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Saturday, October 31, 2009

Fire Guts 14 stores in Norwood.

October 31 2009: An early Saturday morning 5 alarm fire gutted 14 stores on the corner of East 204 street and Bainbridge ave. After receiving a phone call from a friend, I rushed to the location at about 3:30 am. The air was filled with a light drizzle and thick heavy smoke. Our brave fire fighters fought hard to bring the fire under control. Its with a sad heart I bring you these photographs as this is a big blow to my neighborhood.

Partial list of businesses effected by the fire:
1) Yasmins Barber Shop
2) Candy & Grocery
3) Plaza Rio Nilo Records
4) Dunkin' Donuts
5) ZNS Realty Corp
6) Bainbridge Fish Market
7) Neighborhood Gift & Wireless
8) European Minimarket
9) Bainbridge Bakery and pastry
10) El Diamante Poblano II Restaurant
11) Betty's Place
12) Ming Wong

Friday, October 30, 2009

Fire devastates shopping area

A four-alarm fire on Hunts Point Avenue between 163rd Street and Westchester Avenue gutted five stores and damaged two others on Wednesday night, October 28.

No one was injured, but the five stores will be demolished next week, say city officials.

Find the full story in The Hunts Point Express.

"Hallelujah!" Tenants at Embattled Sedgwick Building Have Hot Water for First Time in 3 Months

Scenes from inside and outside of 2285 Sedgwick on Tuesday evening, where tenants were without hot water, gas and heat for more than 3 months.
[All photos by Adi Talwar]

“Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah, God is good,” exclaimed Caroline Loja over the phone just minutes ago as she happily reported that hot water had returned to her all but abandoned building on Sedgwick Avenue.

After three months of no heat, hot water, cooking gas or answers, Lojas and other tenants at their deteriorating apartment building in University Heights recently took matters into their own hands. They banded together, attracted attention to their plight and forced the city to intervene on their behalf.

But the situation, which exploded onto the media landscape as the week progressed (we went there on Tuesday, but are just now getting this up online), serves as an extreme example of what can happen to a good building run by a bad landlord in a struggling economy.

Before Juan Romero took over as owner of 2285 Sedgwick, a six-story, 54-unit complex just south of Fordham Road, the building was a shining star in nice neighborhood. While the block remains stable – it includes several single-family homes decorated for Halloween right now – 2285 Sedgwick has steadily deteriorated.

For years, residents say Romero has skimped on maintenance efforts and patched together repair work using unlicensed workers (mostly his super did everything, residents say).

Then, in early July, a fire ripped through a first floor apartment that was being used as a yoga studio. Thanks to on-the-spot firefighters, the blaze was contained, but the gas lines were damaged, prompting Con Edison to shut off the building’s gas supply until repairs were made.

The building has lacked hot water, gas and heat ever since.

Soon after the fire took place, Romero, who is in the final stages of foreclosure proceedings after defaulting on the building’s mortgage payments, made at least one attempt to repair the gas lines, but again used unlicensed workers who didn’t do a proper job. This was followed by a vicious cycle of tenant 311 complaints, followed by the courts ordering Romero to do the work and him promising to do so and then not doing it.

Finally, last weekend, tenants began organizing themselves and decided to do something. They draped big poster boards and sheets out of their windows and from their fire escapes calling for help. The whole building was a like sinking ship throwing out desperate distress calls. “Help!”

On Sunday, dozens of tenants marched to a rally held by the Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition at St. Nicholas Tolentine Church, just a few block away on Fordham Road. There they received some badly-needed attention from the media (first by News 12, which had also done a story on the building during the summer, a week after the fire.) and local politicians. Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr., Assemblyman Nelson Castro and State Senator Pedro Espada, Jr. all stopped to offer their help.

Finally, on Thursday HPD sent out licensed workers to make all the appropriate repairs. Eariler today, both the Buildings Department and Con Edison gave the repairs the green light and just minutes ago, Loja was able to launch into her own personal Hallelujah chorus.

[There’s a lot more to this story and you can read all about it in the next Norwood News online and on streets next Thursday.]

Armory Plan's Fate: Now It's Up to the City Council

In November, the City Council will decide on the fate of the Kingsbridge Armory. The City Council has the final say on whether the landmarked facility will be turned over to the Related Companies for The Shops at the Armory – essentially a mall. The question right now is whether the Council is willing to OK the plan when there’s no sign of a Community Benefits Agreement (CBA). Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz is hoping the Bronx’s Council delegation will reject the plan if there’s no CBA and no provision requiring retailers to pay a living wage, as are Bronx residents who turned out en masse at a community forum on Sunday at St. Nicholas of Tolentine School.

Related’s proposal will first come before the Zoning and Franchises Subcommittee of the Land Use Committee on Nov 12. It will then go to the full Land Use Committee for a hearing and vote on Nov. 16. If it passes there, it will go to the full City Council the next day. (The schedule is subject to change.)

We’ll have more on where individual members stand and what each side’s chances are early next week, but for now, here’s a list of who serves on which committee. Tony Avella, who chairs the Zoning and Franchises Subcommittee, is siding with the borough president and the Kingsbridge Armory Redevelopment Alliance. And Melinda Katz, chair of the Land Use Committee, who appeared at the Sunday forum, was not yet willing to show her cards.

OK, here are the lists of committee members with Bronx members bolded.

Zoning and Franchises Subcommittee
Chairperson: Tony Avella
Simcha Felder
Eric N. Gioia
Robert Jackson
Melinda R. Katz
Joel Rivera
Larry B. Seabrook
Helen Sears
Albert Vann

Land Use Committee
Chairperson: Melinda R. Katz
Maria del Carmen Arroyo
Tony Avella
Maria Baez
Charles Barron
Leroy G. Comrie, Jr.
Elizabeth Crowley
Inez E. Dickens
Simcha Felder
Daniel R. Garodnick
Eric N. Gioia
Sara M. Gonzalez
Vincent Ignizio
Robert Jackson
Jessica S. Lappin
John C. Liu
Rosie Mendez
Annabel Palma
Joel Rivera
Larry B. Seabrook
Helen Sears
Albert Vann

The Yankees, Unobstructed - Oct. 30, 2009

Forget About Having a Fourth Starter

This World Series, more than any in recent memory, looks like it could be shaped by pregame managerial decisions. Last night, the Yankees scored a key run following a rally that was started by Jerry Hairston, Jr. — who Joe Girardi inserted into the lineup in place of the slumping Nick Swisher.

Now Girardi has bigger decisions to make. While the Phillies look prepared to start a scrub in Game 5 (either Joe Blanton or J.A. Happ), Girardi has been wrestling with whether or not to pitch Chad Gaudin (who has thrown one inning since October 3rd).

But there is another option, which I think Girardi might resort to — a three man rotation.

While it has become a forgone conclusion that the Yankees will pitch C.C. Sabathia in games four and seven, the silencing of Yankees bats over the last two games makes a strong case for using the best pitchers available at all times. We don't know what to expect from Gaudin, because baseball-reference.com does not keep records for "starting on 30 days rest." It does, however, keep track of starts on three days rest....

A.J. Burnett has made four such starts, including three in 2008. In all four he has pitched very well. In fact, in his three short-rest starts in 2008, Burnett gave up only four earned runs in 19.1 innings. His 18/10 K/BB ratio in those starts is not incredible, but is on par with his usual numbers.

