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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Last Post of the Year ....

Thanks to all of you who have read this blog and commented throughout 2008. Our readership is growing slowly but steadily. Look for some significant changes on the blog in 2009. We're still planning and working out the details, but we see this blog as an entry point for all those interested in Bronx news and events and as a digital soapbox for Bronxites of all backgrounds to discuss important issues. Creating more interaction among readers on this site is a top priority for us.

Some of you have already heard about -- and contributed financially to -- our Campaign for a Bronx News Network, which seeks to link and strengthen nonprofit media in the Bronx. We'll post more about this here very soon, and when we do we are going to be asking you for your help because we definitely can't grow without your support -- financial and otherwise. We'll be telling you more soon, and we'll be looking for your advice and input as well.

Meanwhile, I'd like to thank Alex Kratz of the Norwood News and James Fergusson of the Mount Hope Monitor for all their hard work on the blog this year, as well as Highbridge Horizon editor Tony Richards and Bernard Stein at the Hunts Point Express for their contributions. I'd also like to thank interns at the Norwood News and Mount Hope Monitor who help make this blog what it is. And I especially want to recognize guest bloggers Gregory Lobo-Jost and Nick Napolitano who do what they do for nothing other than a love of the Bronx and its neighborhoods. They are no longer really "guests" but regular citizen contributors to this exciting work-in-progress.

We look forward to involving many more of you in 2009.

Have a happy, peaceful and safe New Year.

-Jordan Moss

Bronx News Roundup for Dec. 31

New Democratic Party Chairman Carl Heastie sat down for dinner with State Senator-elect Pedro Espada and State Senator Ruben Diaz, Liz Benjamin reports. Heastie wouldn’t divulge the specifics of what was discussed, only that he has been reaching out to all elected officials in the borough. Espada and Diaz of course are two of three state senators withholding their support from Senate Dems’ choice for leader, Malcolm Smith, thus endangering the prospects of the party’s first-in-a-generation control of the state legislature. More here.

Assemblywoman Carmen Arroyo took issue with Diaz’s staunch opposition to gay marriage and gay rights in general at a recent forum for LGBT families. Look for it at the end of this video -- billed as a holiday card to Sen. Diaz -- produced by the NY Civil Liberties Union and Bronx Pride.

Jefforson Park in Harlem has tested positive for lead, so the city is now testing the 98 fields around the city with artificial turf – presumably including the brand new field in Williamsbridge Oval Park, which has already proved tremendously popular with locals. Councilman Eric Gioia has introduced legislation mandating a 6-month moratorium on installing artificial turf in city parks. The Norwood News wrote about the controversy concerning artificial turf here.

Awaiting the 2010 Census: An End of the Year Demographic Teaser!

I know things are slow in the West Bronx news-wise, so in addition to Jordan's editorial request, here's an end of the year treat for all of you data-geeks like me:

The Census Bureau, in addition to gearing up for 2010, has been keeping busy all decade long with the American Community Survey which tracks smaller samples of the population in various geographies. Because of the small sample size, much of the data isn’t so reliable, and for New York City, there isn’t much below the county level. Recently, the Census’s American Fact Finder website has released 3-year estimates for 2005-2007. While the data isn’t quite as current as the 2007 ACS, it has a much larger sample size than the one year ACS and should be considered more reliable (although still nowhere close to the decennial census).

I took a quick look at some of the data on immigration to uncover certain trends to expect in 2010, and to verify some of what we see in our neighborhoods everyday. Overall, the foreign-born population in the Bronx is estimated to have jumped 12.5% since 2000 from 385,827 to 434,251. Foreign-born residents now likely comprise 31.7% of the borough’s population, up from 29.0% in 2000. Citywide, the Bronx now is estimated to have 14.3% of all foreign born residents, up from 13.4% in 2000.

Where are the big changes coming from? Counteracting drop-offs in the Irish- and Yugoslavian-born populations are dramatic increases in West African, Dominican and Mexican populations (no big surprises here). Almost half of the 60,500 West African-born NYC residents live in the Bronx, including 63% of those born in Ghana (estimates show about 12,600 Ghanaian-born Bronx residents).

In 2000, Manhattan still had more Dominican-born residents than the Bronx, but there is little doubt that this is still the case. Estimates show the Dominican-born population in the Bronx has grown from 124,000 in 2000 to nearly 140,000 in recent years, while Manhattan’s share has dropped from 125,000 to 109,000 (many fleeing the rapidly rising rents in upper Manhattan). About 39% of all NYC residents born in the D.R. live in the Bronx.

