Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz
Jeffrey Dinowitz
Reports to the people of the 81st Assembly District
Summer 2011

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
Albany Office: 824 Legislative Office Building, Albany, New York 12248 • (518) 455-5965

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

Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz joined hundreds of young soccer players from the Riverdale Soccer Club at Van Cortlandt Park. He is pictured here with Council Member Oliver Koppell, Club President Bruce Silverman, coaches, volunteers, and future soccer stars.

Assemblyman Dinowitz Saves Over 100 Senior Centers
As Chair of the Assembly Committee on Aging, I led the fight in this year’s state budget battle to save state funding for New York City senior centers. The Governor’s proposed budget included a huge cut to Title XX funding, part of which is used to fund the City’s senior centers. Mayor Bloomberg threatened to close over 100 senior centers, including the Van Cortlandt Senior Center and the R.A.I.N. Senior Center on East 233rd Street, if this funding was eliminated.

I organized my colleagues in the City and made this the top budget priority of the Aging Committee. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver strongly supported me in this effort. Ultimately the Governor and the State Senate agreed with the Assembly, and this crucial source of funding was fully restored. This Title XX funding was one of the few items to be completely restored in the final budget.

Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz and the Bronx Assembly delegation met with Governor Andrew Cuomo in the Governor’s mansion in Albany to discuss key issues facing the state of New York. Pictured here are Assemblywoman Vanessa Gibson, Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz, Governor Andrew Cuomo, Assemblyman Marcos Crespo, and Assemblyman Eric Stevenson.

Fighting to Strengthen Tenant Protection Laws

Renewing and strengthening rent protection laws is a top priority for Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz. Assemblyman Dinowitz and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver are pictured at City Hall pointing to a map showing the increasing number of apartments in New York City that are no longer affordable.
I’ve always been a strong advocate for tenants’ rights. This year we are fighting not only to renew the tenant protection laws, but to strengthen them. The current rent laws are set to expire on June 15th, meaning newer, stronger rent regulations need to be in place before that happens. I’m a co-sponsor of legislation that has passed in the Assembly to ensure middle class and poor tenants won’t fall victim to unfair rent increases that could cripple them financially. Some of the ways we hope to strengthen tenants’ rights include:

Repealing the Urstadt Law, which prohibits New York City from strengthening rent-regulation provisions any further than the state law provides;

Repealing vacancy destabilization laws that permit landlords to remove apartments from rent-regulation in New York City when an apartment with rent over $2,000 becomes vacant;

Reducing the rent increase amount after vacancy from a 20 percent limit to 10 percent and limiting the number of vacancy increases to one per year;

Requiring the costs of major capital improvements (MCIs) to be charged to tenants as a surcharge, not as part of the base rent, and require the surcharges to cease when the cost of improvement has been recovered;

Allow a building owner to increase the amount of preferential rent — that is, rent that is lower than the legal maximum rent the owner could charge—only upon vacancy;

Limit a building owner’s ability to recover a rent-regulated apartment for personal use to one unit, and prevent a landlord from recovering an apartment rented by a long-term tenant or senior.

We are fighting hard for tenants so that a final bill is agreed upon by the Assembly, the State Senate and the Governor by the June 15th deadline.

It is urgent that we succeed or thousands and thousands of middle class and working New Yorkers will no longer be able to afford to stay in their homes.

2011–2012 State budget

I am pleased that the State Legislature and the Governor completed an on-time budget (by March 31st) which is, unfortunately, rare in New York. While an on-time budget is an important goal, the content of the budget is what really counts. The State faced a massive deficit this year. The budget that was passed contained large cuts to almost every area in order to close a $10 billion budget deficit. This included large cuts to education, which I spoke against loudly. We succeeded in restoring some funding to education, but not enough as far as I’m concerned.

The full restoration to funding for senior centers and funding for summer youth jobs were among our successes in the budget process. Unfortunately, there were significant cuts to health care, education, higher education and so much more. Funding from legislators for local groups was not included in the budget for the second year in a row. That means cuts to youth programs, senior centers, cultural organizations and other local not-for-profits. These are groups that affect the lives of thousands of people in our neighborhoods.

