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Friday, December 29, 2006

Serrano Jr. on Member Items

Here's an interesting item from John DeSio on the NY Press blog about Jose Marco Serrano, a Bronx state senator whose dad is Congressman Jose Serrano, and his thoughts on member items:

Just moments before the rumor of Gonzalez’s impending indictment began to swirl through political circles (about 15 minutes, to be exact), his colleague, state Sen. Jose M. Serrano, a fellow Democrat representing both Manhattan and The Bronx, spoke about the culture of “pork” funding and just what criteria he uses to fund groups in his own district. Serrano has been brutally honest about his own member items, even going as far as publishing a full list on the Room Eight political blog. Having been in the state a short time and also serving in the Democratic minority, Serrano gets just $150,000 to distribute each year. But that small amount is subject to rigorous background checks. “I’m not accusing anyone of anything, but this funding should not be used as an electoral tool, as a way to get brownie points,” said Serrano, adding that he would never fund anyorganization that would bring him or anyone else close to him a profit. “I only fund well-established programs.”

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Gerald Ford's Christmas Card

In remembering Gerald Ford this morning on NPR, Cokie Roberts read the message on the Christmas card from the former president and his wife, Betty:
"May this Christmas bring more wisdom to the way we look at the world and more love to the way we live in it."

Happy Kids

We just like this photo (by David Greene) from the St. Brendan's School of Music's recent concert. It will appear in the next print edition of the Norwood News -- out tomorrow.

Happy holidays, everyone!

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Bumper Crop of News Pols in Brooklyn

Two articles over the weekend about Brooklyn politics in the New York Times provide a rather stark contrast to affairs here in the Bronx.
The first one highlights the fresh crop of new, and relatively young, elected officials poised to take office in the City Council, the state legislature and Congress. Only one of them, Yvette Clarke, is the offspring of a politician. Six current Bronx elected officials either inherited their parent's seat or were elected to a different office with the strong support of mom or dad. The article stresses the professional backgrounds of the Brooklyn rookie lawmakers. Eric Adams, who won an open state Senate seat, was an NYPD captain and leader of 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement. Hakeem Jeffries, a new assemblyman, was a lawyer for CBS. Darlene Mealy, elected to the City Council last year, was an executive assistant and NYC Transit. This new crop of officials has kept Brooklyn machine politics at arms-length if not much further.
The second one, about the race to replace Clarke, who served in the Council until her recent election to Congress, reports that there are at least 18 potential candidates for the post.
Now, why is it that so many people think they are allowed to run for office in Brooklyn? Do they have better textbooks on democracy in Brooklyn schools? Has the departure of Clarence Norman shaken the borough's Democratic machine that badly that so many people actually think running for office isn't just folly.
One wonders what seat in the Bronx would attract a quarter of that interest. If State Sen. Efrain Gonzalez steps down in a plea deal with prosecutors, as seems likely, will there be anyone other than the usual suspect lining up to replace him? Or will the machine just annoint Council Member Maria Baez and that will be that?
Please post a comment if you have any thoughts on this or anything else.

Christmas Day ...

... was a bad news day for Sen. Gonzalez.

New Horizon On-Line

The new edition of the Highbridge Horizon is on-line.
Also, Horizon editor Tony Richards reports exclusively for the West Bronx News Network on the groundbreaking for the interim track-and-field facility that will open next spring just west of Yankee Stadium. The old track at Macombs Dam Park was eliminated to make way for the new stadium. Controversy still swirls around the issue of replacement parkland.

New Stories on the WBNN and the Mount Hope Monitor

The West Bronx News Network and the Mount Hope Monitor have been updated. Stories include:

Construction of Track and Field Facility Underway
Local elected officials and city representatives presided over a groundbreaking ceremony for an interim track-and-field facility on December 16. The interim track, just west of the existing Yankee Stadium, will serve as a replacement for Joseph J. Yancey Track and Field, which was torn down to pave way for construction of a new stadium. The ceremony came at a time when the city had come under fire because of a delay in providing the community with a replacement track.

Dependent Housing Projects Raise Community Board’s Hackles
Community Board 5 is concerned about the large number of dependent housing facilities in the district. "We're getting inundated," said district manager Xavier Rodriguez.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Then again ...

Governor-elect Spitzer issued a statement Saturday and it seemed to put the kibosh on any talk of Carrion succeeding Hevesi:
The new comptroller "should have significant experience in financial matters," the statement read. "This is imperative, given the comptroller's role in managing one of the nation's largest pension funds."

Friday, December 22, 2006

Comptroller Carrión?