It comes as little surprise that the Mexican-born population in the Bronx has grown dramatically. In fact, estimates show it has virtually doubled since 2000 to over 38,000. The overall number of Central American-born Bronx residents has shot up a third from 46,000 to nearly 62,000, or about 22% of the City’s total.

The Bangladeshi-born population has also swelled from about 4,000 to an estimated 7,500. In addition, the relatively small Middle Eastern-born community (referred to on the Census as Western Asia) has grown 75% from 2,250 to almost 4,000.

Feel free to post any questions about this data or a specific question about a country I didn’t mention. Happy New Year, everyone!

I posted this in the comment section based on a question about changes in the Puerto Rican population:

I was able to pull out corresponding tables from 2000 and the 2005-2007 ACS estimates called "HISPANIC OR LATINO ORIGIN BY SPECIFIC ORIGIN" which shows us what people are identifying as (as opposed to where they were born). According to these data sets, the Bronx had a net gain of 215 residents who identified as Puerto Rican. As a percentage of total residents this is a drop of .6%, and as a percentage of all Latinos, this is a drop of 3.6%. Across the five boroughs, Manhattan and Brooklyn lost 2,500 and 10,300 Puerto Ricans respectively, while Queens and Staten Island gained 2,500 and 6,900 respectively. Obviously, the biggest changes are in Brooklyn and Staten Island, the latter of which increased its self-identifying Puerto Rican population by nearly 25%.

Overall there was a net loss of 3,323 Puerto Ricans in NYC, while the surrounding counties (Fairfield in CT, Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Middlesex, Morris, Passaic and Union in NJ, and Dutchess, Nassau, Orange, Rockland, Suffolk and Westchester in NY) picked up about 20,000. Westchester had the biggest numerical increase at close to 7,000 (similar to the increase in Staten Island) while Morris, Bergen and Orange counties has the largest percentage increases.

From another angle, Puerto Ricans comprise a smaller share of all Latinos in virtually every county since 2000 -- the exceptions being Morris County NJ and Manhattan, where it's simply a case of other Latinos leaving faster than Puerto Ricans. The biggest estimated growth among Latino groups in the Bronx? In order: Domincans +80,772, Mexicans +27,216, Ecuadorians +10,415, and Hondurans +6,877.

Any other questions?

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Help Me Write My Editorial

Call it the New New Journalism, or Journalism 2.0 -- or call it "I need your help because everyone is on vacation this week."

But I'm writing an editorial for the next issue of the Norwood News about the good things we want to see for the Bronx in 2009. And really it will be a much better editorial if you participate. Tell me what you'd like to see happen in 2009 that would be good news for you and your fellow Bronxites. It could be anything from hoping your favorite local restaurant will stay open during these difficult economic times to wishing for better political decision making from the borough's elected officials.

It's really wide open. I'll re-post many of your comments into a regular blog post at the end of the week, and some of them will make it into my editorial. If you like another commenter's comment, indicate that, too. And please sign at least your first name. The New Year's angel doesn't listen to wishes from people called "Anonymous."

Happy New Year, everyone!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays

A scene from a tree lighting in Poe Park last week. Photo by Adi Talwar.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

News of the Day and Happy Holidays!

The phones have stopped ringing and everyone’s gone home (except me), so I thought I’d leave you with a few tidbits in the news we’ve yet to alert you to … Have a great holiday everyone. We’ll be posting sporadically until Monday.

While it’s been reported that Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion will be tapped by Barack Obama to be director of a new White House office of Urban Policy, nothing has been confirmed yet. So that leaves Carrion in a tough position, not knowing for absolute certain (we’re assuming nothing is certain until it’s publicly announced) whether he’ll be headed to D.C., running for city comptroller or running for third term as borough president. And, as WNYC reports, it leaves him in a tough position when supporters wish him well in his new job.

Don’t miss Bob Kappstatter’s deliciously catty Boro News column this week. He’s handing out lumps of coal and candy to the borough’s pols. What a year it’s been.

State Senator Jeff Klein is pursuing legislation to give renters in foreclosed homes sufficient time before they are evicted.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Takin' it to Their Streets

A WFP canvasser in Hunts Point soliciting signatures to get Pedro Espada and
Ruben Diaz to support a Democratic majority in the state Senate.

