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Friday, May 29, 2009

State of the Art

May 14: The St. Philip Neri School on the Grand Concourse near Bedford park Boulevard hosted an exhibition. The exhibition was of art created by students of all grades under the expert tutelage of Miss Eveline Suarez. Art teacher Miss Suarez has been teaching at the school since 1999. Knowledgeable and articulate student guides added another dimension to the exhibition. I enjoyed the art, I hope you enjoy it too. Please click on the images to view captions and larger images

Supermarket War at Armory?

According to the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) submitted to the city on May 14, Related Companies is planning to build space in the gigantic Kingsbridge Armory for a 60,000 square foot supermarket.

Morton Williams, which operates two Bronx supermarkets, including one directly across the street from the Armory, said if Related puts in a supermarket in their Shops at the Armory mall, they will be forced to close both Bronx grocery stores, according to Crain's.

Since the beginnign of the redevelopment process, Morton Williams, which is part of the Kingsbridge Armory Redevelopment Alliance (KARA), has adamantly opposed the inclusion of a supermarket at the new Amory mall.

New from the Norwood News

The latest action-packed edition of the Norwood News is out on streets and online now. We've got a great lineup of compelling stories for your reading enjoyment. Here's a quick preview:

We profile a father and Stella D'oro cookie factory worker who's struggling to provide for his family as the workers' strike stretches into its ninth month.

The Kingsbridge Armory Redevelopment Alliance and Community Board 7 are going to work with new borough president Ruben Diaz, Jr. to negotiate a Community Benefits Agreement for the Armory mall project. It would be an unprecedented government-community partnership for city development projects.

The Health Department says its willing to open up a portion of the vacant old Fordham Library for community space. The agency is also willing to look at cheaper alternatives to installing a full-service animal shelter in the building, like a low-cost spay and neuter clinic, which pet advocates say would go farther toward ending pet homelessness. But first the City Council must change its law that mandates full-service shelters in all five boroughs.

The Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition looked within to find its new co-executive directors and found two women of color -- the first time women of color are heading the 35-year-old organization.

Our special Real Estate section examines the buyer's market in the Bronx.
A story on the swearing-in of new borough president Ruben Diaz, Jr. Our editorial says Diaz, Jr. could excel in his new role, but he must avoid the the borough's minefield of political pitfalls.

Cops bust a suspect who they say sexually assaulted two teenage girls in the span of 8 days in the same location.

Don't forget to check our Out & About arts, recreation and entertainment calendar, our extensive online Neighborhood Notes guide to neighborhood programs, events and services.

Finally, our Inquiring Photographer asks residents about their thoughts on mayoral control of public schools, which is up for renewal on June. 30.

An observation tower for the South Bronx?


If Alec Diacou gets his way, a giant observation tower will be built somewhere in the Bronx, perhaps near the Third Avenue Bridge.

Diacou, chairman of the Yes The Bronx, a non-profit he founded with a business partner, believes the 176-foot tower will go some way towards erasing the negative perceptions of the borough many people still harbour.

I won't rehash what's been written elsewhere (see here, here, and here) but I thought I'd post this photo of Diacou and standing next to an architect's rendering. It was taken Wednesday evening, following a talk Diacou gave to Community Board 5 at their monthly meeting. He's after the board's approval - and that of other boards, too - as he strives to drum up support. Ultimately, he needs $25 million to turn the dream into reality.

Yes The Bronx is essentailly a rebranding campaign for the borough, and the tower is just one idea - albeit the most ambitious - that Diacou has. Also in the pipeline are finincial literacy programs, awards for Bronxites who embody the "Yes" spirit, and Yes The Bronx merchandize. Plans, though, for a massive Yes The Bronx sign near where the Harlem and East rivers meet, have been abandoned.

The Yankees, Unobstructed May 29

Joba ChamberlainLeave Joba Chamberlain Alone (Image by Keith Allison via Flickr)

Joba Would be a Waste in the Bullpen

Joba Chamberlain is more useful as a starting pitcher than he is as a reliever, even if he has the ability to be the Yankees go-to eighth inning guy.

