Jeffrey Dinowitz

Reports to the People of the 81st Assembly District
Summer 2004

District Office:
3107 Kingsbridge Avenue, Bronx, New York 10463 • (718) 796-5345
Norwood Satellite Office:
3450 DeKalb Avenue, Bronx, New York 10467 • (718) 882-4000, Ext. 353
Serving the communities of Kingsbridge, Norwood, Riverdale, Van Cortlandt Village, Wakefield and Woodlawn.

Dear Constituent:

As the scheduled legislative session came to a close, New York continues to face many tough choices. As a result of the Court of Appeals’ ruling in the Campaign for Fiscal Equity lawsuit, the State and the City must increase school funding to guarantee that students receive a sound basic education. The funding plan proposed by the Assembly goes much further than the plans proposed by the Governor or Senate in complying with the court’s ruling. The Assembly plan provides more funding and addresses the needs of under-funded schools statewide —not just the needs of New York City schools. Unfortunately, the Senate and Governor are reluctant to make the necessary decisions themselves and prefer that a special master decide how to allocate the funding required by the court decision. In contrast, the Assembly prefers to negotiate education funding as a part of the overall state budget. This has resulted in an impasse with the Senate and Governor and as a result, budget negotiations on health care, higher education and other important areas have stalled and the budget is late for the 20th consecutive year.

Locally, our neighborhoods continue to grapple with issues relating to quality of life, overdevelopment and protecting our open space and green areas. My office has been working to stop construction of a giant water filtration plant, save our Meals on Wheels programs, and protect our express bus service. I am in involved in all these issues, fighting for the needs of my constituents in every neighborhood of my district.

My district office continues to help hundreds and hundreds of people with every possible problem. My staff gathers information. My staff cuts through red tape. My staff gets results. Joel Ramos, Randi Martos, Ryan Miday, Tom McNeil and Dan Katz are all experts at getting things done. Please call my office if we can be helpful with any constituent problem.


Jeffrey Dinowitz
Member of Assembly

Assemblyman Dinowitz has led the charge in opposition to the Department of Education’s secret plan to locate the FunMathSchool in the back of the Whitehall co-op. Assemblyman Dinowitz, School Board 10 President Cordell Schechter, Councilmember Oliver Koppell, Congressman Eliot Engel, Riverdale-Kingsbridge Academy PA President Randi Martos, P.S. 24 PA Co-President Julie Prince and other parent leaders joined together on the steps of the Tweed Courthouse to denounce the Department of Education.

DEP to northwest Bronx:

The NYC Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) finally made it official. Their Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) claims that Van Cortlandt Park’s Mosholu Golf Course is the best place to build a massive water filtration plant. Despite evidence that building in the Eastview site in Westchester would be less expensive and would negatively impact on many fewer people, the DEP chose politics over merit.

The DEP couldn’t even follow the rules and make this decision on time, just as they failed to follow the rules repeatedly throughout this process. I think most of us in the Bronx know that the decision to build in Van Cortlandt Park was the result, not of dirty water but, rather, the dirty deal between the City administration, a number of Bronx politicians and others who stand to benefit financially by making tens of thousands of Bronxites miserable.

The impact of building this plant in Van Cortlandt Park would be huge. The site is adjacent to a densely populated community; the construction area is larger than Yankee stadium and would be up to thirteen stories deep. The construction process would involve huge trucks entering and leaving the construction site every two minutes, all day long, two shifts per day, six days a week for years. In fact, it would be the largest project built in the Bronx in over thirty-five years – all in a park adjacent to apartment buildings.

Sadly, only a few Bronx elected officials stood with the community and fought this plant to the end. Councilman Oliver Koppell and Congressman Eliot Engel were among the very few elected officials who had the guts to stand with our local community organizations and me against these powerful forces from outside the community that supported the plant. Just for the record, among those elected officials that supported building the giant filtration plant in the park were Governor George Pataki, all three citywide officials (Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum and Comptroller William Thompson), Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion, Jr., and several local officials whose district border ours, including Assemblymen Jose Rivera and Jeffrey Klein and Council Members Maria Baez and Joel Rivera.

