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Monday, August 31, 2009

Closing statements

Too loud in control room to hear these. We'll try to put up more tomorrow about this.
This debate will be reaired at the same time throughout the week on channel 67.
More tomorrow.
Hope you enjoyed the debate.
-Jordan Moss

Liveblogging, cont.

9:19 Asking about parental involvment in schools. Tapia says parental involvement is important. Says parent coordinators should be more involved in parental involvement.

Cabrera says power has been given to the principal. "that's the person we have to negotiate with" to bring forth resources we need. Talks about low rate of h.s. graduation.

9:23 James says Baez has been criticized for poor attendance record and not being visible in community. But says "that neither of you two hav ebeen regulars" at community meetings. What's to say that if yoyu're elected it will be any different.

Cabrera says he was on Community Board (for two years, James says) and had good attendance record. Says he never saw Council member during that time. Asks that voters look at his track record as a pastor and a counselor -- that he shows up and is effective.

Tapia says she was presidnet of PTAs at all her kids' schools (she has four children). Says she has been active on disability issues.

9:24 Name a current Bx pol you admire, Alex asks: Tapia says she worked with former Bronx BP Adolfo Carrion. Gary says he's not "current."

Cabrera says current BP Ruben Diaz. Praises his role as strategist.

Liveblogging cont'd ...

9:12 What specific legislation would you ask, James asks Cabrera? Living Wage says Cabrera. Points to borough unemployment rate. (Living wage has been a central issue in armory battle.) Other piece of legislation he'd put forth would consolidate services into one application -- Medicaid, food stamps, etc.

Tapia says jobs and education. Gary asks how it translates into legislation. Says she'd look for more money for more school space, that would reduce overcrowding.

9:14. Kingsbridge Armory. Asks how they'd vote if project came before them without CBA. Tapia says project without full-time jobs, and without CBA she'd never vote for it. She says Related Cos. would still make money if they had good jobs at the ARmory.

Cabrera says we need a CBA that would elevate people out of poverty -- living wage jobs, 4 public shcools. Wants a youth center there and other areas of District 14

Alex asks if a no vote would risk it being vacant. Tapia says Related won't walk away -- they'll still make money. If borough president makes "right decision" they'll still make money.

9:16 Affordable housing. What would you specifically do to address this? Cabrera says high rents is the things he hears most about when he doorknocks. Any new development in Dist. 14 must have 33% of its units devoted to affordable housing.

Tapia agrees that this is the main issue. Says peopel are paying half their salaries on rent.

Gary says one of the biggest issues is the condition of existing housing. People can't get action from landlords. Cabrera says Council member must collaborate with Bronx BP and bring in the Buildings Dept (actually, it would be HPD).

Tapia says a similar thing about collaboration.

Liveblogging cont'd ...

9:08 James Fergusson runs down Tapia's past unsuccessful campaign. Mentions campaign manager who quit and and failure to receive matching funds from the Campaign Finance Board campaign finance board. Tapia says matching funds are on their way and campaign is not just about money. She says campaign manager didn't quit, "I fired him."

Cabrera says Council person's main job is managing finances and says he's proud of receiving matching funds. Says he made sure it was properly registered and turned in right on time.

Tapia says Campaign Finance Board has all the documentation that is needed, but that the campaign is not about that but about issues.

Liveblogging 14th C.D. Debate

I'll be posting

9:01 -- Gary points to empty chair, representing Maria Baez' decision not to participate

9:03-- Alex asks Cabrera about changing parties and moving from Westchester. Cabrera says he's lived here longer than any other place and lists his endorsements; points to the Norwood News visit to his Bronx condo. Says he's proud of his track record in the Bronx

Tapia says she's lived in C.D. for 20 years and has been a Democrat all her life. Cabrera says he's lived here 14 years during the course of his life. Says if being a Democrat is working for the poor, reaching out to the needy, then he's 100% Democrat

Gary asks Cabrera if he's always had these values. He says he wasn't political and skeptical of politics.

Tapia points out that Cabrera went to Liberty University, a conservative southern university. Cabrera says he did non-traditional program on-line and only spent a week at Liberty.

For Your Reference ...

Here are profiles of the two candidates in this debate.

Fernando Cabrera

Yudelka Tapia

15 Years of BronxTalk!

BronxTalk with Gary Axelbank will soon be celebrating its 15th anniversary. Just heard Gary saying from the control room that this is the first time in the show's history that someone else will be asking the questions other than him! Thanks, Gary for making this exciting collaboration between BronxTalk and and Bronx News Network possible.

Debate Live Streaming

In addition to the liveblogging, you can follow the debate live in real time on the Web at http://bronxnet.org/home/live/webstreamtrial.html

Eight Minutes to Showtime -- 14th C.D. Candidates Debate

Sitting here blogging in the control room of BRONXNET, while Fernando Cabrera and Yudelka Tapia are on set along with James Fergusson and Alex Kratz of the Bronx News Network. It really should be a great debate. We're pleased these candidates decided to participate in this important civic forum.

This live blogging is an experiment. I promise nothing but to do my best to report some of the candidates' points and contribute a little analysis. Here we go ...

Live 14th District Council Candidates Debate, Tonight, 9 p.m., BRONXNET

Tune in tonight at 9 p.m. to BronxTalk (BRONXNET, Cablevision channel 67) and find out where the candidates of the 14th District Council race stand on all the important issues facing the northwest Bronx and local residents.

The show will be airing on BRONXNET at 9 p.m. for the rest of the week as well.

Candidates Yudelka Tapia and Fernando Cabrera will be answering questions from Bronx News Network editors Alex Kratz and James Fergusson. The debate will be moderated by veteran Bronx talk show host Gary Axelbank.

As we mentioned before, the incumbent in the 14th District, Maria Baez, has declined to appear with the other candidates to talk about the issues.

Update: You can also watch the live debate stream on the Web at http://bronxnet.org/home/live/webstreamtrial.html

A Back to School Boost: The Abbott House Gives Away Backpacks to Foster and Adopted Children

Today, the Abbott House, a care provider for foster and adopted children, gave away new backpacks to 400 children in their services.

"This saved me from buying a backpack," said Meva Newbold (above), "It has been a big help."

Her newly adopted daughter, Natasha (also above), is equally excited about her starch new backpack, courtesy of "Friends and Family Together." "I love it," said Natasha.

Giving away backpacks is only one of the numerous services that the Abbott House provides. During the school year, children can receive tutoring, counseling, medicine and more. "We have to keep the families happy," said Dr. Luis Rodriguez, the Senior Vice President of the Abbott House, "our families need as much support as possible."

For more information about the Abbott House, click here.

Bronx News Roundup, August 31

Fordham Grocery and Convenience Store is one lucky store. Last Friday night, a winning Mega Millions Lottery Ticket worth $166.5 million was purchased at this grocery store located on West Fordham Road. The fortunate jackpot winner has yet to claim the prize, but Fordham Grocery and Convenience Store is already profiting-- since the big win their lottery ticket sales have soared.

In other storefront news, a South Bronx athletic store, CTG Athletics, donated a team's worth of baseball equipment to support the Iraqi National Baseball team in Baghdad. CTG official, Duke Covone, decided to make the monumental donation after watching a MSNBC news piece about the team and their lack of equipment.

A Bronx doctor is suing his former secretary for stealing over $400,000 of his money. The secretary, Louise Rander, confessed to the police that she forged the doctor's signature on checks to pay her personal expense bills.

After the three recent murders of Bronx livery cab drivers, the New York City Police Department is launching a new program: "Operation Safe Cab." According to the program, which comes into affect today, police will randomly stop certain livery cabs and search for dangerous passengers.

