Ruben Diaz Tag All blog entries tagged as Ruben Diaz http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/the-eye-opener/latest Sat, 22 Mar 2014 14:12:34 +0000 Joomla! 1.5 - Open Source Content Management en-gb Diaz and Rivera Celebrate Third Year of Bronx Health Initiative http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/the-eye-opener/entry/health/2013/08/16/diaz-and-rivera-celebrate-third-year-of-bronx-health-initiative- http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/the-eye-opener/entry/health/2013/08/16/diaz-and-rivera-celebrate-third-year-of-bronx-health-initiative-

Ask any Bronx politician and they will tell you the health of their constituents is at the very top of their list of issues that need to be addressed. The statistics are dire: The Bronx has led city rates for obesity, diabetes and asthma for years.

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A new study by the city's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene found that the Bronx's 10457 zipcode has the highest number of people with two sexually transmitted diseases in the city.

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It is reports like that that motivated Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz and Sen. Gustavo Rivera to team up to create The Bronx Change Attitudes Now Health Initiative focused on getting residents exercising, eating right, and participating in free health screenings.

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The intiative was started in July 2011 in response to a report by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation that found the Bronx to be the unhealthiest county in New York State. The same study found that the Bronx is still the unhealthiest county in the state this year.

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This year the kickoff event for will be held at Crotona Park from 12 to 4 p.m. tomorrow. The event will now features STD testing along with other health testing, exercise classes, martial arts demonstrations and face painting for the kids.

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“Year after year our borough is found to be the unhealthiest in the state," said Sen. Gustavo Rivera. "We must continue to encourage members of our community to make those lifestyle changes — whether big or small — that will help them lead a healthier life and that is what the Bronx CAN Health Initiative hopes to accomplish."

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dking@gothamgazette.com (David Howard King) Public Health Fri, 16 Aug 2013 18:55:21 +0000
Today's Lead: Cuomo Received Developer Cash Before Signing Tax Breaks http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/the-eye-opener/entry/state/2013/08/15/todays-lead-cuomo-received-developer-cash-before-signing-tax-breaks- http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/the-eye-opener/entry/state/2013/08/15/todays-lead-cuomo-received-developer-cash-before-signing-tax-breaks-

Cuomo's Developer Donations

The New York Daily News reported today that Gov. Andrew Cuomo received $76,000 in donations from real estate developers just weeks before signing legislation that gave tax breaks to their properties. Three partners at Fisher Brothers donated $25,000 each to Cuomo on Dec. 27 of last year. Cuomo signed legislation giving tax breaks to their properties at New York Curb Exchange and 86 Trinity Place on Jan. 30. The Daily News reported last week that Extell Development Co. gave Cuomo $100,000 a few days before he signed the bill that gives creates $35 million in tax breaks on their One57 luxury apartment tower. The Moreland Commission that Cuomo created to investigate corruption has subpoenaed the five companies that received tax breaks from the bill. Cuomo administration officials say that the bill was supported by the city and wasn't their focus. The News writes however that legislators claims they don't know who inserted the tax breaks for the five subpoenaed companies.


Other Stories We're Following

Will BOE Struggle Through Mayoral Election? (Talking Points Memo)

NYC Will Cease Loans to Top Employees For Second Homes (NY Times)

City Evaluates Local Colleges That Train Teachers (NY Times)

Taxi, Livery Owners Help Fill Candidates' Coffers (Wall Street Journal)

Recovery is Choppy in Breezy Point (Wall Street Journal)

Quinn's Job Training Program (Daily News)

Cuomo Received $76,000 From Investors Before Signing Property Tax Bill (Daily News)

DOE Raises Price of School Lunches For Some, Makes It Free For Others (NY 1)

NYPD: Six Sought In Alleged Chelsea Bias Attack (NY 1)

Diaz Says Albany Has Ethical Double Standard (Gotham Gazette)

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dking@gothamgazette.com (David Howard King) State Thu, 15 Aug 2013 12:51:12 +0000
Today's Lead: Last-Ditch Effort For Campaign Finance Reform Fails http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/the-eye-opener/entry/headlines/2013/06/21/todays-lead-last-ditch-effort-for-campaign-finance-reform-fails- http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/the-eye-opener/entry/headlines/2013/06/21/todays-lead-last-ditch-effort-for-campaign-finance-reform-fails-