Chamberlain is 23 years old. In his 21 career starts, he has an impressive 3.25 era. He has not been dominant, but he has been good. Despite that, every time the sophomore hurler has a rough outing, a chorus of critics erupt. They call for the Yankees to return Joba to the bullpen, where he can be used for three outs at a time to preserve leads and ties.

A while back, True/Slant's resident baseball brain Matt Pack explained Joba's relative value in terms of Win Shares (WS). The WS is a valuation, created by statistician Bill James, which assesses a players overall contribution to his team's total victories for an entire season.

Pack explained that, "the top ten relievers last year had an average value of 12.8 WS. You don’t have to exactly be a world beater as a starter to have that sort of value." In fact, the pitchers Pack listed for me who were in the 12-13 WS range barely made it into the top fifty most effective starters.

Why would Yankee fans want to turn a good young starter into a reliever? Because we think that the perfect eighth and ninth inning combo is the only guarantee of playoff success. The late 1990s glory years were marked by unflappable setup men: first in 1996, Mariano Rivera played the eighth inning stopper for John Wetteland. Then, in '98, '99 and '00, we had setup success from such forces as....Jeff Nelson and Mike Stanton?

Don't get me wrong, Nelson and Stanton were absolutely dominant at times, and the Yankees certainly would have had a tough time winning those World Series' without them - but Nelson and Stanton were career relievers.

Chamberlain has shown the ability to pitch effectively as a starter and has done so for much of this season, but moving him back and forth between starting and relieving could screw with that cogency. Pitchers rely on set routines to keep their bodies and minds prepared for each performance, but as a result of the Yankees' frequent fiddling with Joba's status, until now he has had little opportunity to develop that consistency.

Chamberlain may someday return to the bullpen permanently. Perhaps he'll turn out to be mediocre as a starter and the Yankees will be looking for someone to follow in Mariano Rivera's hallowed footsteps. Hopefully though, the Yankees will continue to ignore the catcalls every time Joba has a poor outing. We will never know what kind of starter Chamberlain can be if we don't give him a full season to figure it out.

Make sure to check back every Wednesday for Pinstripe Politics, your source for that gray area where the Yankees and society converge. Also, check in with the BNN on Fridays for The Yankees, Unobstructed, our weekly Yankee opinion column.

Bronx News Roundup, May 29

We'll start with the lady of the moment, Supreme Court nominee and Bronxite Sonia Sotomayor. The Times reports that Sotomayor was very active as a board member with the nonprofit Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund (now known as Latino Justice), which took up discrimination cases against the likes of the NYPD and Ronald Reagan.

She was a young prosecutor at the time, but conservative critics may link her involvment with the fund and a case in Connecticut where she ruled against two white firefighters who said minority co-workers were getting promotions based on skin color, not merit or test scores.

Sotmayor's getting a break from her current job on the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals.

The AP, via Google, gives a comprehensive look at the nominee's career and how she's beign portrayed in the media.

Slate writes about Sotomayor's country of ancestry: Puerto Rico.

Other news:
Rev. Run (of Run DMC fame) is working to open a new playground in the Bronx. He and his wife will be holding a fundraiser at Odyssey House, 1328 Clinton Ave. (where the playground will be built), on June 18.

The Red Cross laid off its entire Bronx office last week as part of nation-wide downsizing effort.

Four Bronxites will be inducted into the Bronx Walk of Fame on Friday June 19: Hip-hop pioneer DJ Kool Herc, singer Tony Orlando ("Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree"), grammy-winning artist Melissa Manchester and actress Judy Reyes ("Scrubs").

Thursday, May 28, 2009

NY Dems to Senate: Confirm Sotomayor (and quickly)


Don’t even think about blocking her.

That was the message Rev. Al Sharpton, Bronx BP Ruben Diaz, Jr. and others, wanted Republicans to hear loud and clear yesterday morning.