Andy Pettitte is 37 years old, but he also has the most postseason wins of any pitcher ever. Pettitte's numbers are less impressive on short rest than Burnett's, but also more extensive. In 86.2 innings pitched, Pettitte has surrendered 40 earned runs. Not great, but certainly good enough to keep the Yankees in the game.

In other tough choices for Girardi has to make...

Hideki Matsui: Godzilla has been one of the Yankees better hitters this postseason, but he is too slow to track down fly balls. While playing in a National League park, make him your #1 pinch hitter.

Nick Swisher: Although his replacement, Jerry Hairston, Jr., came up big last night, Swisher's defense and arm have helped limit scoring opportunities for opponents all postseason. Swisher plays.

Phil Hughes: No more set-up work. Relief pitching is all about having the hot hand, and Hughes' couldn't be colder. Instead go with...

David Robertson: Seriously, I'm not kidding. Robertson has been lights out — downright unflappable — in some of the most pressure-filled moments of the past month. The kid is catching batters off-guard. He's like a vision of rookie K-ROD.

In case you have not been following. Here's a few details you need to know in order to get by in a conversation about the World Series:

After two games in the Bronx, the series is tied 1-1. The next game is tomorrow night at 7:57pm in Philadelphia. The starters will be Andy Pettitte for the Yankees, and Cole Hamels for the Phillies.

Bronx News Roundup, Oct. 30

Happy Halloween eve! On to some pre-Fright Night news links.

More than 100 people showed up yesterday to pay their respects and offer their memories at the funeral of Sadie Mitchell, the 92-year-old Bronx woman, who was tragically killed by a stray bullet while watching TV on Oct. 20. By all accounts a lovely, caring woman, Mitchell's Williamsbridge neighbors called her a pillar of the community and "the grandmother of the block."

On Wednesday, the Bronx DA's office announced that it would be charging Jamal Blair, 18, with the Mitchell's murder.

Deon Taylor, a former NYPD cop who was killed in Afghanistan by a roadside bomb, was honored yesterday by the city. Simpson St. at 163rd St. in Longwood was renamed Police Officer Deon Taylor Way.

The top-seeded Bronx Science girls soccer team pulled out a tough 1-0 win over Susan Wagner HS on Wednesday in the first round of the playoffs. They play Tuesday against Francis Lewis.

A sailor on the USS New York who grew up in the Bronx said coming home on the Navy vessel would be better than "the Yankees winning the World Series."

A principal at the Bronx's Lehman High School is under invetigation by the city's Dept. of Education for allegedly fixing grades.

A Rikers Island guard was charged in Bronx Supreme Court with beating up inmates.

An off-duty cop was charged with running down an elderly woman, who later died, near Broadway and 232nd Street.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Diaz Calls Economic Development Fight at Armory ‘A New Civil Rights Movement’

Bronx B.P. Diaz delighted the crowd with his demand for living wage jobs at the Armory.
(All photos by Adi Talwar)

Speaking before a crowd of at least 1,000 people who mobbed the gym floor at St. Nicholas of Tolentine School last Sunday, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. said the battle for living wages jobs at the Kingsbridge Armory was the beginning of a movement for economic justice in the borough, calling it “our new revolution here, our new civil rights movement.”

The Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition organized the forum, called “A Blueprint for the Bronx,” to lay out their agenda on a broad range of issues at the federal, state, and city level, including immigration reform, universal healthcare, vacancy decontrol, and overcrowded schools. But most of the crowd said they were there to support community efforts to ensure living wage jobs and school space at the Kingsbridge Armory.

People came from all over the Bronx, and many came straight from church. They arrived singing hymns in English and Spanish and carrying homemade signs and banners with the name of their congregations. Many arrived on buses organized by their church.

"We're protesting about the armory. We want to make the decision about what goes in the armory," like a school, said Greg Miller, who came on a bus with, he estimated, 60 other people from Walker Memorial Baptist Church on East 169th Street. "We have enough stores around here," he said.

"We don't need any more stores in the Bronx," agreed Idrena Adams of the East Bronx, who came with members of her congregation from St. James Church nearby. "We want better jobs, better pay."

A group from University Heights Presbyterian Church arrived and stood outside singing hallelujah and clapping as they waited to sing in and enter the gym. Rev. Brenda Berry said they had come "In support of the Armory project, to fight for full-time jobs for the Bronx and a whole new focus on what the Bronx needs." She was expecting 100 members of her congregation to show up.

The Tolentine gym was filled to capacity.

Inside, people packed the gym in the basement of the Tolentine Church, filling folding chairs, bleachers, and standing along the walls, waving small flags that read "Blueprint for the Bronx." Signs on the walls said, "Say no way to poverty pay!" and "Save our jobs! Vote No!"

Up on stage, elected officials and clergy members sat facing the audience, and for two hours, NWBCC organizers, local clergy, and local elected officials spoke, interspersed with music, dance, and a poetry recital. Members of the NWBCC pulled elected officials up to the microphone and asked them to answer straight on the coalition's agenda, ranging from banking reform to, of course, the armory.

Switching back and forth between Spanish and English for the benefit of the crowd, Diaz focused on the Armory, and what he called, "our new revolution here, our new civil rights movement."

"I want to do business in the Bronx,” Diaz said, [but] “it is not radical to simply say, a) we should protect surrounding businesses and b) we should have jobs and living wages," Diaz said. ""You want to do business, we can do business. But business has to be good for everybody. "

‘Bronx has my back!’

Diaz added that the political pressure on him to support the deal with Related before a community benefits agreement has been signed has been intense. "But I know the Bronx has my back!" he shouted, bringing the crowd to its feet in a din of cheers and whistles.

After his speech, Diaz told the Bronx News Network he didn't yet have the support of the full Bronx delegation in the City Council, which will vote on the project next month. "If Related does not want to negotiate, I will ask the City Council to vote no," he said, adding that he had a three-hour breakfast with the Bronx delegation on Saturday. But, he said, "I'm not willing to guarantee that the entire delegation is together" right now.

Diaz said the vote earlier this month at the City Planning Commission, in which two other borough presidents directed their representatives to vote with him against the plan, was encouraging: "I think the tone is changing,” he said. “I think they [Related] realize we have a lot of support outside the borough."

As for the Council members present at the forum, Joel Rivera, the Council’s majority leader who represents the 15th District, promised to vote no on the project unless Related negotiates with KARA. Asked about her position when she left the meeting, Melinda Katz of Queens, who chairs the Council’s Land Use Committee, was noncommittal. “I’m here to support the Coalition,” she said.

[We were not able to approach Councilman Oliver Koppell, who represents the northwest Bronx and has long taken an interest in the Armory, and Robert Jackson of Manhattan for their positions before they left.

Council Member Maria Baez, who was defeated for reelection in the September primary and will leave office at the end of this year, was not in attendance, even though Tolentine and the armory are in her district.]

March to the Armory

After the forum, the remains of the crowd marched to the Kingsbridge Armory, breaking into intermittent shouts of "Si, se puede!" and "Yes, we can!"

Queens councilman Tony Avella, chair of the City Council's Zoning & Franchises committee, turned up to tell the crowd, "Until you get what you want, I'm voting no."

Councilman Tony Avella of Queens spoke to the crowd at the Armory.

As the crowd dispersed, NWBCC organizers passed out small 'prayer cards' with residents' wishes for the armory written on them, for protesters to tie to the armory fence.

