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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

No More City Section?

Looks like the City Section of the New York Times may close for good in a few weeks, according to New York Magazine.

Bronx News Roundup, March 31

Nick Berger, an associate of former state senator Efrain Gonzalez, has pled guilty to helping Gonzalez squirrel away taxpayer money for personal use. He faces a year in jail. Gonzalez himself faces more serious charges; his much-delayed trial will start on May. 4. Here's some background reading.

Bronxites are excited about the Yankees new ballpark. Here's what they'll be paying if they decide to attend a game.

Still on the Yankees, the chairman of the much-lampooned New Yankee Stadium Community Benefits Fund, is being sued over alleged conflicts of interest.

Daily News columnist Patrice O'Shaughnnessy questions the integrity of Adolfo Carrion and Eliot Engel.

Students at the Bronx Engineering and Technology Academy, a high school in Marble Hill, are proud of their school's A grade.

Fordham University has launched an ambitious funding-raising campaign. According to the school's Web site, the school is seeking "$500 million to support new facilities, more student scholarships, more endowed faculty chairs and more funding for academic endeavors throughout Fordham’s colleges and schools."

Kemba Walker, a freshman guard from the Bronx with plenty of moxie, is one of the main reasons UConn find themselves in the Final Four. Another Bronx player, Corey Fisher, is also still in the tournament, following Villanova's defeat of Pittsburg. Anyone know where these boys grew up?

Monday, March 30, 2009

Blog Gets a Name Change

Westbronxnews.blogspot.com doesn't exactly roll of the tongue and it's impossible to remember, especially since the name of this site, and a new organization you'll be hearing a lot more about in the comming weeks, is the Bronx News Network. So, we're changing the address of this site to www.bronxnewsnetwork.org. We've already gone under the hood and reconnected the wires and flipped the switches. But there's one more switch left to flip and we're going to do that a little later this evening. When that happens, if you use the old address you'll get a message redirecting you to the new address. And when you click on that you may just get to a site you don't recognize. Andthat's because it takes the servers several hours to recognize the new name. So, by the time you wake up all should be fine and dandy at bronxnewsnetwork.org.

We're excited about the change. We think it will make it easier for people to access and participate in the blog. We hope our loyal readers will take a moment when they change their own bookmarks to tell a friend or two about the blog.

Thanks for reading and commenting.

Jordan Moss
Executive Editor
Bronx News Network

Bronx News Roundup for March 30

Ashlee Simpson’s kid isn’t the only person named Bronx in the world.

A planned 911 Call Center in Morris Park is about to clear a hurdle. But others remain.

A three-alarm blaze destroyed a block of businesses in Wakefield on Sunday, but no one was injured.

Complicating efforts to pass tenant-friendly legislation in Albany is the fact that state senators have received lots of dough from landlords and their lobbyists since January 2007, according to the Daily News. The list includes Bronx State Senator Jeff Klein who reportedly received almost $240,000 in campaign contributions.

The Boogiedowners say – and show – that the temporary pedestrian walkway around the New York Botanical Garden’s stalled parking lot project (at the corner of Bedford Park Boulevard and Webster Avenue) is obstructed.

Sen. Gillibrand spent Saturday in the Bronx.

Help for Bronx Homeowners this Thursday

Bronx Homeowners struggling to stay in their homes or just fighting to keep the costs of ownership down will find some much needed help this Thursday at the Northwest Bronx Homeowner Resource Fair.

With foreclosures at an all time high, property values dropping, unemployment in the double digits, and another double-digit water rate increase on its way, the resource fair will focus on lowering ownership costs through weatherization and energy-efficiency programs, in addition to foreclosure prevention counseling and legal services.

Registration and free dinner begin at 6:00 PM this Thursday at the Our Lady of Refuge Parish Center, 290 East 196th Street between Bainbridge and Briggs Avenues. All homeowners in attendance will will benefit from energy savings tips, a free weatherization kit, and a free rat-proof garbage can.

Homeowners facing financial hardship can learn about foreclosure prevention options, get help modifying their mortgage and receive free legal assistance. Representatives will be on hand from local organizations to explain services offered year-round.

