Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz

Reports to the people of the 81st



Summer 2003

District Office: 3107 Kingsbridge Avenue, Bronx, New York 10463 · (718) 796-5345
Office Hours: Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Norwood Satellite Office: 3450 Dekalb Avenue, Bronx, New York 10467 · (718) 882-4000, ext.353

Dear Constituent:

The 2003 regular legislative session is over. It was a most unusual session. It started with the Governor submitting a budget with draconian cuts to education and health care. The Legislature then restored much of the cuts only to see the restorations vetoed by the Governor. In a series of historic votes by the Assembly and the State Senate, the Legislature overrode 119 of the Governor’s budget vetoes.

The session went downhill from there. While many good laws were passed, too many things were left undone. Rockefeller Drug Law reform was not enacted. Brownfield legislation is still up in the air. Even worse were some of the laws that did in fact pass. While the rent protection laws were renewed, vacancy decontrol was not eliminated. School board reform took away the right of most people to vote for members of new district education councils (which will replace community school boards). In a shameful sellout by many members of the Bronx legislative delegation, legislation was passed taking away a huge piece of parkland from Van Cortlandt Park to allow the construction of a giant water filtration plant.

I have focused much of my time on the many issues facing the various neighborhoods of my district. It’s a constant struggle to protect and improve the quality of life of our communities, but that is my priority. In addition, my district office continues to help hundreds and hundreds of people with every problem imaginable as well as cutting through the tremendous red tape that one experiences when trying to get help or information from city, state or federal agencies. My staff members, including Judith Sonett, Joel Ramos, Randi Martos, Ryan Miday and Daniel Katz, are all expert at dealing with constituent issues and stand ready to help you.


Jeffrey Dinowitz
Member of Assembly

Assemblyman Dinowitz recently visited Israel on a trip sponsored by the Jewish Community Relations Council and UJA-Federation. Here he is shown planting a tree in Ben Shemen Forest as part of an event in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Smoke Stack Water Filtration Plant

The battle over the City’s efforts to build a giant chemical water filtration plant in Van Cortlandt Park continues. The fight to keep this huge facility out of a densely populated community is one in which I have been a leader for nearly 13 years. We successfully stopped the City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) from building it in the Jerome Park Reservoir, the worst possible location. We kept it out of Van Cortlandt Park, but this spring the DEP announced it was again trying to have the park chosen as the location for the plant. Through a series of backroom deals and unholy alliances, the DEP pushed hard during this past legislative session.

The reason why DEP needed to come to the legislature was that in order to build on parkland it required special legislation known as park alienation legislation. Something amazing happened in the Assembly. Despite the betrayal of our community by members of the Bronx Assembly Delegation, the bill was almost stopped on the floor of the Assembly. It passed 78-68, (76 votes are required). It’s very rare for there to be 68 "no" votes on a bill in the Assembly. While there is no substitute for victory, the fact that so many members of the Assembly from both sides of the aisle stood up to oppose this terrible project sent out a message that many people are deeply concerned over this issue and will closely monitor the DEP during this process.

Just to put this DEP plan in perspective, the amount of land that the DEP-supported bill proposes to alienate is nearly 48 acres, which is four to five times the size of Yankee stadium, nearly 3 times the size of the World Trade Center site and the equivalent of at least 38 football fields. While I strongly opposed this bill, every other Bronx Assembly Member supported it. Councilman Oliver Koppell was only one of two Bronx City Council members who stood up for our community and opposed the City Council bill on this matter. State Senators Guy Velella, Efrain Gonzalez, Eric Schneiderman and Ruth Hassell-Thompson stood with our community by voting "no" in the State Senate.

Where do we go from here? That’s hard to say. The Governor lived down to my lowest expectations by signing the bill into law. It is likely that there will be lawsuits by community organizations to stop or slow this project. No one should expect to see a shovel in the ground or a bulldozer any time soon. The final chapter to this story has yet to be written.

The Budget: An Historic Victory

This year’s budget battle in Albany was perhaps the most difficult since I’ve been in the Assembly. Due to the State’s fiscal crisis, tough choices had to be made, but Governor Pataki submitted a budget which failed to make tough choices. Balancing the budget required a combination of budget cuts, tax hikes and borrowing, but the governor, while raising some taxes (such as restoring the tax on clothing), opposed broad-based tax increases. That meant draconian cuts to education, higher education and health care. We could not allow that.

