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Bronx Unemployment Drops to 6.1%

The Bronx’s unemployment rate has fallen to one of its lowest numbers ever, according to newly released statistics from the New York State Department of Labor.

The unemployment rate in The Bronx dropped to 6.1 percent in May 2016, down from 6.6 percent in April 2016 and 7.8 percent in May 2015. This is the lowest unemployment rate the borough has seen since Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. first took office in May 2009, topping last month’s previous all-time low.

The total number of Bronxites employed also remains high, 567,500, with nearly 100,000 more Bronx residents employed today than when Borough President Diaz took office seven years ago. In addition, just 37,000 Bronx residents are currently unemployed, the lowest number of Borough President Diaz’s tenure.

“We are always looking to continue to build on the results that have helped decrease unemployment in our borough to record lows,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. “We will refuse to stay complacent as we seek to lower the unemployment rate even further, create new jobs, strengthen our existing businesses and grow our local economy. I want to thank all of our elected officials, community boards, business community, non-profits, neighborhood leaders and our more than 1.4 million residents. Everyone can be proud of these efforts.”

The Department of Labor’s statistics can be found at http://labor.ny.gov/stats/pressreleases/prlaus.shtm.

Since Borough President Diaz took office in 2009, The Bronx has seen more than $9.4 billion in total development, which has led to the creation of thousands of new jobs. In addition, a partnership announced by Governor Andrew Cuomo announced in August 2014 between the New York State Department of Labor and the Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation, as part of the “NY Works,” program is placing Bronx residents in these jobs, helping to ensure that new development here benefits everyone, especially Bronxites.

Borough President Diaz Names Geneal Chacon
to Panel for Educational Policy

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. has announced that Geneal Chacon has been appointed as the borough’s representative to the Panel for Educational Policy (PEP), which holds approval power over the actions of the New York City Department of Education.

A native of Trinidad and resident of the West Bronx, Ms. Chacon is a parent of three public school students and a parent association president at P.S. 277. Ms. Chacon is also a former president of the Presidents’ Council of District #7 and a former member of the district leadership team.

“Ms. Chacon is a leader in both our schools and the Caribbean-American community, and is a model of the immigrant success story. I am proud to appoint her as my borough’s representative to the Panel for Educational Policy. Helping Bronx students obtain a good education is one of the most important responsibilities we have as public servants. Ms. Chacon is committed to the continued development of strong education options for our children, and I look forward to partnering with her as we work together to create and expand successful education models in The Bronx and across the City,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.

“I want to see change in education, in families and in communities. I believe you have to be the change you want to see, and I hope that through working with Borough President Diaz and my fellow members of the Panel for Educational Policy, we can affect positive change in our city’s public school system,” said Ms. Chacon.

Ms. Chacon replaces Robert Powell, who resigned from the Panel for Educational Policy in February 2016.

BP Diaz & Senator Klein Host 'New York Salutes America' Fireworks Extravaganza & Eating Contest

On Thursday, June 30, 2016, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. and State Senator Jeff Klein will host the borough’s official kickoff to the Independence Day Celebrations, the annual “New York Salutes America” boardwalk festival and fireworks extravaganza at Orchard Beach located in The Bronx. Over 10,000 people are expected to be in attendance.

“This is a great fun-filled evening one can spend with their friends and family,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. “This is one of our jewel events; which this year includes the addition of our second annual eating contest, where people from across the city can experience the best that The Bronx has to offer. I urge everyone to join myself, State Senator Klein and thousands of your neighbors as we kick-off our city’s Independence Day celebrations and salute America together.”

"The Fourth of July is a celebratory time for all Americans.  Every year I look forward to our fireworks extravaganza, which has become a cherished tradition for our Bronx families. As we reflect upon the extraordinary history of our nation, we must remember the sacrifices of our brave U.S. servicemen and women, whose courageous acts contributed to our nation’s freedom," said State Senator Jeff Klein.

The event is free; open to the public and includes fun activities for the kids, such as magicians, balloon artists, music performances and much more. The event will begin at 6 p.m., with the eating contest starting at 7:45 p.m. and the fireworks show beginning at 9:20 p.m.

This year, the fireworks music score will feature an eclectic mix of music all performed by Bronx natives, many of whom are Bronx Walk of Fame inductees. From Doo Wop to Hip Hop, Classic Rock, Swing, Funk, Soul, Pop and Latin, you'll hear from such Bronxites as Dion, Steven Tyler, Bobby Darin, Nitty, The Chiffons, Anthrax, Irene Cara, Grand Master Flash, Ace Frehley, Kurtis Blow, Prince Royce and Jennifer Lopez.

The Grucci Performance App, which plays the soundtrack in real time, will be available for all guests with an Android or iPhone. Simply go to the App Store or Google Play, download the app for free, and select your performance location to tune in during the show!

