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Friday, January 30, 2009

Seeking a Few More Teens for Youth Journalism Initiative

The editors and reporters of the Norwood News and the Mount Hope Monitor are running a youth journalism program for Bronx high school students who are sophomores, juniors or seniors.

Classes will begin on Feb. 4 and run every Wednesday for 12 weeks, from 4 to 6 p.m. They will be held at 2001 Morris Ave. (on the corner of 179th Street).

The deadline has passed, but we're still looking for applicants to fill a couple of vacant slots. So, if you can get us the application by Monday at noon, we can consider you for the program.

For more information, and to download an application form, see here.

BronxTalk Lineup ...

Coming up on BronxTalk hosted by Gary Axelbank on BRONXNET channel 67 (Cablevision):

This Monday night (2/2) an expert on car and road travel will pair up with a transit advocate to evaluate the latest plans for MTA cuts, new tolls and fees, and other transportation issues.

Then on Monday 2/9 Axelbank will have a couple of experts in the financing of higher education to talk about paying for a college education, including advice for students and parents.

On Monday 2/16 BronxTalk will feature a discussion on how the budget crisis will affect community centers and other vital grass roots organizations and services.

Viewers are encouraged to call in to BronxTalk, which is produced by Jane Folloro. It is seen live Monday nights at 9:00pm and repeated each day at 9:30am, 3:30pm, and 9:00pm.

this Sunday night at 11pm (after the Super Bowl) BronxTalk host and BNN commentator Gary Axelbank, aka GAX in the Bronx, will be a guest on KISS-FM's Week in Review to talk about Bronx issues.

Bronx News Roundup, Jan. 30

Let's start this Friday with some not-so-cheery citywide budget news:

Mayor Bloomberg's giving his budget speech at noon. Some highlights (lowlights?): reportedly, the mayor wants to raise sales tax, from 8.375% to 8.75% and cut the city's workforce by 23,000 jobs (15,000 of those jobs may be in the Department of Education). In addition, Bloomberg may ask city workers to pay for some of their health insurance benefits and scale back some bigger construction projects.

The Albany Times-Union reports that nearly two dozen state lawmakers, including six Democrats (and one former lawmaker) from the Bronx, had received warrants for failing to pay tax debts (such as back taxes, fines and interest). Assemlyman Peter Rivera owed $20,000 (he says he's since paid this off), while former Senator Efrain Gonzalez still owes $43,462. Others who were served, included Gonzalez's replacement, Pedro Espada ($949.51), Sen. Ruben Diaz, Sr. ($2,328.73), Assemblyman Michael Benjamin (2,634.18), Assemblywoman Naomi Rivera ($1588.85) and Assemblyman Jose Rivera ($481.32).

A college student from the Bronx who helped manage a prostitution ring connected to ex-Gov. Eliot Spitzer was sentenced to six months in prison yesterday, but the judge praised her for getting her life back on track.

A rookie firefighter talks about how his life flashed before his eyes during the Black Sunday fire in the Bronx in 2005.

Two Bronx Science students are finalists in a national science talent search.

The Daily News reports that Riverdale businesses are closing at a rapid pace. For more on Riverdale businesses, go to the Riverdale Press Web site.

A Bronx mom who smothered her newborn son on a city bus was sentenced to 15 years in prison. Video from NY1 here.

More on the new film-focused high school in the Bronx, The Cinema School.

Sports Salsa is coming to Bronxnet.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Marking the Grand Concourse's 100th Year

To celebrate the Grand Concourse's centennial year, and to plan for its future, the Bronx Museum is encouraging Bronx residents - and indeed anyone with an interest in the borough's most famous strip - to take part in a new competition.

Applicants are required to answer the following questions:

What does the Bronx of the future need its grandest boulevard to be?
How can the Grand Concourse help inspire harmony and community through design?
Is the Grand Concourse of today obsolete?
Can the Grand Concourse of tomorrow be a force that catalyzes the Bronx’s positive evolution?
You can apply online starting this Monday. There's a $30 application fee. If you want to share you ideas now you can post comments here. (Thanks to the BoogieDowners for drawing our attention to this.)

Also timed to coincide with the Grand Concourse's 100th year: an outdoor art show, the Tree Museum, which is scheduled to open in June, and a book, Boulevard of Dreams: Heady Times, Heartbreak, and Hope along the Grand Concourse in the Bronx, which will be published in August.

You Thought Espada v. Gonzalez Was Lively?

Looks like Council Member Larry Seabrook has a fight on his hands in District 12 this year with challenger Jerome Rice, a former Corrections captain. This You Tube video, which is also on Rice's Web site, shows the two arguing. Not a pretty sight. Rice appears to be taking Seabrook to task for a community center that is not opening during the summer. If anyone has the background on this, please comment.

