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Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Real Rent Reform Campaign

Opinion from Guest Blogger Gregory Lobo Jost
Looking to undo the damage done to New York renters by the Rent Reform Act of 1997, a coalition of groups across the City (and suburbs) have launched a new campaign to increase rent regulations. According to Joe Lamport on Gotham Gazette, the main four goals of the campaign are:

    • Repealing vacancy decontrol, a provision of the law enacted in 1997 that allows
      landlords to remove apartments from the rent regulation system.
    • Reforming the Rent Guidelines Board. The board's annual deliberations have led to rent increases every year since it was created in 1969. Under current law, the mayor appoints all members. Advocates want that changed so that the City Council would have to approve those appointments. They also seek new rules that would require property owners to provide more timely income and expense data. Currently, the data on how much landlords collect from and spend on their buildings is a year old, based on filings to the city's Department of Finance one year before the board deliberates.
    • Saving Mitchell-Lama and Section 8 projects. Landlords received tax incentives and other considerations to build affordable housing under these programs. But now that rents are rising, landlords been buying out of these programs and, in many cases immediately begin charging market rents. Advocates want new laws that would put these apartments under rent stabilization.
    • Repealing the Urstadt Law. The Urstadt Law was passed in 1972 and effectively prevents the city from making housing laws to affect rent regulated apartments. Advocates want the return of "home rule" to the city on its housing.
The entire campaign depends on the Democrats taking control of the State Senate in November. Even if that does take place, a tough battle against the well-funded landlord lobby means the campaign will need to be strong and unified.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Rudy's 1999 visit to Norwood in the Bronx

Photo from 1999 Norwood News article

In 1999, Rudy Giuliani visited PS 20 in Norwood. His performance at that Town Hall meeting in a way encapsulates the entirety of his mayoralty. Anyway, here's a look back.

Panel for Yankee Stadium Funds Revealed, Money Still Not Spent

As part of its new stadium deal with the city, the Yankees baseball club signed a community benefits agreement that included a stipulation: every year until 2046, the team would funnel $1.25 million ($800,000 in grants and $450,000 in tickets, merchandise and equipment) back into the Bronx community through various nonprofit groups. A special panel was to supposed to be appointed to decide where the funds should go.

But 17 months after stadium construction began, none of those funds has made it back into the community and, according to a NY Times article, the special panel has yet to meet.

The Yankees referred questions about the funds to Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion, who is supposed to be organizing the panel and overseeing the fund distribution effort. Carrion wouldn't speak to reporters about it because he was too busy, according to his spokesman Mike Murphy.

Murphy went on to say the process of choosing a panel had not been completed because it "took time for people to look at the list [of panel candidates] and come to a consensus." Murphy said the interim president of the panel was Serafin Mariel, a Manhattan resident who used to run the now-defunct New York National Bank.

The latest news on the panel came last week from the Spanish-language daily El Diario, which reported that Mariel said the panel had been chosen and would start distributing the funds in March or April.

They also listed the rest of the panel: Ronald Bailey, pastor for Love Gospel Assembly Church; Leo Martinez, executive director of Alliance for Community Services; Ted Jefferson, executive director of Bronx Shepherds Restoration Corporation; Roberto Crespo, director of Knock for Freedom; and Harold Silverman, an ex-judge.

According to Muriel in the El Diario article, a seventh member of the panel dropped out because of a conflict of interest. Neither the Yankees or Carrion's office would say how and when a new seventh member would be chosen, the article said.

The community benefits agreement with the Yankees was signed in 2006 by Yankee President Randy Levine, Carrion and council members Maria del Carmen Arroyo, Maria Baez and Joel Rivera.

Only del Carmen Arroyo has spoken about it. She told El Diario that she and the other signatories on the agreement should take responsibility for the delay and, if she could do it over again, she would have first told the public that the process would not be very fast.

Other Bronx elected officials, including council members Oliver Koppell and Helen Foster (who represents the area around Yankee Stadium) said they had been left out of the loop while decisions about the fund were being made.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

We Want Your Bronx Election Reports, Photos!

If you're volunteering for one of the presidential candidates, or if you attend one of their rallies, we want to hear from you. Send us your impressions of the candidates, and photos if you've got them. We'll post them to the blog and credit you. Just e-mail whatever you've got to norwoodnews-at-norwoodnews.org.

More Bush Bashing from Engel

Fellow Bronx Congressman Eliot Engel (pictured to the right) echoed his colleague Serrano in pointing out Bush's shortcomings following the president's State of the Union address.