They had gathered for a press conference at Bronxdale Community Center in Soundview to urge the Senate to confirm Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor – who grew up in a nearby housing project – and to do so swiftly, before the August recess.

“We’re here today to say ‘put politics aside, put the politics of destruction aside,’” said City Comptroller and mayoral candidate Bill Thompson. “We’ve already started seeing people like Rush Limbaugh and others start to come out and say no. What we say to them is stop and stop now… let us [confirm] somebody who truly embodies the American dream.”

Sharpton touted Sotomayor’s experience as a judge and said there “should be no questions on either side” about her capabilities. Republicans shouldn’t have any complaints, he said, because Sotomayor was first appointed to the federal bench by one of their own, President George H.W. Bush.

Sharpton said he would lead a delegation to Washington D.C. to ensure her confirmation goes smoothly.

Here’s a news roundup we posted earlier today on all things Sotomayor.


TOP PHOTO: Ruben Diaz Jr. is at the mic. Second from left is Thompson and second from right is Sharpton. On the right is Annabel Palma, a Bronx council member whose district includes Soundview.
BOTTOM PHOTO: Bronxdale Houses, where Sotomayor lived as a child, is made up of 28 seven-story apartment buildings.

Sotomayor Central

President Barack Obama announced on Monday his nomination of Bronx native Sonia Sotomayor to the United States Supreme Court, touching off a barrage of online reporting, writing and opining.

Here's a rundown of some what's being written on World Wide Web:

The New York Times writes about how Sotomayor overcame adversity to make it to her appointment.

Not surprisingly, Fox News wrote about how Sotomayor may have not only a liberal bias, but also a "minority bias" as well.

Other critics, like Jeffrey Rosen of the New Republic, believe that the nominee's personality will drag her down.

Some liberal groups are not thrilled by the nomination, saying that Sotomayor has not taken strong leftist stances on issues like abortion, the death penalty, and gay marriage.
Politico reveals that some consider her a moderate. MSNBC futher explores her record, focusing on both the left and the rights's concern over her stance on abortion.

Although a blog on ABCnews.com reports many Republicans promise a long battle for Sotomayor's approval, the New York Times counters with an article stating The White House is confident in her nomination as her appointment is the result of very careful calculations.

Many are hailing Sotomayor as a Latino activist, but the New York Times explores the Latino community's mixed reactions to her appointment.

While Leslie Sanchez, in a commentary on CNN.com, questions Sotomayor's self-proclaimed empathy for Hispanic values, Juan Gonzalez, in a Daily News Column, calls the Judge's nomination a "Day of Pride for Latinos."

However, not all are convinced that Sotomayor really would be the first Latin American to sit on the Supreme Court. The Associated Press explores the questions surrounding the label of the first Latino nominee.

Sotomayor's Latin heritage is not the only criteria that distingushes her from other judges. Politico reports that the Judge's current finances are significantly inferior to those of her counterparts.

Bronx News Roundup, May 28th

Eighteen suspects were charged Wednesday after a nine-month investigation for orchestrating an identity theft operation said to have targeted around 500 bank accounts. Two men involved in allegedly cashing millions of dollars in bogus checks were reportedly from the Bronx.
(Surprisingly, this is not the first time a "massive identity theft ring" occured. In 2002, a 48-year-old Bronx man was charged with being the "ringleader" of such a gig).

Democrat Anthony D. Weiner, reported to be City Controller William C. Thompson's only real threat in the mayoral race besides against Bloomberg, dropped out of the race Wednesday.

P.S. 68 in Wakefield closed today along with four other schools on suspicions of swine flu outbreaks. They plan to reopen doors June 1st. (Didn't know? Today Notify NYC has gone citywide. Now you can get cell phone text updates on school closings, health warnings, and more.)

Sen. Jeffrey Klein warned Bronx citizens today to steer clear of repair scams, as some residents may have been tricked out of hundreds of dollars by cleaning companies.