The Working Families Party, a feisty liberal political party that knows how to organize, is collecting petition signatures in the Bronx Senate districts of Senator Ruben Diaz, and Sen.-elect Pedro Espada. They want both Democratic pols, who have been withholding their support from Majority-Leader-in-Waiting Malcolm Smith in hopes of scoring plum leadership assignments, to vote with the Democrats on leadership positions. Smith agreed to, then reneged on, a deal to make Espada the Majority Leader while Smith would retain the superior title of President Pro Tempore.
Liz Benjamin has more on the petition gathering, similar efforts by organized labor, and the little matter of the third holdout senator, Carl Kruger, who Democrats need to keep in the fold, too, if they want to take power of the state Senate for the first time in 40 years.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Yes, Virginia, There are Hawks in the Bronx

These incredible photos of a hawk on Reservoir Oval in Norwood were taken by Adi Talwar, a local resident and frequent contributor to the Norwood News. To see the photos larger, just click on the slide show.

News Roundup for Dec. 22

President-elect Barack Obama's selection of Dr. Rick Warren to deliver his inaugural invocation has incited national criticism over the evangelical preacher's stance on homosexuals, including Warren's support of Proposition 8, a California referendum that defined marriage as the union between a man and a woman. Just a small sampling of the vitriol aimed at Obama includes an editorial in today's LA Times, another that appeared last week on Time.com, and the recent comments made by Massachusetts Representative Barney Frank, one of only 2 openly gay US Representatives, who called the decision "a mistake."

Sen. Ruben Diaz (file photo)

More locally, Elizabeth Benjamin reports for the Daily News that at least one elected official in the Bronx has publicly gone on record in support of the President-elect's choice of Warren. State Sen. Ruben Diaz issued a statement yesterday applauding Obama's decision and encouraging him to reject "the call to dis-invite" a man he lauds as an opponent of "homosexual marriage."

Today, the NYC Department of Health announced the launch of a study on neighborhood air quality. Hailed as the "first comprehensive effort to monitor street level pollution in neighborhoods across the five boroughs," the New York City Community Air Survey will install new air pollution monitors on 150 light posts across the city in an effort the City hopes will provide reliable data on the varying levels of air quality from one neighborhood to the next. More information about the survey is available on the Health Department's website.

The Museum of The City of New York's recently opened exhibit "Broken Glass: Photographs of the South Bronx by Ray Mortenson" will be on display through March. Documenting the physical condition of the South Bronx in the early 1980's, Mortenson's photos focus on abandoned buildings and other remnants of the urban economic crisis that left the neighborhood in a state of disarray.

From "Broken Glass: Photographs of the South Bronx by Ray Mortenson"

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Happy Winter Solstice

Chanukah is the Festival of Lights, so it was appropriate that its first night coincided this year with the first day of winter and the beautiful light show put on by the Parks Dept. and the Friends of Van Cortlandt Park to celebrate the Winter Solstice. Vistors lit candles on little wooden "boats" which were then launched on the shore of the lake. But they didn't go far, since the lake was practically frozen (it is winter after all).
The lights pictured here were candles in paper bags that lined the path hugging the lake. Hot chocolate was a welcome reward for all those who ventured out despite the lousy wether earlier in the day. The Parks Department and the Friends of Van Cortlandt Park sponsored the event.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Advertising Rates


City turns down school for green jobs

The city Department of Education has rejected a proposal to create a high school based on the ideas of the founder of Sustainable South Bronx and devoted to training students for jobs that can improve the environment.

The Majora Carter Achievement Academy was the brainchild of its namesake, the former executive director of the Hunts Point-based environmental justice organization. More than two years in the making, the proposal was developed by Stephen Ritz, an award-winning teacher and coordinator of student affairs at the Millennium Art Academy in the East Bronx.

Read the rest of the story in The Hunts Point Express

Friday, December 19, 2008

Bloomberg Backs Off of Controversial Senior Center Cuts

Facing pressure from the City Council, Mayor Bloomberg decided to abandon his plans to "modernize" (read: cut) senior centers. His plan had many senior centers, in the Bronx and citywide, facing possibly closure.

Saturday Memorial Service for Ursula Student

A memorial service for local teenager and Mt. St. Ursula student, Samira Ahmed, who died on Monday evening after collapsing on the basketball court, will be held on Saturday, Dec. 20, at Bronx Miracle Gospel Tabernacle.

To read some personal reflections about Samira, click here.

Senate Schmenate: Pedro for BP?