The Assembly and the State Senate passed a better budget, which restored a large portion (but not all) of the cuts to education, higher education and health care. The governor cast 119 line item vetoes of parts of the legislative additions to the budget. I am proud that the Legislature, in a bi-partisan fashion, stood firm in its commitment to New Yorkers and overrode every one of those vetoes and delivered a fair and responsible budget to New York’s families. We restored $1.1 billion of the $1.4 billion that the governor wanted to cut from education. Included in the restorations were funding for universal pre-kindergarten and funding for class-size reduction. The funding that we restored to higher education held down the tuition hikes at State University and protected TAP. The governor’s $2 billion cut to health care would have jeopardized 48,000 jobs. We restored $1.2 billion in state funds to Medicaid, public health and Health Care Reform Act programs. These additions will be financed by temporary hikes in the personal income tax and sales tax.

These unprecedented large scale veto overrides allowed us to put the needs of our constituents ahead of ideology and partisan needs. This truly was an historic process that protects health care, seniors and our children’s future.

Assemblyman Dinowitz and Councilman Oliver Koppell presented Legislative Proclamations to the honorees at the Annual Breakfast of the Riverdale Jewish Community Council. Pictured, left to right, are: Brother Thomas J. Scanlon (President of Manhattan College), Lisa Licht Hirsch (coordinator of the "You Are Not Alone" program), Assemblyman Dinowitz, Tobias B. Schapiro (past President of the Riverdale Jewish Center), Council co-President Mark Friedlander, Rabbi Stephen Franklin of the Riverdale Temple, and Councilman Koppell.
Assemblyman Dinowitz joined several local children at the Kingsbridge Library to make Valentine’s Day cards.

Dinowitz Appointed to Chair Substance Abuse committee

I was appointed this legislative session as Chair of the Committee on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse by Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. This assignment has presented me with new challenges and increased responsibility. Substance abuse is a huge and expensive problem in New York and is closely tied in with other problems, including mental illness, poverty, homelessness, HIV/AIDS, and domestic violence. The funding of treatment and prevention programs is an important investment for the people of New York. The reform of the Rockefeller Drug laws, which the Legislature and the Governor failed to enact this legislative session, is key to bringing thousands of people back to productive, taxpaying lives, saving the State tens of millions of dollars as well as righting many wrongs. I will use my position as Chair of this committee to make a difference in the lives of tens of thousands of New Yorkers and their families in fighting the terrible scourge of drug and alcohol abuse.

As Chairman of the Assembly Committee on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse, Assemblyman Dinowitz has visited many alcohol and drug treatment centers. He is pictured here receiving an award from residents of Samaritan Village, a center for Veterans in recovery.

Saving Weekend Express
Bus Service

Earlier this year I was a leader in the efforts to save weekend express bus service in our community. The City’s attempt to end weekend service was stopped because of a huge outcry in the community as well as the efforts of our elected officials and the Association of Riverdale Cooperatives. Other elected officials joining me in this campaign included Councilman Oliver Koppell, Congressman Eliot Engel and State Senators Eric Schneiderman and Guy Velella.

If weekend express bus service were to have been discontinued it would have hurt hundreds and hundreds of people, especially seniors, who use the service to go to shows, shopping, the doctor’s office or work. As I said at the time, political action and grass roots organizing really make a difference. Our community united and spoke out loudly and clearly. We won. But the fight isn’t over. It is the intention of the City to have the MTA take over the express buses. We need to be vigilant to ensure that such a takeover does not result in a diminution of services.

Wakefield OTB to Move

I am pleased that the NYC Off-Track Betting Corporation Site Selection Committee has voted in favor of moving the OTB from its current location to a more suitable spot. This victory was achieved due to the hard work of the Wakefield Taxpayers and Civic League led by their President, Mary Lauro, and many other people in the community. I was happy to lend my support to this effort. I would have preferred if the OTB left the community altogether, but at least the move will address many of the quality of life concerns and problems of the old location.

Big Anniversaries For The Amalgamated And Park Reservoir

Congratulations to Amalgamated and Park Reservoir and all of their cooperators on their historic anniversaries. The 1800 families residing in the Amalgamated and Park Reservoir are fortunate to reside in cooperatives that are among the most desirable such co-ops in New York.

