- See more at: http://blogtimenow.com/blogging/automatically-redirect-blogger-blog-another-blog-website/#sthash.Q6qPkwFC.dpuf March 2010 | Bronx News Networkbronx

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Demolition Continues at Old Yankee Stadium

Old Yankee Stadium from the 161 St. 4 Train platform

Slowly but surely, the demolition of the old Yankee Stadium is picking up steam. As you can see from the picture above, most of the upper levels have been gutted and what was once the field is now dirt and massive piles of rubble. I took these photos yesterday from the 4 train platform at the 161st Street stop, which as this New Yorker piece points out, is the best place to view the stadium’s destruction.

There wasn’t any activity happening yesterday, a dreary, rainy Tuesday. And while the weather might have kept the construction crews at bay, it didn’t stop diehard Yankees fans like Glenn Laste from coming by to catch a glimpse of the old stadium before it’s gone for good.

“It’s so sad, it’s just so sad,” said Laste, of Brooklyn.

Bronx News Roundup, March 31

State Senator Eric Schneiderman, who represents the west side of Manhattan and much of Riverdale, posted this essay on the Huffington Post about Passover's lessons for immigration reform

A state appeals court ruled that the firebombing of the Congregation Adath Israel in Riverdale in 2000 is considered a hate crime. Mazin Assi filed an appeal based on the fact that only property was damaged and not people.

Fox Point, an environmentally sound housing project, has opened in the South Bronx. It is operated by a non-profit organization that specializes in providing housing and services to needy people.

On April 22 at 9 p.m. on channel 13 a documentary entitled, "Going Green New York," will premiere. The film will spotlight various waterways in the Bronx and discuss "green" programs in the borough.

Due to the state budget crisis the Alexander Hamilton Bridge project is being put on hold. The project was supposed to renovate the bridge which spans the Harlem River and connects the Bronx to Manhattan. Mount Hope Monitor had this story in September about the planned renovation.

Metro-North service is running again after a mudslide near the Riverdale train station caused trains to be delayed and canceled this morning.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Bronx News Roundup, March 30

A  New York's Court of Appeals ruled today that Mazin Assi, who attempted to bomb a Bronx synagogue in 2000, is guilty of a hate crime. The court said that the stricter penalties of a hate crime applied to Assi, even if his crime was directed towards a building and not a person.

All this heavy rain caused a mudslide near the Riverdale Metro-North station early this morning, disrupting service on the Hudson line. Train times were back to normal a little after 11 a.m.

Some seasonal exhibits at the Bronx Zoo will officially reopen this Saturday.

The Daily News reports on a the popularity of hydroponic gardening--growing plants in liquid instead of soil--and how it's perfect for Bronxites who don't have the space for a traditional garden.

New low-income housing near Union Grove Baptist Church, on Hoe Avenue, broke ground on Friday. The buildings will be named after long time pastor Rev. Dr. Fletcher Crawford, who conceptualized the development.

Some Bronx politicians, like Assemblyman Jeff Dinowitz, are supporting--and even calling for expansions of--the proposed tax on sugary sodas, according to the Daily News' Bob Kappstatter.

Sen. Eric Schneiderman and other City officials are fighting to have prison inmates who are originally from New York City counted as city residents in the census. Current practices count inmates as residents of the regions where they're incarcerated, often upping census numbers for smaller towns upstate that house large prisons.

Starting April 10, the Parkchester 6 train station will be partially closed for repairs and renovations, which will take about three months to complete.

More on "Whatever it Takes," a documentary that chronicles Edward Tom, principal at the Bronx Center for Science and Mathematics, in his goal to have all of his students graduate and go to college. More details on the film, which premieres tonight at 10 p.m., here.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Norwood News On-Line (includes coverage of Megan Charlop's passing)

The latest issue of the Norwood News is on-line with an article and editorial about the tragic death of Megan Charlop, a longtime Norwood resident and community health advocate.

There are also stories about Foodtown's plans for rebuilding after a December blaze, an update on the relocation of local stores, the borough's presidents appointments to a new Kingsbridge Armory Task Force and much more. It's all here.

Happy Land Fire Remembered

Visitors paid their respects at the Happy Land monument on Thursday

Thursday marked the 20th anniversary of the Happy Land Social Club fire, a blaze that killed 87 people in a nightclub on Southern Boulevard in East Tremont on March 25th, 1990. (More details on the fire here).

At dusk on Thursday evening, a crowd had gathered around the Happy Land monument just across the street from the former club. Family members placed flowers and lit candles next to photos of loved ones.

Bronx News Roundup, March 29

The parents of nine-month-old Neveah Jackson, who died Saturday of blunt-impact head injuries, are being questioned by the police. The Mott Haven couple claim that the child fell and hit her head on a desk.

Some residents of Manida Street in Hunts Point are seeking landmark status for a block of about 40 homes that date back to the early 20th century.

A civil rights photo gallery entitled "Road to Freedom" is on display at the Bronx Museum of the Arts until August 11.

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. may run for citywide office in 2013 but if nothing is done with the Kingsbridge Armory, he may find it difficult to get elected. Last week Diaz appointed a task force to determine what to do with the long vacant building. 

The Bronx Violence Intervention Program is in danger of losing government funding.

Sections of the Bronx River Parkway and the Saw Mill Parkway have been closed today due to flooding.

In addition to being champions of baseball, the New York Yankees were named the highest paid sports team in the world.

On Friday a judge ruled to block the closing of 19 New York City schools. Among the Bronx schools that were given a reprieve are Christopher Columbus High School and the Global Enterprise High School.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. on Charter Schools

I meant to post this shortly after the State of the Borough Address earlier this month, but the BP's comments on charter schools are still timely. He favors them (notice the tepid applause) but he thinks they have to be better neighbors to the public schools they often share buildings with. Watch. Listen. (This and an earlier clip about the Armory were shot with one of our new Flip cameras. We're still learning so be patient with us :-)

Friday, March 26, 2010

Get Your Data Fix While You Await the 2010 Census Results

While thoughts are on the Census and making sure we all get counted, the Furman Center at NYU has just published its annual State of New York City’s Housing and Neighborhoods report, using a variety of demographic and real estate data. This year’s report, in addition to updating general demographic, housing and health trends, takes a look at the recent building boom that came to screeching halt in late 2008, in addition to mortgage lending trends and immigration data.

I’ll spare everyone the details on the general demographic portrait of the west Bronx, where we rank at the bottom of the City’s community districts in median income and housing affordability. Instead, here are a few interesting maps and some of the Bronx-centric highlights from the report:

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Bronx Events, March 25 - April 1

[Bronx gospel group Livré. Photo courtesy Lehman Center for Performing Arts]

On Saturday March 27 at 8 p.m., the Lehman Center for Performing Arts presents Golden Gospel a concert featuring Grammy Award-winning singer/minister Donnie McClurking and the Bronx gospel group Livré. Tickets are from $40-$55. You can order tickets online or by calling (718) 960- 8833. The Center is located at 250 Bedford Park Blvd East.