This Homeowner Resource Fair is sponsored by University Neighborhood Housing Program, the Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition, the West Bronx Housing and Neighborhood Resource Center and Fordham Bedford Housing Corporation. Other participating groups include the Association for Energy Affordability (providing the garbage cans), New York Legal Assistance Group, the Parodneck Foundation, and NYSERDA’s Energy $mart Communities program.

For more information or to RSVP, contact UNHP at 718-933-2539.

Seventh Annual Mexican Folk Festival

Sunday March 29: The Seventh Annual Mexican Folk Festival took place in the gymnasium of Our Lady of Refuge, on 196th street.

The venue was filled to capacity with an enthusiastic multi-generation audience.

I enjoyed making these photographs I hope you enjoy them too.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

South Bronx news

"Hunts Point's house of horrors" is the lead headline on the new issue of The Hunts Point Express, published last week. A Manida Street apartment complex has racked-up more that 2,000 violations, and tenants are living in squalor, as junkies, thieves and prostitutes invade and trash vacant apartments.
Less drastic, but more surprising, are conditions in an apartment building on E. 162 St. that led to a tenant protest against one of the city's biggest developers and managers of affordable housing.
The Express also tells readers what the next Bronx Borough President plans for their neighborhood and profiles the South Bronx Food Co-op. It's available free throughout Hunts Point and Longwood, as well as on-line at www.huntspointexpress.com.
And The Express now has a sibling. The Mott Haven Herald, staffed by students at the CUNY Graduate School of journalism and covering Mott Haven, Melrose and Port Morris, is on-line at www.motthavenherald.com and will publish its first newspaper soon.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Bronx Arts Scene: Regina Taylor's "Crowns"

Tonight, Fountain Spring Baptist Church will host a production of Crowns, an award-winning play by Regina Taylor.

According to a press release, Crowns "takes an intimate look at six women whose storied lives are woven into the hats that adorn their heads. This gospel-infused musical presents an oral history of the African-American women affectionately known as 'hat queens,' as seen through the eyes of Yolanda, a Brooklyn teenager sent to live with her South Carolinian grandmother."

The doors open at 8 p.m. There will be two more performances on Saturday, at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Call (212) 991-8471 for information. Tickets are $25 for adults; $15 for kids. Fountain Spring Baptist Church is located at 2011 Grand Concourse (near East Burnside Ave.)

Seabrook and Liu Hold Transit Meeting

Council Members Larry Seabrook (east Bronx) and John Liu (Queens), who is also a candidate for city comptroller, are holding a meeting on Monday evening about the transit cuts. Details ...

New York City Council Member Larry B. Seabrook, Chair of the Civil Rights Committee and Council Member John Liu, Chair of the Transportation will host a community meeting and speak out in District 12, on the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s toll and fare increases and service cuts on bus and subway lines. The increase in transit fare will also mean an increase in the Access-A-Ride fare from $2.00 to $2.50.

This community meeting will be held on Monday, March 30, 2009 at 3825 White Plains Road & E. 220th Street, at 7 p.m.

Bronx News Roundup, March 27

We'll start with the economy.

Though Wall Street was on upswing, the latest labor numbers show that New York City continues to lose jobs at a startling rate. The state labor department said the ranks of the city's unemployed has swelled to 355,000 people, with the Bronx being hit the hardest. The unemployment rate in the Bronx last month was 10.8 percent, compared to 8.8 percent in Brooklyn and 7.7 percent in Manhattan. Overall, the city's unemployment rate is 8.1 percent.

[It's important to note that those percentages only include those who are actively seeking employment, which leaves a whole population (which the government doesn't track) of the borough's jobless.]

The owner of an Arthur Ave. bakery, Walter Galliano, was charged with cheating his workers out of $350,000 in pay. In the same Times story, it says Alex Moreno, the owner of a Getty gas station on Jerome Ave. was also charged with shortchanging his workers, sometimes paying them as little as $4 an hour for 12 hour shifts.

Yesterday, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer proposed some ways to keep mayoral control with the city school district, but offer parents more of a say.

This is interesting because Bronx Assemblyman Ruben Diaz, Jr., who is expected to win the special election for borough president on April 21, expressed his support for Stringer's plans, which would put control of local education councils into the hands of the borough presidents' offices, in an interview yesterday. (More on this interview next week.) Bronx Assemblyman Jeff Dinowitz is expected to introduce the legislation on the state level.