In addition, the “Bronx Empanada Eating Contest” returns for the second year in a row, featuring mini-empanadas from Havana Café. Contestants will be selected at the beach prior to the contest and must be present to participate. Winners of the contest will win a Bronx Prize Package.

More information about the event can be found at www.ilovethebronx.com.

Assemblymember Pichardo Announces Gun Buyback Program

Assemblymember Victor Pichardo (D-Bronx) held a press conference Tuesday to discuss the tragedy in Orlando, recent gun violence in Bronx communities and his gun buyback program.

“The recent mass shooting and recent spates of violence in our community need more than our thoughts and prayers – they require action,” said Pichardo. “These kinds of incidents are heartbreaking; gun violence devastates communities and destroys families and these senseless acts of violence can be prevented.”

Assemblymember Pichardo, in collaboration with the Bronx District Attorney Darcel D. Clark, is sponsoring a gun buyback program to help get guns off our streets and prevent future tragedies like the horrific mass shooting in Orlando, as well as recent shootings that have occurred in the Bronx. The gun buyback event will be held in early August.

The gun buyback program is especially important in the summer months when there is usually an uptick in shootings, noted Pichardo. Despite increased law enforcement presence and activity last summer, shootings increased by 10 percent from the previous year.

While mass shootings garner substantial media coverage, gun violence has continuously plagued communities across the country and in the Bronx. A recent shooting at 240 E. 175th St. prompted Assemblymember Pichardo to call the press conference on gun violence. Also in attendance were State Senator Gustavo Rivera, Angel Caballero, the Executive Director of Davidson Community Center, Jonathan Recabarron, Pastor of the Fordham Evangelical Lutheran Church, David Caba, the Executive Director of B.R.A.G and K-Born Rivers, Founders of I am My Community Inc., along with members of Community Board 5.

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. said, “In light of what happened in Orlando; an evil, diabolical, wicked act of terror facilitated by the easy access to powerful weaponry; any guns we can get off the streets, we are saving someone’s life. I want to thank Assemblymember Victor Pichardo and Bronx District Attorney Darcel D. Clark for pushing forward with this plan. Bronxites cannot tolerate gun violence in our neighborhoods. This is yet another step towards keeping our streets safer.”

Read the complete press release.

Borough President Diaz Hosts The Bronx Vigil for Orlando

On Wednesday, June 15, 2016, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., Council Members Ritchie Torres and James Vacca, The Bronx Academy of Arts & Dance, and leaders of the Bronx LGBT community cohosted a vigil in support of the victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando. The event took place at The Bronx County Building, and over 300 individuals attended.

BP Diaz Celebrates Ramadan

On Thursday, June 16, 2016, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. and over 200 members of the Bronx Muslim community gathered together at Lehman College to celebrate Ramadan. The program included recognition of leading individuals of the Muslim faith in the Bronx Community followed by prayers and fast-breaking.

Pictured are: Hisham A. Elzanaty, Uptown Health Care Management; Mohammed N. Mujumder, Bangladesh-American Community Council; Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. and Capatin Jamiel S. Altaheri, New York City Police Department.

Statement from Borough President Diaz
RE: Terror Attack in Orlando

"The people of The Bronx stand united with the city of Orlando, the families and friends of the victims, and the LGBTQ community against hatred and bigotry. Today's attack has shocked a nation, and I offer my deepest condolences to those affected by this horrendous act of terrorism. As the motives and the message behind today's terror attack in Orlando come into clearer focus, we must remain united--as Bronxites, as New Yorkers, as Americans--against hatred and terror in all its forms. We must also heed President Obama's call, stated once again during his remarks today, for sensible gun reforms. How much longer can Congress fail to act in the face of tragedy?

Once again, our heart breaks for the victims of this act of terror, and we wish their friends and families peace during this incredibly difficult time," said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.

BP Diaz Marches in 59th Annual Puerto Rican Day Parade

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. marches in the 59th Annual Puerto Rican Day Parade on Sunday, June 12, 2016.

Unique Parternship with Israel Creates 
New Opportunities for Investment in Puerto Rico

The Department of Economic Development and Commerce of Puerto Rico and the Consulate General of Israel in New York co-sponsored the Business in Puerto Rico investment forum, Wednesday in Manhattan

NEW YORK, NY - In a unique and historic partnership, the State of Israel and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico have come together to promote investment in Puerto Rico in an effort to help grow Puerto Rico's economy and strengthen the bond between Israel and the Latino communities of the United States. The Business in Puerto Rico investment forum, held Wednesday at the offices of Stroock & Stroock & Lavan LLP in downtown Manhattan, featured a presentation by Alberto Bacó Bagué, Secretary of Economic Development and Commerce of Puerto Rico, who introduced potential investors to the many exciting opportunities in Puerto Rico. Israel, whose population has many similarities with that of Puerto Rico, shared its experience rising out of economic hardships and connecting with businesses and investors.