Tax cuts for millionaires financed by schoolchildren

One glaring failure in this budget was the end of the “millionaire’s tax.” The only group to receive tax cuts in this budget was high income earners. The millionaire’s tax provides nearly $5 billion in annual revenue to the state. Eliminating this tax meant much greater cuts to the budget than were otherwise necessary. In essence, cuts to education and other important areas financed tax cuts for millionaires. That’s disgraceful. If the special millionaire’s tax break goes into effect as scheduled, New York’s richest would once again share the same tax bracket as individuals making $20,000, or a family of four making $40,000. This tax break will give millionaires an average annual savings of $85,450. The legislation will affect less than 1 percent of taxpayers - of which 50 percent are not residents of New York. It’s time to stand up and say “NO” to this millionaire’s tax break!

I applaud Governor Cuomo for his steadfast commitment to an on-time, balanced budget, but clearly some changes need to be made. This tax cut is a big mistake and must be reversed. That’s why I support keeping the millionaire’s tax -- only for income in excess of $1 million -- and earmarking 30% of it for education. What are your thoughts on the millionaire’s tax?

Our New Schools Chancellor

When Mayor Bloomberg announced his appointment of Cathie Black as the New York City Schools Chancellor, I expressed my opposition. Ms. Black was simply not qualified to be the leader of our public school system. She had neither education credentials nor any connection to New York City public schools, and I spoke out against it.

I was very pleased when Mayor Bloomberg relented to pressure from parents and elected officials and realized the terrible error he made. I imagine that her 17% poll rating did what her lack of qualifications couldn’t: expelled her from this job. I am hopeful that Dennis Walcott will provide the leadership for our schools that has been sorely lacking. As Deputy Mayor for Education, a former member of the Board of Education and a former public school teacher, Mr. Walcott has the credentials and background to be a successful Chancellor. I look forward to working with him to improve our schools and prepare our children for the future.

Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz led the successful fight to save over 100 senior centers from being closed by Mayor Bloomberg. He is shown speaking at a rally on the steps of the Bronx County Courthouse with Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., other elected officials and hundreds of seniors.
Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz strongly feels that it is more important than ever to stand up for working people, especially at a time when the rights of workers are increasingly under attack throughout the country. He recently marched in Riverdale with workers from 32BJ SEIU who represent building superintendents, doormen and porters. The Assemblyman is pictured here with union Vice President Kyle Bragg, Secretary-Treasurer Hector Figueroa and hundreds of workers who were asking for a fair contract.

Around the neighborhoods

Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz visited P.S. 7 in Kingsbridge where he is pictured with Principal Frank Patterson, Tara McMaster, Kelly Links, and members of the student government at the school library. The school collected hundreds of pounds of food for Assemblyman Dinowitz’s canned food drive - more than any other school in the district.
Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz presented an Assembly proclamation to Fredy Loeser in celebration of the 50th anniversary of a Kingsbridge landmark, Loeser’s Delicatessen. He and Freddy Loeser are joined by Congressman Eliot Engel, Marlene Cintron, Executive Director of the Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation, and Council Member Oliver Koppell.

Push for new Greenstreets

I have long been an advocate for the environment and implementing additional green spaces in our local communities. I recently proposed greenstreets for seven different locations throughout my Assembly district which have been approved by the Parks Committee and the Traffic and Transportation Committee of Community Board 8. These greenstreets will provide vibrancy and life to local communities where current, unused space is unsightly. Many of these locations can be better utilized to benefit local residents, businesses and commuters, especially the spaces at the intersections of Fieldston Road and Riverdale Avenue, and Irwin Avenue and Johnson Avenue.

Bus stops restored on sedgwick avenue

Responding to constituents’ concerns, I convinced the MTA to restore all local Bx1 bus stops west of Sedgwick and Dickinson Avenues. Many of these stops were eliminated when the MTA decided to implement “limited-stop” service on the Bx1 line, cutting off bus service for too many residents.