Engel, however, chose to enumerate all the problems facing our country because of Bush's policies.

"The State of the Union is not good," began Engel's blunt statement.

Here's a couple of other cheery highlights:

"The economy is in deep crisis..."

"Unemployment is rising and has passed a level not seen in recent years."

"Over a trillion dollars of our debt is being held, mostly by the Chinese, and the debt keeps increasing..."

"Far, far too many of our citizens, especially millions of children, have no health insurance..."

"...the lofty goals of the No Child Left Behind Act failed to have the necessary level of funding for it."

"In Iraq, there is no exit strategy, and no talk of one for our troops."

In the end, Engel offered a few suggestions to the President, including:

"He should have offered the promised funding for No Child Left Behind..."

"He should have offered an extended unemployment benefits package to help our laid off workers."

"There should be a program to reduce our deficit..."

Bronx Congressman on Bush's State of the Union

For those of you who didn't tune in to President Bush's final State of the Union speech, here's Bronx Congressman Jose Serrano's take. Let's just say, aside from the proposed economic stimulus package, Serrano, an outspoken critic of the current Republican administration, wasn't too impressed.

On the Iraq war:
"Tonight the American people got more of the same from President Bush -- especially on the failed Iraq war. As we approach 4,000 fatalities, and tens of thousands of wounded, we still have yet to hear a truthful assessment of the present condition on the ground, and a clear-eyed statement on our nation's future course in Iraq."

On the economic stimulus package:
"I am glad that the package that seems to be coming together focuses on helping working class and disadvantaged people...they are the people most hurt by slumps in the economy."

"I also am fighting for the inclusion of Puerto Rico and the territories in any package -- their economic fortunes are tied directly to our own."

On special projects (so-called pork barrel projects):
[Bush] would have us believe that those projects which are aimed at the needs of our communities, are the cause of our fiscal problems at the federal level...With these projects budgeted at $11 billion in 2008, and his request for spending on the war in Iraq totaling more than $150 billion for this year, it's hard to believe that special projects are budget-busters."

In sum: "Having heard much of this same speech for the past seven years, I am looking forward to a new direction and message in the 2009 State of the Union."

Monday, January 28, 2008

On the West Bronx Campaign Trail

Here's a couple of shots from local political activist Haile Rivera, who passed out Barack Obama literature at the West Kingsbridge-area Target on Saturday morning (above) and then attended an Obama rally at City Hall on Sunday (below).

By the way, Rivera has political aspirations of his own. He's running for Maria Baez's City Council seat (District 14) , which is up for grabs in 2009.

The West Bronx News Network will be following the local campaign action leading up to the presidential primary on Feb. 5. On so-called Super Tuesday, New York and 23 other states will be voting to choose party nominees.

Note: We encourage everyone to send us their presidential primary campaign photos and/or information so we can post it on this site.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Latest Norwood News, out on Bronx streets, online, now

Check out the latest edition of the Norwood News, which is online and on the streets now.

Here's a quick preview:

Editor-in-Chief Jordan Moss celebrates 20 years of the Norwood News and reflects on the paper's impact on the community.

A year after North Fordham-area pediatrician Dr. Leandro Lozada was brutally murdered in his Scarsdale home, the clinic he founded and ran is slowly recovering.

After 18 years, Community Board 7 now has a new district manager. His name is Fernando Tirado and he's setting his sights high.

Lehman College women's hoop star Sally Nnamani is tearing up city competition and hoping to lead the Lady Lightning to another conference championship.

The Beacon after-school program at PS 8 delivers invaluable services to youth and adults.

Crime remained remarkably flat in the 52nd Precinct in 2007. Check out how crime statistics in 2007 broke down by neighborhood in our first-ever crime-by-sector maps.