On Sun. March 28, Lehman College presents Classical Music, A Promise of Spring, a concert performed by the Lehman College Community Band. It will be held in the Lovinger Theater at 2 p.m. Admission is FREE For more information call (718) 960-8247.

On Sat. March 27, the Bronx Library Center at 310 E. Kingsbridge Rd will host Papo Pepin y Su Orchesta at 2:30 p.m. Admission is FREE. For more info you can call (718) 579-4244 or visit http://www.nypl.org/

The Bronx Academy of Arts and Dance (BAAD) presents its Annual Women's Festival. On Fri. March 26 at 8 p.m. they are presenting An Evening With Cherrie Moraga, where she will read from her essays, plays and new materials. Admission is $20. On April 1, BAAD is presenting Drama and Comedy featuring Carmelita Tropicana and Carolyn Ritteray. Admission is $15. For more info you can call (718) 842-5223.

March 27 at 7 p.m., the Riverdale Yonkers Society for Ethical Culture presents Beethoven the Cello Sonatas, music on film. Admission is $5. For more info call (718) 548-4445.

The Bronx Museum will be holding a FREE Open House on Sun. March 28 from 12-6p.m. It will be celebrating the launching of two civil rights exhibits through the works of young African-American artists. For more info call (718) 681-6000.

Member Items: Some Districts Getting Gypped

A few weeks ago, state senator Jose M. Serrano introduced a bill that would change the way member items are distributed and called for more transparency in how representatives are spending them. (Member items—or public money generally intended for nonprofits and community needs—have landed a number of Bronx politicians in hot water for alleged misuse).

One aspect of the legislation called for equal distribution of funds to all senate and assembly members. A statement from Serrano’s office at the time of the bill’s introduction said the current system for allocating member item funds is done “disproportionately,” with larger amounts going to the majority party.

According to an article posted Monday on the Albany Times Union’s blog, that’s definitely the case—and the politicians who represent your district might be getting the short end of the stick.

The good folks at government watchdog groups NYPIRG, Citizens Union of the City of New York, Common Cause, the League of Women Voters and the Brennan Center for Justice have taken the time to analyze just how much each politician pulled in for their district. What they found was that the vast majority are getting below the average amount of funds given out.

Approved: University Heights Secondary School's Move to the South Bronx

On Tuesday night, the city's Panel for Educational Policy voted to approve University Heights Secondary School's move to the South Bronx High School campus.

The school is being forced to relinquish its current building at Bronx Community College at end the school year, because the college says it needs the extra classroom space.

According to Marge Feinberg, a Department of Education spokesperson, nine Panel board members voted in favor of the move, and two against (the representatives of the Manhattan and Brooklyn borough presidents). The Bronx BP's rep was absent because of a car accident, Feinberg said.

We've left messages with teachers at the school, seeking their reaction to the vote, and will update this post when we hear back.

Many in the school community are furious with BCC, and also with the DOE for not doing move to fight the move and for recommending the South Bronx High School campus as the new site. (On BronxTalk on Monday night, host Gary Axelbank interviewed a parent and a teacher from the school, both of whom slammed the relocation plans. You can watch it here. Next Monday at 9 p.m. officials from Bronx Community College will appear on the same show - tune into Bronxnet's Cablevision channel 67 or Verizon Fios channel 33.)

It's possible - in theory - that BCC could reverse its decision, or that the DOE could find a different space more in tune with the school's wishes. (Local developer Frank DeLeonardis wants the city to consider his four-story building on Jerome Avenue at East 179th Street, which is just six or seven blocks from BCC.)

But the Panel for Educational Policy's "yes" vote makes this less lightly. "It doesn't look good for them [the school]" said Xavier Rodriguez, Community Board 5's district manager, at last night's community board meeting.

Diaz 'Disturbed' By Poor Census Return Rate

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. just released this statement:

I am disturbed by media reports indicating that, so far, only two percent of Bronx residents have returned the 2010 Census questionnaire. I cannot stress this enough, if we do not count, we will miss out. It’s only ten questions, and it takes only ten minutes. The census results play a major role in deciding how much funding is made available to programs in our borough. Bronxites, please fill out the form and send it back before April 1. It’s our responsibility, stand up and be counted!
In parts of Soundview not a single questionnaire has been returned, according to The Times. We're assuming Diaz, who happens to live in the neighborood with his wife and two children, has already completed his and dropped it in the mail.

To track your neighborhood's participation rate, visit the Census' Web site.

UPDATE 5:30 p.m. - State Senator Pedro Espada is holding a Census outreach event on Saturday morning outside the Mosholu post office on Jerome Avenue. Details here

Bronx News Roundup, March 25

A suspected serial killer has been charged with the 1981 murder of a Bronx woman. Jesus Aguilera is already serving life in prison for two similar crimes.  Here's a look at the homicide detective who worked the case.

Today is the 20th anniversary of the Happy Land fire. This evening, a mass will be held St. Thomas Aquinas Parish (1900 Southern Blvd). Afterwards, a remembrance service will take place at the Happy Land memorial site, across the street from where the fire occurred. More here.

A detailed look at the impact (some say lack of impact) federal stimulus money has had on creating jobs for Bronxites.

More than 20 percent of teachers in the South Bronx could lose their jobs if budgets cuts in Albany go through, according to Schools Chancellor Joel Klein.   

Fordham University have hired a new basketball coach.  Tom Pecora, formerly of Hofstra, is expected to earn a cool $705,000 a year.

State Senator Jeff Klein is embroiled in a "pay for play" scandal, after offering to sell union bosses "chairmanships" at $50,000 a pop on the newly created Senate Labor Advisory Council. Here's a Daily News editorial on the continued failure of Senate Democrats to clean up Albany.

In the Bronx, only two percent of Census questionnaires have so far been returned, the lowest rate of any borough. 

From a couple of days ago: When it comes to same-sex marriages, Bronx BP Ruben Diaz, Jr. and his father, State Senator Ruben Diaz, Sr., are on the same page, according to a gay rights advocate. "Bigotry is a family trait" says a flyer Allen Roskoff and his suppoerters have circulated.

On his radio show, Roberto Perez interviewed Luis Sepulveda, an attorney who is gunning for Assemblyman Peter Rivera's seat.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

MTA Cuts Revised

Bronx bus riders can, for the time being, breathe a slight sigh of relief. The MTA originally planned on cutting the Bx18, which has the borough's fourth-highest ridership and runs from Tremont to Morris Heights.

Although the MTA has a $758 million deficit, a large public outcry caused them to rethink the proposed cuts.

Today they revealed a new plan that would eliminate $8 million in service cuts.

The Bx18 bus alone costs $1.2 million a year to run.

However the Bx14 bus, which runs from Country Club to Parkchester, will be cut. Instead, the Bx8 bus will go along the same path to the Pelham Bay Park subway station.

Service cuts to the Bx33 buses have also been restored. The Bx33 carries passengers from Port Morris to Harlem.

Riders in the northwest Bronx were also spared, as the Bx34, which connects the central Bronx to Woodlawn, and Bx10, which connect Norwood to Riverdale, were left off the list.

To view the revised MTA plans visit the NY1 Website.