The restored bus stops, all along Sedgwick Avenue, include two stops at the Amalgamated houses that I specifically asked to be restored (at Dickinson Avenue and Hillman Avenue), and the stop in front of 3835 Sedgwick Avenue (restored in March at my request), plus other stops as well. The elimination of these stops in such a heavily populated area was a clear mistake, as it left far too many residents stranded, many of whom are senior citizens. To reach West 231st Street, many had to take two buses instead of one and pay a double fare if they boarded the subway. I am pleased that the MTA responded to my suggestions and restored these bus stops.

Mosholu Montefiore Community Center honor

I was recently honored at the annual dinner of the Mosholu Montefiore Community Center for my longtime support of this amazing organization in the Norwood community. I have long supported the programs of MMCC and have also provided large capital grants for renovations and improvements of their buildings. MMCC, which also honored Council Member Oliver Koppell, has a large array of programs to benefit the community, including programs for toddlers, teens, college-bound students and senior citizens, just to name a few. They benefit thousands of people in many communities in the Bronx.

Recognition by the IAHD

I was proud to be recognized by the Institute of Applied Human Dynamics at their recent dinner celebration. IAHD has long been committed to improving the lives of individuals with severe developmental disabilities. Their good work is known throughout the state of New York. Local residents Dorothy and I. William Stone were also honored for their longtime work on behalf of those with developmental disabilities. What a great organization!

Soccer field shortage in Van Cortlandt Park

After the City spent $15 million to renovate the Van Cortlandt Park Parade Ground, I was shocked to learn that youth soccer players had less field space than prior to the renovation. I contacted the Parks Department urging them to reconfigure the layout of the fields so that soccer players would have at least as many fields as before. Providing space for young people must be a top priority. Soccer continues to grow in popularity among kids, so it is baffling why Parks decided to reduce the number of soccer fields. Van Cortlandt Park is for all New Yorkers, but first and foremost it should be for the children of our community.

Open up the Jerome Park Reservoir!

We’ve waited for too long; the time has come for greater community access to the Jerome Park Reservoir. I grew up across the street from the reservoir, and while I was able to enjoy its beauty by looking out of my living room window or by standing outside the fence, there is no rational reason why the fences are so far from the water. We have an incredible resource in the northwest Bronx. Why is the public denied the ability to enjoy it? DEP’s ridiculous proposal to give the public very limited access for a few days in 2013 is an insult to our community. The time for greater public access to the Jerome Park Reservoir is now!

Supporting a historic district in Van Cortlandt Village

I contacted the New York City Housing Development Corporation to indicate my support for designating part of Van Cortlandt Village as a Historic District. The proposed area would include much of the area north of Sedgwick Avenue and Fort Independence Street up to Van Cortlandt Avenue West. This area includes the largest Revolutionary War Era fort in the Bronx - the Fort Independence - as well as Olmstead’s curvilinear street design of 1877, and the Shalom Aleichem houses which sit atop the hill at Cannon Place.

I am very concerned about overdevelopment in the Van Cortlandt Village and Kingsbridge Heights communities. This section of Van Cortlandt Village should have been designated as a Historic District long ago. The uniqueness of this area and its place in history clearly qualify it for such designation. In addition, we must do everything possible to protect this neighborhood from runaway development and over-building.

Hundreds of people attended the Neighborhood Festival sponsored by the Kingsbridge Heights Community Center. Neighborhood residents and volunteers from the Horace Mann School are pictured here with Assemblyman Dinowitz, Council member Oliver Koppell, State Senator Gustavo Rivera, and KHCC’s Executive Director Giselle Melendez-Susca.
Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz has long fought to protect the Jerome Park Reservoir. He is shown here with Community Board 12 and Croton Facility Monitoring Committee Chair Father Richard Gorman, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. and State Senator Gustavo Rivera at a press conference at the Reservoir demanding greater community access to this incredible community resource.
Summer Reading Challenge

My office is once again sponsoring our Summer Reading Challenge, which encourages children to fall in love with reading, expand their imaginations and be better prepared for school in the fall. To participate in the program, children must read alone or with someone else for at least 15 minutes each day for 40 days throughout the months of July and August. They must mark off the days they read on a calendar, which can be picked up at my office. Once I receive their completed calendar, participants will be rewarded with a reading certificate in the mail.

Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz, Council Member Oliver Koppell and State Senator Jeffrey Klein joined in the celebration of the opening of the new baseball season of the Wood-Lean boys and girls club.

Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz, Congressman Eliot Engel, Council Member Oliver Koppell, Msgr. Barry, and Woodlawn Heights Taxpayers and Community Association President Christine Sheridan are pictured here with special honorees at a Woodlawn Heights Taxpayers and Community Association meeting.
Hundreds of people from Wakefield, Woodlawn and Kingsbridge Heights joined Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz and other local elected officials in support of using the Sgt. Joseph E. Muller Army Reserve Center (MARC) to house the National Guard members that are currently at the Kingsbridge Armory and to support the construction of new public schools at the Kingsbridge Armory. Pictured here are: Community Board 12 Chair Father Richard Gorman, Council Member Oliver Koppell, Assemblyman Dinowitz, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., and State Senator Jeffrey Klein.

Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz joined the baseball players of the Mosholu Montefiore Little League to celebrate the opening of the new season.

Town Hall Meetings

I believe it is very important to reach out to my constituents to ensure that their questions and concerns are heard. That is why I held three town hall meetings in my district to listen to the ideas and opinions of my constituents and to inform them of my work, both in the community and in Albany. Our other local elected officials joined me at these meetings, including Council Member Oliver Koppell, Congressman Eliot Engel, and State Senators Adriano Espaillat, Gustavo Rivera and Jeff Klein.

At each event we informed our constituents about the city, state and federal budgets, the push for renewal of the rent stabilization laws, the MTA, education issues, and various local issues. Most importantly, we spent most of the time at these meetings answering questions and listening to the concerns of community residents to ensure that their voices are heard and that we work with them to resolve the issues that they are concerned about.

These town hall meetings are so important because it gives me an opportunity to meet face to face with my constituents to better understand their concerns and the needs of the community. I look forward to holding more such meetings throughout my district in the coming months.

Repairing the Henry Hudson Parkway West 235th Street footbridge

Several months ago I was asked by a constituent to do something about the terrible condition of the footbridge over Henry Hudson Parkway at West 235th Street. After walking the footbridge I contacted NYC DOT and asked them to make repairs (and there were many repairs that were necessary). I am pleased to report that DOT did make the repairs, making this important pedestrian bridge much safer.

M29 potholes no more

Con Edison finally repaired the numerous potholes on the Henry Hudson Parkway West service road near West 254th Street caused by their M29 power line. Although I first reported this issue in early 2010, I am pleased the job has finally been done, making this roadway smoother and safer.

Repairs to crumbling on Kappock Street

Despite being installed only last year, the pedestrian railing along the Kappock Street underpass was recently in a state of severe disrepair. The concrete footings and joints were crumbling, the rails were loose and unstable, and part of the rail was disconnected. I immediately contacted the Department of Design and Construction to ask them to repair these defects and investigate how they could have occurred. I am pleased to report that DDC promptly dispatched a team to perform these repairs under warranty, at no cost to the taxpayer.

Children from P.S. 24 donated hundreds of cans to Assemblyman Dinowitz’s annual canned food drive. Pictured here are Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz, Geri LaMura and several of the students.
Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz co-sponsored the annual Memorial Day Concert of the Bronx Arts Ensemble in Van Cortlandt Park. He is pictured here with Conductor David Gilbert, Congressman Eliot Engel and members of the Bronx Arts Ensemble .

The Henry Hudson Bridge has gone gateless, making it more convenient for motorists. Pictured at the bridge on the first gateless day from left to right are: MTA Bridges and Tunnels’ Jim Ferrara, MTA Board Member Mark D. Lebow, Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz, City Council Member James Vacca, MTA Chairman and CEO Jay Walder, Assemblyman Guillermo Linares, and Traffic and Transportation Chairman of Bronx CB8 Dan Padernacht.
Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz and State Senator Adriano Espaillat visited the Simon Senior Center at the Riverdale Y to talk about the state budget. They are pictured here with several of the seniors at the Y including the Assemblyman’s mother (seated in the center).

Free Notary Service
My office provides free notary public 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.