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Governor Cuomo Leads Delegation to Puerto Rico

New Yorkers to Meet with Puerto Rican Government Representatives amid Crisis

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that he will lead a delegation to Puerto Rico to meet with local officials and discuss the Puerto Rican governments' ongoing healthcare crisis and economic challenges as well as the need for Washington to act. The Governor is leading the delegation at the invitation of Puerto Rico’s Governor, Alejandro García Padilla. The group will depart in the afternoon on September 7 and return early in the evening on September 8.

“New York and Puerto Rico have a special relationship bound in heritage, history, culture and family – and when times are tough we stand side by side and offer whatever help we can,” said Governor Cuomo. “The current situation in Puerto Rico has become unsustainable and is threatening the livelihoods of millions of people – many with strong connections to New York. This trip is about stepping up for Puerto Rico and its people, and I look forward to working together with our partners to help address this crisis.”

The Governor’s delegation (in formation) will include New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, Bronx Borough President Rubén Díaz, Jr., New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer and Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez, and members of the Governor’s administration with expertise on Medicaid redesign and fraud including New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker and New York State Medicaid Director, Jason Helgerson.

Bronx Borough President Rubén Díaz, Jr. said: “For several months, I have been pushing for common sense solutions to Puerto Rico’s crisis. I want to thank Governor Andrew Cuomo for his leadership on this issue, and commend him for taking action and putting together a strong delegation of elected officials to discuss with Puerto Rican officials ways to help develop achievable proposals and plans that support the future development of Puerto Rico and prevent a catastrophe for our fellow Americans who call Puerto Rico their home.”

Read the complete press release.

NYC Parks Cuts the Ribbon on New Soundview Amphitheater

On Thursday, August 27, 2015, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., in collaboration with the New York City Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver, hosted a ribbon cutting and free movie night at the newly constructed Amphitheater in Soundview Park. Here, Borough President Diaz addresses youngsters following their free yoga lesson, which was sponsored by Sweetwater Dance and Yoga Studio.

Yesterday, NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver, FAICP, joined Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., State Senators Jeffrey Klein and Ruben Diaz, Assemblyman Marcos Crespo, Bronx City Council Chief of Staff Mariela Salazar, DEP Deputy Commissioner Vincent Sapienza, Community Liaison Ramon Cabral, leaders of Community Board 9, and local residents to celebrate the opening of the new amphitheater at Soundview Park.

“Residents of the Bronx now have a newly designed performance and entertainment space right here at Soundview Park,” said NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver, FAICP. “Parks are not only green spaces, they are public spaces, and with the completion of this new theater, community members will enjoy more opportunities to gather in the park with neighbors, friends, and family.”

“This is a project I have been working on since I was in the State Assembly and I look forward to the opening of the new Soundview Park Amphitheater,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. “This new amenity is another example of how things are changing for the better in our great borough. We are providing an area where families can get together and watch movies, much like how people do in Bryant Park in Manhattan and in Coney Island in Brooklyn, while we are also maximizing our green space. I want to thank the New York City Parks Department for their efforts on this project and I look forward to many years of amazing performances at this wonderful new space.”

The natural amphitheater features a performance lawn built in line with Roseland Avenue, alongside a new park entrance and pathway. The $2.8 million construction budget included mayoral funding as well as Croton Filtration Plant Mitigation Funds.

Previously completed at Soundview Park was the construction of a rubberized 400-meter regulation running track and field with areas for pole vault, high jump, long jump, and triple jump. The $6 million project also included a synthetic turf soccer field, bleacher seating, adult fitness units, a misting station, landscaping, and lighting for evening play.

Additional phases of the Soundview Park redevelopment, which include reconstruction of the existing playground while building a new comfort station at Metcalf Avenue, are soon to be finalized.

Known as the "Gateway to the Bronx River," Soundview Park celebrates the beauty of the Bronx waterfront with extensive views. The 205-acre park was built on a landfill and sits where the Bronx River opens into the East River. The Bronx River is the only freshwater river in New York City.

BP Diaz Blasts NYCHA Housing Proposal

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. is raising serious concerns over a proposal by the New York City Housing Authority to develop open green spaces between existing buildings at city housing projects.

“The tenants of NYCHA should not be treated like second-class citizens,” said Borough President Diaz. “Despite the assertions of NYCHA Chair Shola Olatoye, these green spaces play a critical role in the everyday life of building tenants, especially children, and should be preserved. NYCHA’s housing stock is already poorly maintained. Taking away light, air and green space from these tenants—taking away safe spaces where children play—would be an outrage.”