Yesterday, a block on Lydig Avenue between Holland and Wallace avenues in Morris Park was renamed Mother Teresa Way in honor of the late nun and the Bronx's prominent Albanian Community. Bronx BP Ruben Diaz, Jr. among other New York politicians attended the renaming ceremony.

A treasured painting of St. Faustina was stolen from Our Lady of Angels Church in Kingsbridge Heights. The painting, called "Divine Mercy" was taken from the Church last Sunday.

The New York Daily News published a profile of the Chappaqua Summer Scholarship Program-a program where Bronx high school students spend July taking classes and living with a host family in the suburbs.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Wet Festival at Williamsbridge Oval

The Williamsbridge Oval Festival took place last Saturday, Aug 22nd. The event was sponsered by Mosholu Preservation Corporation, the Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition and Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz.

With a mind of its own the weather tried to throw a wet blanket on the festivities. Spirited Norwood residents still went ahead and had a good time. The Shameless Manipulators played groovy music till the rain came to crash the party. While the band and the audience ran for cover, children and some adults ran out into the rain. Next Ibrahim Gonzalez and his Latin jazz band performed on the dry steps of the Park House. Between the rain and dry spells Loony Toony the clown kept the children busy and entertained. I made these photographs trying to keep my camera dry. I hope you enjoy them.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Bronx News Roundup, August 28

Happy rainy Friday, everyone! Here's what's being written and reported about the Boogie Down:

So much for State Senator Pedro Espada's "good press" the other day. The Albany Times-Union reports that Attorney General Andrew Cuomo is looking into whether Espada lied on a grant application for his health care company.

Espada was seeking and awarded a $3 million grant to build a new diagnostic health center in the Bronx. The grant was frozen in late June when the state comptroller's office discovered that Espada's nonprofit company owed a significant amount of back taxes. When applying for the grant, Espada said his company, Comprehensive Community Development Corp. (known commonly as Soundview Health Network) did not more than $15,000 in back taxes, but the Times-Union reports that Soundview had a $185,00 IRS debt.

Lying on such an application can lead to fines, contract termination or even prison.

The NY Post reports that Espada's Soundview Health Network, which reportedly generates some $15 million in annual revenue, owes more than $1 million in back taxes.

Big news for Bronx environmental advocates: the Attorney General is giving $2 million to borough organizations to help them in their efforts to clean up the pollution in the Bronx River. The Point, a Hunt's Point group, is receiving $150,000 to build a green roof and track how much storm water it prevents from going into the river. The Bronx River Alliance is receiving funding for two projects. Here's more details from the Times' City Room blog.

NY1 video from the cab procession and memorial service held yesterday for the Bronx livery cab driver who was murdered on Sunday. It was one of three recent cab driver murders in the borough.

A man is suing the NYPD because they failed to contact him, or even look for him, after his sister died in her Bronx apartment.

Some commentary on the new coalition that is lobbying for the Yankees to live up to its promises to the community.

John Petro, an urban policy analyst, says requiring a living wage at a redeveloped Kingsbridge Armory mall is not to much to ask of the project's developers, The Related Companies.

The Yankees, Unobstructed August 28

Doggin' it During the Dog Days of Summer

Just a short entry to post this week. A few observations....

The Yankees have hit a bit of a "blah" patch, which is not uncommon for teams in late August that are under little pressure to win each game. You can see it in the mannerisms of everyone on the team (except the ever-professional Hideki Matsui). They're just not into it right now.

Well snap out of it guys! You've got a light schedule for the next week and a half, and you can use that time to pull a little bit further ahead.

Robsinson Cano, kinda suckin' it up out there lately.

Remember when everyone was fawning over the Yankees' bullpen. Those days are long gone now. While the 'pen continues to be anchored strong in the 8th and 9th, any game requiring a substitute pitcher in the seventh inning or before has become a toss-up.

In the debate between Derek Jeter and Mark Teixeira, for "most deserving of coming in a close-second to Joe Mauer in the MVP voting" this year, the answer is Teixeira. Sorry Captain, but Tex started carrying this team when it was in the dregs of the AL East. Jeter's late-season push is beautiful and inspiring, but ultimately, Tex is #1 on this team.

I expect that most Yankees fans would disagree with that sentiment.

NOTE: Make sure to check back on Fridays for The Yankees, Unobstructed, BNN's weekly (and usually longer) Yankees opinion column.

For more of Graham Kates' sports writing, check out his True/Slant blog "Coaches in the Crosshairs" (www.trueslant.com/grahamkates).

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Polluters will pay to keep Bronx River clean

Attorney General Andrew Cuomo has distributed $1.7 million wrested from Westchester polluters to organizations that will use the money to keep contaminated storm water out of the Bronx River. Recipients include The Point Community Development Corp., Bronx River Alliance, New York Botanical Garden and the Parks Department.

The Hunts Point Express has the full story.

Movie on Mosholu Tomorrow Night

Assemblywoman Naomi Rivera is sponsoring a showing of the movie Wall-E on Mosholu Parkway tomorrow night at 7:45. Scroll the window below for details.

Movie Night

In-Depth Profiles of the 14th District Council Candidates

The latest edition of the Norwood News is on the streets and online now. This is issue is saturated with great news and interesting feature stories (we'll have our full preview up on the blog soon), including in-depth profiles of the three candidates vying for the 14th Council District seat.

Click on the name, get the scoop on the candidate:

Yudelka Tapia

Fernando Cabrera

Maria Baez

Get informed before our 14th District candidates debate on Monday, August 31, at 9 p.m. on BRONXNET (Channel 67, Cablevision). Feel free to submit questions for the debate in the comments section. Or e-mail your questions to bronxnewsnetwork@gmail.com.

And don't forget to vote on Tuesday, Sept. 15.

Bronx News Roundup, Aug. 27

The funeral of Jose Pena-Seguira, the livery-cab driver who was shot dead in Mott Haven on Sunday, is being held today. Before the ceremony, Pena-Seguira's friends and colleagues will march from his place to work to where he was killed, to bring attention to the dangers cab drivers face. Since May, three Bronx cab drivers have been murdered on the job.

Councilman Oliver Koppell has been raising questions about his primary opponent Tony Cassino's relationship with Grassroots Initiative, a non-profit consulting firm.

Gabe Pressman looks back at New's York "love affair" with the Kennedy's, and touches on the family's connection with the Bronx.

Who knew? Jacobi Medical Center specializes in treating snake bite victims.

The so-called Five Borough Pizza Tour comes to the Bronx this Sunday. See here and here. Talking of pizza, some guy has decided to visit every non-chain pizza joint in the city, order a plain slice, consume it, and review it on his blog, Slice Harvester.

A free screening of Bronx Princess will held in Mullaly Park this Sunday. According to a press release, the film is a "tumultuous coming-of-age story" involving a Bronx-raised teenager girl of Ghanaian origin. The screening starts at 9 p.m. Before that, there will be story-telling and musical performances by some of the artists featured in the film. Here's the trailer:

Crain's on Over-Leveraged Bronx Apartment Buildings

Last week's Crain's New York Business had a couple articles related to multifamily foreclosures. The best of these is by Daniel Massey, who covers the issue of over-leveraged Bronx apartment buildings falling into disrepair and eventually foreclosure in the article, Bronx is Burning Over Failed Deals.

He begins by focusing on Robert Fulton Terrace and Fordham Towers, where the owner, Mark Karasick, overpaid for the buildings at the height of the housing boom, immediately cut back dramatically on services and eventually still ended up in foreclosure.