Now that State Comptroller Alan Hevesi has stepped down in a plea deal with the Albany County prosecutor, speculation over who will replace him is at full throttle.
Believe it or not, Bronx Brough President Adolfo Carrión is on some early lists (the state legislature gets to decide). Carrion was trained as an urban planner but doesn't have an accounting degree. Neither does Hevesi, but he has a doctorate in public law and government and served two terms as city comptroller before taking control of one of the world's largest pension funds.
Carrion is basically already running for mayor. Would the personable beep want to run for Gracie Mansion from the more important, but decidedly less street-level suites of the comptroller's office?
If he does take the promotion, who replaces him? Council Majority Leader Joel Rivera is probably the favorite, since his father, Assemblyman and Bronx Democratic Chair Jose Rivera, will basically handpick the machine-backed candidate.
Might other young, ambitious Bronx pols, like State Senator Jose Marco Serrano, make the bid for Borough hall?
An upstater may well get the comptroller gig, since the three other statewide offices will be held by NYC residents beginning Jan. 1. But it would certainly set off an interesting game of musical podiums should Carrion replace Hevesi.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Hunts Point Express

Bernard Stein, the Pulitzer-prize winning former editor (but still co-owner) of the Riverdale Press, started the Hunts Point Express with his students at Hunter College earlier this year. Like the Mount Hope Monitor, it's primarily an on-line paper, but there have been a couple of print editions and the latest just hit the streets.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Higbridge Residents Protest Shooting

The news coverage of this incident has been rather scant, but last Wednesday police in Highbridge reportedly shot and killed a 19-year-old during a struggle. The young man, Timur Person, reportedly had a gun in his waistband.
Borough President Carrion issued this statement on Monday:

"My prayers go out to the family of Timur Person during this tragic time. I am confident that District Attorney Johnson and the New York City Police Department will conduct a fair and thorough investigation of this incident. I ask the community to remain calm, and withhold judgment until an investigation is completed. Police officers have job to do, often times under difficult circumstances; we must allow them to continue do their jobs protecting the citizens of the Bronx. I expect that everyone, police and residents will treat one another with respect and civility."

Free-lance photographer David Greene, who took the photo at left, reports that 100 protesters gathered outside the 44th Precinct today to protest the incident.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Riveras in the News

José Rivera, the Bronx Democratic chairman, recently turned 70, and last Saturday he was profiled in The New York Times.
As reporter Manny Fernandez writes, Rivera's supporters, "praise him for strengthening the political muscle of Puerto Ricans in New York City and for building a family dynasty in the Bronx."
But, Fernandez goes on, Rivera has his detractors as well, who accuse the party chairman of nepotism and a "disorganized leadership style." Fernandez also reports that Rivera is under investigation by the F.B.I., "over allegations of wrongdoing involving real estate dealings." No charges have been brought and Rivera insists the feds will find he's done nothing wrong.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Chávez's Cheap Oil Returns to the Bronx

Hugo Chávez, George W. Bush's "tormentor-in-chief," is again pumping oceans of discounted heating oil into poor Bronx neighborhoods, including Mount Hope. Regardless of the Venezuelan president's motives, he will be saving thousands of families hundreds of dollars each this winter.
Read more about the fuel-assistance program here, in a new article in The Nation. Last year, when Chávez's gesture started a media storm, there was this article in The New York Times. And there was this in the Norwood News.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Another Gonzalez Indictment

The U.S. Attorney's office has brought new charges against State Senator Efrain Gonzalez, the Democrat who represents a large chunk of the west Bronx. The embattled lawmaker was also indicted in August on related charges. He is due in federal court tomorrow for a pre-trial conference.
The Norwood News covered Gonzalez' relationship to the nonprofits he created in this in-depth 2004 article.

Details on Carrion Interview Walkout

Here's more details from the Bronx Boro News (weekly insert to Daily News) concerning the beep's response to a News 12 question about the replacement track promised to residents in return for the one the Yankees tore up to make room for their new stadium.

Carrion and ...

Obama? (Odd mention here of a Feb. 21 meeting, but seems to be a typo since the item references the Illinois senator's visit last week.)

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

If Hillary Runs, Serrano on Board

Congressman Jose Serrano has now stated for the record that he would support Hillary Clinton's White House bid should she decide to run, which is worth noting because of his staunch anti-war position.
Meanwhile, Congressman Eliot Engel was positively giddy in the New York Observer about his conversation with the state's junior senator when she called to seek his backing.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

The WBNN and the Mount Hope Monitor have been updated

The WBNN and Mount Hope Monitor have been updated with new stories.