Yankees Central: Breaking Down The Pitching and Defense

The big news out of Yankees camp is still the race between Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain for the fifth spot in the Yankees rotation. Joe Girardi is expected to have an answer for everybody by Friday.

Right now it seems as if the job is going to go to Hughes. Due to rain in Florida over the weekend the Yankees had to split up their team yesterday to make sure all of their scheduled pitchers got their innings in.

Although Hughes gave up four runs in just 4 1/3 innings, including three home runs, Girardi said he was very happy with how Hughes looked. In particular Girardi was satisfied with the way Hughes’ change-up has developed.

New in the Tremont Tribune

This month's Tribune is now online.  Stories include:

20th Anniversary of Happy Land Fire Nears
Tomorrow marks the 20th anniversary of the blaze, started by a jilted ex-boyfriend at a social club at 1959 Southern Blvd that left 87 people dead.

Lessons From Fire Still Linger
The Happy Land fire tradegy is a stark reminder of the dangers posed by unlicensed buildings, and a warning to the city agencies that oversee them.

St. Martin of Tours Pastor Still Hard at Work
It was just last spring that Father John C. Flynn collapsed during a friendly game of golf and had to have a pacemaker put in his heart—an operation that, after complications, landed him in St. Barnabas Hospital for several days. But that bout with illness hasn’t kept the 81-year-old priest from his post at St. Martin of Tours Parish, where he’s been the pastor for over 20 years.

Award for 92-Year-old St. Barnabas Volunteer
Alice Stafford Otis, 92, first started working at St. Barnabas Hospital in 1969, and has been a volunteer there for the past 15 years. 

Also, be sure to check out our What's Going On? section for local events and annoucements.

Bronx News Roundup, March 24

Here's what's going down in the Boogie Down!

An autopsy reveals that Santiago Urena, the Bronx man who shot officer Robert Salerno on Monday, was killed by a police officer. Initially suicide was suspected as the cause of death.

Local residents are ready to have the Jerome Park Reservoir's fences removed but the city's not too sure about it.

Joshua Delarosa, the four-year-old who was left in critical condition after having a traffic pole fall on his head, is currently in stable condition at the New York Columbia Presbyterian Hospital.

Reconstruction on the 74-year-old Henry Hudson Bridge will come to an end this summer, reopening the walkway between Inwood and the Bronx.

Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University has been awarded $1.22 million from the National Institutes of Health to help fight childhood obesity in the Bronx.

The NYPD has been towing its own unmarked cars.

The city's former chief cranes inspector, James Delayo, from the Bronx, took a two to six year prison sentence after admitting he sold answers to the crane operator license exam and also sold actual licenses. Some of the companies he helped with illegal licensing were involved with cranes that have killed people in the past.

Return your census forms!! Only two percent of Bronx residents have returned their census forms giving us the lowest percentage in the state.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Bronx News Roundup, March 24

Four-year-old Joshua Delarosa was critically injured after a traffic pole landed on his head. A cab driver allegedly swerved to miss a city bus and crashed into the poll, which then struck Joshua and his mother.

The police officer who was shot in the belly yesterday afternoon is in a stable condition. The officer was shot two times; a third bullet was blocked by his Kevlar vest. The shooter took his own life.

Hoodlums smashed 200 light bulbs in a Castle Hill housing development, creating dark and dangerous hallways for residents of the building.

The Haven Academy Charter school will be housed in a new green LEED-certified building.

A small peek at what goes on in the lot behind Tuff City, a tattoo parlor on East Fordham Road.

A Bronx man accused of murder was caught by U.S Marshals in Pennsylvania.

The Daily News has a roundup of savings that can be found in stores and restaurants on East Tremont Avenue.

Some New York Democrats want to legalize medical marijuana in the state to help plug up the $9 billion budget gap. Medical marijuana activists believable legalizing the crop will generate millions of dollars for the state. As of now, marijuana is still a criminalized substance in New York.

Some insight into State Senator Pedro Espada's plan to charge motorists $2 each way to cross East River bridges. (Subscription needed.)  Last year, Espada criticized a similar proposal.

D-Day for University Heights Secondary School

University Heights Secondary School is currently located in this building on BCC's campus.  (File photo by R. Thomas)

In December, Bronx Community College asked University Heights Secondary School to vacate the building it occupies on the college’s campus by the end of the school year.

The Department of Education has since proposed moving the school to Morrisania, where it would take over a section of South Bronx High School.

Tonight, at a meeting in Staten Island, the city's Panel for Educational Policy will vote on whether to approve the relocation.

Monday, March 22, 2010

New Kingsbridge Armory Task Force, A Team of 'Heavy Hitters,' Diaz Says

Earlier today, Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. and City Councilman Fernando Cabrera announced a big-name lineup of "heavy hitters" to serve on a task force that they hope will come up with a new plan to put the massive and long-vacant Kingsbridge Armory to use for the community.

With this task force, which the borough president first mentioned (with very few details) at his State of the Borough speech earlier this month, Diaz and Cabrera are trying to reignite the push to redevelop the Armory, which has been vacant since 1994.

In December, much to Mayor Bloomberg's chagrin, the City Council, with the strong support of Diaz, shot down a proposal to turn the Armory into a retail shopping mall. Less than a month ago, Bloomberg told the Daily News that he doubted the Armory would be developed in his lifetime.

"There's this notion that the armory will stay vacant for the next decade," Diaz said. "But there's no reason why we can’t work together [with the Mayor] and put out another RFP [Request for Proposals].'

The 10-member task force is made up of people with wildly diverse backgrounds, from a community board member to a former Republican state official.

"I wanted a committee with folks that are respected citywide and statewide," Diaz said in an interview this afternoon.

At first glance: mission accomplished.

Espada Holds Town Hall Meeting, Says He Supports East River Tolls

Last night, during what was billed as a "virtual" town hall meeting live from Albany, Pedro Espada, the state senator and Senate majority leader, announced that he now favors tolling four East River bridges.

Charging motorists $2 dollar per crossing would generate $525 million of revenue each year, Espada said, and "directly pay for the free students MetroCards" the MTA is threatening to abolish.

His decision to support the tolls is something of an about face.  Last year, he helped crush a similar plan.

Espada's constituents and other interested parties were able to watch yesterday's meeting online or on BRONXNET, or listen in by phone. Questions could be submitted beforehand as well as during the event. Most pertained to the economy and the budget. Aside from tolling bridges, Espada said he's proposing raising additional revenue by charging non-profits property tax.

If you were hoping to hear Espada talk about Attorney General Andrew Cuomo's investigation into his healthcare network, or address concerns that his housing bill may benefit landlords, you would have been disappointed. If tough questions were asked, the moderator ignored them.

Some additional thoughts:

Espada deserves credit for at least trying something like this.  Many (most?) Bronx politicians have never held a town hall meeting - virtual or otherwise.

Nineteen people, myself included, watched the meeting online, according to the counter at the bottom of the live stream. Presumably a few more saw it on BRONXNET or listened in by phone.  If several others later watch it on Youtube or on his Web site, then the meeting was - ultimately - quite well "attended."

