Reports to the people of the 81st Assembly District
This certainly has been an interesting but difficult time to serve as your state representative. While the Spitzer administration, which began with such high hopes for reform and change, ended abruptly, I am confident that our new governor, David Paterson, will lead our state in the right direction despite the huge fiscal challenges we face.
The deteriorating economic conditions in New York have and will significantly impact our ability to do everything we need to do, but I think we did as well as could be expected under the circumstances in the state budget. We all must be cognizant of the fact that on all levels of government in the coming year tough choices of priorities will have to be made.
Locally, I continue to speak out on every conceivable issue and to fight for the needs of the people of our community. That not only means being vocal on the issues that attract the most attention, such as the filtration plant boondoggle, but attending to the more mundane issues and situations that affect people in my district. Inappropriate parking tickets. Illegal rent hikes. Harassment by landlords. Car towers that violate the law. Inflated water bills. Construction site violations. The list is endless.
Please contact my office if you would like us to help solve these or other problems. It seems to get more difficult to cut through government red tape all the time, especially these days when you can’t seem to get a live person to talk to on the phone. When you call my office (during business hours) you can be assured that you will get a person and will not have to press any more buttons on the phone. My staff is second to none when it comes to navigating the government bureaucracy.
I hope you have a healthy summer. Please do not hesitate to call if I can be of assistance.
|Thousands of people marched in support of striking workers at a local nursing home. Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz helped lead the march along with other elected officials and union leaders. Pictured are Assemblyman Michael Benedetto, Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz, 1199SEIU President George Gresham, State Senator Eric Schneiderman, and Congressman Anthony Weiner.||Assemblyman Dinowitz and other colleagues join Governor David Paterson at the bill signing of “Granny’s Law” which raises the penalty for attacks on senior citizens.|
Assemblyman Dinowitz Fights
As the Chairman of the Assembly Committee on Aging, I am always working to protect the rights and improve the lives of New York’s seniors. When the New York City Department for the Aging (DFTA) announced their plans to possibly close or consolidate senior centers and to overhaul their Meals-on-Wheels program by replacing daily-delivered fresh meals with frozen meals throughout the city, I spoke out strongly against their plan.
Joining with advocates from dozens of senior centers, I spoke out at rallies at City Hall to protest the proposed changes. In addition, I held a public hearing on the issue. The consensus was that in the City’s rush to consolidate and centralize control of senior services they have failed to ensure that this process will not result in a loss of benefits for the seniors who rely on these services. Bigger isn’t always better, especially when you are dealing with frail and elderly people.
As a result of the hearing, I introduced a bill that provides for an independent evaluation of the consolidation that has taken place to this point and forces DFTA to adjust their plans to be more responsive to community concerns. While we must create senior centers that will be attractive to the next generation of seniors, we must not destroy senior centers of today to accomplish that goal.
|Mayor’s Congestion Tax Fails|
When proponents of the congestion tax tried to rush the plan through last year, the Legislature insisted upon an open process with input from the public. A commission was set up to examine the issues, take public testimony and make recommendations. A number of innovative ideas came out of the commission; unfortunately Mayor Bloomberg seemed unwilling to compromise and reluctant to make any changes to his plan. His plan provided for no mass transit improvements in the west Bronx. It had the potential of turning many neighborhoods in the outer boroughs into parking lots for suburban commuters. It didn’t even provide for a proper environmental review of the plan. I believe that the concept as a whole, no matter how well-intentioned, was a bad idea because it would set up a huge, expensive bureaucracy in order to impose a regressive tax on residents of the outer boroughs. Ultimately, the Mayor’s plan had so little support in the State Legislature that the bill was not brought to the floor for a vote in either the Assembly or the Senate.
