Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz Assemblyman
Jeffrey Dinowitz
Reports to the people of the 81st Assembly District
JUNE 2005
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
Riverdale Satellite Office: 3547 Johnson Avenue, Bronx, New York 10463 • (718) 796-5345

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

Dear Constituent:

I am reporting to you at a time when there are many important issues facing our community. In the coming months, decisions will be made regarding the future development of a major shopping center at West 230th Street and Broadway. Construction and over-development are two related issues that are affecting Riverdale, Kingsbridge, Van Cortlandt Village, Norwood, Woodlawn and Wakefield. Overcrowding continues to plague many of our schools. Lack of parking is another issue throughout my district. The MTA’s takeover of private express buses has caused huge problems. We continue to suffer from the effects of the sellout by most Bronx politicians on the water filtration plant in Van Cortlandt Park.

I am also reporting to you as the 2005 legislative session draws to a close. In Albany we passed the first on-time budget in 21 years. It was done through a much more open and inclusive process than in the past, and the final product was one that made huge improvements over what the governor originally had proposed in the budget. I am working on several major pieces of legislation and continue to serve as Chair of the Committee on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse. I am hopeful that the last few weeks of the legislative session will be productive ones.

My district office continues to help hundreds and hundreds of community residents with every conceivable problem and to cut through the government red tape that frustrates so many people. My staff, including Randi Martos, Ryan Miday, Tom McNeil, Teresa Colon, Nathan Burroughs and Daniel Katz, are all experts in dealing with all of the issues constituents bring to us. If you need help, please call my district office at (718) 796-5345, and we will attempt to help you.


Jeffrey Dinowitz
Member of Assembly

photo Assemblyman Dinowitz and U.S. Senator Charles Schumer joined local baseball players at the opening day ceremonies of the Wood-Lean Boys and Girls Club in Woodlawn.

Dinowitz Blasts MTA’s Express Bus Takeover

I continue to speak out against the deterioration of express bus service since the MTA took over Liberty Lines. I have indicated to the MTA that express bus service has become substandard since they took it over. My office has received one complaint after another. Just as I had feared, the MTA is now reducing its services to my constituents. Many buses are late; some never show up at all. The buses no longer accept dollar bills, creating hardship, especially for students. Many buses are dirty. The hours for half-fare for seniors have been reduced. That is unconscionable. Most of us believe “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!” The MTA seems to think “if it ain’t broke, break it,” and now riders have to pay an extra dollar for the privilege of poorer service.

photo Express Bus Service has deteriorated dramatically since the takeover of Liberty Lines by the MTA. Assemblyman Dinowitz, Council Member Koppell and local residents recently protested service cuts at a press conference on the steps of City Hall.

Another Filtration Plant Scandal

Suddenly the New York City DEP has admitted that the water filtration plant being built on Van Cortlandt Park will cost $165 million more than they said it would cost. Is this due to incompetence? How can the cost have increased by so much in such a short period of time? Or is this increase because the DEP and the city administration just plain lied about the cost?

One of the City’s key reasons for siting this huge facility on parkland was its claim that this was the least expensive site to build on. Many of us who adamantly opposed this monstrosity disagreed with this claim. Apparently we were right. It is scandalous that this huge water treatment facility is being built adjacent to a densely populated community, destroying part of Van Cortlandt Park—and its approval was based on a big lie.

A Good Budget and an On-Time Budget

This year’s budget provided an important victory for the families of New York. Working in an open manner, members of the Assembly and Senate crafted a fair and responsible budget that restores the governor’s cuts to health care and increases funding for schools—delivering a complete and balanced budget on time. It was not only the first on-time budget in 21 years, but it was actually a reasonably good budget given our fiscal constraints. I was pleased to serve on one of the conference committees that successfully negotiated this budget.

But it’s outrageous that we must continue to fight the governor to provide our children with a quality education; it’s a battle I refuse to quit. I fought the governor when he said that an 8th grade education is all our students need. I spoke out against him when he repeatedly appealed the Campaign for Fiscal Equity (CFE) court decisions that would have finally given New York City schools sufficient funding. When it comes to giving our children an education that prepares them for success, I will stand up every time. The budget provides $327 million in additional funding for New York City schools. While this is not nearly what the CFE decision requires, we did make some progress.

We undid much of the governor’s huge cuts to our health care system. We reduced the governor’s tax on hospitals and nursing homes, created a preferred drug list with the strongest consumer protections in the nation, and scaled back the out-of-pocket expenses that the governor sought to impose on Family Health Plus enrollees.