"CIBC lent Mr. Karasick $36.5 million for the deal in 2007 and recently insisted the purchase price was “well justified,” even though a securities filing shows the mortgage approval was based on a monthly operating cost of ...less than half of what the former owners spent... Cuts in service—maintenance staff was slashed from nine to three—had immediately followed the sale."
Massey then discusses how this type of activity is part of larger trend in the Bronx and NYC. For instance, Los Angeles-based Milbank Properties has a portfolio of 10 Bronx buildings, also bought at the peak of the market in 2007, that have gone into foreclosure.
"On its Web site, Milbank says it thought the Bronx buildings were a good investment because of the borough's potential 'to undergo significant gentrification' and the prospect of an 'improved tenant base.'"
Massey cites research and reports by affordable housing nonprofits UHAB and ANHD regarding the scope of the problem. Additionally, he references a report by Deutsche Bank that the crisis may not peak until 2013 when "loans that were made during the boom in 2005, 2006 and 2007 mature and are unlikely to qualify for refinancing without substantial infusions of equity."

Based on our own ACRIS research here at University Neighborhood Housing Program, a large number of buildings that will run into problems with refinancing currently have mortgages with New York Community Bank. The same issue of Crain's has a separate article about NYCB and how it is led by New York's "most conservative banker," Joseph Ficalora. While the article, A Tank of a Bank Hits a Rough Patch, focuses on the internal financial health and stock value of the bank, much of this relates to how well NYCB's multifamily loan portfolio is performing (not as good as it's been in the past).

The article describes this type of lending as historically conservative and New York Community's "bread and butter." Yet many of these loans were made during the recent boom years of 2005-2007, and many of these loans have interest-only periods of 3 or 5 years at the outset of the mortgage. As these mortgages convert to a fully amortizing schedule (meaning the owners will have to pay principal and interest), NYCB's default rate may skyrocket if the owners can't refinance and we may see a spike in multifamily foreclosures in the Bronx.

For instance, Hudson Realty Capital's portfolio of Bronx buildings (which include Botanical Square) all have interest-only periods which end in July 2010. By the fall of next year we may know better about how "conservative" NYCB's lending has actually been by what happens at properties like these.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Showing Solidarity for Armory Benefits Package, Supermarket Opposition

This morning, Bronx Boro Prez Ruben Diaz, Jr. and Stuart Applebaum, the head of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, held a press conference on Kingsbridge Road, in front of the Kingsbridge Armory, to show solidarity in their opposition to a big-box supermarket at the Armory and also to promote the merits of the Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) they sent to the Related Companies (the Armory's developer) last week.

Also showing their support were Assemblyman Jose Rivera, Councilwoman Maria Baez (suddenly, she's everywhere these days), Ozzie Brown of Community Board 7 and some members of the Kingsbridge Armory Redevlopment Alliance (KARA).

Diaz is withholding his recommendation for the Armory in hopes that he can leverage his support to gain more concessions from Related as the project goes back to the City Planning Commission for review on Sept. 9.

Just to clarify, Diaz is being considered non-compliant for not making a recommendation by the land review process' built-in Tuesday, August 25 deadline. But Diaz says the planning commission will still take his advice into account when they meet on Sept. 9. (Previously, we had reported that the city gave him an extension to make his decision. Technically, they didn't give him an extension. But practically, they did. Hope that clears things up.)

We also learned a few more details about what's included in the draft CBA sent to Related. One, as we reported last week, there is indeed a living wage "policy" included. Applebaum talked about a "living wage" of $10 an hour still only adds up $21,000 for a year. “Related is saying that $21,000 is too much to give workers in the Bronx, and I don’t accept that,” he said.

Basically Applebaum's argument went something like this: low-wage jobs, which is what the Armory mall plan appears to be providign, don’t make things better, they just keep people in poverty. He said the CBA wouldn’t “hinder Related’s ability to make a profit” and urged Related to accept it.

Related has said it will walk away before including living wage language in a CBA. We'll see if they budge on this.

Diaz is also asking for 60,000 square feet of community space, more than double the 27,000 square feet Related has included in its plan.

According to a press release sent out by Diaz's office, the CBA includes the outlines for these benefits: "living wage policy, first source and local hiring, various economic development initiatives, labor peace and the ability of employees at the retail development to unionize, community access to space at the Kingsbridge Armory and the development of a community facility as part of the project, the maintenance of local parks, green initiatives, and area traffic improvements."

Everyone there reitterated their opposition to having a new supermarket at the Armory, something several members of Board 7 said they would like to see. “Nothing [a supermarket] should be built here at the expense of all these merchants,” Rivera said, pointing at the stores across the street. “We’re not going to tolerate a big-box store.”

Diaz sent the draft CBA to Related last Monday. We don't know if they've been in contact over the phone, but it's pretty clear that they havent' discussed anything face to face. It's also now clear, given this press conference, that Diaz and the other Bronx stakeholders are trying to put some pressure on Related publicly.

“We have laid out a strong community benefits agreement, and we want to work with the Related Companies to make this project a reality. I look forward to sitting down with the developer in the coming days to discuss this document and the principles contained within it,” Diaz said. “Developers who do business in The Bronx must be mindful of the desires of the community, and we hope that Related will take that advice to heart.”

--James Fergusson did all the reporting for this post.

Bronx News Roundup for August 26

A Bronx man is being held without bail after fingerprints from a minor charge were found to match those sampled from a rape victim in 1993. In 2007, the man's cousin was charged in connection to the crime and now faces up to 25 years in prison.

A worker for Tri-State Electrical Contracting was struck by a lift on the Throngs Neck Bridge. The worker's company was ironically a subcontractor of E.E. Cruz Contracting, the company found responsible for the July 10th fire that shut down Bronx traffic to and from the bridge for more than two weeks.

According to a poll done by the New York Daily News, 76% of baseball game and park-goers rated most of the parks in the Bronx area outside Yankee Stadium with D's or F's on a scale from A-F in terms of maintenance. Residents say they haven't seen where much of the $220 million has gone that was allotted in 2004 by Mayor Bloomberg to revitalize city parks.

Councilman G. Oliver Koppell of the Bronx calls on Sen. Diane Savino to make an apology for remarks that Gov. David Paterson's vision is affecting his ability to govern.

Leaks persist after $32 million was given to do repairs at the Grand Concourse tunnel at 161st Street. The situation has residents wondering where their tax dollars are going and Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. calling it "an ice skating opportunity" for cars.

Mosquitoes infected with the West Nile Virus have been found in the east Bronx. Health officials advise residents of the Ferry Point Park area near Whitestone Bridge as they plan to spray for bugs in the area tonight.

A Bronx team proves the game of cricket will continue to have a big following as the Bronx Lions, the cricket team for Lehman High School that was nonetheless eliminated from playing in the tournament, showed up with hundreds of others to watch the NYPD youth cricket match that was reported on by NBC News.

Some residents of the South Bronx have started up a small farm to raise organic produce as well as interacting with the community to raise cultural and historic awareness of the land.

Looking for Your 1970s Bronx Photos

Following up on his photos and article about the south Bronx of the 1970s, David Gonzalez and the New York Times are looking for YOUR Bronx photos from that era.

To upload them to the Times site, click here. And hey, while you're at it, e-mail them to us at bronxnewsnetwork@gmail.com and we'll try to showcase them here as well.

BronxTalk: Broken Promises at Yankee Stadium


This week, BronxTalk featured an expose about the broken promises that were made in the building of the new Yankee Stadium. Two representatives from the 4DSbx coalition spoke with host Gary Axelbank about the stipulations in the Community Benefits Agreement that have not been followed. There was also a presentation about how the original plans for parking garages have not been followed.
Next Monday night in conjunction with the Bronx News Network, BronxTalk will present a live debate between the candidates in the 14th CD.
On Monday September 7, BronxTalk will feature a new book about growing up in the Bornx in the 50's and 60's, "The Rat that Got Away."