While the vast majority of people in my district who expressed an opinion were very pleased that we stopped the mayor’s plan, that doesn’t mean we should ignore the issues that were raised in the debate. The main purpose of the congestion tax was to raise money to improve mass transit. We must do that. For example, the Assembly proposal to add a surcharge to the income taxes of millionaires was opposed by the mayor, despite the fact that it would have produced more money for mass transit than his congestion tax. I think it is still worth pursuing. We must all come together to meet this challenge of funding mass transit.
|Assemblyman Dinowitz, Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer and seniors from all five boroughs rally on the steps of City Hall in opposition to the City’s plans to close or consolidate Meals-on-Wheels programs and senior centers.||Assemblyman Dinowitz joined thousands of senior citizens in the second rally protesting the City’s proposal to consolidate senior centers and Meals-on-Wheels programs. He is shown here with seniors from some of our local senior centers.|
|Assembly Increases Aid to City Schools and Healthcare in a tough budget year|
A bleak financial outlook combined with the recent turmoil in the Governor’s office made this year’s budget process one of the most difficult in recent memory. Despite the difficulties, however, the Assembly fought hard for a budget that would protect the welfare of New York’s citizens while at the same time remaining fiscally responsible. I am most proud of the successes we had in securing funding for New York City’s schoolchildren as well as avoiding a number of proposed cuts to our healthcare system. I must give credit not only to the Assembly Majority but also to Governor Paterson for his positive role in the budget process after being in office for only a few short weeks. While this wasn’t an ideal budget, here are a few highlights with which we can all be pleased.
We kept the Campaign for Fiscal Equity promise and provided a $622 million increase in Foundation Aid for New York City’s public schools. We increased school aid by $1.75 billion for schoolchildren throughout the state. We were able to keep the Universal pre-K promise and increase the funding by $96 million over last year, enabling the state to provide early education programs to up to 121,000 four-year olds.
We restored $463 million in health-care cuts and provided $25 million for the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (S-CHIP) to ensure health coverage for each of New York’s 400,000 uninsured children and denied the increase in S-CHIP premiums.
We fully restored the $170 million cut to nursing homes, as well as $62 million of the cuts to home care.
Of course, the funding we were able to secure for New York City programs would be negated if the City administration decides to take these State budget increases as an opportunity to slash its own budget. Doing so would be irresponsible and unfair to city residents, especially schoolchildren and senior citizens. I call on the Mayor and the City Council to keep the city’s promise not to cut aid to education and to restore the recent cuts that the Mayor imposed.
|Around the Community|
Con Ed M29 Construction Update
Construction of the Con Ed M29 transmission line has begun in Marble Hill and on Riverdale Avenue south of West 236th Street. There have already been instances in which Con Ed failed to properly notify the community of the removal of parking. I was able to get the parking meters on Riverdale Avenue between West 236th and West 238th Streets restored after Con Ed and the Department of Transportation took the parking spots away long before Con Ed was set to begin construction in the area.
While I strongly opposed construction of the M29 line along the route that was ultimately approved by the rubber-stamp Public Service Commission, this construction project is now a reality. If you have any issues with the M29 project as the construction moves through the community, please contact my office.
A constituent came to my office because his gas line, which provides the heat for his home, had been shut off by Con Ed after he reported that he suspected there was a leak with his heating unit. It was necessary for the homeowner to get approval for repairs to his leak from both the Department of Buildings and Con Ed before his heat could be turned back on. I contacted both and coordinated a meeting between the homeowner and a representative from the Department of Buildings that resulted in the approval of the heating system and the restoration of the heat in his home.
A property owner on Exterior Street, very close to the busy intersection at West 230th Street and Broadway, contacted me because there were dangerous holes in the road that had been overlooked by the city for months. I asked the DEP and DOT to resolve this issue as quickly as possible, and the large holes in the road were fixed shortly thereafter.
Water Shut Off Postponed
In the week leading up to Passover, the Department of Design and Construction was implementing daytime water shutoffs in the area around the intersection of Kappock Street and Independence Avenue. I demanded that the shutoffs be postponed until after the holiday. With assistance from Community Board 8, I got the DDC to restore daytime water use during the days prior to Passover and postpone them until the following week.
I am pleased to announce that the Bronx Citizens Court Monitoring Project will return once again this fall. If you have time to volunteer to monitor judicial proceedings right here in the Bronx, please contact my office. We would love to have you join the organization this fall.