Last-Ditch Effort For Campaign Finance Reform Fails in Senate

Senate Democrats tried to bring a campaign finance proposal to a votethrough a hostile amendment last night but the measure failed. Republicans ruled the amendment not germane but Democrats requested a vote of the entire chamber to rule on whether it was appropriate. Thirty legislators voted to support the amendment. Those legislators included the four members of the Independent Democratic Conference who have come under attack by advocates for not bringing campaign finance to a vote. Sen. Malcolm Smith who last caucused with the IDC voted against the amendment. Smith is currently under indictment for fraud and bribery. Sen. Ruben Diaz, who conferences with Democrats, also voted against the measure. All of the Republican conference voted against the amendment. Democrats had a press release ready blaming the Republican/IDC conference for the amendment's failure but all of the IDC did vote for the amendment.

Other Stories We're Following

Thompson to Unveil Plan for Housing Authority Today (NY 1)

Assemblyman Cut Off For Bringing up Lopez During Debate (Lower Hudson Journal)

Legislature Likely To Pass Tax-Free Zone Program (Wall Street Journal)

Game of Chicken Over Women's Equality Act (Albany Times Union)

Weiner Criticized For Not Condemning Anti-Gay Slur (Wall Street Journal)

Teacher's Union Endorses Thompson For Mayor (Daily News)

Liu Renews Questionable Claim He Worked in Sweatshop as Child (Daily News)

On Education, Lhota Lines up With Bloomberg (Crain's)

City Tries Again to Get New Taxi on the Road (Crain's)

Rally Against SUNY Cuts to Ambulance Service at LICH (DNAinfo)

Rent Board Approves Increases (NY 1)

Legislature Approves Lever Machines for NYC Mayoral Primary, Runoff(NY Times)

A Vote to Amend Gun Control Law at 2 AM (Gotham Gazette)

Senate Approves New MTA Chair (Gotham Gazette)

In Albany, Allies Clash Over Campaign Finance Reform (Gotham Gazette)

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dking@gothamgazette.com (David Howard King) The Eye-Opener Fri, 21 Jun 2013 11:30:57 +0000
Senate Has Close Encounter With Campaign Finance Reform http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/the-eye-opener/entry/state/2013/06/21/senate-has-close-encounter-with-campaign-finance-reform- http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/the-eye-opener/entry/state/2013/06/21/senate-has-close-encounter-with-campaign-finance-reform-

Despite failing to come to a deal on a campaign finance reform the state senate nearly voted on a bill that would have enacted a public financing campaign at around 10:20 tonight.

Senate Democrats introduced a hostile amendment to a bill crafted to allow the use of old-school lever voting machines in New York City's mayor primary and runoff elections this year.

Republicans ruled that the hostile amendment was not germane to the bill but Sen. Gustavo Rivera argued for it. The entire body took a vote on whether the amendment was germane.

The vote was 30 for the amendment--2 votes short of what were needed. All of the Independent Democratic Conference that has been chastised by advocates for not bringing campaign finance reform to a vote in the senate and most of the Democratic conference voted for the bill. Democratic Sens. Ruben Diaz and Malcolm Smith voted against the amendment. Sen. Simcha Felder who was elected as a Democrat but conferences with Senate Republicans also voted against the amendment.

Smith is under federal indictment for trying to bribe his way on to the Republican ballot for NYC mayor.

Senate Democrats issued a statement on the vote criticizing Senate Republicans for the failure of the amendment but the amendment could have passed if they had the support of just two more of their own members.

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dking@gothamgazette.com (David Howard King) State Fri, 21 Jun 2013 02:47:00 +0000
Who Are the Huntley 9? http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/the-eye-opener/entry/state/2013/05/08/who-are-the-huntley-9- http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/the-eye-opener/entry/state/2013/05/08/who-are-the-huntley-9- Sen. Shirley Huntley was having trouble with the FBI so she called up her colleagues and had them over to her house — to wiretap them.

According to court documents, Huntley was hoping to win favor with prosecutors when it came to her corruption case.

Today a judge unsealed Huntley's sentencing document unveiling a list of those she helped record for the FBI. They include several sitting Democratic Senators, a couple political consultants and a sitting Council member. Prosecutors have indicated that at least one of the people named on the list is not under investigation.

So who are these lawmakers and political operatives?

Lets start with the usual suspects: Sens. John Sampson of Brooklyn and Malcolm Smith of Queens.