As she fastened a string of the prayer cards to the fence, Anne Gibbons, a Kingsbridge resident who came with members of her congregation at New Day Church, said she was hopeful that momentum was building around the issue. "This could be the start of a new direction across the city," she said, when elected officials "take a political risk in favor of the people for a change."

--This story was reported and written by Rachel Waldholz.

Upcoming Bronx Events, Through November 2 (Lots ghoulishly fun events for this Halloween weekend)

The Van Cortlandt House Museum (pictured above, Broadway & West 246th Street ) will be transformed into a haunted house on Halloween, Saturday, Oct. 31. A group of historians will transform the museum and its grounds into a gory 18th Century exhibit. Event begins at 4 p.m. For tickets, call (718) 543-3344.

Today the Bronx River Arts Center will be having a Halloween party and open house for new, returning, and past students. Talk with teachers and staff, enjoy Halloween tricks, treats, and games, and view artwork currently installed at the center. The event will run from 4 to 7 p.m. on the fourth floor. For more information visit www.bronxriverart.org.

Tomorrow (Oct. 30), the St. Philip Neri School in Bedford Park (3031 Grand Concourse) will be hosting a Haunted School House. Tickets are $10 and include a haunted walk and music from 7 to 10 p.m. Safe and secure Halloween fun for the entire family

Join the Urban Park Rangers to
Celebrate Samhain
this Saturday (Oct. 31) with a nature walk through the woods at Van Cortlandt Park. During the walk, participants will learn about Celtic and Druidic cultural roots in modern Halloween traditions. Visitors should meet at the nature center, inside the park at Broadway and 246th St. The event begins at 1 p.m.

Kids between the ages of 2 and 10 are invited to participate in a Halloween Fun Run at Van Cortlandt Park this Saturday (Oct. 31). Children are encouraged to wear costumes during the event, which will take place at 2 p.m. at Van Cortlandt Stadium, Broadway and 241st Street.

The Uptown Coffeehouse presents
The Work O' The Weavers on Sunday November 1 at 5 p.m. at 4450 Fieldston Road (the Riverdale Yonkers Society for Ethical Culture Bldg.) Admission is $18. Bronx cultural cards are accepted. For more information, call (718) 885-2955 or visit www.uptowncoffeehouse.org.

This will be the last weekend that the Bronx Zoo will be hosting Boo at the Zoo. Events include a haunted hayride, musical performances, a hay maze, treat stations located around the zoo and much more. Children between the ages of 3 and12 will receive free admission alongside a paying adult if they wear a wildlife themed costume. Limit one free child admission per adult. For more information, click here.

On November 1, come to the River Masquerade, a family art project, to make a mask or costume to wear in a parade of river life celebrating the Hudson, (free with admission to the grounds), in the Kerlin Learning Center at Wave Hill, located at West 249th Street and Independence Avenue, from 1 to 4 p.m. For more information, call (718) 549-3200 or visit their website here.

The Bronx Library Center will be hosting
Code Breakers!, an event for young adults on Nov. 3 at 4 p.m. The Center is located at 310 E. Kingsbridge Rd., just off Fordham Road. For a detailed schedule, call (718) 579-4244 ex.46 or visit www.nypl.org.

Bronx News Roundup, Oct. 29

Michelle Obama and Jill Biden were in the Bronx yesterday to watch the Yankees game. Beforehand, they visited a veterans center in Kingsbridge Heights.

A four-alarm fire destroyed several businesses on Southern Boulavard in Longwood last night.

In the South Bronx, there are dozens of unfinished condo buildings. The dour economy has forced many developers to abandon projects, or at least put them on hold.

The Bronx teen arrested in connection with the shooting death of 92-year-old Sadie Mitchell in Williambridge on Oct. 20, has been indicted on second-degree murder charges.

Two architecture students from Columbia University have won a design competition in which applicants had to present their vision for the future of the Grand Concourse. There were nearly 200 entries from all over the world. The seven best proposals will be displayed at the Bronx Museum, starting this Sunday.

Tenants living in a 54-unit apartment building on Sedgwick Avenue say they've been without heat and hot water since July.

Worshippers at a mosque on Virginia Avenue are asking the police for a sound permit so they use loud speakers when announcing "adhan," the call to prayer. Some of their non-Muslim neighbors oppose the plan, saying it'll cause unnecessary noise.

Baez in Bloomberg's Camp

We've been hearing rumors all week that Maria Baez - the soon to be out of a job councilwoman - has decided to pull an Oliver Koppell, and support Mayor Bloomberg for reelection, instead of fellow Democrat Bill Thompson.

Well, the rumors are true.

"She's definitely with the mayor," said a Baez staffer I spoke with this morning, who asked that his name not be used. He said the councilwoman wants her constituents to know about all the good things Bloomberg has done for the 14th District.

It wasn't always this way. During the primary, Baez listed Thompson as one of her supporters, and plastered his face all over her campaign literature. And, until a few weeks ago, her name appeared on Thompson's list of official endorsers. (Today, she's nowhere to be found.)

I wonder what caused the change of heart? Or, to be cynical, what might be in it for her?

Several other Bronx pols also appear reluctant to back Thompson. On his campaign Web site, the following are conspicuous by their absence: Congressman Eliot Engel, Assemblyman Nelson Castro, State Senator Pedro Espada, Assemblymember Carmen E. Arroyo, and Councilwoman Maria del Carmen Arroyo.

I should add that - as with Baez - none of the above appear on Bloomberg's list of endorsers, either.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Koppell Bucks Own Club, Backs Bloomberg for Mayor

On Monday, the Bloomberg campaign announced its eleventeenth millionth endorsement (anyone care who Bono wants to run the Big Apple?), this time from a "Senior Democrat" who turned out to be none other than Bronx City Council member Oliver Koppell.

This is far from surprising, given the kind words Koppell has often reserved for Mayor Mike and the Riverdalian's lead role in helping the mayor secure an extension on term limits.

But it's just a little bit ironic.

During the race for the Democratic nomination in the 11th Council District, Koppell repeatedly used Cassino's support for Bloomberg as a counter-weight to his attacks on Koppell's efforts to overturn the two-term limit (imposed after two citywide referendums) for the city's elected officials.

Makes you wonder if Cassino could have gained an edge if he would have been a little more, um, Democratic about the mayor's race. All we know now is that whoever won that race would have showed up as Bloomberg's eleventeenth millionth endorsement.

Nick Judd of the Riverdale Press also some fantastic stuff on the paper's blog about how others in the Benjamin Franklin Democratic Reform Club feel Koppell made a poor decision. And also how Koppell thinks his endorsement of the mayor might help him get some love in the Council during what will undoubtedly be his third term in office.