Assembly member Carl Heastie argues there should be a $1.2M payout to a Bronx pharmacy for prescriptions it filled for Medicaid subscribers while it was under suspension by New York State.

A Daily News reporter went to Blessed Sacrament today to talk to administrators and teachers about the grade school's newly famous alum, Supreme Court justice nominee Sonia Sotomayor.
Read about it here.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Flamenco Mesmerizes at Pregones

Earlier this month on May 9th: The Flamenco Vivo Carlota Santana Company performed at the Pregones Theater, as a part of their Flamenco in the Boros tour. The Artists performed to a full house. The performance was vigorous, gripping, powerful and sensual. I hope you enjoy the photographs. It was a pleasure making them in the intimate atmosphere of Pregones. Please click on the images to see larger images and captions.

Dancers: Antonio Hidalgo, Estefania Ramirez, Rebeca Tomás , Leslie Roybal
Musicians: Joaquin Gallegos– guitarist, Raphael Brunn–guitarist, Alfonso Cid–singer
Artistic Director: Carlota Santana

Summer on the Bronx River

Just got this and couldn't help just posting the whole thing since it all looks so darn fun ...

Summer on the Bronx River! El Río Es Mío! Go with the Flow!

The Bronx River salutes the Grand Concourse on its 100th Birthday!

Wednesday, June 3 (4:30pm – 7:00pm): Bronx River Student Symposium, Drew Gardens (E Tremont and the Bronx River) hosted by the Bronx River Alliance.

Join us to learn more about what’s happening along the river and talk with local students about how they’re getting involved. For more information, call 718.430.4665 or visit www.bronxriver.org.

Saturday, June 6 (12- 4pm): End of the Semester Celebration and Community Rowing at Hunts Point Riverside Park (Edgewater Road and Lafayette Ave) hosted by Rocking the Boat. Boat launch, music, free barbecue. For more information, call 718.466.5799. For more information, visit http://www.rockingtheboat.org/eos/.

Saturday, June 6 (10:30am – 5:00pm): 6th Annual Hunts Point Fish Parade & Summer Festival: Riding the Wave of Change presented by The Point and SEBCO. For more information, visit http://www.thepoint.org/what/what.html.

10:30 am: Parade registration and activities at Hunts Point Riverside Park. Face Painting, Costume Making, Boat Rides, and a performance by the Roberta Flack School of Music.

11:30 am: Fish Parade marches through the streets of Hunts Point! Fish and marine themed costumes, floats, music, performances. Prizes will be awarded for best effort to link local and global environmental issues, best use of recycled materials and best fish or marine theme.

12 pm - 5 pm: Summer Festival kicks off at Barretto Point Park feat. DJs Jazzy Jay and Pop Master Fabel plus live music, food, raffle & more! Barretto Point Park (Tiffany & Viele).

Tuesday, June 9 (6:30pm – 9:00pm): Shoelace Park Community Design Workshop, Community Board 12 (4101 White Plains Road at 227th St) hosted by the Bronx River Alliance. Help us create a new vision for Shoelace Park and Fort Knox on the Bronx River Greenway - we need to hear from you! For more information, call 718.430.4665 or visit www.shoelacepark.bronxriver.org.

Saturday, June 13 (9:30am - 2:30pm): Bronx River Community Paddle at Fort Knox hosted by the Bronx River Alliance.

Get to know your stretch of the river at this community paddle. Meet at Fort Knox (Bronx Blvd between Duncomb Ave and E Gun Hill Rd). The Bronx River Alliance will lead paddling trips (canoes and kayaks) down to the Bronx River Forest and back, past newly restored parks, stabilized riverbanks, new plantings, and maybe even a muskrat! For more information, call 718.430.4665 or visit www.bronxriver.org.

Saturday, June 13 (noon – 5pm): Community Rowing at Hunts Point Riverside Park. Rocking the Boat invites you to come rowing in hand made wooden rowboats. For more information, visit http://rockingtheboat.org/communityrowing/.