The budget also includes additional funds for our public libraries, improvements to mass transit, and two weeks free of the sales tax for clothes under $110. It also gives New York schools more of their fair share of state dollars and strengthens consumer protections for prescription drugs. Our success in fighting the governor’s proposed cuts to hospitals, schools, and the Family Health Plus program show that it’s possible to make major improvements to the budget and still pass it in a timely fashion.

photo Pictured at the Riverdale B’Nai B’rith Martin Richman Humanitarian Awards Breakfast are (seated) Milly Rosner, Sandra Leiman, Beverly Fettman, (standing) Council Member Oliver Koppell, Theodore Fettman, Assemblyman Dinowitz, Congressman Eliot Engel, and Dr. Robert Feinerman.

Dinowitz Re-Appointed Chair of Committee on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver re-appointed me as Chair of the Assembly Committee on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse. I have been an activist Chair during my first two years in the position. I have conducted four hearings on major issues affecting the issue of substance abuse; convened a roundtable on Medicaid funding affecting providers, held a summit on the issue of methamphetamine manufacture and abuse; passed legislation; and led the way to restore millions of dollars of funding for alcohol and drug prevention and treatment. I have also visited many alcohol and drug abuse treatment centers throughout the State of New York.

Treatment and prevention are vitally important. I believe we must ensure that every individual who wants treatment for drug or alcohol abuse gets it. Successful treatment positively impacts not only the individual seeking help but everyone around him. Treatment and prevention programs also save the State countless millions of dollars.

photo U.S. Senators Hillary Clinton and Chuck Schumer join Assemblyman Dinowitz and newly elected State Senator Jeffrey Klein at Senator Klein’s swearing-in.

Assemblyman Dinowitz
Calls For Development at
West 230th and Broadway

I applaud the tremendous vote of confidence in the Kingsbridge community demonstrated by the fact that 11 proposals were submitted for the development at the parking lot at West 230th and Broadway.

The 11 proposals that were submitted varied greatly. Some consisted of retail space and office space; others consisted of retail space and housing; some included multiplex cinemas. Most included one or more nationally known retail stores. It’s of the utmost importance that the site be used at its maximum potential for commercial development. That means top-notch stores that provide lots of good jobs and hopefully office space that will provide professional jobs and services.

As the leading advocate of smart development on this site, several years ago I called for the development of commercial and office space at this site, along with a significant number of parking spaces. While some people pooh-poohed the possibility of major stores coming to this site, I was always a believer. I also opposed efforts by Community Board 8 in the fall of 2002 to use the site for the construction of a fire station and an EMS garage and more recently to build inappropriately sited housing at this location.

I’ve always felt that this lot is ideally situated for commercial development. It’s located just south of the commercial hub at West 231st Street and Broadway and north of the new shopping center at West 225th Street. I believe this development will eventually be seen as the beginning of a renaissance of the Kingsbridge community and that we will see additional positive changes along the Broadway corridor between West 225th Street and West 238th Street.

Beware of Unscrupulous Tow Operators

I want all of my constituents to be aware of towing companies that engage in illegal business practices. My office has received several complaints about one local towing company. Some cars have been towed under questionable circumstances. Also, drivers have only been given the option to pay cash, which is illegal – a credit card option must be available. One person received a damage bill for over $2,000 after her car was towed. People need to be aware of their rights and should not be taken advantage of by any unscrupulous business.

The proper course of action is to contact Consumer Affairs through my office to receive a complaint form. This form, when filled out and mailed in, can lead to a company receiving a substantial fine that increases with each complaint. Recently, two towing companies were closed by the city because of their business practices. I urge anyone who has received inappropriate treatment from a towing company to contact Consumer Affairs and file a complaint form, and inform my office at 718-796-5345. We cannot and should not tolerate any bad business practices in our community.

photo As part of Mitzvah Day, members of the Riverdale Community Association and the Riverdale Temple cleaned up and beautified one of our local parks. Assemblyman Dinowitz is shown with Riverdale Community Association President Laura Spalter and other volunteers at the Endor Community Garden.

Civic Improvements

As part of my continuing efforts to improve the Kingsbridge community, I have sponsored a number of projects. A local organization, Kingsbridge Action, recently installed decorative bricks in tree pits all along West 231st Street, funded through a grant I secured from the Assembly. In the past few years “antique” street lights, decorative planters and trash receptacles were also installed on West 231st Street from funding which I brought into the community. These projects will not only enhance the physical appearance of our community but also help attract new businesses and shoppers to the area.

Assemblyman Dinowitz Uncovers Rat Problem at Local Eatery

Responding to complaints from constituents about rats, I asked the Department of Health (DOH) to investigate a fast food restaurant located in Kingsbridge. The DOH investigated and responded.

An inspector observed live rats, rat burrows and an accumulation of rat feces in the backyard. These conditions are in violation of the Health Code. The owner was sent a warning letter as a result. The Office of Pest Control will perform a compliance inspection to assess whether these conditions have been satisfactorily abated. If not, the owner will be summoned for a hearing and the Office of Pest Control will exterminate and/or clean the property as necessary. Every restaurant must abide by all health codes. I urge anyone witnessing any unsanitary conditions to contact my office.