Coloring the South Bronx Green: New Apartments Use Wind to Generate Power

Free on-site employment, education and health counseling. Wind turbines that generate clean energy. ENERGY STAR appliances. Clean air ventilation systems. No smoking. Affordable rent.
These are just a few of the state-of-the-art features showcased at the most recent addition to the collection of affordable and environmentally-friendly apartment buildings in the Bronx: The Eltona Apartments.
Yesterday, the Eltona’s proud developers (Blue Sea Development Company) joined the New York City Department of Housing, Preservation and Development, the Housing Development Corporation and Bronx BP Ruben Diaz, Jr. to officially open the newly completed, energy-efficient building.
Located in the South Bronx between East 156th and 157th Streets, on Melrose and Elton Avenues, the Eltona is five stories tall and has 63 rental units. Families whose incomes fall below 60 percent of the median income for the area will fill the units.
When residents move into the Eltona, they will participate in a research study performed by the Mount Sinai School of Medicine tracking the health of asthma patients. The study hopes to prove that non-smoking, “green” buildings will improve breathing conditions and overall quality of life.
Besides the research study, the Eltona will also offer free job counseling provided by the Wildcat Service Corporation (a workforce development organization), open recreation space and a community garden next to the building.
The most unique feature of the Eltona is the 10 wind turbine electricity generators located on the top of the building. These generators are just one of the many "green" elements that helped the building gain a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Platinum certification—the first in New York State.
The Eltona is part of Mayor Bloomberg’s New Housing Marketplace Plan, an initiative that expects to provide affordable housing to 500,000 New Yorkers. So far, the plan has generated 31,000 housing units in the Bronx.
“The Eltonia exemplifies HPD’s [Department of Housing Preservation and Development] neighborhood approach to investing in affordable housing,” said HPD Commissioner Rafael E. Cestero, in a press release. “By applying a local lens to this project we are able to put hardworking families into fantastic new, eco-friendly homes.”
The New York Daily News also covered the Eltona’s opening ceremonies. Read the article here.

Bronx News Roundup, October 28

A wounded Marine from the Bronx will root for the Yankees tonight while sitting next to the First Lady, Michelle Obama, at the World Series opener.

The Daily News suspects foul play in the Bloomberg administration's purchase of 10 acres of land in the East Bronx this past July. The New York City government paid $46 million to buy the land from a realty firm connected with the Mafia and the firm originally paid only $5.5 million for the land in the 1990s. The land will be used to build a backup center for 911 operators.

A Bronx resident was charged with second-degree murder and second-degree arson after allegedly starting a fire in Yonkers. The fire killed one firefighter and injured two others.

Yesterday, street vendors accused the police of harassing them with fines during a protest on the steps of City Hall. In the Bronx, vendors complained that police commonly issue $1,000 fines to vendors who have a vendor license, but do no have a cart permit.

amNewYork compiled a list of Edgar Allen Poe's New York City residences just in time for Halloween. Included in the list is Poe's last residence at the Poe Cottage in the Bronx, which is now open as a museum.

Boogiedowner recently profiled two restaurants in Bedford Park on 204th Street between Grand Concourse and E. Mosholu Parkway.

World Series Preview

The Bronx is host to the World Series for the 38th time (in 1921 and 1922 the Yankees played at the Polo Grounds), starting tonight at 7:57 pm. In what is a Mets fan's nightmare-come-true, the Yankees and Phillies are the last two teams standing.

This postseason the Yankees have yet to be tested by a team as defensively impervious to distraction as the Phillies are. Philadelphia, meanwhile, has yet to face an offense as daunting as New York's.

Neither team has ever had to face the horror of commuting through New Jersey (buh-duh-bum).

BNN's position-by-position breakdown of the two teams...

Catcher - Edge Yankees - I gave the edge to the Yankees in the championship, too...but that was back when Jeff Mathis was a nobody backup catcher, yet to wreak havoc on Yankee pitching for six straight games. So there's no reason to trust me here. However, the catchers on both the Yankees and Phillies have hit well during these playoffs.

First Base - Edge Phillies - The first basemen that you would take over Mark Teixeira is a rarity — but Ryan Howard absolutely qualifies. While Teixeira finally began to come around at the end of the ALCS, notching a few RBI in the last two games, his batting average is .205 for the postseason. Meanwhile, Howard has been Philadelphia's A-ROD. Howard has 14 RBI in Philly's nine playoff games, with a .462 obp.

Second Base - Edge Phillies - C'mon we're talking about Chase Utley here. The best second basemen in Major League Baseball.

Third Base - Edge Yankees - Take what I said about Chase Utley, and replace his name with Alex Rodriguez. A-ROD has been untouchable throughout this postseason.

Shortstop - Edge Yankees - Philadelphia's Jimmy Rollins is no louse, but he has been playing like one. Meanwhile Derek Jeter has hit well consistently (except with runners in scoring position).

Left Field - Edge Phillies - Neither Johnny Damon nor Raul Ibanez has been terribly impressive this postseason, but Ibanez was better throughout the regular season and has had more big hits during these playoffs.

Center Field - Tie - Wait, Melky Cabrera is tied with the Shane Victorino? Cabrera has been the Yankees quiet star this postseason. He has been held hitless in only two of the Yankees' nine games and his strong arm helped to eliminate the Angels' first-to-third base-running strategy.

Right Field - Edge Phillies - While Nick Swisher has been suffering through an almost unsightly slump, Jason Werth has been hitting home runs left and right. That said, Swisher has been sporting some of the best glove work of his entire career this postseason.

Starting Pitchers - Tie - Both teams sport verifiable aces, in the forms of C.C. Sabathia and Cliff Lee. They both have shaky second men — A.J. Burnett and Cole Hamels (I'd take A.J. though). Then each team hits you with their 'Ol Reliables — Andy Pettitte and Pedro Martinez. Finally, the absolute wild cards: For a fourth pitcher, the Yankees will either go with Chad Gaudin or Joba Chamberlain (most likely Gaudin), little can be expected from either. The Phillies will throw either J.A. Happ or Joe Blanton. Both have made one start this postseason, neither was impressive.

Relief Pitchers - Edge Phillies - Who knows if it's because of management or guts, but these two bullpens have done complete 180s this October. Philadelphia came into the postseason with the weakest of all surviving 'pens, and yet their relievers have delivered reliably. Meanwhile, the Yankees were supposed to have had the perfect three inning lockdown, and it has been anything but.

World Series Edge - PHILLIES - This doesn't mean the Phillies will win. The wild card here is that the Yankees, once again, have C.C. Sabathia scheduled for three starts. Philadelphia has not said that they are prepared to work Cliff Lee for an extra start.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Rent News

As Jordan wrote this morning, Senator Espada gave some hope that he may actually back changing or repealing High Rent Vacancy Decontrol on Sunday. While we will all have to wait and see if he will walk the walk, the timing of Espada's verbal reversal coincides with major rent decontrol news across the City.