Also, find out where to go to cast your primary vote on Super Tuesday, Feb. 5.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Wanted: Student Mentor for Youth Journalism Program

The West Bronx News Network is looking for a student mentor/teaching assistant to help run a journalism program for Bronx high school students. Classes, which will be held at 2001 Morris Ave., will begin on Feb. 6, and run every Wednesday through April 23, from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Responsibilities include assisting the program coordinator, working with students to improve their writing, editing student work, attending field trips, and participating in class discussion. Some additional work, mostly editing, will be required outside of class (no more than three hours a week). Some teaching experience is preferred but not required. Journalism Grad students welcome. Compensation depends on experience but at least $20 an hour. To apply, please send resume and a brief cover letter to mounthopenews@gmail.com. The deadline for applications is Jan. 28. If you have questions, please call (917) 843-1481.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Bailouts Come Easy for Wall Street, Not Homeowners

Opinion from Guest Blogger Gregory Lobo Jost
How comforting to know that our government can act quickly to cut interest rates when things get bad. As markets tanked across the globe on Monday and Wall Street was spared thanks to the King Holiday, the Fed slashed the federal funds rate by 75 basis points or 3/4 of a percent this morning -- talk about fast action! And is anyone complaining about a bailout?

If such action could be taken on the hundreds of thousands of homeowners in danger of foreclosure (or already there), many Americans would be up in arms complaining about a bailout for their neighbors (even though it would help their own property values).

If you aren't convinced about how much better Wall Street bankers fare in hard times than our regular citizens, consider the huge bonuses given out this year. Despite huge losses for most of the corporations involved in the subprime lending debacle, bonuses are down only 4.7% from last year. This editorial on MarketWatch offers some interesting suggestions on what the bankers should do with their bonuses -- if they won't give them back, make them invest in the mortgage backed securities that are tanking! (Also, check out the section at the end of the article on the related protests against private equity firms.)

The Times' Vikas Bajaj has an interesting article today that gets to the root of the subprime fiasco. "Homeowners are suing mortgage lenders. Mortgage lenders are suing Wall Street banks. Wall Street banks are suing loan specialists. And investors are suing everyone." Why did lenders ever make loans that they knew borrowers couldn't repay? Because they were passing the responsibility and accountability on to others. The article doesn't mention the ratings agencies, however, who often rated securities much better than should have, partly because they were being paid by the banks issuing the securities. The New York Sun gives these ratings agencies a subpar rating.

Bringing things back closer to home, the Daily News has an article on how prevalent property flipping has been (and continues to be), and how it fed off subprime lending to inflate property values and push families into foreclosure.

On an unrelated note, the Daily News also reports that the Bronx had much fewer bedbug complaints to 311 than all the other boroughs (except Staten Island). While at first it felt great to think the Bronx finally ranks near the bottom in something bad, the numbers aren't quite as rosy for Bronxites once adjusted for population. In the 4 boroughs cited in the article, Queens had the lowest rate of complaints (1 per every 1,408 residents) and the Bronx came next at 1 per every 1,219 residents -- not too shabby, but not a first place finish like article mentions. Brooklyn (1 per 1,053) comes in slightly better than the most bed-buggy borough, Manhattan (1 per every 932 residents). The downside of looking at the absolute number of complaints instead of the rate of complaints is that none of the upcoming educational seminars on how to prevent bedbugs will be held in the Bronx.

Note: Population numbers come from the 2007 Population Estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Giant Clichés?

On the heels of the semi-shocking news that Eli Manning and the New York Giants are headed to the Super Bowl, media outlets throughout New York City are undoubtedly scrambling as we speak to produce witty headlines on deadline. We thought we would save them some time and energy... or else beat them to the punch.

Following Lawrence Tynes' game-winning field goal at sub-zero Lambeau Field (after two previous botched attempts) in overtime against the Packers , which elevated the Giants into the Super Bowl against the New England Patriots, we now present to you: Giants-related headlines to look for in tomorrow's newspapers..

(Let's see how many of these headlines -- 0r some variation of them -- actually appear in tomorrow's news)

"Just in Tynes"

"Packers Feeling Green"

"Tynes is of the Essence"

"One Small Step for Manning. One Giant Leap For New York."

"Tynes Ices The Game"

"New York State of Tynes"

"Manning of the Hour"

"Giants Refuse to Pack It In"

And of the more boring variety:

"Giants Looking Super"

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Bronx and Brooklyn Put Patronage Politcs on Parade

The combination of term limits and old-fashioned patronage politics has set off an intriguing inter-borough battle with myriad local ramifications.

The position of City Clerk, one of the most plum patronage prizes still left, is open. Bronx County Clerk Hector Diaz, the choice of Bronx Democratic Party chair Jose Rivera, seemed to be sailing to City Council confirmation until Rivera’s powerful Brooklyn counterpart, Vito Lopez, stepped in and delayed the vote.