Borough President Diaz also criticized Ms. Olatoye for her comments in an interview with Politico New York, where she described the green spaces at NYCHA developments as “strewn with trash” and “gated off,” and therefore any discussion of their use by tenants amounts to “nostalgia.”

“Ms. Olatoye should not be so cavalier about her agency’s responsibility to manage these spaces,” said Borough President Diaz. “If the space is strewn with trash, pick up the garbage. If they are gated off, then open the gates. Her admission that NYCHA cannot maintain space for its tenants should not be an excuse to develop inappropriate housing projects, but should instead spark a discussion about ways to provide additional resources to the hardworking men and women employed by the housing authority.”

Borough President Diaz added that he is not opposed to all development on NYCHA property, and has in fact supported some projects in the past. But to develop on cherished green space does a tremendous disservice to the over 400,000 city residents who call these developments home.

“I understand the need to build more affordable housing,” said Borough President Diaz. “But this development should not be at the expense of the quality of life of NYCHA tenants.”

Statement from Borough President Diaz
RE: Passage of Legislation on Legionnaires' Disease Inspections

“This legislation will make not only The Bronx but the entire city a safer place, and I am happy that the City Council has answered my call in response to the public health crisis my borough has faced since late July.

“With regular inspections of cooling towers and other infrastructure we can be proactive to prevent future outbreaks of Legionnaires' Disease, and I look forward to Mayor de Blasio signing this bill and making it law.

“My thoughts and prayers remain with the families of those affected by this outbreak, especially the families of the 12 who passed away as a result of this disease,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.

Statement from Borough President Diaz
RE: Legislation on Legionnaires Inspections

“When it became clear that such outbreaks of Legionnaires’ Disease could be prevented through regular inspections, I proposed that the City Council move to create such legislation as quickly as possible. Today’s announcement is a great first step towards developing a system of regular inspections for cooling towers and other infrastructure that could breed the legionella bacteria.

“I will continue to work with all levels of government to ensure that we are better prepared to combat future epidemics,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.

Borough President Diaz first proposed legislation to address the lack of an inspection mechanism for cooling towers and other breeding grounds for the legionella bacteria last month. His original statement can be found here: http://on.nyc.gov/1Iz2ATC.

BP Diaz & Over 100 Elected Officials from Across the
Nation Urge Congress to Allow Bankruptcy for Puerto Rico

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. has issued a letter, in conjunction with over 100 elected officials from across the nation, demanding immediate action from Congress to enact legislation that will allow the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico to enter bankruptcy.

The letter can be read here: http://on.nyc.gov/1Wh8Vdz.

“The interests of the Puerto Rican community, whether they are in Puerto Rico, New York, New Jersey, California, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Florida or anywhere else are American interests.  Congress has an obligation to act and pass legislation that seeks to amend the Federal bankruptcy code and provide Puerto Rico, and its related power authorities and municipalities, access to Chapter Nine Bankruptcy protections,” states the letter.

The magnitude of debt owed by the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and its associated debt issuing authorities is at a critical juncture. Congress’ failure to address this crisis presents a substantial threat not only to the economy of Puerto Rico, but the United States economy as a whole.

“I am appreciative that so many elected officials from across the United States understand the need for federal action to address Puerto Rico’s ongoing debt crisis and were willing to join forces with my office to push Congress on this issue,” said Borough President Diaz. “I will continue to work with my colleagues to advocate for a remedy to the crushing fiscal crisis facing the commonwealth.”

Read the complete press release.

Statement from Borough President Diaz
RE: Legislation on Legionnaires Inspections

“When it became clear that such outbreaks of Legionnaires’ Disease could be prevented through regular inspections, I proposed that the City Council move to create such legislation as quickly as possible. Today’s announcement is a great first step towards developing a system of regular inspections for cooling towers and other infrastructure that could breed the legionella bacteria.

“I will continue to work with all levels of government to ensure that we are better prepared to combat future epidemics,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.

Borough President Diaz first proposed legislation to address the lack of an inspection mechanism for cooling towers and other breeding grounds for the legionella bacteria last month. His original statement can be found here: http://on.nyc.gov/1Iz2ATC.