Consul General of Israel in New York Ambassador Ido Aharoni and the Hon. Robert Abrams, Partner at Stroock & Stroock & Lavan LLP, delivered opening remarks; Howard Lutnick, Chairman and CEO of Cantor Fitzgerald, delivered the keynote address; and the Hon. Ruben Diaz Jr., Bronx Borough President, delivered closing remarks.

Said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.: "Israel has been a true friend and ally, not just as it relates to our country's policies in the Middle East, but in every sense of the word," said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. "As a huge proponent of strengthening the bond between Latino and Jewish communities, I believe this is an incredible partnership between Israel and Puerto Rico that will help stimulate the island's economy during a time of great need for them."

Read the complete press release.


Statement from the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York on the Terrorist Attack in Tel Aviv

We are horrified by the brutal terrorist attack that took place in the Max Brenner restaurant in Tel Aviv’s popular Sarona Market, which left four Israelis killed and at least three badly injured. Just days after New York’s annual Celebrate Israel Parade, our community has once again transformed cheers into tears for our slain and wounded brothers and sisters in Israel. At this time our thoughts are with the families of the victims and our prayers are for a full and speedy recovery for the wounded.

We condemn the praise announced by Hamas, the Iran-backed terrorist organization, for this heinous attack by two 21 year-old Palestinian gunmen. It is unconscionable that Hamas continues to encourage and incite to violence and murder against innocent Israeli civilians, especially during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. We are further saddened that celebrations broke out in the West Bank and Gaza in the aftermath of the deadly shooting. We unequivocally condemn this attack and support the right of Israelis to self-defense.

The ongoing terrorism long waged by Palestinian attackers against innocent Israeli women, men and children is morally intolerable and unjustifiable. Since September 13th, 2015, 28 Israelis and 2 Americans have been killed in terrorist attacks and over 400 people injured in more than 200 separate stabbing, car ramming, bombing, and shooting attacks.

It is time for the international community to stop turning a blind eye to Palestinian terrorism and recognize that the murder of civilians is depraved no matter if it occurs in Paris, Madrid, Brussels, or Tel Aviv.

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.

"My thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of the victims of this disgusting terror attack in Tel Aviv. I join the countless people from throughout the world of all faiths in condemning this heinous act."

Read the complete statement.

Borough President Diaz Releases Annual Development Report

Highlights Over $9.4 Billion in Total Bronx Development Since 2009

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. has issued his annual development report, highlighting the total development seen in The Bronx since he first took office in 2009 through the end of 2015.

“Great things are happening here. We are seeing unprecedented levels of development in The Bronx, including new housing units of all types and vibrant commercial projects. As we continue to attract new investors and new interest in our borough, my office will continue our efforts to ensure that the ongoing revitalization of The Bronx works for everyone,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.

The report notes that, in total, The Bronx has seen more than $9.493 billion in total development in all categories since 2009, when Borough President Diaz first took office. In 2015 alone, The Bronx saw a record $2.385 billion in new development.

Read the full report at http://on.nyc.gov/1U6aCco.

The report finds that, between 2009 and 2015, more than 23,000 new units of housing and over 54 million square feet of total development. In 2015 alone, the borough saw more than 10 million square feet of development and nearly 7,000 units of new housing, higher numbers than any year of Borough President Diaz’s tenure.

The report follows other encouraging news about the continued economic growth of The Bronx. Late last month, the New York State Department of Labor announced that the borough’s unemployment rate had fallen to fell to 6.6 percent in April 2016, down from 7.9 percent in March 2016 and 7.8 percent in in April 2015. This is the lowest unemployment rate the borough has seen since Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. first took office in May 2009. Those same statistics showed that more than 100,000 Bronxites are employed today than when the borough president first took office.

Statement from Borough President Diaz
RE: S.7336/ ‘Bag Tax’ Legislation

“With today’s vote, the State Senate has struck a bipartisan blow for economic fairness against a backdoor, regressive tax. The city’s attempt to charge individuals a nickel per plastic bag is well-intentioned, yet poorly executed, and I congratulate State Senator Simcha Felder and his colleagues for recognizing as much. Lower income New Yorkers will be disproportionately burdened by this proposal. In addition, this new law will put a strain on the relationship between local and small businesses and their most loyal customers, potentially causing those customers to spend less money in their neighborhoods and harming our local economies.

“Everyone agrees that these bags are an environmental hazard, but the bag tax is not an effective way to reduce their impact on our communities. Our city needs to consider more creative ways to reduce litter and pollution, as well as more creative ways to spend any funding derived through such efforts. We cannot place a new tax on the backs of the poor and call it progressive government,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.