Peter Rivera Guns for Gillibrand

Assemblyman Peter Rivera is pulling out all the stops in his campaign to undercut Kirsten Gillibrand, the Empire State's brand new senator, for her positions on immigration.

Bronx News Roundup Jan. 29

Green Party officials from the Bronx - including Lukas Herbert, a vocal critic of Adolfo Carrion and the new Yankee Stadium - are speaking out against the MTA's expected fair increases.

If you ride the D Train you've probably seen these guys break dancing for change and dollar bills. According to the Times, many of them live in the same Bronx neighborhood.

Last Saturday, the South Bronx Food Co-operative opened its first store at 3103 Third Ave.

A Catholic newspaper from across the pond takes a look at the Belmont and Arthur Avenue.

Motorists who park outside schools and leave their engines running for more than a minute will face $100 fines, under a new asthma-fighting bill passed by the City Council. Councilman Jimmy Vacca voted against the bill saying it will victimize parents dropping off and picking up kids.

State Senator Jose M. Serrano has been blogging about budget cuts on Room Eight:

The old saying in government is that “where you stand depends on where you sit.”

In other words, because I’m freshly seated as Chair of the Cultural Affairs, Tourism, Parks and Recreation Committee, it’s no wonder I stand in strong opposition to proposed budget cuts that affect, well, all of the above.
More here. The cuts will be discussed at a joint committee meeting on Feb. 3. If you can't make it (it's in Albany, after all) you can submit commentary via YouTube - for perhaps the first time in Albany history, says Serrano.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Joel Rivera Organizing Against Gillibrand's Views

The Observer's Politicker reports that City Council Majority Leader Joel Rivera, who is still looking at the possibility of running for Bronx borough president, is organizing a rally at City Hall to "urge newly minted Senator Kirsten Gillibrand to change her views on immigration and gun control."

Bronx News Roundup, Jan. 28

Newly sworn-in U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is trying to make peace with immigrant advocates, including Bronx Assemblyman Peter Rivera and other Hispanic lawmakers, who believe her immigration stance is too conservative. According to the Times article, an anti-immigration group ranked her in the top 22 of all Representatives based on her immigration voting record in the House over the past two years.

Because Gillibrand reached out to him, Rivera postponed a scheduled press conference to announce plans to meet with opposition candidates for a possible 2010 election.

More bad news coming from the new Yankee Stadium project. Not only will local residents have to wait until 2011 to use news parks (to replace the parks taken by the city and the Yankees to build the new stadium), but now the Independent Budget Office said the cost of replacing two parks has risen to $195 million, $16.3 million of which can't be accounted for. More here. And here. The parks will be paid for using taxpayer money with the Yankees chipping in $10 million.

Here's the Daily News full story on Assemblyman Jose Rivera's bid to overturn the court decision that led to ouster as Bronx Democratic Party chairman.

A big fire in Morrisania forced people from their homes last night.

NYC's Health Commissioner is launching a campaign to reduce residents' sodium intake by aiming. He says a reduction in smoking and sodium will have the greatest impact on people's health.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Free Tax Preparation Services Offered for Bronx Residents

Neighborhood and citywide nonprofits and financial institutions are joining forces to provide free tax preparation services to Bronx residents, hoping to keep more money in our neighborhoods. Every year, Bronx neighborhoods lose millions of dollars in tax preparation fees and refund anticipation loan interest – much of this coming out of the federal Earned Income Tax Credit. Through this initiative, Bronxites making less than $72,000 will be able to file their federal and state returns without any fees.

In 2006, about one-third of all applications for Refund Anticipation Loans in New York City (more than 71,000 filers) were made by Bronx residents. The total fees paid by these filers for tax preparation, the loans themselves and any other miscellaneous fees totaled approximately $19.5 million dollars, based on calculations made by the Neighborhood Economic Development Advocacy Project using the Consumer Federation of America’s estimate of $273 for an average filer. More than 80% of these Refund Anticipation Loan applications were made by low income Bronxites, who paid more than $16 million for these services. Two-thirds of applications came from households who received the Earned Income Tax Credit, one of the largest federal anti-poverty programs.

Even at the neighborhood level, the amount of money paid for tax preparation and Refund Anticipation Loans exceeds $1 million in many northwest Bronx zip codes. For instance, more than 5,600 filers in 10453 spent more than $1.5 million on tax preparation and Refund Anticipation Loans.

By providing free tax preparation services in these same neighborhoods, much needed money will stay in the pockets of Bronxites. Services began this Saturday, January 24th at the Heiskell Enterprise Technology Center in Refuge House, 2715 Bainbridge Avenue, and run through March 28th. Services will also be offered at Mosholu Preservation Corporation, 3400 Reservoir Oval East, and Ridgewood Savings Bank, 3445 Jerome Avenue, and are by appointment only. Contact University Neighborhood Housing Program at 718-933-2539 for more information or to schedule an appointment.