The Daily News' Liz Benjamin reports that Sen.-elect Pedro Espada would consider entering a possible special election for borough president (if current BP Adolfo Carroin officially lands a White House urban policy gig) if his demand for a significant leadership position is not met. Espada only lost a 2001 primary against Carrion for the BP job by about 4,000 votes. With Joel Rivera, Ruben Diaz, Jr., and possibly Maria del Carmen Arroyo in the mix, it's anyone's guess who would emerge victorious.

One thing is certain. 2009 will not be boring in the Bronx.

A snowy scene on Morris Avenue

Here's a shot taken this morning of the Morris Avenue Historic District near 179th Street.

Snow Day in the Bronx

A scene from Williamsbridge Oval Park at about 11:15 a.m. According to forecasts on the Weather Channel, the snow is expected to continue throughout the afternoon. At around 5 p.m., a rise in temperature may cause the snow to turn into rain. Enjoy it will it lasts, because once the rain starts, it will not be pretty.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Heastie Hasn't Heard from Caroline

Liz Benjamin reports that new Democratic Party Chair Carl Heastie hasn't heard from Caroline Kennedy, like most of his other counterparts across the city and state have.

Bronx News Roundup Dec. 18

Most "Bronx" stories on the Web and in this morning's papers focus on Ashlee Simpson, baby "Bronx Mowgli," and husband Peter Wentz, who's likely in the doghouse this morning following an interview with Howard Stern in which he probably said a little too much.

Here's the other stuff:

Chanting "Phase out Klein, not 399!" parents, teachers, and UFT representatives held a rally outside MS 399 in South Fordham yesterday, to protest the DOE's decision to close the school. Several other schools are also being shut down for poor performance in this latest round of cuts. All received a D or an F grade in the DOE's Progress Reports released in September. Rather than being closed immediately, the schools will be phased out gradually over a number of years. Earlier this year, it was announced that another local school, PS 79, would also be closing.

Newly recovered e-mails suggest (prove?) that Mayor Bloomberg aides bullied tax assessors into exaggerating the cost of the new Yankee Stadium (specifically the cost of the land), so that the Yankees could get their hands on $1 million in tax free bonds. More here.

Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz thinks Ruben Diaz Jr. would be a good choice for borough president, if current B.P. Adolfo Carrion lands a much rumored position with the Obama Administration. In truth, Dinowitz was never likely to support another probable candidate, Joel Rivera, the City Council majority leader. Dinowitz and others fought bitterly this fall with Rivera's father, Jose Rivera, over the leadership of the Bronx Democratic Party.

The funeral of Cardinal Avery Dulles, the respected theologian and Fordham University professor, is being held today, following his death last Friday. The BoogieDowners have more.

A 30-year-old woman was stabbed to death in Crotona Park East on Wednesday afternoon.

There have been several big drug busts in Bronx housing projects over the past two weeks.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Most Bronx Residents Struggle to Pay for Groceries

The Food Bank for NYC's most recent survey shows that half the City's residents have difficulty affording groceries.

...the number of city residents experiencing difficulty affording needed food has surged over the past five years — doubling from approximately 2 million to approximately 4 million from 2003 to 2008, representing almost half of all city residents (48 percent). The number having difficulty increased by almost 1 million (26 percent) within the past year alone, the highest increase in the history of the poll. Findings also show that 3.5 million city residents are concerned about needing food assistance (food from soup kitchens, food pantries and/or food stamps) during the next year, including 2.1 million (59 percent) who have never accessed food assistance in the past.
Check out the Norwood News's coverage of the report here. The New York Observer also covered these findings, pointing out that "only 34 percent of Manhattan residents said they needed assistance, while 55 percent of Bronx residents said they did," once again putting us #1 in the City. Much of this is likely due to the fact that it's typical for west Bronx residents to pay half of their income on rent. As the costs of housing and food have risen much faster than wages, more and more households are struggling. The report documents how 54% of Bronx residents had difficulty affording food this year, "up from 37 percent in 2003 (a 46 percent increase) and up from 50% in 2007."

Also related to food: The Voice's Robert Sietsema made the trip up to the area to check out World of Taste Vietnamese restaurant on Jerome Ave just below Kingsbridge Rd. The review:
...no place can match the excellent Vietnamese food I've been eating lately at an unexpected location—Jerome Avenue in the Fordham section of the Bronx.
He also profiles two local Cambodian markets in the piece. World of Taste also received a strong review from Jennifer Mitchell in the September 4 edition of the Norwood News.