Statement from Borough President Diaz
RE: Legionnaires Outbreak/CDC Involvement

“I want to thank Governor Andrew Cuomo and Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker for their quick response as we deal with the Legionnaires' outbreak affecting The Bronx, and for bringing the United States’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to my borough to study this public health crisis.

“We need all hands on deck, and getting help from the CDC is a huge step in combating this disease that is hurting the South Bronx. Gov. Cuomo’s offer of free testing for building owners, the legislation that Council Member Vanessa Gibson and I have proposed to ensure that we are proactive against the further spread of the Legionnaires Disease, and Mayor Bill de Blasio’s push for testing buildings throughout the city are all positive steps forward in eliminating this problem while finding solutions to prevent yet another outbreak.

“I am happy to learn that we are seeing fewer new cases of this disease, and I look forward to continuing my work with the city and the state to mitigate this crisis and prevent future outbreaks. My thoughts and prayers are with the families of those affected by this disease, and I wish them a speedy recovery,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.

Governor Cuomo Announces Free Legionella Testing
for Eligible Buildings Across New York State

Governor Deploys State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker to the Bronx to
Examine Sites with High Levels of Legionella Bacteria

Wadsworth Center Laboratory to Provide Legionella Testing at
No Cost to Building Owners, Operators and Managers

Free Hotlines Established to Facilitate Sample Collection and
Testing: 888-769-7243 or 518-485-1159


Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the New York State Department of Health is providing free Legionella testing for building owners, operators, managers and landlords of buildings with cooling towers or evaporative condenser units that can be sources of the bacteria. Testing will be done free of charge through the Department’s Wadsworth Center Laboratory. This service will be available until October, when the hot summer temperatures that may contribute to the growth of Legionella bacteria have moderated.

Governor Cuomo has also made State phone lines available in order to further facilitate Legionella testing by State Health officials. Those numbers (888-769-7243 or 518-485-1159) will begin operating at 4:00 p.m. today, free of charge. Trained operators will be available Monday through Friday from 8:30am to 4:30pm. These lines are designed to support sample collection, as described below, which will facilitate testing by the Department of Health. If you require medical attention, call your health care provider or 9-1-1 immediately.

Coinciding with this announcement, the Governor also deployed State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker to the Bronx to examine multiple sites found to have high concentrations of Legionella. Dr. Zucker will also be working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to do a full briefing with State and local officials on the outbreak in New York City next week.

To view the Governor’s statement from earlier today regarding Legionnaires’ Disease, please click here.

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. said, “Once again, Governor Cuomo is there for The Bronx when we need him. This free testing will help prevent future outbreaks of Legionnaires’ Disease not just in my borough, but across the City and the State. I am grateful to Governor Cuomo and the State Department of Health for moving quickly to act in a time of public health crisis.”

Read the complete press release.

Statement from Borough President Diaz
RE: Citi Bike Expansion to New Jersey

“It is deplorable that Citi Bike is expanding to New Jersey before the rest of the city. My borough deserves better, as do the parts of Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island that are not currently served by our city’s official bike share program.

“Citi Bike is operated by NYC Bike Share. That ‘NYC’ should mean something,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.

Statement from Borough President Diaz
RE: Mayoral Support for Legislation on Legionnaires' Disease

“It is encouraging that Mayor de Blasio has joined my call for new legislation in response to this current outbreak of Legionnaires' Disease.

“As the scope and depth of the outbreak of Legionnaires' Disease in the South Bronx came into focus last week, I proposed new legislation that would allow the city to be proactive—and not reactive—to such outbreaks. Together, with Council Member Vanessa Gibson, we are introducing legislation creating an inspection mechanism for those systems where Legionnaires' Disease can thrive and to ensure appropriate follow-up inspections so that the disease does not return.

“It is the responsibility of government to protect the health and well-being of the public, and this common sense proposal will help do just that. It cannot be forgotten that seven Bronx residents have died during this outbreak. An appropriate inspection mechanism could have saved lives,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.

Statement from Borough President Diaz
RE: Legionnaire’s Disease Outbreak

“During the course of our actions fighting the Legionnaire’s Disease outbreak in The Bronx, it has been revealed that there is no inspection mechanism for coolant systems, rooftop water tanks and other standing water infrastructure that could be a breeding ground for this disease and others. The city must create a new inspection system for these systems, just as we inspect other critical systems such as elevators.

“My office will work with our City Council members and the appropriate agencies to craft new legislation that would deal with this issue in the coming days,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.