First, here are a few excerpts from my recent op-ed on why Espada Must Reconsider Vacancy Decontrol, despite the fact that he is correct to assert that most rents in his district are in danger of going above $2,000 per month just yet:

High-rent vacancy decontrol has helped to fuel speculation throughout the city during this past boom decade, especially in neighborhoods succumbing to gentrification pressures... As a result, the number of neighborhoods where working class families can afford to live within city boundaries continues to shrink. Rents remain within reach of these families in few New York City neighborhoods outside of the west Bronx...
In addition to increasing economic segregation, vacancy decontrol is making it harder to find a decent apartment in the west Bronx as competition for lower rent units gets fiercer. Most of Espada’s district overlaps with community districts that rank among the city’s highest for percentage of households paying more than half of their income on rent...
Vacancy decontrol has also helped spur on the aggressive tactics used by many landlords, including certain private equity investors, to attempt to achieve higher rates of turnover and thus higher rents in their recently acquired properties. The practices, many of which could qualify as harassment, have been pursued most notably in upper Manhattan, but have also been well documented in the Bronx – including in Espada’s district – going back to Norwood News’ coverage of the Botanical Square properties in October 2005.
In having owners’ sights set on the magical $2,000 rent mark, vacancy decontrol has also encouraged speculation throughout the five boroughs. Speculative investment has, in turn, greatly inflated the city’s real estate bubble over the past decade. We are now beginning to see how devastating the effects of this bubble bursting are, as buildings go into foreclosure, and some are even abandoned in the process. Many more buildings are at risk for foreclosure in the coming years and are currently suffering from cuts in services as owners struggle to make huge mortgage payments. The tenants in these buildings – many of them the Latino constituency Espada claims to be representing, both in and out of his district – are the ones suffering the effects of the speculative market the most.
Speaking of foreclosures, there's more news on the Ocelot/Fannie Mae buildings. Crain's is reporting that Senator Schumer and Rep. Serrano implored Fannie in a letter to not continue selling its mortgages on these properties. "After backing off an earlier attempt to sell the buildings' mortgages via an online auction, the agency now wants to unload them through a competitive bidding process." Instead of just shifting the problem to new hands, the letter requests that Fannie complete the foreclosure process and then work towards moving the 14 buildings to responsible ownership.

While it's not clear whether the subject will be these same Ocelot/Fannie buildings, a United Nations rapporteur has been appointed to look at affordable housing in the City, including speaking with tenants whose owners are in foreclosure in the Bronx. Her overall task is "to to tour New York City and six other places in the United States and to report back to the United Nations General Assembly about housing rights violations and advances."

Now, on to the biggest news item: the court decision reversing rent deregulation at Stuy Town because they received tax abatements. You can read more about the decision in City Limits and see how the Daily News is reporting that the decision may have an affect in a building in Morris Heights.

While the Stuy Town decision will only accelerate foreclosures in a number of properties, most of these buildings were likely headed there regardless. The decision also represents another strike against speculative investing and may help build more momentum in the quest to change or repeal vacancy decontrol laws. Since Espada is up for re-election a year from now, we won't have to wait long to see where vacancy decontrol goes.

Student Swine Flu vaccinations set to begin

The Department of Health announced the locations of its weekend clinics to vaccinate middle and high school students against the H1N1 (swine) flu virus.

The vaccines are offered free of charge, but students must be accompanied by a parent or an adult legal guardian. The clinics will run Nov. 7 through Dec. 13 and are only intended for middle and high school aged children.

Click here for a list of clinic locations. This link also provides a schedule for elementary school vaccinations that will be offered during school hours starting Oct. 28.

This article, published in our latest edition, contains more information on the city's flu plan.

Bronx News Roundup, October 27

Yesterday protesters congregated in front of the Bronx Supreme Court to demand the city loosen its regulations on city street vendors.

Parents, students and even Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. are speaking out against the poor conditions at the new location of the Bronx Early College Academy. The school is currently located on 164th Street and the Grand Concourse and it is ridden with graffiti and cracked walls.

In an effort to reduce the often burdensome task of parking, street cleaning and alternate side of the street regulations will be temporarily suspended in parts of the Bronx.

Businesses in Kingsbridge are protesting to reopen a parking lot on Broadway that was originally closed to prepare for the development of the Kingsbridge Armory. Since the development is still in the planning process, businesses would like to have the extra parking space.

Federal health officials are turning to a new strategy coined, "Test and Treat," in order to combat the spread of H.I.V. As part of a three year study to test whether the policy can actually be implemented nationwide, the Bronx and District of Columbia will serve as test communities.

A South Bronx nonprofit, Per Scolas, joined forces with the Bronx BP's office to reprogram over 1,000 laptop computers which they will sell at a bargain price of $275 to families in need.

There is a lot of community opposition to turning an Army Reserve Center into a homeless shelter in Wakefield.

Last week, the Parks Department opened Mill Pond Park along the Harlem River. The new park is part of the Yankee Stadium Redevelopment Plan and includes tennis courts, picnic tables, play areas and more.

Woodlawn Cemetery is home to the alluring mausoleum of Cecilia Cruz, known as the Queen of Salsa.

According to Bob Kappstatter at The Daily News, the government is expanding their investigation of City Councilman Larry Seabrook beyond his supposed illegal nonprofit operations.

Jerome Avenue has some good shopping bargains check them out here.

Espada Says He Now Supports Repealing Vacancy Decontrol

We'll have more this afternoon on the massive "Blueprint for the Bronx" meeting/rally held by the Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition on Sunday at St. Nicholas of Tolentine School but here's a nugget of news from it that stands out.

The meeting was largely about the Kingsbridge Armory, but Coalition leaders also pressed elected officials on other issues including the repeal of vacancy decontrol. When asked whether he'd work to end vacancy decontrol (for apartments that rent for $2,000 or more), State Senator Pedro Espada said yes but he added that vacancy decontrol "will affect very few units in our district."

Despite the qualifier, it represented a change of position for Espada who, in a September session with reporters in his office, said he didn't support repealing the vacancy decontrol and instead wants to focus on creating more incentives for developers to construct affordable housing.

In an op-ed in the current issue of the Norwood News, Gregory Lobo-Jost of University Neighborhood Housing Program, explains that vacancy decontrol does affect Espada's district because it drives the working poor from elsewhere in the city to Bronx.

Coalition leaders said they would be following up with Espada in the coming months and warned, "We will know how to pull the lever and use the power of our vote."

Monday, October 26, 2009

A Republican Candidate Shows Signs of Life

Fernando Cabrera, the Democratic candidate in the 14th City Council District, is expected to secure an overwhelming victory in next week's election.

When it comes to fund-raising, name-recognition, union support, and just about everything else, he's streets ahead of his unheralded opponents: Yessenia Duran (R) and Lisa Marie Campbell (C).

But one of them - Duran - is at least making some attempt to get her name and face out there. She has a campaign Web site (admittedly not a very informative one), a MySpace page, and a Twitter account (albeit barely used). She's also been putting up campaign posters, including this one on Walton Avenue just north of East 179th Street.

According to her MySpace page and other bits and pieces floating around the Web, Duran is a 25-year-old Creston Avenue resident, a mother, and a co-district leader in the 86th Assembly District.

As for running as a Republican in a bluer than blue district, it seems she'd rather residents not know. Neither her posters nor her Web site make any reference to the ticket she's running on.

On Nov. 3, then, there will be two candidates - Cabrera and Duran - asking voters to to look beyond their Republican past (in the case of Cabrera) and present (in the case of Duran).

Upcoming Bronx Events Through October 29

A Farmers Market/Greenmarket will run every Wednesday through Nov. 15 at the New York Botanical Garden from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Cooking and gardening demonstrations will be held throughout the day and at noon, visitors can learn about composing and recycling vegetables.

"Walk with Me,"
a domestic violence awareness walk, will take place Wednesday, Oct. 28 at 11 a.m. at Mercy College (1200 Waters Place). Assemblywoman Naomi Rivera is organizing the walk to encourage youth to prevent these crimes. For more information, call 718-409-0109.

CUNY on the Concourse is hosting a free Marketing Strategies Workshop Wednesday, Oct. 28 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at 2501 Grand Concourse, 3rd Floor, Room 317. The workshop will cover how to market, promote and sell business ideas and products. Call 718-960-8806 to register.