"South Bronx Contempory" at Longwood Art Gallery, features four distinct exhibits, including one curated by current Longwood Art Project director, Edwin Ramoran, that showcases the work of 40 up-and-coming Bronx artists. Read more about it here on the West Bronx News Network. The gallery, at 450 Grand Concourse, is open Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. "South Bronx Comtemporary" runs through March 10.

Also on the West Bronx News Network, read about how the city is cracking down on renegade landlords - many of whom own buildings in the West bronx - and how some continue to slip through the gap.

In 1856, Mount Hope was little more than a collection of farmhouses surrounded by pasture and forest. To read how it became one of the most heavily populated neighborhoods in the city, click here.

Saturday, December 9, 2006

More on Missing Track

Here's a little more on the Macombs Track Story. The New York Observer's blog reports (Metro NY reported it, too) that Borough President Carrion walked out on a News 12 interview on Wednesday when asked about the Parks Department's failure to deliver the replacement track it promised in return for the one the Yankee stadium construction destroyed at Macombs. News 12 doesn't have the video on-line. If you saw the segment, tell us what you think.

Friday, December 8, 2006

Macombs Track Still Not Replaced

Metro NY reporter Patrick Arden has made a mini-career of chronicling the politics and community realities of the Yankee stadium project.
His latest installment documents the state of affairs at Community Board 4, which appears to have done very little work since last spring, when Borough President Carrion removed the board's chair after he failed to marshal enough votes to support the stadium plan.
Arden's article also points out that the replacement track the community was promised in return the removal of one in Macombs Dam Park, which is now ground zero for stadium construction, still has not been delivered.

Thursday, December 7, 2006

Latest Norwood News On-Line

The latest issue of the Norwood News features the following stories:
New Enforcement Program Aimed at City’s Worst Buildings
Last summer, HPD, New York City Council and non-profit housing advocates launched a new campaign to target the city’s most neglected buildings. More than a year later, the program is being hailed as success, but problems and broken locks remain.
Remembering a ‘Connector’
The Norwood News says farewell to the legendary community activist and senior advocate Sister Annunciata Bethell.
College Hoops!
Check out some of the most compelling story lines coming out of our local college teams, including the Monroe College women’s hoop squad’s epic 40 game wining streak.
And also available on-line at www.bronxmall.com/norwoodnews: Community leader’s role raises questionsEditorial: Rivera must clarifyCheck out what’s going on in the community.

Gonzalez Pre-Trial Conference Postponed Again

The pre-trial conference of State Senator Efrain Gonzalez, who was indicted on Aug. 25 on fraud charges, has been postponed again. Originally scheduled for Oct. 13, the session was moved to Nov. 17, and now will supposedly happen on Dec. 15, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office. Judge William Pauley will preside over the case in a Manhattan federal courthouse.

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

More Coverage of WBNN

City Limits has an article about the Mount Hope Monitor and the West Bronx News Network.
And the Daily News' Bronx edition gave it some ink today, too.

Monday, December 4, 2006

Blogs Cover WBNN Launch

Two blogs have written about the launch of the West Bronx News Network following the New York Times article.
This post from New York Magazine's Intelligencer blog gives 5 reasons why the Mount Hope Monitor is its new favorite newspaper -- sort of. We know they're having a little fun at our expense, but hey, we can take it.
This one, from former Knight Ridder editor Ken Doctor's blog, introduces WBNN this way:

Those of us in the trade have looked for the first simmering signs that grassroots, community-generated journalism might actually become real. We've see some signs in places -- usually in suburban places, nice, small, gainly places. Places like Half Moon Bay, Westport, Brattleboro, Montclair, N.J.

Now the West Bronx News Network, an umbrella for three sites in one of New York City's toughest areas, is telling us something new about the power of the press, the online press, and reminding us that A.J. Liebling's famous line about freedom of the press belonging to those who own one may have a new meaning in the 21st Century. ....

Sunday, December 3, 2006

Public Access TV Gets Reprieve

Public access TV stations like BRONXNET (Cablevision channels 67-70) are where many media makers get their start. The cable industry has been required to set aside money for the so-called PEG (public, educational, or governmental) channels. The stations and public access producers were worried that, as the city negotiated new franchise agreements with cable providers, the requirement would be eliminated. A City Limits article reports that the stations are safe for now.
West Bronx Blog will try to keep tabs on issues that affect the availability of local media.

Friday, December 1, 2006

WBNN in The New York Times

In today's Metro Section there's an article by Manny Fernandez about the launch of the West Bronx News Network and the Mount Hope Monitor.