This format doesn't allow for much back-and-forth.  A question was asked (or rather the moderator relayed a question) and Espada responded, speaking for five minutes or so.  Then they moved onto the next one.   Shouldn't townhall meetings be more informal? More animated? 

The moderator had opportunities to ask Espada good follow-up questions, but seemed more interested in praising him instead.  At one point she told him, "You are a staunch advocate for civil rights, that's for sure."   It would have been helpful if her agenda - whatever it was - was made clear.  Or, better still, if someone else had run the show.

When we mentioned on Friday that this town hall meeting was scheduled, several readers left comments on the post criticizing the idea. You can read them here.

Police Officer Shot in Melrose

A police officer from the 44th Precinct was shot in the stomach during an altercation with a man in Melrose early this afternoon.

Bronx News Roundup, March 22

Here's some Bronx news for you on this rainy Monday:

Making history yet again, President Obama's health care reform bill gets passed with a 219-212 vote. Here's the NY Times breakdown of the bill.

Yesterday, a 23 year-old Bronx man was arrested and charged with murdering his girlfriend's 22 month-old daughter in a Soundview apartment. According to a spokeswoman for the city's medical examiner, the baby suffered blunt impact wounds and cuts of the liver and other organs.

A Bronx father of two, Orlando Salgado, was stabbed to death Friday night near E. 197th Street and Webster Avenue after trying to defend a teenager who was involved in a dispute earlier that day. The teenager was able to get away unharmed.

Montefiore Medical Center has opened the only pancreas transplant program in the Bronx and Westchester. It will treat people with severe, end stage diabetes.

Anti-abortion protesters stake out at Mott- Haven abortion clinic in national 40 Days for Life Campaign.

A Malian Cultural Center opens here in the Norwood section of the Bronx. It is the first of its kind in the United States. It is dedicated to the people from West Africa's Republic of Mali.

On Friday night, police shot a 30 year-old man armed with knives, who was threatening to kill somebody inside an apartment in a Mott Haven building. Officers demanded he dropped the weapons, he ignored the demands while approaching the officers. He was shot twice.

A Bronx man was shot to death after asking a neighbor to quiet down so his children could get some sleep, Sunday night. He was shot in the chest by the neighbor, who fled the scene but returned to turn himself in.

The MTA revises its plans to cut transit services.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Bronx and the Census

Check your mailboxes; census forms arrive this week! If you’re wondering whether or not you should take time to answer the 10-question survey, city leaders and community groups are saying you should—there’s $400 billion on the line.

That’s the amount of federal funding given to state and local governments each year, and how much each area gets is based on population numbers gauged from the census. The city’s been stepping up efforts to get New Yorkers, especially in neighborhoods with large immigrant populations, to mail in their forms for the most accurate counts. (Ken Small, director of BronxWorks, wrote an op-ed in this month’s Mount Hope Monitor on the importance of the census for the Bronx).

During the 2000 Census, 56% of Bronx residents responded, according to the Census Bureau. This was slightly more than the city overall (55%) but well below the national response rate of 67%.

Espada to Host Town Hall Meeting (From Albany)

State Senator Pedro Espada will host a town hall meeting this Sunday "live from the Senate chamber floor."  His constituents (and anyone else for that matter) can watch proceedings online or on BRONXNET, or listen in by phone.  Questions for Espada can be submitted in advance. Here's the flyer:

Virtual Town Hall

Bronx News Roundup, March 19

Here's the Times' coverage of Megan Charlop's life and death. The much-loved director of community health for Montefiore Medical Center's School Health Program was killed on Wednesday while riding her bike. Her funeral was this morning.

More on the opening of Kips Bay Boys & Girl Club's new community center on University Avenue. Adolfo Carrion, the former Bronx borough president who now works in DC, was in attendance and hinted at a possible return to New York in the coming years to pursue citywide office.

Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz believes Gov. Paterson's soda tax doesn't go far enough. Instead, he would like to see a tax on all products that contain sugar, to raise revenue and combat obesity.

A Bronx man is suing the city after cops accused him of attempting to solicit sex from a prostitute. While the charges were later dropped, he spent 24 hours in custody and was forced to miss his father's funeral.

The Bronx DA is expanding its "bait car" program, in an effort to catch more car thieves.

Last Saturday in Morris Heights, a man threatened a taxi driver with a handgun and attempted rob him. In the struggle that followed, the robber bit the driver on the neck, arm, and back before fleeing.

Yankees Central: Line-up Set, Fifth Spot Still Up For Grabs

Last week I touched upon the race for the fifth spot in the Yankees rotation. While no announcement has been made it seems as if Joba Chamberlain is pitching himself out of the competition.

After allowing six runs to the Tigers last Wednesday, Chamberlain’s spring ERA is now 27.00 in 3 1/3 innings. He will get the start today and hope that his results are much better.

While Chamberlain has struggled, Phil Hughes seems to have gotten back on track. Hughes pitched four scoreless innings on Tuesday against the Astros.

Bronx Bloggers on BronxTalk

Lou Cicalese from BoogieDowner and Ed Garcia Conde of Welcome2Melrose appeared on BronxTalk on Monday night to talk about their respective blogs with host Gary Axelbank.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

A New Community Center for the West Bronx

For years, the building's doors were bricked up and covered in graffiti (Photos by Alma Watkins)

This morning, community leaders and local residents attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the opening of Kips Bay Boys & Girls Club's new community center.

The Frederic R. & Margaret Coudert Clubhouse is located in the long-vacant Hebrew Institute Yeshiva building at 1835 University Ave., just north of West Tremont Avenue.

Those present included Adolfo Carrion, the former Bronx borough president who now works for the Obama administration in Washington, DC. It was Carrion who, as district manager of Community Board 5 in the early 1990s, first started advocating for a community center in the building.

As a city councilman in the late '90s, he got Kips Bay involved and, over the years, provided millions of dollars in funding.

Still, it's been a long road - nothing came easy, and the years dragged out.

According to Alma, the photograher who took these photos, Carrion was tearing up a little during his speech. He said he couldn't put into words how much it meant to him to see the renovation complete.

The four-story center boasts a gymnasium, a game room, and a computer room, among other things, and will serve hundreds of local children every day after school.

“We just felt that it was an underserved part of the community,” Daniel Quintero, Kips Bay's executive director, previously told the Mount Hope Monitor. “We all have our talent within and what I think the Boys  Girls Club does is that we tap into it and nourish it and bring it out.”

We'll have more about the new clubhouse in the next issue of the Monitor.

Adolfo Carrion, the former Bronx BP, was one of the driving forces behind the project

Family Asks For Photos, Memories of Megan Charlop

The family of Megan Charlop is asking people who knew her to send photos, messages and memories of her to remembermegcharlop@gmail.com.

In due time, the family says it will read and respond to these messages.

200 People Show Up To Celebrate Life of Megan Charlop

Some 200 people gathered around in a big circle at the north entrance to Williamsbridge Oval Park to celebrate the life and share memories of community health advocate Megan Charlop, who died in a biking accident yesterday morning.

We'll have more on this in next week's edition of the Norwood News. But here's a quote from Charlop's colleague at Montefiore Medical Center, David Appel, who kicked off the celebration with a few words and memories.