Lopez again foiled Rivera, who was hoping to get term-limited councilwoman (and his former chief of staff) Maria Baez installed at the Board of Elections as deputy director in a package vote with Manhattan Republican Marcus Cederqvist. Her Council term expires at the end of 2009. But the Daily News reports that Lopez and the Republican and Democratic political leaders in each borough who get to decide voted against the package deal, though Cederqvist received unanimous support.

The push to get Baez another job has several implications. First, it was generally believed among political insiders and the Bronx punditocracy (to the extent there is such a thing) that Rivera would put up Baez to take the place of State Senator Efrain Gonzalez, if in fact he is convicted on corruption charges this spring. So, Rivera either doesn’t think Baez is suited to that job, which is 99 percent of the time is virtually a lifetime appointment. Or he’s betting Gonzalez is going to beat the rap. If it’s the former, who does Rivera have in mind for the Senate position?

On a related note, Andrew Wolf, in the New York Sun, shines a light on the family business that is Bronx politics.

Bronx News Roundup for Jan. 16

City Limits takes a look at the possibilities of a park-and-ride at the new Yankee Stadium in the context of Bloomberg’s congestion pricing plan.

Speaking of Yankee parking lots, one of the proposed stadium lots that was eventually abandoned is now being offered up to developers by the Parks Department with few strings attached, the New York Post reports.

Meanwhile, the new stadium, now in mid-construction, has a sign.

A Walton Avenue apartment complex sells for $8.1 million.

The New York Post and the New York Sun report that students staged a walkout at the Bronx High School of Science yesterday to protest their principal.

State Senator Jose M. Serrano blogs about his new bill that would mandate all state employees to keep immigration status confidential “when providing essential services for aw abiding people.”

City Council candidate Haile Rivera is organizing a Latinos con Obama event on Jan. 26.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Latest Issue of Highbridge Horizon On the Web

The latest issue of the Highbridge Horizon is up on the Web. Featured in this issue: A series of tragedies in Highbridge took its toll on the neighborhood as 2007 wound to a close.... Cristina Alesci examines how South Bronx tenants might be impacted by the takeover of their buildings by large private investment firms....Highbridge residents have taken their battle for a new middle school to City Hall.... And new soccer and softball fields are set to open this spring at the West Bronx Recreation Center, generating excitement from some quarters and controversy from others.

Battle in the Bronx to Save Hip-Hop's Home

Here's some shots from this morning's press conference at 1520 Sedgwick Ave., aka the "home the hip-hop," a 100-unit apartment complex in Morris Heights.

It's a building, say housing advocates, that's in danger of losing its affordability, following the landlord's decision, last February, to remove it from Mitchell-Lama housing program, a state program whereby landlords keep rents low in return for tax credits.

At today's event, tenants announced their intention to buy the building themselves (with a little help from HPD) and to convert the apartments into affordable cooperatives. The amount they've raised, however, is a couple of million short of what real estate developer, Mark Karasick, is after. A fundraising Web site has been launched to generate publicity and pull in the rest.

The west Bronx has become a graveyard of sorts for Mitchell-Lama buildings. In 2006, for example, both 1655 Undercliff Ave. and 1889 Sedgwick Ave. were yanked from the program. But it's 1520 Sedgwick Ave. that's getting the attention, chiefly because of its official status as the birthplace of a multi-billion dollar industry.

Originally, tenants and advocates hoped that the building's musical legacy, and the fact that it's now eligible to be listed on the State and National Register of Historic Places, would block the Mitchell-Lama buyout. This now seems unlikely, hence the tenants' decision to try and purchase it.

Pictured above is hip-hop pioneer DJ Kool Herc, who lived in the building in the 1970s. (Herc said he'll be calling P Diddy, 50 Cent, and other stars with deep pockets to ask for a contribution.) Below is New York Senator Chuck Schumer with tenants. Above right, a view of 1520 Sedgwick Ave. from the street. (Photos by J. Fergusson)

More here in The Times. And here's what The Times' David Gonzalez wrote about 1520 Sedgwick Ave. back in May.

Bronx News Roundup January 15

DJ Kool Herc -- widely considered the founder of hip-hop-- is joining forces with tenants of his former West Bronx home, 1520 Sedgwick Avenue , in an effort to save the building from being sold to a private investor. In 1973, Herc threw a party in the rec room of the building, and many people consider this the launching point for hip-hop. Today, Herc, longtime tenants of 1520 Sedgwick Ave, and Sen. Charles Schumer (D-New York)are among those at a press conference at the building to announce their intention to raise $14 million to purchase the building themselves. Check out David Freedlander's front-page story in AM New York.