BronxTalk, the borough's flagship talk show, will celebrate its 15th anniversary this October. It is seen live Monday nights at 9:00pm on channel 67 in the Bronx and streamed live on the web athttp://bronxnet.org/home/live/webstreamtrial.html. It is hosted by Gary Axelbank and produced by Jane Folloro.

Viewers can see replays of BronxTalk at 9:30am, 3:30pm, and 9:00pm daily and the programs are archived at http://bronxnet.fliggo.com/category/bronxtalk .

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Some Good Press for Espada -- No Joke!

In its editorial today, the Daily News gives State Senator Pedro Espada rare props for confronting an agribusiness company, Hudson Valley Foie Gras, which reportedly force-feeds ducks and subjects its workers to "horrendous conditions."
The Daily News has long campaigned for giving farm workers the right to organize and bargain collectively. The right to organize, though apparently enshrined in the state constitution, does not apply to farmworkers
Espada showed up at the farm on Friday and cell phoned the owner to berate him for the conditions on the farm and to tell him that the state was going to pass a law making his life more difficult.
The News and other of the city's daily media were on hands when Espada told the owner that the legislature was going to ge Fair Labor Practices Act on the Sept. 10 legislative calendar.
The News still calls Espada the "traitor who flipped the Senate twices this summer," adding, "But on this issue, on farmworkers' rights, Espada is on the side of the angels."

Monday, August 24, 2009

An Eye On -- and For -- the Bronx

(Photo by David Gonzalez, published in yesterday's New York Times.)

Yesterday's New York Times has a real treat from columnist and native Bronxite David Gonzalez -- a time-capsule look at the south Bronx of 1979, where David is from and returned to to teach photography with the Latino photography group En Foco. Read the essay, and then check out the audio slide show. It's really not be missed. The love Gonzalez has for his life-long home pours out of every frame and you can hear it in his voice.

We've been privileged to have David participate in our youth journalism program, where he has shared his experience, skills and career advice with the students. Every time he's come, he's told student to carry a camera wherever they go, that reporters must have eyes for detail and that photography trains your eye to look for things that give life to the printed word. Boy, he wasn't kidding. So glad he rifled through these old cartons of negatives and we hope there is much more to come.

Street Renamed After Popular Pastor


On Saturday, a Bronx block was renamed 'Reverend Jessie Woodhouse Place' in honor of a pastor who died last year, aged 99.

The block, on Bush Street near East Burnside Avenue, is home to The First Bible Church of the Lord’s Mission, and it was here that Woodhouse served for the last few decades of her life.

The day began with a early afternoon cook-out attended by more than 100 local residents and congregants. Later they piled into the tiny church for a remembrance service, punctuated by many a Hallelujah and Praise Jesus. Afterwards, the street sign itself was unveiled.

Woodhouse didn't just talk love, she demonstrated love, those that knew her said. She ran a food pantry, established a bible school, visited the sick and infirm, did missionary work in Africa, and more.

"She was such a wonderful person to the neighborhood," said James A. McGraw, the church's current pastor, who worked with Woodhouse for nearly 40 years. (McGraw is pictured above, third from right, and below, with his hands aloft)

Council member Maria Baez (above center), who submitted the renaming request to the City Council, said the new street name would serve as a constant reminder of Woodhouse's contribution to her congregation and the wider community.


Bronx News Roundup, August 24

A Bronx cab driver was shot dead late last night in Mott Haven. This murder is the second fatal shooting of a cabdriver in the Bronx in the span of about a week. Police arrested a 31 year-old suspect carrying a gun near the murder scene soon after the Sunday shooting.

This week, Crotona Park will host the annual EmblemHealth Bronx Open, where children from around the tri-state area can play tennis for free with some of the top ranked women's players in the sport. The Bronx Open will also feature the fourth annual tennis match between the New York City Fire Department and the New York City Police Department.

A Bronx woman, Gloria Ford, was killed yesterday afternoon in a kitchen fire at her Norwood apartment. Police are still investigating the cause of the fire.

After an eight year-old girl, Destiny Antonio, fell seven stories from her Bronx apartment building last Friday, her mother, Robin Antonio, is being investigated by the Administration for Children's Services. Robin Antonio claims that she complained to housing authorities about the broken window before the incident. Robin Antonio's daughter suffered a broken pelvis and leg from the fall and she is recovering in the hospital.

In Hunt's Point, a dad saved his three year-old son from being attacked by a 120-pound Husky dog.

Friday, August 21, 2009

New York Ghanaians Celebrate in Crotona Park

Photo Slideshow by Adi Talwar

Last Sunday, the New York Ghanaian community celebrated the first-ever Ghanaian Parade with a festival at Crotona Park. Organizers said they were inspired by the huge Puerto Rican and Dominican parade and want to be recognized for their presence and activism just as those ethnic groups are.

At the time of the last census, in 2000, there were 50,000 Ghanaians in New York City. There are big pockets of Ghanaians in the Bronx, especially on Mosholu Parkway (Tracey Towers) and near Crotona Park.

Diaz Stalls on Amory Project, Waits for Response on Draft Benefits Agreement from Developer

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. has asked for and received an extension on his deadline to submit his recommendation to the city regarding the Kingsbridge Armory mall project, saying he wants to see how the developer responds to a proposed Community Benefits Agreement (CBA).

Diaz is in the process of weighing the pros and cons of the Related Companies’ land use review application, which, if approved, would pave the way for the developer’s plan to turn the 575,000-square-foot Armory into a retail shopping mall. He was supposed to say whether or not he supports the project by early next week, but, with the extension, he now has until Sept. 8.

Earlier this week, Diaz’s office sent Related a draft of an agreement that would bring the community addition benefits from the project aside from new shopping options and low-paying retail jobs. The agreement was a collaborative effort between Diaz’s office, Community Board 7, the Kingsbridge Armory Redevelopment Alliance (KARA) and local elected officials.

“We do not want to say yes or no on the ULURP application until we have some idea from the developer regarding their direction on the CBA,” said Diaz spokesperson John DeSio, in a e-mail.

According to Greg Faulkner, the chairman of Community Board 7, which voted yes on the project on the condition, among others, that a substantial and enforceable CBA be signed by Related, the draft CBA included a living wage requirement for tenants at the Amory mall, something KARA has lobbied hard for over the past year.

Related has said it will walk away from the project before including living wage requirements. Related officials could not be reached by the time of this post, but we'll keep trying. The Riverdale Press reported that Related is still reviewing the CBA document.

Also included in the draft CBA are local hiring goals, labor neutrality (to protect unionization efforts) and mechanisms to protect and create affordable housing in the area.

The CBA also included language excluding a big-box supermarket at the Armory. Related had carved out space in the Armory for a 60,000-square-foot supermarket and Board 7 members had voted to support a new supermarket with organic food options. But Morton Williams, a local supermarket chain, had lobbied hard against an Armory supermarket and had the support of the entire Bronx delegation to the City Council.

CBA’s have become common practice for big development projects in California and have gained popularity in other parts of the country, but the few signed in New York City have been criticized for being unsubstantial and lacking true community involvement. The Armory CBA would be the first driven by community voices, including Board 7 and KARA.

