Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz Assemblyman
Jeffrey Dinowitz
Reports to the people of the
81st Assembly District

December 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:

As we approach the new year and the next legislative session, I look forward to continuing to fight for the quality of life of our neighborhoods and working on the important issues facing our community. I will also continue to fight in Albany for a good, on-time budget and on legislation to improve the lives of New Yorkers.

Our district office works on quality of life issues brought to my attention by constituents or by my own observation of the district, some of which are mentioned in this newsletter.

I have taken a leadership role on several local issues. They include the fight to improve express bus service, which has deteriorated markedly since the takeover by the MTA; my longtime advocacy for turning a dilapidated parking lot on West 230th Street and Broadway into a first class shopping mall; speaking out and fighting to improve our local schools; working to make parking easier in our community; working for sensible development and against runaway overdevelopment; and many, many more issues that affect the people in my district.

My superb staff, including Randi Martos, Ryan Miday, Thomas McNeil, Teresa Colon, Nathan Burroughs and Daniel Katz, are all here to help you. If you have a problem, please come to my office or call us. And, of course, everyone on my staff is a notary public, and we provide free notary service. Happy holidays.

Jeffrey Dinowitz
Member of Assembly

Dinowitz Express Bus Survey Shows
MTA Falling Down on Job

Earlier this year, the MTA took over the express bus service in the Northwest Bronx operated by Liberty Lines. I have received countless complaints from constituents since the MTA’s takeover of Liberty Lines. In response I conducted a survey of hundreds of riders of the express buses. Council Member Oliver Koppell and I announced the results of this survey comparing the Liberty Lines Express Bus Service to the current MTA Express Bus Service.

We collected responses from over 600 people. The results of the survey had one clear message: Express Bus Riders are not satisfied with service. 77% of riders gave the current MTA service a grade of C or below, compared to 86% of riders who gave Liberty Lines a grade of A or B. As to overall quality of express bus service, 5% of riders said service was better or much better than Liberty Lines, 21% said about the same, and 73% said worse or much worse.

Given the fact that such an overwhelming majority of express bus riders have said that service is worse or much worse, the Mayor needs to take a close look at the results of the MTA takeover that he so strongly supported and take the lead in pushing the MTA to turn around this significant decline in the quality of service.

photo Local leaders turn out to celebrate the reopening of the Loew’s Paradise Theatre.
Pictured, from left to right, are Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz’ Legislative Director, Ryan Miday; Assemblyman Dinowitz and his wife, Sylvia Gottlieb; Congressman Eliot Engel; Assemblyman Dinowitz’ District Office Manager, Randi Martos; Congressman Engel’s Chief of Staff, William Weitz; Congressman Jose Serrano; and City Council Member Oliver Koppell.

Dinowitz to FDNY:
Don’t Leave Our Community Under-Protected

I have strongly criticized the New York City Fire Department for closing Fire House Engine 81/Ladder 46 (on Bailey Avenue) on three separate days. They were told to report to the United Nations, leaving the Fire House uncovered. Then Engine 81 was called to cover a fire house in Wakefield for most of the day, leaving the Fire House without an engine again.

I am urging the NYC Fire Department to review and change the policy of leaving Fire Houses uncovered. Choosing not to replace engines and ladders in those fire houses from which they are pulled leaves communities like Kingsbridge under-protected. The safety of communities should not be jeopardized because their fire house was closed to cover another location.

photo Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz is shown at the 50th Precinct with hundreds of constituents waiting to eceive their free flu shots. Shots were provided by New York Presbyterian Hospital and New York Visiting Nurse Service. Co-sponsoring the event along with Assemblyman Dinowitz were Congressman Eliot Engel, City Council Member Oliver Koppell, and State Senator Eric Schneiderman.

photo Local elected officials join members of the Woodlawn Heights Taxpayer Association at the Katonah Street Fair. Pictured are City Council Member Oliver Koppell, Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz, Congressman Eliot Engel and members of the Woodlawn Taxpayer Association.

photo Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz is joined by Spuyten Duyvil Pre-school Executive Director Pam Melasky, Treasurer Oscar Mack and several young students as he presents the school with a $50,000 check for capital improvements from funding he secured from the New York State Assembly.

photo Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz teamed up with North Central Bronx Hospital/Jacobi Medical Center to distribute free bicycle helmets to students at P.S. 24. Pictured at P.S. 24: Lydia Campoamor, Associate Director of Marketing, Public & Community Relations at North Central Bronx Hospital/Jacobi Medical Center, Assemblyman Dinowitz, Principal Mark Levine.

photo Hundreds of local residents responded to a survey conducted by Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz on the express bus service. He is pictured with City Council Member Oliver Koppell, who co-sponsored the survey, and Assemblyman Richard Brodsky, along with charts depicting some of the results.

Dinowitz Asks DOT for Better Coordination

I have expressed my displeasure to the NYC Department of Transportation that there has been an outrageous number of construction permits issued by them in a very small area. Riverdale Avenue from West 235th to West 239th Street, a very busy street in the central Riverdale shopping district, was virtually shut down by several construction projects within several blocks of each other.