Bob Kapstatter reports that there was a slight decrease in parking tickets issued in the Bronx in 2007 -- a 0.7 percent decrease from 2006. This downturn was not nearly as large as the citywide reduction of 6 percent. Here in the West Bronx, the 44th Precinct, which includes Highbridge saw a 14.4 percent decrease in tickets issued. The 46th Precinct, encompassing Fordham, Mount Hope, University Heights, and Morris Heights, witnessed a 13.8 downfall in tickets issued. However, the 52nd Precinct, which includes Kingsbridge, Norwood, and Bedford Heights, saw a slight increase -- 2.7 percent -- in parking tickets issued.

The notion that the Bronx is thriving economically has become a staple of Borough President Adolfo Carrión's speeches in recent years. But this article by Dorian Block in the Daily News suggests that it depends on how you measure economic development.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Bronx News Roundup Jan. 14

In the Bronx, Internet cafes are as rare as Starbucks. It's good to hear, then, that one (an Internet cafe, not a Starbucks) is about to be built in Soundview. (More here on the borough's digital divide and what's being done to correct it.)

In the Post today, there's a look at a "murderous gang turf war" that's engulfed several Manhattan high schools. The violence has been fueled by the rivalry of two Dominican gangs, Dominicans Don't Play (aka DDP) and the Trinitarios, says the paper. Washington Heights, in northern Manhattan, has been hit the hardest, but both gangs are active in the west Bronx, too. DDP gang members, for example, have been linked to an incident in which a 12-year-old girl was shot in the back and seriously injured following a house party on Marion Avenue in Fordham, last spring.

Yet another kick in the teeth for opponents of the new Yankee Stadium.

Rates of infant mortality, bucking a city-wide trend, increased in the Bronx from six deaths per 1,000 births in 2005, to seven per 1,000 in 2006, according to a new study. In 2006, the Bronx also recorded the highest percentage of babies born to teenage mothers, at 12 percent of all births. Brooklyn, with 7 percent, was second. More here, in what, above statistics aside, is a mostly positive take on the city's health.

Bronx pol Helen Foster is one of only four Democratic Council members supporting Barack Obama's presidential campaign. The other 48 are in Hillary Clinton's camp.

Friday, January 11, 2008

News Roundup January 10

The City University of New York (CUNY) is asking for $178 million to renovate buildings at Bronx Community College.

Councilmember Helen Diane Foster, whose 16th Congressional District includes Highbridge and Morrisania, got the kicker quote in Diane Cardwell's piece about Barack Obama in today's New York Times. Read what Foster had to say about why she is supporting Obama over Hilary Clinton.

Two people were arrested on Sedgwick Avenue after police said they found more than $500,000 worth of heroin at their apartment.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

New Norwood News Stories Online Now

Check out a fresh batch of Norwood News stories, online now.

Hard copies will be out on the streets of Norwood, Bedford Park, North Fordham and University Heights tomorrow.

Enjoy and become informed about your neighborhoods.

Victorious: Clinton and McCain

Hillary Clinton, then, somehow defied pundits and pollsters to snatch a win that just 24 hours earlier had seemed all but impossible.
Here's talkshow host Arnie Arnesen's fascinating (and funny) take on how the New York senator did it.

On the Republican side, John McCain pushed Mitt Romney into the silver medal position. See the full results here.

I was at Barack Obama's event. His supporters had come for a victory party, but as the evening wore on it became clear that Clinton's early lead would hold. The young crowd looked deflated; the "Fire it Up!" "Ready to Go!" chants were not as convincing as the previous night's.

Flanked by his wife, Obama was gracious in defeat. If shell-shocked, he didn't show it. (In a measure of how unexpected the result was, several reporters we heard from had already written their "Obama Wins Big" story, and were just waiting for the polls to come in so they could fill in the numbers before filing.)

I'm up in the Granite State with the New York Community Media Alliance, formerly know as IPA-NY. (See here for details on how the trip came about.) Yesterday morning, long before the results came through, we met with Andrew Smith, a pollster at the University of New Hampshire. Smith, who like everyone expected Obama to walk it, ran through the pre-election polls - Obama's meteoric rise, McCain's recovery, Clinton's stutter, etc. And he gave us his colorful opinion on some of the mistakes each candidate has made, and the hurdles they need to overcome to stay in the race. Here's some choice bits:

Smith said Giuliani's campaign was "horrible," and that he'd been arrogant to think he could get somewhere without old fashioned campaigning (he flew to New Hampshire for an short speech now and again but then got out of town). Smith compared Giuliani to a man who's about to walk off a cliff but is too stubborn to change direction.