Bronx Community College Announces Inaugural
Kalief Browder Memorial Scholarship

Scholarship Awarded to Full-Time BCC Student Transforming Her Life after Incarceration

Bronx, NY (June 7, 2016) - Bronx Community College (BCC) of The City University of New York, announced today the establishment of the Kalief Browder Memorial Scholarship in honor of the BCC student who was imprisoned at 16 in Rikers and held without a trial for three years, two of which were in solitary confinement. The announcement comes a day after the one year anniversary of Kalief’s death. The scholarship will provide the recipient with a full year’s tuition as well as access to both on campus and outside counseling and support systems. The first scholarship recipient is 46-year-old Beverly Emers from the South Bronx, as announced today.

“The Kalief Browder Memorial Scholarship is providing assistance to a formerly incarcerated student pursuing a degree at BCC,” said Dr. Thomas A. Isekenegbe, President of Bronx Community College. “Support for the scholarship fund will allow us to permanently endow it, making funding available in perpetuity for future students looking to transform their lives after incarceration.”

“Kalief Browder’s case, shocking though it may be, is by no means an exception. There are untold numbers of African American and Latino men – and women – in the Bronx borough who have been victimized by the criminal justice system simply because they could not meet bail or afford quality legal defense that could prove their innocence,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. “BCC’s Kalief Browder Memorial Scholarship recognizes the determination formerly incarcerated students have in seeking to transform their lives by earning a college degree. It promises to make it easier for more students to stay on track and graduate.”

“We can think of no better way to memorialize Kalief Browder than though a scholarship in his name offered at a school he came to love,” said Ululy Martinez, member of the BCC Foundation Board of Directors.

Beverly Emers was in and out of prison for six years for drug offenses, having last served nearly 11 years ago. She began her first days in college at BCC in the spring of 2015, focusing her studies in human services. She is active on campus as a member of the Student Government and the Get PSyCh’D program which helps students with mental health issues.

“I am so grateful to have been awarded this scholarship and know that this opportunity will help me continue to make positive contributions to my community,” said Beverly Emers. “My goal is to continue my education and use my life's experience to inspire, encourage, assist and advocate for people in my community.”

The scholarship is available to full-time Bronx Community College students, in good academic standing, committed to transforming their lives after incarceration. Students were selected from an application and essay process by a BCC committee.

A Kalief Browder Memorial Scholarship fund has been established in an effort to permanently endow the scholarship and ensure that those with similar experiences to Kalief have the support they need in the future. The scholarship can be supported here:


Empire State Development Announces Hunts Point Terminal Produce
Cooperative Association Will Conduct a Feasibility Study on Facility Upgrades

First Step toward Modernizing the Wholesale Produce Market to Remain Regionally Competitive

Empire State Development (ESD) today announced that Hunts Point Terminal Produce Cooperative Association will conduct a feasibility study to determine the best way to upgrade the facilities at the Hunts Point Terminal Produce Market, in the Bronx, to remain competitive in the region and comply with federal food-safety standards. 

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. said, “My office welcomes this much needed study made possible by Empire State Development. The Hunts Point Terminal Produce Market is one of our largest employers and an economic development engine that drives the entire region. It is important that we take a strong look at the market and plan for a stronger, safer and more fruitful future for the businesses and the thousands of workers employed within. I commend Governor Cuomo and ESD for committing considerable funding to take a serious look at the infrastructure and redevelopment needs of perhaps the largest food market in the world.”

Read the complete press release.

BP Diaz Honors Christine Quinn at Bronx LGBTQ Pride Awards

On Wednesday, June 1, 2016, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. hosted the sixth annual Bronx Borough President & Allies LGBTQ Pride Awards Ceremony at Billy’s Sports Bar. The event was co-hosted by Council Members Ritchie Torres and James Vacca.

At the event, Borough President Diaz presented Christine Quinn, the former City Council Speaker and the President and CEO of Women in Need, with the 2016 John Wade Award, recognizing her dedication to public service.

(l to r) Council Member James Vacca, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., Christine Quinn, Council Member Ritchie Torres.

NYC Parks and AT&T Expand Free Public Wi-Fi
and Solar Mobile Charging in Parks and at Beaches Citywide

Free Wi-Fi Available at 27 Locations and 21 Parks

Thirty Four Free AT&T Street Charge Units Located at 15 Parks and Beaches

NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver, FACIP, today joined AT&T’s New York President Marissa Shorenstein, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. and community members to announce a deal to extend free public AT&T Wi-Fi in the Parks for an additional five years. The free Wi-Fi is available, regardless of wireless carrier, to parkgoers at 27 locations in 21 parks across the five boroughs. The collaboration increases the number of free solar mobile charging stations to 34 units at 15 parks and beaches; and four new parks will receive the popular AT&T Street Charge units—Queens Flushing Meadows Park at David Dinkins Circle and Ederle Terrace, Brooklyn’s Sunset Park and Prospect Park at the LeFrak Center and Joyce Kilmer Park in the Bronx, where the announcement was made.

Launched in 2011, the Wi-Fi in the Parks initiative was the City’s first free public Wi-Fi program that allows all smartphone and tablet users to connect. Through the program there have been 8.6 million connections.