The Yankees Unobstructed August 21

Some thoughts on this weekend's Yankee-Red Sox series...
  • Another Boston-New York series!? I know I know, it's getting to be a tiring affair.
  • The Sox are playing good baseball right now....but the Yankees are playing better. Prior to yesterday's day-off, the Yankees played sixteen consecutive games, and won thirteen of them.
  • The starting-pitching match-ups for this weekend's series would seem to portend a 2-1 advantage for the Yankees, but this also has the feeling of one of those trap-series'. While the Yankees are flying-high, and should be cruising to the playoffs (barring a disaster), the Sox are in a hot Wild Card battle. In other words, this series is much more important to the Red Sox than the Yankees. Furthermore, Boston's record when playing at home (38-18) is second in the majors (behind only, of course, the Yankees). It's no secret that the Sox are adept at taking advantage of Fenway's unique contours.
  • Since the start of May, the Yankees are 16-5 in the three games following a day-off. While that certainly should give Yankees fans a sense of relief, not everyone spent last night relaxing. Johnny Damon and a few others spent the night taking in a Creed concert in Hartford....on second thought, it's safe to assume that everyone got plenty of sleep last night.
On the Joba Rules...
  • Like it or not, these Rules are here to stay. Joba Chamberlain will get six more starts over the next six weeks, because the Yankees are dead-set on keeping his innings-pitched total down. To baseball purists, it seems like the Yankees and other teams who set innings-limits for their young talent are coddling their players, but there is solid evidence that a light workload for young guns is an integral investment-protection strategy. Sports Illustrated's Tom Verducci writes often about his "Year-After Effect" theory. The premise of this theory is simple: the year after a young pitcher (defined as 25-and-under) has his workload increased by at least thirty innings, he is significantly more likely to get injured.
  • While it's nice to know that the Yankees are thinking about the long-time health of their young arms, they are not quite following Verducci's guidelines. Chamberlain pitched 100 innings last year, and will throw 160 this year (plus as much as necessary during the playoffs). Does that mean he'll get injured or regress next year? Maybe not, but Verducci would argue that he'll be at an increased risk.

Just for fun, check out this video of the Yankees' ambidextrous minor-league pitching prospect. Pat Venditte throws both righty and lefty, switching from batter to batter.

Baez Gears Up For Fight of Her Life


Councilwoman Maria Baez and Assemblyman Jose Rivera first met in 1982, when Rivera had just been elected to the Assembly for the first time, and Baez was a struggling single mom living on Creston Avenue. Rivera gave her a job - the first job she'd ever had - and the "rest is history," he says.

Last month, we sat down with Baez to talk about her career (including the important role Rivera has played), her achievements, and some of the criticism she's faced these past two years - being AWOL from Council meetings, her office's mammoth cell phone bills, etc. We also spoke with several of her supporters, including a long-time friend who calls Baez the "best thing that's ever happened to this community." And we heard from those who see her in a very different light. One community leader says Baez has been "invisible" and a "non-entity."

You can read the story here.

Baez, in case you missed it, faces a tough Democratic primary on Sept. 15 against two determined opponents: Fernando Cabrera and Yudelka Tapia. There will be profiles of Cabrera and Tapia (as well as a version of the Baez article) in next week’s Norwood News and September's Mount Hope Monitor. We'll link to them on the blog.

PHOTO: Rivera and Baez at a rally outside Baez's campaign office on July 16 (ALMA WATKINS)

Bronx News Roundup, Aug. 21

The Bronx Open - an annual tennis tournament in Crotona Park - starts on Monday. More than 30 of the world's top 100 women will take part. This year, there's no men's side of the draw. The event is free, except finals day on Aug. 31 which costs $10. The New York Junior Tennis League will provide free tennis throughout the week. Here's Adi Talwar's photos from last year.

The parents of a young boy killed by a van last summer as rode his bike to school are suing the city for $10 million.

Could the Stella D'Oro cookie factory in Kingsbridge stay open after all? The current owner, who has been threatening to close it after losing a labor dispute, may have found a local buyer.

Today's New York Times carries an article adapted from Constance Rosenblum's new book, Boulevard of Dreams, a history of the Grand Concourse.

As we mentioned in yesterday's roundup, City Council candidate Yudelka Tapia's campaign manger, Onix Sosa, has been hired by Pedro Espada, the ethically challenged state senator and majority leader. When asked about this yesterday morning, Tapia hadn't heard the news. Later, her communications director sent out press release saying she's parted ways with Sosa because she "felt that the job Sosa took was not consistent with the message she is trying to communicate to the voters of the 14th District." Tapia campaign is staffed by volunteers. In fact, Sosa was the only one on the payroll, Tapia said. She's hired a new campaign manager, a former volunteer.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Baez Will Not Participate in Debate

We just received word that Council Member Maria Baez has decided not to participate in an Aug. 31 television debate of District 14 Council candidates sponsored by the Bronx News Network and BronxTalk.

In a statement, Baez's campaign took a swipe at challenger Fernando Cabrera, referring to him as her "Republican opponent."

"As to her Republican opponent, she will be more than happy to debate him once his name appears on the Republican line, in the November election, which is where his name belongs," the statement read in part.

(Cabrera was a Republican until last August. He explained his decision to become a Democrat in this Norwood News article.)

We are very disappointed in the Council member's decision but look forward to a spirited and informative debate between Cabrera and Yudelka Tapia.

And we'll have a seat ready for the Council Member Baez if she changes her mind between now and Aug. 31.

(This post has been corrected from an earlier version.)

Bronx News Roundup, August 20

Espada Update:

The Senate recently approved some $350,000 in new salaries and raises for new Senate Majority Leader Pedro Espada, Jr.'s staff.

Many of the new hires were once staffers at Espada's Soundview health clinic, including the son of Sandra Love, a former Soundview executive who was convicted in 2004 of using healthcare funds to finance one of Espada's political campaigns. This on the heels of his son's brief hiring and then resignation from a specially-created Senate position last week. The Albany Times-Union story is the most extensive. Here's a link to the Daily News' story and the Newsday story as well.
Interestingly, Espada also hired Onix Sosa, who is 14th Council District candidate Yudelka Tapia's campaign manager. Sosa was director of the nonprofit organization, U-CAN, that former Councilmember Miguel Martinez (Washington Heights) admitted to stealing from. Sosa will be Espada's deputy chief of staff.

Espada says he needs the extra staff to serve constituents from his new district office.

Other news:

A 17-year-old Bronxite was arrested for allegedly stabbing his three siblings.

An 8-year-old Bronx girlnamed Destiny miraculously survived a seven-story fall from her Castle Hill apartment building earlier this morning. She suffered injuries and his currently undergoing surgery at Jacobi Medical Center.

Doctors from the Bronx's Montefiore Medical Center are at the heart of a NY Times story about end-of-life treatment options.

A Bronx teacher is accused of innapropriately touching students at the high school where he works.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Hoops for Heartache at St. James Park


An annual basketball tournament has immortalized the lives of four family members who were killed in a car crash, and a surviving family member has rededicated the event to other families who have suffered through similar tragedies.

The 4th Annual Gardiner Memorial Basketball Classic Tournament was held on Saturday and Sunday, August 15 and 16, at St. James Park on Jerome Avenue and was first organized by members of the basketball-loving Gardiner family of Fordham.

Sadly, Asia, 8; Derrick, 40; Jamel, 14, and Keywann, 23, along with family friend Brandon Daye, 18, were killed in a horrific crash on the Bronx River Parkway as they traveled to a game on July 9, 2006. That game, ironically, was dedicated to other family members who had recently passed away.

Surviving family member Dexter Gardiner, a longtime Fordham resident who now resides on Burke Avenue, has continued to run the tournament, which this year featured 96 players from eight teams from as far away as Bermuda and Mississippi. Free food and drink were available. There was also a DJ and live entertainment.

"We're bringing the families out," Dexter Gardiner explained, "families that have been through tragedies from all over the city." The family of Sean Bell, the unarmed man shot dead by police in Queens has attended in the past.

Some good came from his family tragedy, Gardiner says. "I know I went on TV and spoke about getting the highway fixed, it was a very bad highway, and they fixed it, so I'm happy." Gardiner claimed it was a defect in the roadway at E.177 Street, that sent the vehicle over the highway divider.