McCain's chief problem, said Smith, is his stance on immigration which has dried up his fund-raising; Romney's, "his inability to be a skillful enough politician to change his position and make it believable."

Clinton, meanwhile, "has the worst media handling people of all the campaigns." Smith said that he'd spoken to reporters who'd received calls from Clinton's people demanding they retract a certain story and threatening to block a reporter's access to the White House if their boss is president. "The way they [Clinton's campaign] treated the press [in New Hampshire] was her biggest mistake," he said. "There was a level of control and paranoia in that campaign that’s scary." Because of this treatment, said Smith, reporters never gave her a break.

Obama's biggest issue is his lack of substance, thinks Smith. "[He's] like the meringue of American politics, light and fluffy, looks good, but when you eat it you wonder was it was." It a criticism, of course, that's been made before. But having heard Obama speak twice this week, I think it rings true. He spoke powerfully, as you'd expect, yet he was strangely boring and repetitive, hardly touching on his would-be policies or how he'd make them a reality. All talk ("change" "hope" "tomorrow") and no substance to speak of, may not wash for long.

Obama and company will soon be in New York ("Super Tuesday" is on Feb. 5). If you wish you vote, you need to register by Friday.

On a local level, here in the west Bronx, some community groups are using the hype to encourage local residents to take more of an interest in politics. On Saturday, for example, an event's being held at the Gambian Society on Jerome Avenue. The aim is to educate the borough's African population on the importance of voting.

Dinowitz: Bronx 'Just As Good' as Iowa, NH

I spoke with Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz yesterday about he presidential nominating process and his support for Hillary Clinton. Here's the short piece I wrote about it for the Norwood News (on the Web later today).

Leading up to Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary, two prominent Bronx pols campaigned for Hillary Clinton in Manchester. Assemblymen Jeffrey Dinowitz and Jose Rivera were in the Granite State last weekend.

And despite polls on Tuesday that predicted an Obama win in New Hampshire and additional bad news for Clinton in South Carolina and nationally, Dinowitz said he was standing by his candidate.

“I’m with Hillary. I believe in her,” he said.

“I’d rather support someone who’s actually talking about issues,” Dinowitz added, comparing Clinton’s policy prowess with what he described as Obama’s soaring, yet vague, rhetoric of hope and unity.

Dinowitz didn’t want to criticize Obama harshly (he admitted he’d be a supporter if the Illinois senator prevails), but he did offer a gentle gibe. “Where’s the beef?” he said, echoing Walter Mondale’s famous quip criticizing Gary Hart in the 1984 race for the Democratic nomination.

Dinowitz also offered a critique of the nominating process, particularly Iowa’s and New Hampshire’s outsized role in the selection of nominees. “To have a couple of states have such huge influence on the process is just crazy,” he said. “A voter in New Hampshire has 100 times the weight, than a voter in New York. People in the Bronx almost never see the presidential candidate. We’re just as good and just as important as people who live in Iowa and New Hampshire.”

Dinowitz also pointed out that in Iowa, just as many independents voted for Obama as Democrats. The same might prove true in New Hampshire. “The people who should pick the party nominee should be members of the party,” he said.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Campaigning in New Hampshire

I’m currently in New Hampshire, covering the primaries with a group of eight other reporters and editors from New York City’s ethic and community press (in all, I told, there’s something like 1,200 media people here). The trip’s been put on by New York Community Media Alliance as part of their 2008 Elections Fellowship. We’re fortunate to have a knowledgeable guide in Feet in Two Worlds' John Rudolph, who has been driving us around as we follow the candidates on the campaign trail.

Each candidate and their staff spent the weekend and Monday jumping from town to town, putting on last-ditch rallies, as they try and pick up last-minute votes, and decide the undecided. They’re not really saying anything new at this stage, except, perhaps, to refute a rival’s latest attack and launch one of their own.

Yesterday, we caught up with caught up with John McCain in Exeter, Mitt Romney in Bedford, and Barack Obama (pictured) in Concord. Some 1,500 people showed up for the Obama event. There was just 300 at McCain’s and maybe 500 at Romney’s. So, first things first, the Democratic candidates are getting a lot more attention than their Republican counterparts. (We were hoping to see Clinton too, but there was a mile-long line of car-traffic to get into her event.)