Sponsored by:
• University Neighborhood Housing Program
• Fordham Bedford Children’s Services
• Fordham Bedford Housing Corporation
• Mosholu Preservation Corporation
• West Bronx Housing & Neighborhood Resource Center
• Food Bank for New York City
• Ridgewood Savings Bank
• JPMorgan Chase Bank
• Signature Bank
• TD Bank

Bronx News Roundup Jan. 27

Assemblyman Jose Rivera, the former Bronx Democratic Party Chairman, has launched an appeal in the State supreme court with the intention of winning back his old leadership position.

In his weekly column, Bob Kappstatter wonders if we'll hear Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion give his annual State of the Borough address this February.

Assemblyman Peter Rivera, whose brother has been in the news recently, isn't impressed with the way the governor and his aides treated Caroline Kennedy. Rivera's also been speaking out against Kirsten Gillibrand, Paterson's eventual Senate pick, and her somewhat conservative positions on immigration.

Councilman Larry Seabrook isn't a fan of Gillibrand either - specifically her longstanding support of gun rights. Last year, the former congresswoman earned a 100 percent rating from the NRA.

As the Senate's housing committe chair, will State Senator Pedro Espada Jr. do what's best for tenants? Housing adovcates don't think so. More here.

Cops and local residents are working together to help stamp out graffiti - or at least curtail it.

The women's basketball team at John F. Kennedy High School is having a terrific season.

New from the Norwood News

Ah, it felt good to write that headline. After a couple of weeks flailing about in the digital world, the Norwood News is back online. So, while we've neglected to get you the news roundup in a timely fashion today, take a minute to chew on a fresh batch of new stories from the Norwood News. Here's a quick preview:

-A view of Inauguration Day from Lehman College students, staff and faculty.

-Edtiorial: What can Bronx elected officials learn from Obama?

-A North Fordham neighborhood confronts their local police precinct about crime and missing police reports.

-The brutal murder and dismemberment of a North Fordham woman remains unsolved, though her ex-boyfriend, who has a history of arrests, has been questioned about the murder and was arrested on other charges.

-A century-old nonprofit that trains and helps women find meaningful jobs is recruiting in the Bronx for the first time.

-A Fordham-area-Marine who was killed in Afghanistan was recently laid to rest.

-A $4.5 million plan to remake the green space around the Jerome Park Reservoir received mixed reveiws.

Plus, our Inquiring Photographer asked about the Bush years and check out our expanded Neighborhood Notes section and our Out & About calendar.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Out and About: Graffiti Art at Longwood Gallery

The Bronx Council on the Arts presents Graffiti: Spirit of an Age @ 40 x 10, highlighting works by artists who began their careers as teens creating graffiti art, having now expanded to drawing, painting and sculpture. This free exhibit is on view through Feb. 7, at the Longwood Gallery at Hostos Community College, 450 Grand Concourse at 149th Street. For more information, call (718) 518-6728 or (718) 931-9500, ext. 33.

Mayor Bloomberg, Tear Down This Stadium!

As much as we enjoyed Harvey Araton's NY Times column yesterday taking the Yankees and the city to task for not yet tearing down the old Yankee Stadium and returning the much-needed parkland to the community, we'd be remiss if we didn't point out that GAX in the Bronx made the same exact point on the Bronx News Network more than a week ago. If you missed it, check it out here.

Open Thread; Sen. Gillibrand?

This is our first open thread -- a place for you to discuss the issue of the day.

Today, we're wondering what our readers thing of Gov. Paterson's seletion of upstate congresswoman Kirsten Gillibrand to replace Hillary Clinton in the U.S. Senate.

Just click on the comment button below.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Bronx News Roundup for Jan. 26

New York's brand new Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand made the rounds in NYC Saturday, including stopping in on former Bronx Democratic boss Roberto Ramirez, whose political consulting firm the Mirram Group plays a powerful behind-the-scenes role. Speaking of behind-the-scenes, interesting that Mirram doesn't seem to have a Web site.

It won't be news to devoted Norwood News readers, but Gotham Gazette has this useful and extensive summary of the controversies surrounding the construction of the filtration plant.

The Bronx Zoo grounds its Skyfari air tram, its third most popular attraction, because it's too expensive to run.

Cops busted an east Bronx cock-fighting ring over the weekend.

The lousy economy is taking its toll on Bronx bodegas.

The Times tracks down that rarest of species, the Bronx Republican.

A project funded by the Bronx Council on the Arts celebrates and tracks the origins of the borough’s hip-hop culture.

The Archdiocese of New York is telling two Bronx Catholic high schools they must become financially independent soon.