“The renewal of our partnership with AT&T, expanding free Wi-Fi and charging stations to more of our parks this summer and fall, furthers Parks’ commitment to utilizing technology to serve parkgoers city wide,” said Commissioner Silver. “Through amenities like Wi-Fi and charging stations in parks, we help increase technological access, while gathering insights into how our visitors engage our green spaces; insights that strengthen our strategic approach to building a better park system for the future.”

“Over the past five years, millions of visitors to New York’s parks and beaches have connected over Wi-Fi in the Parks and charged their devices at AT&T Street Charge units,” said Marissa Shorenstein, AT&T’s New York State President. “It’s been exciting to watch these programs become proof points for how a city can leverage advances in technology to keep its citizens connected. AT&T is excited to continue working with the de Blasio administration to offer these free services and support New Yorkers on the go.”

"We welcome the expansion of free wireless services in twenty four of our public parks across the city and the increment on the number of free solar mobile charging stations," said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. "I want to thank AT&T for enhancing the park experience for our residents by increasing the access of Wi-Fi services throughout city parks; and for their efforts to expand park amenities, as well as for helping our residents to stay better connected and helping getting people outdoors."

Read the complete press release.

The Celebration Continues with Bronx Week Encore on BronxNet!

Enjoy highlights and incredible moments from Bronx Week 2016 on your BronxNet channels and on the web at www.bronxnet.tv. The 2016 Bronx Ball will premiere on BronxNet Channel 67 Optimum in HD and on FiOS Channel 33, on June 2nd at 7:00 p.m., with Bronx Week highlights beginning at 6:30 p.m. Continuing through June 10th, special blocks of programming will feature highlights from the Bronx Week parade, the centenarian celebration, health events, the Bronx Week concert and much more. The Bronx Ball will also re-air on June 4th, June 8th and June 9th at 7:00 p.m. and the parade will re-air on June 5th at 2:00 p.m. and June 9th at 11:00 a.m. Visit: www.bronxnet.tv for the full schedule.

The Bronx Ball, the highlight of Bronx Week, was held in May in a gala setting at Pelham Split Rock Golf Course.  Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. and hundreds of guests, including Bronx leaders, organization representatives, and residents shared a festive evening as they recognized 2016 Walk of Fame Honorees: Author/Photographer Arlene Alda, Actor Vincent Pastore, Animator/Director Peter Sohn and Ballet Hispanico Artistic Director Eduardo Vilaro.

Bronx Week, an annual event presented by Borough President Diaz and co-produced by The Bronx Tourism Council and the Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation, features an array of activities that showcase the borough’s vibrant life and growth.  

“I want to thank BronxNet for taking part in this year's Bronx Week festivities," said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. "This is always one of my favorite times of the year because we, as a community, get an opportunity to celebrate all the wonderful things happening in our borough. BronxNet has done a great job over the years broadcasting these events to television audiences around The Bronx. Check out BronxNet's re-broadcasts throughout the week, to take a peek at all our 'Bronx Week' events that took place and see all the positive changes going on around the borough.”

Read the complete press release.

The Bronx Museum of the Arts Launches Major Architectural Upgrade of its Facility Adding New Spaces for Programs and Exhibitions Increasing Connections to Neighborhood, and Improving Service to Community and Public

Monica Ponce de Leon Selected as Architect for Project

Project is Public-Private Partnership with the City of New York

Bronx, New York—May 25, 2016—The Bronx Museum of the Arts announced plans for a major architectural enhancement and upgrade of its facility to better serve its community and visitors, add new spaces for public programs and exhibitions, and to strengthen its crucial contribution to the civic fabric of the Bronx. The project is a public-private partnership with The City of New York, including the Mayor’s Office, the City Council, Office of the Bronx Borough President, and New York State Assembly to support the Museum’s growing role as a vital resource for the community and destination for the Bronx and visitors to the City, and to meet the demands of significantly increased attendance. The project, funded through the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs and managed by the NYC Department of Design and Construction, will advance the Museum’s openness and expand connections with the neighborhood it has called home since 1971.

“The Bronx Museum of the Arts has been an anchor in the borough since its founding, serving the people of the Bronx with arts and education programming of a national caliber and supporting artists who embody and express the cultural diversity of the Bronx,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. “The Bronx Museum has been a partner with the community for more than four decades, and through our support of this project, we are committing to the future vitality of The Bronx Museum of the Arts as it deepens its presence and commitment to the Bronx, the public, and the arts community.”

Read the complete press release.

Statement from Borough President Diaz
RE: Review Board Approval of MTA Capital Plan

“I am delighted with today's announcement, which represents a great day for public transportation in The Bronx, across the city and throughout the region. The Capital Plan Review Board’s approval of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s capital budget is a tremendous step forward. A fully-funded MTA capital plan is critical to not only the continued maintenance of our transit system but to the development of new infrastructure improvements, as well. 