(If you notice one other trend here -- citywide papers get a lot of their story ideas from neighborhood press like the Norwood News!)

Mt. St. Ursula Mourns Fallen Basketball Player

Tragic news coming out of Bedford Park this week.

During a Monday evening game, Mt. St. Ursula Academy sophomore basketball player Samira Ahmed (pictured, fourth from left) collapsed on the court and later died after being rushed to the hospital.

Read the full story by clicking here.

Bronx News Roundup Dec. 17

NY1 looks back at the biggest Bronx stories of 2008.

A devastated South Bronx block, a throwback to the turbulent 1970s, is the backdrop for an intricate - and unusual - nativity scene.

Tom Robbins from the Village Voice takes a closer look at dubious political histories of the "Gang of Three" - Ruben Diaz, Pedro Espada, and Carl Kruger - and their efforts to block Malcolm Smith from becoming Senate majority leader in January. Robbins sums up Diaz's career like so:

Rubén Diaz Sr., 65, a Pentecostal pastor from the Bronx, was elected to the senate in 2002 to represent one of the poorest districts in the city. Most of his energy goes toward combating the scourge of homosexuality.

Indirectly, the Rod Blagojevich scandal playing out in Chicago is hurting Espada et al's demands, according to a Post columnist, who also writes that the senators have been given new nicknames ("The Three Indictees" and "Somali Pirates") by Gov. Paterson's exasperated staff. More here.

A Pelham Parkway man, who despite his best efforts has struggled since arriving from Puerto Rico a year ago, has been given $1,500 by Mosholu-Montefiore Community Center, to help pay for back rent, clothes, and a cell phone. The community center is an agency of UJA-Federation of New York, one of the organizations supported by The New York Times Neediest Cases Fund.

A coin design honoring Puerto Rico is to be included in the popular "50 State Quarter" program, much to satisfaction of Congressman Jose Serrano and others.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Filipinos Make Mark on St. Ann's

This photo taken by former intern and current free-lancer Graham Kates captures the spirit of the Filipino community and the special way they celebrate Christmas at the Chuch of St. Ann on Bainbridge Avenue in Norwood. Read the story in the current issue of the Norwood News.

News from Hunts Point and Longwood

The latest issue of The Hunts Point Express just hit the streets, with articles on Gov. Paterson's vow to battle the asthma epidemic; the area's own cutting edge theater, the Bronx Academy of Arts and Dance; the sour economy's impact on small stores; the Public Advocate's call to close the Spofford juvenile detention center, and much more.

Bronx News Roundup, Dec. 16

Getting a late start today, but on to the many links we need to get to:

Local students and organizers went to the Community District 10 Education Council meeting last Thursday to demand more school seats to alleviate overcrowding. [More on this meeting later. We were there as well and it was not pretty. Students and teachers, one by one, told horror stories of kids trying to learn (and teachers trying to teach) in stairwells, windowless storage closets and water bug-infested locker rooms.]

Speaking of overcrowding, recent data released by the DOE says class sizes have gone up since last year. The Daily News says state budget cuts may further hinder the DOE's efforts to reduce class size in the city.

In his Bronx political column, the Daily News' Bob Kappstatter says Joel Rivera will definitely run for borough president if (when?) the current BP Adolfo Carrion takes a job with the Obama administration. Rivera planned on running until the term limits extension put Carrion back in play to keep his job. Now, if Carrion's gone, Rivera would face off against Assemblyman Ruben Diaz and, possibly Kappstatter says, Councilwoman Maria del Carmen Arroyo.

On Sunday, the Times profiled Bronx environmental justice superstar Majora Carter, who recently took her game national with a new for-profit consulting firm and country-wide speaking engagements.

A Bronx teen tells the Daily News about his harrowing fight with a knife-wielding BMW driver who attacked the teen for leaning on his ride.

Westchester Square Medical Center is in danger of closing.

More from trial of former actor Lillo Brancato (pictured right, with boxer Zab Judah), who is facing murder charges. In his testimony, Brancato said he was drug addict, not a murderer.

WNYC goes to a Bronx high school to talk about the worsening economy.

-Photo by David Greene

Monday, December 15, 2008

Klein Talks to Espada

Liz Benjamin reports that State Senator Jeffrey Klein strongly backs Malcolm Smith to become majority leader (despite rumors that the knives were out after Smith's backed out of a deal to give leadership position to Pedro Espada and two other renegade Dems). Klein talked to Espada and encouraged him to stay a Democrat, Benjamin reports.

