Member representing Brooklyn’s 46th Assembly District, and Anthony Wells, President, SSEU Local 371.
On Thursday, March 9, 2017, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. hosted his annual Greek History and Heritage Celebration at St. Peter the Apostle Greek Orthodox Church in Kingsbridge.
The event was co-sponsored by New York State Senator Michael Gianaris, New York State Assembly Member Aravella Simotas, New York City Council Member Costa Constantinides and The Hellenic Orthodox Community of The Bronx.
This year’s honorees were Eleftheria “Effie” Ardizzone, Deputy Director and Bronx Borough Coordinator for the Bureau of Public Affairs and Communications at the New York City Department of Environmental Protection; Marika Artoglou, former president of the parish council at the Church of Saint Peter the Apostle; Captain Christopher Stilianesis, executive officer of the NYPD’s Central Robbery Division of The Bronx and Nick Tsakonas, restaurateur and owner of the Royal Coach Diner on Boston Road.
On Wednesday March 8, 2017, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. visited with students at the Family Life Academy Charter School to teach a civics class and about the political process and how to be more engaged their community.
The borough president talked with third grade students, giving them a lesson on how different aspects of government work. This included holding a mock Congressional hearing to give the young students an idea as to how a bill is passed. Borough President Diaz also talked with members of Family Life Academy Charter School’s student-government, answering questions about the role of the borough president’s office and how to get involved their communities at a young age.
“You are never too young to learn how government works or to get involved in your community,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. “Learning how bills are created and discussing issues that affect our communities is a great way to pique the minds of our future leaders, to get them to think about the impact they can make in their schools and in their communities.”
New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) and Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. today announced that a scale model of the new Citywide Ferry vessels will be on display at the New York Public Library’s Soundview branch in the Bronx as part of a multi-borough tour. The model will be on display at the library through Wednesday, March 22nd, before moving to The Bronx Museum of the Arts where it will be on display through March 31st.
The model will give Bronx residents an opportunity to preview some of the exciting features that will be offered on the modern, efficient ferry boats that are currently under construction. Such features include spacious seating, bicycle racks and charging stations. Other specs and features of the Citywide Ferry vessels include:
Capacity for 150 passengers along with space for bikes, strollers and wheelchairs.
ADA Local Law 68/2005 accessibility and compliance.
Boats are 85 feet long, offering passengers more space than more traditional ferries.
Ferries are primarily built out of aluminum, which is safe, light weight and increases fuel efficiency. The fleet of 19 vessels will be built with the equivalent of over 77 million cans of aluminum.
Use of ultra-efficient engines to reduce emissions.
Innovative hull design to limit wake and maximize fuel efficiency.
Wi-Fi available throughout the vessel.
Heated decks that increase each vessel’s resiliency and durability, especially during the cold, snowy winter months.
The ferry model began its voyage at Queens Borough Hall and the Rockaway Library earlier this year before continuing on to Brooklyn Borough Hall and the Manhattan Borough President’s Office.
Set to launch in 2018, the Soundview route of the Citywide Ferry Service will connect communities in the Bronx with job centers throughout New York City. The approximately 45 minute route will begin in Soundview and make stops at East 90th Street and East 62nd Street before landing at Wall Street/Pier 11. The East River Ferry will be integrated into Citywide Ferry Service, which will reduce the cost of that service to $2.75 from $4, the same cost of a subway ride.
"Ferry service in The Bronx has long been a priority of my administration, and I am happy to partner with the New York City Economic Development Corporation to provide Bronxites a closer look at the future of ferry service in Soundview," said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.
City Hall, NY -- In response to the alarming rise in hate crimes in New York City, today members of the City Council’s Jewish Caucus and a diverse coalition of Council Members, city leaders, and nonprofit institutions called on the City to fund a $25 million security grant program to increase safety at community centers and cultural institutions at risk of being targeted in such attacks.
The coalition of Council Members is responding to the dramatic increase in hate crimes and attacks in NYC, which have risen at a rate outpacing the national trend, even conflicting with the City’s overall 2.8% decrease in crime this year. In fact, hate crimes in NYC are up by over 54% compared to this point in 2016. This increase has been driven in particular by a more than doubling of anti-Semitic hate crimes, including bomb threats against a variety of Jewish community institutions and advocacy organizations.
The federal government and New York State both fund programs designed to improve safety and security at schools and daycare centers at risk of being targeted in hate crime attacks. Council Members called for the creation of a companion City-funded security grant program to assist community centers and cultural institutions that are considered at risk of being targeted because of their ideology, beliefs or mission. The grant funds would help local institutions pay for security upgrades to their facilities and/or cover the costs of increased and enhanced security staffing.
Joining Council Members Levine and Lancman, who are leading the call for this program, was City Comptroller Scott Stringer; Council Members Menchaca, Greenfield, Cabrera, Grodenchik, and Johnson; and leaders from the 92nd Street Y, the Museum of Jewish Heritage, the Met Council, and the Jewish Community Relations Council.