"Most importantly, for my borough, this capital plan funds the long awaited, much anticipated East Bronx Metro North expansion. The establishment of new commuter stations in Co-op City, Morris Park, Parkchester/Van Nest, and Hunts Point will not only offer residents of these communities a new transportation option, it will open the East Bronx corridor to new residential and commercial development potential as well as reverse commute employment opportunities, and is the most significant infrastructure improvement our borough has seen in decades.

“I want to thank Governor Cuomo, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, State Senate Coalition Co-Leader Jeff Klein and the board of the MTA, especially Bronxites Fernando Ferrer and Charles Moerdler; as well as the numerous community and elected leaders who showed their support for this expansion, for their continued advocacy on behalf of this long-awaited project,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.

Bronx Unemployment Drops to 6.6%

The Bronx’s unemployment rate has fallen once again, according to newly released statistics from the New York State Department of Labor.

The unemployment rate in The Bronx fell to 6.6 percent in April 2016, down from 7.9 percent in March 2016 and 7.8 percent in in April 2015. This is the lowest unemployment rate the borough has seen since Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. first took office in May 2009.

The total number of Bronxites employed also remains considerably high, 569,700, meaning that over 100,000 more Bronx residents have jobs today than when Borough President Diaz took office seven years ago.

“What we are doing is working,” said Borough President Diaz. “We have seen considerable growth in our borough during the past seven years, and that investment is having a positive effect on the people who call The Bronx their home. More people are employed than ever before and our unemployment rate has been cut significantly, thanks to the hard work of our elected officials, community boards, business community, non-profits, neighborhood leaders and our 1.4 million residents. Everyone can share in this success.” 

The Department of Labor’s statistics can be found at http://labor.ny.gov/stats/pressreleases/prlaus.shtm.

Since Borough President Diaz took office in 2009, The Bronx has seen more than $9.4 billion in total development, which has led to the creation of thousands of new jobs. In addition, a partnership announced by Governor Andrew Cuomo announced in August 2014 between the New York State Department of Labor and the Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation, as part of the “NY Works,” program is placing Bronx residents in these jobs, helping to ensure that new development here benefits everyone, especially Bronxites.

New Bronx and Queens Full-Service Animal Shelters
Projected to Double City-led Animal Adoptions

$10 million investment in new facilities will remove barriers, boost medical treatment 

NYCLASS: “The greatest city in the world deserves a world-class animal shelter system”

BRONX – City-led pet adoptions in New York City shelters are set to double over the next few years – to nearly 16,000 – as a result of the new full-service animal shelters coming to Queens and the Bronx, according to new projections released today by NYCLASS and Bronx Council Members.

The new projections come on the heels of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s inclusion of $10 million for the design and siting of new shelters in the two boroughs – an investment that has been at the core of NYCLASS’ agenda for years.

“NYCLASS believes that the greatest city in the world deserves a world-class animal shelter system – with full-service shelters in every borough,” said Allie Taylor, Executive Director of NYCLASS. “These projections show that not only will the new full-service shelters mean better, more humane care for shelter animals, but they will help connect more New Yorkers to loving companions. It’s a win-win for animals and for New Yorkers.”

"This is great news for animals and animal lovers,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. "This project has been a major priority for many of my constituents, and I am happy to join NYCLASS today to celebrate the funding of a full-service animal shelter in my borough. “thanks to the inclusion of this funding in the budget by Mayor de Blasio, we will create a space where animals can receive humane care while pet lovers will have a place where they can adopt a new member of their family, helping reduce animal homelessness and abuse."

Read the complete press release.

Congressman Serrano, Borough President Diaz Host
Badillo Post Office Renaming Ceremony

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. poses with Gail Badillo, the wife of Herman Badillo, as the United States Post Office rededicates the Bronx’s Morrisania Branch Post Office in Mr. Badillo’s memory on Monday, May 23, 2016.

Other Elected Officials Join Celebration

The Bronx, NY – U.S. Congressman José E. Serrano; Bronx Borough President Rubén Díaz, Jr.; Senator Rubén Díaz; Assemblyman José Rivera; Councilmember Rafael Salamanca; Lorraine Castellano, District Manager of the New York District, United States Postal Service; Bronx Postmaster Lilliam Rodriguez and other local elected officials held a ceremony today to officially rename and inaugurate the Herman Badillo Post Office located at 442 East 167th St. in Morrisania.

The change of the name of the post office was made possible thanks to a bill introduced by Congressman Serrano and the New York Congressional delegation, H.R. 1350, that was approved in July of 2015 to celebrate the Honorable Herman Badillo’s achievements as Bronx Borough President, Congressman, and Deputy Mayor of New York City. Badillo was the first Puerto Rican to hold each of these offices.