Schools Chancellor Joel Klein says city education jobs may have to be cut if the state doesn't pony up more money, or a fairer share, of the federal stimulus money that is being filtered through Albany.

A Bronx mom is suing the city over contamination found at PS 178.

Two weeks after receiving a heart transplant, five-month old Adrien Flores was release from Montefiore hospital yesterday. (More on this later.)

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Ballet casts a spell on audience at Lehman Center.

Sunday March 22 2009: The Russian National Ballet Theater performed Cinderella to a full house at the Lehman Center For The Performing Arts. It was Poetry in motion, graceful ballerinas and ballerinos created a memorable evening.
It was like watching a painting come to life.
I hope you enjoy the photographs as much as I did making them.
Would love to hear your comments.

Good Day for Dinowitz

Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz is being honored tonight at Manhattan College for his work in passing legislation to combat human trafficking. The Norwood News wrote an editorial about Dinowitz's role in 2007.

Also, according to the Daily News, Dinowitz will soon be introducing legislation that would put Community Education Councils under the jurisdiction of borough presidents rather than the Department of Education and the Bloomberg administration (the story is not on-line yet but we'll post it when it is). The idea is to give the Councils more independence from the DOE so they can better hold the school system accountable.

Mayor To Set Up Bronx Campaign Office

Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has given every indication he will spend whatever it takes to retain his job for another term, is setting up a Bronx campaign office, as well as one in each of the other four boroughs on Saturday afternoon. [Here's his new Web site, which features a short video showing a handful of people (apparently New Yorkers) telling you why you should vote for him.]

According to a press release, the first we've received from his campaign office, the Bronx office will open at 1 p.m. at 2542A White Plains Road, which is between Mace and Allerton avenues.

Bloomberg is being challenged by Comptroller Bill Thompson and Councilman Tony Avella ("The Revolition starts...now"), both Democrats. Republican supermarket mogul John Catsimatidis is also contemplating a bid, while Anthony Weiner, a Democratic Brooklyn congressman who was once thought of as a serious contender, has yet to formally announce his candidacy.

Bronx News Roundup, March 26

Daily News columnist Michael Daly says Pedro Espada and Ruben Diaz Sr. are "traitors" for not supporting the bridge tolls which could have prevented the likely M.T.A. fare hikes and service cuts. Barring a last-minute rescue plan in Albany, the fare increases will be implemented on May 31, while the service reductions will phased in over the next few months. See here for a map showing how transit will be affected in your neighborhood.

A Bronx mom is suing the city over toxic contamination in her children's school.

Victor Toro, a Bronx resident and activist who fled Chile in the 1980s after serving jail time for fighting the dictatorship there, will be allowed to stay in America a little longer after deportation proceedings against him were temporarily suspended. More here.

Out-of-work Bronxites are flocking to the Bronx Library Center on East Kingbridge Road for help with their resumes and to attend free computer classes.

A high-performing charter school in Claremont has been put on probation for not meeting state requirements for teacher certification. There was an editorial about this in yesterday's New York Post.

The principal of elementary school in Riverdale allegedly compiled a "hate-list" of his least favorite teachers.

Diaz Declines Public Financing

Assemblyman Ruben Diaz, Jr., who is running for Bronx borough president in an April 21 special election, has decided to forgo public financing from the NYC Campaign Finance Board despite his eligibility, according to a press release issued by Diaz' campaign last night.

"While I support and believe in the City’s campaign finance system, New Yorkers’ best interests must come first. In these tough economic times, especially while confronted with a seemingly non-competitive race for Bronx Borough President, it is my hope that returning these funds to City taxpayers will assist in the retention of jobs and the continuation of vital services," said Diaz, a 7-term assemblyman representing the 85th District. in a press release.

The Daily News, however, suggests that Diaz acted now because their own editorial board indicated they would take him to task if he accepted public money during an economic meltdown, for a race many consider to be a mere formality. The other candidate in the nonpartisan race, Anthony Ribustello, a Republican actor from the County Club neighborhood in the east Bronx, is not well known and has raised virtually no money. The NYC Campaign Finance Board's Web site does not list a single contribution for Ribustello.