While the existing federal and state programs mainly focus on school security, the coalition of city leaders and nonprofits called for City funding that would prioritize community centers, cultural institutions, and advocacy organizations. Such a program would be open to institutions at risk of being targeted in hate crimes across a variety of classes of animus.
Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. said, “In today’s tumultuous times, our community centers and cultural institutions have been subject to an unfortunate rise in threats and other hateful acts. This grant program would help increase safety and security at our most at-risk facilities, and I am proud to join my colleagues in the City Council’s Jewish Caucus, as well as other City Council members and elected officials and advocates from all over the city to ensure that all New Yorkers are safe from harm and protected from hate. A rise in hateful acts must be met with a forceful response, and this grant program will help do just that.”
Today, the New York City Department of Education issued the results for the 2017 Specialized High School Admissions Test (SHSAT), which governs admission to the city’s eight specialized high schools. Those results show that, despite making up roughly 70 percent of the entire public school population combined, just 3.8 percent of all offers to specialized high schools went to black students and just 6.5 percent of all offers went to Latino students this year.
“Today’s announcement illustrates just how deep the chasm is between different communities in our public education system, and provides us with new evidence that the city is not doing enough to nurture and support gifted education in every neighborhood.
“Students all over this city have for too long been denied the opportunities to which they are entitled when it comes to gifted education. My office is co-hosting hearings later this month, in partnership with Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, to hear directly from parents and educators about the issues our communities face when it comes to access to gifted programs and the negative effects a lack of such access has on admissions to our specialized high schools,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.
The first public hearing of Borough Presidents Adams and Diaz’s task force will take place in Brooklyn on Tuesday, March 14, 2017, at Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Plaza, 1368 Fulton Street. The Bronx will host a second hearing on Monday, March 20, 2017, at the Bronx High School of Science, 75 West 205th Street. Both hearings will run from 6:00 p.m.—8:00 p.m.
A flyer for the hearings can be viewed at http://on.nyc.gov/2m4iOBC.
All five borough presidents have partnered on a letter to New York City Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña, urging the Department of Education to take immediate action regarding recent reports of elevated levels of lead in the drinking water at some New York City public schools.
“While we understand that it takes some time to repair and replace contaminated fixtures, our children should not be unnecessarily exposed to high levels of lead while they wait for those changes to take place. The tragedy of Flint, Michigan should not be repeated here,” states the letter, which can be read in full at http://on.nyc.gov/2lgMlDf.
The borough presidents call on the Department of Education to provide an alternative water supply for affected schools, such as offering bottled water or water coolers; that free-of-charge testing for lead exposure be offered to those parents who wish their children to be tested; that schools install water filtration systems to prevent future contamination; and that the Department of Education implement regular lead testing at public school facilities.
“Parents should not have to worry that the everyday act of drinking water might make their children sick, especially in our public schools. These simple recommendations can help ensure the safety of our children while also preventing future lead contamination, and I am proud to stand with my colleagues to urge the Department of Education to take immediate action on this issue,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. Our public schools should always be safe places for our children, and the city must take the appropriate steps to make sure that the drinking water provided to our students meets acceptable safety standards.”
With the formation of a mayoral commission on school overcrowding, we can do a better job at school planning and siting.
The February 2017 proposed capital plan does not fund a sufficient number of seats, and this is a problem for both The Bronx and for New York City. There are thousands of “unfunded seats” in The Bronx alone, a borough with an educational system in need of better solutions. Not only does the number of funded seats not meet the Department of Education (DOE)’s own stated needs, the methods for assessing need as well as the school siting process must be rectified. The current school planning and siting process is denying our students the opportunity for success they deserve.
Our educational system is failing our students. Just 37 percent of students citywide graduate on time and meet CUNY college readiness standards in reading and math.
The graduation rate for The Bronx is only 63 percent. We must seek better methods to educate our youth. One such widely accepted method is reducing class sizes and overcrowding in schools. To do this, we need to change the School Construction Authority’s (SCA)’s and the DOE process, which has multiple serious flaws.
Overcrowding and too-large classes evince the failure of the current system.
Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams and Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. have announced the dates of the upcoming public hearings of their recently announced “Gifted & Talented Task Force,” which will study issues surrounding gifted and talented education in New York City public schools, as well as the admissions process for the city's specialized high schools.
The first public hearing will take place in Brooklyn on Tuesday, March 14, 2017, at Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Plaza, 1368 Fulton Street. The Bronx will host a second hearing on Monday, March 20, 2017, at the Bronx High School of Science, 75 West 205th Street. Both hearings will run from 6:00 p.m.—8:00 p.m.
A flyer for the hearings can be viewed at http://on.nyc.gov/2m4iOBC.
“I look forward to hearing a diverse set of voices at our gifted and talented education hearings in the Bronx and Brooklyn,” said Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams. "This input will be integral to shifting the delivery of specialized instruction in our city, as we push for reforms that gives every child high-quality opportunities in a more equitable and prosperous system.”