Community Board 5 will have a general board meeting Wednesday, Oct. 28 at 6 p.m. at the South Bronx Job Corps (1771 Andrews Ave.). Call CB5 at 718-364-2030 or email brxcb5@optonline.net.

Community Board 1
will have a full board meeting Thursday, Oct. 29 at 6:30 p.m. at 3024 Third Avenue.

Community Board 4 will have a general board meeting Tuesday, Oct. 27 at 6 p.m. at 1650 Grand Concourse in the Murray Cohen Auditorium.

The Echo Park Farmers Market will run every Wed. from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. through Nov. 18. Find the market along East Tremont Rd. on the southwest side of the park. Food stamps are accepted.

The Croton Facilities Monitoring Committee will hold an Informational Meeting on Audits prepared for the filtration plant's cost overages on Oct. 29. The meeting will take place from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Vladeck Hall at the Amalgamated Housing Co-op (74 Van Cortlandt Park South).

Bronx News Roundup, October 26

The Daily News analyzes rising tensions between African immigrants and African-Americans in the South Bronx.

Looking for a fright on Halloween? According to Bronx historian Paul DeVillo, the Bronx is riddled with ghost stories and is still haunted by ghosts.

Today, residents of an apartment building in Morris Heights will go to court to argue that their landlord illegally raised rents on 80 apartments. The apartments used to be part of an affordable housing program.

Thompson aides were surprised that Thompson trails Bloomberg in the Bronx polls (50% Bloomberg, 38% Thompson). Thompson expects to perform well in the mayoral election in the Bronx.

A Bronx family is suing a Harlem funeral home for damaging their family member's casket when the hearse carrying the body exploded on the Major Deegan.

A Bronx social worker speaks out against domestic violence in her new play, "The Death of a Dream," playing at the Roy Arias theater in Manhattan.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Rapper's Subway Marketplace

Five weeks ago, on a Friday evening Ashley Villarreal and I followed entrepreneur/rapper DJ Mista Smoke on to a 4 train. Wondering why a reporter and photographer would follow someone? Click here to read Ashley Villarreal's Norwood News article on Eshawn Hall AKA DJ Mista Smoke. These photographs were made during our ride to Brooklyn and back. It was interseting making these photographs in a crowded train, I hope you enjoy them.

Friday, October 23, 2009

At Bronx River, An Invitation to Text the Fish

Rachel Waldholz

If you’re near the Bronx River on East Tremont Avenue any time soon, you might want to take a moment to stop and text the fish.

So says Natalie Jeremijenko, a professor of art and computer science at New York University, who has set up an installation in the Bronx River which invites passersby to check in with the area’s “urban nonhumans” – like the alewife herring, blue crabs, and beaver which frequent that stretch of the river.

Her project, officially unveiled last week, consists of eight thin buoys floating in the River across the street from the Bronx River Art Center. Lights at the tip of each buoy change color depending on changing water conditions, and flicker as fish pass beneath the buoys.

“[You’ll] see a fish swimming by as a trail of light,” Jeremijenko said.

There will be “business cards” for various animals posted along the river, so folks on the sidewalk can text, for instance, Jose the Beaver, the first beaver to set up shop in the Bronx River in 250 years (and named after Congressman Jose Serrano). The buoys then text back, letting you know whether the beaver has been by lately, or how the herring are feeling about pollution levels today.

Check out our full article on the installation in the Tremont Tribune for more details.

Bronx News Roundup, Oct. 23

Gov. David Paterson wants the New York State Senate to vote on a same-sex marriage bill within the next few weeks during a special session of the legislature to address New York’s budget. Sen. Ruben Diaz has vowed to do whatever it takes to prevent the bill to legalize same-sex marriage from becoming law or getting to the floor of the Senate this year.

We've written about Diaz's opposition before, as well as the attitude of Assemblyman Michael Benjamin.

The man suspected of shooting Sadie Mitchell has been charged with second-degree murder and criminal possession of a weapon. He pleaded not guilty in Bronx Criminal Court this morning.

A Bronx father is suing NYC Transit after his son was stabbed on a city bus. He says the bus driver did not call for help and abandoned his bleeding son on the street.

English teacher Greg Van Voorhis at the Bronx School of Law and Finance is being investigated by the New York City Department of Education after allegations that he gave students lewd stories to read.

MTA New York City Transit (NYCT) is adding a pilot Bronx Express program for service between Woodlawn and 149th Street-Grand Concourse. The pilot will begin on Oct. 26. and end on Dec. 11. Express trains will operate every 20 minutes between 7 a.m. and 8:20 a.m.

Bronx resident Rosa N. Rivera pleaded guilty today to aiding and assisting in the presentation of a false individual income tax return for clients and to filing a false individual income tax return.

The Yankees, Unobstructed - Oct. 23

Be afraid, be very afraid

The Yankees are returning to the Bronx this weekend, without the pennant. Although they are ahead of the Angels 3-2, there are a lot of reasons the Yankees and their fans ought to be uncomfortable….

  • The Angels starter tomorrow, Joe Saunders, has given up three earned runs only once since August 6th — that’s nine consecutive strong starts for Saunders.
  • If this thing goes to game seven, the Yankees will pitch C.C. Sabathia for the third time this series. While the Big Man has been nothing short of dominating in his first two starts, the Angels are one of baseball’s elite offensive teams and there’s no telling how their hitters will handle facing the same starter three times in nine days. It could be hard for C.C. to avoid predictability.
  • Nick Swisher’s occasional cold-streaks were tolerable all season long, because the man was a walk-machine. Swisher was second in the American League in walks during the regular season and 20th in on-base percentage, but he has become an easy out this postseason. The Yankees need Mr. Twitch to anchor down the second half the batting order this weekend.
  • We will not be able to rely on Alex Rodriguez this weekend. With a man on base or in many two out situations, the Angels will choose to take their chances against Hideki Matsui.
  • Joe Girardi does not seem to have any concrete game-plan for the Yankee bullpen. If there is one guy who seems to be having difficulty handling the pressure of this stage, it’s Girardi. His decision-making has been erratic and reflects over-analysis. Some games he sticks with the starters too long (yesterday) and gives the bullpen too short of a leash (also Yesterday). Other times his starters have been given too short of a leash (Games two and three). Criticizing managers for their bull-pen decisions can often be unfair….but Girardi used four pitchers (three for just one out) through 7.1 innings in game three.
  • The Yankees have been through worse than losing a 3-1 League Championship Series. Let's not relive that in this column — Tim McCarver mentions it every five minutes during his broadcasts. That’s enough of a reminder.
NOTE: Make sure to check back on Fridays for The Yankees, Unobstructed, BNN's weekly Yankees opinion column.

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

Thursday, October 22, 2009

More Labor Groups Joining Fight for Benefits Agreement, Living Wage at Armory; Rally Planned for Sunday, Oct. 25

As the Related Companies, one of the city's most powerful developers, moves further through the city's land review process for its planned shopping mall at the Kingsbridge Armory, more labor groups are calling for them to sign a binding community benefits agreement that would include living wage job guarantees and union protections.

Earlier today, the New York City Central Labor Council, which represents 1.3 million workers from more than 400 local unions, approved a resolution urging the City Council to reject Related's Armory mall proposal unless a Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) is signed before the Council votes on the project, which will be within the next two months. The benefits agreement, they said, should include living and prevailing wage jobs ($10, plus benefits), unions protections and other community benefits.