Appel said that at the time of her death, Megan was "Totally rocking, feeling great, involved in a million different things. She was going to get every kid in the Bronx to graduate from high school and go to college."

He said she "left on good terms with everybody" and called her an "indomitable spirit."

Dozens of others echoed these statements with stories and kind words of their own. Several people started their memories off with: "She was my hero."

Bronx Events, Through March 24

DanceBrazil is back at Lehman's Center for Performing Arts. see below for more info.

This weekend at the Lehman Center for the Performing Arts:

On Saturday, March 20 at 8 p.m. all Freestyle music lovers can see their favorite Freestyle artist at the concert Freestyle Forever 4. Lisa Lisa, Corina, Safire, Noel and many more are expected to perform. Tickets are $55, $45, $40, and $35. To purchase tickets you can order online here or call the box office at (718) 960- 8833.

On Sunday, March 21, DanceBrazil, will be held at 6 p.m. for a night of live music, contemporary Afro-Brazilian dance and the infamous martial arts Capoeira. To purchase tickets order on the Web site or call the box office.

The Bronx Stage & Film Company will be holding the second session of the Bronx Independent Film Festival on March 18- 20 on Lehman Stages located at 250 Bedford Park Blvd. West. Screening will be from 8-11 p.m. and admission is $5 a night.

In honor of March being Colorectal Awareness Month, Montefiore Medical Center is holding free seminar "Colorectal Cancer- Preventable, Treatable, Beatable: Myths and Facts About Colon Cancer Screening." It will be on Fri. March 19 at 1 p.m. in Montefiore's Cherkasky Auditorium, located at 111 East 210 Street. For more information call (718) 920-4707.

New York State College Fair Day will be held on Friday March 19 from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. at the Kips Bay Boys & Girls Club, located on 625 Castle Hill Ave. It is being offered by Assemblyman Peter M. Rivera and colleges all over the state with the theme "The Importance of Staying in School."

Engel Undecided on Health Care Vote

Bronx Congressman Eliot Engel, a reliable liberal Democrat on most votes, says he wants to vote for President Obama's health care reform package, but he has to make sure it's not going to harm Medicare reimbursement rates for New York. The White House is feverishly hunting for Democratic votes and Engel's is probably one the administration probably thought it had in the bag. A vote is expected in the House on Sunday.

Diaz Calls Charlop 'Tireless Advocate'

Here's Borough President Ruben Diaz's full statement on the death of Megan Charlop:

I join my Bronx family in mourning the untimely passing of Megan Charlop, who had been a friend to this office for many years. This is a devastating loss for not only our health community, but for the entire borough. Her tireless advocacy impacted the health policies of New York City in the areas of lead poisoning, nutrition and physical activity for school age children and most recently, the creation of a school wellness award, just to name a few. I offer my sincerest condolences to her family,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.

Ms. Charlop had played a role in the promotion of a number of events for the Bronx Borough President’s Office, including annual “Tour De Bronx” boroughwide bicycle tour and “Bike to Work Day” events.
Thanks to everyone who has written in to comment on yesterday's post. Seems there's momentum building to rename the Tour de Bronx the "Megan Charlop Tour." Readers, if you're serious about this and it appears that you are, Diaz is the man who can make it happen.

Bronx News Roundup, March 18

We'll start with the stories about the death of health advocate Megan Charlop.

Here's the Daily News article on Charlop's death. You can read more here and here. Here's our post on Charlop's death.

A man was shot and killed yesterday while driving on Eastchester and E. Gun Hill roads. The shooter is said to have been following the man who was driving an impala and sped off after the shooting. Investigations are underway.

The mastermind behind last May's plot to blow up two synagogues in Riverdale may have actually been a government agency informant. New court papers reveal interesting information in regards to the case.

Governor Patterson loses fifth top state official from his administration. Press secretary and acting chief spokeswoman Marissa Shorenstein resigned her position in the middle of the domestic violence case scandal.

College students partying might be trouble for the 238th Street neighborhood in Riverdale.

Senator Jeff Klein introduces bill that may require non-profit organizations, including private colleges to pay property taxes. Senate officials estimate that the proposal could be quite expensive costing about $1.2 billion dollars.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Bronx Health Advocate Megan Charlop Dies in Accident

Megan Charlop, with her daughter, Sarah Charlop-Powers, at the Tour de Bronx cycling event in 2000. (Norwood News file photo by Jordan Moss)

We are deeply saddened to report that our colleague and friend, Megan Charlop, was killed this morning while riding her bike to work. She was 57.

Charlop, a long-time Norwood resident, was a veteran public health advocate who worked at Montefiore for more than 25 years in the Lead Poisoning Prevention Program and most recently as director for community health in the School Health Program.

She is survived by her husband, Richie Powers, and their four adult children: Sarah, Zach, Rachel and Aaron.

In 1999, Charlop was one of 10 recipients to receive the national Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Community Health and Leadership Program award for her lead poisoning prevention work at Montefiore.

Following her death, Philip O. Ozuah, MD, the head of the Children's Hospital at Montefiore, released this statement:
It is with the deepest sadness that I write to inform you of the untimely death of a good friend, long-time Montefiore employee, and champion for the health and social well-being of the families of the Bronx. Megan Charlop, Director of Community Health for the School Health Program and a former administrator of the Lead Poisoning Prevention Program, died earlier today doing something she truly loved, riding her bike on her way to work. Police report that Megan swerved her bike to avoid an opening car door and veered into the path of a bus. She was killed instantly. Megan's work for Montefiore and the people of the Bronx literally touched thousands of her co-workers and residents of the Borough. Our heartfelt condolences go out to her husband, Richard Powers, her children and her entire family. We will be sharing more details as they become available.
We'll have more about Megan's life and work in the next Norwood News. In the meantime, we'll leave you with a passage from a 1981 New York Times profile of Charlop: "The 29-year-old Miss Charlop is an expert on rehabilitation and a tenant organizer, with a Dead End Kid voice, a dazzling smile and an energy that seems to electrify her small body."

That voice, that smile and that energy, not the least bit diminished by age and experience, will be so sorely missed. 

--Jordan Moss and Alex Kratz

Bronx News Roundup, March 17

Happy St. Patrick's Day! Let's be safe, enjoy the weather and read some Bronx news!

A little less than 700 Bronx residents remain without electricity in the aftermath of last week's storm, but Con Edison promises to have all residents electricity restored by tonight.

Thanks to the $10.6 million from the federal stimulus package, the Jericho Project, will be able to continue their development of two residences for homeless Bronx veterans at Kingsbridge Terrace.

Bronx P.S. 59's the Keltic Dreams Irish Dancers are taking a trip to the White House today. They will be performing at a reception for Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen in celebration of St. Patrick's Day.

Montefiore Medical Center can now help patients who experience severe allergic reactions to medicine with a new specialty service, the Drug Desensitization Program. They are the only hospital in the metro New York region to offer this service.

Senator Eric Schneiderman, of the Bronx/Manhattan, introduced the Strangulation Prevention Act on Tuesday. This bill will upgrade the crime of choking a domestic partner into unconsciousness to a felony. Currently choking is charged as a misdemeanor in most domestic violence cases.