Report: Carrion Will Head New White House Office of Urban Policy; Has Implications for Bronx Politics

The New York Post got to the news first. Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion will be tapped by President-elect Obama to run his newly created office of Urban Policy.

If in fact this report is accurate, then Carrion’s BP seat will be filled by special election. (He had one more year to go in his current term and was planning to run for comptroller.)

That could well test the engine of the brand new Bronx Democratic machine and could play a role in resolving the state Senate leadership crisis. For instance, the party could tell Sen. Ruben Diaz that they’ll pull out all the stops to elect his son, Ruben Diaz, Jr., to replace Carrion, if he stands down from his threats to withhold his support from the Democrats’ choice for majority leader. That would reduce the Three Amigos to the … well, you come up with a catchy name for a team of Pedro Espada and Carl Kruger and post it in the comments.

Here’s the little bit Obama’s transition Web site has to say about the Office of Urban Policy.

And according to a report in the Washington Post, the director of the office will report directly to the president. According to the Post, “Senior Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett told black columnists last month that the office would better coordinate federal efforts to help America's cities, and she called the head of the office ‘really a critical position.’”

And since it's not official yet, we'll leave you with this Gotham Gazette rundown of who's for and against an Adolfo promotion.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Carrion misses out on HUD post

So Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion won't serve as Barack Obama's Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. Instead, the president-elect chose Shaun Donovan, New York City's housing commissioner.

The Associated Press calls the appointment "something of a surprise." (One of the few to call it was the West Bronx Blog's very own Nick Napolitano. See comments at this end of this post.)

Carrion could still be in the running for other high-level positions.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Plans from the Four Bronx Institutions Alliance

A few years back, four large Bronx institutions came together to plan ways they could jointly push for improvements, mainly to roadways, in the area. Details from the plan put forth by Montefiore, Fordham University, the Botanical Gardens and the Bronx Zoo are available in the latest issue of Inside Fordham, a publication of the University. These include $11 million dollars already secured to improve East Fordham Road and Mosholu Parkway:

East Fordham Road and Mosholu Parkway will see the first changes:

Traveling north from the Rose Hill campus along Mosholu Parkway will be easier. The parkway’s intersections with Gun Hill Road and Sedgwick Avenue would be reconfigured to eliminate bottlenecks that create northbound traffic backups.

The parkway, meanwhile, would get new plantings to replenish its trees, along with rebuilt curbs and drainage improvements to alleviate flooding.

The FBIA also seeks to remove the Jersey barriers along East Fordham Road east of the campus, from Southern Boulevard to the Bronx River Parkway. The barriers would be replaced by an elevated median with space for greenery.

Those two projects have funding set aside in the city’s capital budget—design funds for both, and construction money for the East Fordham Road improvements.

Many other changes still in the conceptual phase are listed in the article.

Carrion Article Yanked From News Web Site

On a Village Voice blog, Neil deMause reports on the removal of a Bob Kappstatter article about critics of Adolfo Carrion from the Daily News' Web site. It apparently went up overnight and was removed by the following afternoon.

The text of the article which lives on in cyberspace thanks to the wonders of Google’s cache can be found here.

Kappstatter, whose weekly Bronx Boro News column is a must read for anyone interested in Bronx politics, told deMause there’s no really mystery around it, just that the News wanted to save the item for the column. So look for it in your Daily News (only editions sold in the Bronx) on Tuesday.

Whatever happened, there isn’t that much new in the article that hasn’t already been reported elsewhere – Andy Wolf scooping up the www.adolfocarrion.com domain name was reported in the Washington Post; a letter writing campaign waged by former CB4 members and people critical of the Yankee Stadium deal was reported in Metro NY; and Carrion telling a group of Yale Students that he had already been chosen for one of four cabinet positions in the Obama administration was reported first in the New Haven Independent.

Still, it can’t be pleasing to the Carrion camp, all of these developments appearing in the same NYC paper, which the Obama transition team probably combs carefully in vetting its NYC job candidates.

News of the Day for December 12

Liz Benjamin has this rundown of where things stand for Majority Leader wannabe Malcolm Smith.

Speaking of Liz Benjamin, she was the subject of a press release sent out by Ruben Diaz earlier today to clarify comments he had made previously to her about gays jamming his phones.

NY1 has a video interview with the wife of the man who police killed in North Fordham. She says he wasn’t wielding a baseball bat but a much smaller stick.