We'll have interviews with both in the next issue of the Norwood News.

Update: According to Eric Friedman, spokesman for the New York City Campaign Finance Board, Diaz' was eligible for approximately $220,000 in matching funds. There's a 6-to-1 match (meaning the city kicks in $6 for every $1 raised by the candidate) on the first $87 of each contribution from city residents. "Having turned down payment, he is still eligible to receive funds at a later date; this would not be true if he had taken the funds and returned them," Friedman said in an e-mail. Also, Ribustelo has raised $200 according to the CFB. You can find the totals of the two candidates' fundraising here.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

They Weren't Kidding: MTA Pulls Trigger on 'Doomsday' Fare Hikes and Service Cuts

The MTA's service cuts will include elimination of weekday service
of the Bx34, which connects Fordham to Woodlawn.

The MTA voted earlier today to impose massive service cuts, significant toll increases and huge fare hikes on transit riders throughout the New York metro region.

The fare hikes, which will raise the fee per bus or subway ride from $2 to $2.50 (and the price of a 30-day pass, from $81 to $103) will take effect May 31.

The service cuts, which will eliminate several vital lines connecting Bronx neighborhoods -- including the complete elimination of weekday service for the Bx14, 18, 20, 30, 34 and 4; several other lines will be significantly scaled back -- will be staggered throughout the next few months.

For a complete list of service cuts, click here.

After announcing the proposed cuts in November, the MTA said the only way to stave them off would be if the state stepped in with some revenue generating legislation.

The governor and Assembly leadership proposed a plan, endorsed by consulant Richard Ravitch, that would bridge the MTA's budget gap through an 8 percent fare hike, a series of tolls on bridges across the East and Harlem rivers and a payroll tax. But the Senate refused to support the bridge tolls, instead offering only a 4 percent fare hike and smaller payroll tax as stop-gap measure. The governor and MTA said it simply wouldn't be enough.

Today, Bronx Assemblyman Jose Rivera said there was absolutely no way lawmakers in Albany would impose the tolls the MTA was asking for. "I would lie down in front of traffic on the Fordham Road bridge [he meant the University Heights Bridge] before that happened." He added, "Those aren't even bridges, those are just the extension of roads."

In a press release, State Senator Pedro Espada, Jr. blamed everyone except the state's Democrats. "The MTA took on too much debt, too much risk and is now trying to saddle the victims, in this case the ridership with bailing out years of bad decision making not only by the MTA but a three-term governor [Pataki] and [Republican] members of the Senate no longer in the majority."

He also said all was not lost -- yet. "I believe there is ample time for Albany to step in and prevent these massive fare hikes and service cuts."

The Times' City Room blog has more about the MTA vote, including how a parade of MTA employees and riders spoke before the vote, mostly about how the cuts and fare hikes would disproportionally affect the middle class.

Yankees offer free tour of new stadium

The Yankees are offering Bronx residents a tour of their new stadium on Thursday, April 2, at 11 a.m.

While the tour is free, you must show up with a ticket. To find out how to get one (or more), call your local community board. Each board has been given a thousand tickets. CB 5 will be handing some out at tonight's monthly board meeting at 260 E. 188th St.

More here.

GAX in the Bronx on Shortchanging After-School Programs

In this latest installment of an ongoing series of commentaries on the Bronx News Network, Gary Axelbank says shortchanging after-school programs harms Bronx residents and neighborhoods.

Ed. note: Commentary on the Bronx News Network represents the opinion of the author/broadcaster and not necessarily that of the Bronx News Network.

Bronx News Roundup, March 25

The Yankees are expanding their food options at their new stadium.

With the MTA expected today to approved huge fare hikes and massive service cuts to close their billion dollar budget gap, the Times says leaders in the State Senate have failed the region's 8 million transit riders. [More on the local angle on this story later, but Assemblyman Jeff Dinowitz and State Senator Pedro Espada, Jr. have expressed little desire to bend to the MTA's proposals of taxing bridges on the East and Harlem rivers even if it means fares could rise 23 percent and local services cut be drastically cut.]