Friday, June 19 (7:30 – 9:30pm): Bronx River Sounds. Cello Music by Elizabeth Glushko at the Bronx River Art Center. For more information, visit www.bronxriverart.org/.

Saturday, June 20 (9am): Hunts Point Hustle 5k Race at Hunts Point Riverside Park hosted by Sustainable South Bronx.

Awards for the first 10 male and female winners! For more information, contact Janett Florindo at 646.400.5294 or via email at jflorindo@ssbx.org.

Saturday, June 20 (noon – 5pm): Community Rowing at Hunts Point Riverside Park. Rocking the Boat invites you to come rowing in hand made wooden rowboats. For more information, visit http://rockingtheboat.org/communityrowing/.

June 20 (10:30am): Walking Tour: Concrete Plant Park & Environs hosted by Youth Ministry for

Peace and Justice, 1384 Stratford Ave.

This tour is a window into the enormous challenges and impressive successes to be found in this section of the South Bronx. Dedicated residents have fought for environmental justice and a concrete plant ruin has become a beautiful park, designed with the help of the community. Leader: Alexie Torres-Fleming and colleagues, Youth Ministry for Peace and Justice. Meet at YMPJ. $15, $12 MAS members. For details and to sign-up go to www.MAS.org or call (212) 935 -2075.

Sunday, June 21 (9:30am): Bike the Bronx River! Meet at Pelham Parkway and Bronx Park East.

Celebrate Father's Day by biking the Bronx River Greenway! Ride will head north along the Bronx River Greenway. We'll pause at 233rd Street in Shoelace Park and riders who wish to remain in parkland can circle back from there. Others will continue on to the Bicycle Sundays on the Bronx River Parkway in Westchester. Final destination: the impounded headwaters of the Bronx River at the Kensico Dam! Ride is about 20 miles (one way). To register, email bronx@transalt.org.

Friday, June 26: Audubon Biodiversity Walk hosted by NYC Audubon Society and the Bronx River Alliance.

A two hour walk and discussion in the Bronx River Forest, one of the oldest growth forests in New York City. Learn about the past, the present and the future of this unique resource. Meet at Burke Avenue and Bronx Blvd. Contact info@nycaudubon.org for more information, or visit www.nycaudubon.org.

Saturday, June 27 (noon – 5pm): Community Rowing at Hunts Point Riverside Park. Rocking the Boat invites you to come rowing in hand made wooden rowboats. For more information, visit http://rockingtheboat.org/communityrowing/.

Saturday, June 27 (11am – 3pm): Bronx River Festival. River Park (180th St and Boston Road)

The Bronx River Alliance presents the Bronx River Festival featuring Sonia Manzano (Maria from Sesame Street) and other cast members from the show. Join us for canoe rides, entertainment, and good food on the beautiful Bronx River! For more information, call 718 430 4665 or visit www.bronxriver.org.

Saturday, June 27 (12pm – 5pm): Car-free Crotona Park sponsored by the Car-free Bronx Coalition (Bike New York, Bronx River Alliance, Clean Air New York, Montefiore Medical Center, Sustainable South Bronx, Transportation Alternatives, and The Point CDC) between Claremont Parkway and Crotona Park North (rain or shine). Come join in on a host of activities on Crotona Parkway. Bring your friends, family, and bike (if you have one) and enjoy a beautiful car-free day in Crotona Park. For more information, call 718 324 4466 or visit www.transalt.org/events/calendar.

Pinstripe Politics May 27

It's a slow week on the Pinstripe Politics front, but there are a few good stories out there:

A Pinstriped Robe Possibility

If the courtroom fight between the Yankees and Richard Brodsky finds its way to the Supreme Court, the Yankees might have the upper-hand - Sonia Sotomayor, President Barack Obama's nominee for the soon-to-be vacant Supreme Court seat, is a lifelong Yankee fan.