Parking on Riverdale Avenue
A constituent contacted my office because of an unclear parking situation on the west side of Riverdale Avenue between West 235th and West 236th Streets. There are several parking spaces that had been taken away because of the construction of the new apartment building. When construction was completed, the signs to restore parking were never replaced and drivers started to receive tickets. The DOT has promised to restore the signs and fix this parking mishap.
Mosholu Avenue Tree Pruning
The Board of Directors of 5715 Mosholu Avenue contacted my office because there were trees growing in a way that was endangering their property. I asked the Parks Department to take notice of the situation immediately, and they pruned the trees in a way that ensured the safety of the building.
I have supported the workers at the Kingsbridge Heights Rehabilitation Center and 1199 SEIU as the workers strike because the owner of the home has treated the workers unfairly. There have been two huge rallies in the neighborhood, and I marched and spoke at both because it is extremely important that the workers at this home get a fair contract that includes health benefits for them and their families just as it is equally important to protect the health of the home’s residents. The neighbors around the home have been gracious hosts to the protests and picket lines that have been ongoing since the strike began three months ago.
|The Riverdale Senior Center honored Luis Rodriguez for his many years of service as the 50th Precinct Community Affairs Officer. Pictured are Riverdale Senior Center Executive Director Julia Schwartz-Leeper, Detective Rodriguez, Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz, former board President Helen Morik, and Neal Garelik who, along with Assemblyman Dinowitz, presented the award to Detective Rodriguez.||Assemblyman Dinowitz visited PS 24 to be interviewed by the first grade journalism class. Students were wearing press badges and had prepared questions written on index cards. Rebecca Salazar, Class Parent; Principal Philip Scharper; Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz; Kate Schessel, First Grade Teacher; Annmarie Mancuso, Student Teacher; along with a class of first graders of PS 24.|
|Filtration Plant Overruns Responsible For Another Huge Water Rate Hike|
The City just announced yet another large increase in water rates – this time 14.5%. Unfortunately, this is partially a result of the City’s own incompetence and inability to contain the cost of construction of the giant water filtration plant in Van Cortlandt Park. The filtration plant is already over $1.5 billion over budget. The cost of this project is paid for by the water rate payers. The NYC Independent Budget Office is monitoring these huge overruns, and the City Comptroller recently announced an audit of the project. Sadly, the taxpayers are getting soaked and the Mayor has remained silent.
Bronx Arts Ensemble
Bronx Council on the Arts
Bronx Council for Environmental Quality
Bronx Historical Society
Bronx Opera Company
Fordham University (Familial Disautonomia Research)
Hebrew Home/Judaica Museum
Jerome Gun Hill BID
Jewish Board of Family and Children Services
Manhattan College (Holocaust Resource Center)
Mosholu Montefiore Community Center
Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition
OASIS (after school program at Am-Park school)
Orchestra of the Bronx
Per Scholas (computers for YM-YHHA seniors)
Riverdale Community Center
Riverdale Jewish Community Council
Riverdale Mental Health Association
Riverdale Neighborhood House
Riverdale Senior Services
Woodlawn Heights Taxpayers and Community Association
|Local children, parents, and elected officials including Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz, Congressman Eliot Engel, and City Councilman Oliver Koppell marched in the annual opening day parade for the South Riverdale Baseball League.||Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz is surrounded by honorees at the 24th Annual Legislative & Awards Breakfast of Riverdale Jewish Community Council; the honorees are holding Assembly proclamations. Pictured are Dr. Judah Schorr, Rabbi Yehuda Balashov, Rabbi Levi Shemtov, Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz, James Lapin, Maxine Halpern, and Detective Luis Rodriguez.|
Voter Registration and Absentee Ballot Applications
Primary Day is Tuesday, September 9th and the General Election is on Tuesday, November 4th. You must be registered 25 days prior to either of these dates to be eligible to vote. If you need a voter registration form (or know someone who does) or if you would like an application for an absentee ballot for either of these elections please call my office at (718) 796-5345 or the Bronx Board of Elections at (718) 299-9017.
Free Notary Service
My office provides free notary service during our regular office hours, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday. If you would like your signature notarized, please bring two forms of identification, at least one with your photo and signature.