"I'm doing this because a lot of families are going through this," Gardiner continued, "There's so many tragedies out here now, because people don't die one by one now, they're dying in bunches."

"I just want to give back to the people," Gardiner adds, "and to let them know that people from the community do care for them."

The winner of this year's tournament was, "Jadakiss," of Yonkers, a team that included Bronxite Kareem Reid, a former player with the University of Arkansas. Team Jadakiss defeated members of, "Never Be Forgotten," a team based on City Island.

Jeff S. Korek, of the law firm Gersowitz, Libo and Korek P.C., who along with Lawyertime.com, sponsored the event by providing team uniforms and the food, said, "I met Dexter in a basketball league up in Westchester and over time he told me about the tournament and the incredible work his foundation does."

This year the law firm even participated with their own team and despite being eliminated in the first round, Korek added, "We had a great time this weekend and are so happy to be a part of the tournament and to help the Gardiner Foundation with its phenomenal work in the community."

The law firm also awarded $1,500 scholarships to three college-bound participants.

The Gardiner Foundation continues to reach out and offer assistance to families going through similar tragedies. For more information on the foundation, click here.

Tapia in for August 31st Debate for Council District 14

Candidate Yudelka Tapia has confirmed that she will participate in the televised debate we are sponsoring on BronxTalk (Bronxnet, Channel 67), scheduled for the night of August 31. One of her opponents, Fernando Cabera, is also officially on board. Incumbent Maria Baez has also been invited.

Bronx News Roundup for August 19th

Bronx Assemblyman Nelson Castro may face perjury charges after it was discovered that nine voters in last September's primary, now suspected to be his and his girlfriend's relatives, were registered to Castro's West Bronx apartment.

A driver facing charges of manslaughter after mowing through the Bronx in a high speed chase on July 12th, hitting 13 people, pleaded not guilty to at least 50 counts today.

Knicks team guard Nate Robinson was pulled over and arrested in the Bronx for driving without a license while sporting an outstanding summons yesterday.

The bad economy hasn't stopped charter school construction, as new buildings are popping up around the city, namely in Mott Haven where a 54,000-square-foot charter school is set for construction.

A Bronx family is suing the Selby Transportation bus company for the trauma caused to their son after a bus driver drove around lost with him for several hours back in January.

Engel on Healthcare Reform, Israel, and More


This week, BronxTalk featured an interview with Rep. Eliot Engel of the 17th CD. He spoke with host Gary Axelbank about health care reform, Israel, and other topics of interest.

Here's a link to the program: http://bronxnet.fliggo.com/video/GCEs4pPO

Next Monday night BronxTalk will present an update on the demolition of the old Yankee Stadium.

BronxTalk, the borough's flagship talk show, will celebrate its 15th anniversary this October. It is seen live Monday nights at 9 p.m. on channel 67 in the Bronx and streamed live on the web at http://bronxnet.org/home/live/webstreamtrial.html. It is hosted by Gary Axelbank and produced by Jane Folloro.

Viewers can see replays of BronxTalk at 9:30 a.m., 3:30 p.m., and 9 p.m. daily. The programs are archived at http://bronxnet.fliggo.com/category/bronxtalk

Back to School Guide

The Bronx Borough President's office has released a "Back to School" guide for parents. You can access it online here.

Thunder and Lightning

We got a fireworks show last night hosted by mother nature.
Camera on the corner of Reservoir Oval West and Tryon Ave pointing East.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Campaign Copy Editor Needed

Notice anything wrong with this picture? It is the cover of City Council incumbent Oliver Koppell's (oops, just gave away the answer) glossy new campaign pamphlet that hit District 11 households this week. Ding, ding, ding. You guessed correctly: it's Koppell, not Koppel.

We all make mistakes, including, believe it or not, this blog and the newspapers of the Bronx News Network, but Koppell must wish he took a look at this before he sent it out. It's an otherwise beautiful looking mailer trumpeting all of the two-term Riverdalian's accomplishments as a city lawmaker. Too bad this is the first thing everyone will see. (It's spelled correctly several other times in the four-page pamphlet.

He's probably not the only one dealing with spelling issues. I'm sure his opponent's campaign has its own trouble. Remember, it's Anthony Cassino, not Casino.

The September primary is less than a month away (September 15) and, in tough races (which Cassino-Koppell might end up being), mistakes can prove costly. We'll see.

Check back here for more campaign coverage as the competitive Bronx races heat up.

Seeking students for a youth journalism class

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 in September, and run every Wednesday for 12 weeks, from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Students will learn the fundamentals of writing, reporting, and photojournalism through classroom instruction, and through hands-on reporting in their own neighborhoods. In past semesters guest speakers have included David Gonzalez of The New York Times, and Buddy Stein, the former editor of The Riverdale Press.

Student work will be published in a youth supplement called Bronx Youth Heard, which will appear in the Norwood News, Mount Hope Monitor, and Tremont Tribune.

For an application form, please call (718) 324-4998, or e-mail bronxyouthheard[at]gmail.com. The deadline for applying is Aug. 31.

Union Turns up Heat on St. Barnabas

As the Tremont Tribune reported in June, CIR/SEIU Healthcare had been engaged in bitter fight with St. Barnabas Hospital, whose administration has been blocking resident doctors' attempts to unionize.

Now the union, which has 13,000 members nationwide, is drawing attention to others aspects of the hospital's history and performance. Last month they launched a blog, Examining St. Barnabas, which has shed light on executive pay; the hospital's below average patient satisfaction scores; and its failure to follow through on plans to build a 10-story health center.

The health center was supposed to replace an abandoned Elks Lodge on the Grand Concourse at East Burnside Avenue. While the building itself was demolished, the project was soon put on hold. Instead of a health center, there’s now an empty lot filled with trash and rubble. "[The] Grand Concourse Deserves Better on 100th Birthday," writes CIR. More here and here.

Cabrera Is In for Debate

Fernando Cabrera, candidate for City Council in the 14th District, has agreed to participate in the debate we are sponsoring on Aug. 31 in conjunction with BronxTalk on channel 67 (Cablevision). We are still awaiting confirmation from Yudelka Tapia and Maria Baez. We'll keep you updated.

Bronx News Roundup, Aug. 18

The Wall Street Journal reviews a new book about the history of the Grand Concourse, which is 100-year-old this year. Boulevard of Dreams, by Constance Rosenblum, a Times editor, will be published later this month.

Another Bronx-based book, Random Family, was recently chosen by Newsweek as one of their "Fifty Books for Our Times." It tells the true-story of a flawed (but hugely likable) extended family living in the Mount Hope area in the 1980s and 90s, and their struggles to get by in what was a pretty bleak neighborhood at that time. You can read it online here.

In Mott Haven, the city has begun draining a mile-long "swamp." We had a post about this yesterday.

Fernando Ferrer, the former Bronx borough president, is supporting Brooklyn Councilman Bill de Blasio for public advocate.

Bob Kappstatter on Pedro Espada: "He may be evil, he may be perverse (then again, he IS a politician), but the man is a genius." Kappstatter admires (if that's the right word) Espada's ability to wriggle free from scandal and better his own situation, with scant regard to whom he steps on in the process.

The Bronx's fourth annual gay pride event will be held in Hunts Points this Saturday.

Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. and entire Bronx delegation are against plans to bring a big-box supermarket to the Kingsbridge Armory. They fear it will force other local supermarkets to close. Council member Maria Baez held a press conference/campaign rally on this issue last week.

A Bronx man is suing the city for $2 million, after cops shot dead his pit-bull puppy during a drugs raid in 2007.