Both men at one point headed the Demcoratic conference. Smith became Senate majority leader in 2009 after backroom powerbrokering with Sens. Pedro Espada, Hiram Monserrate, Ruben Diaz and Carl Krueger. When Espada and Monserrate jumped sides to the Republicans (causing the infamous Senate coup that paralyzed Albany for weeks), the pair were lured back to the fold when Sampson was named Democratic Conference leader. When Democrats were returned to the minority in 2010, Sampson replaced Smith.

Last year, Smith joined the Independent Senate Democrats becoming the chair of the conference, seemingly fixing the image problem that they had no minority members. This year Sampson was replaced by Andrea Stewart-Cousins as Minority Leader.

In April, Smith was arrested and indicted in a scheme to bribe his way onto the Republican line for New York City Mayor. Sampson was indicted on Monday on charges including embezzling from escrow accounts he managed as a lawyer to fund his failed run for Brooklyn district attorney.

Then there are the two borough president hopefuls: Sens. Eric Adams of Brooklyn and Jose Peralta of Queens. Adams is running for Brooklyn Borough President while Peralta is running for Queens Borough President.

Adams worked for 22 years as a New York City Police Department office and founded 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement, which advocates for black officers. Adams has been outspoken against racial profiling, stop-and-frisk, and police brutality.

Adams has served on a number of committees through the years and is currently chairing the Committee on Aging despite being a member of the minority conference. He was appointed by the Independent Democratic Conference this year.

Peralta served in the Assembly from 2002 until he won a special election against Monserrate in March of 2010. Peralta has been a major leader on immigrant rights, The Dream Act, and has advocated for gun control and reducing gun violence.

Sen. Ruth Hassell-Thompson, who represents parts of the Bronx and the city of Mount Vernon in Westchester, was elected to the Senate in 2000. Hassell-Thompson has been very outspoken on the Senate floor and involved in some heated debates. Hassell-Thompson tried to rally support to become minority leader when it was clear Sampson would be replaced but the bid failed.

Sen. Velmanette Montgomery represents parts of Brooklyn and has served in the Senate since 1984. Montgomery has spent time advocated on education and children's issues.

None of the state lawmakers or their representatives immediately responded to Gotham Gazette's requests for comment. However, Peralta's office said a statement was forthcoming.

The two political consultants named on the list are Melvin Lowe and Curtis Taylor.

Lowe is a longtime political operative with links to John Sampson and the Democratic State Senate Committee, as well as the developer of the Atlantic Yards project and Barclays Center. Taylor was Smith's spokesman during the height of the Queens politician's political career a couple years back. Taylor resigned from his post in 2008.

Contact information for Lowe and Taylor couldn't be immediately located.

The only city lawmaker to be named, Councilman Ruben Wills, represents the 28th Council District and was the former chief of staff for Huntley. He told reporters at City Hall today that his attorney assured him he is not the focus of an investigation.

Huntley Wire Document by Nick Reisman

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dking@gothamgazette.com (David Howard King) State Wed, 08 May 2013 18:56:17 +0000
Andrea Stewart-Cousins Elected Senate Minority Leader http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/the-eye-opener/entry/state/2012/12/18/andrea-stewart-cousins-elected-senate-minority-leader- http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/the-eye-opener/entry/state/2012/12/18/andrea-stewart-cousins-elected-senate-minority-leader- Andrea Stewart-Cousins is the new head of the Senate Democrats. The Westchester Senator was elected by a 19-6 vote over Sen. John Sampson and is the first woman to head a legislative conference in New York State.

"I will work with my colleagues in the Republican and IDC Coalition to ensure that the progressive issues that both the Governor and our conference believe in are advanced. I want to thank Sen. Sampson for all his hard work and his dedication to the Senate Democratic Conference and to the people of New York," Cousins said in a statement.

Sampson took over as the head of the conference from Sen. Malcolm Smith in June 2009 after the Senate Coup. A number of Democrats expressed that they felt the vote would help move the conference forward from the association with the troubled period when the conference was in the majority.

Here are statements from a number of Senate Democrats: “I look forward to working with Leader Stewart Cousins as we move the Democratic Conference forward serving all New Yorkers. The people of New York want a progressive and democratic agenda and that is what the Democratic Conference under the leadership of Senator Stewart Cousins will provide,” stated Senator John Sampson.