Congressman Serrano said, “I am thrilled to celebrate the renaming of the Herman Badillo Post Office and to be joined by so many familiar faces, including Gail Badillo. To many of us, Badillo was a friend, to others a mentor, but to all of us he was a legend and a hero we will remember for generations to come. He was not only the first Puerto Rican to hold many elected posts at the local, state, and federal levels, but his work was instrumental in Puerto Ricans’ civic participation in local politics and in bringing attention to issues of concern to the community. Renaming this Post Office, a historic building in the heart of the Bronx, used by thousands every week, is a fitting tribute that will help ensure his legacy and memory live on.

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. said, “I was proud to join so many friends and colleagues here today to pay tribute to the federal service of a trailblazer, a mentor and a friend, my predecessor in the borough president’s office and our former congressman, Herman Badillo. Today's rededication ceremony is a fitting tribute to his trailblazing service to The Bronx, the City and our nation in the House of Representatives,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. 

Read the complete press release.

Statement from Borough President Diaz
RE: Compromise on Puerto Rico’s Debt Crisis

“After more than a year of negotiation and advocacy by my office and many others, I am pleased to see an important first step between the White House and Congress on the future fiscal health of the commonwealth of Puerto Rico, H.R. 5278, the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management and Economic Stability Act (PROMESA). 

“This bipartisan compromise, while certainly not perfect, is a tremendous step forward and offers many of the solutions that I and others have been advocating for.  Although access to bankruptcy courts would have been preferred, we are encouraged by the bill’s provision to allow Puerto Rico to reduce repayments to creditors.  However, the process for appointing members of the proposed control board must ensure that the individuals selected protect the best interests of the Puerto Rican government and its people.

“There is still much work needed to be done by Congress to update and revise the Puerto Rican economic regulatory framework.  Health care must be delivered more effectively, import costs reduced and infrastructure investments made so that Puerto Rico has greener energy solutions and is prepared for the dramatic changes already being produced by climate change. 

“I thank the White House and Congress for taking the concerns of the Puerto Rican government, its citizens and their advocates on the mainland seriously and working towards this agreement. I especially want to thank those who have worked assiduously on this compromise, including House Speaker Paul Ryan, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand; and Reps. Nydia Velázquez, Jose Serrano and Luis Gutiérrez.

“The people of Puerto Rico are American citizens, and they deserve the same rights and protections as their countrymen,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. 

U.S. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries & Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. Urge City Hall to Increase Support for the NYC Summer Youth Employment Program

BROOKLYN, NY – Yesterday, U.S. Representative Hakeem Jeffries (NY-08) and Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. stood on the steps of City Hall to strongly urge a substantial increase in funding for the Summer Youth Employment Program.

The Summer Youth Employment Program is a crucial first step in the careers of thousands of young people across New York City. It provides New Yorkers aged 14 to 24 with paid summer employment for up to six weeks in July and August. Participants work entry-level jobs at a range of programs supporting the public good, including at government agencies, hospitals, non-profits, small businesses, law firms and museums. The program introduces young people to the workforce, allows them to explore career interests while they acquire marketable skills and provides supplemental income.

In 2015, only 41% of 131,897 applicants were accepted into the program after a lottery, resulting in a total of 54,263 enrolled participants. The largest groups of enrollees are the 14-15 and 16-17 year old demographic, accounting for 63% of the total FY15 enrollment demographic. Ethnically, Hispanic and Black students represent the largest proportion of participants in the program.

Rep. Jeffries said: “Every young person in New York City who wants a summer job should get a summer job. Unfortunately, that is not the case. For too long, New York City has consistently underfunded the Summer Youth Employment Program, leaving tens of thousands of young people out in the cold.  It's time for New York City to more meaningfully invest in our future. The City should use part of its budget surplus to make sure that every eligible summer youth employment applicant has a job when school ends."

Borough President Diaz said: "The Summer Youth Employment Program is one of the most important, most productive programs our city has to offer. Every year, it takes thousands of teenagers off of the streets and puts them in productive jobs. It supports them through educational programming and mentorship. I'm proud to stand with my friend Rep. Hakeem Jeffries to call for increased funding for this tremendous program.”

Despite the rising popularity of the program and the skyrocketing number of applicants, the city has failed to substantially increase funding in a manner that would provide job opportunities for the growing number of interested young people in New York City. The City can double the number of young people with summer jobs with an additional contribution of approximately $80 million, less than a tenth of the $1 billion the administration proposes to add to New York's multi-billion dollar Rainy Day Fund.

Rep. Jeffries added: "It's raining right now for many young people in Brooklyn and the Bronx whose employment prospects are scarce. That is why Borough President Diaz and I strongly support fully funding the summer youth employment program this year."

Following Pressure, Amazon Expands Same-Day Delivery to The Bronx

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. and Assembly Member Jeffrey Dinowitz are praising an announcement by online retailer Amazon that it would expand same-day delivery service to The Bronx. The announcement comes following criticism from both officials regarding the borough’s previous exclusion from these services.

