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

Winter 2006-2007

3107 Kingsbridge Avenue, Bronx, New York 10463 • (718) 796-5345

3450 Dekalb Avenue, Bronx, New York 10467 • (718) 882-4000, Ext. 353

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 a new year I am looking forward to accomplishing much in the 2007 legislative session. We will have a new governor who is committed to reform and to achieving many of the goals that have eluded us under the old regime. I am confident that Eliot Spitzer will be an ally in the Assembly majority’s longtime efforts to make major improvements in our education system. He has made it clear that he intends to strengthen and fix New York’s health care system. Unlike his predecessor, I am certain he will be a friend of higher education, both our public systems (SUNY and CUNY) and our private colleges.

We face constant challenges in our district – and all too often the problems we face are caused by government. The closing of the Woodlawn firehouse is a prime example. But we face constant challenges when dealing with overdevelopment, lack of parking and other issues, in large part because some of our government agencies can’t seem to work with each other. Projects such as Con Edison’s plan to build a high voltage power line through the heart of Riverdale and Kingsbridge again demonstrate that our quality of life is continually under attack.

My district office has helped thousands of people with every conceivable problem. We’ve had an upsurge this year in problems with landlords as well as countless complaints that require us to light a fire under the bureaucrats working in various governmental agencies in order to cut through red tape. My staff is excellent, and they all make things happen on behalf of my constituents. And, of course, everyone on my staff is a notary public – and we provide free notary service. Happy holidays and a healthy new year.

Jeffrey Dinowitz
Member of Assembly

photo Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz is shown with Zuleyka Rivera, Miss Universe 2006, and Jim Higgins of Bon Secours New York Health System at the dedication of the community garden and greenhouse at the Schervier Nursing Care Center.

Water Filtration Plant Scandal

I worked for many years to prevent the construction of a giant water filtration plant in the northwest Bronx. Although we were successful in stopping this costly facility from being built in the Jerome Park Reservoir, we were ultimately unsuccessful in protecting Van Cortlandt Park from this project.

With the exception of Congressman Eliot Engel, Councilman Oliver Koppell, State Senator Eric Schneiderman and myself, most Bronx elected officials support this mammoth construction project in Van Cortlandt Park. Among the reasons given were: it will provide hundreds and hundreds of jobs for Bronxites; Van Cortlandt Park would be cheaper to build in than the alternative location in Westchester; the Bronx would receive $200 million for park improvements.

In fact, the jobs never materialized. Currently, only a few dozen Bronx residents have received jobs working on the project. As far as cost, it appears that the NYC Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) either lied about the costs or was simply not competent to give an accurate cost estimate. It now appears that the cost will be at least a billion dollars more than DEP told the people of New York. That’s scandalous. Furthermore, all of the parks that were to receive money will actually get less than originally promised.

The next time a huge project comes before us, we should all remember that Commissioners and other government officials don’t always tell the truth, or simply aren’t as capable as we’d like them to be – and it’s up to your elected representatives to stand up for what is right and speak out on issues important to their constituents – and their constituents should remember to take appropriate action when their elected officials don’t do the right thing.

photo Assemblyman Dinowitz presented an Assembly Proclamation recognizing Deputy Inspector Timothy Hardiman for his outstanding tenure as commanding officer of the 50th precinct. Pictured are Lori Copland of Congressman Engel’s office, Community Board 8 District Manager Grace Belkin, newly appointed Captain of the 50th Precinct Dermot Shea, Assemblyman Dinowitz, Deputy Inspector Hardiman and Randi Martos.

Con Ed’s Bad Idea

Con Edison has come up with a really bad idea. They plan to install a high voltage, underground power line running from Yonkers to upper Manhattan. It would run through the heart of Riverdale, entering the Bronx at Riverdale Avenue and running down to Henry Hudson Parkway, then Riverdale Avenue again to West 230th Street to Broadway down through the Target shopping center into Manhattan.

I recognize the need for this power, but I can’t imagine a worse route. The construction process would have a very negative effect on the businesses on Riverdale Avenue as well as the surrounding residences. All Riverdale Avenue parking might be eliminated during the construction process.

The lower part of Riverdale Avenue, between West 235th and West 239th Streets is already the site of numerous construction projects. Further down Riverdale Avenue is the location of the street collapse of 2002, which took the City two and a half years to resolve. I would never suggest sticking some other community with this problem. That’s why I am working with other community leaders to recommend an alternative location. I have suggested the NYS Thruway/Deegan Expressway, a location which would not directly impact on residences or businesses.