Senator Eric Adams said, “New Yorkers deserve a state government that responds to them, not the special interests. That is why I am so pleased that Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins will lead our conference and together we will advance the progressive legislative agenda called for by the residents of this great state.”

Senator Joe Addabbo said, “I commend our new Democratic Conference leader, Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins, for her dedication to the conference and the hard working men and women of New York State. I look forward to working with her to advance the progressive agenda the voters sent us to Albany to achieve.”

Senator Tony Avella said, “The Senate Democratic Conference has been instrumental in the fight for common-sense, progressive legislation. Senator Stewart-Cousins will continue that proud tradition as she leads our conference into the upcoming legislative session.”

Senator Neil Breslin said, “I applaud Senator Stewart-Cousins on becoming the next leader of the Senate Democratic Conference. The people of New York expect progressive leadership from their state representatives, and under Senator Stewart-Cousins, that is exactly what we are going to ensure gets done.”

Senator Ruben Diaz, Sr. said, “Senator Stewart-Cousins will be an excellent leader for our conference, and will be a powerful voice for good government. The residents of New York State need a leader like Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins to represent their interests, and I am honored to serve with her.”

Senator Martin Dilan stated, “I congratulate Democratic Conference Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and look forward to helping her stand up for the working men and women of New York.”

Senator Adriano Espaillat, said, “Under Conference Leader Stewart-Cousins, Senate Democrats will continue to be a powerful voice for New York’s working families. I look forward to working with Senator Stewart-Cousins to continue to grow the Democratic conference and apply progressive solutions to move our state forward.”

Senator Mike Gianaris said, “I want to give my immense thanks to John Sampson for his leadership and I look forward to working with Democratic Conference Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins. Her historic election will help move our conference forward and help us pass the progressive agenda that we successfully ran on and the people of New York have demanded.”

Senator Ruth Hassell-Thompson said, “I am proud to join my Democratic colleagues on this historic occasion in applauding our new Conference Leader, Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins. Senator Stewart-Cousins has been an excellent public servant, and I am confident she will be an exceptional leader for our conference.”

Senator Tim Kennedy said, “Senator Stewart-Cousins has been a voice for the underserved and a champion for working families. Today she earned her place in history by becoming the first female, African-American Minority Leader in New York State history. I look forward to working with her and continuing to move this state in a new direction by championing issues that are important to Western New Yorkers.”

Senator Liz Krueger said, “Senator Stewart-Cousins will ensure that New York remains committed to a progressive agenda. She has been a great Senator and I know will be a great Conference Leader.”

Senator Velmanette Montgomery said, “Senator Stewart-Cousins will be an excellent leader for the Senate Democratic Conference and I commend her on her new position. I look forward to working with her, and all of my Democratic colleagues to protect the interests of all New Yorkers, not the privileged few.”

Senator Kevin Parker said, “I commend Senator Stewart-Cousins and join with my colleagues in supporting her as our new Conference leader. Under Senator Stewart-Cousins we will continue to be outspoken advocates for those New Yorkers who need a progressive state government the most.”

Senator Jose Peralta said, “I am proud to support Senator Stewart-Cousins as Democratic Conference Leader. This next session will be extremely important and we must work together to ensure the people of New York have a strong voice fighting for them in Albany to increase the minimum wage and enact common sense gun laws.”

Senator Bill Perkins said, “I look forward to working with our new leader, Senator Stewart-Cousins, and all of my colleagues in the State Senate to ensure that New Yorkers receive the effective state government they deserve.”

Senator Gustavo Rivera said, “As someone who helped work to elect Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins, I am particularly proud today to join my colleagues in the Democratic conference in selecting Andrea Stewart-Cousins as our new leader. Together, we will fight to advance the progressive agenda New Yorkers so clearly have called by overwhelmingly voting for Democrats this past election.”

Senator Jose Serrano said, “I commend Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins and look forward to serving with her as our new Democratic Conference leader. The residents of New York have repeatedly called for progressive leadership, and that is exactly what Senator Stewart-Cousins, and the entire Democratic Conference, will provide.”

Senator Daniel Squadron said “Today we made history, electing the first woman leader of a New York legislative conference. I look forward to working with Senator Stewart-Cousins’ leadership to continue to move forward the progressive foundation that Senator Sampson has built.”