“Students all over this city have for too long been denied the opportunities to which they are entitled when it comes to gifted education,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. “Through these hearings, we are hoping to hear directly from parents, educators and other stakeholders about the challenges and successes they have experienced with the public school system, and we will use this information to craft positive changes on gifted education, test prep and other resources that our students deserve to have equal access to.
The task force, which was launched in January, is comprised of government officials, community members and parents who are familiar with the issues gifted students face in New York City schools. The task force will release a set of recommendations for the future of gifted education in New York City later this year.
Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. delivered his annual “State of the Borough” address, his eighth since becoming borough president in 2009, today at the John F. Kennedy High School Campus in Marble Hill.
In his speech, which can be read in full at http://on.nyc.gov/2lLlgwx, Borough President Diaz discussed past successes as well as new initiatives to bring positive change to The Bronx that could serve as a model for all five boroughs.
“For nearly eight years, my office and our partners have developed and executed policies of equity and smart services, making The Bronx an even better place for all its residents,” said Borough President Diaz. “We said we would provide lawyers for tenants in court. We did. We said we'd raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. We did. We said we'd bring EBT usage online. We did. We said we'd stop the regressive bag tax. We did. We said we would obtain the funding to rebuild Orchard Beach. We did.”
In outlining numerous successes The Bronx has seen in recent years, Borough President Diaz noted considerable job growth and new attention from national and international media, as well as billions of dollars in new investment that has been leveraged to create jobs, improve infrastructure and build thousands of units of affordable housing. Nearly 100,000 more Bronxites have jobs today than when the borough president took office in May 2009, according to statistics from the New York State Department of Labor.
The borough president also noted the recent infusion of $108 million in state financing by Governor Andrew Cuomo for the redevelopment of the Kingsbridge Armory, and called on the developer and City Hall to move the project forward.
“This project now has the funding it needs, thanks to the governor’s continued commitment to our borough,” said Borough President Diaz. “Let’s get it done!”
Despite the borough’s victories Borough President Diaz noted that there is still considerable work that needs to be done, not only in The Bronx but across the five boroughs, to make city services and resources more equitable.
“We have seen considerable improvement. But life is certainly not perfect in our borough and our city. Homelessness is at a record high, and our public housing is in crisis. Our criminal justice system needs a major overhaul and mental health care in this city is failing our citizens. Our children sit in overcrowded classrooms and large communities of this city are grossly underrepresented in our best high schools,” said Borough President Diaz. “Services and amenities abundant in other boroughs are lacking here and despite having world-class hospitals our borough’s health indicators have been slow to improve.”
On housing, Borough President Diaz discussed the future of the Jerome Avenue corridor, and the need to ensure that the City’s proposed rezoning works for local residents and workers at area businesses. The borough president also discussed the need to build more affordable and permanent supportive housing as a means to prevent homelessness, and threw his support behind Queens Assembly Member Andrew Hevesi’s Home Stability Support plan, which would give rent subsidies to those in danger of losing their homes.
“Isn’t it cheaper to help someone with their rent, to provide them with the stability of their home, rather than put them up in a fancy Times Square hotel for $600 a night?” asked Borough President Diaz. “Isn’t that just common sense?”
During his speech, Borough President Diaz also focused on the need to bring new transportation projects to light, such as connecting Brooklyn, Queens and The Bronx with the Regional Plan Association’s “Triboro Line” subway proposal and expanding CitiBike to all five boroughs.
Borough President Diaz also called for an end to major disparities in the City’s criminal justice, mental health and education systems. In particular, Borough President Diaz highlighted his forthcoming task force on gifted education and specialized high schools with Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams, and called on the city to launch a comprehensive examination of school overcrowding in the five boroughs.
“We cannot continue to see talent wasted,” said Borough President Diaz. “The time to give our children the education they deserve is now.”
The borough president also called for the Department of Education and the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to conduct a joint assessment of an assessment of how mental health services in our schools can be improved to better reach students in need.
“It is a matter of citywide urgency and importance,” said Borough President Diaz. “A holistic approach requires us to meet these challenges with compassion, not force.”
Borough President Diaz also spoke about President Donald Trump and the threat his administration presents to our continued success. Specifically, he noted that 40 percent of all Bronx residents were born in another country, and that The Bronx would never turn its back on its immigrant population, regardless of the actions and rhetoric of the Trump administration.
“I will continue to tirelessly advocate for Bronxites and for true equity and prosperity for all New Yorkers. We must stop Washington’s anti-immigrant agenda because most of us are the descendants of immigrants who arrived in this great country for a new start and opportunity,” said Borough President Diaz. “We will make our voices heard.”
Borough President Diaz closed his speech by urging greater civility and cooperation in political discourse, especially during this difficult time, when more and more New Yorkers must be willing to come together to support one another.
“We are at our best when we work together. We can disagree, but we must be civil in our disagreement. Our best way forward is to thrive through collaboration, good-spirited competition, and cooperation. We will flourish together. And our success is that of The Bronx and the City,” said Borough President Diaz.