Consider the following: three new apartment buildings on Riverdale Avenue, a major construction project at Fieldston School, and a major renovation of the overpass at West 239th Street and Henry Hudson Parkway.

Each of these projects by themselves caused significant disruption of traffic as well as taking away parking. The City also allowed construction equipment to be parked on the street, wiping out many parking spots for the shopping district. This had a negative impact on local businesses.

DOT needs to coordinate the issuance of permits in order to avoid these situations.

The street collapse on Riverdale Avenue—just two blocks south of these businesses now inundated with five different construction projects in such a small area—resulted in the street being partially closed for two-and-a-half years because of the City’s inability to repair the wall collapse in a timely fashion. Just when we thought life was getting back to normal, here we go again.

Governor Signs Dinowitz’ Methamphetamine Bill

Governor Pataki signed into law one of the key bills of the legislative session: my legislation dealing with the methamphetamine crisis. As Chair of the Assembly Committee on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse, I authored this legislation which aims to combat the scourge of the manufacture and use of methamphetamine. Methamphetamine is a powerful and highly addictive drug that can be manufactured in one’s home from otherwise legal ingredients.

The old law did not adequately deal with the manufacturing of methamphetamine; it precluded law enforcement agencies from charging with a crime people who possess the ingredients required to make methamphetamine with the intent to manufacture the drug. The ingredients involved, such as liquid anhydrous ammonia used by farmers and the cold medicine pseudoephedrine, are legal products, but when mixed together can be made into meth. This makes it difficult for law enforcement officials to build a case.

My legislation not only gives law enforcement officials the tools they need to crack down on the manufacture of meth but also focuses on education and prevention. It creates a tough law to prosecute the manufacture of meth, but also enacts provisions to reduce the demand for meth.

This comprehensive legislation makes it a crime to possess precursors used to make meth and establishes strict penalties for manufacturing meth. The legislation makes it a crime to dispose of the hazardous materials used to make meth. These materials are often dumped in rivers, in vacant lots and even in backyards. Meth is often manufactured at home and children have been found around these labs; in some cases, children have become addicted to meth from inhaling the toxic fumes. The legislation enhances penalties when children are found near labs. It also implements a statewide methamphetamine education program that will inform children and others of the risks of methamphetamine use and production. It also protects children by requiring social workers and other authorities who make periodic visits to homes to report suspected incidents of meth labs. Lastly, the legislation helps law enforcement officials by establishing a statewide repository of data to help with ongoing investigations.

I strongly feel that we had to give law enforcement officials the tools they need to crack down on the manufacturing of methamphetamine. I want to send a strong message that meth labs will not be tolerated anywhere in New York. This comprehensive bill gives law enforcement the ability to combat the issue of the manufacture and use of methamphetamine. I am pleased that the Governor has signed my bill into law.

photo Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz and community leader Ora Holloway were recently honored at the annual street fair in Norwood of the Jerome-Gun Hill Business Improvement District. Pictured are Executive Director Roberto Garcia, Jonathan Holloway, Ora Holloway, Myron Pratt, Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz, Mosholu Preservation Corporation President Dart Westphal.

Dinowitz Leads Fight to Combat Human Trafficking

One of my top legislative priorities for the 2006 legislative session is to enact into law a package of bills that I sponsor to combat human trafficking. This heinous crime of human trafficking is modern-day slavery. To hear accounts of women enslaved as prostitutes or forced to work as indentured servants in sweat shops or on farms is disgusting and appalling. Men and boys are certainly victims of human trafficking, but nearly 80% of victims are women or girls.

Human trafficking occurs in just about every place around the world, and it is happening right here in the United States. It exists because of demand. The demand is high in the United States, making it a main destination of trafficked victims. There needs to be a comprehensive approach to punishing the traffickers and protecting and assisting the victims if we are to make real progress in combating this terrible crime. There is federal law to combat human trafficking, but states need to pass legislation to give local law enforcement agencies the necessary tools to provide adequate services for the victims. My legislation is the most comprehensive approach at the state level in the United States to combat human trafficking for purposes of sexual or labor servitude, and it offers victims the kind of services they need and deserve.

Responding to my request for more attention on passing such legislation to deal with human trafficking, the Assembly held a roundtable of experts in September and a public hearing on the issue in October. I was also pleased to take part in an event held at the United Nations to celebrate a TV mini-series titled Human Trafficking, which aired in October. I hope to enact into law my legislative package in the upcoming legislative session.

photo Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz arranged to have this mail box restored to the corner of Kepler Avenue and East 237th Street in Woodlawn. Dinowitz is pictured with local resident Margaret Schwartz.

Fighting for Our Quality of Life

I am continuing my efforts to improve the quality of life in my district. Over the last two months I have tackled numerous quality of life issues.