There’s still an opportunity for community members to express their views on this issue. The NYS Public Service Commission will hold a hearing, tentatively scheduled for Monday, January 22, 2007 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Riverdale YM-YWHA (5625 Arlington Avenue.) Community residents and business owners should attend and speak out. If you would like to attend please call my office at (718) 796-5345 prior to January 22 to confirm the date, time and place.

Court Monitoring

I am pleased to report that dozens of people participated in the Bronx Citizens’ Court Monitoring Project’s recent observation of Bronx Housing Court. The Project, which is run in conjunction with my office, was founded by my predecessor, Oliver Koppell. We involve many volunteers from the community to observe and make suggestions with regard to how our courts work. Our volunteers go to the courts twice a year, each time observing a different court.

It is important for judges, lawyers, litigants and others to know that there are citizens who are concerned about how our courts operate – and know that they are being watched. It is also important for average citizens to see what goes on in court and understand the system. I would encourage anyone interested in this to call my office to volunteer on this most important project.

photo Dozens of volunteers participated in the Bronx Citizens’ Court Monitoring Project sponsored by Assemblyman Dinowitz. Assemblyman Dinowitz is pictured at the Bronx Housing Court with Supreme Court Justice Howard Sherman, the Supervising Judge of the Bronx Housing Court, court personnel, and some of the court monitors.

We Need Gifted and Talented
Programs in Our Schools

Our children continue to be cheated out of a real gifted and talented program in our public schools. In district 10 there is not one gifted and talented seat in the entire school district consisting of well over 40,000 students. In 1999, the last school board election, a slate committed to establishing a gifted and talented program won a massive victory with a record turnout, but the voters were thwarted by a superintendent who opposed such programs.

District 10 is finally getting a gifted and talented program, but it will consist of only two first grade classes of 28 students each. We need programs in many of our schools, not just two, and for all grades. When the Department of Education (DOE) decided to create small schools within school buildings, they did so on a massive scale, so claims that they need to start off small do not ring true. It seems that when it comes to addressing the needs of gifted students, the ideologues at DOE are committed to mediocrity.

photo Assemblyman Dinowitz is leading the efforts to prevent Con Edison from digging up all of Riverdale Avenue for a high voltage power line. Here he is with local business leaders and representatives of elected officials and Community Board 8 proposing an alternative route that will provide the necessary power but not disrupt the community. photo Assemblyman Dinowitz celebrated at the Annual Street Fair of the Jerome-Gun Hill Business Improvement District. He is pictured here with Councilman Oliver Koppell, B.I.D. founder Alice Kulick, Guardian Angels founder Curtis Sliwa, Mosholu Preservation Corporation President Dart Westphal, musician Ray Rivera, community leader Gladys Valdivieso, and B.I.D. Executive Director Roberto Garcia.

Fighting for our Quality of Life

My office constantly fights for issues affecting the quality of life of my constituents. Here are but a few examples:

  • Putnam Avenue, after many months, is now a paved through-street thanks to the efforts of Assemblyman Dinowitz and tenant leader Cassandra Prentice. Tenants from the new buildings on Putnam Avenue recently joined together to celebrate finally having a paved street.

  • We helped many residents of Knolls Crescent apply for various tax abatement programs such as SCRIE, SCHE, STAR and Veterans’ Exemption, all of which enable many of our neighbors to live affordably.

  • Broken or missing fire hydrants is a source of many complaints. My staff, working with the NYC Department of Environmental Protection, arranged for the replacement of hydrants on Barnes Avenue in front of St. Frances of Rome school, and on West 231st Street off Palisade Avenue.

  • My staff works with tenants and tenant associations throughout the district. One such building is 3801 Hudson Manor Terrace, where we are working to get the NYS Division of Housing and Community Renewal (DHCR) to require the landlord to correct the many, many violations and deteriorating conditions that have gone unaddressed. Hopefully in the new state administration DHCR will move more quickly when addressing the needs of tenants.

  • Shortly after I requested a stop signs at West 261 and Liebig Avenue and at West 261st Street and Tyndall Avenue a serious accident took place. NYC DOT then complied with my request for the stop sign on Liebig Avenue. Now I am working on getting the sign on Tyndall Avenue.

  • Both elevators were out at the same time (one was broken, one was being renovated) at 3411 Irwin Avenue, but the repair on the broken elevator seemed to be taking forever in this 20-story building – that is until my office got city inspectors out there to move things along.

  • The tree in front of a house on Liebig Avenue was literally at a 45 degree angle, hanging over a house, but the parks department said it was okay. I love trees, but when a tree is a safety hazard, it has to go, and this one had to go. After my office’s intervention with the Parks Department the unsafe tree was safely removed.