Service on the 1 Train won't return to normal for several days following Sunday's ceiling collapse at the 181st Street stop in Washington Heights.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Protesting the Yankees: 'It's About Respect,' Activists Say


Yesterday, a group of South Bronx activists braved the oppressive afternoon heat to re-energize a campaign to hold the Yankees baseball club accountable for promises they made to community for the right to build a new $1.5 billion stadium on public parkland.

In exchange for taking its parkland, soaking up taxpayer dollars (in the form of subsidies and tax breaks) and bringing more traffic congestion and parking woes to the area, the Yankees (and the city which backed the project) promised to provide local jobs, quickly restore parkland and give back money to community groups and programs on annual basis.

But the local jobs didn't materialize. Replacement parks haven't been built, mostly because the old stadium (where the new parks are to be built) is still standing and collecting moss. And the money, which is being dispersed through a specifically-created nonprofit fund, has been slow in getting back into the community, not to mention racked by controversey and possible corruption.

"All we're asking is that they be good neighbors," said Ramon Jimenez, one of the organizers of the protest who has helped create a short-hand friendly group called 4DSBxCoalition (For the South Bronx Coalition). "They promised everything. They have given us nothing."

Jimenez is a Harvard-educated lawyer with offices in South Bronx. Last year, Times reporter David Gonzalez wrote about how Jimenez, a longtime Bronx activist, was critical of Assemblyman and then-Democratic County Chair Jose Rivera who was facing challenges to his leadership of the party. Rivera's since been ousted as party chair and Jimenez is now back taking on the powers that be.

"We want to revitalize this whole [Yankee Stadium and the lack of community benefits] issue," Jimenez said, sweating in his suit underneath the 4-Train line on 161st Street and River Avenue, along with about 30 equally sweat-soaked supporters.

Specifically, the Jimenez and the Coalition, which held a similar protest at the new stadium in early June, want: the old stadium torn down by the end of the year; one represtentative of their organization on the advisory board that distributes the $800,000 in community funds; the replacement parks to be built safe and green (no artifical turf, they say); and for the community to share in the profits of memorabilia sold from the old stadium.

(The city sold the Yankees the rights to all the memorabilia for $11 million earlier this year. Some say this was a good deal for the city, but it's unclear if that money will go back into the community in any way. )

Hector Soto, another lawyer who helped organize the protest, said, "We're trying to re-energize a campaign that was started by the community before the stadium was even built. The issues were never addressed . . . the community has not been compensated at all."

"It's about respect," Soto said later.

The Coalition created a Web site to highlight all the Yankees' broken promises.

Others in attendance included a host of other recognizable faces, including Rafael Alequin-Martez, a blogger/activist/journalist who got into a dust up with Pedro Espada's son during the state senator's campaign last year. (Alequin-Martez refused a judge's plea offer of restitution for his busted camera and is holding out for harassment and assault charges, he says.)

Also marching with the Coalition was the dapper young City Council candidate, Carlos Sierra, who is challenging Helen Foster in the 16th District, which includes both stadiums, and Public Advocate candidate Norman Siegel. Joyce Hogi, a longtime critic of the new stadium and its gobbling of parkland, was also there. A Green Party member, Tom Syracuse, railed against the new Yankee Stadium, not to mention all the mainstream politicians who allowed it to be built.

Meanwhile, dozens of tourists, looking for a glimpse inside one of the world's most expensive sports complexes, continued to side-step the protest and enter the stadium.

New York City Announces Plans to Drain the Mott Haven Swamp

After multiple complaints about the unsightly and unsanitary swamp in Mott Haven, the New York City Department of Sanitation and the Department of Environmental Protection have agreed to drain and clean up the flooded, trash-ridden mess of abandoned railway. The swamp is about one mile long and contains swarms of mosquitoes, packs of rats, piles of trash and an overwhelming stench.

Many newspapers have covered the swamp's numerous health code violations, wretched smell and negative effects on local businesses. Click here and here for articles.

This morning, Deputy Mayor Edward Skyler, the Department of Sanitation commissioner, the Department of Environmental Protection Acting Commissioner and the Community Affairs Unit Commissioner traveled down into the swamp to inaugurate the beginning of the draining process. According a press release from City Hall, in the next two to three days 150,000 gallons of water will be drained from the swamp and into the sewage system where the water will be treated.

After the draining process is finished, the Department of Sanitation will clean up the trash in the area and analyze it for the causes of the flood. The cleanup should take approximately one week. The Department of Sanitation also plans on closely monitoring the swamp to prevent further flooding incidents.

The only controversy remaining after the cleanup will be who will be footing the bill. Since the swamp is located on private property, the City of New York is not legally obligated to pay for the swamp cleanup. In City Hall's press release, the Department of Environmental Protection's Acting Commissioner, Steven W. Lawitts, said, "This is a case where a private property owner has abandoned his responsibility to maintain his property and in so doing has imposed a tremendous burden on his neighbors."

According to Jason Post, a spokesman for the Mayor, the city does not know who owns the swamp, but they are investigating Amtrak, the MTA, Midtown Trackage Ventures, Metropolitan 47th LLC and other railroad companies. The cleanup could cost "hundreds of thousands of dollars," says Post.

Since no private property owners have responded the government's demands to pay for the cleanup of the site, the New York City Department of Finance plans to foreclose the property and eventually receive compensation for the cleanup.

Bronx BP Celebrates Jamaica's Independence Today

Today Ruben Diaz Jr. and the Jamaican Progressive League will celebrate the 47th anniversary of Jamaica's independence. Join in on the party also honoring the 122th anniversary of Marcus M. Garvey, a Jamaican national hero at the Bronx County Building (851 Grand Concourse Avenue, 1st floor) at 6 p.m. The festivities will include Jamaican food and music.

Ferrer to Endorse Baez

Fernando Ferrer, the former Bronx borough president and mayoral candidate, will formally endorse Maria Baez at 2 p.m. today, on the steps of City Hall, according to Baez's campaign.

Ferrer and his wife, Aramina, appear to be big fans of the two-term council member who is running for reelection. In March, they gave her $1,500 in campaign contributions.

As you may have read, Ruben Diaz Jr., the current borough president, is supporting a different candidate.

Bronx News Roundup, August 17

Both Bronx residents and baseball fans are fighting to save the old Yankee Stadium's Gate 2. Although New York City has plans to remove the gate which would cost around $10 million to preserve, Yankee and Bronx enthusiasts argue that the gate should be used as an entryway into the new Heritage Park. Visit the Save Gate 2 website for more information on how the gate will preserve Bronx history.

[On the flip side, there was a protest yesterday afternoon calling for the old stadium to be torn down immediately and for the Yankees to fulfill promises they made to the community concerning jobs and environmental protection. More on this, including photos, later today.]

Continuing on with the ever interesting and chaotic chronicles of Senator Pedro Espada Jr.'s summer of controversy, the Senator now says that he is making efforts to stop nepotism in his office. Senator Espada Jr.'s son was recently hired for a $120,000 a year Senate job, but resigned after one week amid a sea of criticism for nepotism.

In BP Ruben Diaz Jr.'s budget for 2010, over 40 Bronx schools, parks and cultural organizations will receive $21 million in funding. The much needed money will go towards improving houses, playgrounds, libraries, sports facilities and a slew of non-profit groups.

After eight years and only slight progress in completing the Ferry Point golf course, the Parks Department is estimating that the project will need another $80 million to be completed. The construction process already has dealt with many controversies including a FBI investigation for supposed dealings with the mafia.

Bronx politicians speak out against the MTA after the Daily News broke the story about the MTA cutting back student discounts on express buses to Manhattan.

Early this morning a Bronx cab driver, Amadou Ndiaye, was shot dead in an attempted robbery in the Baychester. Police are still investigating the crime.

Yesterday afternoon, two men were wounded in a gunfight in Crotona Park.