More on the NYPD detective who was indicted yesterday on charges she lied to a grand jury about a Bronx drug bust in 2007. Surveillance video contradicted her statements, prosecutors said. More here.

St. Barnabas Hospital is fighting the efforts of its interns and residents to unionize.

The SUNY Charter School Committee put a high-performing Bronx charter school on probation for not meeting teacher certification standards. Trustees for the school are reluctant to take action becaus the school has been so successful. The fifth- through eighth-grade school outperformed other schools in its district in reading and math by 22 points and posted a much higher graduation rate.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Amazing What a Fresh Coat of Paint Can Do

Students from Bronx Aerospace Academy spent

the fall semester spruce up their school's facilities

This winter, the halls of the Bronx Aerospace Academy, a small military-themed high school on Gun Hill Road, look fresh and new thanks to a nonprofit group that is making its mission to spruce up the city's drab and dilapidated public school buildings.

Publicolor, founded in 1996 by industrial designer Ruth Lande Shuman, aims to engage at-risk students with their learning environment by getting them to paint their school hallways, classrooms and other facilities.

Read the full story here.

-Photos by Falon Perez

Gun "Buy-Back" Program Coming to the Bronx


In February, 919 guns were collected during a gun “buy-back” day in Queens. Now the program, a joint effort between the NYPD, district attorneys, and local churches, is heading to the Bronx.

Police say it’ll be held on Saturday, April 25, although a spokesman for the Bronx DA’s Office said nothing had been finalized.

According to a detective I spoke with, organizers are in the process of picking out several churches in high crime precincts, including the 40th Precinct (which includes Mott Haven), the 44th Precinct (which includes Highbridge), and the 46th Precinct (which includes Mount Hope and Morris Heights). Nearer the time, fliers will be posted in the targeted neighborhoods encouraging gun owners to drop off their weapon at a given church in return for a $200 debit card – no questions asked.

Since the program was launched last summer, a handful of "buy-back" days have yeilded 3,500 weapons. Compare this to the hundred or so guns a precinct such as the Four-Six seizes each year, and you get an idea how effective the program is at getting guns off the street.

And yet, despite these impressive figures, there's some debate over whether or not these types of programs do what they're supposed to do: cut gun crime. See here and here for opposing views.

(Pictured above are photographs of several guns seized by the 46th Precinct in 2008. Photo by James Fergusson)

Apartment Building Sales Plummet in the Bronx (plus some bonus demographics)

A new housing report for real estate firm Massey Knakal shows the dramatic drop in the number of sales of apartment buildings across the City, especially in the Bronx. In an article in Crain's New York Business, the Chairman of Massey Knakal blames the drop on the reduction in supply, as "discretionary sellers are not putting their property on the market," but he warns that in the coming years prices will drop as distressed sellers will have no other option but to sell for less.

Meanwhile, the reports authors acknowledge the Bronx market is riskier than the other boroughs:

Brooklyn and Queens held up better than the Bronx in part because during uncertain economic times, there is a “flight to quality,” said John Cicero, managing principal at Miller Cicero. “Investors want to go to secure, more established neighborhoods.” Institutional investors didn’t start buying multi-family buildings in the Bronx until about six years ago, noted Mr. Knakal.

University Neighborhood Housing Program also tracks sales of residential apartment buildings in the Bronx, and we had similar findings. Prices haven't dropped, but the number of sales has gone from a peak of 260 in the first half of 2007, to 138 in the second half of 2007, to 132 in the first of 2008 and 64 in the second half of 2008. A drop in prices can be expected for the exact reason Mr. Knakal mentioned, as is the case with Botanical Square and a few other properties bought at the peak of the market by private equity investor Hudson Realty Capital.

For a great long term perspective on real estate booms and bust in New York City neighborhoods, don't miss the Furman Center's latest State of New York City’s Housing and Neighborhoods, which was released by the NYU research center just this month. Among the many tidbits you'll discover is that certain Bronx neighborhoods fared well during the last bust in the early 1990s, perhaps because they were still making up for the devastation of earlier decades (page 14). There is a related fascinating case study of the Morrisania/Crotona area (Bronx Community District 3) on page 20 showing price appreciations through every boom and bust period since 1974 (though they were pretty much starting from ground zero).