State Senator Ruben Diaz Sr., a staunch opponent of gay marriage, feels a compromise can lead to the legalization of civil unions or domestic partnerships in the next session.

Legendary Cuban trumpeter Alfredo (Chocolate) Armenteros will be reuniting with the influential Bronx ensemble Grupo Folklórico y Experimental Nuevayorquino. They will be performing on Sat. March 20 at Hostos Center for the Arts and Culture.

NY Daily News: "Best of the Bronx is its people."

Find out where the best food and entertainment is available in the Bronx, according to the NY Daily News Best of the Boros.

Cash AND condoms for gold at a Bronx pawn shop on 161st street.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Healthfirst Opens New Office in the Bronx

At the opening ceremony, left to right: George Hulse (VP, External Affairs, Healthfirst), Angel Caballero (Executive Director, Davidson Community Center), Aurelia Greene (Bronx Deputy Borough President), Patricia Wang (President & CEO, Healthfirst), Keith Gordon (SVP, Sales and CMO, Healthfirst) and Joe Ithier

Healthfirst celebrated the grand opening of its new full-service, community-based Bronx office at 412 East Fordham Road and Webster Avenue on March 4.

Potential and existing members can come here to meet with Healthfirst staff members and are able to either enroll or complete the re-certification process. In person Member Services are also available .

Healthfirst will be hosting monthly community outreach events for Bronxites including family days, senior seminars, re-certification days and will also provide health education events throughout the year.

Representatives from most Bronx hospitals as well as providers and community partners attended the grand opening. Bronx Deputy Borough President Aurelia Greene also joined Healthfirst in its festivities commending them on their commitment to Bronx residents.

For more information you can call 1866-GO-FOR-HF or visit http://www.healthfirstny.org/.

Bronx News Roundup, March 16

The owner of the Old Bronx Courthouse in Melrose is looking for a tenant to take over the building, which has been vacant since the 1970s. Click here for some ideas (food market, Apple store, etc.) previously put forward by a Melrose blogger and his readers. And here's some terrific photos of the building's rarely seen interior.

New Yorkers can now sign-up to receive e-mail notifications when a registered sex offender moves into their zip code. Sen. Jeff Klein sponsored the legislation that made this possible.

This isn't Bronx news per-se, but it's an interesting look at how South Asians and other growing immigrants groups with political aspirations are looking to shake-up the status-quo. While Latino politicians are omnipresent in the Bronx, few are in a position to seek citywide office, laments Herman Badillo, the former congressman and Bronx borough president. Badillo says Adolfo Carrion had his chance but blew it by taking a job in Washington where he's been "lost in the bureaucracy of the White House."

An NYPD sergeant who works for a housing precinct in the Bronx has pled guilty to assault and drunk-driving after knocking down and injuring a man in the Upper East Side last summer. Joseph Spiekerman will lose his job and police pension, perform 500 hours of community service, and pay a $15,000 fine. But he's managed to avoid significant jail-time.

A Bronx narcotics detective could be in hot water after an accused drug dealer's lawyer used footage from a surveillance camera to prove the cop lied about seeing his client sell crack cocaine. Another example, perhaps, of how video and other technology is catching out dishonest cops.

Assemblyman Michael Benjamin has his eye on Congressman Jose Serrano's job.

Daily News columnist Patrice O'Shaughnessy names some of the Bronxites she admires.

Hiram Monserrate, the former state senator and close friend of senators Ruben Diaz, Sr. and Pedro Espada Jr., is running in a special election today for his old seat. Monserrate was ousted from the Senate by his colleagues last month after being convicted of assaulting his girlfriend. Diaz said yesterday that he'd spend today in Queens campaigning for Monserrate.

The annual Bronx Council for Environmental Quality (BCEQ) Water Conference and Membership Meeting will take place tomorrow afternoon at Manhattan College. The focus is on the Harlem River's water quality.

In case you missed it, Bronx-based boxer Joshua Clottey lost his title bout against pound-for-pound king Manny Pacquiao at the weekend.

Lastly, Shana, a male gorilla who used to reside at the Bronx Zoo, came within a whisker of escaping his enclosure yesterday, at his new home in Calgary.  A zoo keeper has been suspended.

Monday, March 15, 2010

As Majority Leader, Espada Has Doubled His Staff

Senator Pedro Espada, Jr. in full flow (File photo by J. Fergusson)

Since becoming majority leader, Sen. Pedro Espada, Jr. has been on a hiring bonanza, according to a recent wgrc.com article. (Thanks to the BxNN reader who sent us a link to the article.)  He now has 24 staffers working for him, up from 13 last year. The cost to the State: an additional $700,000 a year in salaries.

Espada isn't the only politician to have bought in new people in the last six months or so. As a group, Republican senators have created 87 new positions at an estimated annual cost of $3.7 million.

According to the article, the new hiring is especially controversial because it comes at a time when state agencies are on a hiring freeze. But it's above board, at least legally: To end last summer's legislative stalemate in Albany (caused by Espada and former senator Hiram Monserrate)  the Republicans demanded and received more money for offices and staffing. Some Democrats also benefited, Espada among them. His name sticks out because his office's $700k increase in salaries trumps that of every other senator.

We called Espada's office for comment, and in an e-mail sent through a spokesman he defended his decision to hire more aides:

These resources are commensurate with the wide and far reaching range of responsibilities and constituent services such as job creation and economic development, affordable housing, education, senior citizen and health care services that I have been elected to provide not only to residents and businesses in my district but to residents throughout the state.

Espada also pointed out that, on top of being a senator and the majority leader, he's also the Senate’s vice president for urban policy and planning, vice chairman of the Senate Rules Standing Committee, and chairman of the Senate Housing Committee.

We're waiting on specifics regarding who Espada hired and what jobs they do. If we hear back, we'll let you know.  One of them is Steve Pigeon, an advisor to Tom Golisano, the billionaire who helped orchestrate the coup - and subsequent stalemate - from which Espada negotiated his majority leader title.  Pigeon is Espada's counsel and earns $150,000 a year.

Powerful Storm Leaves Mess in the Bronx

Two fallen trees destroyed or damaged eight cars and brought down powerlines and uprooted sections of sidewalk along Sedgwick. (Photo by David Greene)

This weekend’s Nor’easter slammed New York City and surrounding areas with wind gusts of up to 80 mph and over six inches of rain. An estimated 8,400 Bronx residencies were without power at some point. Some 3,000 Bronx residents were still without power this morning. 

As of 8 a.m. Monday, there were 205 calls made to 311 in the Bronx alone, over the weekend;185 of those calls concerned fallen trees. A even dozen trees fell on Bronx houses.

Several northwest Bronx parks were affected by the powerful storm: 24 trees were knocked down in Van Cortlandt Park; four fell in St. James Park and one big one fell in the Williamsbridge Oval Park (See Photo by Jesse Bernardini).

Massive flooding was reported in Pelham Bay and Van Cortlandt Parks.

Several cars parked along Sedgwick Avenue were damaged or destroyed when a pair of giant trees toppled over. One tree struck a passing MTA bus, another fallen tree struck an ambulance along Ft. Independence Avenue.