New York State Assembly Passes Resolution Commending FreshDirect

Resolution praises FreshDirect for its “impressive commitment, an unbridled enthusiasm, and an uncompromising standard of excellence in all endeavors”

Bronx, NY, July 30, 2015 – FreshDirect would like to thank the New York State Assembly for commending FreshDirect for the “efforts  of  its  dedicated  staff, whose involvement is, and always has been, characterized by an impressive commitment, an unbridled  enthusiasm,  and  an  uncompromising standard of excellence in all endeavors on behalf of the organization and the community it serves.”

The New York State Assembly passed a resolution commending FreshDirect at the end of this year’s legislative session. The effort to pass the resolution was led by Assemblymember Michael Blake from the Bronx’s 79th Assembly District.

The resolution acknowledges FreshDirect for helping the economy in the Bronx grow and for delivery of “top-quality groceries” that have been “instrumental in combatting health issues like obesity and diabetes,” by “increasing access to healthy food options.”

“I am proud to have sponsored this resolution,” said Bronx Assembly Member Michael Blake.  “I have had substantial conversations with the team at Fresh Direct and find the company to be an upstanding, honest and engaged partner in my district, and are always ensuring environmental standards are met. They are hiring locally, engaging in critical community partnerships, and are extremely responsive to our questions, concerns and requests. I know that they will continue to engage with the community, as they always have. Fresh Direct is a model for what public/private engagement should represent and I am pleased to have had my resolution approved and signed on by my Assembly colleagues.”

"FreshDirect has been an outstanding partner not only to my office but to the people of The Bronx. This resolution reflects the company's strong commitment to our borough's future as a partner on both economic development and environmental issues, and I congratulate them on this considerable honor," said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.

“The team at FreshDirect sends its sincerest thanks to New York State Assembly Speaker Heastie, Assembly Member Blake, Borough President Diaz and the additional dozen Bronx elected officials who have publicly expressed their steadfast and unwavering support,” said Jason Ackerman, Chief Executive Officer and co-founder of FreshDirect.  ”We are extremely grateful to Assembly Member Blake for issuing this amazing resolution. We will continue to serve as a partner in the communities we serve."

Statement from Borough President Diaz
RE: Hedge Fund Demands on Puerto Rico

“It is a travesty that these hedge fund millionaires want to squeeze a dry sponge, insinuating that Puerto Rico should close down more schools to pay its debts, when earlier this year 100 schools were closed down while another 500 schools were restructured. This does not count an additional 60 schools that were shut down last year.

“They are certainly behaving like vultures, insisting that the residents of the island pay more taxes when those taxes have already been raised in response to the economic crisis. The demands of creditors, which include selling public land and firing teachers among other suggestions that will not resolve this crisis, put considerable pressure on the 3.5 million American citizens that call Puerto Rico their home.

“Such craven behavior shows why it is so important that the federal government allow Puerto Rico the opportunity to file for bankruptcy protections,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.

BP Diaz & CM Greenfield Host Latino/Jewish Networking Event

On Monday, July 27, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. and Brooklyn City Council Member David Greenfield co-hosted a citywide Latino/Jewish networking event in Manhattan.

The event, which brought together over 150 leaders from across the city, was designed to create dialogue between government and other professionals from both communities in order to discuss shared concerns and ways to develop strategic partnerships.

“There’s a strong and rich history when you speak of Latinos and the Jewish community,” said Borough President Diaz at the event. “That history is one that we need to celebrate, and I am proud to be able to partner with Council Member Greenfield and so many leaders from across the city to engage in discussion and develop meaningful partnerships between these two populations.”

“What the borough president and I wanted to do was simply have an event where people could just meet each other, get to know each other, and build relationships,” said Council Member Greenfield at the event, who noted that there is a “commonality of interests” between the Jewish and Latino communities, especially as both share the immigrant experience.

In addition to Borough President Diaz and Council Member Greenfield, the event was also attended by City Council Members Andrew Cohen, Rafael L. Espinal, Daniel R. Garodnick, Vanessa Gibson, Corey Johnson and Mark Levine, as well as dozens of leaders from across the city in government, business, clergy and the non-profit sector.

BP Diaz Marches in Bronx Dominican Day Parade

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. greets his constituents along the Grand Concourse during the 26th Annual Gran Parada Dominicana de El Bronx (Bronx Dominican Day Parade) on Sunday, July 26, 2015.