There is also a section on sustainability showing how the Bronx produces a lot of waste per capita and recycles very little.

At the end there is the heavy demographic and housing data, mostly based on 2005-2007 American Community Survey from the U.S. Census. Many of the findings are the same old story: Bronx neighborhoods have the highest rates of poverty, lowest educational attainment, lowest homeownership rates, the youngest population, etc.

But there was at least one surprise: none of the neighborhoods with the highest incidence of elevated blood levels in children are in the Bronx. Instead, neighborhoods with converted manufacturing loft space (SoHo and Williamsburg) rank tops in the City.

One other interesting stat: the three most densely populated community districts outside of Manhattan are in the West Bronx. Here are the top 10 in the City with the number of persons per square mile:
1. Upper East Side (MN) - 105,900
2. Lower East Side/Chinatown (MN) - 99,100
3. Morningside Heights/Hamilton Heights (MN) - 98,800
4. Stuyvesant Town/Turtle Bay (MN) - 88,100
5. Central Harlem (MN) - 86,100
6. Kingsbridge Heights/Bedford (BX 7) - 77,000
7. Highbridge/Concourse (BX 4) - 75,800
8. Washington Heights/Inwood (MN) - 73,700
9. Fordham/University Heights (BX 5) - 73,000
10. Upper West Side (MN) - 66,000

Bronx News Roundup, March 24

The Daily News has another editorial blasting Adolfo Carrion, the former Bronx borough president who now works for President Obama.

Only two City Council members (from 51) had a perfect attendance record at meetings and hearings over the past year. Yet again, Maria Baez (District 14) has the worst record, showing up less than 50 percent of the time. She recently told the Norwood News that illness and a busy schedule were to blame. Helen Diane Foster (District 16) is also in the bottom five. The Gotham Gazette has more on "who's engaged and who's not."

One of the parks built to replace parkland gobbled up by the new Yankee Stadium will finally open next month - or at least part of it will.

According to Bob Kappstatter, State Senator Ruben Diaz Sr. and his son, Assemblyman Ruben Diaz Jr. (who's running for borough president), are still being investigated - this time by Attorney General Andrew Cuomo's office. Last week, Kappstatter reported that the feds had dropped a two-year investigation into the Diazes and a non-profit they founded.

A Bronx man, told by doctors he'd never walk again following a terrible car crash in December, is back on his feet, and says he has God to thank.

This is a little behind the times, but interesting all the same. In November's presidential election, Obama pulled in 95 percent of the vote in Congressman Jose Serrano's 16th Congressional District - a higher percentage than any other district in the country.

A Bronx narcotics detective has been arrested and charged with perjury.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Kennedy Loses Championship Final at the Garden

-Photo slideshow by Adi Talwar

The Kennedy Knights boys hoop squad, playing for the Bronx and the memory of fallen teammate Andre "Pops" Davidson who died last summer during a pickup game, could only hold off the Lincoln juggernaut and history for so long.

After closing to within two points of the Railsplitters toward the end of the first half, Kennedy could not contain superstar senior Lance Stephenson's team in the second half as Lincoln cruised to a 78-56 victory in the boys city championship final at Madison Square Garden on Saturday afternoon. It was Stephenson and Lincoln's fourth title in as many years.

A tough, but not surprising loss for Kennedy, which had only lost one game all season and had won 15 in a row going into the championship. But Lincoln is incredibly big and athletic and Stephenson is probably the best player in the city, if not the entire state. It would have been a huge upset, one of the biggest in city history, if the Knights had won on Saturday.

Stephenson was in foul trouble in the second quarter, which allowed the Knights to come back, but they didn't do enough with Lincoln's superstar out of the lineup. "We should have capitalized when Lance went out," Kennedy coach Johnny Mathis said, according to the Times.

Read the Five Boro Sports game story here. Read the Daily News story here.

Lincoln moves on to the state federation tournament where they will play Rice High School (Harlem) in a semifinal match Saturday.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Bronx News Roundup for March 23

Congressman Eliot Engel's Bronx district office, which has been on a residential block of Johnson Avenue in Riverdale for 16 years, violates city zoning regulations. If Engel's landlord doesn't get a variance, the congressman may have to find new digs.