Since its inception, the efforts to build this plant have been a succession of bad decisions made for the wrong reasons. A decision on whether to build a $1.5 billion plant and where to build it should be made solely on the merits and what is best for the most people. I have fought this project for well over a decade. While two branches of government, the executive and the legislature, have failed us miserably on this matter, it’s very likely that local community groups will ask the third branch, the Courts, to have its say.

Economic Development and EMS Garage are Needed in Kingsbridge

A year-and-a-half after Community Board 8 voted to support the construction of an Emergency Medical Services (EMS) garage on an inappropriate site, the Board finally held a public hearing on the issue. This garage would be used to refuel and restock local ambulances, not to dispatch ambulances. The EMS garage is needed, but the site favored by Community Board 8 in the city-owned parking lot on West 230th Street, near Broadway, is the wrong one.

Councilman Koppell, Congressman Engel and I, along with the Kingsbridge-Riverdale-Van Cortlandt Development Corporation, all believe that the West 230th Street site ought to be reserved for commercial development. This location is ideally suited for a commercial/office/parking complex, since it lies between the West 231st Street/Broadway shopping district and the new shopping mall at West 225th Street. I believe that such development would be the cornerstone of efforts to revitalize the Kingsbridge and Marble Hill communities, and that it would bring many new jobs into the area.


I hope that elected officials, community board members and other interested community members will work together to find more suitable sites for an EMS garage. We all agree on the need to build a garage. The question is where.

I will continue to strongly advocate the construction of an EMS garage in our community (not on West 230th Street and Broadway). I will also continue to work with our local development corporation and elected officials for the much-needed commercial development that I believe will be a major shot in the arm for the Kingsbridge and Marble Hill communities.

Our local elected officials participated in the opening day of the Mosholu-Montefiore Little League. Congressman Eliot Engel, Councilmember Oliver Koppell and local ballplayers and coaches joined Assemblyman Dinowitz, carrying a “Save Van Cortlandt Park” banner.

Dinowitz Calls On Governor
To Stand Up For New York State

Our state ranks 49th among the 50 states in per capita federal homeland anti-terrorism security funding. It is clear to me that the governor’s support for President Bush and members of Congress from his party have not translated into adequate federal funding for New York.

For every dollar New Yorkers send to Washington, we get back only 85 cents – ranking our state 40th in the nation, according to a recent estimate by the non-partisan Tax Foundation. So while the governor flies around the country supporting his party, he has done little about New York receiving far less than our fair share of federal funding.

The Business Council of New York State found that for fiscal years 2000 and 2001, New York was shortchanged nearly $87 billion from the federal government.

New York was the target of a terrorist attack in 1993 and was the biggest victim of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, yet the state is second to last in 2003 Office of Domestic Preparedness Homeland Security Grants, according to the Federal Funds Information for States. It’s unbelievable to me that per capita, Wyoming receives more than seven times the amount of homeland security funding than New York – or $35.67 per capita in Wyoming and $5.09 per capita in New York.

The President and Congress need to stop shortchanging New York and start being more realistic about the terrorist threat that our state faces. The Governor needs to turn his barnstorming for the president into a fair shake for New York. The hard-working families of this state deserve an adequate return on the federal taxes they pay. Our governor must use his influence in Washington to bring home New York’s fair share of federal funding.

Assemblyman Dinowitz has led the fight against construction of a giant water filtration plant in the northwest Bronx for over a decade. He is shown on the steps of City Hall with community leaders and Councilmember Oliver Koppell blasting the city for its plans to build on Van Cortlandt Park.

School Elections Have Worst Turnout Ever

The recent disastrous voter turnout for Community Education Councils (CEC) is proof that parental involvement has not increased as a result of the abolition of Community School Boards (CSB). It was the worst turnout ever.

Last year, at the request of Mayor Bloomberg, the State Legislature eliminated elected school boards and replaced them with the CECs. All voters had previously been eligible to vote for the election of CSBs; but CECs are selected by a group consisting of three parent leaders from each school, a tiny fraction of voters. I was the only Bronx Assemblyman to vote against replacing the CSBs with CECs. I voted against the creation of the CECs because I believe that we should involve more people in the decision making process, instead of restricting it to a select few. In the last CSB election in our community (district 10) over 10,000 people voted.