Flooding in Riverdale

I helped manage an emergency at the Co-Op at 3901 Independence Ave. In response to my urgent request to the NYC Department of Environmental Protection, DEP immediately responded by conducting an on-site examination of the building’s sewer system. They were able to locate the blockage and fix it. The Co-op was experiencing severe flooding in the lobby and throughout the first floor. I visited the property to see the problem for myself. When I walked in the door I could see the drains overflowed after only a little bit of rain. In some areas, up to four inches of water had accumulated. I insisted upon an immediate resolution of the emergency. The problem has recurred and I brought in the DEP again – which will obviously have to insure a long term solution to this problem.

Rat Problem in Kingsbridge

I am again fighting rats in Kingsbridge. Last year I arranged for a major anti-rat operation in the Kingsbridge area from West 231st to West 234th Streets. In response to my persistence, the Department of Health issued violations to some local eateries and abated the Kingsbridge area for rats. They’re back, so I have requested that the Health Department respond immediately and post pest control’s schedule in the neighborhood.

Step Street Repair

Also in the Kingsbridge area, I have requested that the Department of Transportation repair the Godwin Terrace step street, located between West 231st Street and Naples Terrace. It was cracked in several places and residents who lived in the area complained that they saw rats running in and out of the cracks.

In addition, there was a serious problem with the Naples Terrace step street (between Godwin Terrace and Broadway) where I arranged for DOT to repair cracks and holes where large rodents were seen running in and out. Also, the fence along the step street was torn at the top of the steps, leaving a sizable hole that a small child could easily fall through and drop two stories. I was pleased that DOT took ownership and fixed the fence.

Unfair Parking Tickets in Woodlawn

In Woodlawn, many residents are wrongly getting tickets. The Department of Sanitation has repeatedly issued tickets for parking near 4259 Katonah Avenue, a legal spot. There is no sign governing that spot, but tickets are being issued anyway. The “No Standing” sign was incorrectly installed with arrows in both directions. I have requested that DOT replace the faulty sign with a correct one.

Idling Cabs

I have responded to numerous complaints about a local car service. Constituents have complained that many cars park on West 235th Street west of Independence Avenue, and that they sit there with their engines running, creating pollution. Some have complained they race off when leaving to pick up people. I have requested that both DOT and the car service company address this matter since it has become a serious problem.

Stopping Pollution

My intervention helped alleviate a very dirty situation on Henry Hudson Parkway. The chimney from one building was emitting black, dirty smoke, which was then affecting the neighboring, taller building. This issue was resolved after my office spoke with the offending building’s management, the DEP and the Department of Buildings.

photo Assemblyman Dinowitz is named an honorary member of the Riverdale Senior Center for his long time support of their programs and services. The Center recently underwent major capital improvements and renovations with state funds secured by Assemblyman Dinowitz.

Assembly Raises SCRIE Eligibility

I was the co-sponsor of legislation to raise the maximum eligibility of the Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption Program (SCRIE). You can now be eligible for SCRIE if your income is up to $25,000 and you’re a senior citizen spending more than one-third of your income towards rent and residing in an eligible residence. Thanks to our legislation, the maximum income limitation will rise by a $1000 per year for the next four years on July 1, so that by July 1, 2009 the limit will be $29,000. If you think you may be eligible for SCRIE, contact my office the next time you get a rent increase. We will help you fill out all the paperwork and help you file it. If you’re eligible, your rent will be frozen.

Assemblyman Dinowitz Fights for Our Veterans

I have introduced legislation to assist veterans who may have been exposed to depleted uranium (DU) during their military service. DU is a by-product of the uranium enrichment process. It was widely used for the first time during the Gulf War to make munitions and build armor for tanks. While many soldiers were in close proximity to equipment and munitions, the greatest concern is for the soldiers who have been on or in vehicles struck by DU projectiles, particularly when shrapnel remains in their bodies. The symptoms of DU exposure ranges from joint pain, muscle aches and fatigue to birth defects and chronic illnesses resulting in death.

My legislation would direct the NYS Division of Veterans’ Affairs to aid any soldier or veteran in obtaining federal treatment services, including the best medical practices used to screen for DU. Not only would screening result in early diagnoses, it would also prevent mis-diagnoses. A task force would be established to study the effects of exposure to DU and a health registry for veterans who may have been exposed would be set up.

The men and women who serve our country are being exposed to materials that may be deadly. We have a moral obligation to identify them and to provide them with the best possible medical care. I believe that is the least we can do to show our appreciation to those our government sent to war to fight for the United States.

Assembly’s Rent Freeze Program for the Disabled:

Thanks to a new law passed by the State Legislature, the SCRIE program has been replicated to benefit the disabled. The new program, known as DRIE (Disability Rent Increase Exemption), is the result of legislation I co-sponsored. In order to be eligible, one must live in an eligible building, receive eligible state or federal disability-related assistance, pay more than one-third of his/her income in rent and meet the income requirement (an income of less than $17,004 for an individual or $24,372 for a couple after allowable deductions). Anyone who thinks they are eligible should contact my office.

photo Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz and Mayor Michael Bloomberg attended an event sponsored by the Association of Riverdale Cooperatives to celebrate the launch of the Skyline Credit Union that will serve Riverdale’s co-op buildings. Pictured are Dr. Steven Benardo, Mayor Bloomberg and Assemblyman Dinowitz.

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.