State Senator Ruben Diaz, Jr. is disappointed Governor Paterson won't be attending the annual banquet of the New York Hispanic Clergy Organization in person.

The state of the Bronx GOP.

A fire destroyed a shopping plaza near Tremont and Westchester avenues.

NY1 reports on the plethora of new buildings rising on East 161st Street

The budget crisis has claimed another popular project: the leaf collection and compost giveback programs. An on-line petition calling for the reinstatement of the program is being circulated.

The Bronx district attorney's investigation into alleged improprieties concerning the renovation of former Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion's has escalated. The Daily News reports today that the renovations were apparently heavily discounted.

Former Bronx Borough President Fernando Ferrer is supporting Councilman David Weprin for comptroller.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Kennedy Playing for Fallen Player in Tomorrow's Championship

Nice story from Five Boro Sports on Kennedy High School's extra motivation for tomorrow's boys basketball championship game tomorrow at noon at MSG. Last summer, former Kennedy player Andre "Pops" Davidson, a Highbridge area resident, died while playing in a South Bronx pickup game.

Now, Kennedy is using his memory to spur them to victory. A daunting task considering they're playing Lincoln, which has won the last three city championships.

We'll have photographs and highlights from the game on Monday. Have a good weekend.

Weekend Arts and Entertainment Guide

Not sure what to do this weekend? Check out the Norwood News' "Out & About" guide to arts and entertainment in the Bronx. The Russian Nation Ballet is performing "Cinderella" (pictured, above) at Lehman Center on Sunday at 4 p.m. For more info, including a preview video, and ticket info, click here.

Bronx New Roundup, March 20

Forgive the lack of posting today on the blog, but we're undermanned and a little under the weather. Here's a few links to tide you over till next week.

A 27-year-old man named Eric Collins was arrested yesterday on charges he shot a woman with an arrow at a Riverdale nursing home on Sunday. Here's the Riverdale Press story on the arrest. Video coverage here from NY1.

The city is slashing funding for nine Bronx after- school and child care programs.

The Bronx Zoo and other zoos around country and fighting hard to stave off funding cuts.

WNYC's report on the Bronx Art Museum's Grand Concourse exhibit.

The Daily News' Errol Louis says there's still no justice in the Bronx for a slain 2-year-old, Khamerin Antwine, who was beaten to death a year and a half ago. Louis says Bronx DA Robert Johnson hasn't pressed charges, even though a Bronx family court held both the mother and her boyfriend directly responsible for the child's death.

The city's cutting hospital jobs in the Bronx and other facilities throughout the city.

Lavette Bills, a Bronx real estate broker and radio show host, was charged with scamming the very folks (distressed homeowners who feared foreclosure) she said she was trying to help on her radio show.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Tearing It Up ... But Tearing It Down?

CBS News has this photo of the removal of the turf at the old Yankee Stadium.

But when will they tear the stadium down to make room for new community ballfields? The countdown continues.

Neil deMause has more on the Yankee/Parks situation here.

NYPD Frees Up Local Crime Stats

The latest issue of the Norwood News, including an editorial criticizing the Police Department for obstructing access to local crime stats, hit the streets this morning. A couple of hours later, we got a phone call from NYPD headquarters telling us that the crime statistics we'd been seeking since December - broken down neighborhood-by-neighborhood - were on its way to our fax machine. Lo and behold, there it was.

Coincidence or not, we're glad the NYPD finally complied with our request. The "sector analysis" for 2008 is less than a half page. As we remarked in the editorial, local precinct officials have the capability of producing this extremely basic information practically instantaneously, and they have done so in the past. So, we hope this is the last we've seen of this kind of obstruction from NYPD headquarters.

As for the stats, we'll bring them to you in the next issue of the Norwood News and link to them on the blog.

New from the Norwood News

The latest edition of the Norwood News is out on streets and online now.

Castro to Hold Town-Hall Meeting Tonight

Assemblyman Nelson Castro is holding a town-hall style meeting tonight at MS 399, at 120 E. 184th St. It starts at 6:30 p.m. According to a flier, the meeting is "open to those who wish to voice their community concerns." For information, call (718) 933-6909.

