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Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Out with the old, in with the new — Bronx

By Adam Wisnieski

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. wants you to meet the new Bronx. 

On Tuesday, five days after Mayor Michael Bloomberg touted his achievements during his final State of the City address, Mr. Diaz took the stage at Monroe High School in Soundview for his State of the Borough address. He took the opportunity to note the distance between the new Bronx and the stereotypes of old that he said the borough has gotten stuck with. 

“I stand before you as the president of a borough which has taken tremendous steps towards a brighter future,” he said. “The Bronx has come a long way in the last few decades.”

Mr. Diaz said in his fourth State of the Borough address that the borough is safer, cleaner and has a more robust economy than it once did. He said the Bronx saw new investments of $1.5 billion last year and more than $4.5 billion since he took office in 2009. He said he has attracted new businesses to the borough and he heralded deals that will bring FreshDirect, Smith Electric and the Residence Inn hotel to the Bronx. 

Mr. Diaz proposed the creation of a fund to promote green jobs and to retrofit Bronx buildings.

He praised the P-Tech School in Brooklyn, a six-year high school that prepares students for professional careers, just as President Barack Obama did in his State of the Union last week, and said he would like to bring a similar project to the Bronx that would prepare students for work in the real world.

Ever the cheerleader for the borough he has lived in his entire life, Mr. Diaz called on the audience of elected officials, Bronx leaders and journalists to “show the world how far we have come.”

“We are still fighting stereotypes of a previous generation. It is time to bury the idea that the Bronx is unsafe,” he said, boasting that last year’s murder rate was the lowest it’s been since 1963.

After praising the state legislature for passing new gun laws, Mr. Diaz proposed the creation of a gun crime registry modeled after the sex offender registry. It would allow residents to track those convicted of violent crimes in their neighborhoods.

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