One woman outside of 3835 Sedgwick Avenue explained, "One tree fell from each side of the street but my car was right in the middle, so it didn't touch my car."

The resident of the block, who declined to give her name, continued, "This morning I counted eight cars plus the ones that were already taken, so a lot of cars were damaged."

The trees were chopped up by police and fire officials and most of the debris was quickly removed by Parks Department officials, the resident added, "They did a real good job cleaning it up this morning."

The city has sent out three-dozen forestry crews to try and remove all fallen trees and limbs. Due to the tremendous amount of uprooted and fallen trees the city has had to hire private contractors to help with the process.

-Additional reporting by David Greene

Tonight: Rally in Support of Immigration Reform

Congressman Luis Gutierrez (D-Illinois) will be in Bronx this evening for a pro-immigration rally at the Latino Pastoral Action Center at 14 West 170th St. (near Jerome Avenue). Several Bronx pols, including Council member Melissa Mark-Viverito, are also due to attend. It starts at 7 p.m.

Gutierrez is the primary sponsor of the Comprehensive Immigration Reform for America’s Security and Prosperity Act, and he's expected to speak about the bill's merits at tonight's event, as well as asking people to join him at a march in Washinton DC later this month.

Among other things, Gutierrez's bill would allow undocumented immigrants to stay and work in the US legally, providing they are felony-free, pay a $500 fine, and meet other criteria.

By the way, we heard about tonight's event from Mark-Viverto's Twitter feed.  Other Bronx pols using Twitter include Ruben Diaz, Jr., Ruben Diaz, Sr., Pedro Espada, and Jose M. Serrano.

Because You Just Can't Get Enough State of the Borough

These are Adi Talwar's photos from the event, plus a link to Jordan Moss' story on the speech, which first appeared in the Norwood News print edition last week.

Bronx News Roundup, March 15

[Note: This post has been updated and all broken-links have been repaired]

Hope everyone enjoyed the wet weekend. Now for some Bronx news!

In the aftermath of this storm filled weekend, 3,500 Bronx residents remain without power.

A fire in Morris Heights leaves a 39-year-old man dead in his apartment. A full investigation is underway.

A Bronx medical clinic registers its patients with iris identification technology. This consists of scanning the patient's eyes to locate medical records.

A wall collapsed from a two-story building in the Bronxdale neighborhood this weekend, leaving two people with minor injuries.

The city plans on dropping the contract with New York Organic Fertilizer Company in Hunts Point resulting in saving taxpayers some dollars and giving Hunts Point residents a chance at fresh air. You can also read more here.

The Bronx not only has some of the highest rates in obesity, but also some of the hungriest people. The New York Times is calling this the "Bronx Paradox."

The city is in search of a Bronx senior, age 74, who went missing yesterday. He is said to suffer from Alzheimer's and diabetes.

A major drug bust in the Pelham Parkway Houses last week led to 27 arrests and a whole lot of drugs.

City Island gets to play 'City Island' in the new film featuring Andy Garcia and Julianna Margulies. The comedy debuts in theaters Friday, March 13. Read more on the film here.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Alonzo King LINES Ballet at the Lehman Center

Alonzo King LINES Ballet of San Francisco, a celebrated contemporary ballet company, performed in the Bronx at the Lehman Center for the Preforming Arts on the 10th of January 2010. For me the experience of the performance was PRIMAL with tears. I was torn between experiencing the whole performance or making frames. I hope you enjoy these photographs, I certainly enjoyed making them. The Lehman Center has many great shows coming up in the next few weeks, please check their website for more details.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Arroyo kin admits embezzlement

The head of a Bronx non-profit has admitted that he embezzled $115,000 intended to help low-income tenants and funneled some of the money to Assemblywoman Carmen Arroyo, his grandmother, and Councilwoman Maria del Carmen Arroyo, his aunt.

Richard Izquierdo Arroyo, pleaded guilty in federal court on March 12, and faces a 10-year prison sentence.

Arroyo, who was indicted in June for stealing from SBCC Management Corp., a housing agency he headed, spent $20,000 of the embezzled funds to pay for a trip to Puerto Rico for the assemblywoman and councilwoman, to pay the salaries of interns in their legislative offices and their political club, to make contributions to their campaigns and to buy new flooring for the assemblywoman’s office, according to the indictment.

Read all about it in the Mott Haven Herald.

City cuts ties with NYOFCo

NYOFCo, the sewage processing plant with the candy-striped smoke stack that has afflicted Hunts Point residents with sickening smells for the last 18 years, has lost its contract with New York City.

The plant’s closing may not be far off.

But in a defiant statement, the company said it would keep operating, and warned that without the money it earns from the city, it would not be able to make changes that would curb the odor from the plant.

Read the whole story in The Hunts Point Express.

New from the Norwood News

The latest edition of the Norwood News hit streets Wednesday and is now up online for your reading pleasure. I've noted where a few of these stories were updated from their print version. 

The King Charles Troupe, a team of basketball-playing unicyclists, is back in the Bronx where the troupe was born more than 50 years ago. They were supposed to debut a new show, that included other acts, called The Black Top Circus at the Loews Paradise Theater today, but the theater abruptly canceled all the shows on Tuesday. The troupe is still trying to figure out what happened. [This story has been updated.]

Here's our full story, complete with updates from the print version, on the "suspicious" fire at St. Nicholas of Tolentine Church that destroyed the church's vestibule.

Residents near Tolentine (many of whom are members of the church) in University Heights want the city to install a stop light at the dangerous intersection of 183rd Street and Sedgwick Avenue. An editorial about what yet another fire in the northwest Bronx means to the community.

A sixth grader at PS 246 in Kingsbridge was named female youth runner of the year.

Employees at Montefiore Medical Center gave up their wages to donate $20,000 to the Red Cross for victims of the earthquake in Haiti.

And more.

Following Mr. Tambourine Man Into the Woodlawn Cemetery

If you walked up Webster Avenue past Woodlawn Cemetery on Thursday it may have seemed as if you stepped back in time a few decades. That stretch of Webster is currently packed with Chevys, Fords, and Pontiacs from the 1950's and 1960's (see photo).

The cemetery was being used as a film set for a new movie called "Mr. Tambourine Man." The film will star J.K. Simmons (of "Law and Order", "Oz", and "Juno" fame) and Julia Ormond ("The Curious Case of Benjamin Button").

The famous Bronx cemetery will be the setting for Simmons’ character’s funeral. The independent production company will also be using the Mt. St. Ursula School on Bedford Park Blvd. for both interior and exterior shots on Friday.

Usually a very tranquil area of the Bronx, the cemetery was inundated with teamsters, trucks and filming equipment.

"Mr. Tambourine Man" will be a film adaptation of an Oliver Sacks (the author of "Awakening") case study called "The Last Hippie." It is a true story of a man name Gabriel who suffers a brain tumor and can only communicate to others through the music of Bob Dylan and the Grateful Dead.

Production of the film was also done Wednesday on West 3rd Street in Greenwich Village.