Friday, August 14, 2009

A Debate on the Issues -- Aug. 31

Bronx News Network is organizing a television debate on Aug. 31 for the 14th Council District in conjunction with BronxTalk, the cable television talk show hosted by Gary Axelbank on channel 67 (Cablevision).

Earlier this week, we invited all the candidates and are waiting for their responses. We will keep you updated.

A Few Events this Weekend in the Bronx

If you're looking for something to do this weekend, consider checking out these local events.

Saturday, August 15

Spanish Dance at the Bronx Library Center: Under the direction of renowned flamenco instructor, Carlota Santana, the Flamenco Vivo Carlota Santana dance and music company will explore the origins and evolution of the Spanish art of flamenco. 2:30 p.m., the Bronx Library Center, located at 310 E. Kingsbridge Rd. off Fordham Road, (718) 579 - 4244/46

Learn Graphic Art and Design: An interactive session inviting young adults who are interested in art to come draw while learning about media, digital creation, pencil preferences and more. For ages 12 to 18. 4p.m., the Morrisania Public Library Branch, located at 610 East 169th Street, (718) 589 – 9268

For more information on these and other events, visit nypl.org

Outdoor Cooking Demonstrations at the Botanical Garden: As apart of this summer’s Edible Garden exhibit, each Saturday the Botanical Garden's Conservatory Kitchen will host a different chef in a series of healthy summer cuisine cooking demonstrations. This Saturday’s exhibit will feature Keith Snow, chef and founder of harvesteating.org. Lawn and tent seating is offered on a first-come, first-serve basis. Shows at 1 and 3 p.m., the New York City Botanical Gardens, located on the Bronx River Parkway at Fordham Road. For more information call (718) 817 – 8700 or visit nybg.org

Sunday, August 16

Enjoy Sunday Brunch at the Wave Hill public garden & cultural center: Brunch served at the Wave Hill Café this and every Sunday, 11:30 to 1 p.m. $22 per person, call (718) 549 – 3200 to place a reservation or for more information. A sample menu is available online at wavehill.org

Seven Bronx Post Offices Could Close

View Endangered Bronx Post Offices in a larger map

The US Postal Service is considering closing 677 post offices nationwide, in an effort to correct a $7 billion deficit. Fourteen of these locations are in New York City, seven of which are in the Bronx. (Click on the envelopes above for branch names and street addresses).

A final decision will be made in October, according to the USPS.

Congressman Jose E. Serrano told The Times last week he was deeply concerned. But what do you think? Do you frequent any of the post offices on the endangered list? Are they usually crowded, or could you hear a pin drop? How important is your post office to your neighborhood?

Threats, earlier this year, to close locations in Soho and Washington Heights led to protests from local residents. So far, we haven’t heard of anything similar in the Bronx, though the Bedford Mosholu Community Association and the BoogieDowner blog have started a petition to stop the axing of the Botanical branch on Webster Avenue. More here.

According to some articles (but not others), an eighth Bronx post office - The Hub at 633 St. Ann's Ave. - could also be closed. We'll try and get clarification on that.

Bronx News Roundup, August 14

State Senator Pedro Espada, Jr. negotiated a job for his son as part of the deal he struck to return to the Democrats, a possible violation of state law, an anonymous senior Democrat told the NY Post. Espada denies this claim.

On Wednesday, Espada's son, Pedro G. Espada, a 35-year-old former City Councilman, resigned from the plum $120,000 a year job that was specially created for him under a cloud of controversey. Attorney General Andrew Cuomo said he was satisfied with the younger Espada resignation and the elder Espada's assertion that he didn't influence the hiring of his son in any way. Still, it doesn't look good for Espada or Senate Democrats who are still holding onto a slim 32-30 majority.

Newsday's snarky editorial on Espada and other political "spin" efforts of the recent past.

The Albany Times-Union says, based on the latest episode inolving his son's employment/resignation and several other legal investigations currently underway, Espada should step down from his post.

Others are calling on Cuomo to continue investigating Espada's role in the hiring of his son.

Liz Benjamin writes that Bronx State Senator Ruben Diaz, Sr. says there's a big difference between political family dynasties and nepotism.

In other news:

Student riders in the Bronx and other outer boroughs who depend on express buses to get to school will see their discounts disappear this fall as part of the MTA's budget hike. Students will have to pay the full $5.50, up from the $2.50 they paid last year.

Yesterday, authorities found two piles of human waste on the lobby floor of the Bronx County Courthouse.

A Bronx man has been accused of exposing himself to a woman on the subway.

Montefiore Medical Center is having success with its electronic records system as well as dispensing information to its Bronx clients via the internet.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Espada Says District Office Opening 'Imminent'

State Senator Pedro Espada's PR guy Steve Mangione says his boss is expecting to pick up the keys to his new district office on the seventh floor of Fordham Place (at 400 E. Fordham Road, which may or may not be in his district; we'll have to get a ruling on that soon)sometime this weekend.

In an e-mail, Mangione writes that "Sen. Espada said the keys to the district office will be turned over by the building's management company this weekend, making the opening imminent."

This sounds a little more concrete than past promises from Espada's camp, but we'll wait to see if it indeed comes to fruition.

Espada is the only New York Senator without a district office.

The controversial new majority leader has been angling to secure office space at Fordham Place since February. Reportedly, Senate leadership balked at giving him the budget to afford rent at Fordham Place, which was estimated to be close to $100,000 a year.

Apparently, now that he's majority leader, a concession he negotiated following a month-long defection to the Republican party, Espada is getting what he wants, including flashy new digs in a newly-renovated office building (but not a job for his son who recently resigned from a plum $120,000 gig with the State Senate).

Stay tuned.

Diaz Endorses Cabrera, Calls Him 'Perfect Fit'

In a move that will surprise no one, Ruben Diaz Jr., the Bronx borough president, has endorsed Fernando Cabrera in the 14th District City Council race.

In a press release sent out this afternoon by Cabrera's campaign, Diaz said:

It is rare that you have an opportunity to endorse someone that you feel is a perfect fit. The 14th District needs a strong and visible leader, someone who will stand up for its people, their rights and their desires. Pastor Fernando Cabrera is all that the district needs and more. I look forward to working with him to make the Bronx a better place to live, raise a family and work. I urge everyone in the 14th district cast their vote for him on September 15th.

Bronx News Roundup, August 13

As recent events have shown, State Senator Pedro Espada has a knack for getting his own way. But not this time. His son, Pedro G. Espada, a former councilman, has been forced to step down from his new $120,000 Senate job - a job that was created just for him - less than a week after New York Magazine broke the story of his hiring.

The resignation comes as Attorney General Andrew Cuomo was said to be investigating the role Espada (the elder) played in the recruitment process. The Post, though, is taking credit for the specific timing of the resignation. Yesterday, in what sounds like an excruciating awkward interview in his Senate office, the younger Espada didn't seem familar with his surroundings and couldn't log on to his computer. Shorly after the interview - during which he was photographed holding his head in his hands - he quit. "PEDRO-KIN 'NO SHOW' NO-NO" screams the Post.

A Bronx native of Brazilian and Palestinian descent is the city's new Commissioner of Immigrant Affairs.

A talented teenage gymnast from the Bronx won his third straight junior national all-round title yesterday, at the American Airlines Center in Dallas.

The city is investigating allegations that a bus matron physically abused an 8-year-old Riverdale boy.

Residents react to the news that the Botanical post office on Webster Avenue could be shuttered.

Last week, a Marshalls opened for business at the Gateway Mall. Best Buy, Bed Bath & Beyond, and Staples, will open soon.

A Bronx man is suing the city and the NYPD after he was allegedly beaten up by two female cops.