On a slightly related note - Castro is a Dominican-American - Jesse Hoffnung-Garskof, author of "A Tale of Two Cities: Santo Domingo and New York after 1950," is answering questions on the NYT's Web site this week about New York's Dominican population.

Bronx News Roundup March 19

Spring training has started for new hires at Yankee Stadium.

The Daily News reports that ridership has increased on Bronx buses and subways, in some cases as much as 50%. A new report shows the Bronx had the largest increase in the city over the past five years.

A Bronx cop who was injured while chasing a suspect in 2003 wins $3.6 million from the city.

The former MP Pub in Morris Park, known for being a center of noise and loitering, is under new management, and has a new name, but residents are still fearful that quality of life issues will return.

Street closings on E. 135th St. are causing major headaches for local residents.

A bank robber from Webster Ave. robs six different banks in Manhattan this week before being arrested by police.

Mayor Bloomberg makes a speech at Lehman College and ends up coming to the aid of a student who faints.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

More on Espada's District Office

Lots flying around Bronx papers and the blogosphere about State Senator Pedro Espada, Jr.'s district office, or lack thereof.

Here's what we know, courtesy of Espada's press guy, Steve Mangione (who also does PR work Espada's South Bronx healthcare centers).

Espada has negotiated a lease with property managers at 400 E. Fordham Road, a newly remodeled building near Webster Ave., which also houses Sears and a fitness center, Mangione says, and the senator will hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony to open the office in mid-April.

Calls to property managers to confirm this were not returned yesterday, but we'll keep trying.

More on why it's taken so long in the next issue of the Norwood News, which hits streets tomorrow morning. We'll preview the Web version of the issue here tomorrow morning as well.

Replacement Park Spin

Just heard from Geoffrey Croft of New York City Park Advocates who says the Parks Department asked media to tour some of the "replacement parks" that were supposedly being renovated/constructed to mitigate the impact of the new Yankee Stadium being built on top of city parkland.

Croft says the parks they showed off were not part of replacement park plan at all. Needless to say, he's a little disgusted with city's "spin" efforts.

We should find some more about this and other park and river issues today at the Bronx Council on Environmental Quality's annual water conference today.

In fact, I need to run to get there.

Grand Concourse to Make a Comeback?

City Limits takes a look at the Bronx Museum of the Arts' buffet of programming and events in celebration of the Grand Concourse on its 100th birthday. The museum aims to examine the expansive thoroughfare's past and its prospect's for a brighter future.

Update: The art museum's Grand Concourse work also reached the Times' City Room blog today.

Bronx News Roundup, March 18

Happy post-St. Patrick's Day everyone. Hope everyone made it home safely last night. Here's some links to get you back into the swing of things.

First, let's talk MTA, which is threatening huge fare hikes and massive service cuts as a way to bridge its yawning budget gap. 

The new Democratic Senate majority's short-term MTA bailout plan, which included a 4 percent fare increase for subways and commuter trains and a small payroll tax (25 cents for every $100) but not any tolls for the East and Harlem rivers (as the governor and Richard Ravitch have pushed for), was rejected by both the Gov. David Paterson and the head of the Senate Finance Committee. 

Paterson said the plan was short-sighted and more of a stop-gap measure than a solution. Local politicians, including Senator Pedro Espada and Assemblyman Jeff Dinowitiz say they're adamantly against the bridge tolls and want the MTA to open up its books before they implemet any drastic measures (like bridge tolls). Dinowitz called the tolls regressive (meaning they would hit the less wealthy harder) and said he felt like the MTA was trying to hold lawmakers hostage by threatening them with service cuts and fare hikes. 

The Post reports that a consultant for Paterson may be in line to take over the MTA when it gets organized in the near future, a fact that could be shaping some of his decisions.

Times columnist Jim Dwyer says State leaders are blowing it and don't have enough power to get things done. 

Police continue to investigate an incident in Riverdale where a woman was shot with an arrow. More here about how police are finding the case difficult to solve.

CBS News writes about an Irish dancing troupe in the Bronx. 

GOP leaders are upset that the Senate Dems, including Bronx Senator Jeff Klein, are giving staffers big salary hikes. More on this from NY1, which first reported raises.