Brodsky Considering Run for AG?

Speaking of Brodsky, the State Assemblyman from Westchester is rumored to be considering a run for Attorney General next year. If Brodsky runs and manages to separate himself from the field of candidates, it will be interesting to see if he continues his push against the Yankees.

Pride. Power. Prejudice.

Yesterday, Tom Vendikos, a bartender who had spent 27 seasons working at the old Yankee Stadium, filed a complaint against the Yankees with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Vendikos, 73, according to the New York Post, is alleging that age discrimination factored into the Yankees' decision to not rehire him for work at the new Stadium.

Bronx Hip-Hop Origins on BronxTalk

Gary Axelbank says this episode of BronxTalk is not to be missed ...

This week BronxTalk features an interview with DJ Disco Wiz and co-author Ivan Sanchez about their new book "It's Just Begun", a hard-hitting, no-holds barred biography of Wiz that documents the violence, drug abuse, and rough Bronx culture that gave birth to the hip hop movement. DJ Disco Wiz claims to be hip hop's first Latino DJ. You can see it all here.

BronxTalk is seen live each Monday night at 9pm on channel 67 (Cablevision) in the Bronx and is repeated each day at 9:30am, 3:30pm, and 9:00pm. It is produced by Jane Folloro.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Bronx News Roundup, May 26

President Obama has nominated Sonia Sotomayor, a Bronx-born federal appeals judge, to the Supreme Court. Sotomayor, 54, who's of Puerto Rican heritage, grew in Bronxdale Houses in the south east Bronx, attended Cardinal Spellman High School, and went on to Princeton and Yale. If confirmed by the Senate, she'll be the first Hispanic justice.

Here's Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.'s statement on her selection:

It is with great joy that the whole borough of The Bronx received the news of President Obama’s nomination of one of our own, Judge Sonia Sotomayor, to the Supreme Court. Over the last 30 years, Judge Sotomayor has proven herself to be an accomplished attorney and an excellent jurist who is dedicated to the rule of law and our constitutional values. A patriot of the highest order, Judge Sotomayor has worked tirelessly with the utmost of integrity to serve our country.
If confirmed as the next Justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Sotomayor will bring a legal and human perspective that will improve the Supreme Court for years to come.

More here on Sotomayor's humble beginnings and her career-to-date.

Clinton High School's boys and girls won the PSAL Bronx outdoor track and field titles on Sunday.

For Buddy Stein, the former editor of The Riverdale Press, last Wednesday's attempted bombings in Riverdale bought back some unpleasent memories: the firebombing of the Press' offices in 1989. Here's a Press editoral, published back in February on the 20th anniversary of the attack.

Marc Sternberg, the principal of Bronx Lab High school, a high school on the Evander Childs campus, writes in the Daily News that mayoral control saved his "dying school." We've linked to this before, but here's a very different take on mayoral control from Vincent Wojsnis, a teacher at MS 399 on East 184th Street.

Because of the fiscal crisis, Soundview Park's planned renovation won't be as extensive as the city originally intended.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Bronx News Roundup, May 22

Hundreds of people showed up to the Bronx County Building to apply for a job at the new Target that will open at Gateway Mall.

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. was sworn in at Lehman College yesterday.

Mayor Bloomberg honored the first responders of the attempt to bomb a synagogue in Riverdale.

Yankees fans can start using the new Metro North stop at 153rd on Saturday

Bronx Republicans Featured on BronxTalk

This past Monday night BronxTalk featured an interview with Jay Savino Chairman of the Bronx Republican Party and Anthony Ribustello, former candidate for borough president. They discussed the failed campaign, the future of the party in the Bronx, their endorsement of Michael Bloomberg for mayor, and other topics.

You can see it here.

BronxTalk is seen live each Monday night at 9 p.m. on Cablevision channel 67 in the Bronx and is repeated each day at 9:30am, 3:30pm, and 9:00pm. It is produced by Jane Folloro.