Jack Ahern, the president of the labor council, said a strong benefits agreement with living wage jobs included would "allow workers a chance to provide for their families and to build a better life."

The Council joined the Retail, Warehouse and Department Store union (RWDSU) and the Building Construction Trades Council in calling for a strong benefits agreement.

On Monday, the City Planning Commission approved of Related's plan without a benefits agreement in place by a vote of 8-4. The representative of Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., as well as representatives of the Manhattan and Brooklyn borough presidents and public advocate Betsey Gottbaum, voted against the project because it lacked a binding benefits agreement that included living wage requirements.

Related has said living wage requirements would make the project unprofitable and wouldn't be fair to tenants moving into the renovated Armory.

The Kingsbridge Armory Redevelopment Alliance, which has pushed for living wages at the Armory for the last two years, is holding a rally in support of living wages and responsible development at the Armory on Sunday afternoon at St. Nicholas Tolentine Church at 3 p.m. (2345 University Ave., right on the corner of Fordham Road and University) and is inviting everyone in the community to attend.

Upcoming Bronx Events through Oct. 26

[Note to readers: This "Upcoming Bronx Events" post will be a regular feature of the Bronx News Network blog. On Thursdays, we'll let you know what's on tap for the weekend. On Mondays, we'll tell you about all the important meetings and events for the rest of the week. Enjoy.]

Boo at the Zoo featuring family activities, including a Haunted Safari Adventure, will take place on weekends at the Bronx Zoo, October 17 to 18, 24 to 25, and 31 to Nov. 1. Visitors can also enjoy wildlife magic shows, pumpkin carving demonstrations, haunted hayrides, music, entertainment, trick or treats, and more. Children wearing a wildlife costume will receive free general admission with a full priced adult admission purchase. For more information, call (718) 367-1010 or visit http://www.blogger.com/www.bronxzoo.com.

Comedian and Bronx local Tracey Morgan will be appearing at the Barnes & Noble on 290 Baychester Ave where he will be signing copies of his new book,
"I Am the New Black" on Friday (Oct. 23) at 7:00 p.m.

Irish artist Katie Holten will be at the Bronx Museum of the Arts on Friday (Oct. 23) from 6-8:00 p.m. to discuss and give a tour of her new exhibit. Holten was commissioned by the Bronx Museum of the Arts to create "Tree Museum," a gallery celebrating the centennial of the Grand Concourse. For more information visit bronxmuseum.org or call 718 681-6000

The Bedford Park Congregational Church will host its Annual Fun Fair and Flea Market at 201st Street and Bainsbridge Avenue on Oct. 24 from 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. For more information, contact Reverend Dr. Christopher Ponnuraj at (718) 367-8996.

It’s My Park Day! Volunteer at Williamsbridge Oval Park on Saturday, Oct. 24. There will be bulb planting, weeding and winterizing from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., and trash can painting from noon to 2 p.m. Meet in front of the Recreation Center. For more information, call (718) 324-4461 ext. 249 and ask for Jenn Beaugrand.

Charlie Wilson will be a part of the grand re-opening of Paradise Theater in the Bronx (2413 Grand Concourse) with a concert on Saturday (Oct. 24) at 8 p.m. The former Gap Band frontman will be joined by R&B newcomer K’Jon. For more information, visit http://www.blogger.com/www.paradisetheaterevents.com.

The Lehman Center for the Performing Arts, located at 250 Bedford Pk. Blvd. W., presents Johnny Ventura, performing merengue and joined by four meringue icons ($55 to $75) on Oct. 24 at 8 p.m. For more information, call (718) 960-8833.

Housing Committee Meeting for Community Board 8 on Monday, October 26, 2009 at 7:30 p.m. at the district office ( 5676 Riverdale Avenue Bronx, NY 10471). Call 718 884-3959 for more information.

The New York Botanical Garden presents Farmers Market/Greenmarket will run through Nov. 15 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Wednesdays at the base of the Library Allee and Saturdays at the Metro-North Parking Area near Mosholu Gate. Visitors can learn about composting, recycling and growing vegetables at noon, and can take part in cooking or gardening demonstrations. For more information and a detailed schedule, call (718) 817-8700 or visit http://www.nybg.org/ .

Beyond Appearances, an exhibition bringing together a group of approximately 40 artists, includes painting, drawing, sculpture, video, and installation, will be on display Tuesdays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., until Dec. 11, 2009 at the Lehman College Art Gallery, Fine Arts Building, 250 Bedford Pk. Blvd. W. For more information, call (718) 960-8731.

The Bronx Museum of the Arts, 1040 Grand Concourse at 165th Street, presents an exhibition series commemorating the Grand Concourse’s centennial, featuring The Grand Concourse Commissions, through Jan. 4. Originally called the Grand Boulevard, the Grand Concourse celebrates its 100th year in 2009. For more information, call (718) 681-6000 or visit http://www.blogger.com/www.bronxmuseum.org.

The Bronx: Then and Now & Authors Night will be held at the Museum of Bronx History, 3266 Bainbridge Ave. (at 208th Street), from Oct. 15 through April 15, 2010. For more information call the Bronx County Historical Society at (718) 881-8900.

Edgar Allan Poe – A Bicentennial Celebration will take place at the Museum of Bronx History, 3266 Bainbridge Ave. (at 208th Street), from Oct. 15 through April 15, 2010. Learn about Poe, his life and his time spent in the Bronx. For more information, call the Bronx County Historical Society at (718) 881-8900.

Bronx News Roundup, Oct. 22

More on the charitable life and senseless death of Sadie Mitchell, the 92-year-old Williamsbridge woman who killed by a stray bullet on Tuesday evening. This morning, police took a man in for questioning.

The Gotham Gazette takes a long look at Mayor Bloomberg's contribution to city parks these past eight years. In the Bronx, it's a record that's decidedly mixed. On one hand you have record spending, on the other, the ongoing construction of a water filtration plant in Van Cortlandt Park, and the new Yankee Stadium, projects which gobbled up significant amounts of green space.

Yankees fans' hopes to preserve Gate 2 of the old Yankee Stadium (when the stadium is finally torn down) have hit a snag. The city says doing so would increase costs, and further delay the replacement parks promised to the community.

The Riverdale Press profiles Edward Tom, the successful principal of The Bronx Center for Science and Mathematics, a high school on Fulton Avenue just south of Crotona Park. Tom was featured on CBS back in July.

Last Sunday, a Melrose blogger witnessed - and photographed - what he says was an incident of police brutality on Third Avenue near East 158th Street.

Just Asking ...

Have any of you received a stitch of campaign mail from Bill Thompson? Let us know.

Correct me if I'm wrong but isn't the election a week from Tuesday? Are we going to get an avalanche the last few days of the campaign when Bloomberg is sure to continue his inundation of New Yorkers' mailboxes with literature assailing his challenger, and when it will surely be harder for Thompson to get voters to form a positive impression of him?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

New in the Tremont Tribune

The latest edition of the Tremont Tribune is now online.

Stories include:

Local Students Look to Transform Neglected Quarry Road Ballfields
Students at PS/MS 3 are challenging the Parks Department to take a look at the Quarry Road Ballfields – and to join them in rehabilitating the park, five acres of worn out football and soccer fields on East 181st between Quarry Road and Hughes Avenue.