According to the Post, two witnesses say he lowered the bat and took a step back before he was shot, but 4 out of 15 witnesses say he had the bat chest high. The officer is on desk duty pending an investigation.

Newsday wonders when we’re going to get beyond the massive distraction of the leadership mess in the state Senate and start focusing on the task at hand – the state budget.

The News reports that 17,000 Bronx kids are without a school library.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

New from the Norwood News

A quick preview of the latest issue of the Norwood News, out on streets and online now.

Tenants at a Grand Concourse building are fighting a rent increase that they believe shouldn't have been imposed on them in the first place. In the process, they are underscoring systematic problems at the state agency that grants rent increases at rent-controlled buildings, the Division of Housing and Community Renewal.

With serious budget cuts looming, the Bx34 and overnight service for the Bx10, among others throughout the city, are on the chopping block, which would be a serious hassle for commuters and the elderly. Elected officials and rider advocates say a tax increase could stave off at least some of these cuts.

At the end of November, three murders hit the 52nd Precinct in the span of a week. The apparently unrelated killings all happened within a four-block radius, rattling a North Fordham neighborhood with a history of drug dealing and violence. [On top of that, the fatal police shooting of a man wielding a baseball bat on Tuesday night happened in this neighborhood as well.]

The Filipino community is making its mark during the holidays at St. Ann's, a Norwood-area church.

University Heights activist Haile Rivera gave up his life to get Barack Obama into the White House. Now, Rivera's following him to Washington in hopes of becoming part of the administration.

The Norwood News opines that the DEP is up to its old dirty tricks by taking more parkland to make room for construction of a parking lot for golfers.

Plus, check our online-expanded Neighborhood Notes section, find out what's happening over the holidays in our Out & About arts and entertainment calendar and see what local residents think about Borough President Adolfo Carrion in our Inquiring Photographer feature.

Espada on NY1 Tonight

State Senator-elect Pedro Espada is a guest tonight on Inside City Hall, the NY1 politics show hosted by Dominic Carter. The show runs from 7 to 8 p.m. It's shown again at ten.

Presumably, Espada will be talking about the Senate leadership race, the so-called Gang of Three, and Malcolm Smith, rather than his plans - whatever they might be - for the west Bronx and 33rd Senate District.

News Round-up December 11

The New York Times has more details about the fatal police shooting of Alex Figueroa in North Fordham Tuesday night. According to the Times, the officer has been identified as Michael Falcione of the 52nd Precinct. The Times reports that police are saying that Figueroa refused orders to drop a baseball bat. But some witnesses, including Figueroa's wife, told the Times police fired very quickly after ordering Figueroa to freeze. Meanwhile, police are saying that the resident who initially called 911 during a dispute in Figueroa's building lied and said somebody had a gun in an effort to get police to respond more quickly, the Daily News reports.

More than 17,000 Bronx students are suffering from a lack of school library access, today's Daily News reports.

What does the Yankees' new stadium have to do with the team's ability to sign highly-coveted free agents like pitcher C.C. Sabathia? The New York Times sheds some light on that here.

Debate continues about whether Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrión did -- or did not - - tell a Yale University crowd he had accepted a position in the Obama administration. And speculation continues about whether he will -- or will not -- be offered a position. Meanwhile, Carrión told the New York Observer last night that he is still a candidate for city comptroller in 2009.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Art Classes at the Bronx River Arts Center

Registration for art classes at the Bronx River Art Center, located near West Farms Square off of East Tremont Avenue at 2000 Bronx Street) will be open from December 13 to 20 for free youth art classes and fee-based art classes for adults. Classes for youth (ages 9 to 21) include ceramics, drawing, photography, advanced painting, mural painting, computer graphics and printmaking, comic book illustration, and digital media. Classes take place on weekday evenings at varied times depending on the class. Additionally, young adults can register for Saturday museum field trips to cultural institutions across New York City.

Adults can register for a Winter Blues Buster class that will run for 6 weeks from Mid January through March, with a minimum of 8 students. The adult class will cost $75. For additional information, contact Education Coordinator Kimberly Beazer at (718) 589-5819 x15 or email kbeazer@bronxriverart.org.

News Roundup December 10

The New York Times' Web site currently features a video of interviews with South Bronx residents regarding the recent $700 billion bail-out passed by Congress.

The Daily News reports that Newark Mayor Cory Booker is hoping to convince vendors of the Hunts Point Market to move the market across the Hudson.