It’s both outrageous and pathetic that Chancellor Klein and the Department of Education say they actually are pleased that half the eligible people voted in the election for the CECs. After all, the only eligible voters were the top parent leaders from each school. The general public is excluded, as is virtually every parent. Some of the parents elected to the CECs actually got elected with only two votes.

Instead of gloating over this embarrassing turnout, perhaps they should examine why, after spending millions of taxpayer dollars to encourage parental involvement, so few people participated. Perhaps it’s because the message has been sent out loudly and clearly from the Tweed Courthouse that the Department of Education isn’t really interested in real parental involvement and input.

Riverdale Avenue:
Is The Job Finally Done?

Riverdale Avenue and the adjacent retaining wall collapsed over two years ago, on January 8, 2002. Two years later, on , January 8th 2004, the street remained in disrepair and closed to two-way traffic. The wall was not repaired either. The New York City Department of Design and Construction (DDC) gave one excuse after another, but they had not completed the job.

To express our anger at DDC for neglecting our community, Congressman Eliot Engel, Senator Eric Schneiderman, and I held a press conference on the second anniversary of this boondoggle. I was pleased that DDC finished the wall shortly after we brought this to the attention of the mayor, but by the time Riverdale Avenue reopened and was back to normal, it had been nearly two and a half years.

The project is still ongoing. Because the construction lies along one of the busiest routes in Riverdale, the city should have made this project a top priority. Is the reopening of Riverdale Avenue after two and half years something to be celebrated, or is it a monument to incompetence?

Assemblyman Dinowitz reads to third graders at PS 94 as part of their Tiger Day program to promote literacy.

Assemblyman Dinowitz Is Removing Graffiti

My ongoing efforts to remove the scourge of graffiti from the neighborhood is again producing results. After notifying Metro North of the graffiti on their property’s retaining wall between the Woodlawn and Williamsbridge stations, they agreed to remove it. I feel strongly about maintaining the beauty of our community and will continue to monitor such eye sores.

Tackling Traffic Concerns

In response to numerous complaints to my office, I supported the Mosholu Woodlawn South Community Coalition’s unrelenting efforts in addressing the serious traffic issues at Reservoir Oval. I am proud to stand along side the Coalition to announce that DOT will install a speed bump before the entrance to the park near the intersection of Reservoir Oval East and Holt Place.

Assemblyman Dinowitz Gets More Parking

Parking can be a nightmare in some parts of our community. That’s why I am always looking for additional space or fighting to maintain our current parking. I am happy to say that in response to my request, DOT will refurbish the angle parking lines on West 237th Street between Blackstone and Independence Avenues, insuring that as many cars as possible can legally park on the block.

The Secret School

The New York City Department of Education (DOE) plans to open The Urban Assembly School for Applied Math and Science, a.k.a. FunMathSchool, in September 2004 at a temporary site in the Whitehall apartment building on Independence Avenue.

The plan calls for the establishment of a new 6-12 school to be housed in the “Whitehall annex” for two years, down the block from PS 24 and the Riverdale-Kingsbridge Academy MS/HS141. The name given to it, FunMathSchool, suggests academic standards far below 6th grade. Why the Department of Education would want to bring even more students into the area and have them in a substandard facility without a library, gym, labs, or auditorium is inexplicable to me. Unfortunately, this just adds to the growing perception that the Department is incapable of improving our schools.

The creation of this new school was done without any input from the community whatsoever. In fact, local parent leaders, Community School Board 10, Congressman Eliot Engel and Councilman Oliver Koppell, have all joined me in speaking out against this proposal.

Mayor Bloomberg and Chancellor Joel Klein have stated that they want to increase parental and community involvement and input. Yet, the Department of Education is strongly supporting this proposal.

Shame on the Department of Education, Chancellor Klein and his underlings for supporting such a bad idea and doing it in the sneakiest possible way, without community input. The fact that the DOE is totally ignoring the wishes of the community has convinced me that the last thing they are interested in is parental input and involvement in our schools.