I am proud to represent the Amalgamated on its 75th anniversary and Park Reservoir on its 45th anniversary. Amalgamated and Park Reservoir have provided countless moderate income families with excellent housing and have been in the leadership on many important issues and causes over the years. The successful fight to prevent the City of New York from building a monstrous water filtration plant in the Jerome Park Reservoir is but one example. Their leadership in providing many programs and services has helped thousands of people in our community.

photo This year marked the 75th anniversary of the Amalgamated Houses and the 45th Anniversary of the Park Reservoir Houses. Assemblyman Dinowitz presented an Assembly resolution to mark the occasion. Shown here is Dorothy Zapakin (whose husband, Harmon, was President of Park Reservoir for many, many years), Assemblyman Dinowitz, Amalgamated President Ed Yaker, Amalgamated past President Sol Shaviro and Councilman Oliver Koppell.

The Beautification of Johnson Avenue

If you’ve noticed a nicer look on Johnson Avenue and West 235th Street it is because of improvements resulting from funds I obtained from the State. The Kingsbridge-Riverdale-Van Cortlandt Development Corporation installed decorative tree guards around the trees on Johnson Avenue from West 236th Street to West 235th Street and on West 235th Street from Oxford Avenue to Netherland Avenue. They were able to do this thanks to a grant I secured for this purpose. In addition, I arranged for the installation of decorative or "antique" street lighting for this shopping district as well. The City installed the new street lights in other places in my district from my grant including West 231st Street, the northern portion of Riverdale Avenue, and Reservoir Oval.

Honoring The Brave:

Hundreds Turn Out In Woodlawn For Memorial Day Service

I was honored to once again attend the Annual Memorial Day Service sponsored by the Woodlawn Heights Taxpayers and Community Association. Each year hundreds of Woodlawn residents turn out to honor those who paid the ultimate price in defense of our country. With tens of thousands of American troops abroad and in harm’s way, this event was particularly meaningful this year.

A Tree Grows in Kingsbridge

I recently arranged for the Parks Department to plant a number of new trees in the Kingsbridge section of my district. Not only do trees beautify the neighborhood, but they also clean the air and keep us just a little cooler in the summer. I will always be happy to request tree plantings from the Parks Department. They have been very accommodating. They do, however, require written permission of the property owner before planting; so if anyone has a specific tree request please call my office and I will make the request.


Community Board 8

I wish to congratulate Mark Frielander on his election as the new Chair of Community Board 8. Mark has served on the Board for many years and has previously served as Chair. His in-depth knowledge of the issues facing the community and his experience, both on the Board and in other organizations, give him the unique qualification that will serve our community well.

Thirty-two years after graduating, Assemblyman Dinowitz finally became principal of the Bronx High School of Science – at least for a day. Assemblyman Dinowitz is shown with Valerie Reidy, principal of Bronx Science the rest of the year, participating in the Principal for a Day Program.

A Big Honor
from the "Y"
(photo by – Jason Green)
Assemblyman Dinowitz was honored at the annual dinner of the Riverdale YM-YWHA for his strong support for the Y’s programs. He received a beautiful menorah, presented by former President Harry Feder.


I am a big supporter of the many community groups that deliver services to the people of my district and who make a large difference in their lives. One of those groups is the Riverdale YM-YWHA. Their many programs for the very young, the very old and everyone in between affect the lives of literally thousands of people. I support them because of their incredible work and that of the staff and Board of Directors of the Y. I am proud to have been honored by the Riverdale YM-YWHA at their annual dinner in May. I appreciate the recognition they have given me, but I am even prouder to work with this wonderful organization and to work in support of their excellent programs.


Another hero of 9/11 is honored. Delafield Avenue between West 261st Street and West 263rd Street was renamed Lt. Thomas O’Hagan Way thanks to a bill sponsored by Councilman Oliver Koppell. Pictured are State Senator Guy Velella, Assemblyman Dinowitz, Congressman Eliot Engel, Councilman Koppell and Andrea O’Hagan and her twin boys, at a ceremony honoring the late Lt. Thomas O’Hagan. He was stationed at Bleeker Street’s Engine 6 in lower Manhattan.
Assemblyman Dinowitz distributed hundreds of pounds of food to local food pantries, including those at St. Frances of Rome and St. John’s Churches, thanks to the efforts of many generous and hardworking children from P.S. 7, P.S. 81 and P.S. 24. Pictured here are Assemblyman Dinowitz, P.S. 24 Principal Mark Levine, Teacher and SO Advisor Marlene Hazzikostas and several of the wonderful children from P.S. 24 who spent their time and energy helping others.

Free Notary Service

My office provides free notary service during our regular office hours, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Please bring two forms of identification, at least one with your photo and signature, if you would like to have your signature notarized.

Serving the communities of Kingsbridge, Norwood, Riverdale, Van Cortlandt Village, Wakefield and Woodlawn.