Senator Toby Stavisky said, Senator Stewart-Cousins will be the first female legislative leader in New York State history, and I am honored to serve with her. Senator Stewart-Cousins will be an excellent leader for the Democratic conference and I commend her for her dedication to the conference and residents of New York.”

Senator-Elect Terry Gipson said, “I am eager to get to Albany and fight for my constituents. I am honored to support Senator Stewart-Cousins as Democratic Conference Leader.”

Senator-Elect George Latimer said, “I served with Democratic Leader Stewart-Cousins in both the State Legislature and the Westchester County Legislature and I know that she will be a strong voice for Democratic values.”

Senator-Elect Brad Hoylman said, “I look forward to taking my place in the State Senate this January to begin representing the interests of all my constituents. I am proud to be part of an historic first for New York State Government. With Senator Stewart-Cousins as our leader, I am confident that together with my Democratic colleagues we will give New Yorkers the progressive government they deserve. I commend Senator Sampson for laying the groundwork for our conference’s further success.”

Senator Elect Ted O’Brien said, “It is an honor for me to take my place alongside my Democratic Senate colleagues to select Senator Stewart-Cousins as our conference leader. I look forward to serving under her leadership and working to represent my constituents, and all New Yorkers, in the State Senate.”

Senator-Elect James Sanders, Jr. said, “Senator Stewart-Cousins has a distinguished history fighting for those who need state government the most. I look forward to joining the Democratic Conference under her leadership, and together we will continue the struggle to give New Yorkers the government they deserve.”

Senator-Elect Cecilia Tkaczyk said, “As I stand ready to complete the election process and take my place in the State Senate, I look forward to serving with Senator Stewart-Cousins as she leads the Senate Democratic Conference into the next legislative session and beyond.

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dking@gothamgazette.com (David Howard King) State Tue, 18 Dec 2012 00:24:27 +0000
Senate Dems Who Failed to Lead in Cuomo's Eyes Are The Ones Back in Control http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/the-eye-opener/entry/state/2012/12/05/senate-dems-who-failed-to-lead-in-cuomos-eyes-are-the-ones-back-in-control- http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/the-eye-opener/entry/state/2012/12/05/senate-dems-who-failed-to-lead-in-cuomos-eyes-are-the-ones-back-in-control-

There is a bit of a logic problem with the op-ed Gov. Andrew Cuomo's published today after it was announced that there would be a power-sharing agreement to run the State Senate.

Cuomo says in the op-ed that "the Democratic Conference was in power for two years and squandered the opportunity, failing to pass any meaningful reform legislation despite repeated promises."

But, as it happens, the people in charge of the Democratic conference when it was in the majority are currently members of the Independent Democratic Conference: Sen. Malcolm Smith was majority leader and Sen. Jeff Klein was deputy majority leader during the two years Cuomo recalls as "squandered."

And the man that the IDC struck a "power sharing" agreement with, Sen. Dean Skelos, helped plan and iniate the coup that paralyzed the chamber in 2009.

Furthermore, even after the Senate coup was resolved and Sens. Pedro Espada and Hiram Monserrate rejoined the Democratic conference fold, Smith retained the Senate presidency and Klein kept his title as deputy majority leader.

In fairness, Smith and Klein both had to contend with the Four Amigos — Sens. Carl Krueger, Ruben Diaz, Espada and Monserrate – and a number of other Democrats who refused to coalesce around certain policy issues and used the tight majority to leverage their votes.

But Klein was also using the situation to boost his power in the conference at the time.

Klein only left the Senate Democrats when he lost his position as head of the Senate Demcoratic Campaign Committee after a disastrous election performance that saw Democrats lose their slim majority.

Meanwhile, Senate Democrats have issued a statement saying they meet the litmus test that Cuomo issued in his op-ed. Democratic Senate spokesman Mike Murphy issued this statement:

This past session and through recent elections, the Senate Democratic Conference laid out a progressive agenda New Yorkers responded to and have overwhelmingly demanded through their votes on Election Day. The Governor has now presented a similar agenda including many issues the new Republican Coalition has opposed. Senate Democrats will continue to lead the fight on this progressive agenda, and we will hold the Senate Republican Coalition accountable until New Yorkers get the progressive change they deserve.

Sens. Malcolm Smith and Jeff Klein meant with Rep. Nancy Pelosi. Photo from Sen. Smith's Office.

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dking@gothamgazette.com (David Howard King) State Wed, 05 Dec 2012 18:12:12 +0000