Assemblyman Dinowitz strongly believes that music education is an important part of a child’s education. That’s why he secured a grant for the Bronx Arts Ensemble to provide musical instruments to a local school. Principal Mark Levine, Parent Association Co-Presidents Julie Prince and Jackie Kuhls, Assemblyman Dinowitz, and the Bronx Arts Ensemble Executive Director William Scriber, are pictured with students from P.S. 24 who are playing flutes, trumpets and clarinets.

Making Sure Senior Citizens Are Safe

I became very concerned after receiving calls to my office from senior citizens worried about their safety exiting their building’s driveway at 4260 Katonah Avenue at East 235th Street. I requested from DOT that a study be conducted on the extent of this problem and what could be done. DOT’s Bronx Engineering Office completed a field investigation and found that a “Hidden Driveway” sign was warranted. I am pleased to announce that the sign was installed in May, hopefully making it safer for cars and people at 4260 Katonah Avenue.

State Raises SCRIE Eligibility

Legislation that I co-sponsored increasing the eligibility for the Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption (SCRIE) from $20,000 to $24,000 annually is now law.

Applicants for a rent increase exemption must live in a rent controlled, regulated, or stabilized apartment where the monthly rent exceeds one-third of the monthly household income. To be eligible for SCRIE, one must be 62 years of age or older.

The new limits will help people living on fixed incomes maintain their independence. For years, the Assembly has passed legislation raising the income limit for SCRIE and I am glad it has finally came to fruition. If you need assistance filling out a SCRIE application please stop by my office.

The MTA Should Leave
The 9 Subway Line Alone

The MTA is investigating whether to discontinue the 9 line, which skips certain stops as it travels down Broadway. They cite increased ridership at skipped stops as a principal reason for potentially scrapping the line.

I have requested that the MTA not change the service the number 9 train provides. Instead of spending money required to conduct such a study, we should recognize that the current service adequately and effectively serves commuter needs; changes would negatively affect Bronx commuters who would have a longer commute if more stops are added to the line. Those who use the subway, particularly for their workday commute, should not have to endure longer travel times. Moreover, those who would be most affected by the elimination of the skipped stops would be those who live at the northern end of the line — the Bronx.

This is yet another case of attempting to correct something that does not require correcting. If the same number of trains are going to be used, why not continue to have some trains run at a more “express” schedule where ridership is higher. The Bronx loves its 9 train, so ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.’

Assemblyman Dinowitz secured a $5,000 grant for the Riverdale Jewish Community Council for their newly inaugurated website. He is shown with Ari Hoffnung, Co-President of the Council, at their annual breakfast presenting a check from the State of New York.

Dinowitz Makes U.S. Constitution
Available for Constituents

I am very pleased to announce that I am making available copies of the Constitution of the United States and the Declaration of Independence. These historical pieces have been put together in one booklet compliments of Liberty Day New York, a non-partisan, non-profit volunteer organization dedicated to educating Americans about the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.

Please stop in to get copies of this booklet in my district office located at 3107 Kingsbridge Avenue, just off of West 231st Street.

Assemblyman Dinowitz followed up his extremely successful holiday food drive with a spring drive to collect food for St. Frances of Rome’s food pantry. He is shown here with Jim O’Donnell, manager of Stop & Shop.


Every election is important. This year is especially important because it’s a presidential year. The primaries are on Tuesday, September 14 and the general election is Tuesday, November 2. If you do not think you can make it to the polls on those dates, please vote by absentee ballot.

For those of you voting by absentee ballot, September 7th is the last day to postmark an application for an absentee ballot. September 13th is the last day to apply in person at the Bronx Board of Elections for it. And September 13th is the last day to postmark your ballot. It must be received by the Bronx Board of Election no later than September 21st.

September 14th is the last day to deliver your ballot in person to the board. If you would like an absentee ballot application, please call my office at (718) 796-5345, or the Bronx Board of Elections at (718) 299-9017.

The Riverdale Mental Health Association honored William Gorman, Commissioner of the NYS Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services and June Bingham Birge at the annual gala. Their awards were presented by Assemblyman Dinowitz and Michael Fossina, Director of NY-Presbyterian’s Allen Pavillion.

Free Notary Service

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

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