Last week, it was revealed that Amazon was providing same-day delivery services to nearly the entirety of New York City except for The Bronx. Following the news, Borough President Diaz issued a letter to Amazon Founder & CEO demanding an end to his borough’s exclusion from these services. In a separate letter, Assembly Member Dinowitz urged New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman to investigate Amazon’s inequitable business practices.

In letters to both elected officials issued late Friday, Amazon stated that they would reverse this practice of excluding The Bronx, adding that the company was “actively working to enable service to the Bronx in the coming weeks.”

"The over 1.4 million residents of The Bronx deserve the same level of service and amenities as their neighbors. Amazon's reversal of their previous policy, which excluded my borough from the same-day delivery services offered to the rest of the city, is a welcome one. I appreciate that Amazon heard our concerns and have made this change, and will provide The Bronx with service equity in the coming weeks. I will continue to hold businesses and entities of all kinds accountable when they slight my constituents," said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.

“I am very grateful that Amazon has listened to our concerns regarding the exclusion of The Bronx from their Prime same-day delivery service," said Assembly Member Jeffrey Dinowitz. "I am pleased they will be working to expand access to their services to a borough that has seen one of the fastest economic expansions in several decades – The Bronx. Providing equal services to all New Yorkers, including the 1.4 million Bronxites and countless of businesses that call our borough home is not just good for The Bronx, but Amazon as well. Moreover, I am hopeful that this decision means Amazon will take a second look at the several other cities with excluded neighborhoods.”

Amazon’s letter to the elected officials can be read at http://on.nyc.gov/1WAptO2.

From Pale Ales to Puerto Rican Moonshine,
The Bronx Trolley Offers Tours and Tastings
at Borough's Finest Craft Beverage Producers

Participants get their Savor The Bronx Passports stamped for
additional promotions from the borough’s bar/restaurants

As more craft beverage producers and bar/restaurants make The Bronx their home, The Bronx Tourism Council, in association with Taste NY, an initiative launched by Governor Cuomo in 2013 to promote New York’s food and beverage industries, has launched the Savor The Bronx Breweries & Distilleries Trolley Tour.

While riding the famous Bronx Trolley, a historian will talk about the history of brewing in the borough, which dates back to the late 19th century and ended during the Prohibition Era.

The trolley visits Gun Hill Brewery, established in 2014 and produces a variety of beers for all palates ranging from their light seasonable ales to their pitch black stout. Then onto Chelsea Craft Brewing Company, which relocated from downtown Manhattan this year. The company brews over 20 ales annually and their signature Checker Cab Blonde Ale is brewed in the style of a German Kolsch beer. The third, and last, brewery the trolley visits is the Bronx Brewery founded in 2011 and offers a uniquely diverse range of beers that explore the limits of what a pale ale can be.

Tirado Distillery is the veteran of the bunch. They opened their doors in 2010 and was the first artisanal spirits producer in the borough since the 1920s prohibition. Their desert whisky is infused with apricot and still-filtered twice for smoothness. The fifth and last tour/tasting is at Port Morris Distillery, who’s Añejo Pitorro (or Puerto Rican moonshine) has a smoky taste while their Coquito Pitorro is sweetened with coconut and cinnamon and is perfect straight or mixed.
Tour participants will also receive a Savor The Bronx Passport to be stamped by the places they visit. The fully-stamped passport can be taken to any of the aforementioned breweries and distilleries, as well as any of the following restaurants that serve craft beverages, where the passport holder will receive their first pint free: Blackstone Bar and Grill in Riverdale; Bronx Ale House in Kingsbridge; Bronx Beer Hall on Arthur Avenue; and Bronx Draft House near Yankee Stadium. The Breweries and Distilleries Passport Promotion is open to anyone who chooses to visit the Breweries and Distilleries on their own as well and can be acquired at any of the craft beverage producers.

“This is the perfect tour for folks who are both history buffs and craft beverage aficionados”, says Olga Luz Tirado, executive director of The Bronx Tourism Council.

“The Bronx is quickly becoming known across the world for its top notch breweries and distilleries. If you’re interested in the art of craft beverages, and would like a closer look at the ongoing revitalization of our borough, this tour is a tremendous opportunity. I look forward to greeting visitors from all over the region as they take part in the Savor The Bronx Breweries & Distilleries Trolley Tour,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.

The tour costs $50 per person, lasts five hours, and includes a passport and light snacks at one of the breweries. The trolley leaves from 851 Grand Concourse (between east 161st Street and 158th) at 11am. No one under 21 years of age is allowed on the trolley for this tour. For a full schedule and to purchase tickets visit www.ilovethebronx.com or call 718.590.3518.

Read the complete press release.

Update on the Zika virus

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Para obtener más información sobre el virus Zika: http://www.nyc.gov/health/zika | ¡Protégete, NYC!

Read all of Borough President Diaz's press releases and statements.