Yankees Central: Questions About Fifth Starter, OF Alignment Remain

Note: We're going to beef up our coverage of the Yankees baseball club this season. Every week, starting today, we'll be giving you some commentary and analysis on the biggest Yankee stories and issues. We'll also provide you with some links to other Yankee-related stories, analysis and opinions from traditional news outlets as well as the all the chatter in the Bomber blogosphere.We're calling this feature, "Yankees Central," at least until we can think of something cooler. On weekends, BxNN contributor Graham Kates will be back riffing and ranting with his "Yankees, Unobstructed" column throughout the season. Join in the conversation.

After a week of spring training games, the Yankees find themselves at 3-5 with (just) 25 days left until opening day. While the core of the team is set, there are still a few question marks that remain.

The biggest one being: Who will be the Yankees fifth starter.

With the acquisition of Javier Vazquez, formerly of the Atlanta Braves, this off-season, the Yanks now have four legitimate Major League starters, all of whom could be considered aces on other teams. Having a reliable fifth pitcher would solidify their staff as the best in the league.

Bronx Events, Through Next Wednesday

[As always, please feel free to add events in the comments section or send them to bxnewsandevents@gmail.com. Enjoy.]

The Lehman College Art Gallery, located at 250 Bedford Pk. Blvd. E., presents two free exhibits: State of the Dao: Chinese Contemporary Art - and Nature, Once Removed: Flora and Fauna in Contemporary Drawing, featuring work of 20 artists of animals, plants, and landscapes. Both exhibits run through May 4, and a reception will be held on March 15 from 6 to 8 p.m. For more information and a schedule, call (718) 960-8731.

The Bronx Council on the Arts, located at the Longwood Art Gallery at Hostos Community College, 450 Grand Concourse (at 149th Street), hosts three exhibitions through May 7: In the City: Memory, Places and Spaces, which includes works on migration and urban planning; Transmit-Transit: Hatuey Ramos-Fermin @ The Project Room, featuring traveling in the city and ethnic diversity; and Impractical Hats: Indie Crafts Reinvent Everyday Gear, featuring construction of hats in unorthodox ways. The March 3 opening reception will take place from 5 to 9 p.m. For more information, call (718) 931-9500.

The Bronx: Then and Now & Authors Night will be held at the Museum of Bronx History, 3266 Bainbridge Ave. (at 208th Street), through April 15, 2010. The opening reception on Oct. 15 will take place from 4:30 to 7 p.m. Come meet the Bronx authors to discuss their latest books. For more info or to RSVP, 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), through April 15, 2010. Learn about Poe, his life and his time spent in the Bronx. For more info, call the Bronx County Historical Society at (718) 881-8900.

The Bronx River Art Center, together with the NYC Department of Transportation, present an abstract wooden art sculpture, Aurora, 14 feet tall, 11 feet wide and 11 feet deep, to be on view for 11 months at the center of West Farms Square Plaza located at the base of the West Farms Square/East Tremont Avenue subway station on the corner of East Tremont Avenue and Boston Road, one block away from BRAC which is located at 1087 E. Tremont Ave. For more information, visit www.nyc.gov/urbanart .

Bronx News Roundup, March 12

So much for spring's early and loving embrace. Forecast is for rain and wind for the weekend, folks. Since you'll probably be inside anyways, we suggest you fire up some popcorn and watch all those movies you've been meaning to get to. Personally? I'll be re-watching Rumble in the Bronx. You know you loved it.

In Bronx news:

The BBC has a story about Haitians granted temporary protected status in the Bronx. The article profiles one woman, Christanya Semplice, who has been living in the Bronx for 22 years without legal documentation. Temporary protected status allows people with similar circumstances to Semplice to work and study legally in the U.S for 18 months.

A lawyer representing the three Bronx buddies who face up to a year in prison for throwing a snowball at an off-duty cop is filing a false arrest suit against the city.

Bronx Bodegas selling illegal alcoholic concoctions to underage kids are getting hammered by the city and state. Two employees of Rodriguez Deli were arrested for selling vodka and fruit cocktails to an underage, undercover NYPD officer. The deli has since lost it's beer license.

Mexican artist Gabriel Orozco visited students at P.S 47 in the Bronx.

A Bronx woman has pleaded guilty to a hit-and-run that occurred last month in Brooklyn that left a mayoral aide brain dead.

A School Safety officer has been charged with the death of one person after drunkenly ramming her vehicle into a tree last night.

A Bronx woman was struck and killed by the 6 train last night, after she descended onto the tracks to retrieve a dropped bag.

Richard Izquierdo Arroyo, former chairman of the South Bronx Charter School and nephew to councilwoman Carmen Arroyo, is being charged with failing to prevent the harassment of a student by a teacher.

A little cycling guide. Here's hoping the weather clears up soon.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Diaz Doubles Down on Armory at State of Borough Address

Here's an excerpt from last week's State of the Borough Address where BP Diaz makes his case for why he believes the defeat of The Related Companies' Armory proposal -- a defeat he was instrumental in orchestrating is ultimately good for healthy economic development in the borough.

Inside a 'Failing' Bronx Middle School

MS 399 in Fordham is being phased out by the DOE (File photo by A. Watkins)

Rob Sgobbo, a former BxNN intern who's now a student at Columbia Graduate School of Journalism, has been blogging in the Huffington Post about his experiences at MS 399, where he's spent time these past few months talking to students and observing classes.

The school, on East 184th Street, is being phased out by the Department of Education - a decision the school community has criticized. For a long time, MS 399 was plagued by poor test scores, violence, and high staff turnover, but teachers and parents say a corner has been turned in recent years.

That sentiment - that the school is on the up, and that the DOE acted rashly in ordering it closed - is one Rob, a former teacher himself, agrees with.  You can read his posts here.

Two new schools - Creston Academy and East Fordham Academy for the Arts - moved into the building last fall. MS 399 has dropped a grade and will close for good in June 2011.

Bronx News Roundup, March 11

Congressman Jose E. Serrano is calling for an end to the war in Afghanistan. He spoke on the House Floor yesterday as Congress began debates on war legislation. You can watch the video of his statements here.

The Perez Notes has an interview with Patrick Jenkins, a political consultant and Carl Heastie staffer.  

A city-run apartment for homeless families in Morris Heights is under fire after its ceiling collapsed on a family of five--just days after another apartment in the same building gave a two-year-old lead poisoning.

Sen. Jeff Klein has been named chairman of a Government Efficiency Task Force that's looking to cut wasteful spending in state agencies.

A Bronx woman was arrested for the February hit-and-run accident in Brooklyn that left mayoral aide Erinn Phelan brain dead. 

The Riverdale Press has coverage of last week's state of the borough address from Ruben Diaz, Jr.

Police arrested 27 people on drug charges at the Pelham Parkway Houses yesterday. The investigation of the complex had been going on for nearly a year, according to the Daily News.

More on the demolition of the old Yankee Stadium. The borough president was on the scene as well, and posted some photos of the deconstruction.

Made your St. Patrick's Day plans yet? AmNY features some of the best Bronx spots to celebrate.

A nonprofit arts group named 1520 Sedgwick Ave. the birthplace of hip-hop.