Cutting Through Red Tape To Help Local Veteran

I have investigated and resolved a deplorable situation, in which a United States veteran who had fought in the Gulf War was denied his goal of becoming a NYC Correction Officer. The veteran was told by the Department of Corrections (DOC) that he did not meet the military eligibility requirements of two years of active duty service. He had served 1 year and 11 months. Although he had signed up for and intended to fulfill his 2-year active duty service commitment, he was honorably discharged due to a reduction in forces (RIF). I strongly believe that our veterans should receive the best care and treatment in honor of their service, so I was appalled when informed about this veteran’s denial. He served well, fulfilled his duty to our country, and should not be penalized for the military’s decision to cut its forces.

I contacted the Department of Corrections and the Department of City-Wide Administrative Services to advocate on his behalf, asking that they make a reasonable exception to their normal two-year rule and allow this veteran to become a Correction Officer. I am pleased to report that the Department of Corrections responded positively to my request and saw fit to make this exception.

Assemblyman Dinowitz Requests Hundreds & Hundreds of Trees

I have asked the New York City Parks Commissioner to plant several hundred trees throughout the Woodlawn, Van Cortlandt Village, and especially the Norwood communities. These neighborhoods are being affected the most by the construction of the monstrous water filtration plant in Van Cortlandt Park. Unfortunately, hundreds of perfectly healthy trees were killed in order for the filtration plant to be built, leaving people in the community even more susceptible to health risks caused by the pollution that will be produced throughout the construction process.

The Parks Department plans on spending ten million dollars in the Bronx to plant trees over the next ten years. However, this does not address the immediate danger to the communities that are at the highest risk of pollution. The Bronx already has an outrageously high asthma rate. The city needs to take responsibility by replacing the hundreds of mature trees that were removed and plant hundreds more for the safety of the communities.

photo Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz is pictured with Deputy Inspector Hock and the officers of the 52nd Precinct Community Council at their annual breakfast.

Dinowitz Focuses on Parking Shortage

My recent town hall meeting on parking (or lack thereof) drew a sizeable crowd from the community. Over a hundred people attended the event, co-sponsored by Councilman Oliver Koppell, Congressman Eliot Engel, and the Association of Riverdale Cooperatives (ARC). Residents heard from the Department of Transportation and City Planning and shared their concerns about parking. Based upon the meeting, I support the following proposals to address this issue:

  1. Amend the New York City zoning laws to require that buildings provide one parking spot for each unit in the building.

  2. Identify additional parking spots throughout the community that could help ease the problem.

  3. Change the alternate side parking rules on certain streets in our community from two days to one day a week on each side.

The lack of parking has reached crisis proportions in our community and is having an ever-greater effect on our quality of life. Our community has spoken out loudly and clearly; now we will work to change the zoning law to require new buildings to provide at least one parking spot per apartment; to identify as many more additional parking spots in our community as possible; and to ease alternate side parking rules where appropriate.

Assemblyman Dinowitz Makes Available Health Care Proxy Forms

National interest in the Terri Schiavo case has increased the demand for health care proxies. You can obtain a health care proxy form at my office located at 3107 Kingsbridge Avenue.

In New York State family members aren’t allowed to stop treatment when there isn’t a living will or a health care proxy. A health care proxy allows you to appoint a competent adult to make decisions about your medical treatment in the event that you can’t decide for yourself, including decisions to remove or provide life-sustaining treatment. Hospitals, doctors and other health care providers must follow your agent’s decisions as if they were your own. Appointing a health care agent is an important decision. Make sure you talk about it with your family and your doctor.

It is important for people to understand the distinction between health care proxies and living wills. The health care proxy is significantly different from the living will in that it empowers another person to make health care decisions if the patient cannot do so herself. The living will, on the other hand, has no such provisions but enables a person to express her own choices regarding medical treatment. I urge people to utilize both a living will and a health care proxy.

photo The children of PS 24 raised money for the programs of the Red Cross. Assemblyman Dinowitz greeted the children to praise their efforts. The students are shown holding a giant check representing the money that they raised.
photo Assemblyman Dinowitz, NYS Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, Brian O’Dwyer, and community leader Judith McGowan met recently at an event sponsored by New York Friends of Ireland.

Assemblyman Dinowitz secured funding for the Bronx Arts Ensemble to provide musical instruments for children in our local public schools. Here he is shown with Bronx Arts Ensemble Executive Director William Scribner, Principal Elizabeth Keith and young musicians from PS 94 in Norwood.

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 with your photo and signature, if you would like your signature notarized.