Q & A: Deputy Inspector William McSorley
Deputy Inspector William McSorley has been the commanding officer of the 48th Precinct since 2008. The Tremont Tribune recently sat down with McSorley to see what life looks like from his perch at the Four-Eight.

87 Years and Counting, Sports Shop Has the Goods
Owner Moe Stein will tell you that after 87 years of business, people still come from all over to get the goods at Frank’s Sport Shop on East Tremont Avenue.
Upon entering, there are baseball caps, fishing rods and bows and arrows at the front, jackets and jerseys in the center, and hunting equipment in the back. A flight of stairs near the entrance leads to the basement, which houses baseball equipment, cleats, and cargo pants, among other things.
“This ain’t typical Bronx merchandise,” says Stein, as he folded T-shirts, made phone calls, and took questions one recent evening.

Editorial: The Three Mounts of Tremont
You may have noticed the grey, crown-shaped logo on the front page of this edition of the Tremont Tribune, and any you’ve picked up since our launch last May. Just what, exactly, is it meant to represent?

More here. For a PDF of the print edition, click on the front cover pic above.

Bronx News Roundup, Oct. 21

Read our posts about the most recent on the Armory development plans and then check out this article by the Daily News.

A former Kingsbridge Height's Nursing Home CEO is accused of stealing $9 million from the Rehabilitation and Care Center.

Two brothers, one a Bronx judge, and the other a Westchester judge, caught trying to cheat on a $250,000 loan, received different verdicts yesterday.

Next Wednesday, The Bronx Museum of the Arts will reveal the winner of its international contest for a new design for the Grand Concourse.

Police are investigating the death of an elderly Bronx woman who was killed in her home, likely by a stray bullet.

The Yankees are up 3-1 in their series with the Angels after last night's knock-out win, but some fans are disappointed trying to score tickets to future games.

The New York Institute for Special Education in the Bronx stands out for its educational achievements for children with visual impairments.

Village Voice 'Best Of' Awards Honor Norwood News

We just heard (thank you, Boogiedowners) that the Norwood News was featured in the "Best Of..." Awards in the Village Voice in this week's issue. They call it the "Best Little Newspaper that Beats the Odds."

We're obviously very excited about this this recognition and and we thank the Voice for the honor.

The Norwood News, a nonprofit bi-weekly newspaper founded by Mosholu Preservation Corporation (an affilate of Montefiore Medical Center) in 1988 couldn't exist without its readers, its advertisers, and the many, many people who make publishing it possible -- all the staff here at MPC, our talented team of reporting interns, and a bevy of free-lancers who sell advertising, take photos and write stories, proofread, and deliver the paper. Of course, Alex Kratz, the paper's managing editor, who's responsible for most of the day-to-day management of the paper, deserves special credit.

The Norwood News is one of the oldest -- if not the oldest -- nonprofit community papers in the country. There are now six nonprofit papers in the Bronx! In addition to the Norwood News and the two others published by the Bronx News Network -- the Mount Hope Monitor and the Tremont Tribune -- Bernard Stein, the former editor of the Riverdale Press, publishes the Hunts Point Express and the Mott Haven Herald with his Hunter and CUNY J-School students.

(One minor correction to the Voice write-up. The Bronx News Network does not publish the Highbridge Horizon, which was published until this past summer by Highbridge Community Life Center. Sadly, they ran out of funding and had to suspend publication. We're trying -- along with Buddy Stein -- to find a way to revive it.)

Again, thanks to the Voice, and we are grateful to all of you who read, write, comment and support the newspaper in various ways. A good community newspaper requires an engaged community, and, as we say at the top of this blog, '...Every neighborhood needs a voice!' Without your voice there'd be no Norwood News and no Bronx News Network. So keep raising it!

-Jordan Moss

p.s. I'd be remiss in my duties as editor of Norwood News and executive editor of Bronx News Network if I didn't use this opportunity to mention that, to continue publishing solid community newspapers in communities that don't have them, we need your support. Just click on the donate button at the top right hand side of the blog. We'll be grateful for any contribution you can afford.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Bronx Pols Reluctant to Criticize Monserrate; Diaz, Sr. Even Praises Him

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Many, if not all, of the Bronx’s elected officials have hosted, or attended, events and rallies designed to shed light on the crime (which is more prevalent in the Bronx than elsewhere in the city), honor the victims, and condemn the perpetrators.

It’s been interesting, then, following local pols’ reaction – or lack of reaction – to the conviction last week of State Sen. Hiram Monserrate of Queens, who was found guilty of misdemeanor assault of his girlfriend.

With the exception of Jeff Klein, none of Monserrate’s Senate colleagues here in the Bronx have been willing to criticize him, at least publicly, let alone demand his removal from office.

State Sen. Ruben Diaz, Sr., for one, seems amused, not angry. “We are still the Four Amigos!” Diaz told reporters – a reference to himself, Monserrate, Pedro Espada, and Carl Kruger – after Monserrate was found not-guilty of the more serious felony assault charge, which would have forced him to step down.

Diaz later sent out a press release, which said, in part: “Senator Monserrate was found guilty of trying to do good by forcing his girlfriend to go to the hospital for treatment.” He said he hopes to officiate at Monserrate's wedding. (As columnist Clyde Haberman notes in today's Times, it can't be easy planning a wedding when the groom and bride aren't allowed to talk to each other.)

Espada, another friend of Monserrate's (the two men helped bring the Senate to a standstill this summer), is similarly nonplussed by the conviction. "As it relates to Albany business, I think it's something that should be put behind us now," Espada said, according to The Buffalo News.

Ruth Hassell-Thompson, who chairs the Senate’s domestic violence task force, insists no one is "anxious to see this swept under the rug." But, at the same time, she hasn't exactly rushed out to reproach her colleague. She believes the Senate should wait until December, when Monserrate is sentenced, to decide how to punish him.

Jose M. Serrano, meanwhile, has yet to speak on the matter. And neither has Eric Schneiderman, although he’s been tapped to lead a committee that will consider possible disciplinary action against Monserrate.


Council members Annabel Palma and Melissa Mark-Viverito just released a joint statement which said, in part:

Hiram has broken the public’s trust and it is our hope that he will now demonstrate leadership by stepping down from his position. Remaining in office would be a disservice to his district and his constituents.

Bronx News Roundup, Oct. 20

In Claremont, there is tension between American-African residents and their West African neighbors.

Despite leaving him be in last month's primary, the Bronx Democratic Party would still like to see the back of Councilman Larry Seabrook.

Bronx residents and community leaders and are becoming increasingly frustrated by the Department of Homeless Services' penchant for opening homeless shelters and cluster-sites (where homeless families are moved into existing apartment buildings), without informing the community until the last minute. The Norwood News has also written about this issue.

A father-of-two was shot dead near his home in Longwood on Saturday night.

A look at the shopping and dining options along Eastchester Road.

Five Westchester Square businesses, destroyed in a major fire last spring, have managed to reopen elsewhere in the neighborhood.

A Bronx social worker has written a play about the horrors of domestic violence, based, in part, on her own abusive marriage.

As we reported yesterday, the City Planning Commission has approved Related Companies' plan to redevelop the Kindgbridge Armory. Here's Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr.s reaction, and here's why it's not all bad news for those wanting Related to sign a community benefits agreement.

A Bronx cat has had a lucky escape after crawling inside a car engine, getting stuck, and going for a two-mide ride. The Post's headline: This Engine is Really Purring.