The News also reports that the Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition is planning to turn out at tonight's District 10 Community Education Council hearing to demand more seats be included in the 2010-2014 DOE capital plan. That meeting takes place tomorrow night, Dec. 11, at 6:15pm , at Middle School 118, which is at 577 E. 179th St., near Third Ave. [Corrected from earlier post that said the meeting/rally was tonight. This Daily News story, which was posted to the Web Tuesday night, wrongly says the rally is "tomorrow."]

NY1 reports on the city's "Cribs for Kids" program, which provides free cribs to families in the South Bronx (along with Harlem and Brooklyn). As the article notes, the importance of babies having a crib to sleep in relates not just to comfort but to safety: if a baby has to sleep in the same bed as other children or adults, there is the risk of the baby accidentally being rolled over.
The city is asking for donations for its "Cribs for Kids"program.

Police gun down man in N. Fordham

The NYPD has once again killed a man that even police are not claiming possessed a gun.

NY 1 reports that an officer fatally shot 40-year-old Alex Figueroa around 11:45 pm Tuesday night at 196th Street and Bainbridge Avenue. The NYPD is claiming that Figueroa was wielding a baseball bat and refused to drop it.

Figueroa's wife denies this claim. "No baseball bat," Sandra Rodriguez told NY1. "That's a lie."

The New York Times and Daily News have also reported on this story. The News has some particularly powerful quotes from Rodriguez. Two that stand out:

*"I was standing right next to him when they shot him dead. He had his arms at his side. He was doing nothing."


"My husband was a church-going man. We moved to this country two years ago to pursue the American dream and look what happened to us - look what we get."

Here's my question: For the sake of argument, let's even say that Figueroa did have a baseball bat. How does that justify killing him?

Clearly there are conflicting accounts and details are still emerging, but I think Figueroa's neighbor raises important points when he tells NY 1, "No matter what they could have used bodily force to get him, to grab the bat, grab at him... I think that more men to physically hold instead of having to use their gun so quickly, I think that would have been more appropriate."

Rally Calls for End to Vacancy Decontrol

More than 500 NYC residents gathered together on Tuesday, December 9th at the New York Society for Ethical Culture to demand an end to vacancy decontrol, a practice by which landlords can take a vacant apartment out of rent regulation when the rent reaches $2,000. This rent control deregulation offers landlords incentives to raise rents to reach this threshold by whatever means necessary, including unsubstantiated improvements to common areas (major capital improvements), apartment renovations, and tenant harassment. Coalition members believe that they can get this law passed in Albany with a democratic-controlled state Senate, although that reality has been thrown into doubt by the unravelling of Malcolm Smith's deal with the Three Amigos.

A high school band kept energy levels high with pep songs at the start of the rally, and tenants led the room in chants like “La renta sube, sube/el pueblo sufre sufre” (The rent gets higher, higher/the people suffer suffer). Organized by Housing Here and Now, a coalition of non profit affordable housing providers, tenant groups, and community organizers, the rally called for the New York State Assembly and Senate to pass legislation to end this loophole.

The Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition (NWBCCC) was one of eight organizations that planned the spirited gathering, along with ACORN, Community Voices Heard, Make the Road NY, NYS Tenants & Neighbors Coalition, New York Immigration Coalition, NYC AIDS Housing Network, and the Working Families Party. Tenants involved with each of these organizations shared personal stories and reflections on the impact of vacancy decontrol on their struggle to maintain apartments in neighborhoods throughout New York City.

New York State Senators and Assembly members (or their representatives) in attendance signed a statement pledging to address repeal of vacancy decontrol with their chamber’s Speaker, Housing Chair, and the Governor by January 10, 2009. State senators in attendance were José M. Serrano, who represents parts of the South Bronx and East Harlem, Tom Duane, Andrea Stewart-Cousins, and representatives from Senators Liz Krueger, Diane Savino, Joseph Addabbo, and Daniel Squadron. There were also representatives from Assembly members Karim Camara, Hakeem Jeffires, Linda Rosenthal, and Deborah Glick.

Sitting in one of several NWBCCC sections underneath the balcony, it was difficult to assess the full size of the audience in the 812 seat venue but the main level was filled to capacity. We received a visit from Senator Jose Serrano who came to see his “Bronx people,” thanking us for coming and encouraging the work of New Settlement Apartment’s CASA Housing Organizing Initiative. Folks can get involved in future efforts to end vacancy decontrol by visiting the Housing Here and Now website or their blog.