Assemblyman Dinowitz Provides Flu Shots

Once again hundreds and hundreds of local residents received free flu shots from my annual flu shot program, which is co-sponsored by Councilman Koppell, State Senator Schneiderman and Congressman Engel. At some sites the shots were provided by New York Presbyterian Hospital and the Visiting Nurse Service. At others, Jacobi Medical Center and North Central Bronx Hospital provided the shots. Many thanks to Helen Morik, Vice President of Government and Community Affairs; Evelyn Torres and Kathy Olivo, outreach coordinators; Julio Batista, Coordinator of Community Relations and External Relations; Miriam Torres, Nurse Coordinator; Andy Nieto, Director of Community Health Outreach and Marketing, all from NYPH; Arthur Wagner, Executive Director of North Central Bronx Hospital; William C. Walsh, Network Senior Vice President; and Lydia Campoamor.

photo Assemblyman Dinowitz was honored at the Student Sponsorship Breakfast of the Riverdale Temple. He was presented with an award by Congressman Eliot Engel who his pictured here with Assemblyman Dinowitz, his daughter, Kara, his wife, Sylvia and son, Eric.

photo photo
photo Children from throughout the community participated in Assemblyman Dinowitz’s annual canned food and “Let’s Talk Turkey Drive”. In the picture above Assemblyman Dinowitz is with many of the PS 24 children who collected money to purchase turkeys for two local food pantries. Also shown is Principal Mark Levine and Tessa Gumbs. PS 7 children are in the top left photo at Assemblyman Dinowitz’s office with cartons of food they collected, along with Charles Shayne of the Kingsbridge Heights Community Center, Ed Lowe of Exec-U-Van, PS 7 teacher Tara McMaster, and Harry Martinez and Jim Napolitano of Ben’s Market. The photo to the left shows some of the PS 81 students and teacher Shari Gallagan, with hundreds of cans of food.

photo Assemblyman Dinowitz honored Janet Golovner, Executive Director of the Kingsbridge-Riverdale-Van Cortlandt Development Corporation upon her retirement after many years of service to the community. Pictured are Bruce Feld, Assemblyman Dinowitz, Janet Golovner, and Board President Petr Stand. photo Longtime community leader Judith McGowan was honored at the annual breakfast of the local chapter of B’nai B’rith for work in arranging for the shipment of hundreds of books to schools in Israel. Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz and State Senator Eric Schneiderman feted her for her many years of work fighting for school libraries.

Some Dinowitz Bills Which Became
Dinowitz Laws in 2006

Protecting Cell Phone Privacy

State law did not specifically address the issue of cell phone privacy. Obtaining a cell phone user’s phone logs and then selling the list of incoming and outgoing calls was perfectly legal – until my bill was signed into law. Now it is illegal to sell, offer for sale, solicit or procure a consumer’s telephone records. As technology changes, so must the law.

Protecting Veterans

I am very pleased that my legislation to protect veterans was passed and signed into law this year. Many soldiers returning from active combat zones are experiencing adverse health effects from what many claim is exposure to depleted uranium (DU.) This legislation will help to provide treatment for returning soldiers who are experiencing problems because of exposure to DU and other hazardous materials. We must not only support our troops when they are overseas, but also when they return home.

Fighting Underage Drinking

As Chair of the Assembly Committee on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse I passed legislation now signed into law to create an advisory council on underage drinking within the Executive Department. Because underage drinking has become such a huge problem, I felt it was crucial to provide necessary attention and focus and to work to ameliorate the problem. The council will collect and analyze information, conduct hearings, and make recommendations with respect to educational and training programs.

photo Assemblyman Dinowitz was joined by Santa Claus at the annual Woodlawn tree lighting. Pictured are Mike Egan, President of the Woodlawn Taxpayers and Community Association, Lori Copland from Congressman Engel’s office, Margaret Fogarty, Councilman Oliver Koppell, Assemblyman Dinowitz, Chris Evans, and Santa Claus. photo Over 500 people attended the Shalom Ireland event sponsored by Assemblyman Dinowitz and the Riverdale Jewish Community Council at the Riverdale YM-YWHA. Assemblyman Dinowitz is pictured with author and columnist Pete Hamill, and Valerie Lapin, Producer of the documentary film Shalom Ireland.

Drivers Beware

Because of the large amount of construction in our community, the NYC DOT has often changed parking regulations to accommodate developers. That means that on a block where a building is going up, the DOT may put up signs prohibiting parking in places where residents are used to parking. But that’s not the only problem. I have received a number of complaints from people who parked legally but then were parked illegally because a sign was changed – and then they were given a parking ticket by traffic agents. THAT’S OUTRAGEOUS! Certainly DOT ought to put up notices on poles in advance of changing signs warning people, and traffic enforcement agents should have the good sense and decency to not hover, waiting to ticket everyone. If you have a similar experience, please call me at my office.

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.s