McCain was a little lackluster in his speech. He looked tired – it was one of seven rallies he was holding that day – and kept things brief. Still, there was the odd moment of fire: “I'll get Osama Bin Laden if I have to follow him to the gates of hell!” (It’s the kind of talk that sounds much more convincing coming from McCain, a war hero, than, say, our current president).

If McCain was folksy and homey, Romney, all polished, professional and dapper, was the opposite. He stressed how he his experiences as a successful businessman would help him get things done, and turn around a Washington “that is fundamentally broken.” (Washington being rotten at the core, and the need for a change in direction, were common talking points through all three speeches).

Obama's event, in a school gymnasium, was the most impressive. Even the build-up was electric. Dozens of volunteers, mostly teens and early-twenty somethings, danced, high-fived each other, and screamed Obama’s signature chant: "Fire it up!" "Ready to go!" A little farcical? Perhaps. But electric all the same. By the time Obama was introduced by his wife, the crowd (a younger, more fresh-faced lot than Romney or McCain’s turnouts) had been whipped into a frenzy. Obama talked at length about hope and change, themes central to his campaign. "We’re at a defining point in our history," he said. "The time for change is now." He also hit back at claims his policy ideas are vague and ambiguous.

Today is election day; the results are out tonight. For more, check out Talking Points Memo. According to the latest polls, Obama’s lead over Clinton is growing. The Republican primary is likely to be closer, although McCain is the favorite. We'll have more tomorrow.

Photo: J. Fergusson

News Roundup January 8

It's been almost a year- and -a -half since construction began on a new Yankee Stadium. And yet the team has not taken even the most basic steps towards implementing the community benefits agreement, under which the Yankees are required to give $1.2 million to local community groups. In fact, as the New York Times reported Sunday, the group is yet to meet or select a chairperson.

State Sen. Jeff Klein (D-Bronx) has joined "Blacks and Jews Together," a coalition of state politicians convened to denounce recent incidents of bigotry and violence against African-Americans and Jews. There has been an alarming rise in these incidents in New York City during the past few months. Nooses, Swastikas, and racist graffiti were found at Columbia University and other locations in New York City . And last month, four Jewish subway riders were attacked on a New York City subway after saying "Happy Chaunkah" to a group that was shouting Merry Christmas.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Bronx Officials Stump for Hillary

Just got these two photos e-mailed to us from Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz' office. He was in Manchester, New Hampshire at a rally for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, with other members of the Riverdale-based Benjamin Franklin Reform Democratic Club. Pictured in top photo, from left to right, are Ben Franklin club member Michael Heller (who is also a spokesman for the North Bronx Healthcare Network), Dinowitz, Hillary Clinton and former president Bill Clinton).

In the second photo, Dinowitz is pictured with Clinton and Bronx Democratic leader Assemblyman Jose Rivera.

By the way, Mount Hope Monitor editor James Fergusson will be up in New Hampsire later today and tomorrow with a delegation of editors from NYC ethnic and community newspapers. We expect he'll be blogging a little here on his experiences up there. So, check back!

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Bronx News Roundup for Jan. 2

New York Magazine profiles Dion DiMucci, who has a new blues album out – 'Son of Skip James'– a follow up to 'Bronx in Blue' of a couple of years ago. Photo at right (Dion is at center, with Robert Klein at left and Danny Aiello at right) is from last June’s Bronx Ball, at the Loew’s Paradise Theater, now called the Utopia Paradise.

So, it looks like a $70 million subsidy has been earmarked for a new parking garage next to the new Yankee Stadium that will be used mostly by the team and their VIPs, according to Juan Gonzalez in today’s Daily News. Meanwhile, Gonzalez also reports that game day parking prices will double to $29 in 2010 and that the parking garages are now $80 million over budget.

This article looks at the urban movement for sustainable development in the Bronx and in California.

The Washington Post takes a look at the dueling tenant harassment bills in the City Council – no information West Bronx Blog readers didn’t already know, but interesting that it made the D.C. paper.

The Albany Times Union reports that one-in-five lawmakers in the state legislature has broken the law in recent years.

We just discovered this new Bronx Web site called Talk Bronx. Not sure who's behind it. If you know, let us know.

The deadline to register to vote if you want to vote in the Feb. 5 presidential primary is Jan. 11.